OK, I shot it with an iPhone but finished the look on an iPad with a few inexpensive apps.
Every few weeks someone feels the need to reiterate, to me and to any others within yelling distance that he or she “IS NOT IMPRESSED” with all the damned hullabaloo surrounding the wonders of photography now possible via iPhones and iPads. A few have even had the nuts to tell me I should get back to making ‘real’ photographs with ‘real’ cameras. Foolishly, I tried to argue with an early smattering of these temperamental souls, but as it turned out this proved only an exercise in breath control and utter futility. Once the direction of that path became clear I surrendered it happily; surrendered any need to try to change their minds or talk them into something that they adamantly didn’t want to be talked into. Instead, I went back to playing, making pictures for myself and not for them, exploring the world much as I have since early childhood, letting discovery and wonder lead me where it would.
I’m happier this way.
The sun-bleached remains of a coyote, pictured with my iPhone 4 late last October. I came upon this scene while fly fishing on the Yakima river, walking the railroad track that traces the western edge of the river, scanning the waters below for rising trout.
The picture, as shot (above), was really just a record of what was, of what my eyes had seen when I paused that day to study the bones of a convoluted story abandoned to the elements and an unfolding string of days. It was not an image that would stop anyone in their tracks or pull them magnetically into a story, or really, leave them curious to know more. But it did seem there was potential for something far more evocative if played with a bit. So I shot several variations, then picked up my fly rod and worked my way back down to the water to fish.
Later, back in camp, I began to explore it with an app called Alt Photo to see if I could transform the simple photo I’d taken into an altered state more closely echoing the sun-bleached feel of the bones, skull and rocks. Then I called upon yet another app, this one an iPad app called Vintage HD which allowed me to colorize and subtly border the image, leaving it with the feel of an old, creased and tinted black-and-white print. Finally, my eyes liked what they were seeing.
With these stacked effects saved and locked-in atop one another the photo definitely had a more vivid sense of story than the original but something was still missing. Maybe it needed to appear as if matted, I thought, the way my grandfather would have matted one of his ‘salon’ prints before submitting it for exhibition back in the good old days. And maybe too, the image needed a few stylized ‘identifiers’ to sweeten its contract with the viewer, a credit line and an image title doubling as typographic elements to provide both pertinent information and one more layer of aesthetic interest.
A screen capture taken on my iPad from within the Vintage HD app, showing the digitally added border and age effect selected which helps complete the illusion of a creased, time-worn print.
Once I had saved this ‘aged print’ file to my ‘camera roll’ I then imported it into a relatively new, iPad/touch-screen version of Photoshop called PS Touch. Here’s the app’s splash screen so you’ll know what you’re looking for, should you decide you need it.
One of the real beauties of PS Touch is that you can create individual layers for different elements which can then be moved, brightened, resized, or dialed back in opacity relative to everything else. Look at the next image, below and you can see that the now-matted image exists in the app as three layers. See the thumbnails of those three layers on the lower right side of the image? The copyright/photo credit and the word ‘COYOTE’ both float as individual see-through layers above the tinted, matted base image. I have positioned and slanted and tinted the type, and dialed back the opacity of these layers to place their elements visually, ‘just so’, allowing them to work toward an overall ‘old timey’ effect. Some with better design and typographic sensibilities than mine may form strong opinions about what I’ve done ‘wrong’ here and what I might have done better, but the basic principle of being able to take a humble, iPhone-captured image of a coyote skull and playfully transform it, thus, with nothing more than a few inexpensive apps, well that seems fairly universal in its appeal for any who would enlarge their ideas about the sorts of pictures they and their iPhones are capable of.
Below, a screen capture of the two typographic layers, viewed alone, with the background/image layer turned off. This may help those who aren’t well acquainted with the notion of layers to see better how they work. By clicking each layer on or off, one can try out several variations to see what works and then save only those layers that do work, or save all the layers, while leaving only certain ones visible. Seriously, being able to work with layers has always been cool, but layers on a finger-driven touch screen simply rocks!
Here’s the final matted version (below), and just beneath that, a very different effect, made from a vertical shot of the same skull, which I processed first in a weird and delicious app called MangaCamera and then a few more apps, including Camera+ and Over, to get to the poster image you see. Can you see how such play could become addictive?
If you’d like more information about booking an iPhone/iPad photo seminar/workshop for your group, or if you would like to discuss personal photo coaching, either in-person coaching or through distance learning, please contact me via email, Facebook message, etc. Here’s all the info you should need to reach me.
About Me: David Perry