Try the iPhoneography App “Union”

A guest post by David Hayes

I’ve had this app, Union, since it came out but hadn’t taken the time to try it out. So I thought it would be fun to do a first look for my May article. I found the app very easy to use with lots of potential…even if it doesn’t look like it on the surface. I didn’t use all its features in this article but look to future articles once I have more of a chance to dig deeper!


When opened, Union takes you straight to its composing screen and prompts you for your “Background.”  So I clicked on this tab.


You’re then given a choice: a photo from your Library, a color background or a blank background. This time I opted for an image from my Background library.


And…picked the one indicated in the screen shot above.


At the bottom of the “Background” screen you are given aspect ratios. I picked 1:1 as I’ve been doing a lot of posting to Instagram lately so I wanted to be able to post my final image.


Background in place…time for a Foreground!


 As before, I went for an image in my Library.


As you can see in the screenshot, I picked a simple still life that I had recently shot with my iPhone5 camera app. Keeping the “Foreground” screen active, I clicked on the magnifying glass icon in the top left corner so I could go to full screen view.


Then, clicking on the “Stack” icon, I moved into a full screen mode so I could arrange this image.


Using the standard pinch-and-pull finger moves, I place my foreground image at the bottom of my composition. Next up…a little blending!


Opening the “Blending” menu by clicking on the icon that’s center screen, I tried out all the different possibilities and settled on “Normal.” (I also tried several different opacity settings as well.)


Time for some “Masking.” I first clicked on the “Stack” icon to reopen the control panel and then clicked on “Mask” to bring up those controls.


I will have to admit that I didn’t try the “Shape” or “Photo” controls–that will be in a future article–but went straight to “Erase.”


Passing over the other “Erase” brush controls for this project, I chose the center opacity setting as I wanted to just erase the hard edges of my foreground…but not entirely!


And so, with this in place, I moved around the still life, painting out the edges to give it a sense of “floating” on the background.


This done, I reopened the main control panel as before so I could “Flatten” these two layers and then add a third layer.


After clicking on the “Flatten” tab, this pop-up comes up to confirm your action. Click on “Flatten” to make it so!


Union automatically will make your flattened layers your new background and activates the “Foreground” screen.


This time I pulled in a piece of text that I had created using the app, Title Fx, which was taken from the book in the still life!


Using my pinch-pull strokes, I placed this text about where I thought I wanted it in my composition.


I then opened the “Blending” menu, and this time picked “Darken” which did what I needed for the text background to drop out! Very cool!


After doing a bit of fine-tuning on the text placement, I decided it need to be a bit darker. Clicking on the “Contrast” control, I used the slider bar at the bottom to tweak up the contrast, bringing up the text a bit more.


Time to save…so I went back to the main control panel and this time clicked on the “Export” tab.


You can export to a number of different sources as well as to your Camera Roll. Which I did! (On a personal note, I always save to my Camera Roll even if I know I will open in another app or post to a feed. That way I know I have my original image safely tucked away for another day!)


Here’s the final image. Hope you like it!

As I stated in the beginning, Union has a lot more going for it than what I used for this article. I’m looking forward to really putting it through its paces…look for future articles on what I discover!

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

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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