Tag Archives: iPhoneography

Hitching a Ride on a Minnow to the Moon

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. “Hitching a Ride on a Minnow to the Moon” – Apps used: 645 pro, juxtaposer, wood camera, filter mania, scratchcam, modern grunge

I truly believe all things are possible in this life. With a lot of hard work, focused goals and a steadfast belief in one’s passion, most anything is achievable.

It doesn’t matter which pile of crap you have been handed in this life. It doesn’t matter how ugly things have been at times. We each have the ability to shovel out the muck and create the life we deserve. Believe you can, and you will.

This past December I finished all the requirements to graduate with my Master’s of Fine Arts in Photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. This past Thursday I walked in the graduation ceremony held at the Cow Palace in Daly City.

This was not my first spin down the academic catwalk while donning that Darth Vader robe and mortorboard. It was my third.

My first time down that catwalk was 30 years ago when I received my Bachelor of Arts. On that particular day, I felt the happiest I had ever felt to that point. I had beat the odds after surviving a horrendous childhood that statistically should have landed me permanently on the streets either drinking, drugging or otherwise abusing my life away. I had earned what no one else in my family had earned: a college degree.

That first degree was not my magic ticket to success, but it definitely opened many doors for me that would most likely not have opened had I failed to stick with it.

M.A. graduation from University of San Francisco

My second spin on the catwalk occurred 15 years ago following a divorce and my constant struggle to provide for my son as a single mom. I was accepted into an accelerated Master of Arts program at the University of San Francisco. I somehow managed to work full-time, attend to my son who was born with special needs, and carry a full load of classes. After two years of extreme sleep deprivation, I received my degree and graduated with honors.

That was the second happiest moment of my life. I had once again beat the statistical odds of both single motherhood and an ugly past. I was beginning to believe the notion that all things are possible.

My M.A. definitely opened more doors for me and soon I found myself rising to the top of the computer software and internet industries. I was flown to countries I had never before flown. I was pampered in first class and stayed in hotel suites that were larger than my apartment at home. Soon I was able to buy a new car and a house on a lake. Vacations were suddenly possible and I was no longer worried about paying the bills and providing for my son. This new life was the opposite of the life I knew as a child.

That life continued until the crash of the technology industry in the year 2000. Stock was suddenly worth zero and pink slips were handed out like candy. I found myself walking out the door with a box in hand and a severance package with zero job prospects and a mortgage to pay.

Sometimes seemingly negative events can actually be the best thing to happen in one’s life. This layoff was my opportunity for re-evaluation and over the next year I was able to reconnect with my creative side and my passion for photography. Once I began to shoot again, I felt happier than I had ever felt in life. I took the plunge and sent in my portfolio to the Academy of Art and was accepted into their M.F.A. program.

After five intense years at the Academy, I made my final spin down the academic catwalk to receive my M.F.A and graduated Cum Laude. So many wonderful things have already occurred in the five months since I presented my thesis project. This degree finally feels like the most truthful, honest, from-the-soul and the depths of my passion piece of paper I have earned.

So where to now? Well why not hitch a ride on a minnow to the moon? There are no limits, only possibilities.

Holy Mackerel Batman!

This has been the best week in regard to the recognition of my iPhoneography. In addition to all the aforementioned humble accolades in my previous post for this week, I woke up this morning to find my new piece “If You Teach a Man to Fish” had been chosen by Pixels: The Art of the iPhone (here – click “Previous Entries” if it is no longer on the front page).

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. “If You Teach a Man to Fish” – Apps used: vintage cam, juxtaposer, wood camera, picture show, scratchcam, modern grunge

I was doubly surprised to find out I had been chosen “Artist of the Day” on iPhoneArt.com for the second time in a matter of months. You can see my work displayed on their home page here (today) or visit my iPhoneArt Gallery here if you are reading this after today.

An Ocean Full of Muses

In the psychological realm of dream interpretation, water is the harbinger of “emotion.” In the world of creativity, emotion is the motivator for the creation of meaningful art.

A “muse” is a person or object that provides creative inspiration to another. Whenever I wander along the shoreline, emotion makes its way to surface and I am transported into that deep creative mental space of artistic possibility.

I become embraced by an ocean full of muses.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. “Blue Tide” – Apps used: vintage cam, perfecly clr, wood camera, scratchcam, snapseed

As I walk in the soft sand, I find myself hypnotized by the waves lapping at the shoreline and am somehow transported to another, simpler time in life.

I breathe more deeply.

I walk a bit more slowly.

I feel embraced by this endless body of water.

I feel powerful and so peaceful at the same time.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. “Pathway to the Sea” – Apps used: vintage cam, perfectly clr, wood cam, scratchcam, lens light, modern grunge

From the North coast of California’s rocky formations formed over time by harsh winds and churning waves, to the white sands and azure blue waters of the Caribbean or Hawaii, I have been moved and touched by the oceans power quite often and with depth.

The ocean has been the place I have journeyed to when life became too stressful. It became my “safe place” in the midst of staring down my ugly childhood during therapy. It became my “happy place” when my son was young and I could sit for hours and watch him build castles in the sand and dodge the tide as it rolled onto shore. It has become my “creative space” in later life whenever I need to find my muse.

The following images are iPhoneography pieces I created after a recent trip to Northern California’s beautiful coast. The rocky shorelines found there are hypnotic and mysterious and have a way of conjuring mental images that at times exist outside the “norm.”

As I wandered those beautiful beaches, I found myself wondering about the people who have wandered there before me. I could of course peruse the historical photographic archives of the area in order to quell my curiosity, but why do that when I have such a vivid imagination?

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. “Rubber Band Man” – Apps used: vintage cam, juxtaposer, perfectly clr, snapseed, wood camera, picture show, scratchcam

“Rubber Band Man” was featured on Pixels: The Art of the iPhone on May 19th. The pixels site can be viewed here. If you view this blog post after May 20th, you can do a search for “Tracy Thomas” and you will find the list of my images that have been featured on Pixels over the last several months.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. “On Pointe” – Apps used: vintage cam, juxtaposer, filter mania, picture show, scratchcam, modern grunge

“On Pointe” was chosen for Pixels: The Art of the iPhone on May 19th and was chosen as the “Pic of the Day” for Pixels this morning. You can view it here. (Again, just do a search for “Tracy Thomas” if you are reading this after May 20th).

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. “An Elephant’s Kiss” – Apps used: 645 pro, juxtaposer, wood camera, scratchcam, photoforge2

“An Elephant’s Kiss” made it into The App Whisperer’s Top 10 Showcase this morning and can be seen here. This piece was also chosen as a feature on Pixels: The Art of the iPhone this morning, here (click on Previous Entries at bottom of the page if it is no longer on the first page).

More Humble Accolades

Just a quick post to show a few new iPhone photos and some links to recent accolades.

My piece “Drowning in a Speed Queen” was chosen as a featured photo for this week’s Life in Lofi: iPhoneography‘s Faved on Flickr Showcase (here). I was very happy to find myself in this mix. There are some amazing iPhone artists in this showcase and I feel humbled and honored to be included this time around.

“Drowning in a Speed Queen” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps used: vintage cam, juxtaposer, picture show, filter mania

I have been very pleased to have several of my pieces chosen for Pixels: The Art of the iPhone site, curated by Knox Bronson, over the last few months including: “Drowning in a Speed Queen,” “Blue” (seen below), “Spare Pennies 4 Pizza” (below) and recent pieces “A Day at the Beach” (below), and “Grapes of Wrath” (also below). You can view the site here.

“Blue” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps used: vintage cam, filter mania, picture show, snapseed

“Spare Pennies 4 Pizza” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps used: 645 pro, snapseed, scratchcam

“A Day at the Beach” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps used: 645 pro, snapseed, picture show, scratchcam, filter mania, jazz

“Grapes of Wrath” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps used: 645 pro, perfectlyclr, pictureshow, photoforge2, scratchcam

For the month of August, my iPhoneography portfolio will be on exhibit at Gallery 1075 in West Sacramento. I am really looking forward to this show and am planning to include several QR codes that will launch step-by-step videos of how I created a few of my pieces. Ahhhhh, cutting edge technology – love it!

Dead On Arrival

"Blue" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps used: vintage cam, filter mania, picture show, snapseed

Death is not a stranger to me. I have been aware of its presence since the age of seven when I witnessed the aftermath of a murder.

There were two women. They were stuffed into the back seat of a dark-colored Cadillac parked illegally on the curb along a busy boulevard. One was crumpled on the floor face down. The other was lying on the back seat in a fetal position with one arm stretched over the top of her head. There were pools of dark blood on the seat. Pools of dark blood on the floorboard.



Dark crimson strings of coagulated blood stretched from deep gash wounds on the neck down to the floor, as if suspended in time.

So much blood.

And the smell. I remember the smell quite well. It was a musky-sweet, putrid smell that caused me to gag. The kind of smell that made me cover my nose the minute the police officers opened the car doors.

The night prior, these two women were animated, full of life, as they shopped together in the mall. They were surprised by some unknown knife-wielding assailant when they carried their packages back to the Cadillac.

He made them drive to an unknown location, then used his knife to inflict multiple stab wounds. While their husband’s reported them missing, he drove the car around as they were dying in the back seat.

Maybe he had some deep inkling of virtue or Catholic guilt or possibly unbridled bravado. Whatever it was, it caused him to drive the car back to the mall where it all began.

It’s as if he left the car parked illegally at the curb for someone to find. And then he fled. Or at least they thought he did.

Maybe, just maybe, he was now standing with the rest of us. Watching. Waiting. Taunting. Relishing in the reaction of the crowd to his crime.

The scene was akin to a horror film. We stumbled across it when my best friend’s older sister Donna drove us to the mall for ice cream. She was curious about a small crowd gathered near the sidewalk. Donna lead us to the low brick wall, a few feet from the busy street and the dark Cadillac parked there.

The car doors were still closed. The police had just arrived. The first officer looked through the tinted back window, turned to his partner and shook his head.

More police cars arrived, then the Coroner. The news crews were everywhere. They interviewed Donna who crimped her 60’s bouffant and asked us if she looked okay.

My stomach had butterflies. My mouth felt dry. My eyes were fixed in a wide stare as the detectives began to methodically poke and prod the lifeless bodies and search the car.

I already knew bad men could inflict pain on women. I already knew bad men could inflict pain on little girls. But on this day which is burned like an indelible tattoo in my memory, I suddenly knew bad men could do more than inflict pain. Much more.

The bodies, now stiff and drained of blood, were a mixture of pale white tinged with blue. They placed them one-by-one on a stretcher, then zipped the body bags to transfer them to the morgue. There they would be identified by grieving husbands, these mothers and wives. Never again to kiss, to hug, to love.

There are some things to which a seven-year-old should never bear witness.

A Stranger at the Gate

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "A Stranger at the Gate" - Apps used: hipstamatic, juxtaposer, iquikdof, pictureshow

My whole life I have struggled with the presence of a stranger. A shadowy figure who lingers at the periphery of my existence. I have seen him in my dreams, this man without a face. Lurking… Watching… Waiting…

I never knew what he wanted exactly, but if it was fear he meant to instill, I felt it.

Hyper-vigilance as an adult is a reality for most who were victims of childhood abuse. Since trust becomes a big issue, every human encounter comes into question. I would wonder why that man on the street corner glanced at me a certain way. I was positive he meant to do me harm so I would cross the street in order to avoid him.

For many years I would double-check my blinds, pull the curtains tighter, glance into the back seat of my car before climbing in. A constant vigil of fear, bordering on paranoia, in order to protect myself from the lingering sense of danger.

It took many years for me to make the connection between that lurking stranger at the gate to the memories of my father. Eventually I realized I was still giving him power over my life by dwelling in the fear of what “might” happen.

I learned with the help of many wonderful, caring humans how to face my past and throw the ugly parts away. When the dirty memories would begin to creep in again, I would metaphorically throw them into the washing machine and cleanse them from my life.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Every year around this time that stranger has a way of creeping back into the shadows to pay me a visit. An ugly reminder that he played a role in the creation of my being. His unwanted DNA is intertwined with my own. But today I hold the power. He is no longer allowed to creep back into my life and cause me fear, not even on the day I was born. He did not earn that privilege, instead he lost it through his endless brutality and attempt to destroy my soul.

Today I am doing a little laundry. I will toss the dirty dregs into the machine, turn the scalding hot water on high and walk away with a smile.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Drowning in a Speed Queen" - Apps used: vintage cam, juxtaposer, pictureshow, filter mania

Four Levels of Women

Just the other day I realized I have been so obsessed with creating iPhone art that I haven’t written any fiery musings about politics, strange religious movements, same-sex marriage, or even arrogant bastards in quite some time (yes, these are links to past blog posts if you are interested).

Since the political atmosphere of late seems to focus on all things related to women, I have decided to jump in on the conversation and use some of my iPhone art purely for illustrative purposes.

Women are of course as varied, unique and complicated as any other creature on this planet, but for today’s purposes, I plan to explore four levels of women.

The first being the “Geisha.” We have all of course been awe-struck by the beauty of the Geisha girl in movies and on television. However, the history of the Geisha is not so pretty. Though most were entertainers, poets and writers, the majority were held in slavery and many served as prostitutes. Their life was focused on one thing; to bring pleasure to men. They never spoke without being spoken to nor did they ever disobey a man.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Geisha" - Apps used: vintage cam, flowpaper, juxtaposer, filter mania, photoforge2

There seem to be many Geisha-like women existing in our country today. Most have been swept up into right-wing conservative or fundamental religions that preach antiquated doctrine which states the man is always ruler over a woman. And a “woman of God” is a subservient one.

Though these women are not physically bound by slavery, they are being held by the power of a belief system that appears to be picking and choosing verses exclusively for the benefit of men.

Not all women are subjects of religious tyranny. Some are simply silenced by the misogynistic men they have chosen to accompany through life.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "She Lost Her Head" - Apps used: camera+, juxtaposer, iris, pixlromatic, modern grunge

These are the women who have lost their own thoughts, their own voices, their own independence, after years of unending verbal and or physical abuse. These women become the doormats of overpowering male bastards who want nothing more than to dominate and control.

I feel sad for these women and I implore them to dig deep inside themselves and find a way to get out, now…

But there is one level of women these right-wing conservative control freaks and these misogynistic idiots, seem to be overlooking. These are the women who have had enough of the caveman-like attitudes who are attempting to keep them in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. These are the fired up, politically savvy, more than just pissed off multitudes who won’t sit quietly on the sidelines any longer. These are the women who fight on the front line, who use their voices loudly, who will cast countless votes against the barbarians whose desire is to squash their inimitable power.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "We Are Woman Hear Us Roar" - Apps used: vintage cam, pixlromatic, filter mania, photo studio

These are the glass ceiling breakers. These are the women who will rise up and vote. These are the women who will march en mass through the streets of our nation while making a very loud and angry noise. These are the women who will roar and make a difference for the future of their daughters.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Moon Angel" - Apps used: vintage cam, filter mania, art wings, snapseed, scratchcam, photoforge2

Many in this country have a decidedly sexist view of a strong woman. When a woman speaks her mind she is labelled a “bitch.” A man doing the same would be called “strong” or “admirable.” When a woman rises to the top in business or politics and raises a ruckus for the rights of other women she is labelled a “feminist.” When a man rises to the top in business or politics he is labelled a “success.”

This has to change. Women have been fighting this battle for far too long. But there is hope.

A strong, peaceful woman is a woman who always follows her convictions and states her mind without fear of being silenced by a man with control issues. Always believing in ourselves and the strength and beauty we have to offer this world is the attitude that will send us over the moon, forever rising up to the top to the place that was meant for us since the beginning of time.

It does not matter what kind of woman you are or at what level you currently exist. All women have the potential to be great women. Women of conscious, of great strength, of great and equal power.

A Bad Case of the Quirkies

I have been busy lately with all the important, responsible tasks one must attend to in order to run a viable business. For several days my brain has felt like mush and I began to develop a severe case of the antsy’s. My iPhone sat patiently next to my laptop while my hind end became numb from the hours at my keyboard.

Yesterday I reached the point where something just had to give so I went on a nice long run. While on that run I spied a beautiful grove of live oaks in the middle of a freshly plowed field. After my run I returned to the grove and took a couple of shots with my iPhone.

“Ahhhhhhhh…” deep sigh of relief. But once I was home and scrolled through the few snapshots I took, it all seemed so empty… I knew it was way past time to shake out all the cobwebs and start “puttin’ on my quirky” once again.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Where Puppies Fly" - Apps used: vintage cam, artwings, lenslight, juxtaposer, modern grunge, jazz

I have no explanation for how or why the neurons in my brain decide to fire in the way they do, but when these odd synapses occur, I am compelled to honor them.

This past weekend I happened to capture a quiet photo of one of our dogs sitting in the yard. So, the photo of the grove of oaks was graced with the presence of my dog who suddenly sprouted a pair of butterfly wings and multiplied into a whole herd who to took flight beneath a full moon. And “Where Puppies Fly” was born.

All this thanks to several great little iPhone apps: Juxtaposer (for the montage); Lenslight (for the full moon); Art Wings (for, well, the wings); Modern Grunge (for that hip, scratchy, grungy look); and Jazz (for some popping highlights).

Then there was this morning…

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Little Monsters in the Candy Store" - Apps used: 6x6, juxtaposer, blurfx, jazz

It started when I decided to shun all responsibility, grab my iPhone and do a walkabout through Old Sacramento this a.m. in search of some fun iPhoneography fodder.

There were hordes of elementary students touring the train museum and I just happened to walk by a candy store at the same time a whole classroom of 4th graders converged on the barrels of sugary sweetness.

For reasons beyond me, their teachers decided it was a good idea for this group of hyperactive, screaming and screeching urchins to buy a supply of cavity-inducing, attention deficit disorder petrol on their way back to the classroom. Hmmmm…

All judgment aside, I knew I just had to whip out my iPhone and snap this madness in progress. I wasn’t quite sure what I would do with it, but my gut told me to shoot away.

After leaving the candy store I made my way to “Evangeline’s,” a famous costume shop in the middle of Old Sac. I can wander through this store for hours taking shots of all the creepy goodness that is on display. When I made my way upstairs, to my delight I discovered a whole wall of rubber monster masks.

So I shot… and I had a quirky neural synapse… and I smiled.

When I got home I immediately set about merging the monster masks with the scene at the candy store. This was achieved with Juxtaposer, then I added a little blur effect with BlurFX and a bit of grunge with Jazz.

This piece became “Little Monsters in the Candy Store.” It’s not that I think children are inherently bad you see, but I believe we can all agree this white, granular American staple can at times turn our kids into unrecognizable little demons post sugar binge.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Danger! Diver Dan" - Apps used: vintage cam, juxtaposer, modern grunge

Who remembers the television show “Diver Dan?” Yes, I am dating myself by admitting this, but I used to watch this show all the time as a wee little pup. For those of you too young or perhaps too age afflicted to remember, Diver Dan used to swim around in the ocean with an old-fashioned diving suit and helmet talking to the passing fish. There was a beautiful Mermaid named Miss Minerva and well, just see for yourself:

And you wonder why I have such a bad case of the quirkies. Yes, my childhood was filled with talking fish, flying monkeys and lions seeking courage. I have an excuse…

Anyways, as luck would have it, Evangeline’s just happened to have a mechanical diver fighting off a giant squid hanging in one of their entryways. Diver Dan swam immediately back into my memory so I whipped out my iPhone and brought him home.

What’s a diver without water? I took a shot of our backyard fountain and proceeded to merge the two shots in Juxtaposer then added a bit of grunge in Modern Grunge and a new episode called “Danger! Diver Dan” emerged.

I have a feeling my creative energy will dwell in this quirky state for the next few days. I still have a whole lot of photos left to edit and a lot of memories squeezing their way to the surface.

Brushing up on my Italian

It just keeps on getting better…

This little piece of metal, plastic and glass has begun to open up a plethora of doors in the art world, at nothing less than warp speed. Before I could utter the word “gigabyte,” my work was instantaneously transported to a gallery in Loano, Italy for a show titled “Physical Streams.” There were over 400 submissions from Europe, the United States, Canada and Asia. Fifty eight of us were lucky enough to be chosen by curator Alessandro Gimelli to be included in an eye grabbing iPhoneography mosaic display at the Overpass Gallery. The show runs through April 25th so if you happen to be in the country, stop on by and say “Cioa!” to Alessandro and peruse some amazing art.

"Physical Streams" mosaic consisting of 100 iPhoneography pieces, exhibited in the Overpass Gallery, Loano, Italy. April 1st through April 25th, 2012. Photo courtesy of Alessandro Gimelli.

These are my three pieces that were chosen to be in the exhibit:

"The Fisherman" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

"UFO Refueling Station" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

"Little Fishies" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Mama’s Got a Brand New iPhone Art Website

For the sake of maintaining a professional division between my serious Documentary work and my more whimsical iPhone art, I have created a separate website for my iPhone pieces.

You can visit my new site, peruse my portfolio and even purchase prints by clicking on the screenshot below or by visiting www.tjthomas-iphoneart.com.

A Timelapse Video & MPA Gallery

The wonderful crew at the Lunch Box Gallery in Miami put together this fun time-lapse video of the opening night for the iPhoneography: Updated Visual Dialogs show. I have two pieces exhibiting in this cutting edge group event, “UFO Refueling Station” and “Gelato” which can both be seen in previous posts on this blog. The show has been so successful it has been extended through May 7th. So if you are in Miami, swing on by the gallery in the Wynwood Art District.

I was also pleased to have my piece “No Diving” chosen as a featured photo in the Mobile Photography Awards Weekly Gallery. You can view it along with many other wonderful iPhone photos here: http://the-mpas.com/the-mpa-weekly-gallery-march-18-25/

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Time Flies" - Apps used: vintage cam, juxtaposer, modern grunge

To top it all off, my piece “Time Flies” (above), was chosen as a featured photograph this week on the site Pixels: The Art of the iPhone curated by Knox Bronson. And I will be making my international debut this afternoon in the “Physical Streams” exhibit at the Overpass Gallery in Loano, Italy (more on that in a future blog post).

Who would have thought that this handheld piece of communication equipment they call an iPhone would lead to such wonderful surprises in the art world? If you had mentioned the possibility to me a year ago, I would have self-righteously laughed you out of the room with the belief nothing could compare to a professional DSLR for capturing stunning images. But what I have found, along with the multitude of more polished iPhoneographers out there, the iPhone is a wonderful and freeing tool that allows the hidden parts of your creative soul to make their way to the surface.

I love this new obsession! And I cannot wait to see where it leads…

If you would like to take a peek at my ever-building portfolio or even purchase a print or two, please feel free to visit my new iPhone art website by clicking here.

The Creature Series

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Little Fishies" - Apps used: juxtaposer, snapseed

Maybe it’s Spring Fever… Whatever it is, I am finding myself feeling very quirky and creative over the past few days. Too busy to get out and take photos in the “real” world, I find myself grabbing my iPhone first thing in the morning and searching my house high and low for some interesting little tidbit to shoot before my work day commences.

On Monday I stumbled across my bright orange wooden fish that sits on my nightstand. I decided this lonely fish needed to multiply and swim in a nice blue pool of water so I shot the fountain outside and created a montage by using the app Juxtaposer with final edits in Snapseed. It was very fun positioning the fish and I ended up with a 3-D like effect.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Turtle Love" - Apps used: vintage cam, autopainter II, lenslight, pictureshow

Tuesday was turtle day. I have always loved turtles, especially sea turtles, so I am blessed with multiple turtle gifts at every birthday and gift-giving holiday. I decided I needed to shoot one of these turtles to show my love. I used the Autopainter II app to get the pen and ink effect, then created a mirrored effect in Pictureshow with a few additional tweaks and edits in Lenslight. This resulted in what appears to be two turtles with a heart in the center. Of course I needed to title it “Turtle Love.”

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "It's Raining Frogs" - Apps used: vintage cam, juxtaposer, lenslight, modern grunge, iquikdof

Tree frogs are another love of mine. Today’s find were two ceramic tree frogs that grace the bookshelf in my office. We have had clouds and rain over the past week and for some odd reason I had a vision of umbrellas, clouds, the moon and tree frogs raining from the sky. I suppose it is a little bit Daliesque and perhaps he is the subconscious influence to my temporary insanity, however I enjoyed creating this piece more than most.

It started out with separate photographs of the cloudy sky, the two tree frogs and an umbrella. I carefully cut out the frogs and umbrella in Juxtaposer, arranged them on the cloudy sky background and multiplied and flipped and resized each element until I was happy with the visual. I then added a full moon in Lenslight and grunged it up a little bit in Modern Grunge. When I looked at the final result, I decided it needed one more thing, so I changed the DOF with a little blur in iQuikDof and voila! It’s Raining Frogs!

My iPhone Fantasy World

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Deep Space" - Apps used: vintage cam, snapseed, dynamic light, superimpose, modern grunge

As a child my fantasies took me far away to places that were much more pleasant than my sordid reality. I would daydream about beautiful meadows filled with rainbows and fairies, where children were safe to frolic and play. I would journey to the stars and explore other planets, meet the man in the moon and slide around the rings of Saturn. There were always castles and caves made of crystal, unicorns with rainbow-colored horns and little people who would hide under teacups and come out to play after sunset.

As an adult I moved far away from that magical mind and became somewhat of a “realist.” Thus my love of reading and writing non-fiction and my journey into the world of true-to-life documentary work. But lately, the imaginary mind of that child buried deep inside has been begging to come out and play. She hit the jackpot when I began to embrace the abilities of my iPhone.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "St. Paddy's Hats" - Apps used: dynamic light, autopainter II, lenslight, percolator, blender

I remember believing in leprechauns. Maybe it was the Lucky Charms cereal commercials that pulled me in or the whimsical stories my Irish grandmother used to tell me from a wee age. Whatever the cause, I remember crawling on my belly in the grass every St. Patrick’s Day in search of the elusive four-leaf clover and running through the fields on a chase for the end of the rainbow and that shiny pot of gold.

I was certain the leprechauns bunked down in little houses under rainbows not too far from where I lived and that one day I would finally stumble across the little buggers.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Leprechaun Land" - Apps used: autopainter II, lenslight, percolator, blender, superimpose, snapped, modern grunge, pixlromatic

No luck in catching them yet, however I have not given up hope… Now on to more important things like Mary Poppins and Neverland.

Oh Flow-Ree-Duh

Florida. The land of cruise ships, Disney World, space shuttles, hurricanes and ultra-bronzed retirees. Also the home of several contemporary, cutting-edge art galleries who are not afraid to take the leap and celebrate the phenomenon that is mobile photography. They embrace it as having a substantial and relevant impact on the contemporary art world.

I am pleased, well more like giddy with glee if I am being honest, to have three of my iPhone photographs included in two separate group gallery events for the month of March. The first, “Drive Thru,” was chosen for the Depixtions show at the Orange Gallery in Orlando, which opens March 10th.

"Drive Thur" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Two additional images, “Gelato” and “UFO Refueling Station” have just been chosen to hang in the group show iPhoneography: Updated Visual Dialogs at The Lunchbox Gallery, Miami in the Wynwood Art District. This show opens March 8th and runs through April 7th.

"Gelato" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

"UFO Refueling Station" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

These little successes are definitely motivating me to get out there more to continue my personal dialog via the use of this wonderfully freeing tool that is my iPhone.

Got Soup?

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Eye See" Apps: vintage cam, snapseed, modern grunge, pictureshow. This is kind of how I feel right now.

I am coming down with that darned cold that seems to be visiting everyone I know. Rumbling bronchial cough, nasal congestion, general malaise and a grumpy attitude to go with it. I despise being sick but I realize sometimes it is just my body telling me to slow down and take a little break.

I remember all the Campbell’s Soups commercials and ads when I was young. You know, back in the day when everything was just 10 cents a can and those cans were packed full with noodles. The ads featured that plump, golden-haired girl who said “mmmmm, mmmmmm, good!” as she extended her tray of hot soup in your direction.

Marketing genius? Perhaps, yes, during simpler days. It seemed to work for me as I do remember consuming multiple cans of Campbell’s chicken noodle whenever I caught a cold and it always seemed to make me feel so much better.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Got Soup?" Apps: snapseed, modern grunge, percolator

Maybe it was the fact no one was at home when I was tucked away shivering under the covers. My mom was the single money earner in our house and couldn’t miss any more days at work without pay. She would rush home on her lunch hour and fix up a big bowl of soup with saltine crackers, take my temperature, give me a few more aspirin and read me a story before she had to rush back to work. With my belly full of warm soup, I would then drift away into sleep for the rest of the afternoon.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "mmmm, mmmm, good!" Apps: vintage cam, snapseed, modern grunge, pictureshow

“Boo! I say to needless care
Which Campbell’s Soups will banish;
A daily share of this good fare
And half your troubles vanish.”

I think it’s time to wander off into the kitchen and heat up a can of that delicious soup…

Humility and Accolades

“We are our own worst enemy…”

My whole life I have struggled with the idea of self-worth. That struggle of course came out of being raised in the extremely dysfunctional home from which I came. For far too long I embraced the consistent, negative message that had been hammered into me from early childhood that I was “not good enough” and definitely “not deserving.”

Though there have been many times in my past where I received awards or honors for accomplishments, those instances always felt so incredibly surreal and I would not allow myself to become emotionally invested in the moment. Instead I would shrug my shoulders and chalk it up to “luck.” While those around me were celebrating for me, I would fall back into that negative self-talk that surmised I could have done it much better than I did.

Perfectionism… What a highly overrated, most definitely subjective, unnecessary waste of time and energy.

Fortunately, I have been able to face the self-worth issues head on during my “later” adult years and have finally begun to slay that dragon so to speak. The negative self-talk does continue to creep in on occasion, however now I am able to flush it out of my mind the minute it threatens by replacing it with positive words of self-love.

The past few weeks have been an incredible test of this journey for me. My photograph “Tower Bridge Sunrise” was gifted to Nippon Shokken by the Mayor of our city and made its way onto the pages of several local newspapers.

Photo courtesy: City of West Sacramento. Mayor Christopher Cabaldon presents "Tower Bridge Sunrise" to the Chairman of Nippon Shokken.

My series “View of Farmlands,” which I created after winning a public art commission supported by the Yolo County Arts Council and the James Irvine Foundation, is heading out on tour with a March 2nd launch at Gallery 1075.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Farm Labor" - Riverdog Farm, Guinda, CA. One from a series six from my "View of Farmlands" series.

My “Occupy Oakland” series is being featured on SocialDocumentary.net.

My series "Occupy Oakland" featured on SocialDocumentary.net

On Tuesday of this week, I was honored to meet and film an interview with Rocco Landesman, the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts where he told me my “View of Farmlands” series was incredible and that I am a very talented photographer.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Dani Thomas, Executive Director for YoloArts and Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Then Saturday morning, I received notice that I was chosen to be iPhone Photographer of the Day (out of thousands of artists) on iPhoneArt.com.

My iPhone art featured on the home page of iPhoneArt.com for Artist of the Day.

Today I am smiling widely and have a funny butterfly-like feeling in my belly. This tells me I am finally emotionally vested in these most recent accolades. So I am writing this post with what should have been the giddiness of a shy second grade girl who just received her first Brownie badge; the beaming smile of the 8th grade graduate who did so with honors; the overwhelming pride of the track athlete who just obliterated her half-mile league record; the beaming high school graduate who was the recipient of the largest college scholarship given out that night; and the excited college graduate who just earned her third degree.

This contented photographer and writer proudly embraces the quiet accomplishments of my past that I once so hastily dismissed, and is over the moon excited about my most recent accomplishments and accolades.

“I do deserve this!”… May the positive self-talk continue forever.

iPhone Artist of the Day!

Home page of iPhoneArt.com on Saturday Feb. 25th with me as featured artist!

I opened my email this morning to find the following message from iPhoneArt.com:

“Dear tjthomas,

Congratulations! You have been selected as our iPhoneArtist of the day. Your work is currently being showcased on our home page at http://www.iPhoneArt.com.

We are honored to have you as a member of the fastest growing mobile art community online. As an IPA Artist of the Day, you will also be invited to help select our monthly awardee. You have been added to our Featured Artist section on our site. And with the upcoming release of our iPrints program, this will be the most visible place online for art buyers and the general public to find and purchase mobile art from the most talented artists in the field. Our mission is to enable artists to promote their work and generate income. We encourage you to also take advantage of all other sites, programs, and opportunities available for mobile artists. At IPA, the artists will always come first. We have big plans and we want you to be a part of them. Together we can rise much higher.

Warm Regards,


I am thrilled beyond words!

Floating on the Edge of my Imagination

"UFO Refueling Station" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: vintage cam, lenslight

A few evening’s ago, I decided to take a run along the deep water channel, which is now known as the “Barge Canal.” When I run, I carry my iPhone since it is loaded with this cool pedometer app that measures my overall mileage, elevation gain, average speed, average pace, etc. The perfect training tool for my running ventures.

The only problem I have with running along the canal is my desire to stop every half mile in order to take a photo with my iPhone. There’s just something about the Barge Canal and the Port in particular that captures my attention and my imagination.

While running, I stumbled across five short yellow posts that surrounded two large concrete circles with candy-cane shaped pipes on either end. This strange configuration of metal and cement sat in a clearing of dirt at the edge of a row of trees. This odd patch of color and geometric shapes simply begged for me to shoot it.

I am certain there is some logical engineering explanation for my find. Of course my creative mind immediately took the leap to UFO landing pad. So when I got home I had to add my interpretation of some mysterious craft hovering off in the treeline by way of the LensLight app.

"Lightning Rod" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: vintage cam, lenslight, grunge, filterstorm

Further up the trail sat a tall pole with multiple lights balanced on top with a fenced-in generator at its base. With no other light poles around, it seemed so out-of-place. I imagine it is used for lighting up the bank of the channel when one of the big ships come in to the port on the opposite side, but when I looked at its silhouette against the approaching stormy sky, all I could think about was lightning rods. Thus the addition of the lightning bolt via another app.

"Canal" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: dynamic light, grunge, PE studio

The canal is home to a number of rowers and scullers from local clubs and universities. Though there were no boats out this particular evening, with the sun low on the horizon, the treeline reflected beautifully in the undisturbed water. It reminded me of a bucolic landscape from long ago where one would expect a young couple with bonnet and top hat to be rowing along the bank with a picnic in tow. Thus the more sepia-toned processing to add a feeling of reminiscence.

"Fisherman" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: vintage cam, grunge, snapseed

Where there is water, there are usually fish. On my way back to my car, an older gentleman clambered up the bank just ahead of me. He was pulling a little cart that held a fishing pole, a net and some gear. I walked behind him for a bit until he stopped at a bench along the path to rest. As I passed, he smiled and nodded. When I asked him if he had caught anything he shrugged his shoulders and said “no fish” and “no English” with a thick Russian accent. I pointed to my iPhone and mimed the click of a shutter button with the raising of my eyebrows in question. He shook his head yes and stood for the photograph.

I imagined him sitting next to a fire on a frozen river in Russia while he dropped his line through a hole he had cut into the thick ice while his family sat bundled up in their small house waiting for him to come home with his catch after a long day of fishing near the Caspian Sea.

Those Sexy Italians

"Stella" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: snapseed, dynamic light, grunge, PE studio

There’s just something so damn sexy about Italian scooters. Oh Hell, let’s be honest, there’s something so damn sexy about Italians period.

Every time I drive through Sonoma my eyes are immediately drawn to this little import business that sits along Napa Street. They have a stable of imported Italian scooters all lined up along the edge of the sidewalk just begging to be taken for a ride. The muted colors, the smooth curves, the sparkling chrome and the shiny leather seats all work together to pull in the weak-willed, tongue wagging, potential consumer.

For a year now, I have been waging war with my ironclad willpower in an attempt to get myself to stop the car so I can run my hand along the cool, sensuous curves of one of these two-wheeled seductresses. My somewhat prudish willpower has always won that wrestling match. That is, until today.

Just say the word “Gelato” and my salivary glands begin to work overtime. Gelato aside, say the words “Italian espresso” and I would climb Mt. Everest to reach a steaming demitasse cup of that brain-cell stimulating goodness. Combine a scooter with Italian gelato or espresso and you will find me doing a u-turn on the busiest freeway in America in order to fulfill my fantasies.

"Drive Thru" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: snapseed, dynamic light, grunge, PE studio

Call it marketing genius. Call it savvy business know-how. Call it whatever you want. It worked. Right there, parked along Napa Street was a beautiful gold Vespa sporting a sexy wooden cutout balancing a tray of coffee with a sign overhead that said “Drive-thru.” When my eyes followed the arrow they fell first on a beautiful converted scooter with the word “Gelato” painted on the front.

"Gelato" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: snapseed, dynamic light, grunge, PE studio, lenslight

But be still my heart. Just to the left of the Gelato scooter was a converted Lambretta trike that was serving fresh Italian espresso. I thought I had died and gone off to Heaven.

"Cafe Scooteria" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: snapseed, dynamic light, grunge, PE studio

So what did I do? I threw out my willpower, flipped a you-ee, grabbed my iPhone and stumbled out of my car. All of my Italian fantasies assembled in one tiny parking lot? Absolutely unbelievable. La vita è Bella!

Abstract Surrealism with an iPhone

"Trapped in Blue" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: Slow Shutter, PE Studio, Grunge

If I had the patience to paint, the resulting images would undoubtedly fall into the category of “abstract surrealism” with hints of my subconscious thoughts springing forth through the mish-mash of color and quasi-recognizable shapes. They would most likely be painted with earthy tones, lots of shadows, lacking detail and with some tiny smidgen of light attempting to break through the darkness. That’s not only due to my lack of command for the medium, but it is what I would desire to paint if I could.

Hmmmm… sounds like the perfect recipe for a little Jungian analysis.

One thing I have discovered with my new-found iPhoneography obsession is the ability to create pieces that appease both my need to photograph and my desire to express the deeper, more subconscious-based emotion that tends to drive my artistic angst. Something I could certainly do by spending endless hours with my “big girl” camera and Photoshop. But in far less time, I am able to create pieces on my iPhone that match an emotion or feeling when it strikes. Something I have accomplished by using my DSLR, however it usually takes many months and endless nights of no sleep, before I finally get the photo that says what I was feeling.

The simple act of whipping out my iPhone when the moment seizes and losing myself in the manipulation of an image with several Apps, seems to cleanse a lot of internal wasted space and transforms me into a manic creativity machine. I find it easier to write, easier to plan my life, easier to come up with conceptual ideas for new photography series shot with my “big girl” camera, and I feel an immediate sense of peace.

"White Noise" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: Slow Shutter, Grunge, Decim8 and Snapseed

Who knew this little rectangular piece of metal, glass and plastic would replace my therapist? The simple act of spontaneous creation has a way of alleviating all that blasted, unnecessary white noise that clutters up my brain. All the oft-jumbled “junk” that squats inside my subconscious finally has a pathway to the exit. Who cares if anyone else “understands” these abstract creations? It’s “art” I say…

And it is so much cheaper than therapy…

Losing My Marbles & The Port and The Moon

Since being bitten by the rabid iPhoneography bug and becoming obsessively swallowed up in the illness, I decided to open up a new category on this blog called “iPhoneography” as most of my other ramblings and musings may vary far and wide from the topic. It will be my goal to upload at least one new piece of iPhone art every few days along with the apps I chose to use just to keep my creative juices flowing. So today I am posting “Losing My Marbles” & “The Port and The Moon.”

“Losing My Marbles” was shot on a glass table with ProCamera and processed via a combination of effects in Dynamic Light, RainyDaze, Snapseed and Grunge.

“The Port and The Moon” was taken in the evening at the Port of Sacramento when the lighting was perfect, the water still and the reflection amazing. Snapped with ProCamera and processed via a combination of Snapseed, Grunge and Lenslight. Hint: If you haven’t guessed by now, the moon was not in the original photo ;-).

iPhoneography Addict

"Inner Workings" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: dynamic light, grunge, percolator, superimpose, photofx, Iris, photoforge

My name is Tracy J. Thomas and I am addicted to iPhoneography…

Don’t get me wrong, I am not giving up my “big girl” camera, especially since I just spent a whole shitload of money on my M.F.A. However there is just something so free and easy and yes a bit sexy about the act of whipping this compact piece of electronic gadgetry out of my pocket to snap a photo without wrestling with lens caps, light meters and aperture settings. In fact it’s more than sexy. It’s like being granted the freedom to run around without your clothes on only you aren’t confined to a nudist colony type of sexy. And it’s as addicting as any illicit drug.

Owning an iPhone does not a photographer make. So no, I am not worried that my future earnings as a professional will be quashed by a bunch of amateur iPhone slingers. There are still a whole lot of snapshot-like iPhone photos floating around in cyberspace even when shot with those cool apps like Hipstamatic or Instagram. I’m just as guilty as the rest for taking a whole toilet bowl full of Hipstamatic photographs with every available “lens” and “film” the moment my iPhone first arrived. But such is the learning curve of said beast.

"Groceries" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: snapseed, grunge, dynamic light

As time wore on and I became bored with the same old results from the same old “lenses” and “films,” I decided to Google iPhoneography and boy were my eyes happy with what they saw on these links. People were doing things with their iPhones that were comparable to the best Photoshop digital artists out there. I was basically blown away while highly motivated to understand how they were making such incredible art. It soon became apparent there was so much more to it than just your basic camera app.

The trick with all of these incredible artists beyond the obvious fact they have a strong eye for photography and some deeply rooted artistic talent, is they don’t simply stop with your basic camera app. In fact they bend and stretch and scratch and rip and tone and percolate and layer and enhance their photographs by using as many as a half-dozen apps or more for each piece. Now that takes vision. And planning. And of course the proper amount of memory in your iPhone to load said apps.

"The Light" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. Apps: snapseed, photo fx, lenslight

Thus began my journey into app stacking in post processing of my iPhone images. This whole week has been all about experimenting with a plethora of apps and combinations. I took a vow to self to jump right in and get my hands dirty, to tweak and doodle and layer and mask in order to create a couple of moody iPhone photographs. Just the act of playing with my iPhone has begun to free up the artistic funk I found myself in last week when I wrote my last blog post.

I have already connected with an amazing group of iPhoneographers on iPhoneart.com and was even more pleased to find information on art galleries that have begun to exhibit iPhone photos. I have even begun to write and design a basic iPhoneography course that I hope to teach through my city’s community center and I also plan to set up an online course for a minimal fee within the next several months in order to spread the joy.

So excuse me for now. My iPhone is sitting here giving me a rather cold stare and I am twitching to get my hands on the WordFoto app I downloaded a few minutes ago.

You can keep an eye on the development of my new found obsession by visiting my iPhoneart gallery at: www.iphoneart.com/users/3704/galleries

"Rugged Coast" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. App: hipstamatic