Tag Archives: photomontage

Favorite Mobile Photo Apps – Steller

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There is a wonderful visual storytelling app for both Android and iOS mobile phones called Steller. I happened across it while doing research for a course I am writing for the Academy of Art University and recently downloaded the free app to give it a test drive. Steller allows you to create beautiful visual stories with photos, video, and text and the process is straight forward and absolutely seamless.

The design is fairly minimalist and very elegant in appearance. There are currently eleven templates to choose from for designing your stories. Each one has a different look and offer several choices when it comes to the layout of your individual pages.

  

The first step is to choose a template or theme for your story.

    
You will be prompted to choose 20 videos or photographs to import into your story. You can always rearrange and edit design layout or swap out photos and videos before publishing.

 
You will choose a title and subtitle if you have one and can change the layout of your title page as well as the image that appears here.

  
You can add additional pages as video, photo or text. The recommended length of a story is around 20 pages, however you can certainly make it longer if you feel the need.

  
You can add text below images by choosing different layouts for each page.

  

Or have multiple pages of straight text if you are feeling a bit more like Mark Twain.

   
Steller is also a wonderful community filled with talented individuals and you can create collections of the stories you like and name your collections anything you desire. You can also share and comment on other Steller user’s stories and follow them, similar to Instagram.

Once you hit publish, you can share your story within the app to your plethora of social media accounts and watch the magic happen. If you are lucky and the Steller gods are smiling down upon you, your story might be handpicked by Steller’s editors to be featured in one of their collections. When this happens your exposure increases exponentially and you might even find your story going viral.

Below are a few of my own Steller stories. You will find links to view them underneath each image and if you already have the Steller app, you can find and follow me here: http://steller.co/TracyJThomas

  

My most recent Steller story on the Kootenai Pow Wow in Bonners Ferry, Idaho made it into the top 10 most viewed stories this afternoon with over 6,140 views and was featured in both the Stellerverse and the Most Viewed collections. You can view the story here: https://steller.co/s/5EeDxX32fH6 

  

This Steller story highlights some of my quirky mobile photomontage pieces. It was featured in Steller’s Creative Collection and received over 5,000 views. You can view this story here: https://steller.co/s/5EK56vcWwGH

  

This is a story I created on the California drought that illustrates the dire situation at Folsom Lake, the reservoir that provides drinkng water for nearly half a million residents across the Sacramento region. This story also received over 5,000 views. You can view this story here: https://steller.co/s/5DuPxgdv3Xz

Overall, I am truly impressed with the quality and ease of use of the Steller app. The only thing I don’t like is the fact you can’t embed the stories directly into WordPress blog posts. The app provides the embed code for each story, but so far the code gets stripped every time I try it and pasting a straight link into the blog does not bring the story in either. My hope is the app’s developers will soon decide to work with the WordPress embed guidelines so Steller stories will be easier to share in all their glory.

Now go out and get your free copy and start creating your own Steller stories! http://steller.co


Back to My Love – Mobile Photomontage

 
When I started out in mobile photography about five years ago now I found great joy in expressing my creative urges through constructed photographs, better known as photomontage. This was a 360 degree move away from the straight black and white street photography I had been shooting over a three-year period for my MFA thesis project in Documentary photography.

At the point when I picked up my first iPhone and began to shoot and play with photography apps, I had reached the emotional burnout phase in my thesis project. It was an intense study and all I wanted and needed to do after presenting and defending my thesis was to play and create quirky, beautiful pieces of art. In a sense it was art therapy in order to heal myself from the stress of my project. That phase continued for three years.

It was a great time in my life. My photomontage pieces were being exhibited in galleries across the globe and found their way onto the pages of mainstream publications, while many pieces sold and ended up in private collections. I felt free to create my own surreal, entertaining worlds which provided me with a temporary escape from reality and I was in awe and surprised at the response these pieces received.

It has now been a few years since I have spent any focused time on creating photomontage works. For the past two years I moved back towards straight photography again with some street, documentary, and macro work. Recently I felt moved to create another photomontage piece called “The Butterfly Effect” which was highlighted on this blog after I reviewed the Juxtaposer app. I decided on a whim to enter this piece in a call for art for the Mobile Digital Art and Creativity Summit Exhibition that was going to be held in the prestigious Palo Alto Art Center.

Last month I received the news that “The Butterfly Effect” had been chosen as a finalist for the mDAC exhibition and would be on display at the Palo Alto Art Center through the month of August. I was thrilled. 

We attended the exhibition opening and had a great time soaking in all the amazing art created on iPhones and iPads. There are two categories of art on display. My piece is in the Mobile Photography Art category. The second category is Mobile Digital Painting for which I have a ton of respect. Below is a slideshow with some photographs of the event and a lot of the beautiful art created on mobile devices.

This latest experience has been a great motivator for me to create more photomontage pieces. I am currently working on a piece to enter for an upcoming exhibition that explores the imagery and concepts depicted by 14th century Surrealist Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. Such a fun study!


Photomontage – The Butterfly Effect

Here is a new photomontage piece, “The Butterfly Effect,” I created with the mobile photography apps Juxtaposer, Pixlromatic, and PicFX. The elements for this image are all from photographs I shot with my iPhone in recent years, combined in Juxtaposer and texturized in Pixlromatic and PicFX. You can read my review of Juxtaposer in my last post here.

 **”The Butterfly Effect” – ©Tracy J Thomas, 2015. All rights reserved.**


Favorite Mobile Photo Apps – Juxtaposer

  
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One of my favorite mobile photography editing apps is Juxtaposer. This app is the mobile photomontage artist’s dream app. It was Juxtaposer that first opened the doors of my creative imagination when I transitioned to shooting and editing with an iPhone. For years I had used Photoshop for traditional DSLR photography editing and had played with a few montage creations. However, I found the use of PS for this type of editing to be time consuming, tedious, and it had a steep and somewhat complicated learning curve for the tasks involved.

I first noticed a number of mobile artists creating amazing photomontage work on the iPhoneArt.com website back in 2011. I was blown away by what these artists were creating on their iPhones and ultimately iPads. I followed several conversations and soon learned about the Juxtaposer app. From the first day I downloaded the app I was hooked. At the time the app was iPhone only and the iPhone screens were not nearly as large as they are today. So imagine me bent over my miniscule iPhone screen erasing details of photographs in order to save one small piece as a stamp to combine with another background photo. Talk about tedious! But the fact I could use my fingers to pinch and zoom and an inexpensive stylus to touch up the details made the experience fun and a lot cheaper than Photoshop and a Wacomm tablet. Plus I could say that I created these pieces from start to finish on my iPhone!

 **A few of the pieces I have created with the Juxtaposer app and favorite texture apps.**

As time went, on my iPhone photomomtage pieces all created with Juxtaposer and a few texture apps, began to place in competitions and find their way into galleries, private collections, and publications around the globe. After taking a break from several productive years creating mobile art, I have recently migrated back to using Juxtaposer on my iPad to create illustrations for a new book I am in the process of writing. The fact I can edit with this app on my iPad has improved the user experience ten-fold. Below are some of the steps I took in the app when creating a piece for the book. **Note: this piece is far from finished but I thought it would be fun to share a work in progress while highlighting this app.**

First I chose the base elements that would go into my photomontage based on a concept I had in mind.  

 

**This is the background photo I chose. I shot this several years back in Baja, Mexico.**

 **I decided I wanted this baby carriage as part of the scene. I shot this photo in a vintage auto parts store many years back.**

I opened Juxtaposer, started a new session, and I chose my bottom and top images and imported.  

  

I needed to erase everything on the top layer but the baby carriage. To do this I chose the eraser button and began to pinch and zoom the top image in order to get in close to the edges for detail.

  

When I was happy with the results, I saved the top image as a stamp so I could use it again in the future. I also decided to flip the carriage so it angled towards the cactus for better composition (another tool I love in this app).

   
   

After saving my newly created base scene, I added my main character, The Borg, from my saved stamps.

   
  

 

I then began to add more stamps to the scene, in this case the hat and pacifier.

   
      

Now that I have incorporated all my main core elements I will continue to touch the scene up by adding shadows to anchor the carriage a bit better to the ground so it doesn’t appear to be floating plus a few more items to finish the scene to my liking. This will be followed by importing the piece into a few of my favorite mobile photo texture apps.

A few of the other tools in Juxtaposer are the ability to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, opacity, blend modes, and brush settings. my favorite feature of all is the unerase button which comes in handy when attempting to erase close to the edges. Unlike a reset button, it allows you to unerase small parts of your top layer and does not reverse all the work you just painstakingly labored over.

  
All in all Juxtaposer is a fun app with an intuitive interface for both the beginner and advanced mobile artist.

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Zen in the Garden by Tracy J.  Thomas

Zen in the Garden

by Tracy J. Thomas

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More Fun With Photomontage

My creative imagination has taken over once again and I have been having a lot of fun with photomontage.  There are times when I burn out on montage work because it takes a lot of time and is pretty tedious to create on an iPhone.  So, I take a little break and gravitate back towards straight photography.  But since I got my iPad Mini, my eyes are far less strained and I am able to do the more tedious editing on the larger iPad screen with the remainder of editing on my iPhone.

Here are some of my recent photomontage pieces.  Yes, I have a very unique and often quirky imagination. 🙂

"Remnants of a Happy Life" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Remnants of a Happy Life” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"The Rabbit and the Wolf" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Rabbit and the Wolf” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Aliens on Holiday" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Aliens on Holiday” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Phone Home?" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Phone Home?” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

 

 


Happy 4th and New Work

Happy 4th of July to my U.S. friends!  Still on the healing path and now waiting for word on the West Nile Virus antibodies test.  In the meantime, I have been focused on creating art by shooting with my iPhone and doing some of the editing on my iPad.  The iPad screen definitely provides relief for my strained eyes.

Below are two examples of the new direction that my photomontage are headed.  My photomontage pieces take a lot longer to create than my more straightforward app’ed images, but I have definitely had a lot of time on my hands lately :-).

"Owl Medicine" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Owl Medicine” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.  Apps: procamera, icolorama, pixlromatic, procreate, blender, superimpose.

"Mama Gaia" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Mama Gaia” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved. Apps: procamera, icolorama, superimpose, pic grunger, pixlromatic, blender

 


This Thing Called Photomontage

"When Tempest Tossed," iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“When Tempest Tossed,” iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

I stumbled across the world of mobile photography a year ago this month when I purchased my first iPhone. Yes, I was a bit behind the times in regard to the little rectangle of metal, glass and plastic that people have been addicted to for some time now.

When I first got my iPhone I had plans to use it for everything but taking photographs. Having just graduated with my Masters of Fine Arts in photography from the Academy of Art University the month prior, the use of my iPhone to create images worth keeping was truly a hard sell in my mind.

And then I stumbled across iPhoneart.com. To say this website was a life changer for me would be an understatement. The brilliant work I witnessed as I perused the galleries of images on this website blew my mind. How could this be possible? These images were shot and edited on an iPhone? Really??

I began to download photography apps and thus began my own addiction with my iPhone. Before long I realized it truly does not matter what tool a photographer decides to use. What matters is the photographer behind the lens, and the end result of its use. This has been true throughout the history of photography and the multitude of cameras made available to create photographs.

"Drowning in a Speed Queen," iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Drowning in a Speed Queen,” iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Not everyone who picks up a camera of any sort can create images that can stand next to the best in regard to subject matter, composition, use of light, line, color, and texture. But those who understand the technical and conceptual aspects of photography and are blessed with a bit of natural talent can indeed create compelling images no matter what tool they choose. It doesn’t matter if that tool is an SLR that uses film, a pinhole camera made out of an orange juice can, a plastic Holga, expensive large format, Polaroid, DSLR, point and shoot, or an iPhone; all have been tools used by some of the greatest photographers in the world.

What I have found endearing in the world of mobile photography is the controversy in some circles surrounding composite photography, better known as “photomontage.” Photomontage is basically joining two or more photographs through the use of layers into an illusion to create a surreal or artificial virtual reality. Photomontage has existed in the world of photography since its beginnings, long before the digital age, and was still considered to be “photography” because it was, and still is.

A great example is the image “The Two Ways of Life” by Oscar Gustav Rejlander, created in 1857. This piece was assembled from 30 individual negatives and printed onto one large piece of paper. Rejlander’s piece was first exhibited at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857 and Queen Victoria purchased a copy for Prince Albert.

"The Two Ways of Life" by Oscar Gustav Rejlander, 1857.

“The Two Ways of Life” by Oscar Gustav Rejlander, 1857.

In the early 1900’s, the Dada movement out of Germany was instrumental in moving montage work into the limelight with their political protests against World War I via photographers such as John Heartfield, Hannah Höch, Kurt Schwitters, and Raoul Hausmann. The Surrealists and Constructivists continued the trend of photomontage, which has moved on into the modern-day contemporary photography movement.

From "The American Way of Life" by Joseph Renau, 1949.

From “The American Way of Life” by Joseph Renau, 1949.

From "Flying Houses" by Laurent Chehere, 2012.

From “Flying Houses,” digital photomontage by Laurent Chehere, 2012.

The grumblings in the world of mobile photography seem to arise from the lack of knowledge of the history of traditional photography. Some of the individuals heading the “movement” appear so caught up in the tool itself they seem to forget that it is just that, another tool to take photographs. It is really nothing new, other than being super portable with the all-in-one ability to edit photographs directly inside the same tool that takes the images. If someone uses an iPhone, it does not magically make them a photographer.

Photomontage, composite photography, photographs with a painterly effect, etc. are all accepted in the world of fine art photography and are exhibited in mainstream galleries around the globe. Photographs taken with mobile phones have also begun to show up in these same galleries with the same level of acceptance as traditional camera photographs.

"Rubber Band Man," iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Rubber Band Man,” iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Of course there are rules and ethics surrounding composite photography in the world of photojournalism, as there should be. Yet, the remainder of the medium along with those who lend their support to photographers (whether film, digital, mobile or otherwise) should remain open to not only “straight” photography but also those who choose to express themselves by way of “fine art” photography (manipulated or not).

As others have stated before me, eventually all this brouhaha surrounding mobile photography will subside. The iPhone will be viewed along with all other cameras as simply another means to an end. We saw it happen with the Holga, the Polaroid, the first digital cameras. Before long, every digital camera on the market will have the equivalent editing capabilities of the mobile phone.

The most important change will occur when photographers who choose mobile phones as their primary tool begin to compete on the same level as the master photographers who have come before them. Many have begun to enter that realm already with success including Karen Divine, Chase Jarvis, and Richard Koci Hernandez. These photographers view the iPhone as another tool to take photographs and they treat this little rectangle of metal, plastic and glass in the same way as they treat their more traditional cameras. It is one of their tools of choice to create the compelling imagery that comes from a space of technical and conceptual mastery. It is as simple as that.

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