A Day In The Life Of Rad Drew – A Highly Creative And Professional iPhone Photographer
Welcome to our very exciting new column on theappwhisperer.com. This section entitled ‘A day in the life of …’ and this is where we’ll be taking a look at some hugely influential, interesting and accomplished individuals in the mobile photography world. People that we think you will love to learn more about.
This is our fortieth installment of the series, you can read the others here if you have missed them so far. Today we are featuring Rad Drew. For most of his life, Rad has had a camera close by. His love of photography took him to Indiana University where he studied fine art and earned a degree in Journalism, with an emphasis in photography. During his years at IU, Rad studied with acclaimed and distinguished photojournalists, John Ahlhouser and the late Will Counts.
Rad shot film with a 1972 Nikkormat FTN until only 8 years ago when he succumbed to the temptations of digital photography and began shooting with a Nikon DSLR. Since 2010 he has focused almost exclusively on creating art using iPhone cameras and the applications available for manipulating images on the iPhone and the iPad.
During the past year he has been part of a learning forum comprised of about 40 photographers ranging in experience from talented amateur to highly successful professional. Members of the group are dedicated to sharing their collective wealth of knowledge with each other in order to learn and advance the art form. Working among these extraordinary photographers, Rad has expanded his creative vision and developed his own unique style.
Rad enjoys sharing his knowledge of the iPhone and available applications with other photographers through presentations and workshops. His iPhone images have been chosen and exhibited in juried shows in locations across the country, and he is a regular contributor to the juried site, Pixels at an Exhibition.
A regular exhibitor at The Art Bank Gallery on Mass Ave, Rad’s work also may be seen this summer, at Hoaglins Café and Market, 448 Mass Ave, The Columbia Club on Monument Circle, Jackamo’s Pizza in Irvington, and Jacquie’s Café at 9840 N. Michigan Rd. in Carmel. His image, The Mask, recently exhibited at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (LACDA), and his book, In Good Light, Images of the Circle City, may be seen in the Nina Mason Pulliam Indianapolis Special Collections Room of the Indianapolis Public Library, also available on Blurb.com. Rad is currently collaborating on a book of images to benefit the tornado-stricken community of Henryville, Indiana, see here.
You can find all the links the the apps mentioned at the end of this article.
(If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘A day in the life of …’ section, just send an email to Joanne@theappwhisperer.com, and we’ll get it set up).
Check out the full interview below…
First Things First…
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Weeping Beach Fog’ – App used – Hipstamatic, Photoforge to sharpen
JC – Let’s start at the beginning of the day, how does your day start?
RD – Well, I have a day job, so my weekday mornings are the usual mundane getting ready for work. I do like to get up early and I’ve started taking a new route to work every day, just to see what I can see. Sometimes I shoot from my car or make unplanned stops on the way to work if something catches my eye.
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Room With View’ – Apps Used – ClearCam, Photoforge, Unsharpen mask, Dynamic Light Orton, Plastic Bullet, VintageScene
JC – When is your favorite part of the day for taking photographs, do you hanker for the magic hour or shoot whenever the opportunity arises?
RD – Well, of course the light of the golden hour in the morning and evening is special! But, I’ll shoot whenever there’s an opportunity. There are always things to see and capture at other times of the day as well. Sometimes harsh sunlight can work for you if you are looking for a high contrast B&W street shot, for example. And blue, cloudless sky looks great in a B&W image. Depending on the filter you use, you can turn the sky almost black, which can be a great result.
Photographer vs Mobile Photographer…
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Canal’ – Apps Used – Bracketmode, Autostitch, Photoforge, ArtistaSketch, Iris, Dynamic Light, PS Express, Pic Grunger
JC – How did the transition from traditional photographer to iPhone photographer develop? (pardon the pun)
RD – Photography has been in my blood most of my life. I have a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in photography and so have been shooting for a long time, using film. Early in my career, I developed my film and created images in the darkroom. I discovered the iPhone in the summer of 2010 and was immediately intrigued by its potential. I sought out traditional photographers on line who seemed to be embracing the iPhone (not all do, you know!) and I started asking questions. Eventually I was invited into a “secret” FaceBook group. The only “rule” was that when we posted an image, we shared how we did it, what apps we used, our process, etc. In this way we all learned from each other at a remarkably rapid rate! This is still today the very best group I belong to and I’ve become friends with many members of this group. We meet in different parts of the country occasionally and shoot together.
The main difference with mobile photography for me is that my eye is always on because my camera is nearly always with me. Since starting to shoot more with the iPhone, I see differently, and more. It’s become a habit. I’m nearly always conscious of the play of light and shadows on potential subjects, and I see things that I might have missed in the past. My mind is constantly translating, framing, and considering the possibilities of what I see and how I might shape an image with iPhone apps. I don’t always stop and shoot all I see, of course, but many times I do, and the results are often wonderful. The other major difference with iPhone work is that one doesn’t need to interrupt the creative process by waiting to get back to the big computer to download and process images. With the phone and the tools available, I often get into a rhythm of shooting and processing that is more confluent than the way I use my Nikon. I think in some ways, I’m more integral in the moment and more immersed in the creative process when I do iPhone work.
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Cardinal Scripture’ – Apps Used – Default Camera, Photoforge, Dynamic Light, Filterstorm
JC – Do you like to download new iPhone photography apps regularly?
RD – Oh, yes. My name is Rad and I’m an appaholic! I am constantly exploring new apps and downloading things that friends have used and shared. It’s a never ending process. Most of the time I purchase apps when they are recommended by friends or when I see an intriguing result. Rarely, I will decide to buy an app based solely on the description. Sometimes I’m pleased and sometimes not! The first thing I usually do is determine that an app will produce high res images, since I like to print my work.
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Cont Divide’ – Apps Used – BracketMode, AutoStitch, Photoforge, Filterstorm
JC – How often do you update your existing apps?
RD _ I update things as often as they are changed usually. Sometimes, if one of my go-to apps is available for update, I might ask around to learn if anyone has had any trouble after updating it. If they have, I may update it on only one phone. That way if there is a problem, I can still rely on the previous — and working — version of the app on another phone.
Location, Location, Location…
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Pink’ – Apps Used – ClearCam, Camera+, Photoforge, Percolator, Artista Oil, Filterstorm
JC – Where’s your favorite place in the world for a shoot?
RD – I think there’s something to be seen anywhere you go and anywhere you find yourself. Extensive world travel has not been possible for me in the past few years, and so, I’ve focused on capturing the beauty of my city and its people. I recently published a book of images, In Good Light, Images of the Circle City, which celebrates my fair city, Indianapolis. (My book was recently added to the Nina Mason Pulliam Indianapolis Special Collections Room of the Indianapolis Public Library.) Although Indianapolis is not typically known for its beauty relative to many other places in the world, if one is willing to look and be receptive, and see, the beauty is there in the environment and the people. A favorite haunt in my community is the Crown Hill Cemetery, one of the largest in the country, and full of wonderful headstones and magnificent trees, like the European Weeping Beech. In fact, if you set out to shoot these trees, it’s likely you’d come here because Indianapolis has some of the oldest and most beautiful specimens in the world.
Tools Of The Trade…
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Millennium Park’- Apps used – BracketMode, ProHDR, AutoStitch, Photoforge, FilterStorm, Artista Sketch, Iris, Dynamic Light – Orton effect, PSE, Pic Grunger
JC – Do you also use iPhone photography tool apps, such as The Photographer’s Ephemeris?
RD – I haven’t spent the $8.99 for the app, although I like the concept. I do sometimes use other apps such as LightTrac, or weather sites on-line to help know the precise time for sunrise and sunset.
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Mend Heights Church’ – Apps Used – BracketMode, Pro HDR, Autostitch, Photoforge, Filterstorm, Artista Sketch, Iris, Dynamic Light – Orton effect, PSE, Pic Grunger
JC – What are your favorite, at the moment, iPhone photography apps?
RD – My favorite app list is constantly evolving but the apps I use most frequently include Photoforge, Bracketmode, Autostitch, ClearCam, Dynamic Light, Image Blender, Filterstorm, VintageScene, ScratchCam, Pic Grunger, True HDR, Pro HDR, Plastic Bullet, PhotoStudio … There are so many! I love to combine the effects of multiple apps through blending and layering.
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘St Joan of Arc Church’ – Apps Used – Bracket Mode, ProHDR, AutoStitch, Photoforge, FilterStorm, Artista Sketch, Iris, Dynamic Light – Orton Effect, PSE, Pic Grunger
JC – Where do you like to upload your photographs? Flickr, Instagram?
RD – I put just about everything I do on several FaceBook sites. I have a blog (Totally Rad iPhone Creations) and will occasionally describe a process there with images, but I don’t post lots of images there as a rule.
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Fountain Sq Alley’ – Apps Used – Bracket Mode, Pro HDR, AutoStitch, Photoforge, Filterstorm, Artista Sketch, Iris, Dynamic Light – Orton Effect, PSE, Pic Grunger
JC – Do you take photographs with your iPhone every day?
RD – Yes, pretty much every day. That’s one of the wonderful things about the iPhone — it’s always with me! Before the iPhone, how many times did I say, “I wish I’d brought my camera!” I am always taking detours around town and making unplanned stops to shoot something. It’s also great to be able to process images while waiting in line at the grocery store or the doctor’s office. I no long mind waiting at all! I just process away!
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Bean’ – Apps Used – Bracket Mode, Pro HDR, AutoStitch, Photoforge, FilterStorm, Artista Sketch, Iris, Dynamic Light – Orton Effect, PSE, Pic Grunger
JC – What are your favorite subjects?
RD – Mostly I enjoying shooting landscapes, trees, and architecture. I often stitch multiple images together to create large vertical and horizontal panoramas of landscape scenes or buildings. I especially enjoy photographing decaying structures and abandoned sites that hold a sense of history. I love shooting people, but it is a skill area I’m working to develop. I’m very methodical, and most people don’t have the patience of say, trees, to put up with my pace! I’m working on that though.
Top Five Tips…
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Gotham’ – Apps Used – Default Camera, Photoforge
JC – What are your top five tips for iPhone photography?
First and foremost, have fun. Try new things. Remember the fundamentals of photography, but don’t be shackled by them! Some of the most engaging images I see are created by someone asking, “I wonder what would happen if…?” What if I combine the effects of these two filters with the original image in Blender? What if I turn this image upside down? What if I invert it and saturate it to the limits? And on and on… Know the rules but be prepared to twist, bend and break them!
Also, find a place to share your work. I’ve found that sharing my work is often very difficult… was in the beginning for sure! But by sharing my work, I’ve learned a lot about my creative capabilities and tendencies and also about the areas that I’d like to learn more about. Posting on social media sites is one way, but I also enjoy presenting themed exhibits of my work. Doing so has pushed me to new levels of quality in the way I present and display my creations. I have one friend who says it’s not really a work of art until you’ve printed it. What I hear in that is that to get it to be that presentable, you have to really see and achieve the final product in a way that merely posting doesn’t require.
I’d say also, include sharpening as part of your workflow. I was fortunate enough to learn from some very talented photographers who put a premium on the sharper image. I usually sharpen before I app an image and often sharpen after applying certain filters. I used to think; “Hey I’m doing all this apping, why should I bother to sharpen?” Well, it does make a difference!
I like to tone down the effect of certain filters. For example, I like the AutoPainter series of apps and the effects of Dynamic Light, but I often find that if I apply say the Van Gogh filter, to its maximum, it is just too much for the image. I will often blend that processed version back with the original to tone it down and get a more pleasing result.
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Desertwood’ – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Photoforge
JC – Do you edit images on your iPhone or do you prefer to do that on a desktop/laptop?
RD – The only work I do on my desktop computer is printing. For everything else, I use my iPhone and my iPad. As much as I like the extra real estate with the iPad, I still find that I process nearly everything on the iPhone. My eyes still allow that … most of the time! The other day I left the foot of my tripod in an image I posted. I just didn’t see it on the iPhone! No worries, though, everyone let me know!
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Succelent’ – Apps Used – Default Camera, Photoforge
JC – Do you enjoy videography with your iPhone?
RD – I do, but I don’t know at all what I’m doing. I recently created a video showing the process of taking a few images and combining them into a final abstract. It was fun and sort of worked, but it’s not something I’ve perfected by any means and have only shared very little.
The Future Of Mobile Photography…
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Breaking Out’ – Apps Used – Bracket Mode, Pro HDR, AutoStitch, Photoforge, FilterStorm, Artista Sketch, Iris, Dynamic Light – Orton Effect
JC – Where do you see the future of iPhone photography?
RD – Oh, man, it’s so hard to say. The technological landscape is changing so rapidly. I think the line between iPhone, iPad and desk top will blur as the hand-held devices become more powerful computers. We’re already seeing some apps that run on the iPhone, iPad and the Mac, and I think we’ll see a lot more of that in the future. I think that photography in general will simply become more mobile. It’s become less and less necessary to return to the technology cave to process and print. We’ll be able to do everything from wherever we are.
Copyright Image – Rad Drew -‘Three Pears’ – Apps Used – Olloclip macro lens, ClearCam, VintageScene, Photocopier (Rembrandt), Dynamic Light – Orton effect, Image Blender, FilterStorm to selectively sharpen stems, Pic Grunger, PhotoForge for final sharpen
JC – What do you think is the most popular area of iPhone photography?
RD – I’d have to say it’s the ability to process images so thoroughly and professionally on the phone or iPad. Powerful processing tools, combined with the mobility, have created this revolution in photography and that has increased the number of people who find this mode of expression possible … accessible, to them today. You used to have to be a real techno geek to be a good photographer. Today, some very sophisticated technology for processing images has been made accessible to those who are not so attracted to the under-the-hood technology, and there is some amazing fine art being created by people who may not have explored this mode of expression in the past.
Where In The World…?
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Bridge Over White River’ – Apps Used – Bracket Mode, AutoStitch, Camera+, Photoforge, Filterstorm
JC – Do you think it’s country specific, are some nations more clued up?
RD – I’m involved in a number of groups with iPhoneographers from around the world. I’m not aware of any one country that is more “cued-up,” but I do seem to have met a number of remarkable photographers lately who hail from Russia! Not sure what’s up with that, but it’s fun!
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Long Ago Far Away’ – Apps Used – ClearCam, Camera+, VintageScene, Lens Light, Plastic Bullet
JC – What do you hope for in the iPhone 5?
RD – Well, faster would be good. A larger screen would be good. Longer battery life would be good! Personally? I’d like to see a utility that will close all open apps at once. I’m notorious for opening dozens of things at a time until my phone will barely run! I then have to go through and close each app, one by one. I’d like a single “close all apps” button! Is that too much to ask?!
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Chapel’ – Apps used – Bracket Mode, AutoStitch, Photoforge, Dynamic Light, Artista Sketch, Image Blender
JC – What do you think of Joanne and theappwhisperer.com?
RD – Joanne is doing a great job of making TheAppWhisperer.com a valuable resource when it comes to learning what others are doing and learning about what’s new, and what new apps are coming. I’ve made checking the site part of my routine! It’s been fun learning about other photographers through the Day in the Life of series. Thanks for that and for this opportunity to participate.
Links To All Apps Used In This Article
Copyright Image – Rad Drew – ‘Fly Away’ – Apps Used – ClearCam, Photoforge, Image Blender, Filterstorm
Iris Photo Suite
Go get ’em, Rad-man!! Wow! Great images, great interview, and well deserved, my friend. Enjoy the “fame,” but be warned….it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be… ; )
Tony, thanks so much. Hope you know how much I appreciate you, your support, and your friendship!
Very good article and good thoughtful answers to the questions. I agreed with your iPhone sentiments Rad. It has been a pleasure for me to see and enjoy your work throughout the year…. Congratulations! and as Tony said very well deserved. Hugs Theresa
Thanks, Theresa! It’s been a fun ride and I’m glad we’ve been able to take it together! I still need to get to the Rock!!
A terrific read. I’m happy to get this glimpse into your world, man!
Thanks for taking time to check it out, Alan. Looking forward to another great year!
Great interview Rad! Glad to see your work so justly displayed!!!
Thanks, Rudy. You and your work are part of what makes this stuff so much fun. I’m looking forward to getting to know each better. Best!
Super Rad! Congrats, Awesome work and passion!
Karen, Thank you! It’s been great getting to know you and play and share with you. What a year it’s been. Still looking forward to the east cost with you.
Love your images and the different effects your are getting from same apps I use. I always look forward to seeing what you create. Nice article and way to go.
Marcia, thank you for your kind comments!
great article, Rad, glad to see your work showcased, it is exceptional!!!!
Super article Rad! Kuddos to you on your achievements. I love your work!