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Apps Uncovered 13 June 2014

(Selected by Bob Weil)

My selection this week for Apps Uncovered is a bit of a meditation on what we do as photographers – self-consciously, even self-reflexively attempting to decode and engage the world we see around us and imbue it with meaning. Sometimes, it’s by very directly examining ourselves (e.g., selfies, such as those from Michelle Robinson and Shel Serkin), sometimes it’s about positioning objects (flowers, painted marks on paper and other ephemera – Anne Highfield, Em Kachouro) so that we can lend them meaning, and sometimes it’s by the deliberate arrangement/recombination of seemingly incongruent elements into some sort of statement or observation about the human condition (Nicki Fitz-Gerald). “Realistic” street portraits blend into still lifes and surreal, abstract and collaborative works round out the selections. Other contributors include Sheldon Serkin (lead photograph),

By coincidence, the lead entry is by Sheldon Serkin – one of the contributors to our book The Art of iPhone Photography (available on Amazon). I’ve followed Shel’s work for nearly three years – for a good year before we began working on the book, up through the present. His amazing chapter in our book recounted his approach to capturing souls in his street photography in a way that profoundly resonated for me. Several people (like me dad) who read the entire book without necessarily planning to actively pursue iPhoneography remarked at how moved they were by his work – and just as significantly, by his approach to his subjects. This particular shot of Sheldon capturing his own reflection in passing caused me to laugh out loud when I first saw it. It reminded me of the moment when the curtain was drawn aside and we were presented with a view of the great and wonderful Oz in the Wizard of Oz. I remembered how over the years Shel had assigned names to subjects in his photos that seemed to lend each a personal history and a certain gravitas. It seems fitting that he would come full circle and include a selfie among his gallery of characters.

In an unusual turn of events, two artists have been recognized twice for different images in the same week – Diana Nicholette Jeon and Michelle Robinson. Three are selfies. And speaking of selfies, there’s a reason why this has been declared as the year of the selfie – we have additional self portraits by hanakai2001 and, of course, the aforementioned capture by Sheldon Serkin (five total this go-round).

The progression of images is from realistic to surreal and finally to abstract. I hope you enjoy the journey!

If you’d like to see your images in the running for selection to our weekly Apps Uncovered feature, be sure to list the apps you used to create your image when you upload it to the iPhoneographyCentral Flickr group. (And as an added bonus to other members who would love to learn from your successes, consider adding the “Backstory” describing the creative process that led you to capture and process the image as you did.

7:07 AM "Sheldon"

7:07 AM “Sheldon”by Shel Serkin

Apps used: Shot on an iPhone 5s with Oggl, using the Lowy lens and the BlacKeys XF film.

Backstory: This self-portrait was caught during the 8th hour of 24 straight hours of street shooting on March 22nd, as I joined street photographers around the world participating in the 24 Hour project. After spending 12:00 – 7:00 AM shooting on the Lower East Side, West Village, Penn Station and Times Square, and a brief break to recharge both brain/body and iphone, my fellow shooters and I hit the streets again. Walking up Broadway as dawn broke, I caught my reflection in the glass of the building, reflexively grabbed the image and moved on. Two months later I came upon it in my camera roll and was surprised to find a selfie that I actually like!

Beltrame_6-13-14

Coffee Break by Giancarlo Beltrame

App used: Hipstamatic (201)

Backstory: This image is a shot stolen. I was in a bar with a friend for a coffee and a chat. In the mirror in front of me I saw these two elders, who were behind me. I shot blindly, imagining the shot in my mind, three photos with Hipstamatic: the first with a color combination, the second and the third with this combination. The third is this. Magic. I let it rest in my archives for three years and more (it was February 2011), then one day I saw it and I knew it was time to publish it.

I met this couple at other times in that bar, but the atmosphere that they had that day, that subtle play of complicity and at same time of distance, I have not found.

As the photographer and theorist of photography Franco Vaccari says, this is for me a perfect example of technological unconscious.

Liz_Traynor_Silhouette_6-13-14

Silhouettes and Frames 1 by Liz Traynor

Apps used: Apple 5s Camera and Snapseed

Backstory: I’ve been putting together a little series of shots that are silhouettes and frames. I like shooting straight into the sun or bright light then upping the contrast, usually in Snapseed, to accentuate the silhouette. I like the poses of the two ladies in this shot. I like that we don’t need to see their faces to know that there is a level of camaraderie and companionship between the two women.

June's Gift

June’s Gift by Anne Highfield

Apps used: Snapseed and Mextures

Backstory: I placed this vase of flowers in a west-facing window in my home in the very early evening hours. The waning light highlighted the peonies perfectly while keeping the background dark, so the photo needed very few edits overall.

I first adjusted the shadows and reduced the saturation a bit in Snapseed and then played around with the tilt-shift tool to adjust the appearance of the depth of field and take the darker peony out of focus a bit. Then, I wanted to give the whole image a slightly antique feeling, so I added some grungy textures using the Mextures app.

unrequited love

unrequited love by Diana Nicholette Jeon

App used: Apple 5s native camera and Stackables

Backstory: I live in Hawai’i in a high rise apartment, so we don’t have a backyard garden. And I’m definitely NOT a great taker of flower photography, in general – I’m more focused on making work that makes a social statement of some sort; it’s a holdover from my art school training; it’s one that I have used for years in making traditional, installation and digital works.

But on Mother’s Day of this year, my husband and son each gave me a single rose, replete with greenery and baby’s breath. I put these both in a vase together, and they sat on the counter between the kitchen and the hall. As they started to wither away, they began to remind me about my mom, who in March of this year had been diagnosed with terminal cancer (and ultimately passed away 3 weeks ago.) As the roses continued their journey away from life just a bit ahead of my own mom’s similar journey, they started to take on postures that reminded me of other people and other times in my life. I started to see them as “characters.” So I then took a series of photos about the life of a relationship using those roses and the human gestures they mimicked as stand-ins for people.

Due to my mother’s recent passing, for the past three weeks I have been in Massachusetts at my childhood home, closing up her house. So, I walked around the yard, reminiscing about how my tiny, blue-collar-resident, small town changed over the past 20 years to a become suburb of million-dollar homes, a place written about as the “safest town in America” for those seeking refuge from city living. As I did so, I saw this one flowering plant still left at the side of the house; still in bloom. But of the blossoms, one sagged downward and seemed “sad”, as if the others did not care for it. Hence was born the idea for this work, called, “Unrequited Love.”

Blue

Blue by shinnya umetsu

Apps used: Snapseed, Filterstorm, Photoforge2, Picfx and Mextures.

Backstory:
The picture is my older sister and nieces.
On a gloomy cloudy day, I went for a walk with them.
A hydrangea blooms everywhere in the rainy season of June.
Heavy sky, big tree, blue hydrangea, blue umbrella and parent and child.
It was totally an image such as in the one paragraph of the children’s story.

Wild at Heart  "A prayer for the wild at heart, kept in a cage."  Tennessee Williams

Wild at Heart “A prayer for the wild at heart, kept in a cage.” Tennessee Williams by Barbara duBois

Apps used: IPhone5/iPad3 ~ Juxtaposer, Blender, Snapseed, Waterlogue, DistressedFX, ScratchCam

Backstory: This image is in my Heartfelt series and was created June 2nd. The title is Wild at Heart with the quote by Tennessee Williams, “A prayer for the wild at heart, kept in a cage.” Maya Angelou died May 28th, and I did reread many of her works including the poem, Caged Bird. I think it is safe to say, she influenced this image in a big way. I didn’t have the image planned out in my mind other than it was to have a heart theme to go in my series. I worked intuitively putting layers together until it told me what it was.

The last thing I did was research a quote to go with the titled image. It is made with five different stamps I created in Juxtaposer. In between stamps, I edited layers in the different apps for texturing and then blending different versions in Blender before bringing it back into Juxtaposer for another stamp. I can’t tell you the exact sequence of my work flow, because stopping to write it all down while I’m doing it, breaks my app trance.

gracelands

Gracelands by Veronica Hassell

Apps used: Hipstamatic, Snapseed, iColorama,

Backstory: The backstory to Gracelands represents fragments of time spent on my family’s farm. This photo is really a memory of these passing years and a story of the escape this valley has given us.

The original image was shot in Hipstamatic because the images produced have such a high resolution. I edited this photo in Icolorama using the brushes/abstract selection. I blended two photos together. The second image I chose was a softly blurred flowering bush that added a ghostly feeling to the image. I finished this image by toning it with a sepia. This photo is part of a series of this farm and my thankfulness for the endless days of solitude it has provided. Thanks for letting me share this story.

On the morning of my ruin
I will dress in a vest of bees
as the sun crimps the sky
and light spreads, tight,
intricate as a honeycomb
over the home I’ve chosen.
The bees will cloak me; goldenly
close they’ll wander me,
those I once feared,
those who seal the suit of mail
no other ruin can sting.

07.06.14 (Creative 365 Project)

07.06.14 (Creative 365 Project) by Michelle Robinson

Apps Used:

Procamera 7
Snapseed
Handy Photo
Mextures
Stackables
Image Blender

Backstory:

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
― Leonard Cohen

This image is part of the Creative 365 Project that I embarked on this year. It’s a second 365 that I am doing but this time round, the idea is to actually attempt to create images.

Last year I did some silhouette images with a back light. Whilst the results were interesting, I decided to improve on the set-up this time around, using more iPhone-appropriate hardware – in this case it was an Olloclip case on a regular tripod.

I did about 20 poses and each day I am guided by my own mood as to how I want to edit it. It is the same for the other image you picked. Most of my self portraits are emotional responses to how I am feeling.

Blind with Anger

Blind with Anger by Ade Santora

Apps used: Photo taken and edited with iphone4, apps: Hueless, IcoloramaS, Superimpose, Afterlight, Mextures, Snapseed, Photo Power.

Backstory: The story behind this photo is a person who was already tired, fed up and resigned to her life, because she wishes to get out of her life full of emptiness and gloomy, just imaginary. The current remaining, only hatred and anger implicit in her mind, without being able to do anything.

04.06.14 (Creative 365 Project)

04.06.14 (Creative 365 Project) by Michelle Robinson

Apps used:

Procamera7
Snapseed
Photofx Ultra
iColorama
Camera Awesome
Wood Camera
Mextures
Image Blender

Backstory:

“Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.”
Khalil Gibran

Most of the story for this image is similar to the other image that you have selected. Except that I wanted to re-visit iColorama. It’s been a long time since I used the app and I came across the Glass effects that they have.

Untitled

Untitled by hanakai2001

Apps used: Hipstamatic, Retouch, Decim8, DecoSketch, LensLight, CamBlast, gelo, Repix, Superimpose ColorVu, PhotoPower, iColoramaS

Backstory: My dog likes to eat the cherry in the outside. when I picked them, my hand ran red. it intrigued me a lot! that inspiration made me to take this picture. I set iPhone in my back. I used the remote controller and took with hipstamatic. the apps I used as you see. I edited to use my favorite graphical textures.

Long Journey

Long Journey by Em Kachouro

Apps used: ProCameraXL and Pix.

Backstory: “You have 30 minutes. You can take not more than 30 kilograms.”

My grandma and her two little girls were forced out of the Sudetenland into exile at the end of the Second World War. They suffered flight and expulsion, traumatic experiences, affecting their whole life – and I guess also the life of the next generation. Several layers of clothing, blankets, food, valuables, some photos, and the document folder which you can see on the photo here. This document folder was essential to apply for a widow’s pension – a very tedious process that took a lot of years. When I found this document folder after the death of my mother, I understood so much.

The document folder symbolizes a long journey, which is not over yet (flying arrow).

I used the effects from the app “Pix: Pixel Mixer” to clearly depict the exertions of this long journey and the historical connotation.

Somedays just turn out that way...

Some days just turn out that way… by Diana Nicholette Jeon

Apps used: Diana, Distressed FX, Hipstamatic Oggl, 100 Cameras, Mextures (lots of versions made), Image Blender (many iterations recombined) Mextures, and LOT of iColorama (made many different versions then painted them over each other using new painting tools) then color adjustment in iColorama and VSCO and blending for final output in Image Blender. Finally, Painterly

Backstory:

Sometimes at night, when I can’t sleep, serendipity happens.

On those nights, I tend to play with my phone while lying in bed. Many of those nights, I play with the Diana app. That’s because I can just hit the dice icon and see what happens -I don’t have to think when I dont want to, and when I am lacking in sleep, I definitely don’t want to.

That night, Diana made a combination, and I could see that while it was far from a completed image, it had potential. I saved it and then later on, I worked on it and made an image I was happy with, but still I felt it could go much further. Later that week, I was beta testing a release of iColorama. And I had visited the Collaborations group on Facbook. I saw the image of the vase of flowers that Gianluca had provided, and everything clicked into place. I knew exactly where I wanted to take the image. Hence, this image came into being.

Process:
Gianluca Ricoveri provided a semi-closeup picture of a vase of flowers in a room for the Collaboration that week. I chose to use only the flowers and vase from the image. I processed his image several times in Mextures, then combined those in Image Blender. Then I used three of my own images.

Original photo #1 (Self portrait): Native Camera iPhone 5. App used, VSCO.

Original Photo #2 (Photo of dessert at a restaurant on Kauai.): Native Camera iPhone 5.

The third image is the one I created from the above two images. It’s here on Flickr, and is called “See No, Hear No, Speak No.”

I took all of these into Painterly and created a rough draft painted version, then I moved to iColorama where I did a ton of work using brushes, image blending and color work, and added a texture or two as well.

Melts in the wall. And I am the arrow, (Ariel by Sylvia Plath)

Melts in the wall. And I am the arrow, (Ariel by Sylvia Plath) by Nicki Fitz-Gerald

Apps used: Original images shot with an iPhone 5 using ProCamera and processed on an iPad using Leonardo, ProCreate and Miracam.

Backstory: On my short journey to work, to the shops or to our local gardens, my iPhone is always in my hand and I continuously collect images that resonate with me in some way. If I stopped to ask “why?” – I might never take a picture and the moment may have gone. My pleasure at the end of a day is is to create an image from the props I have gathered via my iPhone. I usually start a piece of work, listening to some fine tunes, rolling through my camera roll looking for a background image. In this case it was a blurred light image with some nice soft texture. I brought it into Leonardo and began adding more and more textures (often drain textures and lettering as seen here) from my image library. The soft edges are created using the brilliant gradient blending tool and further luminnous effects are achieved by stacking layers using different blending modes. I make heavy use of Leonardo’s magic wand tool as well to eliminate unwanted parts of textures.

The final touch to this image was adding the text on the red line. I found the text to be too dominant and didn’t want the word to be legible since it didn’t really add anything to the image apart from its texture so I smudged it in ProCreate with the smudging tool. The luminous eggshell look was – I think – achieved by adding a filter in Miracam. – oh and I almost forgot, once I have finished an image, I look through poetry or lyrics to find words that “sing” or “say” my image. Sylvia Plath is one of my favourite poets and a line from one of her most favourite poems “Ariel” was selected for this piece.

Bob Weil

Bob is the co-author of The Art of iPhone Photography (with Nicki Fitz-Gerald), published by Rocky Nook photography books and supports Nicki in managing iPhoneography Central and the associated Flickr group.

8 Comments

  1. Veronica Hassell said:

    Thank you Bob for sharing one of my photos this week. I love the whole collection. It’s always quite interesting reading the backstory to these photos. The 24 hour shoot sounds quite interesting. Would love to see more of those photos. Great showcase this week.

    • Bob WeilBob Weil said:

      The pleasure is all mine, Veronica. I think those backstories are what distinguish our small weekly collection from many of the others – for me, they add so much value, to get into the head of each artist and understand their thinking. Thank you for the kind words as well!

  2. Tracy Mitchell Griggs said:

    All images are unique and inspired / especially enjoyed the back stories this week

  3. Anne Highfield said:

    Bob, what an extra-special treat to have this posted on my birthday! Thank you for your tireless work. The world is more beautiful because of it!

    • Bob WeilBob Weil said:

      Delighted, Anne – for the timing! And it’s always fun to include one of your beautiful images! Thank you for the very kind words.

  4. Michelle Robinson said:

    Bob, my apologies for taking so long to respond. I am truly moved that you chose to include two of my images in such a beautifully curated article. Barbara’s piece is outstanding and one of my all-time favourites: Veronica. To be included with them, along with the great Sheldon Serkin is truly an honour. And a new discovery for me: hanakai2000 – thank you!

  5. Pingback: Two Images Featured on iPhoneography Central’s “Apps Uncovered” | Michelle Robinson

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