Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dance With Joy So Sincere


Break the chains that tie me here
Solace in my lucid self,
I dance with joy so sincere,
Heavens sigh as if to cheer.
~Roberta Murray

For this week's Photo Art Friday, the theme is "vintage". I used a photo I took of my daughter in her pointe shoes and tried to make it look very old. I started with Bonnie's "Scratched Lens" texture (Color Burn/67%), which is so pretty and a new favorite of mine. I also selectively added a crackle texture with a reverse layer mask. Radlab was very helpful for this one - it has several filters that make your image look wonderfully aged (especially Grandma's Tap Shoes and Maple).

Dance has such a special place in my heart - it has been my daughter's passion since she was a little girl. I have so many memories of recitals, competitions, and endless hours spent at her dance was our second home for ten years. Her dance classmates were like sisters, and her teachers were like a second family. She still performs with a college dance group...I'm glad she continues to make this thing she loves a part of her life!

Original image:

Photo Art Friday

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Iphoneography: Percolator App

Percolator app - iphoneography

Percolator app - iphoneography

Percolator app - iphoneography

Percolator app - iphoneography

Percolator app - iphoneography

My love of mobile photography of my favorite apps right now is Percolator. I've had it for a couple weeks and can't stop playing with it. Percolator is an app that transforms your photos into "dazzling multicolor mosaics" (as stated at their website HERE). The circle shapes created give a very modern look to your images. I found their blog and a post there where they offer a tutorial that describes in pretty good detail how the app HERE to see it. I thought I'd talk about a few of my own discoveries with this app...all made simply by trial and error!

Basically, there are three main categories within Percolator that allow you to alter your image: Grind, Brew, and Serve. Each of these three categories has sub-categories that allow you to make further choices on how your image will be altered.

The Grind category allows you to choose how dramatically the circles will overtake your image...the larger the circle, the less detail in your image. I tend to use Fine or Extra Fine because it maintains a lot of the original detail. Once you choose which grind you like, you can tap on the arrow to the right of that grind and the sub-category will open up. This is where you can further choose the size of your circles, and also their effect. Again, I tend to use the Smallest circle size to keep the detail...but, it depends on the look you're trying to achieve. As for Effect, I haven't played with that much and tend to keep it on Auto Adjust. There are several options in Effect that allow your to sharpen, saturate, etc. It's just a matter of experimenting to see what you like.

The Brew category affects the appearance of the circles themselves...depending on your choice, they'll look brighter, duller, more distinct, etc. I tend to use Rings and Treble the most...and another fantastic option within this category is "Full of Stars", which transforms all the lines of your photo into white lines on a solid black background with stars throughout (like a midnight sky filled with constellations). It's striking on its own, but I discovered that if I use the Blender app and layer a "Full of Stars" image over the original (or the original processed in a separate app), I can come up with some lovely results. That's how I achieved the finished results for my ipod, chairs, and coffee mug images above. The coffee mug image was achieved using a "full of stars" Percolator image layered (using Blender) over the same image processed in Glaze, which is a painterly effect app.

The Serve category affects the coloring/tone of your, light & sweet, soy, etc. If you tap the arrow and go into the sub-category, you can then further choose both Tone and Texture. It's just a matter of playing around with each one and seeing how it affects the look of your image. Nothing is permanent until you tap the heart icon and save. I have tended to stick with Black for my Serve choice.

If anyone's wondering how I achieved the bright colors in most of my images above, I got those by first processing my image in iColorama S. I use Flated under the Style section - there are six options to choose from, and I always use 2, 3, or 5 because they dramatically change the colors in your image. I play with the opacity sliders until I get a colorful look I like. I save it to my camera roll, and from there I put it into Percolator and start having fun! I think the bold, unrealistic colors are a really good match for the modern mosaics that Percolator gives you.

I hope I've given you a feel for how fun this app is (and its amazing creative potential). I highly recommend it - it costs $1.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad. If you'd like to see more of my Instagram photos, I'm sherribrannon.

Example of "Full of Stars" effect:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Every Poem is a Word-Soaked Petal


This week's Photo Art Friday theme is "connect/connection". I chose a photo I took last fall of some flowers in my neighbor's yard. I used Bonnie's new free texture "Scratched Lens", which is absolutely gorgeous! The colors are beautiful and I will use this one often. I blended it twice - once at Saturation/100% and again at Darken/100%. I then used Poster Edges/47% on just the flowers to make them stand out a little better (using a reverse layer mask). Several swipes through Radlab, and I was happy with how it looked. The original flowers are beautiful, but I like the end results of my playing, and the lovely white and soft colors that I ended up with.

My connection to both poetry and mother nature is a powerful thing in my life...nature is present in every poem I write. Poetry is truly is filled with soul. It's the key ingredient, like sunshine is to a flower. And like a flower, it grows from a rooted and deep place...the emotions of it are like delicate and fragile petals. It needs tending to thrive...harsh elements like brain and ego will cause it to shrivel and die.


You find me here
One single flower
Under towering trees
Memories tossing me
Like the wind

I bow to the earth
That gives me life
From seed, to sprout,
To rooted thoughts
Unfolding safely

And every poem is a
Word-soaked petal
Blooming silky soft
A scented soul thought
Flowing smoothly
From the stem.

© Sherri Brannon

Original photo:

Photo Art Friday

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Cup of Water and A Crust of Bread

winter light

winter light

winter light

The simplicity of winter has a deep moral. The return of nature, after such a career of splendor and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not lost either upon the head or the heart. It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread. ~John Burroughs

Winter is like a blank canvas...the colors are missing, and it's up to us to find them elsewhere and create our own picture. We must turn inward and find the vibrancy we're searching for. For this reason, it's the most challenging of the seasons, I think. Mother nature strips away the distractions and we find ourselves in a more contemplative and stark state...we must search inside for our colors. And sometimes they hide from us! So we seek, we ruminate, we gather up what colors we can...and we wait. Meanwhile, thank goodness for the sun's offers some brightness to an otherwise drab landscape.

Winter creates a gratefulness about nature's colors...when they're taken away, we can't wait for them to come back again! With spring's first blossom, our spirits blossom, too.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Right Lighting

Love star

"The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers—of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity—to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply." ~Susan Cain, from Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I love this speaks to me deeply as a person (and an introvert!). I may not always be the best at solving problems, but I am passionate about making art and thinking deeply. These are two things I can't help but do - it's embedded in me at a molecular level. How about you? What is your "best lighting"? Whatever it is, stand in it and own it...that one thing you love is what makes you a star.

The above image is from the latest lesson in the Beyond Beyond class I'm taking (via Kim Klassen)...I'm starting the very slow process of learning a manual camera. I borrowed my husband's Canon and played with f-stops for this lesson. I adore my trusty point-and-shoot Lumix, but am enjoying trying to figure out how a manual camera works. I have so much to steps!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dreaming of Spring


I'm dreaming of spring...for this week's Photo Art Friday, I used one of my Instagram photos I took during our last snow. I added in a snowflake shape (three times) and then used the watercolor effect in PSE (at 20%) to unify the image and bring everything together. I layered a blue ombre texture over the image twice, once at Overlay/100% and once at Hue/100%. I then finished it up in Radlab to brighten and/or sharpen areas.

I'm feeling encouraged by the lengthening days...there's still some lingering light left at 6pm here in Virginia. And our daffodils are bursting through the ground, too - I hope they'll be OK. Happy Valentine's Day to you!


With footsteps
Quiet as snow
I look down
At winter's white lace
A cloying coverlet
Laying its silence
Like a frigid shroud
Over spring's flowers
Smothering pale roots
In place

I search inside
For some memories
Dipping my cupped hands
Into glimpses of sunny days
And my soul flies
With dreamy eyes
Along soft trails
Of white-cupped daisies
Smoldering in the heat
Of August's rays

If only for a moment
Winter's chill
Falls from my heart
Like bitter glass
Pointy snowflakes
Blue from the moon
Melting tenderly
Spilling away and
Shimmering against
Sunlight on my face.

© Sherri Brannon

Original photo:

Photo Art Friday

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Iphoneography: PaintFX and iColorama S

iphone pitcher final results

Two camera apps I'm really enjoying with my mobile photography are Paint FX and iColorama S. Paint FX allows you to add filters, textures, and effects to only parts of your image if you so desire - with just a touch of your finger on the screen. It costs $1.99. iColorama S is one my favorite apps and I use it almost every day. It allows you to get very creative with your photos. There are many different filters and artistic effects that you can use with just a tap of your finger, and each option offers opacity sliders so you can reduce the effect to your liking. There's still a lot I'm learning about this app as I go. It also costs $1.99. I thought I'd share a phone image I processed using these two apps.

1) I started out with a very plain photo I took of a pitcher that I situated on top of a large piece of white watercolor paper (first photo below).

2) I put the image into Paint FX and chose one of their web texture offerings - it was a warm, neutral tan color. Using my finger, I added in the texture only to the background (second photo below) took a few minutes, but the zoom feature is wonderful and allowed me to carefully fill in the areas (and there's also an erase tool so that I could remove any texture that accidentally overlapped onto my pitcher).

3) I moved my image into iColorama S. I went to Colors and chose "Enhance", and then I went to Adjust and played with the "Saturation" sliders until I was happy. I went to Styles and chose "Painterly", Option 3, and used the opacity slider to adjust it to my liking. I chose option #6 in the Glass section (under FX Effects). I adjusted the opacity slider way down until the glass shapes were small but still added visual interest to my image. This option is what gives the "lacy floral" effect.

4) I also added a border to this image, but unfortunately I don't remember which app I used...I forgot to make a note of that (oops). The final step was moving it into Instagram, where I chose the Mayfair filter because it added a little extra pop.

I was thrilled when this photo was chosen by Paint FX as one of their photos of the week - it made my day! And there you have it - another iphone creation. I'll have more to share next week when I talk about another new app I'm loving: Percolator. Thank you for stopping by! If you'd like to follow me, I'm sherribrannon on Instagram.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stealers of Sunlight

abstract dandelion

"The world’s materiality at dawn – and the soul’s frailty." ~Adam Zagajewski

For this week's Photo Art Friday, Bonnie challenged us to create an abstract piece of digital art by using two of her textures (one of them being her Dropped Petals texture), and also adding one or two additional elements into our image. This was a fun challenge and required some thinking...once again I enjoyed trying to create an image based on a poem I wrote last week. I started with a photo I took of a dandelion weed. I used Bonnie's "Dropped Petals" (Multiply/100%) and "Golden Bokeh" (Screen/68%) textures, and then I found an image of a flying crow in the Creative Commons area of Flickr. I incorporated the crow into my image, and also used the "cutout" artistic effect in PSE (Normal/68%) to make the image look much more abstract. I also brought out the detail of the dandelion by using a reverse layer mask and the poster edges effect (Normal/100%). I used a soft brush and a reverse layer mask to turn some of the "light shapes" a yellow color.

The crows in my poem, for me, are symbolic of the fears and anxieties we all feel as human beings...both of these things drain us. They're ruthless in their desire to steal away our joy, just like those shrewd crows. I try my hardest not to let them rob me of my sunlight!


Daylight arrives
With its magic scissors
Cutting light shapes
That fall lackadaisical
Onto trees, souls,
And a lonely field
Strips of sunlight
Exposing wrenched roots
Illuminating the brown grass
Where every wild dandelion
Once grew

Join me here by my river
Come sit with me a spell
Where I daydream of summer
While the crows
Keenly whistle
Perhaps they're night's
soldiers? Stealers of sunlight
And hoarders of colors
Thank God they can't spy
My soulful confessions
My memory's holy cells.

© Sherri Brannon

Original photo:

Photo Art Friday

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Have a Heart, February

have a heart

have a heart

have a heart

"February, month of despair, with a skewered heart in the centre." ~Margaret Atwood

Don't worry, I'm not in despair...but I do think February is that one month of the winter when it seems it'll never end...the holidays are a distant memory, the landscape is bleak, the days are freezing cold, and spring is still far enough away that it seems it'll never get here. I feel a bit sorry for February - I think it's probably the least appreciated month of the year. It doesn't even get the standard 30-day minimum that all the other months are allotted! Poor February doesn't get a lot of love, so it's ironic that the "love holiday" falls in this month.

I stuck a tissue paper heart to my window with a piece of Scotch tape as an iPhone photo op idea - it gave me several nice images. I left the heart up there to make me smile when I see's a cheerful reminder that spring will one day arrive. Be gone, February!

Camera app notes: For the bokeh in the first photo, I used Picfx. For the text, I used Over. For the white border in the second photo, I used PixlrExpress PLUS (Pattern Borders section).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Abandoned Prison Photos - Final Set

Abandoned prison grounds Lorton, VA

Abandoned prison grounds Lorton, VA

Abandoned prison grounds Lorton, VA

Abandoned prison grounds Lorton, VA

Abandoned prison grounds Lorton, VA

Abandoned prison grounds Lorton, VA

Abandoned prison grounds Lorton, VA

Abandoned prison grounds Lorton, VA

"Time goes, you say? Ah no!
Alas, Time stays, we go."
~Henry Austin Dobson

I thought I'd share one last set of my abandoned prison photos from Lorton, Virginia. If you'd like to see Parts 1 through 3, click HERE, HERE and HERE. I hope to go back again next fall and capture some more images. It was a lot of fun looking for different textures and perspectives...and the overgrowth of ivy and wildflowers throughout was very beautiful, too.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Iphoneography: Favorites of the Week

iphone photo

iphone photo

iphone faux snow

iphone photo

iphone photo

I thought I'd share a handful of my favorite iphone photos from the past week, and mention some of the camera apps I used for processing.

For my self-portrait photo, I achieved the split frame appearance with Filter Mania 2 (Elune filter). At some point I turned it black and white, but I don't remember which filter I used - there are so many! For the outer frame (which looks like torn paper), and the added floral decoration in the corners, I used Pixlr Express PLUS (which is free!)...they have tons of cool frames to choose from. The flowers are found in the "pattern" frame section.

For the photo of my art space, I used Snapseed for my basic editing. This is my go-to editing app, and it's free! I then used the fantastic Afterglow app, which I love for its subtle filters and awesome textures (more on that below). I use this app every day and am so glad I discovered it.

For my "faux snow" photo, I achieved the look of falling snow by once again using the Afterglow app. I first used Texture #22 to start getting the look of snow. The trick is to apply this texture repeatedly so that the appearance of snow dramatically increases...if you only apply it once or twice, the snow will be barely visible. This app also allows you to rotate the texture, which I did each time. I actually applied the #22 texture about 8 times in this image to get the look of heavy snow. The final step I took was to go to the Original filter section and apply the "frost" texture. This filter lightens the image considerably, which makes the snow stand out. I can't take credit for this wonderful technique - I learned about it from dogsitter80 on Instagram. Her IG photos are wonderful and she has inspired me with her creative processing.

For my focus photo, I used the Photo FX app, which I absolutely love. I has beautiful color filters (the Grads/Tints section) and I use it often to change the color of my skies in photos. If you have a photo with a dreary gray sky, you can do magical things with this app - the sky can be made to look lavender, coral, or a gorgeous cyan blue (and many other colors, too). For this photo, I like that it added a bit of color to an otherwise drab photo. For the text, I used the Swipe swipe your finger across your iphone screen to determine where the font will appear. You can also situate your text at any angle you choose, which is a really nice feature. I was able to line my word up with the angle of the lines on the street.

For my final image of the trees, I first put the photo into iColorama S and used the painterly option (I believe it was option 2) to bring out the tree limbs slightly. I brought the opacity slider way down to make the painterly effect very doing this, it simply accentuates the tree branches. I then put my image into an amazing app called Distressed FX, another new favorite. It has many distressed textures (and more subtle overlays) to choose from. It gives your image a very handpainted/mixed media/collage-like appearance. I love it!

If you haven't taken many photos with your iphone camera, I highly recommend it. It's a whole new world of fun and creativity. The possibilities are endless, but be forewarned - it's addicting! My instagram name is sherribrannon - please click on my name if you'd like to see more of my iphone photos. Thanks for stopping by! Iphoneography is something I like a lot, so writing about it will be an occasional feature on my blog. In no way am I an expert, but I enjoy writing about my happy discoveries while playing!