Tag Archives: Smartphones

Find What You Love

Find What You Love by rsmithing
Find What You Love, a photo by rsmithing on Flickr.

And let it set you free.

This is a play on the phrase, “find what you love and let it kill you,” attributed to Charles Bukowski (or not). I like that phrase, but I also like the idea of setting something free or being set free in the name of love. This is a montage I assembled on my iPhone using a shot of a couple of treetops at sunset (with the moon rising), a roadside view of some wildflowers, and a gash of peeling paint in a parking deck. I also consider it to be in the style of my favorite visual artist, Jerry Uelsmann, whose work is endlessly inspiring to me. Click to see the originals and full-size version in greater detail at my Flickr photostream.

What do you think? Are there any literary quotes that have stuck with you through time? Have you ever been inspired visually by something from literature? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Evernote, Three Months In

At the beginning of this year I made it a point to get in the habit of using Evernote. I’ve kept reading its praises and since I’m in the world of collecting ideas for future blog posts, it made enough sense to give it a try.

evernote

I should say that I’ve previously relied on emailing myself ideas, links, images and other content, filing them away under “read later” or “ideas” in Gmail. This has kinda worked, but I don’t really find myself going through that content often. The idea of a standalone app dedicated to capturing ideas and organizing them at least makes sense to me for that reason. I get the concept, but it’s still taking work to make myself use the program.

Part of the adoption curve for me is having content actually in Evernote. Without many notes to search, there’s not much to draw from, so I can see how some users may get turned off if, say, within a week or two they aren’t reaping tremendous benefit.

But so far for me, it’s been at least good for peace of mind, knowing that all the stuff I’d otherwise be emailing myself is now tagged and easily referenced. In fact, it was the process of going through my notes in Evernote that led to this blog post, so hey… there’s something! I’m interested enough to keep using it, and I’m surely only scratching the surface, given the capabilities some of its power users explore. There will be more to come on this for sure.

What do you think? Do you use Evernote or a similar service? What’s your process for capturing ideas, to-dos or things go investigate later? Let us hear from you in the comments.

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. Click to view at full size.

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.

Stylized Instamatic 104

Stylized Instamatic 104 by rsmithing
Stylized Instamatic 104, a photo by rsmithing on Flickr.

I dig the convergence of technology and time here in one brief second, now extended to the world and infinity. Here’s a snapshot of one of our modern photographic ancestors I modified with the amazing ToonPaint iPhone app, after shooting with Hipstamtic (a modern-retro simulator, no less). I found the camera at a sweet vintage shop called “Ideas” on Burke Street, Winston-Salem, NC. Original here.

What do you think? Do you see a connection between analog cameras and today’s mobile photography? What apps or camera discoveries have you made lately? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Macro Mantis: Insect Photography Up Close

I see the world in new ways since discovering iPhoneography, especially in close-up macro view. A rich universe of detail exists all around us, all the time, just waiting to be appreciated. And with only a little effort we’re free to visit whenever we want.

Praying Mantis – Here’s Looking At You!

Macro Mantis by rsmithing

Macro Mantis, featured recently at the 1000 Words Showcase by the WeAreJuxt team.

I noticed this mantis on the porch one morning and brought him to the kitchen table with a glass and some paper. He seemed fine with that, and I was careful not to harm him throughout the shoot.

With my iPhone 4, a macro lens by Photojojo, and a high-powered flashlight from Home Depot, I captured several shots, some like this using Hipstamatic’s John S. lens and Rock BW-11 film. The app adds a random depth that I like.

Experimenting with the light and camera positioning, I coaxed out varying shadows and highlights, the most dramatic being when the beast seemed to stare right into the lens. No doubt he was experiencing what being abducted by aliens must be like for humans.

After about five minutes of that, it was back to the wild on a bush in the yard where he blended in much better than in the kitchen.

The good folks at Juxt recently featured this mantis shot of mine in their 1000 Words Showcase.

What do you think? Ever done any macro photography? What are your techniques? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Dried Flower Video Montage

Here’s a montage-style movie I assembled using the Splice app on my iPhone. I noticed this dried flower on my porch, and thought I’d have some fun making a video of it. I shot these images and some video elements with a Photojojo macro lens, some with the Hipstamatic app. I’m still blown away by how easily and effectively Splice lets you tap your way to a video production.

What do you think? Do you do any video edits on your smartphone? Have you ever set photos to music? What’s your impression of the process? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Blog Post Artwork

This post is kind of about art, kind of about technology, and hey, there’s even a link referenced about music. But mainly… it’s about writing. That’s the great thing about having your own blog: you make the rules.

Beats Antique A Rosy Photo Edit Tutorial Contrasts Make Connectionss
Digital Ancestry - KITT Wallpaper Moth Drama Cheap Trick In Color 1998
Blogging About Blogging Photography, Technology, and Connections in the Name of Art Insect Photography Tips

Though I’m going to go on about these images, I consider this post to be about writing since all the above visuals were created specifically to promote blog posts (linked in the above images). One thing I enjoy doing to promote my posts, even though results are limited – but fun when they happen (see comments here) is to create images with text and visuals on my phone hyping the posts via Instagram.

iPhone Text Apps

I use the apps Phonto and Labelbox to overlay text onto images created using something from the posts. Having been a graphic designer for years, producing advertisements, brochures, order forms, whatever… it’s amazing to me to have not only such image editing capability at my thumbs via my iPhone, but now to be able to put together decent layouts with text as well.

It’s Like Flyers for Your Blog

I got my start in graphic design by creating flyers for my various bands’ gigs (more on that here), so whipping up these mini-promos comes naturally. I also like the limitations of the square format, the imprecise-yet-as-precise-as-allowable ethos of dragging text around with your fingertips, the instant gratification of working in such small file sizes, and the direct connection to principles of graphic design.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept…

I challenge anyone reading this who hasn’t done so to create a layout using these tools and not encounter considerations of space, hierarchy of information and typesetting (and maybe, just maybe, have fun in the process). If you do this for the first time, definitely come back here and comment with a link to your artwork and details on how you did it.

It’s part of my designer thinking to consider typography, negative space, flow and whatnot, so doing this as a complement to blog posts is a rewarding outlet. I’ve noticed a few others on Instagram doing similar stuff, and I nearly always check out the posts if the visuals are cool enough. Below are some more examples by Maddy McCoy, aka The_Real_McCoy of the MadAboutPixls blog. Great stuff there about mobile art; check ‘em out.

What do you think? Would seeing visuals like this leave you inclined to click through to a blog post? Have you ever created layouts with text and images on your phone? If so, what apps do you use and what has your experience been like? Let us hear from you in the comments!