Here’s the thing, I love shooting film. So, when I wandered out to the App Store to read up on the decim8 app only to find that the first line in the description said, “FILM IS DEAD … And yet many camera apps still insist upon attempting simulations of that long-past era. We say NO to artificial nostalgia, pushing forward in the digital realm with different forms of creative destruction.“
I almost didn’t add it. Would I be breaking some sort of unspoken film lover rule by pushing the decim8 buttons? Would the Film Shooters Collective kick me out of the group if they found out how much I love digitally altering my work? Then the rationalization started. You know how you have different lenses in your bag, different film cameras (like your prized SX-70 or that amazing TLR), depending on what you are photographing you might pick one of those film cameras over the other, right?
My “camera bag” full of “lenses”
I like to think of each of my photo apps as a ‘lens’. Perhaps a lens hopped up on steroids, but you get the picture… (aren’t I puny?). I often mix and match apps. Layering a filter from one, the light leaks from another, complete destruction from yet another. Depending on my mood, I might add text, mirror the same image against itself or double expose and blend together two, or even three shots into one. It’s like collage with out scissors and Mod-Podge.
Lately, when doing my self portraiture work, one of my favorite apps to edit and process the image has been decim8. I first learned of this app from Barbara, aka mthoodmama when she posted this photo to her Instagram feed:
It stopped me dead in my tracks and I HAD to know how the heck she got those awesome streaks across her photos. When I asked her a bit about how she uses/feels about decim8 she told me, “After lots of trial and error I found a few effects I got consistent results where the photo is altered slightly, but not altered too much or is so abstract you can’t tell what the photo used to be. My all time favorite is Beamrider. A few of my other favorites are: Bitboy, Chip13h, and Blitbomb.”
Barbara wasn’t the only one having fun with the deconstruction of her images, our very own Urban Muser has some beautiful and mind-bending self portrait work as well.
I needed to give this app a try. Upon first use, I was totally frustrated and almost instantly deleted the thing from my phone (space is precious, as you fellow mobile photographers know). I couldn’t figure out the way the interface worked and there isn’t a ton of instructions out there on how to actually use it, but I kept playing, fiddling and messing with the buttons. Like Barbara, trial and error and maybe a few curse words for good measure. What I ended up doing was going through each of the mixer options and clicking on each option to see what it did. I too have some favorite mixers now and have learned to “save early, save often” so that if I actually get an image I like, even if I only like it a little bit, I have it saved (there is no undo button).
I am often asked how I create my self portraits, so I thought today would share the steps and hopefully give you all some tips to try out decim8:
- Launch the app.
- Take or choose a photo from your camera roll.
- Click on the beaker icon to open the mixer menu.
- Choose one or more of the mixers from the list (I usually stick with one at a time or things get too crazy). I also like to hit the “i” button next to the mixer name so I can see an example of what the formula is going to do to my photo.
- If I even remotely like the outcome, I save the image. There is no undo, and I have never seen the editing do the same thing twice (awesome and frustrating all at once).
- I might continue adding on more adjustments, picking more editing formulas and saving as I go until I am satisfied with my image.
Once my work is done in decim8, I often push my photo into the picframe app and mess with it further. I like the control I have over the mirroring and flipping around of the images I have within this app- something you don’t get in decim8. Here are my steps…
- Launch the app and choose a mosaic set- I usually stick with the double frames.
- Double tap inside the gray area and choose a photo.
- Flip, rotate zoom and/or pan the image around in the frame. Repeat for the other frame(s).
- I tend to like making my borders between frames nonexistent in order to get a blended look.
- Save the image (make sure to hit the “Hi-Res” button) and either share from the app or from the camera roll.
I wanted to share a self portrait that Heather, aka Quarter Century, was inspired to attempt after seeing my photos. When I asked her to say a little bit about her experience with the app, she echoed my and Barbara’s thoughts. She too has a love-hate relationship with decim8 and finds herself drawn to mostly the veth and xexox mixers. That said, Heather also mentioned how much she loves the anticipation of waiting to see what happens once the processing button has been pushed.
Currently the app is only available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad and is optimized for iPhone 5, but will work on previous versions. From the information I can find on the Flickr group, it doesn’t sound like the Android app will be coming any time soon (sorry ‘droiders). There is a busy IG community full of creativity and inspiration, just search the #decim8 hashtag. They also have contests like the Alterego Contest which ran last month. I think the biggest appeal for me to this app is the unpredictability of it (as Heather had mentioned above). Much like film, I am never quite sure what my end result will be, despite knowing what my starting subject was. So maybe decim8 and film aren’t really that different after all… but don’t tell them that.