Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Tribute...

Camera App: QuickPix

Additional Apps used:
SimplyHDR - to bring out the details a little more
KingCamera - for the gray metal frame.
PS Express - for the black frame
A+Signature - for the copyright watermark

Last Sunday's biking tour brought me to the little town of La Roche in the Belgian Ardennes, a place very popular among bikers who mostly come over from the Netherlands, from Germany and Luxembourg, and of course from everywhere in Belgium to enjoy riding in a beautiful region with many turns and nice little towns and villages. But more than 65 years ago, in the bad winter of 1945, the whole region had been the stage for one of the fiercest battles in the whole WWII conflict - the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, abandoned or knocked down tanks of both sides, artillery guns and pieces of wreckage had been put on display to remember the events. In La Roche, at the entrance to the little museum, one can see a piece of wreckage from a US Sherman tank, with this plaque attached to it. With no words but the words on the plaque, the look of the piece of wreckage tells all about the fighting that been going on in the region. From the broken edges of this huge piece of heavy metal one can tell that the Sherman tank this part belonged to had been exploded, most probably after a direct hit maybe fired from a German 88mm gun carried by Tiger and Panther tanks, instantly killing the whole crew of the Sherman. This piece was the front bow of the Sherman tank, with a driving wheel and part of the chain still attached to it. The surface of the steel is deeply scratched by many impacts from various caliber weapons, proving that the Sherman tank must have been in the middle of a very fierce fight before it got hit by an unknown German gun. Seeing such quiet witnesses of the tragedy of war always moves my heart deeply, so I made some photos of it - to remember.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ready to rumble...

Camera App: iCameraHDR

Additional Apps used:
SimplyHDR - because I accidentally moved the camera too much as I made that photo the second one wasn't usable to create a HDR with the iCameraHDR. So I used SimplyHDR for that purpose.
FilterStorm3 - to turn the picture 90° counterclockwise. Strangely, some camera apps don't turn a photo correctly when saving. Compare iCamerHDR and QuickCam to the standard camera app that came with your iPhone. You'll be amazed.
TouchRetouch - for minor corrections.
PerfectPhoto - to denoise the sky. Because the denoise filter softens the whole picture I saved that result and imported it as a second exposure to the original HDR in...
FilterStorm3 - here I painted over the second exposure to bring back the details in the rest of the picture except but for the sky which I wanted soft. Then I added three borders to create that simple white border with black outline. 10% White + 5% Black + 20% White.
A+Signature - for the copyright watermark.

Yesterdays biking tour with my friend Jean-Pierre lead us to the Belgian towns of Houffalize and La Roche in the Ardennes. In Houffalize we visited the German WWII Panther tank that is on display in the center of the town before we continued to La Roche. The Panther is a remainder of the Battle of the Bulge. It was a warm sunny day with puffy clouds and clear sight for many miles. Just the perfect day for motorbike rides and we weren't the only ones one the road. We met hundreds of bikers in both towns. I made that photo of our Milwaukee tractors on the road to Houffalize as we stopped for a short break. The bikes are pointing into the direction of Houffalize, ready to rumble on again.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Camera App: QuickPix - no flashlight

Additional Apps used:
ArtistaOil - to create an oil painting layer, Impression #2, Canvas # 17.
ArtistaSketch - to create a pencil drawing layer Sketch # 19
FilterStorm3 - to blend the oil painting layer with the pencil drawing layer so that in the end, the pencil strokes will be visible where the oil paint stops on the canvas, To achieve that, I added the oil layer as a second exposure with opacity set to 50%. That way, the drawing nicely merged with the painting, but I still was far from the result that I really wanted so I added the oil layer again as an additional exposure, this time painting over it to bring out the fruits and parts of the branches and leaves in oil while the rest remained as partially brown tinted drawing.
Blender - to blend the result from FilterStorm3 with the original photo again, settings to 50% Multiply to color the pencil parts again. I wasn't fully satisfied with that result so I added the original photo once more to blend it again with that result, settings 25% Multiply. Now I had what I wanted, a partial oil painting over a pencil drawing with nice contrasts and color.
PicGrunger - next step was it to create a canvas to blend into the picture. I love the Burlap texture so I extracted it. To do that, I first did a screenshot of a 100% white screen of my iPhone4. Just switch on one of these flashlight apps that use the screen for light and make a screenshot. Don't forget that this screenshot made only in the iPhone's screen resolution 960x640 pixels so you'll have to boost it up to the normal camera resolution your original photo had been made with, which is 2592x1959pixels. You can to that in FilterStorm3, for instance. Then open that white screenshot in PicGrunger and apply the settings for "Aged" and "After Hours" style but set "Strenght" to 0. Load Burlap for texture and you'll get a nice Burlap only layer to use in other apps. 
KingCamera - I wanted to have some kind of a very special frame for my picture and there is one provided by KingCamera that I really love. But I did not want to use it the normal way so I loaded my white screenshot in KimgCamera and applied that irregular black frame on it. Saved it. Then I also imported my finished picture to KingCamera and applied the same black frame to it that I applied to the white layer and the Burlap layer. Saved that one too.
Blender - In Blender I blend the white framed layer with the Burlap layer with settings to 100% Multiply. This brought out the black frame nicely on the Burlap texture. Also I blend the originally framed picture with the Burlap canvas, Multiply to 100%. Because the Burlap texture reduced saturation and contrast I saved, reopened it in Blender again as well as the framed picture and blend both layers once more, but this time with Multiply set to only 25%. This nicely enhanced contrast and saturation. I saved that result and openend...
FilterStorm3 again - here I opened the Burlap frame layer and I added the previous result from Blender as a second exposure. On that exposure I painted over the picture area to bring it out again, but I carefully avoided to paint over the frame because I wanted to have it Burlap textured. That was an easy job to do in FilterStorm3 where you can precisely adjust brush and eraser settings. I saved the result.
PS Express - to add an irregular black frame to the KingCamera frame. It did this because I wanted to partially eliminate the outer canvas part of the KingCamera frame.
FilterStorm3 - I loaded the result from PS Express to FilterStorm again to apply a 25% black frame with the gray outline to enlarge the black part on the frame. I experimented a bit with a white outline, a brown one or no outline at all but in the end I preferred the thin gray outline so I took that as my final result.
A+Signature - as usual I prefer A+Signature to add my personal copyright watermark.

Last evening I was out in the back yard and I discovered that our redcurrants and the blackcurrants as well as the gooseberries are all ripe and waiting to be cropped so I made some photos. I really enjoyed making this picture. I was big fun to work out the oil painting on that drawing and to find a way to create a special frame. And now the rain stopped which means I can get outside to crop the berries without being soaked ;o).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Life on a Thistle, Part I.

Camera App: QuickPix with permanent flashlight switched on

Additional Apps used:
Iris PhotoSuite - for cropping a square 1:1 part from the original rectangular photo and resampling it to 2048x2048px.
Photo fx - for creating a pencil layer, pencil effect #5, both sliders to 100%.
Blender - to blend the pencil layer with the original photo. This was done to enhance outlining and contrast. Setting: Multiply, slider to 100%.
Blender - a second time to blend the first result again with the original photo. Setting: Normal mode, 50%. That way the flashlight effect was greatly reduced.
FilterStorm3 - to sharpen the photo a bit more.
DynamicLight - just a little bit to enhance the background.
PS Express - to reduce noise. Setting: slider to 65%.
Effects - for the nice frame. I found it a bit too large, so I used...
PS Express - to add a second black frame.
A+Signature - to add my copyright watermark.

Reading an article at about the latest version of FilterStorm, I saw an ad on that page for a camera app called "QuickPix" that made me curious because I always wanted to have a camera app that loads and shoots quickly. Testing it I must say that QuickPix fully keeps its promises. It loads very fast and it shoots burts for as long as you keep the button pressed, 2 photos per second, which is quite fast for the iPhone. Also very positive is the flashlight that can be quickly switched on permanently. That feature came in handy the sun was going down and I discovered a thistle flower in the wild meadow behind my house. I had always been fascinated by thistles as they are such beautiful plants, a micro cosmos of its own with insects living on it. I discovered little black bugs and ladybirds eating greenflys. Shooting some photos I was amazed about the sharpness and the details pictured by the iPhone4's camera. The original photo looked already very good. I only processed it further to enhance it even more. This is the first one about life on a thistle, with some more to come.

Visitor... (at the General George S. Patton Memorial in Ettelbrück, Luxembourg)

Camera App: Hipstamatic
Lens: Melodie
Film: Dream Canvas

Additional Apps used:
SimplyHDR - for tonemapping
Blender - to blend the original photo with the tonemapped layer.
FilterStorm3 - for cropping off the original canvas frame and for adding a 15% solid white frame. This was done to prevent the later added irregular frame to touch the bike's rear view mirror in the upper part of the picture.
PictureShow - to add an irregular frame to the picture.
FilterStorm3 - to warm up the colors a bit. Because all around is green at the Patton Memorial, there had been a lot of green reflections on the bike. I disliked that so I changed to color balance for a warmer tone.
A+Signature - for copyright watermark, as usual.

Yesterday, on my visit at the General George S. Patton Memorial in Ettelbrück, Luxembourg, I also made a few photos of my bike because it is only on bike that I plan to visit all of the US memorials in the country. Right at that place, the odometer showed 2448km, hence 1800miles. In that picture you can see the Sherman tank as well as the obelisk in the background. The huge statue of General Patton was in my back as I made the photo.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

General George S. Patton Memorial, Ettelbrück, Luxembourg

Camera App: Hipstamatic
Lens: Melodie
Film: Dream Canvas

Additional Apps used:
Iris PhotoSuite 1.4 - to crop the picture from the original Dream Canvas frame that I disliked here and to resample the picture resolution to 2048x2048px
AutoPainter II - to create a Chalk layer with focus on the figure of General Patton.
SimplyHDR - to create a HDR layer of the original cropped photo
Blender - to blend the Chalk layer with the HDR layer.
FilterStorm2 - to create a desaturated layer.
Blender - to blend the result from the blending of the Chalk+HDR layers with the desaturated layer.
VintageScene - to create the old-fashion frame.
TouchRetouch - to remove the remaining rest of the photo from the middle of the frame. There had been part of the photo remaining even after pulling the fade out slider to the full left.
FilterStorm2 - to create a 40% white frame on the picture.
Iris PhotoSuite 1.4 - to put the white framed layer over the old-fashion frame layer, then erasing the white frame to let the old-fashion frame appear.
A+ Signature - for copyright watermark

Today I started a new project. I had the idea already in the Winter to ride my bike to all of the monuments and memorials erected in Luxembourg in remembrance of our American liberators who brought our freedom back in the Winter of 1944/45 as they finally defeated the Nazi occupants in the Battle of the Bulge. More than 5570 of these brave men found their final rest at the US Military Cemetery in Hamm, which is not far from Luxembourg Airport. After General Patton died in a car crash in Germany in 1945 he too had been buried among his men. For that reason I started my project today on our National Holiday with a visit and the picturing of the Patton Memorial in Ettelbrück. This is the first picture but more will follow. It shows the huge statue of General Patton in his typical pose, with the binoculars and his two Colt revolvers on his belt. The statue is well detailed. However, as I worked on this picture I decided to go for a retro style with an old-fashion frame instead of a colorful output. The whole memorial is more than just an over-sized bronze statue of General George S. Patton. It is in fact a little park with a Sherman tank, a huge obelisk with an eagle on top of it and several bronze plates donated by US units that fought in the Battle of the Bulge. The plate that is fixed aside a bronze map had been presented by the son of the General, Captain George S. Patton.

To me, this project is of very personal value and importance. Since I was a little boy I always felt very grateful to those men who came over to Europe from a land far away only to give us freedom back. Too many of them lost their lives or their health in that battle that finally brought the decision over the defeat of the Nazi Empire - the Battle of the Bulge that broke loose on December 16, 1944 as the Germans started a massive counter attack against the US forces. Today, in the 46th year of my life, I still feel the same, and I will never forget that I owe the good life that I have to those men. And I feel the highest of respect not only for them, but for all the fighting men and women who nowadays risk their lives and health in too many conflicts worldwide to defend our free world against all who threaten it.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Camera App: Hipstamatic
Film: Kodot XGrizzled
Lens: Melodie

Additional Apps used:
PhotoFX - pencil #5 effect, both slider set full right for full effect. Pencil layer saved. I created a pencil layer with the intention to enhance outlining of the beautiful blossom leaves.
Blender - original photo blend with pencil layer. Settings Multiply, 100% to the right. Picture saved. Result checked by zooming picture (camera roll).
Blender - to blend the last saved layer with the original photo again. Settings: Multily, 100%. This nicely enhanced contrast and sharpness.
FilterStorm - for a 10% white border to enlarge the original thin border of the Kodot film.
FilterStorm - for a 3% 3dark red border.
FilterStorm - for a 20% white border.
A+ Signature - for the watermark.

After a rain shower I made several photos of Dalia flowers in a pot. First I was playing around a lot with another photo but I never was fully satisfied with the result until I had a closer look at this photo. I had been playing around for hours with the first photo but after deciding it wasn't worth to publish I did this picture within minutes.

Btw: PhotoSync really is a great app to quickly transfer photos back or to iPhone and iPad. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Crackled Petunia

Camera App: Hipstamatic
Film: Dali Dream Canvas
Lens: Melodie

Additional Apps used:
Iris PhotoSuite1.4
PS Express
A+ Signature

It's a long way to the top, if you wanna rock 'n roll.... This old AC/DC title, often the song plaid to announce Metallica coming on stage for their shows, came to my mind as I plaid around a lot with many different apps to see what I can do with that photo. After downloading the new RetroPak for the Hipstamatic I was curious to test the new lenses and film and I really liked some of the photos I made of some Petunia on our terrace. I processed it further, created a HDR from a single photo in iCameraHDR, did some tone mapping, blend in a photo of a shattered little glass sphere used for garden decoration, framed the round shaped picture, blend this into the original tone mapped picture... Sadly I did not keep track of all the steps I followed to create this picture but I promise to do such a "How to" with my next picture so others can follow my steps. I'm always eager to share my thinking and discuss my work with the community. 
After sharpening the picture I found it ready for framing. The final frame had been done with ArtCamera. I used the chalked card board frame but did not like the chalk colors cause they did not match the colors in the picture so I created a Grunge version of the picture to obtain a worn card board frame that I then blend in using the "add exposure" option in FilterStorm. In fact this is rather an erasing then a true blending. The original picture with the colored card board frame is placed over the Grunge picture, then the colored card board frame is being erased so the worn card board frame comes out. I love doing that work in FilterStorm because it allows precise work even on the tiny screen of the iPhone. The last (black) part of the final frame had been done in PhotoForge2 and FilterStorm. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Camera App: 6x6

Additional Apps used:
aTypo Picture - for the typo effect
FilterStorm - to create different layers
Blender - to blend the layers
King Camera - to add a thin border
TouchRetouc -  for minor corrections
A+ Signature - for the copyright watermark

Today my darling wife made a yummyummy Polenta with Zucchini and carrots for lunch. After lunch my eldest daughter had an Espresso, that strong Italian coffee served in tiny cups. I wanted to show her what nice effects one can create using the app "aTypo Picture" so I made a casual shot of her empty plate with the empty Espresso cup using the 6x6 camera app, and I liked the result enough to decide processing it further. The result is the above picture. Not much work, but a whole lot of fun creating it.
"6x6" is a brilliant idea, in my opinion. It makes square shaped and clean shots without any processing. Such clean picture is the perfect base to start from for further processing with other apps.

Miss #1481

Camera Apps:  
6x6 - for a clear square format photo
iCameraHDR - for creating a HDR picture from a single photo
KingCamera - for the frame

Additional Apps used:
FilterStorm2 - for masking and blending
Blender - yes the name says it all, for blending
A+ Signature - for the watermark

A few days ago I brought used glass to the recycling containers which stand next to a meadow where seven young milk cows spend their time eating grass for the milk they produce. Curious as a cow can be they soon gathered to take a close look at that strange being making noise with the glass thrown into the container. As I started making photos they became even more curious, coming very close to me. There was a barbed wire and a fence between them and me but they were close enough to touch them. Sometimes I wonder what such animal might be thinking about us humans holding funny things in front of our faces that make funny noises.

I recently discovered the new camera app "KingCamera". Although the name is crap in my opinion I was surprised about the quality of that app. Apart of the photo feature it is also very well suited to edit and frame photos, even those not made with the app itself.