Tuesday, February 28, 2012

from a far shore

Last summer, during the month I spent in Korea, I traveled from Seoul to the opposite coast--to the port of Sokcho, on the NE coast of the country. After spending several hours sitting on the bus, I was eager to walk around and explore--iPhone in hand, of course--and one of the first photos I took is being featured this week on the homepage of the travel website afar.com

This snapseeded iPhoneograph won last week's 'rendezvous'-theme competition, which means I'm a finalist in the competition for a trip to India! The full highlight is below, followed by a link with more information about the contest..

For more information about this afar.com travel photo/highlight contest, click on the link below:

Friday, February 24, 2012

near and far, before and after

To begin with, the first desert poppies of the spring: 
(Filters used: center focus and tilt-and-shift, which also allows for playing with brightness and saturation.) A few afternoons ago, I went for a hike--iPhone in hand. In Rattlesnake Canyon in the foothills of the Santa Catalina mountains here in Tucson, the wildflowers are several weeks early this year.

After last week's initial posting, I thought I should include some more before-and-after comparisons, to show more clearly what snapseed can allow you to do.

So, back to Sabino Canyon, to one of the first scenes that showed me how useful snapseed can be:

To the left, this is the 'before' version, the original iPhotograph.

With the sun behind the ridge, the shapes and colors of the riparian vegetation get lost; it's a 'throw-away' shot that doesn't really convey the landscape...

But then, using the 'drama' filter and then playing with the brightness, contrast, and 'ambiance' functions of the 'tune image' filter, the colors of the cottonwood, ash, and sycamore trees, along with some of the saguaros on the hillside, can stand out. With a bit of cropping, below is the 'after' image, which truly shows what this riparian desert canyon looks like in late autumn in southern Arizona:
Now, an urban scene--St. Louis, seen from the observation deck at the top of the Gateway Arch:

Stitched together using the AutoStitch app, I thought this view of downtown would be fun as a 'toy-miniature' scene. The tilt-and-shift filter was used to 'miniaturize' the cityscape, and then to add the corner vignettes, I chose one of the the 'dark styles' in the center focus filter:

From the Midwest to the Southeast--
a Victorian building in Augusta, GA:
The whimsical placing of a horse-statue on the balcony of a Victorian brick building lends itself to a surreal treatment, so I used the 'grunge' filter, which plays with blur, texture, and color temperature. You end up with a more compelling, atmospheric image, instead of a simple architectural documentation of a streetcorner:

Still in this city along the Savannah River, another Victorian building--the Old Cotton Exchange.

The brick-lined plaza leading from it to the Riverwalk park is home to a weekend farmer's market.

Architecture and pedestrians--the image lends itself perfectly to playing with color and scale, so this time, the tilt-and-shift filter, pure and simple--blur, saturation, brightness, and contrast all 'tweak-able' in this filter:
...true to the spirit of the place, if not totally true to the actual hue of the foliage, 
which was not quite as autumnal as the 'after'-shot would make you think...

Some more Victorian red brick, but now back out West, (yesterday)
to the mile-high mountain mining town of Bisbee,  AZ:
...slight tilt-and-shift 'filtration' of this scene. I didn't meet the owner of this 'roaming-gnome-mobile,' but it's a perfect example of the quirky side of this town. Some residents have bumper stickers that read 'Keep Bisbee Bizarre.' Below is a perfect example of some of Bisbee's 'bizarchitecturural' ornamentation--slightly tilt-shifted:
Red! I must have red! And more red for my found-object-façade!

And then, tucked in between two buildings down in Brewery Gulch...

 ...there's this stairwell--blink and you'll miss it:
A cool enough scene, but it cries out to be 'played with'--to be 'snapseeded:'
ominous sepia...

And now, from near to far, for a bit of geography, with an old French globe, 'grunge-filtered:'

Below is a 'transplanted and snapseeded' scene--
I e-mailed this photo to my iPhone in order to edit it with snapseed, using the tilt-shift filter:

A scene from Seoul's Gyeongbok-gung Palace, where, on a summer afternoon, a tea-ceremony class is being held in the old residence of the Queen Dowager. Shoes off before tea-time--always a must before entering a Korean home, whether that of royalty or of peasants... 

          ...and finally, from Corée to Centroamérica
(this Spanish-globe-shot snapseeded with one of the styles in the vintage filter)

Another 'transplanted' photo--looking from the roof of the Cathedral in León, Nicaragua, out over the eastern part of the city, on to the volcanoes on the horizon, with the colorful Calvario church, one of Nicaragua's 18th-century architectural gems:

is it as honest as 'unfiltered?' 
Or is it like the difference between poetry and prose?
Gratuitous filtering of photos can be just that--gratuitous.
But, the field for visual play is wide open.

What does your eye see that you want other eyes to see?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Planting the seed...

So I'm starting a new blog--one of the estimated 175,000 created every day...why?

Because I couldn't find one out there that specialized in what this blog is going to feature: 'snapseeded' photos. (See disclaimer at bottom of page.)

Since getting the snapseed app a couple of months ago, I've been continuously amazed at the creative possibilities of photo-editing on my iPhone--at home, on the go, on my lunch-hour, or even while taking a stretching-break during a trail-run--I literally have a digital darkroom in the palm of my hand! And instead of being a one-trick wonder, snapseed allows the iPhoneographer/iPhotographer to play with a whole range of powerful, creative editing.

I spent a good portion of last summer abroad, and I ended up with hundreds of snapshots on my iPhone--almost as many, in fact, as I took with my 'real' camera...As soon as I downloaded snapseed, I began to experiment with those travel photos...and then after a few weeks I began to e-mail some 'regular' photos, including old, scanned pics, to my iPhone just so that I would be able to edit them with snapseed.

Whether I'm traveling elsewhere, or just in my home city, I'm always on the lookout for details and a sense of place. Proust's well-known statement, "the real voyage of discovery consists not [necessarily] in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes," is often in the back of my mind as I look around...and so I include a paraphrase of his quote in this blog's title.

A few snapseeded scenes, then, to get started, from Arizona and beyond:
(for larger views, simply click on any of the photos)

close-up of an agave in AZ; I love the 'x-ray' imprint of the leaves...
taken on iPhone, converted to b&w with snapseed,
then used the 'center focus' and 'drama' filters

on an evening hike in Sabino Canyon, on the NE edge of Tucson, AZ
the sun had already set behind the ridge, and the photo
would otherwise have been too dark;
with a few finger swipes--the exposure and lighting corrected

this panorama of downtown St. Louis, MO stitched with the AutoStitch app,
then 'miniaturized' for a toy model effect
using the 'tilt&shift' filter on snapseed

this scene in León, Nicaragua, is a 'transplanted' photo--
taken, pre-iPhone era, when my wife and I lived in Central America;
I e-mailed it to my phone so that I could edit it with snapseed,
using various configurations of the 'tilt&shift' and 'center focus' filters
in order to isolate the one girl looking back

another 'transplant,' this one of an old scanned photo,
a view of Paris from the south bell tower of Notre Dame cathedral,
converting to sepia tone and using the 'tilt&shift' and 'center focus'
to focus on the cityscape in the middle distance

back to a 'completely iphoneographic' snapshot,
this detail of a wall in the Bukchon neighborhood in Seoul, S. Korea,
using one of the 'grunge' filters

and another 'transplanted photo'--an overview of central Seoul,
'tilt-shifted' with Gwanghwamun Plaza,
and the blue-tile-roofed Cheongwadae (the Presidential Mansion),
taken from a high-rise, zooming northward towards the
flanks of Mt. Bugak-san

and finally, a photo I took earlier tonight,
showing the almost 'macro'-possibilities of iphoneography
along with the 'center-focus' snapseed filter,
the 'title photo' for the blog--
my 'signature-chop' ('toh-jahng' in Korean)...

With snapseed so ideal for travel-photos, for capturing and playing with a sense of place,
this description of travel, by writer Rebecca Solnit, comes to mind:

"Perhaps people travel for pleasure because the visual is much more memorable than the tangible, the seen than the felt.  At the time, traveling may be nothing more than a series of discomforts in magnificent settings:  running for the train to paradise in a heat wave, carrying an ever heavier pack in alpine splendor, seeing sublime ruins with stomach trouble. Yet it is the field of images and not the body of sensations that lingers.  My mother once remarked that if women remembered what childbirth felt like, no one would have more than one child.  And so I, third child of a third child, owe my existence to forgetting and my taste for travels to the dominance of the eye..."

"The field of images...the dominance of the eye..."
     ...all to be played with in the palm of one's hand...