Mar 29, 2013

Featured Mobile Photographer–Bret Pemelton…A Recovering Musician

© Bret PemeltonWhen I first stumbled upon the gallery of Bret Pemelton aka @recoveringmusician on Instagram, his striking photos caught my eye, so I started following him – not literally of course…just online!  One of the first things I do when I “follow” someone new is check whether they have a website or not.  Bret had a link to his blog, so I hopped over there to see if I could learn more about him.  I ended up reading for quite some time because not only is he a very talented photographer, he’s hilarious!  You may want to read this interview in a place where laughing out loud won’t cause you any dagger-throwing stares.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

© Bret Pemelton
Carter (above)
© Bret Pemelton
Little Women (above)

Geri:  What is your name and where do you live?
Bret:  Bret Pemelton. I'm a native Californian that now calls Nashville, Tennessee home.

Geri:  Are you really a recovering musician?
Bret:  Yes. I say it as a joke, but I was seriously a music “junky”. It was my whole identity.  I pursued music from the time I was 12 till I was 35.  I had a few record deals which resulted in four internationally released albums.  When it all fell apart at the end of 1995, I spent the following three years detoxing.  Photography was my transition drug out of it.  I realized there was more to life and I had more to offer than just trying to be a rock star.

© Bret Pemelton
My Love (above)

Geri:  How long have you been shooting photos with your iPhone?
Bret:  I got my first iPhone in November of 2011.  A few weeks later my best friend's son introduced me to Camera+ and I was off and running.  I kind of digressed at first because I couldn't keep my grubby paws off that stupid “Clarity” button. All my early pictures are edited so ridiculously over the top. I've been slowly deleting them from my feed.

Geri:  Do you use the native camera app or do you prefer a specialty app like Hipstampatic, Camera+, ProCamera?
Bret:  Well, like I said, at first it was Camera+, then I started using Hipstamatic for several months.  I would experiment with various combinations but always gravitated back to the John S/Claunch 72 Monochrome combo.  Then around May of 2012 it all changed for me.  I just want you to know that I'm usually quite reluctant and vague about sharing this next part, but since you offered me that suitcase full of cash to do this interview I'm feeling rather obligated.  So, I was perusing through Instagram (probably fishing for more followers) when I saw this incredible landscape that was barely edited, if at all, and someone commented “I see you're using 645 PRO” and I said to myself: “Hello my new addiction!”  It was love at first sight.  I stopped seeing other camera apps and jumped right into a heavily committed relationship.  This is where I turned the corner.  It felt like switching from playing piano on a Casio to playing on a Steinway.

© Bret Pemelton
Son, I think it's time we have "The Talk"!
© Bret Pemelton

Geri.  Most of your IG gallery is in black and white - is this your preference?
Bret:  I had dabbled in photography while touring on the road in the 80's when I wasn't busy sculpting my hair with Aqua Net and wearing eye liner (I did mention it was the 80's right?) but never seriously.  Then in the early 90's I took a solo trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  I came across this black and white exhibit by a photographer whose name I now wish I'd written down.  It was very raw, taken in what appeared to be an old abandoned cabin, featuring a plain, even slightly homely female model.  There were even a few nudes, which I'm not typically drawn to...well, artistically speaking that is (did I mention I have six kids?) It connected with my soul at a level I never knew existed.  I knew I'd soon be investigating this new found yearning.  So about 5-6 years later, when I was trying to get that music monkey off my back, I blew the mascara dust off my old Minolta and ran out and bought 100-speed black and white film. (you kids remember film?  We used it while listening to our 8-track tapes!)

© Bret Pemelton
A Light Snow (above)
© Bret Pemelton
Christian Lindskog of Sweden's Blindside (above)

Geri:  I really thought your images were shot with a DSLR - any secrets you want to share for getting such high quality images?
Bret:  If I share anymore secrets I'm afraid I'll have to shoot you.  In fact, can I take back that whole 645 Pro comment, because her phone has been ringing non-stop since I mentioned her name a few paragraphs ago.  I hate to state the obvious, but lighting is everything.  I try to shoot my outside shots an hour before sundown or about an hour after sunrise.  I've recently begun experimenting with inside lighting,  I'm a total newbie to this.  I've been using our halogen construction light and pointing it different angles, usually up just above my subject.  I'm looking forward to eventually investing in real lighting gear.  I NEVER use a flash...ever!!

   © Bret Pemelton
Lost and Alone (Man In The Wilderness Pt 2)
© Bret Pemelton
Isaac (above)

Geri:  Do you have a specific idea in mind when you shoot or do you just capture what moves you in the moment?
Bret:  Ideally, I like to approach it like I'm writing a song.  I get a concept, like say a period piece image in my mind and I chew on it for a few days, sometimes weeks, before I tackle it.  A few come immediately.  I don't always do so well with spur of the moment ideas.  I used to be into shooting inanimate objects and buildings, but I began to feel like I was retreating to the safety zone.  A barn doesn't need any direction, and it won't blink if you ask it to expose a little skin.  (I'm sorry, I did mention I live in the south right?)  Don't get me wrong, I'm not bagging on those who do, it was just for me, I knew my big thrill came from connecting with people.  I also love taking live shots of bands.  I love capturing movement and energy.  That's a whole other beast when it comes to lighting.

© Bret Pemelton
Just A Little More Time (above)
© Bret Pemelton
Tanner (above)

Geri:  I know you have a blog because I'm a subscriber - when did you start it and what do you blog about?
Bret:  Well, first of all thank you Geri for subscribing.  My affirmation bell is ringing like crazy!  Oh Geez!  I'll try to make this answer short.  Let's see: “...It was the best of times, it was the worst..”  Seriously, it was because of this little website called Facebook.  I went Ape Poop (pardon my French) joking around with all my friends I hadn't seen in like 30 years...yes, those same people I listened to 8-tracks with and said things like: “Gnarly dude, she's totally foxxy!”  My witty banter caught the attention of my dear friend Lorrie Harden who's husband Tommy is Reba's drummer, (I like to call her Wifey #2) anyways, she sat me down one day said: “You need to be writing a blog...NOW!”  So for the past two years I've been putting out a weekly diatribe of my feeble mental meanderings (I don't know what I just said either).  I honestly have no idea how many people actually read it.  I've stuck with it so I can improve as a writer.  I'm taking a hiatus to start working on my book.  The title? “The Recovering Musician” of course!

© Bret Pemelton
Converge (above)
© Bret Pemelton

Geri:  Please share a little bit about your editing process and some of your favorite apps.
Bret:  I recently purchased that little Apple TV box of awesomeness, so now I can view pictures from my iPhone on my 50” television screen.  This is handy when I've just taken 300 shots. I usually narrow those down to about 30 and begin editing.  My process is pretty simple.  I shoot everything in color to leave my options open.  If I'm going for black & white (which is usually 99.9% of the time) I upload it onto my Noir Photo app. I love the way you can highlight and shadow things with that.  It's super user friendly.  Next I upload it onto PS Express. I'll add any needed brightness and I'll ride that contrast button like I'm launching a rocket to the moon! (actually I only hover around +2 to +5).  Next I'll use the “Reduce Noise” feature to remove blemishes and smooth things out, though now that I view them on my Apple TV I'm realizing I need to dial back a bit on that function, because you can loose some important definition, though it may not be visible on your phone screen, it can be real obvious on a big screen, which could be problematic if you ever plan to enlarge them to display.  Last I use the “Sharpen” feature to bring in a bit more clarity.  I'll use Snapseed's “Selective Adjust” if there’ s an area that I feel needs to be brought out more or reduced.  If there's something I want removed from the shot I'll use Juxtaposer by uploading the image twice, erasing the object, then enlarging the original and try to line up the hole where it's no longer noticeable.  I also like Photo FX to try different B&W looks and filters.  I think I learned of all these apps from Amy Leibrand (@_ThisSpace_).

© Bret Pemelton
I know the road is very long But in my head I'll always hold your song And I'll keep a good thought for you. "The Road" - Everything But The Girl (above)
© Bret Pemelton
Songbird (above)

Geri:  Who or what inspires you?
Bret:  I have a real affinity for the past, particularly the 30's and 40's as well as the 50s, hence why I'm drawn to black and whites.  I love old issues of Life magazine, particularly Dorothea Lange's work.  I'm also a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan.  I'm trying to incorporate those eras without being too literal or costumey.  I recently learned of Vivian Maier from This American Life.  Just Google her right now and prepare to have your world rocked.  Tom Stone is my concert/band photo guru.   He is a huge inspiration, who I discovered via my bestie Twitter/Facebook/Instagram sister, Angie @GuardianAng who happens to be his manager.  Tom does work for Rolling Stone and Alternative Press magazines.  On Instagram, Amy Leibrand was also key in my growth.  Though I'm not of the avant garden variety, I get inspired and excited when I see her work and others like her.  There's also my deux soeurs from France who continue to be my muses Stephanie @stefania131313) and Celine @noremi78).  I'm certain there's some psychological reason I'm drawn mostly toward female artists. Maybe it's because I was a “Mommy's Boy”, or maybe because Naomi Judd once put my head in her lap (true story).  I don't know, mine’s not to question why.

© Bret Pemelton
The Beckoning (above)

Geri:  I know you have a large family - do you photograph them often?
Bret:  Yes I'm a breeder, we have six kids.  People use to stop us and ask if we were either Mormon or Catholic.  Our favorite response was “Nope, just horny!”   I photograph them so often that whenever I pull my phone out of my pocket they run and hide.  (I usually find them under their beds in the fetal position, sucking their thumbs)  The Grapes of Wrath photo of my two boys in the field was another turning point for me.  It represented my heritage.  My father was part of that westward movement in the 30's-40's.  His family ended up in Central California where Dorothea Langes iconic “Migrant Mother” was taken.  It was my “jumping off” point.

© Bret Pemelton
The Grapes of Wrath (above)

Geri:  Have you ever exhibited your work?  If not, any plans to do so?
Bret:  I was just contacted by Nashville RAW and I'll be exhibiting sometime around the end of April.  I've always been hesitant to refer to myself as a “photographer”, and now I'm starting to receive requests to photograph other people.  It's really pretty crazy.

© Bret Pemelton
Remembering (above)

Geri:  Anything else you'd like to add?
Bret:  As crazy as it sounds, Instagram has changed my life as well as been an integral part of my diving back into photography, and because you're being exposed to hundreds of images a day the growth curve is multiplied exponentially.  Think about it, before you had to go to a gallery, look in books or look up online to see other people’s work.  Now we just turn on our cell phones.  You learn from the good and the bad.  The best part, though, is the community that I've built on there as well as Facebook and Twitter.  It has strengthened my existing friendships and now I have friends that are like family that I've never even met.  It's empowering knowing that any given time someone in Oslo, Paris, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro (I love my Translate app!), or heck, even Cleveland might be looking at one of my images and thinking about me.  It's why I started the #FollowFridayFamily tag. I love encouraging and hopefully empowering others.  It's rather addicting!

Thanks Bret for sharing your work, your secrets and making me smile,  You can connect with Bret in all of the following places:
Blog / Facebook / Flickr / Twitter / Instagram / EyeEm
All images in this feature are copyrighted property of Bret Pemelton published on iART CHRONiCLES with the consent of the artist.

Featured Mobile Artists

Friday Favorites–Week No. 29

This week I collaborated with two talented photographers using their photos and my edits.

Patrick St. Hilaire (@blacksmithpat) provided the original gorgeous portraits for the first two and I added my own editing.

Original Image © Pat St.Hilaire

App Recipe for Edit: Snapseed  XnView F, XnView Photo FX, Sketch Club, FaceTune and TouchRetouch 

I wanted the image below to have the look of a hand colored photo.

Original Image © Pat St.Hilaire

App Recipe for Edit:  Snapseed, FaceTune, Sketch Club and XnView Photo FX 

I was totally compelled by the self-portrait of Ketty (@LadyKTY) and she generously gave me permission to edit.

Original Image © @LadyKTY

App Recipe for Edit:  Snapseed, FaceTune, Sketch Club 

The final two favorite images for the week were edits of my own photographs taken on a hike through the hills near our home.  We were surprised to come upon a shepherd and his flock! 

© Geri Centonze

The Shepherd

App RecipeCamera Awesome, Camera Pro Effects, Autopainter, XnSketch, Etchings, Sketch Club and Snapseed 

© Geri Centonze

The Sheep Who Smiled (above)

App RecipeCamera Awesome, Snapseed, FaceTune 

© Geri Centonze

The Shepherd’s Home

App RecipeCamera Awesome, Snapseed, TouchRetouch, PS Express, AutoPainter, Image Blender

Mar 27, 2013

Mobile Photography & Storytelling Show–Episodes 3 and 4

Here are the latest episodes of the Mobile Photography & Storytelling Show!

If you missed the first two, click here.

Episode 3

Episode 4

Mar 24, 2013

App Breakdown No. 2–Big Photo

Big PhotoAn app I use to resize photos on my iPad (or iPhone) is Big Photo.  There’s an excellent and detailed review over at Life in LoFi by Marty Yawnick and more information on the developer’s website.

I’m happy with the results, but for this App Breakdown I wanted to compare the Big Photo image side by side with an image resized using Photoshop Elements. 

For my sample image I started with a photo I took on my iPhone with an original size of 2508 pixels x 2401 pixels (after it was cropped).  I resized it to 6143 pixels by 5881 pixels using the Big Photo app.   I then took the same image and resized it in Photoshop Elements to the exact same dimensions.

Like Marty, I sampled a portion of the enlarged photo to see the difference in quality up close (Portion in white square shows the area of the photo I enlarged)

Below is a close-up of the image resized in Big Photo

Enlarged with Big Photo

And here is the same portion resized in Photoshop Elements

Enlarged with Photoshop Elements

I don’t see much difference. 

You can also use Big Photo to reduce the size of an image and you can set specified dimensions.  It’s a Keeper for me!

Slow Shutter! app price drop – temporarily FREE (from $1.99)

Click on the image below to get it while it’s FREE!

Slow Shutter!

Mar 23, 2013

The Exquisite Artistry of Joo-Expo

JolanScrolling through the Instagram gallery of @joo_expo is more like strolling through the aisles of a fine art museum.  With their rich textures, her images at first glance, could be mistaken for oil paintings. 

I so wish I had command over other languages so I could communicate better with people around the world.  Jolan admitted it was difficult for her to express her feelings when she’s not speaking her mother tongue.  Luckily, her photographs speak all languages.  I am so pleased to present her work here. 

© joo_expo

© joo_expo
Fog hiding behind the trees (above)

Geri:  What is your name and where do you live?
Jolan:  My name is Jolan, better known as Joo and I live in the Netherlands in the area called “de Veluwe”. 

Geri:  Do you have a traditional photography or art background?
Jolan:  Yes, I have an art background.  I used to be an art therapist and therefore I studied among other things art history and color theory.

© joo_expo
Portrait 4 (above)

© joo_expo
Treeline (above)

© joo_expo
Poppies (above)

Geri:  How long have you been creating mobile art with your phone?
Jolan:  Just a year…I got a mobile phone with a camera for work. Before I had a simple phone for texting and calling and nothing more. With this new phone I could take pictures anywhere and anytime.  It opened a new world for me!

Geri:  Who or what inspires your work?
Jolan:  Nature is my inspiration!  I love the colors of the seasons and when I combine nature and color, I can create a whole new world with a new feel and mood.  I am blessed to live in beautiful surroundings with forests and fields where I can see a lot of sky and clouds!  It gives me so much energy and creativity, there's so much to see nearby or faraway.

© joo_expo
Green meets red (above)

© joo_expo

© joo_expo
Dandelion (above)

Geri:  Your work is full of rich textures.  Do you create your own, or is this done with apps?
Jolan:  When I paint, I make my own textures, but I use apps to create them in my photo works. 

Geri:  What are some of your favorite apps?
Jolan:  My most favorite is Snapseed!  Second best for me is Xnview Photo FX.  I can’t forget Pixlr-o-matic which was my first app and it is the one that created my enthusiasm!  It creates so many possibilities – it took a while before I found my own personal style.

© joo_expo
For those whom I love (above)

© joo_expo
Stairway to nowhere (above)

© joo_expo

Geri:  Please share a little about your editing process.
Jolan:  I edit on my iPad but before that I have to take a picture...sometimes I think I have little cameras in my eyes...they take the picture before my phone does.  On my iPad I always search for the right balance between color and's an intuitive process and it is never the same. I jump from app to app and when the process is finished most of the time I can't remember all the steps it took to create a new work.  It's much like making a painting, it's a process not a plan.

Geri:  Have you ever exhibited your work?  If not, do you have any plans to do so.
Jolan:  I have exhibited my paintings but never my photographs.  I'd love to, but I think it's a bit too early.  There is still so much to learn and discover...maybe in the future, I hope so!!!

© joo_expo
white, soft and warm (above)

© joo_expo
Oostende, Belgium (above)

© joo_expo

Geri:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Jolan:  Instagram and mobile photography have given my creativity a boost!  I am grateful for that!

© joo_expo
Moonlight (above)

Thank you Jolan for sharing your work with us!  You can view more of her work and connect with Jolan here:
Instagram / Website / Twitter

All images in this feature are copyrighted property of @joo_expo published on iART CHRONiCLES with the consent of the artist. 

Featured Mobile Artists

Mar 22, 2013

Security Risk for Apple users

Do you have an Apple ID and/or iCloud account?  Your account passwords could be changed with only your email address and date of birth!

Update:  Apple has fixed the issue, but it’s still a great idea to sign up for the two-step verification. 

Here is the link to sign up for two-step verification on your Apple account to make sure it’s secure.  It took me about 3 minutes to sign up.

Secure Your Account

Friday Favorites–Week No. 28

Here again with a few of my favorite edits for the week.  I really wish I had more time to do some tutorials – so much planned and so little time! 

© Geri Centonze

App RecipeDead Yourself, DeForMe, Photo Studio FX, Snapseed, Image Blender 

© Geri Centonze

Horror (above)

App RecipeHipstamatic, Effexy, Bad-Camera, Vintage Scene, Image Blender, Repix, Snapseed, Title FX

Now that I have your attention on to more serious photos!

 © Geri Centonze

The Greeting (above)

App RecipeCamera Awesome, Effexy, Photo Studio FX, Snapseed, TouchRetouch, Bad-Camera

© Geri Centonze

Uncertainty (above)

App RecipeCamera Awesome, Portray, Sketch Club, Distressed FX 

© Geri Centonze

Watcher (above)

App RecipeCamera Awesome, Snapseed, Bokeh Lens, Noir Photo FX, MonoVu, Title FX, Repix 

© Geri Centonze

The Chocolatier (above)

App RecipeCamera Awesome, Snapseed, Vegetable Me, Glaze, Sketch Club, Photo Copier, Laminar Pro 

© Geri Centonze

Heisenberg (above)

App RecipeHipstamatic, Bad-Camera, PictureShow, Snapseed 

© Geri Centonze

Introspection (above)

App RecipeHipstamatic, Glaze, Photo Studio FX, Snapseed, Sketch Club

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