From the Ashes: An iPhoneography App Tutorial

An iPhoneography App Tutorial by David Hayes

During a trip to northern Michigan this past August, my wife and I came across a burned out building while stopping for gas. It was early enough in the morning that there weren’t many folks out and about…so while she pumped gas, I walked around the corner to the building. There I found what appeared to have once been an auto repair shop with a truck still up on the shop’s lift! Naturally I had to grab some snaps! This tutorial shows how I took one of these shots and created a painterly image, totally in contrast to the scene!


Here’s the source image I started with. I did do a little of editing on this just to clean up some lines and pop out some of the details from the shadows. Even still, this is pretty close to what I saw that morning.


One of the quickest ways to give a painterly look to an image is to use the app Glaze. (This apps comes with any number of presets including the means to create your own combos.) For my image, I settled on the preset I’d call “Rose #1” as the app doesn’t name them for you! This gave the scene to look of an oil painting. Not wanting to do anything else in this app, I saved to my Camera Roll and moved to the next step!


Going to what I consider one of my “workhorse” apps, Snapseed, I immediately went to its “Tune Image” tools.


First, a little adjustment to the overall “Brightness” of the image…


Then a bit of “Contrast” adjustment. Done with this tool, I clicked on “Apply” to take me back to the control panel.


Once here, I went to “Details”.


I was a bit concerned that I was beginning to lose some of the details in the image, so adjusting the “Sharpness” helped bring much of that back. As before, I clicked “Apply” to go back to the control panel.


I did try a couple of other things will in Snapseed, but didn’t feel anything did the image justice so I saved the image as it was and moved to my last app, Laminar Pro.


I think I’ve said this before in this column, Laminar Pro is one of those apps that has so much power and capability that one could do it all in just this app, but what fun would that be? In this case, all I want to use is its great “Lighting Engine” tool! To get there, I clicked on “FX.”


In the FX panel, I then clicked on “Lighting Engine” to bring this tool into play!


Laminar Pro’s “Lighting Engine” is a great way to add directional light to any image. You can choose between Diffused light or Flood light as control the color of the light source and shadows as well as the Opacity of the light. By moving the “Target” point to where you want the light to “focus” and the “Source” point of that light, you can create all sorts of lighting combinations. It’s a lot of fun to play with to get the light just the way you want it; I must have spent at least 20 minutes just “messing around” before coming to where you see on the screen shot. Hit “Apply” to take you back to the control panel.

While it doesn’t look like it in this screen shot, I did make adjustments to Contrast, Brightness, and Saturation of the image using the indicated slider bars (A). Then I clicked Save/Share (B) to send this final version to my Camera Roll.


Here’s the final version of “From the Ashes”. Hope you like it!

The combination of Glaze, Laminar Pro, and Snapseed is one that I highly recommend you give a try if you haven’t already done so. Many, many great possibilities with these apps!

David Hayes is a photographer, mixed-media artist, painter and explorer of life. Visit his blog at

Try David’s previous iPhoneography App Tutorials here.

Photo Craft_160You might also enjoy Photo Craft: Creative Mixed Media and Digital Approaches to Transforming Your Photographs by Susan Tuttle and Christy Hydeck.

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