Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to: Create Cool Looking Grunge Style Pics

Camera Apps:
Hipstamatic with Helga Viking lens + C-Type Plate film

Additional Apps used for post processing:
SnapSeed - for most of the work
PhotoToaster - for the vignetting of the PureShot pics
A+Signature - for the copyright watermark. This great app has a really cool feature that helps you to adjust multiple items added to your picture. For instance, to add copyright watermarks to all of the photos included in the collage shown above, A+Signature provides lines to snap the next item to in case you're adding multiple copyright watermarks. The items don't only line up horizontally but there's also a vertical help line appearing when you're adding items. I thought about adding one bigger copyright watermark spanning over all of the six pictures but then I decided to add a watermark to each of the pics. The snap line feature helped me a lot to align my watermarks correctly.

Ok, so here's the trick to create cool looking grunge style pics quickly. What you need is a Hipstamatic grunge combo, like the Helga Viking lens + C-Type Plate film. Then load your Hipsta photo into SnapSeed and chose TUNE IMAGE, then AMBIANCE. Pull the scale 100% to the right, then tap APPLY. Now chose DETAILS and STRUCTURE. Again pull the scale 100% to the right. Do you see the picture details coming out nicely, including the grunge effects of the Hipstamatic combo? Tap APPLY again. Then chose GRUNGE! Maybe the first given result will satisfy you. If it doesn't you can tap the crossing arrows on the left of the scale until you find a result that you like. Alternatively you can move the scale by wiping with your finger across the screen horizontally. Also you can change the texture by tapping one of the four included textures again and again until you like the result. When you put your finger on the screen and move it vertically, you get access to STYLE, BRIGHTNESS, CONTRAST, TEXTURE STRENGTH and SATURATION. I used a setting of about 25 for most of the values in all of my pics. Don't forget to tap APPLY when you're done, then SAVE your work. Alternately you can add a FRAME. Unfortunately SnapSeed doesn't include a vignette filter so I use PhotoToaster for that. Oh and if you're not satisfied with the HDR effects after applying AMBIANCE  nd STRUCTURE you may repeat this again and again if you like. To give you an example of the AMBIANCE + STRUCTURE + GRUNGE effects that SnapSeed proposed here's an sample image from SnapSeed:

I did nothing else but applying AMBIANCE and STRUCTURE 100%, then I was chosing GRUNGE and I saved the picture with the first proposed result. Nice, isn't it?

What comes now are the single pics that I did after the procedure explained above. It's very easy and it's quickly done. The result speaks for itself, doesn't it? I'm a professional locomotive engineer. Two days ago I was asked to transfer engine #2217 from the workshops back to the railroad yard, but works on the engines hadn't been finished as I arrived so I had to walk back to the railroad yard, hence I took that chance to shoot some pics.

Pictures based on Hipstamatic photos:

Pictures based on PureShot photos:


Friday, March 15, 2013

It's snowing again!

Camera App: PureShot

Additional apps used for post processing:

Four days ago it started snowing again as I went out for a walk with our dog. It was snowing for about 24 hours, causing chaos on the roads again. I believed Winter was finally fading away but I was wrong. Winter was striking back at it's worst. 3-8" of snow was enough to raise hell again in Europe. Especially in northern France and Germany many traffic accidents happened, people got injured, people died.... I took the photo for this picture as snow had just started to fall again. Buddy, our dog, loves snow! It's a nice region where we live. From our house it's only a 10min walk to get into the woods. After snowfall finally stopped, the temperatures dropped down to as cold as -17°C (1.4°F) at night. Now Buddy loves it to run around like mad in the meadows, snapping at the snow and rolling in it. So at least some dogs are happy about the snow. I'm not! I hate snow because it makes roads dangerous and prevents me from riding my bike...

I edited the original PureShot photo with SnapSeed, TouchRetouchHD, SnowDazeHD and Blender. The true snow flakes in the photo turned out black in the center of the picture so I removed them with Touch Retouch. Then I added artificial snow in SnowDazeHD. SnowDaze is one of the brilliant apps made by JixiPix. All of their art apps are highly recommended. 

This is the original PureShot photo, a little underexposed because I could only point and shoot as there was a  crazy dog on the other end of the leach that I had to hold. I like the photo nevertheless because it shows the natural light of that moment quite well. 

This was the stage saved in SnapSeed after applying "Ambience" and "Structure" filters. For "Ambience", tap on "Tune Image", touch the screen so the menu appears, and move your finger up to activate "Ambience". I applied the filter at 100%. For "Structure", go to "Details", and choose "Structure" from the menu. You must be careful with this because it will make a noisy picture even noisier but if there's no noise you can usually pull the slider to 100%. "Ambience" in combination with "Details" and/or "Drama" gives a better HDR effect than most HDR apps can do. Before I decided to use SnapSeed for it I also tried iCameraHDR, ProHDR and even Mobile HDR, but none of the results looked as good as the result from SnapSeed did. What is important in this picture are the dark snowflakes. Like an HDR effect enhances noise it also enhances small details but in this case the natural snowflakes didn't look good so I decided to load the picture in TouchRetouchHD to remove them from the center, where they were most visible.

This is the result after removing the snowflakes in TouchRetouchHD. It as a simple task to mask them off with the brush tool.

With the natural snowflakes now gone I was ready to add artificial snowflakes in SnowDazeHD. I created two versions with identical settings with the exception of the snow effect where I used two different settings. Then I was blending both versions in Blender to mix the snowflakes. Settings was Normal blending mode with slider to 65% to let some snowflakes appear a bit more faded than the other which gave the effect a more natural look.

After the snow was added I re-opened the picture in SnapSeed to play around with it. This is a black and white version whee I applied a red filter. I tried other filters too indeed but the red filter looked best. In then I was most happy with vintage effect #9 plus frame #19. If you tap the crossed arrows on a chosen frame, the frame changes. That's a clever way to include more variations for a single frame design. The same applies to any effect where the crossed arrows appear. I did two versions with frame #19 to blend them in Blender because I wanted a more even frame. Blending settings was normal blending mode 50/50 = slider in the middle.

This is the first result from Blender after blending both frame versions to obtain a more even frame.

To create a very unique frame for my picture I flattened my layers by touching and holding my finger in the center of the screen in Blender until the menu appeared to chose the "flatten" option from. The flattened picture then appears down left in Blender. I opened the SnapSeed version with the retro effect but without frame on the right side. Now I painted the mask to let the outer part of the unframed picture shine through the black frame. After applying the mask I adjusted the level of transparency of the black frame by pulling the slider to 65%. Copyright watermark was added in A+Signature.

The finished picture.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Leaning Tower...

Camera App:
6x7 (for the main picture)
Hipstamatic + Jane lens + C-Type film (for the Hipstamatic print)

Additional Apps used for post processing:
Pixlr Express+

This is the redneck edition of that famous Leaning Tower, but unlike it's famous brother from Pisa in Italy, this one is located in a tiny village in Luxembourg, where I live. It's a silo. I live in this place now since 19 years and I always wanted to photograph that leaning silo because I believed one day it will collapse, but still it's standing. However, I don't know since when it is standing that way and nobody can say if it will survive the next thunderstorm, or not.
The original photo was made with's brilliant app 6x7. I worked it into this b/w picture with SnapSeed, iCameraHDR and Blender. The frame was added in Pixlr Express+ and the copyright watermark was added in TitleFX, which is a new app made by the same team that made already PhotoToaster.
TitleFX is a really cool app to add effects to your letters but it lacks a bit of the comfort A+Signature provides. For instance, in A+Signature you can save your own creations in a catalog but in TitleFX you can't so you'll have to type in your copyright info every time you load a photo. If you want to add the same text to multiple photos it's best to copy it after typing it in the first time and paste it into the other photos.

The Hipstamatic edition was also pimped a bit in SnapSeed. SnapSeed is a must have app if you want to get more out of your photos.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

On the road again!

Camera App: PureShot

Additional Apps used for post processing:
FrontView: to correct lens distortion.
SnapSeed: to work my photo into a retro style picture.
Blender:: to restore the original size of the picture. After correcting lens distortion I cropped the picture back to it's regular format in SnapSeed. After editing was done I loaded the original photo in Blender on the left side and the edited but cropped version on the right side. Then I pulled the slider to the full right in normal blend mode and I saved my picture. This is a great trick to restore the iPhone's native resolution even if an app doesn't save in maximal resolution or if you had to crop your picture, as in my case.
A+Signature: for the copyright watermark.

Finally, on February the 17th the roads had been dry again and the snow was gone. I felt so happy to ride again! Winter is the hardest time for every biker. All you can do is caressing your bike, doing maintenance and cleaning work while listening to cool Heavy Metal music in your garage, waiting for the white shit called snow to melt away. I HATE snow! Snow belongs to the North and South poles, to Greenland and Alaska, or to the mountains, but it doesn't belong onto roads which it makes dangerous to everybody's life.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Hoka Hey! Airbrushing my Nolan N90 helmet...

Camera App: PureShot

Apps used for post processing:
Photo Toaster - for the vignetting
Pilxr Express + - for the film frame
MergeImagePro - for the collage.
A+Signature - for the copyright watermark

February the 10th I finally finished the paint job on my motorbike helmet, which I did with my new Badger Renegade Krome airbrush, and my self-build airbrush compressor. You can see a video of it on my YouTube channel:

I painted my helmet silver Aluminium first. Then I applied a liquid mask on several places on edges and everywhere else where I wanted to have paint realistically chipped off. The liquid mask that I used is called "Maskol". It's from Humbrol, a brand famous among modelers for it's great enamel paints. Maskol rubberizes in contact with air and after the paint job is done you can either rub or pull it off. That's what I did.

The red hand painted "A" stands for Anarchy. Now, before you judge me wrong, please read this first:

"Hoky Hey" is the battle cry of the Sioux Indians and nowadays the name of a Harley race in the USA. It translates as "today is a good day to die".

Number 27... because my beloved wife Fanny was born on a 27th.

Two stars the left side of my chin part for our two daughters.

"Fanny" on the left side, because it's my wife's name, signed by herself.

"FXDF" because it's the tech code of my Harley Davidson Fat Bob.

Nolan is great! The helmet was easily disassembled and re-assembled. And working with the Badger Renegade Krome airbrush is big fun!