Monthly Archives: April 2016

iPhone Photography – Urban Graffiti

If you are a casual DSLR  or point and shoot photographer, you’ve probably never used Photoshop actions and presets to edit your photographs and create a particular look. And you’ve almost certainly never applied a texture to one of your images.

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Edited with the DistressedFX app.

I was introduced to adding textures to images in an online fine art nature photography class. I was delighted to find out you could do this on your iPhone. Here I used one of the textures from the DistressedFX app.

One of the great things about mobile photography is that you can buy apps that can give your photographs a different look and feel with a few button presses and slider adjustments. These apps pretty much do what many Photoshop presets and actions do. At a fraction of the cost.

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Applied the Diana analog filter from Camera+

A different version of the photograph. This time I used the Diana analog filter from Camera+.

I personally use Camera+ to take my photos and do some minor edits, such as adjusting brightness and contrast. I also like some of the analog filters that app provides, such as the Diana and XPRO C-41 or their retro Ansel filter for creating contrasty back and white images. I would love to try VSCO and Snapseed, but I can’t use these apps on my good old iPhone 4.

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Applied the XPRO C-41 filter from Camera+. for a crossed processed look.

In this version, I used the XPRO C-41 filter from Camera+. I’ve always loved the cross processed film look and this is one of my favourite filters.

One app I recently fell is love with is DistressedFX. It allows you to combine your photos with a number of textures to add mood to your images. The app also gives you many options to precisely adjust the blending of the textures and photographs.

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Edited with Chrome filter from Camera+.

I rarely use this filter (Chrome from Camera+), but I liked the look it gave the image.

Another app for adding textures and other effects to your images is Mextures. It allows you to layer many textures and effects in one go and gives you a lot of control. But beware, these apps can be really addictive!

Urban graffiti in Portobello, Edinburgh. Applied the retro Ansel filter from Camera+.

The retro Ansel filter from Camera+ was applied to the image to create this contrasty black and white version.

Light Painting Dancers Kaja and Tom

Thus far, I’ve done quite a few light painting sessions with a single subject, and the natural next step is of course to light paint multiple people in a single image.

Light painting of dancers Kaja and Tom at Edinburgh College, Granton

I didn’t want to have the dancers just standing, and since there were some black chairs around, I thought it would be a good idea to use them.

I was fortunate to collaborate on this project with two talented dance artists, Kaja and Tom. We shot at the dance studios of Edinburgh College in Granton.

I was fortunate to collaborate on this project with two talented dance artists, Kaja and Tom. We shot at the dance studios of Edinburgh College in Granton.

When I started light painting, I noticed that I was framing my images horizontally almost all of the time. Now I like to have both horizontal and vertical compositions.

Since there was a mirrored wall behind me, Kaja and Tom could evaluate their pose and had pretty much free reign in doing so. I only intervened when I felt it might be too difficult, even for skilled dancers, to hold the pose long enough for me to light paint them.

Light painting of dancers Kaja and Tom at Edinburgh College, Granton

I basically gave Kaja and Tom free reign when it came to poses. This is not one I would have thought of.

In light painting, it is important to think ahead of time in which order you are going to light paint the scene. With two people it is best to work on one of the models and then the second one, rather than moving back and forth between the two. We worked on a number of set ups, but these are my favourites from the shoot.

Light painting of dancers Kaja and Tom at Edinburgh College, Granton

I was very much doubting that Tom could hold his leg still long enough for me to light paint him. But since I knew I already had some good pics, I thought why not, let’s see what happens. Luckily for me, Tom did a superb job in holding the pose and proved me wrong.

Light Painting A Dancer – Meaghan

As a photographer, you sometimes have to improvise in a major way. Meaghan and I hired a particular studio at Dance Base Edinburgh because of a really interesting piece of art on one of the walls I intended to use as background. But when we entered the studio, that piece of art was no longer there. It was difficult for me to conceal my bitter disappointment, but there was nothing I could do but try to make the session a success after all.

Light painting of a dancer and her reflection in a mirror at dance Base Edinburgh

It is not straightforward to light paint reflections, but when it works, I love the results.

Since the studio also had a mirrored wall, I decided to start with a couple of set ups involving Meaghan and her reflection. I knew from a previous light painting session with Karen that I could get some nice pics out it. And it gave me some time to think about what to do next.

Light painting of dancer in front of wooden doors at Dance Base Edinburgh

When people ask me what they should wear, I always answer ‘something colourful’! I give top marks to Meaghan for the outfit. Really works well with the background.

When I noticed the wood texture and the two windows, I knew I had my next background. We tried a number of poses and those are my favourites. Meaghan did an incredible job of standing still while I light painted her.

Light painting of dancer in front of wooden doors at Dance Bas Edinburgh

When light painting, it doesn’t take much of a background to add interest to the photo. That’s one of the things I love about light painting.

By then I felt I had some nice pics and I could therefore afford to experiment a little bit. I had seen some pictures of people posing in a chair like Meaghan does in the photograph below, and I wanted to see what this kind of pose looks like when the subject is light painted.

Light painting of dancer sitting down on a chair at Dance Base studios, Edinburgh

One of the benefits of having the subject sitting down on a chair is that it makes it easier for the person you are light painting to stand still.

We also tried a number of poses with Meaghan down on the floor. I didn’t really care for most of them, but this one below was a really nice surprise to me. I quite like it. Let me know in the comments which photograph in this blog post is your favourite.

Light painting of dancer with spot light effect at Dance Base studios, Edinburgh

Going for a spotlight effect, with the light coming down. But I always light the face using butterfly lighting, for a more flattering look.

Light Painting A Dancer – Karen

I have been looking to work with dancers for a while. I know I  enjoy working with musicians, because I can relate to the fact that they really are into their work. It is their passion. And I imagined dancers would be similar in that respect.

Since at that time of year the weather in Scotland is quite wet and cold, Karen and I decided to do the shoot indoors, at Shapes Fitness Studios in Edinburgh. The location is rather barren, save for a mirrored wall. I therefore decided that I would play with reflections of Karen in the mirror. And since light painting requires the subject to remain as still as possible, we started with Karen sitting on the floor to make it as easy as possible on ourselves.

Dancer and choreographer Karen Mc Arthur and her reflection at Shapes Fitness Studios, Edinburgh

I did not expect the background windows to show up as clearly during the four second exposures I used to light paint Karen. As it turns out, that was a really pleasant surprise! The street lights gave the windows an orange glow, which I felt didn’t suit the mood and colour scheme of the photograph, so I changed that colour to blue in post.

Having a large mirror in the frame is quite tricky when light painting, because I needed both Karen and her reflection to come out nicely but I cannot see through the camera when I’m close to the model light painting with my LED light. So I needed to do a few test runs to see where to light from in order to avoid nasty reflections in the mirror.

Dancer and fitness instructor Karen McArthur at Shapes Fitness Studios, Edinburgh

Same location, different pose and camera angle

I also decided to play with coloured gels, as a bit of an experiment. In the end, I’m quite satisfied with the results and especially with the experience gained working on this project.

Dancer Karen McArthur leaning against a mirrored wall at Shapes Fitness Studios, Edinburgh

At the end of the shoot, I had Karen standing. We needed to find a clean bit of the mirror for her to lean on. Traces on the mirror would show up in the pictures when back lighting the scene, totally ruining the photograph.