20120924-144608.jpgI took this picture at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, of a lone man dancing on the grass.  He was incredibly graceful and fit and made a striking presence, totally unlike what you expect when you see a free spirit marching to their own drummer.  I worked up this image using Noir and loved it so much that I posted it on Facebook.  Comments immediately started pouring in from people who know and recognize the dancer, Bruce Thomas.  Here is his story:  .

– the Daily Grunge

Ceiling hole

20120924-140313.jpg One last shot from the tobacco barn shoot.  This is another of those shots that seems straightforward but was hard to do.  It was taken from underneath a shed room, which was very dark, looking up through a hole towards the light.  I had to lighten and bring out the detail of the underside of the tar paper roof, and also bring out the over-exposed detail of the siding of the house visible through the hole.  My usual host of apps went into producing this.

– the Daily Grunge


Review: Noir Photo

I donwloaded Noir Photo, and the next thing I knew an hour had passed, and I had missed my lunch date.  This is one of the coolest, most valuable photo apps I have used.  At $2.99, it is pricey, relatively speaking, but I paid it happily, because it not only helps you create fabulous light effects, it’s fun to use.

Noir is not a full editing tool.  When you open a photo in Noir, it renders it B&W, and then you can tune where the light in the photo should be by masking an area, and then using spin controls for setting exactly what levels you want for foreground, background, contrast, and brightness.  The controls are unique and fun to use, letting you use explicit micro-adjustments.  There are also 6 pre-sets, and 4 tint options.  If you want to crop, add a vignette, get a scratch effect, etc., you’ll have to save the pic and open in another editor.  But that’s really a quibble, because the kind of images you create with Noir (the publisher calls it “telling a story”) are NOT the kind of images you need to grunge up.

As a lifetime B&W photographer, I am thrilled to be able to get the dodge-and-burn effects of a darkroom on an iPhone.  And as my editing skills improve, I must say: I no longer mind opening an image in 2 or sometimes even 3 different apps to get slightly different tweaks or effects.  As you get faster with these, and really learn the different tools, you come to appreciate the uniqueness of what each app offers.  Who wants a one-size solution?  I can easily save an image in one app and in a few taps, open it in another, do a few effects there, save it, and switch back to the first.

Here are some images I have presented in previous posts, all reworked in Noir.  These are my first attempts with Noir, but as you can see, it is easy to get good results quickly if you know what you are going after.  For each of these, I wanted to emphasize faces to maximize the expressions. Noir makes it easy to draw the viewer’s eye to exactly where you want it.







Hole in the wall



These are two different treatments of the same shot of a hole in the outer wall of the tobacco barn behind my house in the woods.  It’s a very old structure, wood beams held together with plaster, vines, and rust.  I took a shot of this hole and worked the editing to get four distinct textures, bisected by a thorny vine. The top image was PaintFX, the bottom Simply B&W.

– the Daily Grunge


20120924-093249.jpg On my morning walk I found a stand of mushrooms piled on top of each other in such a way that they looked for all the world like pancakes, or sugar cookies. My blood glucose was probably low.  But no matter, I had to take pictures.  I thought I was over the whole mushroom thing too … guess I have a little more to get out of my system.


– the Daily Grunge

Going with the grain

20120924-091649.jpg Damn, I love this.  I love wood grain, and strong graphic shapes, and lines.  Pictures with lots of lines.  So I was ecstatic to get a picture of the old tobacco barn in the woods behind my home.  The cement caulking between the boards was very white compared to the wood, so it took a lot of careful work to bring up the tone of the wood and bring down the tone of the caulking.  Well worth it, to see the detail in both.

I will be posting more images from the tobacco barn, a subject that provides endless opportunities for expression.

– the Daily Grunge

The elegance of B&W

20120923-085532.jpg A little morning practice with black and white objects, getting the right balance, bringing out the reflections, and getting a softness. I think the vignette is a little too much, which I didn’t notice when I did the image, but that’s why people practice things:  to make mistakes, figure out what went wrong, and do it again.  There are few things as satisfying as a good practice session, that starts with mistakes, stumblings, maybe some assorted cussing, and then ends with mastery on some level.  I love it when things turn out right.  I love it when things that used to be difficult start getting easier, or better yet I stop even noticing that I’m doing them.

Practice, practice, practice.

– the Daily Grunge

3 amigos

20120922-214435.jpg This was actually quite challenging.  A night shot, nearly pitch black, of a white dog, a black dog, and a human.  It took a lot of enhancing to bring up the dark areas without losing the rest in a glow of white.  This is an example of where PaintFX’s HDPro is perfect for finding those pixels in an inky sea of darkness.  Then, it was just a question of balancing out the contrast, brightness and intensity.

Thanks to the Worcester family for posing.  The white dog is Anna, who I have written about in this blog.  See my story “Puppy Mills – One Success Story”.

– the Daily Grunge

While you’re at it, don’t enjoy it either

20120922-214218.jpg This sign on a lovely wrought-iron fountain in Fearrington Village caught my eye.  It is carefully and grammatically worded.  Someone clearly took a lot of time to come up with “please do not play on, or throw gravel in, the fountain”.  Imagine if a committee had to come up with a wording for this message!  The fountain would have been filled in with gravel years ago waiting for everyone to agree.

But I digress.  This was a night-shot, with very low light.  In order to play that up, I used Simply B&W to add grain.  I will never stop thinking with longing about the old days of Tri-X film.  I don’t miss working in a darkroom though.  Actually yes I do, but I don’t seriously want to go back to those days.  Fortunately, I can still do B&W photography with digital effects.  And no toxic fumes.

– the Daily Grunge

Misty morning

20120920-102706.jpg Capturing mist is actually challenging, or at least I find it so, but here I managed to get both vibrant color AND the mist on the early-morning pond.  With the power tower and reflection, it keeps this from looking cheesy.

I used a combination of Jazz and PaintFx, going back and forth between the two to get some unusual combinations of layers.  The more I work with apps, the more facility I gain in using multiple apps to produce an image.  There will never be one app that does everything, at least not one that does everything WELL.  And it really takes no time to save,  open another app, apply a layer, save.  Sorry for all the belly-aching I did about this in the past.  Muscle memory is making a world of difference in my technique.

– the Daily Grunge