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

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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

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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

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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

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Alaska’s Intimate Landscapes

This will probably my least popular Alaska post.

When I post intimate landscape images, they usually get the least amount of interest. I don’t really have to wonder why. I already know why. We all love a picturesque grand vista. Heck, I’ll climb a mountain for a panoramic view, but will not necessarily do the same to look at an interesting tree or rock.

Maybe Alaska’s intimate landscape is different. It is quite dramatic. The photograph below can be easily viewed as a small creek until you see the perspective of the seagull perched on one of the rocks at the top of the photograph.

Creek in Tongas National Forest  Alaska by Richard Lewis

Gull on a Rock in a Stream in Tongass National Forest by Richard Lewis 2014

The abundance of waterfalls in Alaska’s Inside Passage was truly astounding. They are everywhere, tumbling down the mountains, ranging from raging torrents to narrow and silky streams of water.

Alaska Waterfall Richard Lewis

Waterfall in Alaska by Richard Lewis 2014

Waterfall in Walker Cove Alaska by Richard Lewis

Waterfall in Walker Cove by Richard Lewis 2014

When viewing the forests of the Inside Passage from a distance they look like typical northern forests, but they are actually rain forests. Like their jungle cousins, the Alaskan rain forests have an abundance of life, fueled by water, competing for the limited sunlight that makes it through the thick forest canopy. The photo below looks like it could have been taken in Costa Rica but the landscape is in a forest found just outside of Juneau.

Alaskan Rain Forest by Richard Lewis

Alaskan Rain Forest by Richard Lewis 2014

I love finding the lines and patterns in the intimate landscape. It is one of my favorite styles of photography. Being up close with nature allows one to develop a very personal relationship with the landscape. The environment, like the people in it, is better understood when you get closer.

Enjoy

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Shooting Alaska

Some random landscapes from an amazing trip.

My wife and I prefer to travel alone so we can set our own pace and go where we choose to. Alaska’s Inside Passage is a large wilderness waterway that is only accessible by ship or plane. To travel on our own there would have been beyond our means, so we chose a small cruise ship (pictured below) that carried 60 passengers.

The Wilderness Adventurer in Alaska by Richard LewisThe Wilderness Adventurer by Richard Lewis 2014

This ship was was an interesting vehicle by which to experience the area. It was small enough to allow us to get to places the big cruise ships cannot go and we formed a nice bond with both the other passengers and crew. All of us had developed an overwhelming appreciation for the astounding beauty of Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Seeing large glaciers, up close and personal is something unusual for a guy from the New Jersey Pine Barrens. We hiked to Baird Glacier and only had about 45 minutes to spend there. Most of that time I spent running around trying to capture this beautiful chunk of ice. I wish we had more time so I could have just sat and stared at if for a while.

Baird Glacier in Alaska by Richard Lewis

Baird Glacier by Richard Lewis 2014

We visited the Mendenhall Glacier located right outside of Juneau before the cruise. It is interesting to drive through suburban neighborhoods to get to a glacier. I was fortunate to be able to photograph it early one peaceful morning before it started raining.

Mendenhall Hall Glacier in Alaska at Dawn by Richard Lewis

Mendenhall Hall Glacier at Dawn by Richard Lewis 2014

Here are a couple of other random landscapes from our trip.

Sunset in Alaska's Inside Passage by Richard Lewis 2014

Sunset in Alaska’s Inside Passage by Richard Lewis 2014

Misty Fjords Alaska by Richard Lewis

Misty Fjords 2 by Richard Lewis 2014

My normal procedure after a trip is to work virtually nonstop to process the images. The overwhelming number of photographs (over 5000 shutter clicks) and being very busy with commercial photography assignments and marketing consulting is keeping me from finishing this project. I’ve got more to share with you and will be posting more soon.

Enjoy

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Whale Soup in Alaska

Faking it as a wildlife photographer with the Humpbacks 

Whale Soup in Alaska by Richard Lewis

Whale Soup by Richard Lewis 2014

The title of this post does not advocate cooking whales. It is a term the locals use to describe a phenomenon where Humpback Whales will hunt in large groups to trap fish. When this happens, the sea fills with them. Humpbacks tend to be solitary animals. In Alaskan waters while eating to build up the stamina to swim south for the winter they will sometimes cooperate with each other.

We were very fortunate to witness this. All afternoon we had been watching the Orca and Humpback Whales, one or two at at time. At the end of the day, a large group of Humpbacks appeared all around our boat. We knew that this was something special when the crew appeared on deck to watch and take pictures. These folks see whales all the time along Alaska’s Inside Passage, so when they stop what they are doing and become whale watchers it really must be a unique experience.

I made hundreds of images of the whales all afternoon. It was raining so the photographs, while interesting, were soft and very flatly lit. The rain stopped for the first time in three days as evening approached and the sun started showing itself. Not only was there an abundance of whales in the “whale soup”, but the area was becoming beautifully backlit. While my emphasis is not wildlife photography, I do know that the quality of light is important no matter what type of subject one is photographing.

Enjoy

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