Pushing the limits of a photo to see where it leads to

While out and about with my son and his girlfriend, I came upon a storefront which had it’s windows and entrance door covered in brown butcher paper. There was nothing remarkable about this, but it did catch my eye because of a large styrofoam cup was left resting on the door handlebar.

Because of the elements whimsical appearance, I decided to take a couple of exposures as an exercise in composition and visual thinking. Choosing PureShot, I slightly underexposed because of the reflection and the whiteness of the cup, in order to pick up a little more detail in these elements.

Application: PureShot - Image #1

Application: PureShot - Image #2

The first shot has the cup slightly off-center but in the second exposure I wanted the back rectangle that is to the right, but in doing so the cup was right back in the center of photograph.

Because the ratio of these two exposures is 4:3, I opted for one more capture, this time a square. Instead of selecting 1:1 ration within PureShot, I chose Hipstamatic with a Jane lens and DC film.

Application: Hipstamatic with Jane lens and DC film - Image #3

I do not know what it was that prompted me to select this set of images over the many others that were shot during our hike in the hills, but after choosing the first exposure as compositionally preferred, I was quickly captivated and began pushing the limits of the photograph to see what it’s real potential is.

Normally when out shooting, I can size up a scene, pre-visualize what the end results might be, especially when the goal is ending up with a Black & White image. Color on the other hand is another matter and while one can envision the colors richness, there are other factors in mobile post processing edits that are simply impossible to pre-visualize.

Post editing on a small iPhone screen has it’s challenges, including a brighter screen then that of an iPad, so it becomes necessary to compensate for the difference in brightness in post edit processing or simple adjust brightness in settings to be comparable to the iPad. Unfortunately I was outside and could not heed my own advice.

I decided to use KitCam for the post edits and after importing my selected base image it was time to decide which lens and film to apply. Though I have my ‘go to’ preferred lens and films, I tried Olga with one of my favorite warm-toned films Deadwood.

Application: KitCam with Olga Lens and Deadwood film - Image #4

The KitCam lens Olga appears to softly emulate LensBaby, but after applying this effect, I begin again from scratch and trying a different lens.

Application: KitCam with Kurt Lens and Deadwood film - Image #5

The Kurt lens provides the user the option to gesture a twist with their fingers and shuffle through the various different effects Kurt lens generates. After settling on one, the image was saved to KitCam and then exported to the cameras photo album.

While warm tones have always been a preference, I was curious to the pictures limits by not altering the images appearance as a photo and turning it into a multi-medium work of art. 

Deciding to remain with the KitCam lens Kurt, other films were selected and tried. The additional following five examples represent what pleased my senses.

Application: KitCam with Kurt Lens and Lomochrome film - Image #6

Application: KitCam with Kurt Lens and Vibrant film - Image #7

Application: KitCam with Kurt Lens and Sepia film - Image #8

Application: KitCam with Kurt Lens and Roschach film - Image #9

Application: KitCam with Kurt Lens and Bleached film - Image #10

Application: KitCam with Accent Lens and Bromine film - Image #11

Though I liked the results how Bleached film altered in the images appearance, trying a different lens and film combination was in order. Yet with the Accent lens and Bromine film rendering the image as a faded color photograph from the mid 70s, the results were not what I was after. Now it was time to try combining two differently altered images and see what we could achieve.

Selecting a warm toned image (#3) and pairing it with a Black & White rendition (#6), these were imported into the application Blender


                          Image #3                                                  Image #6

Taking two identical images that were however each post edited differently and introducing then into Blender can produce some interesting results, especially  since within Blender there are the blending modes that are also found in PhotoShop, providing the end-user with additional alternatives in their post edits.

The results from merging image #3 and #6 achieved a more color concentrated and contrasty image and darkening the non-essential areas and while I like the alchemy that resulted, it is time to review all the steps so far taken and re-evaluate the results. 

Application: Blender, setting 50%, Blend Mode: Plus darker - Image #12

Application: Blender, setting 55%, Blend Mode: Color - Image #13

Application: Blender, setting 30%, Blend Mode: Color Burn - Image #14

Because there is now loss of detail in the dark areas, I thought of using SnapSeed’s backlight, Drama and see if I could regain a little of what was mostly lost, only to see the image become even more contrasty. 

Application: SnapSeed - setting Drama, Dark 2
Filter Strength +100, Saturation +70
Image #15

At first I thought of using SnapSeed’s Grunge effects but they are too extreme for what I want and toning down the contrast is essential. So I tried to give SnapSeed’s effect Retrolux a try.

Application: SnapSeed - setting Retrolux
Brightness −30, Saturation +50, Contrast −50
Style +100, Scratches 0, Light Leaks 0
Image #16

The results achieved in photograph #16, by having it pushed to it’s limits is still not complete. Considerable closer then what I started with. I lost the touch of red on the left side’s door frame that was visible in #14 and 15, along with the identifiable detail of the lock, as evident in #10. Even the little splash of blue under the word ‘PULL’ is lost in #16 and just as important to restore as the touch of red.

This first attempted pass of post process edits provided enough results for review and while image #7’s excellent results with KitCam Kurt Lens and Vibrant film, there are qualities of decay and emphasized textures in photo #16 that are also desirable. 

In the end it will require starting anew but at least there is now a road map based on photographs #7 and 16, which provide a goal to reach for. While these post process edits were simple trying different film and lens combinations, moving a slider and altering the blend combination in Blender. What will be needed is a little masking, maybe even burning and dodging of some parts of the photograph to achieve the desired results.

Applications mentioned in this article and available iTunes





All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

Carlos said...

Very nice to see your thought process and final piece Egmont. Thanks for sharing.

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