5 pre-digital photo tricks and the apps to make them today
The Picture Show photography blog has rounded up series of photographs that were taken and edited before the age of Photoshop. The images feature surreal composites that prove that photographers were pushing the limits of their tools even in the “good ol’ days.”
The article written by Claire O’Neil and accompanying radio story from the American National Public Radio show "All Things Considered," frames the images in the context of what viewers expected from photographs in the past and present. Today, many people assume the commercial photographs we see are digitally edited to remove all imperfections, while we attach a sense of honesty to darkroom days of old.
O’Neil instead argues: “In a sense, people have always kind of known that photography isn't entirely truthful. In the earliest days, some manipulation was certainly tolerated, if not preferred.”
The images chosen by NPR from the Metropolitan Museum’s “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop” exhibit are not those usually associated with analog image manipulation—there are no beheaded subjects and only one political “changing history” example. Instead, NPR chose images that seem to prove that photographers enjoyed manipulating photos for the sake of art, composition and fun, long before software made it commonplace.
While looking through the showcased images, one can't help but wonder how much time was put into these photographs. It's easy to imagine the creators sweating in a chemical-filled darkroom, adjusting and readjusting the images to make them perfect, only to display the finished product to a handful of people in their homes or maybe in an art gallery. Today, the same effects can be done in seconds using a mobile app and shared instantly with the entire world. What modern mobile image editors could be used to make similar photographic illustrations today?
1. Man In a Bottle c. 1888/Image Blender (iOS)
This image by J.C. Higgins and Son was created in around 1888. You can bet it took far more work than if they'd used the super easy Image Blender ($2.99) app for iPhone.
2. Max Ernst, 1946/Canvas Pro (Android)
This image by Frederick Sommer shows a man immersed in the texture of a wall. The effect is gorgeous, thought provoking and could today be done in a few swipes with the $2.99 Canvas Pro app for Android.
3. Io + gatto (Cat + I), 1932 / Double Exposure Pro (iOS)
That’s right. A selfie and a cat photo in 1932—further proof that the Internet is only a stage for our natural tendency towards self indulgence and pet idolatry. Wanda Wulz’s image of her face and a cat’s face was made by combining her self portrait with a photo of her cat. (Both images can be seen separately here.) You can make your own with the $1.99 Double Exposure app for iOS.
4. Leap into the Void, 1960 / Photoshop Touch (iOS/Android)
Levitation photography has seen quite a bit of popularity recently in mobile photography but the effect can also be found in older images. This image by Yves Klein, Harry Shunk and Jean Kender was created by stitching together two negatives—one of the man jumping into a tarpaulin and one of the empty scene. (Read the full story here.) Similar effects can be quickly created using the $4.99 Photoshop Touch app for both iOS and Android.
5. The Pond — Moonrise, 1904 / Sketch Camera (Windows Phone 8) and Fantastia Painter (Windows Phone 8)
This image by Edward Steichen is intended to look like a painting. By using the technique of multiple printing, this photo of a pond was transformed into a dreamy vision of nature. (Read the Met’s description here.) Windows Phone 8 users can achieve a similar result by combining the effects of the $1.49 Sketch Camera app with the layering tools of Fantasia Painter.
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Before he became the iconic director whose name we've all heard, a teenage Stanley Kubrick struck up a business relationship with New York’s Look magazine. No surprise: he was an incredibly talented photographer.
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Photographer Clay Cook tells the story of his most ambitious photographic dream and career goal coming true: photographing A-list actress Jennifer Lawrence.
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A month and a half after revealing the finalists of the 2017 EyeEm Awards, the photo sharing community and licensing marketplace has finally revealed the winners.
Photographer Josselin Cornou tells the breathtaking story behind two beautiful photos captured while snorkeling with humpback whales in Tonga.
The Sony RX10 IV is a fixed lens camera with a 1"-type sensor and 24-600mm equivalent lens that can shoot 4K video or stills at 24 fps, but that's not what we think is interesting about it. The addition of phase detection autofocus is pivotal to all those features.
The announcement date is set! Google will reveal their next generation Pixel phones—their response to Apple's shiny new iPhone X—on October 4th. Let the smartphone camera wars begin.
Sony just debuted three palm-style 4K camcorders that steal a bit of speedy phase detect autofocus technology from the company's RX10 IV. In fact, they kind of improve on it.
Earlier today, NASA's Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn's atmosphere, ending a 20 year long mission. Here are 21 of our favorite photographs captured by this incredible machine and its makers.
Fans of film photography should keep an eye out for the widespread theatrical release of Kodachrome, a movie staring Jason Sudeikis about the final days of the iconic film stock.
Photographer Manny Ortiz breaks down the pros and cons of shooting natural light vs off-camera flash, and explains why he chooses to shoot one, the other, or both in any given situation.
A leaked product page and a bunch of leaked photos shows Profoto is preparing to release its first ever speedlight: the Profoto A1 Air TTL
The Yashica camera brand disappeared in 2003, but a new teaser video and website hint at a comeback. Excited?
Western Digital just debuted a new, higher capacity WD Gold internal hard drive. The new drive offers 12TB of storage and class-leading reliability to the tune of a 550TB/year workload rating.
The new Godox XPRO-C is an affordable, highly capable flash trigger for Canon users that boasts a lot of useful features at a very reasonable price.
Tamron is working on a lightweight, durable and compact 100-400mm tele-zoom lens that will be available for Canon and Nikon cameras by the end of the year.
The Nikon D850 promises equal parts resolution and speed. On a trip to Bend, Oregon, we had the chance to try it out with fashion, sports, landscapes, and more. Check out our updated sample gallery to see how it fared.