I discovered, somewhat by chance, an unexpected power within the iPhone on a long bicycle ride early last year. A chance encounter with blooming dandelions stopped my ride, and I took a photo of them with my iPhone. Later, as I played with the photo in a quiet setting, using a number of image editing apps, I realized I had discovered a new genre, which I call, "Cycle Art." Simply put, Cycle Art is a mobile, digital celebration of the bicycle.
Of course, it all starts with just the right photo. All of the photos I use have been taken with my iPhone 3G, most often while out on long bicycle rides in the Pennsylvania, Maryland, or European countryside. (I hope to eventually have Cycle Art that represents all the continents.) The iPhone provides the perfect platform for working my craft. I try to minimize the human element in the photos and accentuate the inherent beauty of the two-wheeled machine and the materials from which it can be wrought, including aluminum, steel, carbon, and titanium.
After carefully selecting photos, the iPhone becomes the transformative media for each new artistic creation: each of the photos is digitally re-mastered using a variety of iPhone apps. With my first photo, I started off by selectively coloring my bicycle nestled among a field of dandelions. I made the entire photo black and white and then (laboriously) colored back in the many flowers. Over time I discovered and downloaded new iPhone apps and used them to achieve a wider variety of effects.
I now have a total of over 40 different iPhone applications I use to achieve the desired effects, and I'm constantly looking for new applications that allow for different effects. I select from these 40 apps to turn a photo into Cycle Art. Listed here are some of my favorites:
Photogene ($1.99; app2.me/326)
FX Photo studio ($0.99; app2.me/2429)
Photonasis (Not currently available in the U.S. App Store)
Color Splash ($1.99; app2.me/323)
Dash of Color FREE (free; app2.me/2430)
Colors Pro ($1.99 app2.me/2431)
PhotoForge ($2.99; app2.me/328)
Photonasis, (Not currently available in the U.S. App Store)
FX Photo Studio ($0.99; app2.me/2429)
Picture Sketch Pro ($1.99; app2.me/2432 )
SketchMee ($2.99; app2.me/2540)
Pix Remix ($2.99; app2.me/2433)
Collage ($0.99; app2.me/2434)
CameraKit ($1.99; app2.me/2435)
Cool fx ($1.99; app2.me/2436)
Cinema FX ($0.99; app2.me/2437)
Photogene ($1.99; app2.me/326)
PhoneGrafer ($1.99; app2.me/2541)
Creating Cycle Art
Usually I can tell from an initial look at a particular picture what effects I need to use to produce a work of Cycle Art. In some cases, it takes only one or two filters or a single effect to get to a final version. In other cases, I go through dozens of versions of a particular picture, trying radically different effects with one or several apps before coming up with something worthy of inclusion in the Cycle Art pantheon.
For example, Fragrance (beginning of article) was the result of trying dozens of different combinations of sketching variables. I particularly like using filters such as Sin City (available in the PhotoForge app) to create black and white and color contrast (see Warm Inside), and various penciling effects (see Quickfix).
Collage is a particularly good app for combining several enhanced pictures into a single work through such techniques as using multiple versions of the same original (see Neuromancer) or using enhancements of different but related pictures (see Mona Lisa Overdrive ).
Printing out Cycle Art
I use a Canon Pro9000 Mark II to print my works, which I then carefully mat and frame. The 2-megapixel iPhone camera limits the maximum resolution to 1600x1200. Before printing I typically enhance the printing DPI and then make prints from 5x7 to 8x12, depending on the quality of the photo and the resolution of the final version of the art. Most of the apps I use reduce the resolution from 1600 x 1200 to a much lower value, but adjusting the DPI still allows for a quality print. I have also successfully printed excellent quality postcards of some of the higher resolution works.
What does the future hold for Cycle Art? I'm looking forward to the release of the iPhone 4G. With the 5-megapixel camera, I'll be able to create higher-resolution works and larger prints.
Further examples of my Cycle Art and a link to photos of a Cycle Art exhibition can be found on my blog (pt-cycling.blogspot.com).