I have been meaning to write this blog for a while now, though I originally conceived it as a comparison between Fauxtography Apps for the iPhone and 'real' Polaroid and Toy cameras. What changed my mind is that there is really no comparison, iFauxtography is basically post processing, something I strive to avoid if at all possible, all the apps I tried use the camera and the library built into the iPhone so basically you take pictures as you would normally with the phone and then they add effects.
The effects are quite varied, but they all have one thing in common, They take the data available and degrade it by adding effects. Now some of the effects are quite interesting, TiltShiftGen allows you to select a point or plane of sharpness like using a view camera, if you know what you are doing then you can make some quite convincing results but I think it probably helps to know what a view camera does to get the most out of it (it only has tilt though, no shift!).
ShakeItPhoto (which was recommended to me by Doc who runs the Impossible Project!) produced pictures that look like Polaroid 80 pictures, not the integral prints that seem to be so popular but the older peel apart type. The interface though shows the picture emerging like an integral picture. Oh! The danger of a little knowledge...
PlasticBullet is interesting in that it will give you a seemingly infinite range of versions of a picture, all of them variations on a theme of Diana Mini: light leak, different levels of saturation, contrast, exposure etc. It generates 4 versions for you to choose from and if you don't like them it will do you 4 more - and another 4 and another - until you like one at which point you save it (you can save as many versions as you like...).
Lo-Mob had probably the widest set of pre-set filter and frame sets, 39 possible looks and it allowed you to crop and position your original in the 'frame' which made it much more versatile than the others. The possibilities included Holga and Lomo, many different emulsion looks and some interesting Polaroid looks too. The worst was this 'back of an SX70 one! What on earth were they thinking...
But they did have this which seems to be the frame from a Polaroid 20X24 print, not something that most people would recognise! (but I have one on my wall at home).
InstantCam is heavily branded as Polaroid and produces a sort of Image system Fauxlaroid, rectangular pictures with the broad band across the bottom. You can have colour or black and white or you can 'colourize' - big mistake. Strangely all the pictures come our really small, well under 300px and I couldn't see a way of changing that. Both InstantCam and ShakeItPhoto use the iPhone's movement sensors and you have to shake the phone to make the picture 'develop', more fun - but hold tight!
Hipstamatic stands alone among the others I tested since it is the only one that actually makes you choose things before you take your picture and it won't re process pictures from your library. In an odd way this makes it better than the others because it isn't just a 'post' product.
CameraBag I thought was very disappointing, 14 pre-set 'filters' which can be used on new or existing pictures but there is no editing available and the cropping is arbitrary. I quite liked this version though...
So what did I really think? Well I think that some of the results from these apps are really neat, they look edgy and exciting, I really enjoyed going to a museum of telephones to take pictures with my telephone (just in case you hadn't noticed). However, with the possible exception of the Hipstamatic app, it really isn't photography. What these apps are is digital art - and art of course can be good or bad. I had fun, I produced pictures that I was very pleased with but all of them were fauxtography.
Ben Boswell - Minute Film