Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ColorStrokes App Review

Have you tried the ColorStrokes app, by MacPhun? I've been dabbling with it recently and think its one of the best apps available for creating a "color splash" style edit. However, unlike some of the other color splash apps, ColorStrokes has the ability to RE-COLOR a masked area. I recently saw a useful example of this in a restored photo, where a user turned a dull gray sky to a more vibrant blue. The app also has an extremely user-friendly masking capability, but more importantly it also has some refined adjustment controls for tweaking the intensity levels or opacity of the edits, control over your brush size and feathering, and separate background and stroke controls. Also, there are some nice overall effects that can enhance details in your pic or add a nice vignette. When you are done, you can save and/or share it via a wide selection of social media apps, including Instagram.

In my example, I simply traced over the leaf to reveal its native color and boosted the saturation level. I also added a vignette effect.

In future updates I would love to see this app also offer the ability to stroke in a blur effect, like BigLens or BlurFx do. Also, I would find it helpful if the eye dropper in the re-color function would work by touching the original photo. Otherwise, this is a really cool app and tons of fun. Let me know your thoughts.

At the time of this post, ColorStrokes is on sale for $0.99 in the Apple App Store. Also, follow @ColorStrokesRocks on Instagram for info on cool contests and highlights of how others are using this cool app.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

TouchRetouch App Review

I recently needed to retouch a photo, to remove a gross dead bug that I didn't realize was in the shot. I used the TouchRetouch app for iOS. Below are the basic and advanced video tutorials from their YouTube channel. If you need to touch up photo and want to take out much of the tedious cloning work, I highly recommend that you check out this app. There is a lite version available for free, but the image is heavily watermarked when you save it. For only 99 cents, the full version can really save some photos. If you try it out, leave a comment below on what you think.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why ruin a perfectly good photo?

I often post photos on Instagram using the #jayw_artography hashtag. These photos are highly edited and look more like paintings rather than photographs. Sometimes I use a poor picture I like the look of and use this method of editing to turn it into something usable. But more often than not I start with quality images.

The evolution process of a photo editing session takes many turns.
People ask me, "Why would you destroy a perfectly good photo to make it into something else?" That's a fair question. After all, the original photo is something people would enjoy.

First of all, I edit these photos because it's relaxing. I enjoy the discovery process that happens while trying different apps to create something. For me, there's something completely freeing and restful when I can take an image I really love and play with no specific goal in mind. The end result often surprises me.

Another reason I edit good photos is because I honestly enjoy the end product. I find the edited pieces very pleasing. The subtleties of the finished works remind me of paint and canvas. Since I don't have the talent to take a brush and create art freehand, I'm thankful I can achieve similar results using a different toolset.

I realize this is a very personal preference. This style doesn't appeal to everyone. Many prefer the beginning image and I respect that. As I alluded to earlier, I create these pieces for my own personal enjoyment. It's frosting on the cake if you find it pleasing too.  

Some of you have asked how I achieved this particular artography image, so I'll try briefly to walk you through what I did to get to my final work. I started with the PhotoToaster app. I'm not sure why, but I seem to be drawn to this app as a first step for most of what I do. It just fits my personal work flow, even though there are dozens of other apps out there that do the exactly same things and arguably even do them better. 

First, I will straighten an image if needed and apply appropriate contrast or lightening of shadows as needed. In this image I use some color cross-processing to active the bleached feel. The next step was to export the image and begin playing with apps to add subtle textures. For this one I used PicBoost for most of the intermediate texturing. 

The final step was to use PicGrunger for a final layer of soft edge texture that also added a bit of warmth. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Open Note to the Instagram Community

This is the latest iteration of a "quick note" I post on my Instagram feed every-now-and-again to remind all of us that InstaSpam is not appreciated.  I posted it recently as I was receiving an increasing amount of people using my stream to post unwanted comments soliciting others to follow or to like for likes in return.  I also figure that this would be a good opportunity to share this information with our new Android members as they join in the IG-throng!

Please feel free to repost this image on your Instagram feed!

Welcome to Instagram!  So, you want to jump in and share your pictures? Awesome!  And I suppose you want a bunch of followers and get yourself on the popular page too?  Very cool!  But, here is a kindly tip about the *annoying* thing you might be tempted to do... 
Don't jump on someone's stream and ask (beg?) for follows or likes. You can certainly ask for constructive criticism and advice, but please don't hype yourself w/ "Follow me!" or "I posted a pic just like that!" or ask for "Follow for a follow" or "Likes for likes." 
We call that INSTASPAM… and many of us hate it!
In fact, that does exactly the opposite of what you are asking because it's annoying -- I ignore such requests and often delete those comments. Besides, it makes you seem immature and desperate for attention.
You’re not immature, are you?
If you want people to follow you... simply take good pics (don't steal other's pics!), and interact w/ others with constructive and appropriate comments and likes. Trust me, over time, people will check you out and those that connect with your pics and personality will follow back as you grow in your pic skills.
Patience, a good attitude, and good etiquette online can go a long way for others to relate to you and your pics. You will want to build a good reputation, or else, people will overlook you if you have nothing positive to contribute to the IG community.
Please understand that we are only trying to helpful, and I encourage you to have patience, have fun, get creative, try some challenges and contests that you run across, and get involved!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do you socialize with IG friends outside of IG?

Many of us have found our Instagram friendships transcending just connecting on Instagram alone. Many cities have InstaMeet-ups, PhotoWalks, or other in-person events (see earlier article by Joy & Jake below). Others have IG Pen Pals. I love finally connecting with people in person after getting to know them online, but that's not always possible because of distance. However, I have found a few other Social Media apps that expand my IG friends into other aspects of my life. Some friends have found me on FaceBook and Twitter, but since I'm hardly ever on either of those it may not really count as a connection.  Others actively challenge me in Words with Friends.  Path is an interesting app that, for me, is entirely made up of my Instagram pals and gives me different view into their lives. For one-on-one conversations, Kik is a popular instant messenger tool I've used to plan challenges or just chat. There's also Pinterest and others that I've used to expand my interactions with IG friends.

Recently I have grown to appreciate Google+, not for the same-old status updates, but because of the Google Hangout capability. We've been experimenting with HangOuts at work as a possible Internet-based communications and outreach tool and it is really cool. Best of all, it work on mobile devices really well. Up to 10 people can "hang out" together with camera and audio (think FaceTime but with 10 people at once and no WiFi requirement.)  In the near future I hope to organize an IGstyleguide HangOut for anyone interested in a virtual meetup where we can all appreciate (or laugh at) each other's funny accents.

Google+ Hangout with @rickcaffeinated
Do you stay connected with IG friends via Social Media or other ways outside of IG? What is working for you?