Most of the time the joy of iPhone photography is the result. The destination. It’s not about how I got there or how many apps I used (I’m still trying keep the number of apps I use in each iPhoneography work to a minimum).

The problem though is what if I generate something as I’m meandering my way through the process and then think wow, how did I do that? Worse still (for me at least) what if someone else says how did you do that? I share my workflows and iPhoneography tutorials, that is what my articles are about, so that is far from an unreasonable question.

There is a deeper issue though when trying to record the process each step of the way. It can feel like I’m in a straight jacket. Those happy accidents are few and far between until I really let myself go and forget what I am doing or where I am going. I can get lost, reverse back down a path and take a different route, or I can get lost and find myself somewhere appealing that I have never been before.

This iPhoneography workflow started out in a very familiar regimented way. I recorded each step in my usual way, by grabbing a screen shot of the app and settings used. Eventually though I felt constrained, I needed to explore and I decided to let myself free and just play.

Bob Ross once said “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

The processes therefore are recorded and certainly the key apps and stages are all here but my usual level of detail is missing. I hope you enjoy this approach.

iPhone photography apps used:

iphone photography - bleached by the sun

{ bleached by the sun }



Process and apps used

ProCamera7 ~ initial capture:

ProCamera7 at the app store.

Filterstorm ~ crop and sharpen:

My preferred format is square:

At the time of writing, I still prefer Filterstorm to Filterstorm Neue. Filterstorm Neue lacks layer functionality but specifically regarding this iPhoneography workflow its sharpening tool on iPad provides adjustments for both amount and threshold.

Filterstorm at the app store.

Snapseed ~ drama bright 02 preset. This preset de-saturates as standard and so I manually adjust it to boost saturation back to normal levels:

Snapseed at the app store.

Snapseed ~ grunge filter applied. This is normally my first stage in applying the painterly textured look. For my taste, Snapseed grunge has a unique and identifiable signature and therefore I rarely use it in isolation:

Snapseed at the app store.

At this stage, I’m undecided where I would like to take this image and so this is where I start to play and release my straight jacket. My workfow from this point whilst reasonably detailed and accurate does not give full settings.

From this point my iPhoneography workflow becomes an iPhoneography doodle. An experiment with a few wrong turns and a few happy accidents.

There is however one consistent theme when I lapse into this stage of the creative process. It almost always involves experimenting with Superimpose, the various versions of the image I have already created and combining them under various blend methods at various opacities.

Superimpose ~ two versions blended under the exclusion method at an opacity of 50pct:

Superimpose at the app store.

Superimpose ~ blend the previous image with an earlier image under ‘difference’ at a 30pct opacity. I also boost the red levels of the earlier image slightly within filters:

If you’re going to doodle with the comparative modes then go the whole hog I guess – although via the opacity level I did keep my foot on the brake a little:

Superimpose at the app store.

It’s interesting that probably the two least used blend methods are ‘exclusion’ and ‘difference’. These blend methods are both classifies as ‘comparative’ modes and it is very difficult to find any meaningful discussion on practical uses for them.

There are plenty of mathematical definitions for how comparative blend modes work but if a picture is worth a thousand words who cares about what the text books say. Just play.

Certainly they can produce some wild results entirely inappropriate in many situations. However, sometimes when in the midst of an iPhoneography doodle they yield some interesting results especially if used around a 50pct opacity level:

Superimpose ~ blend the previous image with an earlier image. I have not tried to replicate what I did here but the goal was to reintroduce more accurate colours where the previous processes have introduced some blues and greys into both the flowers and stalks. An iPhoneography doodle within Superimpose to rectify:

Superimpose at the app store.

Mextures ~ Whoa Skip what are you doing man! Playing. I import the image into Mextures and apply the predefined formula ‘thirteen’. As the name suggests this is actually a composite of 13 textures each with individual blend methods and opacity settings shipped with the app and layered over the top of my image:

Each of those layers could be tweaked individually if I wish but I simply apply them and export the finished image:

Thirteen stages in one hit – not bad!

Mextures at the app store.

Superimpose ~ now it’s time to undo some of the fantastic work Mextures has done. I love the texture and I don’t actually mind the beautiful gradient either (I’ve done a few images with a similar look in the past) but for my mood I want something a little simpler.

I therefore apply a previous version of the image over the top under the color blend method to bring the color back to more subtle levels:

Superimpose at the app store.

Superimpose ~ very often the finer details get washed away when texturing an image. It may be that I want that. In this case though I decide to reintroduce some finer detail around the flowers towards the top of the stalk.:

I do this by masking much of the image using the various masking tools and then multiplying a cleaner version over the top of this area under a reduced opacity:

Superimpose at the app store.

Snapseed ~ finally I decide that the entire image is far too dark and I can give it a nice faded vintage canvas look:

I therefore import the iPhoneography into Snapseed and using the tune image settings, I adjust brightness, ambiance, contrast, saturation and shadows (in some cases radically) to achieve the finished look:

Snapseed at the app store.


I hope you enjoyed my iPhone photography workflow and thoughts on the joys of breaking free from constraints and encouraging happy accidents. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you again.



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  1. iPhone photography - freedom to explore { bleac... says:

    […] The joy of iPhone photography is the result. The destination. It's not about how I got there or how many apps I used. This iPhoneography is an example.  […]

  2. […] Most of the time the joy of iPhone photography is the result. The destination. It's not about how I got there or how many apps I used (I'm still trying keep the number of apps I use in each iPhoneography work to a minimum).  […]

  3. Peter Bryenton says:

    Yes, when your in the flow, in the zone, firing on all cylinders … distraction is the last thing you need.
    Similar things happen with music … guitar jamming for example. Leaving a sound recorder running helps afterwards. So I was thinking … an over-the-shoulder video camera might set you free to analyse your photo editing workflow and any happy accidents afterwards?

    • Paul Brown says:

      It’s a good thought Peter. I do quite a lot on the go though. What I really need is a screen recorder. Although that would take storage space up it wouldn’t need to be great resolution. They are available but only for jail broken iPhones and I’m not going there. Very occasionally one sneaks into the store somehow but you have to be quick and I never have been.

  4. Great article again Paul. I know how you feel sometimes I seem to arrive at the result and forgot where I even began!! Like you I try to use 3-4 apps and have started paying a bit more attention to what i’m actually creating…

    • Paul Brown says:

      Thank you Craig, that’s exactly why I started by blog really to help me remember. The bigger picture is that as I evolve my style I’d like the ability to be consistent and so I need to know how I did something. It should never be at the expense of doodling and experimenting and having the occasional happy accident though. I just need to stop kicking myself when it happens 🙂

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