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User Profile: Marie von Kampen (mmvk)

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Marie von Kampen is a production and stage manager in Boston, MA, who takes at least a photo every day. She has been a regular contributor to the Percolator Flickr group, and her creative and varied percolations inspired us to find out more about how she approaches photography and uses Percolator. To see more of von Kampen’s photography check out her Flickr photo stream, find her on Instagram (mmvk), or follow her on Twitter (@mmvk).

PercolatorApp: How did you get into taking pictures with your iPhone?

Marie von Kampen: I have always loved taking photographs, so the camera was definitely one of the features of the iPhone that appealed to me. It was the appeal of the convenience of having a phone with a decent camera, and always having a camera at my fingertips—less bulky than my usual digital or film camera, and a little more discrete, if need be.

PercolatorApp: Do you take pictures daily?

von Kampen: Yes. After getting an iPhone, I found that I took at least one photo daily, whether it was something interesting or new I happened upon, or just candid photos of my friends. To do so with a more conscious thought behind it, I started a personal project—now completed—of taking a photo every day for a year. I am also doing an ongoing photo project using only the Hipstamatic app to photograph people and moments on the T.

PercolatorApp: Do you regularly use a lot of apps or do you have  just a few that you use consistently?

von Kampen: If there are any apps that I am a junkie for, they are the photo apps. I’m always seeing what new ones are popping up, reading reviews, or downloading them to try them out! I just checked my iPhone, and I have 31 photo apps on it (eek!). I can say I probably play with each of them at least once a month, but there are definitely a few that I use regularly, if not daily: Hipstamatic, Autostitch, Flickr, Instagram, Camera+, Diptic, Percolator, 100Cameras.

PercolatorApp: Did you take pictures regularly before you had an iPhone or is this a newish habit?

von Kampen: I took photos regularly before I had an iPhone. I have taken photos for as long as I can remember. My first camera was a cheapo plastic model that took 110 films. Shortly after that one I got my hands on a Polaroid. Fast forward: I bought my first “real” film camera (not just a point and shoot), after I finished my undergrad studies. It was a Nikon FM10, which I still use today. I took two years of photography and darkroom classes, and I loved every minute. I’m still an analog lover at heart. The iPhone and an affordable digital camera had pulled me away from film for a few years, but I am recently getting back into film. Now I am trying to balance my time between digital and analog.

PercolatorApp: What are your preferred methods for sharing your pictures and for finding interesting pictures by others?

von Kampen: When I blogged regularly, I used Photobucket because it was free and it created easy-to-use links. I use Facebook for all my candid photos of friends and family. I eventually moved over to Flickr for my professional, travel, and project photos. I’m a big fan of Instagram and the idea of sharing moments as they happen. I really enjoy that app even more now that it has tags so you can search for specific things you’re interested in seeing.

The Internet is a large resource for finding photos of almost anything and everything. I originally started looking for photos through Google Images, and then a friend introduced me to the StumbleUpon photo search feature. Once I got a Flickr account set up, I would either pick groups, search for specific tags, or just check out the Flickr Blog. There are a few other photo blogs I peruse on a semi-regular basis, as well as few photography Twitter folks I follow.

PercolatorApp: Do you have any favorite Flickr groups? Instagram users?

von Kampen: Flickr Groups: FlickrToday, Percolator, Hipstamatic, Instagram, nighthawks. Instagram: banditphotographer, tmattisonhicks, chingsterz, 3north, powerpig, thejbot, coreyschreppel, lasbatcountry, heidibethcom, jaycalderin, jayzombie, dlanham, tinrocket, and percolator.

PercolatorApp: When did you first start using Percolator?

von Kampen: I happened to see the app on the recommended page of iTunes very shortly after the app debuted. I downloaded it because it looked interesting. I think I then played with app religiously for several hours a day for the first few weeks that I had it. The uniqueness of the images and the possibilities of combining it with other apps really captured my creative eye.

PercolatorApp: Which apps do you like to pair with Percolator?

von Kampen: I often use Camera+ if I want to make my image more vivid or add a cool effect before percolating. I found that Hipstamatic images often percolate into very interesting color combinations. I have also used Pocketbooth and Diptic with percolated images.

PercolatorApp: Are there specific types of images that you like to run through Percolator? If so, what characterizes those images?

von Kampen: For me, I often like to be simple and not too “busy.” Often these images have a large or interesting focal point, which will percolate well and still be distinguishable. I try to use images with vivid colors because they translate well into percolated images. There are always exceptions to the rule though—some of my favorite percolations have been those where the original images were somewhat dull looking.

PercolatorApp: What do you think is attractive about Percolator as a creative tool?

von Kampen: I think the app is very easy to use and has a lot of unique settings. I think it has a graphic design aspect to it, and has a lot of creative potential for the user for not just personal photos but in professional work.

PercolatorApp: Do you have a favorite group of Percolator settings?

von Kampen: I don’t think I have a particular group of settings I use more than most, but overall one of my favorites has to be the Overprint Brew setting. I really love the watercolor look it can give an image.

To close, we asked Marie von Kampen to talk about some of her favorite percolated and non-percolated images:


von Kampen: I don’t remember much about this shot, except that I had taken it with Hipstamatic, and I hated the composition! It was from a half-dead bouquet that had been left backstage. The lighting was bad and I couldn’t get the flowers the look right in the viewfinder. I think it sat on my phone album for a while before I picked it to play with in Percolator. By using the Ishihara Brew setting with Soy, and playing with different Grind settings for a while, the final image ended up being something much nicer than the original photo.

Fuzzy Fungus

von Kampen: I considered the original image for “Fuzzy Fungus” a failure on my part. I was walking from work to the library on a drizzly day. I have a tendency to stare at the ground and trees, always looking for critter or fungi (that’s my biology background). I noticed these dark orange spots that seemed to pop out from the dark, rain soaked bark of the tree. I was using the Hipstamatic app and took the photo quickly as I was walking by, because a heaving rain had started. When I got into the library to check the shot, I saw that it was blurry, either from my movement or being way too close. Disappointed, I later decided to play with the image in Percolator. I liked the watercolor effect of Overprint and since the image was already blurry, I thought I’d see what the effect would be by enhancing the blurriness. By doing the finest Grind I could, more color combinations were created and the blurriness formed this really wonderful image.

Old Orchard Beach

von Kampen: I took this on my first trip to this beach in Maine.  It was over a hundred degrees; I couldn’t even walk on the sand with flip flops, it was so hot. I was walking to catch the train back to Boston, and decided to walk along the water. Using the Hipstamatic app and shaking it then taking another shot, shaking it and taking another shot, etc. I then used Autostitch to combine the images! I loved how the contrast of black & white to color makes it almost look like the beach through the years-past to present.

Slippery When Wet

von Kampen: This one was taken as I was walking through the basement at work. I had spent most of the day at work taking random photographs; just to have some images to try out the beta testing of Percolator 2.0. I’ll admit I had no plan. I was just shooting things that seemed either interesting or mundane. After playing with the settings, I found that most photos, when I added the Full of Stars or Superstar settings of Percolator, were too busy. The photos I had tried with these settings were mostly landscapes and street scenes. I found that the “boring” still life of the wet floor sign was a simple image, with simple shapes and lines that were conducive to the bold black stars of Superstar and the rainbow effect of Spectrum.

Tōdai-ji Temple, Nara

von Kampen: A quick shot with my digital camera on my last trip to Japan. I just loved the composition of the deer with the monk under the shade of the trees (there was a heat wave at the time!). I didn’t want it to look posed, and I also was trying to avoid any extra people (huge crowds of other tourists), I saw an opening, took the shot, and hoped for the best. I also didn’t want the monk to see me take the photo just in case it was an issue.


von Kampen: Part of the words on a Starbucks cup. I edited the color in Camera+, cropped out the extra things I didn’t want, then percolated it! I’ll admit I just loved the colors of this one. Aqua is my favorite. Editing it with Camera+ then Percolator on the Rings Brew setting—I think it’s barely recognizable as Starbucks writing.

Diana + Night

von Kampen: Total analog shot. This is the view from my childhood bedroom. I’ve always loved taking photos at night, and I love the challenge of using film. I had been trying to re-familiarize myself with my Diana+ camera. I did an exposure for around 3 minutes on a tripod. I realized it didn’t have to be too long of an exposure because of the street light.

Watercolored Flash Mist

von Kampen: This was a dark, if I remember correctly, Hipstamatic shot. Originally, I thought it was a little boring—just the typical trees and sun. I decided to edit the colors a bit and use my favorite Percolator setting, Overprint, to create the water-colored effect. It made the colors pop out so much more!

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