iPhoneography Monday: Black-and-White

18 March 2013


1. Shadows, iPhone 4s, January 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

1. Shadows, iPhone 4s, January 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Eyes, iPhone 4s, March 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Eyes, iPhone 4s, March 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

3. Through the Looking Glass, iPhone 4s, March 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

3. Through the Looking Glass, iPhone 4s, March 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

Let me know which you prefer and why.


Last month Gracie (http://graciebinoya.com), Polly (http://watchingthephotoreels.com) and I began an iPhoneography Monday Challenge. If you’d like to join the fun, please click here for details. Today’s theme is black-and-white, which suits my aesthetics. I’m constantly on the watch for the image to convert into a monochromatic moment.

After the mid-twentieth century color film became affordable for the consumer. Still, black-and-white photography continued to be acknowledged for its artistry and mastery. This adoration has not changed.

I spent hours and hours in the darkroom learning how to print a monochrome. It took years, and my memories are stacked with the unfolding of each image as the chemicals began their magic. Those experiences taught me as much about photography as the photo shoot. Editing, manipulation and processing were keys to seeing in new ways.

I also turned to art exhibitions of luminaries and rising stars. Went through piles of books about artists and photography, which I continue to study. You can never have enough printed books about the photographic eye.

Recently, I began to understand the use of apps for the iPhone in a slightly different way. While the popular culture has embraced mobile photography, the art world has not  welcomed it with totality.

To date I have not used that many apps to edit photographs that I take on my 4s. Mostly, I use the phone’s camera, and do minor editing on my computer. Even images taken with my DSLR are minimally edited.

The first app that I bought was Hipstamatic, which I adore. It’s retro sensibility really works for me. Camera + has been on my phone for months, but I’ve only used it a few times. I will. And I keep perusing the social magazine Flipboard (click here) each night to see what other iPhoneographers use to create their work.

Blossoming numbers of folks use their phones as their only camera. Documentary photographers and the cellphone abound. Photography is more mobile than it has ever been.

In the last two weeks I’ve bought Snapseed (which you better get quick because it’s going to be gone soon), tiny planets (so much fun), PhotoStudio, Polamatic, and Luminance. Yes, I’m going a bit to the other extreme.

I’m on the search for those apps that suit my sensibilities. Still, I usually opt for the phone’s camera, which brings me to another point.

I’m learning that apps are not just for editing. Take the ones (e.g., Night Cap) that allow the lens to stay open longer at night, giving more light to a nocturnal image. Or the ones (e.g., Brushes) where you can paint with your fingers. The last reminds me of the years when I hand-tinted black-and-white prints. Some analog techniques are being re-born as apps.

This new attitude about apps comes from my constant return to the work of some of the most noted photographers of all time (e.g., Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), Brassai (1899-1984), Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), Man Ray (1890-1976), Eugène Atget  (1857-1927), Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934), André Kertész  (1894-1985), and Bill Brandt (1904-1983). Their photo processing techniques reminded me about the staggering amounts of time that “we’ve” spent in the darkroom.

Brassai, Amazon.com

Brassai, Amazon.com

Noire et Blanche, Man Ray, 1936; Google Images

Noire et Blanche, Man Ray, 1936; Google Images

New York Bowery, Berenice Abbott, 1905, Google Images

New York Bowery, Berenice Abbott, 1905, Google Images

Suddenly, I began to view apps as a similar experience. It’s hard to explain, because it’s obviously not the same. Apps mimic the editing tools used on the computer, but their abilities far exceed them. They are not formulaic and need the human touch, the human aesthetic, the human vision. Some of them increase the iPhone’s technical abilities.

Many apps are so clever that they give artists a new canvas for their art. See Jorge Colombo’s finger painting’s video (click here). Provide an artist with a new tool, and they push its capabilities (remember Polaroids). The very same can be said of these innovations that we’ve placed in our toolbox, which overflows with options.

New Yorker covers by Jorge Columbo, Google Images

New Yorker covers (November 16, 2009 and June 01, 2009) by Jorge Colombo, Google Images

In the Lens section are my entries for today’s challenge. Each has its own patina that was given by the app used or not. The first image was taken with the iPhone’s camera, no app sought. I took it through my kitchen window. The second used Hipstamatic as its tool. The completed photograph has a painterly quality, but retains its photographic elements. The third image was taken through a glass door where a workshop operates. Luminance was used to help lit areas pop. It accomplished that effect.

While I doubt that I’ll immerse myself deeply into the app world, it does have its place. Mostly, it’s grand fun to see the possibilities–the endless creative vision of those triggering their technologies.

Check these entries:







Note: As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. The following is a reminder of the weekly schedule and themes for upcoming challenges. 

1st Monday: Nature

2nd Monday: Macro

3rd Monday: Black-and-White

4th and 5th Mondays: Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel)

This entry was posted in Black-and-White Photography, Human Nature, Mobile Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to iPhoneography Monday: Black-and-White

  1. Pingback: Black & White Friday: The Spirit of Ethan Allen III

  2. Pingback: Black & White: iPhoneography Challenge | Found Round & About

  3. marialla says:

    Great pictures – especially the cat one!! Thank you!!

  4. ideflex says:

    Love the cat! Here is something edited for a change – please have a look at

  5. Pingback: iPhoneography Monday: Black & White | Across the Bored

  6. Pingback: iPhonography Challenge: Black and White | A year in the Life

  7. Gallivanta says:

    The Eyes have it! Thanks for explaining the apps. Very interesting.

  8. Angeline M says:

    I really like the last one; it seems to have more of a black and white nature to it. I’ve decided to use the same photo with two different apps http://angelinem.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/iphoneography-monday-black-and-white-2/

  9. Pingback: iPhoneography Monday: Black and White | AngelineM's Blog

  10. scillagrace says:

    The kitty’s my favorite!

  11. I like “Eyes”.
    It’s the dark eyes and white whiskers of a hiding kitty that work nicely.

  12. thirdeyemom says:

    Great entry! I just did a black and white series but if I have time tonight I’ll do it again as I truly loved converting my photos. I also LOVE Snapseed and use it all the time. I love the drama effect and also that is what I used for my recent B&W entry that won the challenge! 🙂 Ok…I hope to have a chance to do this tonight! Love the photos btw.

  13. Gracie says:

    Sally, I love that shot of the cat’s eyes! What app did you use to edit that? It looks like a painting.

  14. Pingback: iPhoneonography Mondays: Black & White | Frames & Focus

  15. I love the first photo!!! I’m a sucker for shadows though! And this one looks amazing in black and white. You are right… One can never have enough photography books! I have so many lol. Mostly Sally Mann and Catherine Opie, but I’m still working on my collection. Great post 🙂

  16. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com says:

    Black and white, beautiful. Wishing you success. jalal

  17. Pingback: Black and White Iphonography Time Again!! | Watching The Photo Reels Go Round And Round...

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