Tag Archives: PhotoForge

Learning From The Masters

As a young guitarist, I learned how to play by listening to my favorite songs and figuring out the riffs. As a young graphic designer, I figured out techniques by recreating ads and absorbing the principles of layout. I sought out the occasional tutorial and picked up things along the way, but a large part of what came to be my creative expression has it roots in studying and emulating the work of others.

Comparison of "Untitled 1989" by Jerry Uelsmann and my own study after.

Comparison of “Untitled 1989” by Jerry Uelsmann and my own study after.

That’s the approach I took recently with my growing photomontage fascination. Over the past few years I’ve been making photomontages with my iPhone and image editing apps like Photoforge2 and Dynamic Light. It’s been particularly rewarding when developing pieces along the lines of my favorite artists, one of which is the great Jerry Uelsmann.

So I was looking through one of my printed Uelsmann books for inspiration and came across this image:

Click for a closer look at Uelsmann's work at Faded & Blurred

Untitled, 1989 · ©Jerry Uelsmann

I then decided to make it a weekend project to emulate the image in an attempt to gain experience and get closer to the techniques involved. Of course, apps and and iPhone are no darkroom and enlargers, but some fundamental composition principles carry over, as I discovered in creating my own version:

My take on Uelsmann

My take on Uelsmann. Click to view at full size. Created via iPhone.

This consists of a view of the sky from downtown Winston-Salem, about 14 stories up; a house from Old Salem, (historical area of my city); my own hands, and my flannel-shirt-wearing self at sunset.I had some help on the portrait and hands shots with the CameraSharp app’s timer, along with a tripod.

Four Source Files

My source files for this composition.

I can say that it was at once freeing and challenging to work toward a specific vision, bringing these elements together. I make no claim to total originality here, since the idea is obviously Uelsmann’s, but I’m satisfied with how it turned out. I may yet use the elements in future compositions, and I will probably revisit the challenge again one day of emulating and learning from the masters.

What do you think? Have you ever created art after something or someone that’s inspired you? Do any other examples of this come to mind? Let us hear from you in the comments.

PhotoForge2: My First App Review

I’ve used plenty of iPhone apps, reviewing none. PhotoForge2 changes this. For anyone familiar with Photoshop, here’s your app. It’s as good as Photoshop for photo manipulation, and as a graphic designer of 15 years, I would know. It’s nearly all here: layers, masks, blending modes, undo, curves, HSL, Unsharp Mask!?!? Yep, that, too.

Photoforge2 Screen Shot

Screen capture of PhotoForge 2 (credit: GhostBird): Layers, and masks, and tools… oh my!

If you’re a Photoshop user, you already know how to use PhotoForge2. It accomplishes in minutes with your thumb and iDevice what would otherwise require $1000+ in computer & software investment, certainly well enough for things like Instagram, and possibly even commercial work. It’s fast, stable, intuitive, and a steal at anything less than a full-on editing setup. As of this writing it’s on sale for 60% off and will set you back a whopping $1.99. That’s less than a beer.

Do note that PhotoForge2 is more for adjustments rather than painting or illustrating, (emphasis is on filters vs.  pen or brush drawing, for example), but so many of the built-in goods like vignette and frame effects should more than satisfy for basic edits, and set you up nicely for some pro-level results, even from a point-and-shoot camera.

You should also be aware that PhotoForge2 does not offer tools like clone or magic wand (hint-hint… next version maybe?), but you will still be able to execute your vision with what’s available fairly easily. I’ll often do workarounds that get me by, or use it in combination with other apps. The omission of some things like a free rotate or straightening seem glaringly odd, but these are very minor quibbles with an app of this one’s obvious prowess. (UPDATE, MARCH 2012: And, now it has this tool. Proof that Ghostbird Software is awesome)

I gave it 5 stars, but edited some out!

My PhotoForge work on app review. Click for full size.

Other apps specialize in color isolation and light effects, which is fine if that’s all you’ll ever want, but PhotoForge2 is The Mother Lode. Wired magazine says you’ll get $2 worth of entertainment out of it in the first ten minutes. I say two minutes. And they aren’t paying me to say that.

Funny, I remember with the iPad’s debut, all the sudden talk of tablets taking over for PCs. I thought, sure, but not for serious things like image editing. Um… yeah.

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What’s your favorite photo editing app and why? Do you already use PhotoForge2? What’s your experience been, and what features would you like to see in the next version? Let us hear from you in the comments.