Hipstamatic Thailand with Tim Bushell by David N
All the way from rural Thailand, Tim was able to connect with me through some sort of miracle in WIFI. Tim runs a website dedicated to Hipstamatic and explained Hipstamatic as being like the third party: you have the person taking the photo, the subject in the photo, and the character Hipstamatic itself.
“Hipstamatic has brought back photography in a way. They’ve taken out the digital in digital photography. Quite clever.”
T: Tim Bushell D: David Norbut
D. Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
T. I’m English, and have had a number of jobs, and I ended up getting into IT in my 30’s, teaching IT and computing to children. That led to me learning how to program, and I left that teaching job and started developing. Later I joined the company I am with at the moment, which is CourseMonster.com. I am working in partnership with them: basically we are training brokers. My job is set up for me to be able to travel, which I love to do. Four years ago I left the UK and lived in Italy for a year, went back to the UK and then out to Asia. The plan was to travel around Asia but I ended up staying most of the time in Thailand; I’ve got a girlfriend here now – whom I’m staying with in the north. I have been here on and off for nearly three years. I really like it here, but it’s tricky because I’m here on tourist visas. I’ve already had to replace one passport because it had so many stamps in it (laughs).
D. Tell me about how you got into photography.
T. Years ago I bought a nice Olympus. I was interested in bird watching at the time – I still am a bit of a bird watcher – and I was into nature photography, but on a budget – so the Olympus with its 10x zoom was perfect. It was more for exercise than anything; I just wanted to get out of the house. So I was getting a bit into photography then. I actually went to a photography club for a while, about 2 months. It was just, so… I don’t know… (laughs)… a little too much on the technical side.
During a trip to Australia, I bought a Nikon D40, and that was a great purchase. I spent a good amount of time taking photographs, and at the end of the day I would upload 300, 400 photos to a PC. I would be looking through them, and then never look at them again.
In Thailand, after my smart phone got stolen from my hotel, I ended up buying an iPhone. I didn’t use it to take photographs at all until I downloaded Hipstamatic. For a month, I suppose, I was taking pictures with it but I didn’t really understand it. There were all these lenses and films and stuff; it was easy to get a bit lost. After using it on and off for about six weeks I ended up spending a couple of hours one night photographing a flower with Hipstamatic, and that’s when I started to notice it took some nice photos. Around the same time I found Instagram and I would go back and forth posting DSLR photos and Hipstamatic photos.
At that time, in the early version of Hipstamatic, you could only take one picture at a time. This restriction changed the way I started to take photographs. I had decided to use this app to take photographs of all this beautiful scenery in Thailand. So I was using it, and when you took a photograph you had to wait; and for me that’s what really made me start thinking about photography. With a digital camera you tend to just snap away and you think “oh, I’ll just sort the picture out later in Photoshop.” With Hipstamatic, you take the picture and there’s no going back. You can’t change it, you can’t even rotate it to align the horizon straight, you’d lose the frame. Pretty much anything you do with Hipstamatic you are stuck with, and I quite like that idea. I think that’s what Hipstamatic is really all about, almost taking you back to a time before digital, making you more careful with the framing and composition before you snap the image. It really made me think about the photographs I wanted to take, and I started taking a lot less photos. I also decided I would start deleting the photos I didn’t like; I became more ruthless.
I came up with this system: Since Hipstamatic photos are square I would upload them to Instagram or my website in a set of four with the same lens, film and theme (or shoot). I create a title page, and put the four photos into a square. It helped me edit down the number of pictures from each theme to the best four. If I had a really good set, I would use nine, again in the square. It really made me re-think the way I take pictures. Of course it also got me out and about in Thailand!
D. I guess that would lead us into how you started your website. Can you tell us about it?
T. It all started with me taking a bunch of photos of the same thing with the combos I thought I would like, and making a chart for myself. That’s what I really wanted, a chart so I could see all the different lens, film and flash combinations in different situations. Including flashes there are something like 9,200 combinations now!
So that’s what I did. I created a website and did a series of sets of one photo with different combinations. At first I was trying to take the same picture with every combination, but that wasn’t practical at all. One of my first sets was of the sunset, and it was moving, and it really wasn’t working well. I was trying to do what I call a Comprehensive Set, where I would do all of the lenses, with all the effect films, and all the flashes. But by the time I had finished, the sunlight had changed too much. After a while, I thought there must be another way of doing this. Being a programmer, I did eventually find a way. Hipstamatic still processes the effects, but, simply put, I hacked the queue. I’ll take the picture, but will close Hipstamatic before it develops, so it just saves the raw file. I’ve written software to turn this file into an enormous queue of combinations for Hipstamatic. Before that I was literally standing for an hour and a half or more, arms tired, taking the same photo with all these different combinations. Now I take the picture, do some clicking around in the software I wrote, and upload the results back into Hipstamatic for the app to process all the different combinations for that photo. It might take the iPhone all night – sat on my desk – but I don’t have to do all the work anymore. I think the biggest upload I did was 2500 versions of the same image (a Black and White combination set – with all flashes). More importantly because I have the original photo saved, any time there is an update with a new film or lenses I can go ahead and update my sets with the saved image. I really think that’s why I have an edge over the other guides out there – all my sets are kept up to date with the original image. Let me say, that is not how I take the photos myself: the raw photo for processing is for the guide website only. I enjoy using Hipstamatic and I shoot it the way it’s meant to be.
To learn more about Hipstamatic and the many combos and see more of Tim’s work please visit his one of a kind website and guide: