I opened wide the door...
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token...
I took this photo after my daughter's 5th grade class performed a play about ancient Egypt. The silhouette is their teacher (in long Egyptian robes) saying goodnight from the door to the school auditorium. After playing with the image in a variety of apps, I pondered what the title should be. A good title is often an important part of the creative process for me. It can add to the image and suggest a context or further meaning for a scene.
After wandering down several different conceptual paths searching for a title, for some reason I was reminded of the lines from Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, where the narrator opens wide the door and peers into the darkness, after hearing "a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door."
One of the things I enjoy most about making images with the iPhone is that it offers a very immediate and compact creative experience that is not weighed down by the considerations or extended time commitments that are often a part of images made with more "serious" cameras. In the case of this image, while I am very pleased with the end result, one of the most satisfying parts of the process was exploring the different idea paths in search of a title and finding the thread that led to the poem The Raven, which I had not thought of for a long time.
For some insight into the fairly simple processing "app journey" of this image, see below:
Here is the original exposure (cropped slightly to the final proportions). Backlighting is always a situation that has the potential for interesting results, so don't shy away from having your iPhone ready to take pictures at night just because you think it's too dark. It may, indeed, be too dark, but you never know when a door will open or a light will come on to create the backlighting that will lead to an intrigueing image.
I started out by using LensLight and added the light beams with the White Rays preset. The great thing about this app is that you have full control over the size, rotation, placement and brightness of the effect you choose (the same developer also has a very cool companion app called LensFlare).
Adding the light rays with LensLight (click in the image for a larger version)
The next stop on the app journey was Filterstorm, which is one of my bread and butter "go-to" apps. Don't let the name Filterstorm fool you. This is not really a filter app, but more of a Photoshop-type app. You can apply a wide range of color and tonal effects that function much like those in Photoshop. Plus you can use masks to apply the effects to specific areas of the image. That is what I did for this photo. The light rays from Lens Light were showing up on top of the silhouetted figure of the man. I used the Curves feature in Filterstorm to darken down the shadow areas and remove those light rays on the figure. Then I used the masking tools to paint in the adjustments only where I wanted them. I also applied another Curves adjustment and painted in a lightening effect only on the light rays and backlit parts of the image, as well as added some noise to the entire photo.
Applying local adjustments in Filterstorm (click in the image for a larger version)
The final stop was Nik Snapseed, which is an incredibly well-designed and very fun app to use. In Snapseed I made the image black & white, added grain, tweaked with the brightness and contrast some more, applied a sepia-flavored grunge look, and the final rough-edged frame effect.
Final "flavoring" applied in Nik Snapseed (click in the image for a larger version)
If you're interestd in this type of creative transformations for your iPhone images, I will be teaching a half day iPhoneography Creative Processing workshop in Sacramento, California in early June. Be sure to Like my Facebook page, add me to your Google circles (links for both are above left) or sign up for my free newsletter (above right) to keep up to date on the details of that class, which will be posted soon.
The Creative Digital Darkroom on the Monterey Peninsula!
Only two weeks left until my next workshop in beautiful Carmel, California. I'll be teaching a weekend class on The Creative Digital Darkroom: Photoshop Beyond the Basics at the Center for Photographic Art on Feb. 11 & 12. The class is filling up but there are still spaces available so sign up soon if your are interested! Click the class title to find out more about this workshop.