Once upon a time manipulating photographs was really hard. I’d argue that to do it expertly is still hard. What I do, however, isn’t particularly hard because there are apps, you see, that do most of the manipulation for you. All you need to bring with you is a bit of creativity.
I like experimenting with my photographs as anyone who follows my Instagram might be aware of and I thought I would tell you a thing or two about what I do and what I use.
Most of my photographs are taken with my iPhone, though some are taken with a Nikon. No matter the camera though I always pull the photo into the phone and play with it there before I post it. It happens that I don’t do anything with a photo. Those are mainly taken with my Nikon and the Micro lens I have that lets you take extreme closeups. On Instagram those photos are usually tagged with #noedit and/or #nofilter.
The manipulated photos go through a process.
List of apps I use:
And the list keeps getting bigger.
You can find them by making a search in the app store and I’m sure most of them are available on non iOS devices as well.
It’s often a complicated process and it keeps changing. I experiment a lot, and with new apps come different aspects. I almost always run the photos through multiple apps, creating something that feels right in the moment. My most used apps are surely Stackables and Mextures which have a great variety of pre-made filters and options to make your own filters and save them for later use.
As an example we can take the birds that I add to the pictures. Birds in my pictures aren’t always fake (and I’m sure you can spot the difference) but if I feel it’s right I’ll use DistressedFX which has a nice variety of birds and filters. Or I’ll use Skylab/Aliensky that lets you mask out the parts you don’t want and use opacity to make the birds feel more real. Or I paint them in with iColorama that also has a good variety of bird “stamps”.
Putting together two images is easy nowadays with apps like Enlight and Union that allow you to merge images together. With those apps you can create a completely new reality by emerging various pictures together and masking out the parts of the image you don’t want.
There are artists out there a lot more skilled in this than I am. I mostly try to manipulate photos to create a mood and that often involves dim filters and grunge effects but sometimes I use the “spray” effect from Repix or I use the smudge tool from Procreate to distort and smudge the right areas.
It’s all a matter of finding “your” tools to give the feeling you want the images to have. But sometimes simplicity is the key – and all the photo needs is a bit of a toning down – it’s good to think about these things when you take the photo too, the process starts in the field and though I might not always know exactly what I’m going to do with the picture it’s often good to start thinking about the process when you’re in the field taking the picture. And this is just how I do it – there are certainly more apps out there that do things I’m not familiar with. It’s all a matter of experimentation, but as starter apps I’d recommend Enlight, Stackables and Mextures – closely followed by DistressedFX.
I hope this shed some light on the process…