Fifth of May adventures in Hipstaland

I have not abandoned painting, rather I have been exploring a new tool most of us carry around but not necessarily think of as a camera, as it is an iPhone. So the last several months I have been busy developing a FaceBook fan page, along with a website, The iPhone Arts, which is dedicated to the iPhone and its capabilities to create fine art despite some limitations, as I have demonstrated with my previous post of the MPA International Exhibit.

So recently I was invited by Synthetic software company to attend one of their private functions, a Cinco de Mayo party at their headquarters. Synthetic is best known as Hipstamatic, a popular camera application for the iPhone available at iTunes. One passed through heavy wooden hacienda style doors into a small reception area and then through another wide door into a waiting area that opens up to a large room. There the Limousines DJ’s had set up a sound system just in front the Hipstamatic marquee post sign. 

The area had filled quickly with guests and conversation ensued, and many pictures were taken with an iPhone to capture the moment.

A number of guests headed up to the roof patio, as it was a perfect night and a full moon appeared that evening larger then usual, as it was the closest to the earth all year.

On another lever, passed the Macintosh work stations is the conference room, where Hipstamatic had set up a staging area with two studio lights and plenty of south of the border props. 


Throughout the evening, guest ventured into the conference room for some silly fun, as others and myself took part in capturing the merriment.

People moved back and forth between the floors, the roof patio and back to the dance floor, which by now had filled up nicely.


Even during festive moments ones iPhone keeps others abreast of the evenings progress and though the iPhone’s camera was king, a few took the LoFi Lomography approach in recording the evening.

In the meantime, I head back once more to the dance floor, to further test the iPhone under constant movement in combination to low light conditions, something the iPhone and other smartphones fall short in providing acceptable results, mostly due to a major increase in grain.


I had a wonderful evening and it was a pleasure to see Douglas Lambert again and engage in conversation before duty called him away. In the meantime, have a look out for their free on-line monthly magazine for the iPad called Snap, which is being launched this coming June.


First MPA International Exhibit

I recently attended the 15 member juried first International Mobile Photography Awards Exhibit with my good friend Monica, which is now held at the ArtHaus gallery in San Francisco for a three month run. The exhibition was envisioned and organized by fine art photographer, TV producer, filmmaker and mobile photographer, including the Founder of Mobile Photography Award, Daniel Berman, in partnership with FotoMoto, CanvasPop, smartphone application developers, and others.

MPA poster

There are 59 photographs in the exhibit, of which a few were displayed on canvas, with the majority in the photographic traditional manner, as a framed and matted print. The winning entries were categorized into three categories, beginning with Daniel Berman’s founders choices, winners for their specific use of a photographic application, and the third section based upon a specific subject matter categories, as ‘Beach Life’, ‘Self-Portrait’ and so forth.

Though one perceives all images were created using the iPhone, any mobile phone device, from iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Nolia, etc; iOS devises such as iPod Touch and iPad was accepted in this competition.
Processing of each photo had to be accomplished on a mobile device, no desktop computer editing was permitted. Any photo editing application could be used, provided it runs directly on the mobile device, anything else would disqualify the photographers entree.

This limitation placed upon the photographer by the MPA submission guidelines, has revealed some amazing surprises, especially as to the individual creative ability and what actually is possible when one applies their imagination. One might say this alone is a good reason for seeing the exhibit and discovering how artists are merging technology with what the photographer sees and envisions their end results should be.

Conflict — Emily Rose

There were numerous reasons for both Monica and I in seeing this mobile phone exhibit. Though I am new to iPhoneography, I am not to the field of photography, having engaged as a professional commercial advertising and editorial photographer for more than thirty years. So my interest in this exhibit ranged from the creative use of a smartphone, with minimal use of a photo/camera post processing application to numerous applications in achieving a desired effect. This included closer examination of the artists technical results to the final presentation, the photographic art print itself.

Since there was a good range in print size, the quality spectrum was also greatly varied. Those photographs with minimal post production had the best results, producing sharp, full tone range prints. This is mostly due to the manipulation of digital pixel, causing a softer edge and generally a more muted look.

This was not necessarily a negative when one considers the subject matter or what the photographer was trying to achieve, which in most cases was a photographic illustration.

Awesome Sauce — Sara Tune

        The rules and selection process

The exhibit was narrowed down from more than 2200 submissions, coming from 114 countries, resulting in the winning entries and a number of honorable mentions. This was “the world’s largest paid open call in the short history of mobile art and photography,” according to James Bacchi, gallerist of ArtHaus. 

With an entree of fee of $20 for three images and $30 for five, with every image allowed to enter three categories. The entry fees for the Mobile Photo Awards are used to offset the costs of prizes, prints, framing, display, shipping, infrastructure, and a three city gallery tour, with “no further cost to the selected entrance.” 

        Photo Categories 
    • Architecture & Design
    • Beach Life
    • Black & White
    • Digita Art & Collage
    • Fashion
    • Landscape
    • Music & Entertainers
    • People & Portraits
    • Plants & Flowers
    • Self-Portraits
    • Sunlight
    • Waterscapes
    • Wildlife & Pets
    • Abstracts & Graphic Art
    • Street Photography

        Applications Categories
    • “Creative iPhoneography” with FX Photo Studio
    • “Pure Beauty” with  Perfect Photo
    • ShakeItPhoto
    • Diptic
    • CrossProcess
    • Percolator
    • MonoPhoix
    • Juxtaposer
    • Color Splash

Images range from 12"x12" to 18"x24" inches in size, with 16 entrees being 20"x20" inches.

Caught in the Headlights — Chan Car Mun

        Final outcome

The roll of the smartphone, in particular the iPhone plays in the development and direction of photography cannot be dismissed as child’s play, for it is reshaping the meaning and interpretation of photography itself. Even if and when film makes a comeback as a medium, the iPhone will have changed how we view photography as a serious art form. 

When we will look back on these times in a couple of decades form now, it will be no different, then when George Eastman first introduced in 1910 his box camera. Known as the Kodak No. 2 Brownie, it was a very simple box camera with a fixed-focus lens and single shutter speed. Though it underwent design changes, the Kodak Brownie remained very popular until the 1960s.

The exhibit proved beyond any doubt, the iPhone and its rivals are a viable instrument with which to capture an image and turn it into a serious work of art. Though the photographer still faces hurdles as to a certain technical limitations itself, especially that by software developers, we most not lose sight, iPhoneography and smartphone cameras are here to stay. 

It is now up to the end user to demand software developers to step up to the plate as jag.jr has started to do with their release this month of 645 PRO, one of the most advance applications for taking pictures. Though this is a first step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go.

Still, the majority of developers need to start providing smartphone software that addresses how photographers use this new technology in the creation of fine art. Providing the photographer with software that addresses not only the taking of the the initial exposure, but also serious post production, with a little less emphasis on LoFi special effects, that after a time, one will only tire of.

In the hands of creative artists, the leading smartphone, the iPhone will continue to push the photographic boundaries, from the traditional to the abstract, while continuously exploring new ways to merge vision and technology with the artist’s end result.

With smart phones reaching the level of fine art proportions, this exhibit should not be missed. The show brings attention to mobile photography and its promise that the art world can no longer ignore. 

Double Dutch Nuns — Jose Chavarry

Dandelion Wishes — Tony Docherty

The exhibit runs from April 5 through June 30, 2012. ArtHaus gallerists are James Bacchi and Annette Schutz. The gallery is located at 411 Brannan Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. Their hours are; Tuesday – Friday, 11am-6pm and Saturday, Noon-5pm. For other information, please visit the website ArtHaus-SF.

San Francisco Fine Art Fair, Fort Mason - Photo: MPA website

The Mobile Photography Awards and ArtHaus exhibit will be part of the San Francisco Fine Art Fair at Fort Mason, taking place May 17-20, showing between 20-35 images from the current exhibit.

The exhibit will also travel to Miami, Florida and then to Belgium.

        Other resources to pursue

MoHo interview with with Daniel Bermann

MPA complete First International MPA exhibit

MPA submission guidelines for the first MPA International exhibit. The call for submission for the second MPA International Exhibit begins anew with new categories and challenges in September 2012.

Mobile Photography Awards website

ArtHaus official Exhibition Catalog 

Horizontally Vertical — Eric Einwiller

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The beauty of a magnolia

The last ten days or so, I have been exploring further the potential of the iPhone 4S camera as an artistic tool, including the many different applications available at iTunes to manipulate and enhance those images.

Though there are obvious limitations, there are also many other advantages allowing for spontaneities without having to carry around a bulky load hanging from ones shoulder. So on a recent walk I came across a magnolia tree just begging to be examined more closely for that interesting flower.


With the desired end results achieved, there is the wish for some to know how the final image was achieved and as one can see from the collage, the original photo is rather drab in appearance. Though it is not a fair representation of iPhone’s capabilities, I should note that image was taken at dusk, hence the drab colors, which proved advantages in the end for achieving an old masters painting look.

Magnolia — before and after

In order to achieve the appearance of the final image, all post work but one were done within the iPhone, using Snapseed and ScratchCam, both available at iTunes. After saving several versions I wanted to blend the black/white old age emulated results with a more colorful version to attain a painterly quality of an old master, whose painting has been covered with decades of neglect.

Though there are applications available for merging two images within the iPhone, I elected to import both images into Photoshop for this final step, primarily because I wish to find a suitable program for the iPhone and not be rushed into it. In the meantime I continue looking for my next iPhoneography or Instagram photo.

This renewed vigor in photography has not only been a bust creatively but also kept the dark clouds from invading the mind, collapsing ones daily routine.

Those of you interested in iPhone photography and applications available, please visit ‘The iPhone Arts’ FaceBook ‘Page’ or to view my Instagram gallery.

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The making of an editorial still-life

As most posts require the accompaniment of images, either for demonstration or simply enhancement to ones words, achieving that photograph can be a work of art in itself. With the recent post to a Cats Golden Years, an image was needed to illustrate several of my notebooks being used for the Family Secrets Revisited project.

It may seem like a straight forward assignment to take a photograph of a notebook, but to make it more interesting, means creating an environment that not only looks real, but also feels natural.

Image shows two fill-cards to bounce light back onto the set

Apart from pulling together the elements and background props with which to compose a mini set, a stage that not only re-creates a personal environment, but also evokes an emotion, a mood in the visiting viewer, thereby bridging the authors words with the reader/visitor.

The following several photographs show a set assembled on a large table near a window with northern light exposure, as this has become my favorite method of photographing, even though I have studio flash lighting equipment.

Whenever I need a still-life type photograph, I approach the project the same way as if I were painting a scene, setting up first the easel to establish a point of view. In photography, I use a tripod with which to set up my point of view. While using the camera’s view finder, I begin placing the elements on the table, adding, removing, putting back into the frame an element, building the set.

During the first phase of building the set, I will also be fine tuning the tripods position, height and angle to achieve the desired composition, while in phase two the main focus is in building the set and how it appears through the viewfinder.

An open case for reading glasses on the lower left side, helps to keep upright the cover
of a book acting as a gobo to block of window light from a portion of the set

Phase three is controlling and adjusting the lighting, using a gobo to block of any light where it is not wanted and using a fill card or a reflector to add more light back into the set, making shadows not only lighter but also more gradual, while giving a little punch of light to other areas.

When you think you have everything in place, we enter phase four. It is now time to take several different exposures, some that are normal and a little over, including varying the ƒ-stop to change the focal point of the photograph.

Since having added the iPhone 4S smartphone’s camera to my arsenal for taking pictures, the Nikon D70 is still my main workhorse, the iPhone 4S allows me to do things with ease, especially experiment with different angles and points of view in tight surroundings, as is evident in these images here. 


Alternative I — iPhone camera                          Alternative II — iPhone camera

Phase five is editing the selection of images to a handful and optimizing their appearance in programs like PhotoShop and making our final selection. The final process can be the most difficult, as I finally settled for the Nikon version, though I prefer the iPhone's iPhoneography image. In the end, one needs to approach the selection process from an editor’s editorial point of view.

Editorial version — Nikon camera

My favorite version — iPhone camera

It was a close, gut wrenching call between the two.

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An evening with artist Mira M White

This last Monday, the El Cerrito Art Association had its first meeting for the new year. We hosted guest artist Mira White demonstrated her painting technique to a pact crowd, revealing the many stages her paintings undergoing.

ECCA membership and guest

Mira M White

Her painting process is more meditative and intuitive then predictable, as she states “I have to be able to take a journey with my work.” Her work evolves over time, sometimes as much as four year before a painting is considered complete.

Influenced by Eastern philosophy, Mira has developed a number of visual symbols, which are found in many of her paintings that build on a very personal mythology. After a trip to Europe a few years back, she was captivated by the many clusters of small villages and their houses, that it also has become part of her visual symbolism.


In addition to the symbol of homes, there are ladders, square and triangles, which establish a personal the language, reflecting her mythology, all of which is transformed and accomplished through the many layers a painting goes through. There  are as many as fifteen to twenty or more layers, in which Mira combines numerous medium technique. Each layer a subtle expression of her thoughts.


Her primary medium is combining watercolor and pastels, including acrylic, oil sticks and graphite powder, and possible offset with collage material. Apart from using multiple mediums to layer her work, Mira also employs various techniques with which she applies her medium and always searching for different methods with which to work. 

Mira answering a members question

Currently she has been expanding her visual expressions by experimenting with encaustic painting, exploring her visual mythology by translating it in a new medium.

For further information and classes you can visit her website.

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Elegance and Simplicity

In my last post I shared with you the development of a textured surface made created from paper that would be painted using acrylic and/or oils and now I would like to provide some samples of 5 x 5 inch study paintings in which you can see the results that can achieved.

All the paintings in this post, I used acrylic paints, except for one, were I used spray paint on a portion of the canvas. Some of the canvases had a portion of there surface area painted not with a brush, but applying a technique used by etchers preparing their plates for printing, by wiping off the ink, including using either a cloth or paper towel to remove some paint, only to use it also like a rubber stamp. This allows for the paint that was removed to be transferred back in a different area and by only covering the top surface, it leaves the crevasses untouched.

We can faintly see this method of transfer of off-white paint having been used on the larger area of the canvas to finish the painting. While a more dramatic effects are aimed for in the next sample by using brush and the etching method of cleaning ones plate.

The etcher’s method is when one uses either the edge of ones palm to wipe the surface of the copper plate and remove the excess ink. By using the side palm of ones hand, paper towel or a piece of soft cloths shaped in a ball and then carefully wiping the surface of the canvas and removing the wet acrylic paint so that it only portions remains in the crevasses of the papers textures. This can be clearly seen in the image above, were multiple colors remain scattered randomly about, building numerous layers of color amidst the texture.

The following painting uses a number of different combinations. First the right portion is sealed with painters tape so that I can brush the color yellow, followed by orange that is wiped off. However next I add a little orange acrylic directly to a ball of cloth and then with the same motion of removing paint from the surface, I am now striking the raised ridges of the paper texture and leaving behind concentrated amounts of random color.

Ones this portion of the painting is completely dried—I usually wait a full day—this area is taped off to protect the surface from the other area being worked.

Now instead of using brush or cloth subtract or transfer method, I employ spray paint, containing a fine texture to emulate a particular surface of stone. It was first given a light pass before a second one to firmly cover the area evenly with paint and texture.

Study for Elegance and Simplicity

Upon the completion of this study, I fell in love with the limited color selection and how the paper’s texture reacted to it that I would have to attempt a larger size painting. Doing so would also reveal how the idea on a much smaller canvas translates to a larger medium size one.

Elegance and Simplicity, close-up

On a technical note, the upper left area was first worked, meaning that the rest of the canvas was covered to protect the area. Instead of painting the exposed section, I applied some paint to the cloth and using the etcher’s method in reverse by applying the paint. However at the same time I also wiped the section clean. 

Using this technique, permitted me to color softy the paper, while at the same time leaving ample amount of paint against the raised ridges of the papers texture. This process was repeated several times until the desired visual effect was achieved.

Elegance and Simplicity, MM/C

After a few days the section just completed was covered and work on the opposite side began. One would think it were easier since it was black, but after three coats of acrylic paint, there was enough variation to balance the two sections.

The last area to be painted was the grey. This area too required several coats of paint before evenness and the loss of paint brush tracks disappeared. Several weeks later the painted was sealed with a matt varnish.

In the end, this painting was presented to my son for his twenty-third birthday.

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