Dustin Vaughn-Luma, @dvl on Instagram, specializes in snapping what’s around him, and making it look beautiful. 

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Carpenter bees and common houseflies become surreal art pieces. Snapshots of his children playing on the beach are timeless silhouettes. A landfill (and a whole lot of Filterstorm, Vaughn-Luma admits in the caption) is transformed into a verdant field reminiscent of Ireland.

 His is a fascinating Instagram feed, especially for such a newcomer to photography.

“I never really found any interest in it until I got my iPhone,” said the busy father of two young boys, who works as a Merchant Development Account Manager with Yahoo! at the company’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. and is also attending grad school.

 Dustin Vaughn-Luma. Portrait by his wife, Lindsay Vaughn-Luma.

Despite being married to an amateur photographer, it was the iPhone 4 that sparked Vaughn-Luma’s photographic exploration.

Being able to share his images on Instagram further encouraged him.

“It’s kind of an ego stroke,” he said of the feedback facilitated through the app. “That was originally what addicted me to the app. In reality, that kind of looses its luster pretty quick.”

The deeper connections he formed within the Instagram community kept him coming back. The photo sharing platform also became an educational tool as he reached out to other users to learn how they accomplished a certain look or effect.

Today, Vaughn-Luma says, “I really use the app just to find cool photos.”

His style has changed considerably since he started posting images using the app.

“I’m really looking for more of a natural representation of what I see,” he said, noting that he now limits the amount of pre-processing he does before sharing images on Instagram.

At one point, he was spending 30 minutes per image, running each through Filterstorm and other apps to achieve the look he wanted. Now his process is only to add some sharpening and quick tonal tweaks, usually in Snapseed.

“It sharpens the image really well, and it doesn’t make things overly grainy,” he said.

Vaughn-Luma still experiments with Filterstorm, Photo Noir and Over, an app to add text to an image. He primarily uses ProCamera to capture images, and also occasionally Hipstamatic.

For those otherworldly insect images, Vaughn-Luma uses a simple set of lens adapters from Photojojo on his iPhone 4, calling on the wide angle when he wants to get close to the carpenter bees or other critters.

Most recently, Vaughn-Luma has been experimenting with astro photography, using an adapter to connect his iPhone to his telescope.

“It’s changing the way we are interacting,” Vaughn-Luma said of mobile photography. “Instagram alone has done wonders for the world of photography in general.”

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