virtual landscapes



As part of the online iPhoneography class I’m taking, I worked this week with apps that simulate the look of painting or “distressing” the image. We had to apply three different looks to two pictures, then choose one to finish editing–of course, I couldn’t pick, so did two final versions of each image. I also made a quartet of images showing the original picture (with basic editing applied) plus the three variations. The photo above was taken in my front yard of a butterfly bush, and doctored up with (clockwise from top right) DistressedFX, ArtistaOil, and PhotoCopier. I’d already worked with DistressedFX and knew that I’d have some fun with its filters, which basically retain the look of a photograph, just add layers of color, texture, and faux light-leaks. Of the two painting apps, I felt more of an affinity for PhotoCopier. It offers an array of color presets that emulate the style of painters, photographers, and film directors–sounds cheesy, but it’s easy to play with and created some interesting effects, especially with the relatively generic landscape pictures I chose to work with first. Here is the final result from DistressedFX, using the “birds” and “pith” filters: 


And here’s a version altered with PhotoCopier, using the Monet Haystacks effect:


With each app, you can vary the intensity of the effect using sliders, and of course you can go back and do additional editing afterwards. 

For my second image, I had a specific goal in mind; my dog Oliver is great at posing, and we had some beautiful light coming into the windows that morning. I had the idea of borrowing the look of Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” for a portrait of my pup. It was no problem to get him to sit still; light was spilling onto a beat-up leather chair that he loves, and he happily complied with my request to “hop in your chair,” where he proceeded to assume a  noble, patiently dignified facial expression and even draped his paw elegantly over the arm of the chair. I liked this composition best and applied the same sequence of apps as with the earlier image, although with different filters:



Again, I preferred the process and results of the DistressedFX and PhotoCopier apps. Here are enlargements of the final versions. The Distressed filters were Ansel and Vanilla:


And the Photocopier look that I liked bestwas, surprisingly to me, based on Paul Gauguin:



 With this image, I found that once I had applied the painting or distressing effect, it was hard to go back and re-edit when I noticed an overexposed area on the right. The filters made that glare-y spot more obvious, but I should have corrected it prior to adding the special effects. In this case, I ran out of time and wasn’t able to go back and re-do; I could fix it now by starting from scratch, but I thought it was an interesting case of “lesson learned” and probably more illustrative an example when left alone. Both of these pictures were pretty straightforward and not necessarily something I would have spent much time on as generic iPhone pictures, but the painting apps give them a layer of interest that brings something new. I’ve always liked toning and hand-coloring images, and this is a similar process, elevating something that might have been mundane and making it into another kind of artwork altogether. As a bonus, it’s really fun!


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