Tag Archives: art
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Synthetic Poinsettia

1 Dec

Festive, nevertheless…

Synthetic Poinsettia

Photo taken at breakfast, Cloverdale Kitchen, Winston-Salem, NC.

Belief in the One True Power: Foto Fridays

19 Oct

Belief in the One True Power

Belief in the One True Power
Click for full-size at 500px

Here’s a photomontage I did recently using my iPhone and some choice apps. I was visiting the Grove Arcade in Asheville, NC a few weeks ago and noticed the sunlight looking interesting around this stairwell, so I snapped a black & white with Hipstamatic. Later in the week a gnarled tree trunk in my neighborhood caught my attention, so I snapped that.

Click to see the ingredients at Flickr

I knew I wanted to do something with the tree and the stairwell, but it looked incomplete when editing just those in Photoforge2, so I snapped a candle that happened to be burning when I was working on this. Finally, I added some texture with the TtV Photo Studio app, then some magic from the universe… and there we go.

But What Does it Mean?

The title of this image is from a lyric in a song by one of my favorite bands, The Deftones, titled, “Pink Cellphone.” It’s an airy, dark, and experimental-sounding track – qualities also applicable to this image, so I thought it was an appropriate fit. It’s not my intent to promote any belief an any kind of power whatsoever. I just like the sound of the song and the pairing with the image.

If there is any one true power as far as this kind of thing goes, it’s the brilliant photomontage work of Jerry Uelsmann. If you like my humble creation here, definitely check out his stuff. This piece in particular reflects my appreciation for his art.

Thanks to Mitzi Rice, who suggested this image for blog fodder over at Instagram. Check out her blog, Mit Lear Moments.

What do you think? Ever made a photomontage? Do you see a connection between visual art and music? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Up With The Sun: a MobileArtistry Feature

4 Sep

The Instagram-based group, MobileArtistry, includes me in their gallery today as a featured artist. I created this montage as an example of my style for the feature and did the following writeup on my technique. My huge thanks to them for the highlight.

Up With The Sun - click to see more like this at Pinterest

Up With The Sun – click to see more like this at Pinterest

Ever since seeing a book of Jerry Uelsmann’s photomontages in college, I’ve been fascinated with the art form and have since become motivated to become a professional graphic artist, designing for over 16 years now. Manipulating reality for artistic effect in Photoshop has always been my favorite part of designing, so when I discovered iPhoneography, and especially the app Photoforge2, which is very similar to Photoshop, I was hooked. It was seeing the evocative iPhoneography of Sion Fullana that inspired me to give it a go, and Sion was even good enough to share his guidance with me on what apps to get started with.

Repost of Up With The Sun at MobileArtistry

Repost of “Up With The Sun” at MobileArtistry

How The Magic Happens

I basically take photos all the time with my iPhone 4 of whatever I find interesting. When the urge to create strikes, I’ll mix ’em up and see what happens. It’s really as simple as that. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m headed, and other times I’m just along for the ride, letting magic from the universe do the driving.

For this montage, I combined two photos I took on a Saturday in late summer: one of a wig mannequin at a beauty supply shop, and another of a rising cloud at a winery out in the country. Both were shot originally in with Hipstamatic, using the John S. lens. Wig girl was shot with Rock BW-11 film, and the cloud was shot with Blanko film. You can see the originals at my Flickr stream.

Originals for this montage - click to view at Flickr

Originals for this montage – click to view at Flickr

I brought wig girl into Dynamic Light and gave her the Solarize treatment. I also used Noir to get the right mix of monochrome highlights in the cloud scene. Next, I brought both images together in Photoforge2, each on its own layer. I set wig girl’s blending mode to Overlay, then selectively hid and revealed bits of each layer via masking. Finally, I did some minor cloning cleanup in Filterstorm, then added the copyright & signature with Phonto. I named this after a U2 song lyric in “Gone,” an expansive rising track that seemed appropriate for this composition.

What’s amazing to me is how, as I’ve become adept with a few apps, I can pull techniques from each of them almost like selecting colors on a palette. It’s like having a box of tools to achieve an artistic vision… that fits in your pocket and makes phone calls, too.

Thanks very much to MobileArtistry for featuring me – it’s an honor to be included with such beautiful, creative art. Definitely check out their great gallery for consistently innovative creations.

The Inspiration of Immediacy

20 Aug

The Savoia features my artwork at their excellent site. If you enjoy my blog, definitely check out The Savoia, too!

Vintage Cameras Are Cool

13 Jun
Old School

Photo taken at Cookie’s Shabbytiques, Winston-Salem, NC. via iPhone.
Click to see more of my iPhoneography at Pinterest.

There’s a lot to appreciate about old cameras. I think they’re an art form unto themselves, having to achieve a goal (photography) in a certain way (conveniently, effectively), with a certain set of rules (workable by human hands). The more I explore photography, the more I’m drawn to these classic designs as a way of connecting with history.

Collecting Classic Cameras = Cool

I left the above comment on Down The Road, a blog by Jim Grey in Indiana. He did an excellent post earlier this year on why he collects vintage cameras, and I re-read it again today. Since that time, I’ve taken the above photo, and have become even more obsessed with photographic shooting techniques, cameras, iPhoneography, photo apps, artists… the list goes on. I say even more obsessed, because I was already far gone in the first place. Here’s what Jim says in return:

These classic designs are absolutely a link to history. Imagining what the world was like at the time one of my old cameras was new is part of what makes me collect!

I like the idea that mechanics, functionality and design all come together in these devices from the past, each of which were the height of technology at some point, and that we can still appreciate them today. And even now, as I’ve pretty much ditched my point-and-shoot camera for my iPhone, the trend continues. I view these vestiges with respect and fascination.

What do you think? Ever owned or operated a vintage camera? Do you collect any vintage gear such as these, vintage suitcases, or any other type of antique? Let us hear from you in the comments!
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Single Image Sundays: The Emerging Dog (Detail)

25 Mar

20120325-222941.jpg

So I’ve figured out a series of app edits that gives this rich, dimensional effect to object photos. Here’s a detail of one from this weekend that I’ll be doing a step-by-step of in the near future, along with more of the “Emerging” series.

Blog Post Artwork

8 Mar

This post is kind of about art, kind of about technology, and hey, there’s even a link referenced about music. But mainly… it’s about writing. That’s the great thing about having your own blog: you make the rules.

Beats Antique A Rosy Photo Edit Tutorial Contrasts Make Connectionss
Digital Ancestry - KITT Wallpaper Moth Drama Cheap Trick In Color 1998
Blogging About Blogging Photography, Technology, and Connections in the Name of Art Insect Photography Tips

Though I’m going to go on about these images, I consider this post to be about writing since all the above visuals were created specifically to promote blog posts (linked in the above images). One thing I enjoy doing to promote my posts, even though results are limited – but fun when they happen (see comments here) is to create images with text and visuals on my phone hyping the posts via Instagram.

iPhone Text Apps

I use the apps Phonto and Labelbox to overlay text onto images created using something from the posts. Having been a graphic designer for years, producing advertisements, brochures, order forms, whatever… it’s amazing to me to have not only such image editing capability at my thumbs via my iPhone, but now to be able to put together decent layouts with text as well.

It’s Like Flyers for Your Blog

I got my start in graphic design by creating flyers for my various bands’ gigs (more on that here), so whipping up these mini-promos comes naturally. I also like the limitations of the square format, the imprecise-yet-as-precise-as-allowable ethos of dragging text around with your fingertips, the instant gratification of working in such small file sizes, and the direct connection to principles of graphic design.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept…

I challenge anyone reading this who hasn’t done so to create a layout using these tools and not encounter considerations of space, hierarchy of information and typesetting (and maybe, just maybe, have fun in the process). If you do this for the first time, definitely come back here and comment with a link to your artwork and details on how you did it.

It’s part of my designer thinking to consider typography, negative space, flow and whatnot, so doing this as a complement to blog posts is a rewarding outlet. I’ve noticed a few others on Instagram doing similar stuff, and I nearly always check out the posts if the visuals are cool enough. Below are some more examples by Maddy McCoy, aka The_Real_McCoy of the MadAboutPixls blog. Great stuff there about mobile art; check ’em out.

What do you think? Would seeing visuals like this leave you inclined to click through to a blog post? Have you ever created layouts with text and images on your phone? If so, what apps do you use and what has your experience been like? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Moth Drama: Transforming The Ordinary into Art

25 Jan
Click to view the full 9-image set

A moth in full drama mode. The ordinary becomes extraordinary through photography & apps. Click to see what went into creating this image.

Here’s a look at how a simple moth can serve as subject for a striking, dramatic image by way of a macro lens attachment and some basic iPhone app editing (mainly Photoforge2, which I review here). Through the course of nine images, I take you through how the ordinary transforms into a fulfilling creative experience.

The effect of the final image above reflects my initial vision: dramatic gravity drawing the eye to the fine and generally unseen detail in this humble moth. To me, this is a great example of how photography, especially when spurred by photo-sharing experiences like Instagram, can elevate our everyday surroundings to an evocative level of art readily appreciated by others.

Moth Drama Set
Click to view the step-by-step creation of the final image at top.
Instagram promo for this post - click to see series at Flickr

Instagram promo for this post - made with Phonto, Labelbox & Photoforge2 apps

In the  case of the final image, I got the texture I was after by shooting with Hipstamatic then adjusting the result of that with layers in Photoforge2. But I wanted more dimension than just grayscale, so I added some red. To do this, I duplicated the grayscale layer and added red via the “colorize” function. Then I then masked portions of the top (red) layer to allow the bottom (gray) layer to appear through, using varying brush sizes and opacities. Finally, I set the blending mode of the top (red) layer to overlay, and set the opacity to 75%. Same principles also work in Photoshop, which is one reason I so strongly endorse Photoforge2.

If the above description gets you excited (you nerd), definitely check out the step-by-step series with notes at Flickr.

What do you think? Have you taken the ordinary to an artful place through photography or some other means? Have you done any macro photography of your own, and if so what’s your experience been like? What gear do you recommend? What’s your opinion on creating art from the everyday world? Do you find tips/tutorials like this useful? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Photography, Technology and Connections in the Name of Art

16 Dec

I find it awesome when the digital and “real” worlds intersect for collective benefit, especially in the name of art.

Two Winston-Salem Arts Institutions

I just had the pleasure of attending a free lecture hosted by SECCA — The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art — about select photographic works of our city’s Arts Council (full disclosure below). Because of technology, a passion for art, and social networking, the experience became amplified. And that sort of thing gives me hope for the world.

Several items from the council’s photography collection were to be on display at a local gallery, and Michael Christiano, Curator of Education at SECCA (check them out on WordPress), gave a crash course in photographic appreciation to start the evening off.

In the span of 20 minutes, he covered many of the greats — Robert Frank, Edward Weston, Jerry Uelsmann (my all-time favorite & inspiration) — along with several others, highlighting how the collection’s works being shared were representative of the media’s progression over time. In a larger sense, this collection and these artists aside, it was a notable reflection on how the technology of photography lets us put form to something intangible like memory.

Think of a photo that ever brought a “wow” from your lips.
Kiss Me Like You Promise Me Heaven in Your Lips

Kiss Me Like You Promise Me Heaven in Your Lips - © Sion Fullana. All Rights Reserved.

Considering such technology didn’t even exist two centuries ago, it’s rather an amazing jump in human communication that we practically take for granted nowadays, what with cameras in our phones and everywhere else.

But it’s that jump in communication having to do with photography that compels this post. Because of my growing interest/obsession with street photography and iPhoneography (thanks to Instagram and appreciating the art of others), I, of course, had to snap the below image with my phone just as the lecture was getting started. The meta-ness of the moment was too great not to indulge:

Meta-techno-photography moment captured. Click for the full conversation.

A photo from my iPhone at a lecture on photography prior to a photography exhibit that I later published via a photo-sharing app. Now you're reading a blog about it.

Naturally, this immediately went up on Instagram.

The evening progressed; the lecture was great; we perused photos and headed home. Later that night, @lindsyarb — someone I’ve never met except via Instagram — noticed the photo, asking to know more about the event and who hosted. Turns out we’re all in the same city, so I shared SECCA’s details and she signed up for their mailing list.

Instagram Conversation

Did you catch what just happened there?

Through technology, interest in art is shared and fostered — relative to the local community, no less — connections are made, and we actually live through a jump in human communication… not over the centuries, but over wi-fi and social networks in real-time… through a shared appreciation for the creative spirit fostered by photography.

Now that’s art. Or at the very least, I’ve got a little more hope for the world. 🙂

Have you ever made a real-world connection via social media? Is there an Arts Council or equivalent in your city, and do you take part? How have you come to be inspired in an artistic fashion, and do you enjoy sharing that with others? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Full disclosure: I work for a company whose parent is also parent to a corporate donor to the Arts Council. This post is not intended to promote either company or this collection, but rather to expound on the general idea of technology as a facilitator for interest in the visual arts.

How To Get More Instagram Followers

2 Nov

So you want to become Instagram Popular?

Here are 10 fun tips to help you become Instagram Famous. While there’s no guarantee, and while some just follow a zillion others hoping for follow-backs (aka “ghost follower” Instagram profiles – not cool; I block ’em all) …posting interesting images and participating around the site will always be your best strategies.

Instagram Popular Page

Instagram Classic Popular Page Icon, now the “Explore” page

Instagram Cheat, Instagram Popular Formula…

Can’t be done! Sorry! That said, these tips should not only help you become Instafamous, but also improve your photography and enjoy ever more famous Instagram adventures no matter what. These are from my own experience in about a year of being on the site, rather than from an Instagram computer that magically controls the Explore Page. Like these tips? Share ’em on Twitter!

How to become popular on Instagram:

How to become popular on instagram - start with great images.

My own pics – @rsmithing

  1. Don’t be afraid to get the shot; do it! The opportunity will not come back. Who cares if someone looks at you strangely? They’ll get over it in about 2 seconds. Your image will last forever.
  2. Master a photo editing app. Get one or two apps you’re intuitive with and practice using them for edits. It may take some experimenting, so plan to spend at least $20 in the app store. Hey, do you like pizza? Well for the cost of a decent pizza, you can get a bunch of cool apps to experiment with. Don’t be a cheapo; make the investment.
  3. Enter challenges. They’re an easy and fun way to see what others are doing and grow your skills.
  4. Pick a filter and stick with it for about 20 photos to make a strong impression. The effect is undeniable and eliminates complexity.
  5. Thank people religiously, leave comments, and be funny. Or, at least try to be funny. 😉
  6. Use a 3rd party site like Gramfeed. They’re great for comment effectiveness, and much easier than typing every single letter on your tiny phone keyboard.
  7. Even moths are interesting through a macro lens.Rock and roll all night and party every day. That’s more a just general life lesson, but it should at the very least provide some good raw material. OK, real tip: consider an accessory lens for close-ups. I did this and am seeing the world in a new way, especially bugs.
  8. Hashtag the crap out of your photos. Look up keywords in other languages and make friends from around the world.
  9. Keep a bunch of hashtags handy in a note so you can copy and paste as appropriate. You might also use groups of tags for common subjects (vacation, flowers, retro, etc.). Tap around on some hashtags at the site and find the popular ones that appeal to you most.
  10. Process pics later. You might have a great photo-op in line at the TSA security check, but sometimes it’s best just to get the pic and move on as fast as possible, then dive deeply into the editing afterward (like once you’re on the plane).

BONUS TIP:

Take really, really excellent photos! Get creative, encourage others, and have fun on the site!

Cool Stuff Huh? Share it on Twitter!

>> Click to share on Twitter <<

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Do me a solid and check out the rest of rsmithing.com if you’re interested, and say hello in the comments. Since you’ve read this far about Instagram tips, you might also like the photography category. I’d really like to know if these tips work for you, so say hi in another post or on Instagram. Thanks, and have fun!
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