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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Instagram: Your favorite iPhone app, #Hashed.

Photography is a hobby that many people like. It provides a still image of that special moment you experienced in your life allowing you to share it with others not present, be it with family or anyone else. It is a somewhat affordable pursuit that is fun and very fulfilling if you’re an artistic or creative type of person. It is as if your talents come through the lenses and are forever printed onto a piece of paper or digitized and ‘megapixeled’ into being.

Yes, the equipment used matters greatly, but more importantly, the eye of the person behind that camera is the end all be all of photography. You may own an extremely nice camera with all the bells and whistles, but if you lack the artistic background or this innate skill found in most with a sensitive eye for beauty in the world even in the worst places, you will just have a nice camera. Some can make masterpieces from phone cameras and cheaper digital cameras. It is truly all a matter of talent, as it is the case in most other arts.

Ergo, since not everyone can afford an expensive camera, many settle for a cheaper alternative, be it a digital camera or a phone camera. Today, one can make great use of a phone camera due to current technology and editing materials via a veritable cornucopia of available applications. However, let’s zero in further and narrow the field down to one specific camera and market; the iPhone camera and the Apple market

There exists an iPhone-centric application that in a relatively short period of time this author has come to love. That app is called Instagram. This app was launched on October 6th, 2010 when Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger decided to shift their focus from their HTML-5 platform check-in project Burbn to mobile photography. Shortly thereafter, others joined the team and the app became an instasuccess as subsequent add-ons were released in version 2.0 during September 2011. This app quickly garnered massive following, gaining one million users by December 2010 and five million by June 2011. It has since passed the ten million user mark and currently sits at above twenty-five million users. Clearly, many others share this author's enthusiasm for Instagram.

Instagram caters to many people. It is wonderfully refreshing to see how many truly artistic souls exist out there, and here is a platform from which they can finally share their feelings, personalities and emotions with the rest of the world through photography. There is so much to see and so many nice images that at times it is overwhelming to the eye. It truly is in today’s grimy vernacular; visual pornography, or in Instagram hashtag lingo; #eyeporn.

You can clearly see through its sundry postings that a great majority of the app’s users (including this author) are very passionate about what they post and can at times be extremely meticulous about the types of pictures taken and the edits done to augment the effect they are attempting to convey to their followers or random viewers. It’s a virtual mobile center for self-expression and displays of art.

At this point, the reader must have decided to at least check this application out. Fair warning has been given though concerning the fact that once downloaded and used, you will get addicted to Instagram.

However cool the app is, one must know how to use it to its full potential. A user must know how to get attention and how to obtain more and more followers. Although this author is relatively new to the Instagram scene, he has spent enough time lurking at other popular users’ accounts to figure out what brings people to your profile to check out your postings. Below are some concise steps in how to get to this point:

Don’t post too often.

It’s hard to resist the urge to share in all the glory you see every day. Tread lightly though, because this constant flooding of new pictures on any of your followers’ feeds can become an annoyance which leads to a quick tap of the ‘following’ button. Refrain from posting new pictures often, let others savor the current posting and give yourself ample time until the next one. A good rule of thumb is one posting per day and at the most two.

Post only things that count and are unique.

Instagram is not meant to be a daily account of your experiences. It is isn’t an online Journal or Diary. Moreover, unless you are a famous actor/actress or star, you will not get people liking every single one of your unimportant posts of what you’re drinking at Starbucks, what type of ice cream you are currently stuffing yourself with and many other situations that are best reserved for your eyes only. Make the posts cool and different, they should consist of different angles which most people would never think to use or look at objects and view them in such a manner, therefore blowing their minds and earning you more followers and likes.

What types of pictures to post.

From surfing the popular section of Instagram you will quickly get an idea of what gets hits and what doesn’t. The following are pictures that usually get a good following and amount of likes, not in any necessary order: Beach, Skylines, Skyscrapers, Models, Beautiful Women, Nature, Sunsets, Sun rises, Sky and Cloud formations, City Life and some others. Usually these pictures offer a mental getaway for most, hence the ‘likes’ they receive. Ensure that the color displays are wonderful and mind boggling as well.

Use your Hashtags #properly.

Instagram functions much like Twitter when it comes to hashtags. The pound symbol signifies that the word following it can be utilized as a keyword for a search result in the app’s search function. Ergo, #Sky will be available when searching for pictures relating to Sky. Therefore, use hashtags to your advantage. Scope the most popular shots to see what type of hashtags they are using to bring in more viewers and likes. Some popular hashtags are as follows: #Sky, #Summer, #Spring, #Winter, #Clouds, #Skyline, #Skyscraper, #City, #Instagram, #iPhone, and many other ones.

You can hashtag the tool with which you used to take your picture, i.e., #iPhone, #iPhoneonly, #iPhoneography, #iPhone4, #iPhone4s, and etc.

Comment on popular shots and show some love to your followers and those on your feed.

Visit the popular section often and be nosy. Post comments and likes on the pictures you enjoyed looking at. Don’t be a comment bot either, post interesting remarks that drive people to your profile as well. Think things that incite curiosity in others. Also do not forget to like the pictures too.

On your feed, make sure to like the pictures of those you follow and be genuine in your compliments as well via the commenting function. They will become appreciative of you and at some future point in time when enough rapport is built, become just as supportive of your postings as you are of theirs. Heck, they might even give you a shout out to increase your following.

Adding effects to pictures.

When posting pictures, not all of them look good in their virgin or pristine state. Often, a bit of editing and tweaking can make all the difference with regard to driving traffic to your posts. Many good apps exist out as mentioned above that provide this type of function for all of your editing needs. The following are a handful of apps this author recommends: Snapseed, AvgCamPro, PhotoToaster, PhotoForge2, Fotolr PSP and others. Doing a quick Google search on this subject will fulfill your need for further recommendations.

You may also choose to not add any effects as well. Some pictures actually do look better in their natural state. You may give a picture minimal tweaks by using Instagram’s tools as well. Unfortunately there is no right or wrong way to add effects to a photo through editing, it really stems from the eye of the user posting the picture and how much of a talent he/she has in doing so.

So, there you have it, a short how to guide and fun introduction into a very popular app that millions and millions have come to adore. Don’t wait any further and join in on the fun and see where your talents take you. Oh, and don’t forget to follow me @Davidkishere !!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Making the most out of any Dress shirt

Dress shirts come in many different sizes and colors, patterns and lines. However, they all remain a staple of every respectable man's wardrobe. Typically, if you're a fit guy you want to gravitate to those shirts that come tapered from the store with any type of fit other than the classic or standard fit, e.g., custom, slim or extra slim fits. These fits make the shirt mold to your body and give you a more pleasing taper that can make the shirt 'pop' even more.

However, for those of us that workout a lot this can present a problem because our shoulders and chest width may put a lot of strain on the top buttons causing them to look over stretched and ready to put an eye out like a mini missile in a bar, club or restaurant. There is one workaround that I have found resolves this problem, but it can be a pain and add another $10-20 to the final price of your shirt.

Before getting to the latter part, some good fitting shirts from places that I recommend:

  • Brooks Brothers
  • J.Crew
  • Zara
  • Ralph Lauren (Although at times overpriced for its quality)
  • Landsend Canvas
  • Hugo Boss
These brands carry many fits other than your boring standard and classic ones that make you look like a bag of chips or Jerry Seinfeld in his poofy shirt episode, except instead of the poof being on the sleeves and shoulders, it's near the waist.

Now, let's get back to the latter portion of the post to wrap this up. The aforementioned workaround for us muscular fellas (skinny Europeans need not apply, no hate) is this:

  1. Purchase a regular shirt that has plenty of room on the chest and shoulder area
  2. Notice the portions of extra fabric (typically located on the waist and arm areas)
  3. Mark them and identify how many inches is necessary to taper them down to a nice fit
  4. Take the markings and measurements to a tailor near you
  5. Wait for the results and profit from a great looking shirt
This can even become cheaper than buying a shirt of any custom, slim or extra slim fit as the tapering is priced into the shirt already. Therefore an extra slim shirt might run you $85 whereas a classic or standard fit may be $50 plus the tailoring ($20) and you still come out winning ($70 vs $85). So, go forth and taper.

I'm gone.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring back in play

Warmer weather approaches...It isn't as if it has been cold during this Winter at all in Florida with the exception of a few days here and there. Therefore, opportunities for sweaters were few and far in between and layering was not an occurrence in my neck of the woods. Luckily, things are getting a bit back to normal, the Earth is once again getting a bit closer to the sun in its elliptical orbit and bringing the temperatures back up slowly across the country.

In other words, time to break out some shorts, loafers or boat shoes and your polo shirts. Prep is back in full. Long sleeve button ups are okay as well, make sure they are light in weight so as to not make you perspire too much. Fold the sleeves, tuck or do not tuck (up to you) them in with some nice 6-8inch long shorts and you're golden.

Let's do a brief run down of the above mentioned type of outfit...

Shorts (6-9 inches long)
Long Sleeve Button ups (Light fabrics, maybe Chambrays)
Polo Shirts (Fitted ones only)
Spring color belts (Solid or striped, light colors, nothing heavy)
Spring color watch bands (Solid or striped, light colors, nothing heavy)
Sunglasses (Spring time does call for some wayfarers)
Loafers (Boat shoes or regular loafers)

This is something to be worn during the day or in a warm night in a very casual environment. However, for a night out, all one may need to do is exchange the shorts out for a nice pair of fresh Chinos with some rolled up or folded bottoms and you're set. Some jeans may also apply here, but to keep in line with our preppy theme, chinos are favored.

Here it is visualized: Rayban Wayfarers for sunglasses ($150):
Original Wayfarer Black / G-15 XLT
Polo Slim fit shirts (There are great if you are fit) ($85.00):
Slim-Fit Mesh Polo - Polo Ralph Lauren Custom-Fit  -
J.Crew Shorts (Club Shorts) ($65.00):
Club short in oxford cloth
Loafers or Boatshoes (Heck even some oxfords work)(Sperry $100):
Men's Boat Oxford
Belts (Brooks Brothers $128):
That ought to do it for now, soon I'll post a picture of myself in such an outfit so you guys can have a better idea. Please keep in mind that you can find several cheaper substitutes of the above items on sale at sundry websites online. Just shop smart. These were just convenient examples with regard to screen captures.

That's all folks. Head sprung.