Couple with smart phones on DC metro.

Recently I’ve noticed a new “hashtag” in the Instagram universe: #nofilter.

Ironically, when you come across that hashtag and click on it, you see that a great many of the thousands of images actually do have a “filter” applied. So I’m not sure everybody is getting the point of that particular hashtag. But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to point out that there is no such thing as “no filter.” Even a straight-out-of-the-camera image from a $5,000 dSLR has a “filter” applied. Whether you own a Nikon or a Canon, a Droid or an iPhone; whether you apply one of the built in treatments within Instagram or use Photoshop CS5 or LightRoom3 or 4 or the Camera Bag app…”filters” are all over the place. Different algorithms for different cameras will render red, green and blue differently, also color saturation, contrast and white-balance. No matter the camera, the moment you depress the shutter reality is altered. A “filter” is applied.

Instagram and similar apps offer pre-made treatments making it easy for you to give your image the look you’d like. Some are subtle, some are over-the-top. And some people get unnecessarily exercised over these things. They think that everyone 20 years down the road will “regret” ever using things like Instagram or Hipstamatic. Can’t say that I agree. In fact, whether you’re a pro or a hobbyist, no matter the camera or the app, knock yourself out. Ignore the curmudgeons.

Experiment. Explore. Enjoy.