02/19/2013 07:02 am ET Updated Apr 21, 2013

Mobile Photography Takes Off On Easter Island (PHOTOS)

Short of a safari through the African bush, there's probably no more photogenic place on Earth than Easter Island. The stone statues that make it famous demand their share of lens time but so too do the dramatic volcanic cliffs that plunge into the deep blue seas. Wild horses grazing in flowering pastures give scale to landscape shots, and puffy clouds dot the ever-changing skies.

And yet on a recent visit, the most notable photographic news wasn't that thousands of photos were being taken by tourists at every turn. It was that so many of those visitors were capturing their vacation memories with iPads and mobile phones instead of big-ticket SLRs.

You might call it the Instagram effect, the revelation that snapping the photo and sharing it is more important that how sharply rendered the result may be. It's a modern spin on the classic photographer's cliche that the best camera is the one you have with you.

Inspired by the mobile photography adopters all around me, I too started packing my phone on hikes around the island, sometimes even leaving my SLR in my hotel room, content to capture snapshots with the surprisingly powerful camera on the back of my Android phone.

In lieu of Instagram, I gave the photo app Vignette a try, a program that took my raw photos and processed them into vintage-style square-format shots inspired by the cult favorite Diana camera. The results weren't the same as I would've had with a pricey full-frame rig, but they certainly captured the dreamy qualities of spending a week on the mysterious island.

Easter Island in Vintage Filters