How I Did It – iPhoneography Process Study #1 – The Message

by Pu on October 19, 2013

I called the following iPhone image “The Message”. It’s a montage of several separate elements, processed multiple times and assembled together. Some simple sketching was done for it as well. I realized only after completing it, that in this piece I expressed some of my admiration for Odilon Redon‘s works. However, the surreal photo montage has a cheeky modern twist to it and Redon would probably find it too mundane… Even though Redon’s illustrations are certainly some of the finest examples of symbolist art so I am not really suggesting we can compare the two, I think I managed to infuse some “mystery” and personal idiosyncrasy into it. I won’t go into subject matter explanations, so I hope you get a “feeling” for it without useless dissertations.

The Message
Apps used: Camera+, Sketch Club, Handy Photo, Photoshop Touch, Moku Hanga, Portrait Painter, Glaze, Image Blender, Mextures, Rays, Film Lab, Vsco Cam.

Even though the partner in crime is not happy with having cameras pointed at him, he kindly let me take a photo of him in a totally tiny, narrow, deserted dead-end alley, where a bench was curiously placed on the dead end’s side (you gotta love Lisbon’s absurd urban configuration). Even though nobody was in sight and as far as I know the place could have been abandoned for years, going in to take a photo felt very much like intruding. I wanted to use the image badly, but I promised the model not to make it an environmental portrait of some sort… I had to change the original image more than just a little for achieving this.

Now, for how got I there…

The processing of “The Message” was long, but relatively expedited. The hardest part was figuring if I wanted to preserve the final work in color or not. After deciding for the black and white for its ink and paper illustration-like qualities, I had a hard time finding the right recipe so that the monochrome would retain some of the original details and texture and at the same time acquire a special abstract “aura”.

I took the base shot with Camera+. I then started cleaning the image with Handy Photo, using the clone and retouch tools. There were cigarette butts and junk everywhere on the floor, so I had a fun time cloning them all out… I moved the clean image into Photoshop Touch and once again with the clone tool I erased the partner in crime’s head — of course he has a head like everybody; a real head, I mean. I like Handy Photo’s clone for getting rid of clutter and random distractions, but not much for sophisticated and detailed work because the brush is not flexible enough for my taste. On the other hand, I do not like to rely too heavily on Photoshop Touch, because the app is a bit clunky and it consumes a lot of memory.

I had two separate photos of a golden plate and of an ostensorium, plus a sketchy image of paint drips, which I combined together with the headless photo in Photoshop Touch, by transforming them and erasing their backgrounds. In Photoshop, I painted in the middle of the circular element a simple head silhouette with a dark low opacity brush.

When I was done, I opened the result in Moku Hanga, where I tried several styles before going for a monochrome-like one with a strong paper texture. I also processed the same Photoshop image in Portrait Painter and applied one of the colorful default presets with some tweak. Finally I opened the image for a third time in Glaze, where I created another processed version of my composite. I combined all the processed pictures together with the original in Image Blender, changing blend modes and opacity and masking out parts I didn’t like for each layer.

In Rays I added the mystic light and in Mextures I introduced more texture and noise. I converted to black and white with Film Lab, trying various monochromes to ensure the right details were highlighted, and finally enhanced contrast in Vsco Cam.

craig poltock October 21, 2013 at 12:21 am

Great image..thanks for sharing your workflow.

David October 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Absolutely awesome image! Congrats.

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