Sn’App Happy: An iPhone App’dict in Havana

Last week I came out as the iPhone App’dict that I have become.  I make no apologies about it.  In fact, I’m rather proud of my new addiction.  It seems fairly harmless and yields great rewards both in the actual process of App’ing and in the final results.  I know I’m having a great time and from the feedback I have been getting, many of you seem to enjoy the images as well so, I will continue to share some of my App’dictions with you including the Apps used and my processes.

*Note: For those of you who simply like to look at pretty pictures, the first image is the finished image and those that follow are the step by step versions to get to the final result.

I recently returned from an amazing week in Cuba where I shot mostly with my big girl camera but, when I did remember to pull out my iPhone on occasion (it has not become a full blown habit yet) I had a blast creating images on the spot.  One such image was created in the bar of one of the former mob hotels in La Habana Vieja (Old Havana).  I mean literally created…photographed and finished right on the spot…in less than five minutes…


We had stopped in to buy some water and while we relaxed in the coolness of the bar we began making images of the wonderful architecture.  I couldn’t get everything I wanted in one frame and it wasn’t the place to pull out tripods and set up a shot so, for fun, I pulled out my iPhone (5s) and selected the panorama setting on the built-in camera.  The first image I began at the floor and panned upwards resulting in the top of the frame being too bright with no detail…


So, I touched the arrow on the iPhone screen to switch panning directions (where you begin your pano is where the camera locks the exposure) and began at the top of the frame panning downwards.  This provided the detail I wanted in the top of the frame…


leaving the bottom half of the frame darker than I would like but, I knew that I could correct that in a snap…Snapseed, that is.  So, I opened Snapseed and selected HDR Scape where I have the ability to choose one of four effects and to control the strength of the effect to get this result…


I saved the image and opened Painter next.  I chose the Snapseed processed image and the Van Gogh effect and watched a painting of my image magically appear…


I saved this image into my Camera Roll where I now have two processed versions of the same image.  App’ing my way down the homestretch, I chose Blender which allows me to combine two images and vary the strength between them.  After tweaking the slider a bit I saved my final image (as shown above)…


I was thrilled with the result and was about to shot my phone down when suddenly I wondered what the image would like converted to B&W.  I had Snapseed opened in a snap and a B&W version that I quite liked…


But wait, it’s an old hotel, it needs that old time feel.  I remember seeing a Vintage selection in Snapseed.  Hmm, I wonder…


You got it, if I wonder, I wander into App’land and get lost for minutes on end.  That can’t possibly be a bad thing now can it.

Stay tuned.



Sn’App Happy: Confessions Of An iPhone App’dict!

Hi, I’m Laurie and I’m Appdicted to iPhonography!  There, I said it!  Whew, that felt good.  Those who follow me on Facebook know how App happy I’ve become over the last few months and I am proud to admit it.  My iPhone camera along with several creative Apps have brought me back in touch with my “out of the box” creative side and yielded hours and hours of pure fun…


iPhone 5s, in-camera Pano, Snapseed HDR, AutoPainter, Blender

Let me back up a little… Late last year I signed up for a workshop with DeWitt Jones.  I followed his Celebrate blog and Facebook pages, I read his articles in Outdoor Photographer about the pure joy of photography and seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and I simply felt drawn to his seeming love of life.  I also had a visit to Molokai, HI on my bucket list so when I saw that DeWitt was teaching a workshop (along with Rikki Cooke and Jonathan Kingston) on Molokai at the Hui Ho’olana.  I felt a strong pull to sign up for the workshop and soon found myself winging my way to Molokai! I had toyed around with the camera on my iphone in the past.  It was fun to text photos to friends and family and I would post an occasional photo on Facebook.  My favorite App was Pro HDR, an App that took two photos and combined them in camera, oh I was cool, to be sure.  DeWitt put an emphasis on the fact that he would be using his iPhone a lot!  So, I arrived in Molokai with all the recommended Apps on my iPhone 4s (last years model) which I thought was fine…until I found out about in camera Panos, Slo Motion Video, SlowShutter speeds, and on and on in the current 5s.  I still didn’t think I needed a new iphone 5s with all the above features plus an 8 megapixel camera.  I made a couple of images…

Succulent iphone

iPhone 4s in camera capture, no processing


…learned to process them and began to experience the magic of App’ing…

iPhone 4s, Snapseed Crop, HDR and Frame

iPhone 4s, Snapseed Crop, HDR and Frame


My iphone soon became more than just a record maker, I was making art, my creative juices were overflowing, I was enjoying the sheer fun of photography like the days when I first picked up a camera; not worrying about the details, just shooting peaked my interest.  To be sure, I composed, exposed and processed the images using my creative vision…but this time I did it all in my iPhone!  

I came home and continued to turn to my iPhone 5s (yes, I had to get the newest, coolest, toy…I mean tool) for not just a documentation of a current moment in time (a rare snow storm on the coast) but, with the intent of making images that matched the mood of the scene along with my creative vision…


iPhone 5s with in-Camera Pano, Snapseed HDR, Tune to Darken for Mood


The more I explored my plethora of Apps, the more fun I was having and I soon found myself getting in touch with my inner Van Gogh…

iPhone 5s, Snapseed Cropped & Tuned

iPhone 5s, Snapseed Cropped & Tuned


Van Gogh in AutoPaint

Van Gogh in AutoPaint


Original and Van Gogh combined using Blender

Original and Van Gogh combined using Blender


A revolutionary discovery for me is the ability to move from one App to another taking an image whatever direction I choose; from slight enhancements…

iPhone 5s, Snapseed HDR

iPhone 5s, Snapseed HDR


…to creating an abstract version of an image with new Apps like Waterlogue I learn about from fellow App’dicts (thanks Celie Placzek)…

Painted in Waterlogue

Painted in Waterlogue


I finish the image by blending the first version with the Waterlogue version and tuning to my desired results!…

Snapseed Version and Waterlogue Version combined in Blender

Snapseed Version and Waterlogue Version combined in Blender


I love the creative control packed into my phone.  What a smart phone it is indeed.  It’s great fun adding artistic touches to an image and then having the ability to  control  the amount of any effect or even mask out parts entirely.  A current favorite style of mine includes just enough of an artistic App to add a surreal look and yet maintain a photographic feel at the same time by blending enough of the photograph to keep a degree of realism.  The artistic twists and turns I take and just how far I go is totally up to me on any given image.  I feel that anything I can think of trying is fair game, and oh, how much fun it is to simply let go and see where an image ends up…

iPhone 5s



Koi cropped and HDR using Snapseed, Painteresque

Cropped and HDR using Snapseed, finished with Painteresque



Seattle Union Station iPhone 5s in-Camera Pano

Seattle Union Station iPhone 5s in-Camera Pano



Snapseed B&W and Vintage



Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall iPhone 5s

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall iPhone 5s


A Touch of Van Gogh from AutoPainter added

A Touch of AutoPainter Van Gogh added with Blender


I can even use a Mask to creatively paint the color back in to a Black and White image like I can using Layers in Photoshop CC…

B&W Conversion in Snapseend plus Tune Image, Color and B&W Images combined in Blender and Brush in Trees

B&W Conversion in Snapseend plus Tune Image, Color and B&W Images combined in Blender and Brush in Trees

I’m just now experimenting with enlarging images from my iPhone.  I am finding that some Apps are very small files and thus reduce the file size of the finished image while others are providing a file large enough to make an 8X10 at the native file size with the ability to increase the output size even more using software such as Perfect Resize from OnOne Software.  For now I really don’t care what output size I an get from my iPhone images or whether I can find a market for them.  What I do care about is how much fun I am having and the creative spillover effect this is having in all aspects of my photography.

I recently returned from my third visit to Cuba and have some crazy fun images I made with my…you got it…my iPhone (as well as the thousands of image I made with my big girl camera.  More images, stories and App’tidotes to come.  Stay tuned








Happy Veterans Day

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Thank a veteran today.


Confessions Of A Recovering Gearhead

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Hi, My name is Laurie and I’m a recovering gearhead!  There, I said it!  (the “recovering” part that is)  I have been a longtime gearhead, lusting after the newest, coolest, most trick item to add to my camera bag.  New camera…I have a matched pair, new lens…it’s in my bag along with all the other must have paraphanelia.  Cool new accessory…if I don’t have it yet, it’s likely on order, and on and on it went. If it was new, cool, new, useful, new it was either in my bag or would be shortly.  If someone wanted to know about a product, they would email me just knowing that I was likely one of the first to get one and had put it to the test.  I was the Photo Equipment Advice Desk for NAPP for a number of years (they found a very good outlet for my gearheadedness).  I was even at the top of the list for each and everything new item that came into my favorite camera shop (Competitive Camera in Dallas…ask for Eugene).  It was bad!  I was bad!  I had a serious addiction for new camera gear, I was a total gearhead,  I simply couldn’t say no to a piece of camera equipment dangled in front of me.

200-400mm fr VR…500mm f4 VR…600mm f4 VR…I had ‘em all…

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Until traveling with bulky, heavy equipment began to get more and more difficult.

So, how did I get around this?  Being a gearhead, I went out and bought the 500mm.  Here is where the agony began.  OK, having a 200-400mm, a 500mm and a 600mm tele lens is a little extreme and even though I actually do use all three at any given time I really can’t justify 3 super telephoto lenses in my arsenal.  But, which one goes?  Do I sell the 600mm and keep the 500mm due to the weight restrictions?  If I do that, what about the 200-400mm?  I forgot to mention that also I have the new 80-400mm VR which is wicked sharp (but, I’m sure you figured that one out) so, do I get rid of the 200-400mm too?  Leaving me with only on tele lens?  I was nearly delerious at the thought of divesting myself of not only one but, 2 of my babies.  I began to think it through…what lens did I take where, and why…  Well, let’s begin with international travel (which I have been doing more of lately)

-I encountered it all three times traveling to Churchill to photograph polar bears.  They weighed everything and I mean everything including our carry-ons and attached litle bands that said we met the weight restrictions to bring our gear on board…that is after some very creative re-packing and intense stress.  My first year I took the 600mm and next two years I took the 500mm and was perfectly happy with it both for reach in most cases and for the lighter weight.

-Next came ERA on a flight from Anchorage to Kodiak.  The gate personnel were NOT going to allow me to bring my camera bag on-board as carry-on.  It was too big not to mention too heavy.  I had my credit card out and was ready to buy another seat for the priviledge of carrying on my camera equipment before they relented…as long as I check my computer bag…without said computer inside.  Go figure.  I have taken any of the three tele lenses to Alaska for different perspectives.  I love the 600mm for in your face, nose and toes kind of images but, I can really get those same images with the 500mm and teles the bears get so close.  And, when hand-holding off the boat, while I can and have hand held the 600mm for short bursts I certainly do prefer the lighter weight of the 500mm when the need to hand hold arises.  I love the 200-400mm for hand holding from the boat as it is even lighter than the 500mm but…the new 80-400mm with it’s sharpness and ability to accept teleconverters quickly took the place as my second lens.

-Kenya, you want to bring big, heavy glass with you, plan on gate checking it.  They, too, weigh everything.  Once again, I pleaded to their kindness to carry my bag of expensive equipment on the plane.  After I opened the compartments and showed them what was inside my bag, they finally relented and gave me a tag that approved it as carry-on.  That was with the 500mm both times.  I did notice that in Amsterdam a photo group was all forced to gate check their camera gear which was in hard sided rolling cases while I was allowed on board with my photo backpack.  However, had I been forced to gate check my gear, I would not have had confidence in my equipment arriving in working condition in the softer sided bag.  It’s a trade off for sure.

On and on it went.  It’s not easy traveling with camera gear these days!  Plain and simple as that.  So, really, why own everything if you can’t even enjoy it?  The  indecision was killing me.  Until I thought about doing what I recommend to many of my adventure participants who don’t own big glass…rent what I need when I need it!  Now how revolutionary a thought is that!  For me it was the first baby step in my recovery as a gearhead.  I know I can count on my friends  at LensProToGo, Borrow Lenses and Lens Rentals to fix me up with good glass when I need it.  And it will be the latest and greatest of it’s type without my having to keep up with all of that.  600mm on ebay, SOLD!  200-400mm next, SOLD!  I began to dig deeper into my gear closet pulling this lens and that one out.  24mm 1.4…oh, such a sweet lens for night photography but, I find myself reaching for the 14-24mm 2.8 for night photography due to the wider focal length and my camera’s low noise capability, 24mm 1.4, SOLD!  200mm f2…I LOVE THIS LENS with it’s gorgeous bokeh but, when do I actually use it?  It’s too big to carry along when I have one of my other big lenses, it’s not long enough for most wildlife photography, face it, it’s a pretty specialized lens which I hardly ever use, SOLD!  85mm 1.4 same thing, SOLD!  On and on it went until I felt both literally and figuratively much lighter weight!  And…it felt…GOOD!

When the dust had settled from my selling frenzy this is what I had left…

Nikon D4 x2

Nikon AF 16mm 2.8 Fisheye

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f4

Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

Nikon AF-S 80-400mm 3.5-5.6 VR

Nikon AF-S 500mm f4 VR

Nikon TC-14E II & TC-20E III

For those special occaisons when I need the speed…

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR

and when I want to do close up work…

Nikon AF 200mm f4 Micro-Nikkor

Nikon SB-900 Speedlight when natural light is not enough.