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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and comment . . .