I will soon be at 1,000 photos on Instagram. I’m pretty sure that will happen a few days before January 16th, when the world will end and we all have to quit our accounts.


You’d have to have been in a cave for the last 24 hours to have not been aware of the furor over Instagram’s proposed new terms of service. I admit that I enthusiastically joined in the hysteria, but I also actually read the document in question. That doesn’t make me better than anybody else for sure, and I also have three and a half weeks to wait and see how it all pans out.


Instagram and social media have come up in a few of my last several posts. I’m not going to get up on some soapbox about this. Anybody who ignores the fact that these “services” that we freely join and freely (both literally and figuratively) give our lives away to are actually businesses that want to turn a profit, is living in a delusional dream world. These sites do not exist as a public service. It is our responsibility to actually read the terms of service that we blindly agree to. That we did not read them is not a legitimate reason for outrage when these terms change. And the changes will likely be to our personal detriment, because businesses are out for themselves, not us. They don’t owe us anything.


I don’t even remember what my main reason was for starting this post. I think I wanted to say that I will continue to enjoy Instagram, at least until January 16 when the proposed changes (in whatever form they end up) take effect. As with the various changes that Facebook has tried to implement and then quite often had to back peddle on, I’m figuring that the same will likely occur with these updates to Instagram’s policies.


Perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve heard on the subject came from CNN this morning. Whoever they were interviewing said that like Facebook had previously, Instagram threw, say, five changes out there. Now they’ve seen which one thing users reacted most strongly to (in this case, the perception that Instagram is saying that they will henceforth sell users’ photos with no notification or compensation to the user) and will modify that one, and the other four will kind of fly under the radar.


I guess what I wish is that fine print wasn’t written in legalize. Rather than saying “Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service…,” why can’t they (or anybody else) just say, “We’ll pretend that you own your content, but we’re still going to retain the right to do whatever the hell we want to with it.”?


Like I said, I don’t know why I was fired up to write anything tonight. I don’t care that Instagram might start showing me ads, or that they might put my face on self-promotion within the app, just like Facebook tries to do with suggestions or promoted content. We users forget that profitability is the end goal. Regarding Instagram in particular, I’d gladly pay a number of dollars to buy an ad-free version of the app, and I’d most likely also gladly pay a nominal monthly subscription. “Photographers” and “purists” may scoff at one-tap filter apps for the masses, but you know what? It’s fun! And Instagram, unlike other photo-editing apps (such as Camera+ and Snapseed, both of which I also adore, particularly Snapseed (never got into Hipstamatic, I confess to a certain amount of hypocritical snobbery on that front)) has a fantastic social aspect, even prior to their acquisition by Facebook. I have some lovely new friends in London, Munich, and Toowoomba, Australia. Where? Exactly.


I hope that I won’t have to quit the amazingly friendly and creative community that is Instagram. I’m confident that willn’t be the case. Please.


My online friends might have noticed that I’ve been obsessing over winter’s bare trees in the last week or so. I have become fascinated with imagining the root system underground that’s comparable to the naked branches I see reaching toward the steel grey winter sky. I just think these trees are stunningly gorgeous in their seeming randomness that’s actually well-behaved fractal growth.

Large trees and small trees, they all inspire me with awe. These urban trees quite often are given very precise plots in which to grow, defined by the 3-foot by 3-foot metal grates that mark their entrance into the earth. But Mother Nature endows them with persistence.

Here is my tribute to these wonderful plant creatures. They all exist within the linear mile and three quarters between my office in the heart of downtown and my home neighborhood that’s only slightly less in the thick of things.


The tree at the very top and the tree directly above are, in fact, the same tree. I thought the vertical shot had nice composition, but the horizontal photo really shows off the branches.

All of the trees have their own personalities. The ones below I also found particularly appealing and beautiful. Each shows its own history. Maybe it has fortunate wind blockage from nearby buildings and can grow straight. Maybe it doesn’t and lists to one side. Maybe it’s in a healthy location and has grown an even crown of branches. Maybe it has to eke out a living on a dirty, busy, polluted corner and makes gasping grabs toward the sun.

If you are in a deciduous winter, go outside and revel in the beauty that has yet again been provided you by this planet we live on.




















Photos were shot as dusk approached with my iPhone 4 and processed with Camera+ app, using the Ansel filter and thin black border, because today’s mission was to share a black and white photo.