The rise of the selfie 0.5

Julia Herzig, a 22-year-old from Larchmont, New York, has “an obsession.” It’s about taking a new kind of selfie, one that doesn’t exactly fit.

In some of these selfies, Ms. Herzig’s forehead juts out in the middle of the frame. Her eyes are half disks, looking at something beyond the camera. Her nose sticks out. Her mouth is invisible. These images are best when they have “creepy, sinister vibes,” she said.

Ms. Herzig started taking these photos, called 0.5 selfies (pronounced “five point” selfies and not “half” selfies), when she upgraded to an iPhone 12 Pro last year and discovered that her rear camera had a ultra wide angle. lens that could make her and her friends look “distorted and crazy”.

But what seemed like a joke was bigger than Ms. Herzig, a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, thought. A few months ago, after spring break, she opened Instagram with a feed full of 0.5 selfies.

“All of a sudden one day everyone was taking 0.5 selfies,” he said.

Wherever Gen Z hangs out these days, they’re almost guaranteed to snap a 0.5 selfie, capturing the moment with random compliments — or a comical lack thereof. Selfies 0.5 are popping up on Instagram, proliferating in group chats, becoming the talk of parties, and are often taken to chronicle the minutiae of daily life.

Unlike a traditional selfie, for which people can endlessly prepare and pose, the 0.5 selfie, so called because users tap 0.5x on a smartphone camera to switch to ultra-wide mode, has become popular. because it is far from being cured. Since the ultra wide angle lens is built into the rear cameras of phones, people cannot see themselves taking a 0.5 selfie, creating random images that convey the fantasy of distortion.

“You don’t really know how it’s going to turn out, so you just have to trust the process and hope something good comes out of it,” said Callie Booth, 19, of Rustburg, Virginia, adding that a good 0.5 selfie was the “antithesis “from a good front.

In her best 0.5 selfies, Booth said, she and her friends are blurry and serious. “It’s not the traditional picture perfect,” she said. “It makes it more fun to look back.”

The problem is that taking a 0.5 selfie is difficult. Due to the rear camera, angling and physical maneuvering are a must. If selfie takers want everyone to fit in one frame, they have to stretch their arms as far and up as possible. If they want to maximize how much a face is distorted, they should position their phone perpendicular to their forehead and right at their hairline.

Adding to those stunts, because the phone flips over, 0.5 selfie fans have to press the volume button to take the photo, being careful not to confuse it with the power button. Sometimes 0.5 selfies with large groups also require the use of a self-timer. Nothing is seen until the selfie is taken, which is half the fun.

“I just take it and don’t actually look at it until later, so it’s more about capturing the moment than seeing what it all looks like,” said Soul Park, 21, of Starkville, Miss.

Wide angle and ultra wide angle lenses are not new. First patented in 1862, the lens is often used to capture more than one scene with its wider field of view, particularly in architectural, landscape and street photography.

“It goes back as far as photography has been around,” said Grant Willing, a photographer who reviews cameras for electronics superstore B&H Photo Video.

Popularized by celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Kim Kardashian, and Paris Hilton, selfies are a more modern innovation (although even this is sometimes disputed). In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries added “selfie” to its online dictionary and named it Word of the Year.

The 0.5 selfie was born from the convergence of the wide-angle lens with the selfie, made possible when ultra-wide lenses were added to Apple’s iPhone 11 and Samsung’s Galaxy S10 in 2019 and to newer models.

Due to the wide angle, subjects closer to the lens appear larger, while those further away appear smaller. That change distorts subjects in a way that is welcome, say, in architectural photography but traditionally discouraged in portraiture.

“Wide-angle for portrait shots was always very different because it distorted it more,” said Alessandro Uribe-Rheinbolt, 23, a Colombian photographer living in Detroit.

Mr. Uribe-Rheinbolt said he had recently brought the wide angle from his portrait work, where clients asked him to look like a 0.5 selfie, into his personal life, using it to capture his friends, their outfits and their routine. daily.

“It gives it a more casual look,” he said. “There’s a lot more creativity with the way she leans in and approaches.”

An unedited 0.5 selfie is more organically fun than a head-on selfie. Posting the selfies on Instagram, where the limbs are noodles or the googly eyes, is meant to be silly, making it seem like photographers take themselves, and social media, less seriously.

“Something about this breaks the fourth wall because you’re acknowledging that you’re taking a picture for the sake of taking a picture,” said Hannah Kaplon, 21, of Sacramento. “He’s trying to make Instagram casual again.”

Ms. Kaplon, a recent Duke University graduate, said she now took a 0.5 selfie for most occasions: a study night at the library, a dinner party with 11 guests, a basketball party. .

“Pretty soon, wherever I and my friends were, I was like, ‘We have to take a 0.5 selfie,'” he said. “The trend has taken on a life of its own.”

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