Extension Of The I

Extension of the I with Alexey Tsyganok – A Very Talented Amateur iPhone Photographer

Welcome to another new series of interviews and insights that we are running on theappwhisperer.com. This new section, entitled, Extension Of The I, goes deeper into the photographic aspects of mobile photography. It delves into the lives and thoughts and influences that our artists experience from their photography. No other mobile photography website reaches the depths and emotions of the mobile photographers as we do in this new series of interviews.

We think you’re going to enjoy this, a lot. Today, we are featuring Alexey Tsyganok a 40 year old, mathematician by education who graduated at Moscow State University. For the past 19 years Alexey has been working in the investment banking industry. He is married and has three children. In his spare time Alexey enjoys iPhone photography, bridge and poker card games.

Read this exclusive interview with Alexey below…

We have included exif data, in as much as the app or apps that were used to create the final image. As some of the images were cross processed we have listed the apps in the sequential order they were used in the editing process, we have also provided links for each app to the iTunes App Store, just incase you’re inspired enough to try them out for yourself as well as accessories used.

You can find all the links at the end of this article.

(If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘Extension Of The I’ section, just send an email to [email protected], and we’ll get it set up)

So, without further ado, let us begin…

First Things First…


Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Minus 23 degrees". Apps used – Photoforge 2, Pro HDR, Camera+, Pixlr-o-matic, Phototoaster

JC – How did you get started in photography?

AT – Well, to be honest I have no idea what the start is… The first time I took a simple black and white film camera in my hands when I was like 10 years old. Then there was a long-long break for 20 years until I bought my DSLR. It was the time when the second stage began. And the third stage started when I got my first iPhone about two years ago. All stages were quite different in terms of equipment and processes but I must say that I never enjoyed photography as much as today with iPhone photography.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Typical Russian". Apps used – ArtistsTouch, Blender, Snapseed, Dynamic light, Pixlr-o-matic.

JC – Who and what are your influences?

AT – I am trying to stay apart from anything which can influence me. I am happy when I do something special (either because it actually is special or because I have no idea that someone did similar thing before). When I see the picture I love from other author I am easily influenced and not just think how it has been made but want to do something similar. And this is not something I regard as creative process.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Having Rest". Apps used – Sketchclub, Arcframe, Photostudio, Scratchcam, Autopainter 2, decim8, Spica, DXP, Fluid fx, Juxtaposer, Superimpose, Blur fx, Camera+, Pixlr-o-matic.

JC – What draws you to the subjects you seek?

AT – Normally I do not seek for something particular. You just have your phone with you all the time and sometimes you want to take it out and snap a picture.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "The Delicate Lightness". Apps used – Photostudio, Tiny Planet.

JC – What is it about these subjects that you want to capture/communicate and ultimately convey in your images?

AT – I must admit that in most cases I have no idea which story the image will tell at the moment I snap the picture (if any at all). I think this is because in iPhone photography you "don’t take the picture, you make it". When you pass your image through different apps, normally the idea just comes to you at certain point and then you know what to do.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Retrieving music from space". Apps used decim8, Snapseed, Juxtaposer, Scratchcam.


JC – How did you ‘settle’ on this subject?

AT – Let me give you the wild example illustrating what I mean. Above are two pictures – the one I took and the one I made out of it. It is not necessarily such dramatic each time but to certain extent I am always ready for such transformations. Let the picture somehow express itself.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Business center". Apps used Camera+, Dynamic Light, Pixlr-o-matic

JC – Is there another are/subject that you would like to explore, if so, what and why?

AT – I do not think there is particular subject in terms of photography. Definitely I will try to capture everything which looks interesting or nice to me and later will try to do something with it.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "The Mathematical Desert". Juxtaposer, Big Lens, Photostudio, DXP, Phototoaster

JC – Which photographers (not necessarily mobile photographers) do you most admire and why?

AT – As I said before I am easily getting under the influence in photography and this is the reason why I do not closely follow works of other photographers. But there are several definitely great masters which works I love. I can recommend Alexey Ovsyannikov (aka want.snow http://www.flickr.com/photos/wantsnow/with/7289041722/) and Yuriy Leskiv (aka Hochlander http://www.flickr.com/photos/hochlander_stream/with/7258222698/) They both combine unique creativity and brilliant processing techniques.

Street Photography…


Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Walking together". Apps used – Filterstorm, Pixlr-o-matic, Photostudio, Pic fx, Snapseed, Moku Hanga.

JC – Henri Cartier-Bresson is in many ways, the Godfather of street photography, even in the 1930’s he enjoyed using a small camera for discretion in order to capture people and tell a story – do you feel this way regarding mobile photography?

AT – Not really. Well, the phone in some cases is very convenient for discreet shooting and I love to have my iPhone sitting in the pocket with lenses open for shooting, but for me it is rather not the "story capturing device". I prefer to capture objects which later will tell the story I’d like them to tell.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "And then I told him…". Apps used – Phototoaster, Juxtaposer, Decim8.

JC – Tell us about your photographic technique – do you rely on intuition or do you believe in a more formal/trained approach?

AT – The history of humanity is the history of transformation from the art to the craft. Art is the thing about intuition and the craft is about formal and trained approach. I would prefer to be on the art side and be driven by intuition rather than trained skills. It does not mean that techniques you learn do not help – it helps and helps a lot, but it helps more in terms of time you spend on particular image. I love to make each picture in its own style and I intend not to repeat myself as long as possible.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "The petrel". Snapseed, Dynamic Light, Juxtaposer.

JC – How has your photography evolved?

AT – I have no idea =) When I look at pictures I was glad to make half a year ago, I often think that they are not good enough and today I would make them the other way. So probably it means that some kind of evolution has its place.

All For One…


Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "The Young Soldier". Photostudio, Autopainter 2, Decim8, Scratchcam, Snapseed

JC – Many of the great photographers, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier Bresson described only shooting images for “themselves”do you see this attitude with mobile photographers?

AT – Yes, I think so. For sure you always want to share what you like yourself, but first of all you do it for yourself. I believe, it is applicable to all art, not just photography.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "The Vanishing Wall". Picgrunger, Spica, Filterstorm, Photoforge 2, Pro HDR, Camera+, Photostudio, Image Blender.

JC – Do you take risks with photographs, push boundaries? If yes, please give examples, if no, why not, would you like to?

AT – If you mean whether I like to make unusual pictures – yes, I do. Sometimes I feel I need to add some fun to the picture, sometimes I want to put some contradiction in – like add the water reflection where it could not happen or exchange the sky and the road.

Favorite Image…


Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "The flexible reality". Apps used Camera+, Decim8, Filterstorm, Snapseed.

JC – What is your favorite picture, of your own and why?

AT – It is hard to choose, honestly! I guess this one is the favorite one. Why? As usual because of the mood it creates – I feel calm and and happy when I look at it. It could be very personal, but that is what I feel.

Emotional Involvement…


Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "This is how it works". Apps used – Filterstorm, juxtaposer, phototoaster.

JC – Do you get emotionally involved with your photography?

AT – Undoubtedly. What makes the picture good? The emotional answer. Could you make something that creates the emotional answer without being emotionally involved?




Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Aura of London". Apps used – Frontview, Photoforge 2, Pro HDR, Juxtaposer, Filterstorm, Superimpose, Decim8, Blender, DXP, Phototoaster, Watermyphoto

JC – Does your life become entwined with your subjects?

AT – Not really considering how I regard my subjects…



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Afimall shopping center". Apps used – Photoforge 2, Camera+, Photostudio, Image Blender, Juxtaposer, Phototoaster.

JC – Do you have a digital workflow system to sort your images, if so what is it?

AT – No, not really. I will think about using one after the first thousand of pictures created.

Post-Production (Processing)…


Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Fetishist’s dream". Apps used Camera+, Toonpaint, ArtistaOil, ArtistaHaiku, Autopainter 2, Blur fx, Blender, Phototoaster

JC – Do you have a special processing style?

AT – Well, I would not say so. More than that – at present time I do not want to have the particular style at all. I think the ‘style’ is something that limit you and I am far from the full exploration of possibilities which iPhoneography gives.

Tips for Processing…


Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "The birth of black hole in Big Andronic Collider". Apps used – Photoforge 2, Pro HDR, Camera+, Pixlr-o-matic, Touch Retouch, Juxtaposer, Blur fx, iawesomizer, Lenslight.

JC – Do you have any tips for processing?


AT –

1. Always control the picture size. A lot of applications try to reduce your picture and this is definitely not something what you are looking for! Sometimes you even have to avoid using the app which provides the necessary effect and have to replicate it with a difficult process in several apps just because it is the only way to protect the size of the picture.

2. Try combining effects from different applications. What if you first sketch the picture and then apply oil panting effect? Or blend original picture with the dramatic B&W version in different blending modes? Or invert the picture, apply some of the painting effects and then invert it back? For sure not in all cases there will be something really interesting, but sometimes it works.

3. Almost always start processing with applying pseudo HDR (I use Photoforge 2 + Pro HDR) or Str8hdr process (Dynamic light + Snapseed + Photo FX + Iris). In most cases it is the right first step in processing.

4. Always remember that if you like one part of the picture after applying special effect and do not like the other, you can always combine layers with filterstorm or superimpose to get the part you want and to avoid what you do not want.

5. Always run the picture through apps which have a lot of different effects (like pixlromatic, Photostudio or decim8). Sometimes looking at results you can find the original idea how to make your picture.



Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Russian Academy of Sciences". Apps used – Decim8, Blender, ArtistaOil, Camera+.

JC – How do you think photography has changed over the years?

AT – The main thing is that professional processing technics became easily available for a lot of people. Being the amateur photographer 30 years ago meant you were actually limited by shooting places you have been to and your relatives and friends. Just for dusty photo albums. Nowadays even a 10-year old can create arty image in just seconds. I have no idea how it can evolve more than now…

35mm Film Days…


Copyright Image Alexey Tsyganok – "Boring London". Apps used – Photostudio, Pixlromatic.

JC – As a mobile photographer you’re at the cutting edge of technology, do you ever hanker for the 35mm film days?

AT – Not really. I am happy to see the result immediately after the snap and not to deal with chemicals in the dark room anymore.

Featured Apps with links…


Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website— TheAppWhisperer.com— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said. Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London. Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - TheAppWhispererPrintSales.com has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art. Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK. She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: [email protected]