iPhoneography at Fonthill Castle

With iPhoneography, the process helps drives the vision

Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, Pennsylvania is much more than just the early 20th century historic home of an eccentric millionaire. It is a challenging and amazing place to photograph and a boot camp for composition. My previous blog post about photographing here featured images made with my regular camera. The images in this post were created with an iPhone.

Because I went through Fonthill with two very cameras, I had to have two very different visions. What I did with one camera did not even come close to what I did with the other. These images illustrate two very different examples of how to create with iPhonography. I made a lot of images with the iPhone at Fonthill, and in the future they will show up as parts of other images, somewhere in the process of creating other images.

The Study of Genealogy

The only part of this image that was created at Fonthill is the skull. It is one of the many unusual objects that occupy that place. That skull belonged to someone’s ancestor and it inspired a thought about how popular genealogy is now. That process of looking in the past is more than finding names for a family tree. It is an attempt see and understand the past from the current moment in time.

The Study of Genealogy by Richard Lewis

The Study of Genealogy by Richard Lewis 2014

Fonthill Castle

This is an image that may have been impossible to set up with a regular camera. Outside of the post processing effects, it is pretty much straight out of the camera, or phone if you’d like. While I spent all morning making similar photographs with my regular camera, this one has a completely different and darker mood.

Fonthill Castle by Richard Lewis

Fonthill Castle by Richard Lewis 2014

How I Did It – The idea for “The Study of Genealogy” came to me when I start working on the image of the skull. The rest of the image consists of a photograph of a guy at a local Starbucks and the Emlen Physick Estate, historic house in Cape May New Jersey. It’s one thing to throw a bunch of imagery together and another to make it work visually. In this case the man is looking back in time as the skull, or the ancestor, is looking forward. When collecting images for this type of work it is important to get a wide variety so when it comes time to put something together, there is there enough variety to provide the components to fit your concept.

The more I use the iPhone, the more I am excited about its possibilities.

Enjoy

 

Fonthill Castle in Doylestown Pennsylvania

Henry Mercer’s castle is actually a photographic
training ground

I’m not sure why I decided to join photographer John Barclay on a photo tour of Fonthill Castle. Fonthill is the name of a bizarre home built by a wealthy eccentric named Henry Mercer in the early 20th century. Located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, it consists of a strange layout of rooms which are connected by narrow, twisting stairways and hallways. The castle is also loaded with an unusual collection of art, artifacts and antiquities.

To say I was out of my element is an understatement. I’m a landscape photographer, so why was I dragging my camera around this strange castle? After a few deep breaths and a couple of test shots, I realized why the nine other photographers in the group were running around this place. This is not just the former home of an eccentric millionaire, it is a study in composition. Fonthill is like a training ground that helps you learn to organize  cluttered subjects into neat compositions. This is done by harnessing the angles and lines from the unusual architectural design of the interior spaces.

Light spilling through the windows is a popular aspect for Fonthill photographers to capture. It adds more opportunity to build angles and lines into a composition.

Fonthill Room 1 by Richard Lewis

Fonthill Room 1 by Richard Lewis 2014

Fonthill Room 3 by Richard Lewis

Fonthill Room 3 by Richard Lewis 2014

I noticed this fireplace right away, but realized a minute later that the angles of the walls and shelves were what I really wanted to photograph. Note, this photo was processed using Topaz Impression, although the effect was added subtly.

Fonthill Fireplace by Richard Lewis

Fonthill Fireplace by Richard Lewis 2014

This photograph is almost abstract, showing one of the many narrow hallways and columns decorated with colorful “Mercer Tiles” and old tapestries.

Details of Fonthill Castle 1 by Richard Lewis

Details of Fonthill Castle 1 by Richard Lewis 2014

Fonthill Castle, as strange as it looks, actually blends well into the environment because of its color and placement.

Fonthill from the Balcony by Richard Lewis

Fonthill from the Balcony by Richard Lewis 2014

I had originally intended to photograph Fonthill in black and white, but the bright and muted colors were just too enticing. However, with black and white the range of light and tone look so nice.

Fonthill Study by Richard Lewis

Fonthill Study by Richard Lewis 2014

How I Did It. – Fonthill is a dark place with very bright windows. Most photographers use HDR or “high dynamic range” photographic techniques, to deal with the range of contrast. I don’t like the unreal effects of HDR and surprisingly was able create final photographs from single images. In “Room Detail 3″ the window on the right was added from a darker exposure to get more detail of the outside.

Next post… iPhoneography at Fonthill.

Get some free photo tips Click Here

Click here to see more landscape photography on my website.

Fall in the Swamp

Changing seasons in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

Swamp Sunrise in the Pine Barrens by Richard Lewis

Swamp Sunrise by Richard Lewis 2014

Sunrise in Brendan Byrne State Forest by Richard Lewis 2014

Sunrise in Brendan Byrne State Forest by Richard Lewis 2014

Dead Cedars in the Fall in the Pinelands by Richard Lewis

Dead Cedars in the Fall by Richard Lewis 2014

Fall in the Swamp by Richard Lewis 2014

Fall in the Swamp by Richard Lewis 2014

Fall Morning by Richard Lewis NJ Pinelands

Fall Morning by Richard Lewis 2014

View Towards Pakim Pond by Richard Lewis

View Towards Pakim Pond by Richard Lewis 2014

Windy Fall Day in the Pinelands by Richard Lewis

Windy Fall Day in the Pinelands by Richard Lewis 2014

As the last fall colors fade from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey I thought I’d share a “Fall Harvest” of images. Even though my wife and I are lucky to be able to travel and see some amazing parts of the world, I keep coming back to the swamps of the Pinelands.

How I Did It –  No place I’ve seen is more dependent on finding great light as a South Jersey swamp. Waking up early and finding your “spot” just before sunrise is so important. Getting to that spot can be a challenge that involves a wet bushwhack though thick underbrush and trying not to fall in the swamp while photographing Fall in the swamp. After the early light transitions into day these places look very different. They are swamps after all.

Enjoy

Get some free photo tips Click Here

Click here to see more landscape photography on my website.

 

Finding Meaning With iPhoneography

Putting the Art in SmART Phone Photography

One thing I’ve learned about iPhoneography, or Smart Phone Art, is that it is more about telling a story, or conveying a mood, than it is about the image itself. At least it is for me. Here are some recent iPhone images. They are composites. All the pieces were taken with an iPhone and processed on an iPad using various apps.

Wonderland Lost

I generally don’t know where an iPhone photograph is going when I start working on processing it. The story sort of comes to me along the way. In this case, I began to think about how parents in my generation tend to coddle their children and attempt to build a perfectly safe, impossible to fail world where nothing ever goes wrong. As a result, many young adults have to suffer a rude awakening when they realize that the real world is not the same one they grew up in. Hence the title, “Wonderland Lost.”

Wonderland Lost iPhoneography by Richard Lewis

Wonderland Lost by Richard Lewis 2014 – Apps Used: Snapseed, Leonardo, DistressedFX, Monokrome, Superimposer

I Often Dream Of Flying

The young lady in this photograph is a close friend’s granddaughter. She is a magical child full of life and wonder. She is also saddled with the reality that her mother suffers from a serious, debilitating illness. Although she and her family receive so much love and support, I wonder if, as she grows up and becomes aware of the situation life has given her, she will dream of a very different world.

I Often Dream Of Flying iPhoneography by Richard Lewis - Apps Used: Snapseed, Leonardo, DistressedFX, Superimposer

I Often Dream Of Flying by Richard Lewis 2014 – Apps Used: Snapseed, DistressedFX, Leonardo

Our Trip To Alaska Was Full Of Ghosts And Dancing Children

Regular followers of my blog have seen my landscape photos of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Within Alaska’s stunning landscape is a rich and tragic history of the loss of the native Indian culture. In modern Alaska there are many young people attempting to build a future in this rich and diverse landscape. Their youthful energy provides an interesting juxtaposition with the ghosts of the past. This image is different from my Alaskan landscapes, but tells a story that those photographs cannot.

Our Trip To Alaska Was Full Of Ghosts And Dancing Children iPhoneography by Richard Lewis

Our Trip To Alaska Was Full Of Ghosts And Dancing Children by Richard Lewis 2014 – Apps Used: Snapseed, Leonardo

The more I use the iPhone’s camera, the more I understand how it is a vehicle to look at photography in a completely different way. It almost forces a different attitude and vision. For me, iPhoneography is a process where I collect images, sometimes randomly, and use them to solve a puzzle that doesn’t become obvious like until I start to put it together.

How I Did It – To be honest, I’m not sure. This form of art is still a struggle for me and about 80% of what I start to do ends up not going anywhere. I do have a work flow and a process that I’m refining which will be the subject of a future post.

Enjoy

Get some free photo tips Click Here

Like these photographs? Please visit my new website to see more.

The Northern Lights in South East Alaska

I’ll never figure out how I got this one

Northern Lights in South East Alaska Richard Lewis

Northern Lights in South East Alaska by Richard Lewis 2014

You have to wonder when the PA system on a small ship announces “Attention passengers” in the middle of the night if it would be followed by instructions to head to the life raft. Fortunately, In this case, the crew wanted to share with us that a rare occurrence of the Northern Lights was visible. This is not a common sight in South East Alaska during the summer months.

I’ll never figure out how this photograph happened. I almost didn’t bother to set up the camera because this scene required a 30 second exposure on a tripod from a moving ship. Yet, here it is with the added bonus of the Big Dipper which is part of Alaska’s identity as a state.

How I Did It - Some general tips on night photography.

  • Shoot in manual mode.
  • Have your lens aperture wide open
  • Focus the lens manually on infinity because you can’t see to focus and auto focus probably won’t work.
  • Lastly, I always have a little LED flashlight with me to read the focus setting on the lens.

Enjoy

Get some free photo tips Click Here

Click here to see more Alaska landscape photography on my website.

New Jersey vs. Alaska

 Can New Jersey Pinelands Swamp Compete With Alaskan Swamp?

Alaska…

Alaska Swamp by Richard Lewis 2014

Alaska Swamp by Richard Lewis 2014

vs. New Jersey

Wading River Atlantic White Cedar Swamp

Along the Wading River by Richard Lewis 2012

Dead In The Water 6 by Richard Lewis 2014

Dead In The Water 6 by Richard Lewis 2014

I’ve been told that I am a master of swamp photography. Is this a distinction that one should be proud of? Maybe. There is a very mystical and strange charm about a swamp, especially the Cedar swamps of the Pine Barrens, that is worth the effort to capture with a camera.

One of the most surprising things we saw in Alaska was how a river running off the Mendenhall glacier created an Alaskan version of a Cedar swamp. I don’t know if the trees in the first photograph are actually cedars, but the scene is surprisingly similar to the Pines Barrens, sans the glacier and mountains.

So, here is the question… Is a dark, misty New Jersey swamp more attractive than a swamp framed by the dramatic Alaskan landscape? What do you think?

Enjoy

Get some free photo tips Click Here

Click here to see more Alaska landscape photography on my website.

A Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse by Richard Lewis 2014

Lunar Eclipse by Richard Lewis 2014

I thought it wold be nice to share with you how the recent lunar eclipse looked from the New Jersey Pine Barrens. This photograph was made just before the day broke and the eclipsed moon faded in the early morning light . Fortunately there were some clouds around to add a little drama to the scene.

Enjoy

Get some free photo tips Click Here

Click here to see more Alaska landscape photography on my website.