Rad A. Drew Photography: 2014

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Transforming a Natural Shot to a Surreal One

This blog post is for my friend Donna Ulrich who asked to see a before and after of this image of the prairie at McCloud Nature Park in Hendricks County, Indiana.

This is the “straight,” unadulterated shot, taken with 645 Pro. 
"Straight" shot from 645 Pro
I like this camera app because it saves in TIFF and creates a larger file, which is important if you intend to print very large. This file is 10,619,712 total pixels. (TIP: Use the great free utility app, PhotoSize by Danny Goodman, to check the size of images.)

Next I took it through SnapSeed and applied Ambiance and Contrast from the Tune Menu and Sharpen and Structure from the Details Menu. Those adjustments left the image looking like this:
After SnapSeed Adjustments
You can see that the SnapSeed adjustments have added some contrast, clarity, and a little saturation. There's a tad more detail in the sky, too.

I wanted to create a somewhat surreal, moody image, so next I took it into Distressed FX and tried several texture overlays before settling on this one, leaving the image looking like this:
After Distressed FX 
The texture still wasn't all I was looking for, so I took the SnapSeed result (above) into Mextures. This is an incredibly powerful and rich app with lots of textures and control in using them. For this image, I wanted some grit in the sky, so I played with several options until I landed on this result:
After Mextures
This result, by itself, is not at all what I was looking for, but I knew if I blended it with the Distressed FX version, I'd get that grit I was looking for, as well as some of the richer tone from the bronze color. I used Image Blender in the Normal blend mode and achieved this result:
Blend of Distress FX and Mexture Versions
For the finishing touch, I wanted to add dreaminess to the image. There are some apps that can achieve this such as Photo FX or Dynamic Light, but I like to create my own Orton effect using a blur app.

If you are fortunate enough to have Blur FX from a previous purchase, I recommend using it. (See my blog post, Creating Your Own Orton Effect for details). 

Unfortunately, Blur FX is no longer available. As a substitute, you can use Tilt Shift Generator which is still available and works almost as well.

You’ll want to use one of these apps (Blur FX or Tilt Shift Generator) to create a blur of the blend of the Mextures and Distressed FX images. Your blurred image should look something like this:
Blurred in Blur FX or Tilt Shift Generator
Once you have the blurred image, blend it with the unblurred version using the app Image Blender. Blender allows you to control just how much softness you keep in your final image.

Here’s how this one ended up:
Final Result
I hope you found this tutorial useful, and Donna, thanks for asking to see a before and after. Got me to create this tutorial!

For those of you in the Indianapolis area, I'll be teaching an iPhoneography Workshop this Saturday, November 1, in Zionsville. Here's a link to more info and registration.

Whatever you do, keep on shooting!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How to Create Your Own Orton Effect

The Orton Effect has been around since the mid 80's when Michael Orton figured out that by sandwiching two slides of the same scene, he could create a soft, almost glowing effect in his images. 

Wikipedia defines the Orton Effect like this:

Orton imagery, also called an Orton slide sandwich or the Orton Effect, is a photography technique which blends two completely different photos of the same scene, resulting in a distinctive mix of high and low detail areas within the same photo.

There are a few iPhone apps, such as Dynamic LightPhoto FX and Enlight, that mimic the Orton Effect, but I like the control I have when I do a version of this technique manually. Doing it manually is not that much more difficult than using the apps, but I think the results make it worth the extra effort. 

Here's an image I recently created using this effect:

Autumn in Hendricks County
© Rad A. Drew
You can see how there is a softness that makes the image almost glow.

To do the Orton Effect, you'll need these apps: Blur FX and Image Blender. I also processed my image with SnapSeed and Distressed FX, but those apps are not essential to getting the Orton Effect.

How you create the original image doesn't really matter. I like to select an image that has some light areas in visually pleasing locations in the image so that they will glow.

Compose and create your image following your usual workflow. I often take my image into SnapSeed where I apply selections from the Tune menu and the Details menu. 

Next, do any other processing you intend, such as Distressed FX or  Vintage Scene, etc. 

Once you have your image the way you want it, take it into Blur FX. Select Gaussian Blur and move the slider to about midway on the continuum, as shown below.

Blur FX
This is somewhat arbitrary; you may want to experiment with different blur densities and even blur types and see which effect you like best. 

Next, save the  blurred version and open Image Blender and load the two images. It doesn't really matter which one you put on which side. 

Now, while in the Normal mode, move the slider to find the desired softness and save the image. I usually save at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 percent and then compare for the effect I like best. You can over due the blur and give your viewers a form of vertigo when they can't find anything to focus on in the image!

Image Blender

Image Blender in Normal Blend Mode
On this image, I also added a slight vignette using Photo FX, to pull the eye to the lighter areas in the image.

With all the fall color right now, it's a fun technique to experiment with. I'd be interested in seeing what you get!

Until next time, keep on shooting!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Glory of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon

The phrase trip of a lifetime is one that may sometimes be overused, but it's not an exaggeration when I tell you that my recent trip down the Colorado River with a dozen extraordinary friends who also are exceptional photographers was truly the trip of a lifetime! 

From the thrill and excitement of the River's rapids to the extraordinary sights of the canyon to the legendary boatmen and women guiding us to the joyful friends, this trip has been one for the record books!

Here are a few of the images captured with my iPhone and my Fuji X-E2 mirror-less camera. I plan to have more of these up on Flickr in the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy them.

Golden Hour in Saddle Canyon
iPhone 5s

Lunch stop in the Canyon
iPhone 5s Panorama

iPhone 5s using the app SlowShutter for a long exposure

Taken from our Saddle Canyon Camp Site
iPhone 5s
Heart of the Canyon (naturally occurring)
iPhone 5s
Fuji X-E2, ND Filter, 10-24 wide angle, long exposure

Another of the Golden Hour
Fuji X-E2, ND Filter, 10-24 wide angle, long exposure

Havasu Creek
Fuji X-E2, ND Filter, 10-24 wide angle, long exposure

Havasu Creek
Fuji X-E2, ND Filter, 10-24 wide angle, long exposure 

Havasu Creek
Fuji X-E2, ND Filter, 10-24 wide angle, long exposure

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Introduction to iPhoneography at the JCC

As part of the JCC's SNAP! POST! SHARE! iPhone Competition Exhibit, I will be offering a free 1 hour Introduction to iPhoneography presentation. In this hour you'll:
  • see examples of what is possible with the iPhone
  • learn which camera apps to use in different situations
  • learn how to use apps to modify your images
  • learn how to apply vintage effects to your images


Jewish Community Center
6701 Hoover Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46260

(317) 251-9467


7:30 – 8:30 pm

Evening Agenda

5:30 – Meet the Artists
6:30 – Awards Ceremony
7:30 – FREE iPhoneography Presentation

Monday, August 4, 2014

Exhibit and Free Intro to iPhoneography at JCC

The Jewish Community Center is hosting an iPhoneography competition. Selected images will be exhibited at the JCC from August 13 – September 5.

Along with Indianapolis photographer, Freddie Kelvin, and London's Joanne Carter, creator of The App Whisperer, I had the pleasure (and challenge!) of judging the entries for this Indiana-only show. There were some extraordinary images selected in all categories!

An event on Thursday, August 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 will celebrate the opening of the exhibit and provide an opportunity to meet the artists. 

At 7:30 pm on this day, I'll be presenting a free 1 hour introduction to iPhone photography. 

I hope you'll come out to see this great work, and if you're interested in how to get better images from you iPhone, maybe you'll join me for the presentation at 7:30. It would be great to see you there!

For details, click HERE.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

3 New iPhoneography Workshops!

I'll be teaching three iPhoneography workshops at three different venues this summer and fall.

  1. July 24, Westfield Parks and Rec; July 24, 6-8 pm. (Click for More info)
  2. September 7, Jewish Community Center 12-4 pm. (More to be announced soon on this class)
  3. October 4, Conner Prairie. (Click for more info

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

3 iPhoneography Workshops!

Sign Post, Rabbit Hash, Kentucky

Learn techniques for creating beautiful images with your iPhone! 

March 29 

Westfield Parks and Rec
All Day
Info and Registration
(Type iPhone into the search cell to see listings. Need help with enrollment? Contact Brittany Goger at 317-508-9829)

April 12

Conner Prairie
1/2 Day
Info and Registration

April 26

Westfield Parks and Rec
1/2 Day
Info and Registration
(Type iPhone into the search cell to see listings. Need help with enrollment? Contact Brittany Goger at 317-508-9829)

About the Instructor

Rad A. Drew is an internationally recognized photographer and teacher based in Indianapolis, Indiana, who works with traditional digital, mirror-less, and iPhone cameras to create images that capture the spirit of people and place. His creative work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Texas, Vermont, and New York. He has been an award winner in the international Mobile Photography Awards in 2011, 2012, and 2013 and this work has exhibited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Toronto, Collingwood, and Melbourne. Drew is a frequent contributor to the juried site, Pixels at an Exhibition, and is a long time and often-recognized member of the online community, iPhoneArt.com. He is author of the fine art collections, In Good Light, Images of the Circle City and Rural Indiana, A Beauty all its Own, and is a contributor to the recently published The Art of iPhone Photography: Creating Great Photos and Art on Your iPhone.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

IDADA First Friday, March 7, 2014

Photography of 
Rad A. Drew  
at the 
In Good Light, Images of the Circle City by Rad A. Drew
The book, In Good Light, Images of the Circle City, was my attempt to share a collection of images with my friends -- particularly my photographer friends who travel the globe taking photos -- that says beauty and fascinating subjects are where you find them; even in one's own back yard!

My exhibit of the same name: In Good Light, Images of the Circle City, features images from my book that celebrate our beautiful city of Indianapolis. I hope you'll come out this Friday, March 7, to see this work at the Nancy Lee Design Gallery in the Circle City Industrial Complex. Below are a couple of images that you'll see...
Blade Runner 
Marion County Public Library, Indianapolis

Midwestern Monoliths

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Exhibit: Cuba!

Now showing at Hoaglin's, 448 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46204

Panning on the Prada, Old Havana, Cuba
These images are my attempt to capture and share the beauty and spirit of this magnificent country and its people.

Today, through the People-to-People program, travel from the United States to Cuba is legal so long as the trip facilitates interaction and cultural exchange. Cuba is a country that has suffered for many years under a communist regime, a situation that was exacerbated after the Bay of Pigs incident in the 60’s. Communism and trade restrictions with the U.S. have left the country’s economy floundering and its people in a perpetual state of poverty. In spite of these hardships, the courageous spirit of the Cuban people is evident in their interactions with guests to their country, and in their remarkable determination and innovation to “make do.” My interactions with the Cuban people were as colorful and fascinating as the environment of Old Havana, Trinidad, and the countryside in between. 

Exhibit: In Good Light, Images of the Circle City

Blade Runner 
This image was taken on the back side of the Marion County Public Library,  Indianapolis
I believe that every place has its own unique Spirit. Whether in an exotic location in a far corner of the world or in one’s own backyard, there are sites that hold beauty and wonder just waiting for the sensitive photographer to explore. 

This exhibit is a celebration of my beautiful homeland, Indianapolis, my “back yard.” It is not Paris, or Katmandu and it is not (yet!) on lists of top destinations for world travelers, yet the spirit of our place is as beautiful as any in the world. With these images I’ve tried to make that point by making images to be shared with everyone that reflect the beauty of Indianapolis and which celebrate the Spirit of this place.

Click the title to buy my book, In Good Light, Images of the Circle City, at Blurb.com.