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Sunday, 31 August 2014

iPhoneography: iColorama S

I'm still on the hunt for apps on the Android or iPad which can fill the place of Photoshop Elements.

Although I am finding photography on a smartphone more challenging than a decent camera, the plethora of photo apps for devices is just astonishing and stuff which would have taken some time to achieve in PSE12 can be done quite simply in some apps.  However no one app does everything I want so finding the right mix is the real challenge but get fun!

I downloaded iColorama S (by Enrique Garcia) last week on a recommendation and haven't had time to test it out and since I paid for it, I decided I had better try it. This is a picture I took on my Samsung Ace and I liked the symmetry so thought it might be an interesting candidate for this app.

Well, I am quite astounded by what it can do and feel like I have only just scratched the surface. It takes a little getting used to and I found it a bit confusing to start off with but I think with a bit of practice it might just become one of my favourite tools for special effects.  I wish I could tell you the steps I went through but I tried so many I don't have a clue. I think in the end I only applied 2 or 3 effects but I can't be sure!

Looking at it on the PC, I think I would crop off a little of the right-hand side to make the tunnel exactly in the middle. I am beginning to realise that viewing your pictures on a PC before you finalize them is probably a must because it is only then you see the imperfections.

Friday, 29 August 2014


Here is the photo mentioned in my previous blog. Taken with an iPad using Procamera 7 and manipulated in Snapseed.

Street Photography: being your own critic

Up 'til now many of my photographs have been nature: flowers and animals which I love photographing particularly birds. It's quite simple. If I get a clear sharp picture of a bird it's likely to make a great photo manipulation. Although this isn't always easy it helps to have a good camera with a zoom.

Going out on the street with a device is another matter entirely! First of all it's finding an interesting shot and then getting a sharp picture without a fancy camera! I went to a place near where I catch my bus home to have a coffee. It's in a smart office building and when I came out I looked around to see if there was a shot worth taking. It was 4.30pm on a sunny day and the light was perfect. I looked and thought, 'oh my goodness, the building outside and the people sitting on the verandah are reflected on the marble floor inside, what a fantastic picture'. I snapped madly from a distance and closer to try and get the perfect shot.

When I got home I looked at the pictures carefully and perhaps have one that I like. I realised that I have to spend more time really evaluating my scene before taking a picture. In this case, I needed to get closer to the floor to get a more symmetrical balance between the outside and the reflection on the inside. If time is not an issue, I think the secret is to take a couple of pictures, really evaluate them and then take better ones.

Street photography is really forcing me to be a much better photographer.

I think I will go back and try and get a better shot on a another day.

However, on the ferry today I was having fun trying out different filters in the aremaC app which you can use whilst you are actually taking the shot.  I took this picture on my iPad and the only post-processing I have done to this picture is to crop it in Snapseed:

Thursday, 28 August 2014

iPhoneography: out on the street

I have been hesitant to get into iPhoneography because up until now I don't think the cameras in smartphones and devices have been good enough. I always carry a point-and-click with me so I still get the unexpected shot. Also, although I have an old Samsung Ace smartphone I actually use an ordinary Nokia which has a dual sim (allows 2 sim cards) which I need and love. It also only costs me £7 a month to run! On the other hand I couldn't do without my tablets and these easily and more conveniently take the place of a smartphone.

However, now the apps on the smartphones and tablets for photo manipulation have become so good and are such fun I am in a quandary.  If I want to get more seriously into iPhoneography, what now?? The new iPhone '6' is due to come out any moment which is purported to have a much improved camera. But it is also rumoured to cost a bomb. Can I honestly justify buying a phone plus special lenses which will amount to the cost of a decent DSLR!!? Especially as I am not interested in buying it to use as a phone.

Anyhow, I have to make do with what I have at the moment so I went trotting down to Hong Kong Park late afternoon on a lovely day to see what I could do with my Samsung Ace. I realised very quickly that I use my zoom lens constantly and getting any decent shots was a challenge although I quite enjoyed that. Usually after a photography session like this I would come home with quite a few shots that I would be very excited about and be inspired to do something with but anything which was clear was quite ordinary and many shots I couldn't take because the subject was just a little too far away. Disappointing.

Last night my hubby was out for supper so I decided to go out early evening with my iPad this time and see if I could get some candid shots in a coffee bar or restaurant. These weren't great but I did get some interesting shots on the night streets. I was so tempted to pull out my proper camera and felt like I missed some great opportunities to get some clear shots. I used the Procamera 7 app on my iPad to improve the shots and realised that I need to understand the app a lot better. I took 176 shots and found about three that I might possibly use.

So here is my first try. I love the shot itself even if it isn't as clear as I would have liked but not convinced that the final manipulation is quite right. It is so important to know your tools WELL and I am not quite at the stage where I know where to go to get that special filter or tint or whatever but I am getting there and thoroughly enjoying the challenge.

Here is the original shot. I loved all the black and white lines and the fact that the pizza maker was wearing a striped shirt too although it isn't evident in this shot:

Here is the final manipulation. The apps I used were Procamera 7, Snapseed, Noir and iResize.

I did another one adding textures and grain but decided I like the simple black and white of this one.

Monday, 25 August 2014


I've been experimenting with all sort of apps on the iPad to test them out and see which ones I might use on a regular basis.

Here is my latest try. The picture was taken with an ordinary camera as I don't yet have a library of smartphone pictures that I can use and I am keen to get up to speed with the iPad apps.

Here are a list of all the apps I used. Snapseed, Superimpose, Leonardo, aremaC and Artrage. I think these apps may well be the core of what I use in the future but there are so many exciting apps that I am sure it will only be the start!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Photo Apps on iPad, Tablets or Phones

I was asked the other day to give a short course for a group of ladies about using photo apps on an iPad or Tablet. Photoshop Touch came with my Samsung Galaxy Tab and I thought this might be worth teaching so I set about teaching myself the app in earnest.

Actually, there is very little out there on it and I eventually got quite proficient but it is honestly not an easy app to use if you haven't used Photoshop or Photoshop Elements and certainly not an app you could teach to a group of ladies who haven't used a photo editor before.

I wanted to find a app that worked on both iPad and other tablets and possibly a phone too. I also wanted an app that had funky filters so that people could have fun changing their photographs. Well, I came across some great options and I am still in the process of trying them out but the one I tried today was Snapseed and I have to say I like it immensely. The great thing is that it's free! I might see if I can get a video together to show you how it works if there is some interest.

I used photos that had something wrong with them so that I could fully test the features of the app. Here is my first example:

I honestly thought this photograph was a lost cause but I had great fun messing about with it in Snapseed and was delighted with the result:

If I was to do it again I would cut the chap off on the right which I think spoils the composition and the texture that was applied makes the neck of the young lady on the right look dirty so I would try a different texture.

The app takes a little getting used to until you realise how to swipe the tablet properly. When you are within an adjustment panel dragging your finger left and right lowers or increases the intensity of the adjustment such as brightness. Dragging your finger up and down gives you different kinds of adjustments such as saturation or contrast. It took me a while to discover the second option.

The main adjustment I used here was the Selective Adjust and to start off with it seems impossible to use but when you get the hang of it, it is an extremely powerful tool. I was able to add a 'control point' to highlight myself on the left and up the brightness, then add one to the young lady on the left to do the same. I could control the area which was effected by the adjustment. Finally I could up the contrast of the buildings in the distance.

I then added an HDR Scape which made it really pop. I think I then I added a Retrolux and finally a Frame. I have to say I can't quite remember the steps as I was so engrossed in trying out different options.

Here is my next example with two completely different sets of effects.  I have reduced the quality of the images for the internet but both the original and result were good quality:

With this third example I tried all sorts of effects on the same photo so it became a bit of a mish-mash of adjustments and the final result not quite what I wanted but an interesting exercise:

My final example took less than 5 minutes to produce!