Occasionally when I’m capturing an iPhoneography image I have a specific processing idea in mind. That was the case with this image captured towards the bottom of the famous 199 Steps to Whitby Abbey.

For me this scene is enhanced by processing to simulate a painting rather than retaining the low edit photographic look. Fortunately, iPhoneography apps give me the tools to capture the scene and then convert it into a painterly style in post processing. Much of my textured floral iPhoneography work moves towards a painterly style but with this image I wanted to take it much further and at an initial glance at least force the question “Is it a photograph or is it a painting?”

iPhone photography apps used:

iphoneography - 199 steps (Whitby)

{ 199 steps – Whitby }


Process and apps used

Note: None of the apps reduce resolution on iPhone5 or iPad3. The initial capture was at 2,448 x 2,448. The initial crop reduced size slightly to 2,350 x 2,350. The final iPhoneography image following the various edits was 2,350 x 2,350. As always my aim is to retain a minimum resolution of 2,000 at the shortest side.

Oggl ~ initial capture:

This combo is Helga Viking lens with Robusta film. Oggl is part of the Hipstamatic iPhoneography app family:

Filterstorm ~ crop the border away retaining a 1:1 ratio:

At this stage and subject to the resolution capabilities of the following iPhoneography apps it would be possible to increase resolution considerably if necessary. This is because the Glaze App process results in a very heavy edit and would remove any quality issues caused by the increased resolution:

FrontView ~ remove perspective distortion – in this case straighten vertical lines:

Before progressing to the painterly edit it is important to consider how a painter might approach the scene. At the same time there is an opportunity to consider a personal style:

This may involve cloning out certain objects and general tidying of the image. For this image I simply wanted to ensure that the vertical lines associated with key structures were truly vertical:

{ image one }:

Screen Grab

Glaze ~ splash on the paint:

Glaze has many painterly styles to choose from. For me I regard Glaze as the iPhoneography app for ‘under-painting’. This is not the finished image but introduces a base coat which in the case of this image results in an unrecognisable image from which I can build:

{ image two }:

Screen Grab

Superimpose ~ adding back the detail:

image one is layered over image two and really it is a case of playing around with blend methods and opacity levels until something approaching what I am looking for appears. In this case I elect for a blend method of ‘Hard Light’ with a transparency of 35pct:

{ image three }:

Screen Grab

Superimpose ~ adding back more detail:

image one is layered over image three and as previously it is a case of playing around with blend methods and opacity levels to achieve the look I am aiming for. In reality this stage and the stage above are a single process – you simply combine the layers within Superimpose and add image one back again without the need to export ‘image three’. In this case I boost the brightness and contrast of the foreground (image one) to the maximum and elect for a blend method of ‘Multiply’ with a transparency of 0pct:

{ image four }:

Screen Grab – adjust brightness / contrast

Screen Grab – blend

Snapseed ~ messing with colours:

Initially I played around with the Drama Filters which almost always add to most styles of iPhoneography image. In the end though I went with the standard ‘Vintage’ filter with the texture boosted to 100pct. Although I felt it took the colour palette a little too far, I liked the direction it was going:

{ image five }:

Screen Grab

Superimpose ~ adjust the colour palette:

I wanted to pull some of the colour back in to the image. I therefore layered image five over image four and blended them under ‘Normal’ with a transparency of 35pct:

Screen Grab


The view at the top

Once you’ve made it to the top the panorama is quite special.

Whitby Abbey panorama

{ Whitby Abbey Panorama }


I am delighted that ‘199 steps – Whitby’ has been featured by Art of Mob:

See the feature together with other featured images at Art of Mob.

The Flickr Group I started features images edited in a painterly fashion. There are several ways to create painterly images from your photos. There are even apps designed to help: Glaze, Tangled FX, PhotoViva, Artist’s Touch, iColorama and Repix are just a few. If you have some other suggestions, I would love to read about them – just leave a comment.

Geri ~ Art of Mob


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  1. James Mochan says:

    Great stuff Skip. Thank you for another outstanding tutorial!!

  2. I really enjoyed seeing how you built the painterly look into this Paul. Great work 🙂

  3. Another great and inspirational tutorial Skip. Thanks

  4. Congrats for the featured!
    This is Whitby England right? Do you live nearby?

    Other apps I’ve used for paint effect -> Auto Painter series (1,2,3) – though I haven’t checked to resolution output.

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