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August 5, 2014

Exploring Lands End: Lumia and Instagram

A cool, bracing wind blew through the fog and cypress trees at Lands End in San Francisco on Sunday — perfect weather to capture the stark beauty of the rocky shoreline.

About 75 Instagrammers, led by Los Angeles-based photographer and ace Instagrammer Peter Halvorsen, and organized by Microsoft, met at Lands End Lookout, the westernmost point of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The aim: Wander the 11-mile Coastal Trail, meet other Instagram aficionados, take photos of the windswept, historic area (you can still see the remains of 19th-century shipwrecks at low tide) with Lumia and other smartphones, and post them online with the hashtag #lumiainstameet.

“I take lots of photographs of the ocean and where the pavement ends, so this is perfect,” said Los Angeles-based fine arts photographer Kat Westerman. Casting an eye of appreciation towards the opaque sky, she said the environment created a “perfect giant softbox,” diffusing light to cast a soft, even glow on the craggy cliffs, the lush tree canopies, and the people striding on the hiking paths.

As you can see, we had some talented shutterbugs at the event! Here’s a photo of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge partly enshrouded in fog, taken by San Francisco-based Instagrammer Ken Yeung:


In this photo taken by local photographer Oscar Lopez, a young visitor from the east coast thought the beach weather was just fine despite the chilly conditions:


Here’s a pop of vibrant color against a palette of cool greys and blues, as shot by San Francisco photographer and cinematographer Mat Rik:


Some of the instagrammers took the Lumia 1520 out for a spin. Designer and photographer Ryan Hall showed that the smartphone turned out to be a willing and able model.


Chang Liu shows that you don’t need color to capture a compelling image:


Creativity and Collaboration
The Lands End meetup is just one example of a global Instagram movement to bring like-minded people together to share and celebrate their creativity. There are “instameets” everywhere, from Sao Paulo to Shreveport, Louisiana, to Tehran, Iran, to Catalunya, Spain.

Pete has hosted about a half-dozen instameets so far — some of them with a charitable aspect, such as a toy drive or “clean the streets” project. He’s always amazed at the diversity of people who show up, and it’s wonderful, he says, to finally meet people he’s communicated with online.

When you meet someone in person who follows you, you already know each other,” he said. “That’s why Instagram feels so personal.”

Here’s one more photo of the Golden Gate Bridge, as taken by Pete. He captioned the photo with a famous quote by Mark Twain, “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco”:


Photography Tips
Pete doesn’t have 113,000 Instagram followers for nothing. His photos are engaging, compelling and thought-provoking, whether they’re of surfers paddling to catch a wave or of a wooden pier as a ghostly-looking marine layer embraces it.


Here are three of his tips for taking Instagram photos with your Lumia or other smartphone:

1. When dealing with square photo, remember the rule of thirds. That rule is based on the theory that the eye naturally goes to the intersection points that occur when an image is divided into thirds. So imagine a grid of nine squares. Instead of placing the subject smack-dab in the middle of the photo, set it off-center, into one or more of the squares.

2. Use lines to lead the viewer’s eye to the focal point of the photograph. A “lead-in” line could be a horizon or the edge of a building or a street. Pete gave an example of a nature path as a lead-in line. “If there’s a tree at the end of the path, use the path to draw your eye to it.”

3. Ask yourself: How can I make my photo different? “Don’t shoot what everyone else is,” he advised. If everyone is taking a photo of a sunset, why not photograph the people shooting the sunset  photo? Or swing your camera away from the sunset. What do you see? It may surprise you!

Remember, check out all the photos from the Land’s End instameet via the hashtag #lumiainstameet. Which ones catch your eye? And have you had the pleasure of exploring Lands End yourself?