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My Mextures formulas I

Mextures App

Mextures is a great app on the iOS platform that allows you to edit your photos with lots of great overlay textures, light leaks, and more. The best part is its ability to create, save, and share formulas that you have created yourself.

Mextures Formula Collection I

I’ve sporadically shared some formulas on this blog in the past, but this time I thought I’d share with you my entire formula collection for the past winter season. They’ve been used on several of my photos that I’ve uploaded to Instagram so hopefully you’ll be able to use them too on your photos. I made them for my winter photos but you don’t have to use them only on winter scenery. Try it out on any of your photos to see how they look. Then you can customize each one to suit your personal needs.

All you need to do to use these is to go to the Formula section within the Mextures app, and import the code you see below, under the desired effect. Have fun, and if you use them, let me know how they turned out.

Taku’s Mextures Formulas

Dirty Sunset: MNZNMSD

Dirty Sunset: MNZNMSD

Coloured Snow Jungle: GUVQYLG

Colored Snow Jungle: GUVQYLG

Purple Hazed Sunset: SLCBDNF

Purple Hazed Sunset: SLCBDNF

Portra Natura: HDXMSCZ

Portra Natura: HDXMSCZ

Bubblegum Sunset: YINRTFQ

Bubblegum Sunset: YINRTFQ

Blue Waters Below: CASWWPC

Blue Waters Below: CASWWPC

Snowbanks: FBNSKWZ

Snowbanks: FBNSKWZ

Subtle Winterscape: TSCYGFR

Subtle Winterscape: TSCYGFR

Winter Skies: QBLUAMI

Winter Skies: QBLUAMI

Ice Sunset: IFMWQER

Ice Sunset: IFMWQER

Morning Glow: LCFTREV

Morning Glow: LCFTREV

Dirty Winter: NQJDNPK

Dirty Winter: NQJDNPK

Light Snow: CBNFANH

Light Snow: BNFANH

 

Bubblegum Winter: EDXAGHE

Bubblegum Winter: EDXAGHE

How I edited Purple Beach on my iPhone

Today’s iPhone Post-Processing technique comes from the photo that I took off the shores of Hamilton, Ontario. It was a freezing cold day, and I almost never took this shot, had it not been for me looking back returning to my car.

This is a simple edit but one that makes a big transformation thanks to some of the great apps available on the iPhone.

The photo taken from my iPhone 6 Plus using the VSCOcam app is seen below (scaled down with 65% quality on Photoshop). As soon as I saw this scene, I knew it had some potential to be something great. The wooden logs leading to the ice, with the slight yellow/orange from the morning sunrise, and the mixture of sand and snow in the foreground all made it for an interesting composition.

Purple Beach

Image as taken from my iPhone 6 Plus

In reality, there was more colour to the clouds, especially near the horizon, where the sun was rising. Given the amount of clouds here, it made for a rather bleak photo overall. I wanted to punch up the photo by adding a little bit more colour to it, so I went to Mextures, which does a great job at this.

To give some much needed colour to the clouds, I added the Lily and Eventide filters. These gave the scene the overall pink and purple hue to it that I instantly loved. Next, I added Winter Dusk to give some depth throughout the image so that the edit doesn’t look so flat. Finally, I added the Neutral Density filter to darken the clouds a little more, adding some much needed shadows within the clouds.

For those of you who have Mextures, my formula is: TSCYGFR

After some slight adjustments in temperature, tint, saturation, sharpening, and shadows, the image now looks like this.

After a simple edit in Mextures, the scene is completely transformed.

After a simple edit in Mextures, the scene is completely transformed.

You can see that while the edit has drastically transformed the original image, it looks a little flat. To remedy this, I brought this into Instaflash Pro where I edited the brightness, sharpness, contrast, and added a little bit of vignetting. The final image, seen below, is how I envisioned this photo to be. A little crop applied for Instagram, and there you have it.

A finishing touch in VSCOcam creates my final image.

A finishing touch in VSCOcam creates my final image.

Apps Used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

Mextures

Mextures


 

How I edited Omotesando Sunset on my iPhone

Here’s a great example of a sunset that has been “placed” into my photo to spice up an area where it would otherwise be blown out highlights. To add even more spice to the image, I decided to make a long exposure picture to show the movement of the cars down below. I did this with my go-to app for long exposures, Slow Shutter Cam. Click here for tips on how to take long exposure shots with your iPhone.

The original image as taken from the Slow Shutter Cam app is below. I took this off of a bridge crossing Omotesando Street, looking down the beautiful tree-lined road. It was overcast that day so the camera didn’t pick up any detail in the centre of the image where the clouds were. I took this mid-afternoon so the overall white balance had more of a bluish tone to it.

Looking down Omotesando Street on an overcast afternoon.

Looking down Omotesando Street on an overcast afternoon.

You can see above how dull and flat this picture looks. To add a little more dimension and detail to the image, I imported it in Instaflash Pro, which does a great job in pulling out details from shadow areas and giving a flat image some depth. I increased the tonal values of select colours (green, yellow, orange), sharpened the overall image, and also added some clarity to it to add a little more dimension to the details. The image below looks much better now with more contrast and a kick in colour.

Imported image into Instaflash Pro to add some contrast, clarity, and saturation to select colours.

Imported image into Instaflash Pro to add some contrast, clarity, and saturation to select colours.

The next step is where I completely changed the feel of the image by giving it warmth. I use Mextures to add colour changes and subtle colour enhancements to an image. In this case, I used the Flare texture in the Radiance section to add some yellow and orange to the image. After changing the temperature to add even more warmth, I exported it out to my camera roll for the next step.

IMG_7163

Used Mextures to change the colour temperature of the image and add warmth with the Flare texture.

The next step complements the colour temperature change by adding a slight orange halo to the centre of the image where the clouds are shown. This boring white space does little to the image so I wanted to make this not stand out as much as it does. To do this, I an app called The Light Camera by the fine folks at Stuck in Customs.

Trey Ratcliff is a great guy who travels the world taking beautiful photos. Check his site out if you haven’t already done so!

The funny thing about The Light Camera app is, I really only use it for one thing. The A Surprise Hug light option gives the best warmth to an image than any other app that I’ve tested so far. So, this app is my go-to app for adding a touch of warmth to a localized area.

Added the Warm Hug light option with the Light Camera app.

Added the Surprise Hug light option with the Light Camera app.

After this app, I use VSCOcam where I apply any finishing touches to the image. In this case, I applied the K2 filter at a very weak strength so as not to over-saturate the entire image. I sharpened a touch, and cropped it to a square format for Instagram.

Cropped the image after applying my finishing touches to it in VSCOcam.

Cropped the image after applying my finishing touches to it in VSCOcam.

I find this final image to be a big improvement over the dull and boring one that I started off with. So why, you may ask, did I even take this picture to begin with? I took it knowing that I would edit it in some way where I could bring out the best parts of this photo. A little thinking ahead of time does your photo a lot of good!

Apps Used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

Slow Shutter Cam

Slow Shutter Cam

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Mextures

Mextures

The Light Camera

The Light Camera


 

How I Edited White Nature on my iPhone 6 Plus

Today’s iPhone Post Processing technique is of the high-key image that I took one cold and windy day at Colonel Sam Smith Park in the west end of Toronto. I wanted to capture the winter scene along with the colours of the sunset, so I took to the park to see what I could find.

The photo below is what I captured from the native camera of my iPhone 6 Plus. You can see how the plant in the foreground is quite dark, but I still managed to get the subtle pink and blue of the sky in the backdrop. The overall photo is underexposed on purpose so that I can simply brighten the areas to my liking.

As shot from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus

As shot from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus

My first step was to open up the shadow areas in Instaflash Pro. I wanted to get some colour in the plant so using that app, I was able to significantly open up the shadows without adding too much grain or degradation in image quality. I also sharpened the image a bit, added a little bit of glow to it using the Orton filter, and increased the saturation slightly to bring in that colour of the plant.

Opened up the shadow area using Instaflash Pro

Opened up the shadow area using Instaflash Pro

The image was brightly lit now, but I wasn’t happy with the colours within it, so I brought it into Snapseed where I’m able to selectively edit areas of an image using their Selective Adjust tool. That tool is a pretty powerful one as it lets you adjust the contrast, saturation and brightness of certain areas of your image. The photo below shows you how many points I’ve edited for this photo. My goal here was to make the snow more white, since it had quite a blue cast to it from all the editing I’ve been doing. For each point you see, I’ve adjusted its saturation and brightness.

Selective editing in Snapseed to adjust certain areas of the photo.

Selective editing in Snapseed to adjust certain areas of the photo.

The resulting photo was ok, but was still looking a little too dark for my liking. So, also within Snapseed, I used the Drama filter to brighten up the entire image. I used Bright 1 with a strength of 66, and boosted the saturation to really bring out the colours, as seen below.

Using Drama to brighten up the entire image.

Using Drama to brighten up the entire image and boost saturation.

The image was now more to what I wanted it to look like. My last step these days has always been to bring it into VSCOcam, where I adjust anything I want for the final look. For this particular image, I was more or less pleased with how it looked, so I didn’t add any filters to it. Instead, I increased the saturation (+1), warmed the temperature by +2, and cropped it for Instagram. The final image, uncorked is below.

Bringing in the image to VSCOcam, I did some final tweaking.

Bringing in the image to VSCOcam, I did some final tweaking.


 

Apps used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Snapseed

Snapseed

How I edited the Sunset Path on my iPhone

Today’s iPhone Post-Processing comes all the way from the west end at Colonel Sam Smith Park in Etobicoke. In fact, this is one of my favourite places in the west end to shoot since there’s a variety of compositions. It’s right by Humber College and, there’s even a skating rink to boot if you ever get bored of shooting landscapes—who would get bored of that?!

You’ll see below the original shot taken with the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus. It’s a little on the dark side, but that’s done on purpose so that I could get more detail in the blown out area on the top right (where the sun was setting). I still blew out the area on purpose since getting even more detail there meant darkening up the shadow areas even more. Any darker in the shadow areas and I would have some obvious noise issues there, so I tried to find a happy medium, if you will.

Original file from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus.

Original file from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus.

The first thing I did was to bring back the sun in the top right corner. When taking this shot, I knew I could bring back the sun again in post, so I intentionally let it blow out a little. I brought it back in one of my favourite sun-creating apps, The Light Camera by stuckincustoms.com.

Bringing back a little bit of the orange from the sun again, using the Light Camera app.

Bringing back a little bit of the orange from the sun again, using the Light Camera app.

The top right was still a little blown out so I gave the white areas some colour, using VSCOcam. This app does a great job of tinting the highlight (and shadow) areas with selective colours, so I gave the highlights a little bit of yellow to match the sunshine.

Tinting the highlight areas with a yellow tint in VSCOcam.

Tinting the highlight areas with a yellow tint in VSCOcam.

That tinting was a good start to adding orange to the highlights, but I wanted to bring in even more warmth to the image, so I brought this into Mextures. I’m starting to use Mextures a lot more now since I love its ability to give subtle colour and texture enhancements to the overall image.

My formula for the below is MNZNMSD in case you wanted to use it yourself.

Giving the entire image a little bit of warmth using Mextures.

Giving the entire image a little bit of warmth using Mextures.

When I tinted the highlights and warmed the image, I not only tinted the top blown out areas, but I also tinted and warmed the highlight areas in the rest of my photo. You can see that some of the brown shrub areas on either side of the path is punched up a little in yellow/orange. I also managed to muddy-up the snow colour a little, which I did not like. Snow is supposed to be white, so that’s the way I wanted to keep it.

I had to bring back the white somehow, so I took the image I had right after adding the sun (second photo above) and I brightened the mid-tones and highlight areas in Instaflash Pro. For this image, I made sure that I was pleased with how the bottom half of the photo looked, knowing well that I would not use the top half of the photo.

Whitened the snow using Instaflash Pro.

Whitened the snow using Instaflash Pro.

After I was happy with how the bottom half of the image looked, I took this photo and basically combined the bottom half with the top half of the image prior to this one. I did this using Image Blender, which makes tasks likes this super easy.

Using Image Blender to blend in the top half of one photo with the bottom half of another.

Using Image Blender to blend in the top half of one photo with the bottom half of another.

The image below is what I ended up with after blending the two together. You can see that the top half still maintains a warm feel to it while the snow is now whiter and the foreground shadow areas are less muddier.

The blended image now has whiter snow and cleaner shadow areas while still maintaining a warmth to the top half.

The blended image now has whiter snow and cleaner shadow areas while still maintaining a warmth to the top half.

I always like to give my images a finishing touch in VSCOcam, where I may do anything from tweaking the colour, fade an image even more, or maybe not even do anything at all. This time, I  added the F2 Mellow filter to it as it gave it a subtle fade to the shadows, giving it a subtle moody feel to it. I cropped it for Instagram and there you have it!

The final image after giving it an f2 Mellow (+12) filter in VSCOcam

The final image after giving it an f2 Mellow (+12) filter in VSCOcam


Apps Used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Mextures

Mextures

The Light Camera

The Light Camera

 

How I edited Tokyo Bay Sunset on my iPhone

Today’s iPhone Post-Processing technique is of the sunset that I took from Odaiba, looking towards the Tokyo Bay. It was a glorious sunset and I wanted to show the world how I felt when I saw this. While the original photo doesn’t look that bad, I felt the overall photo lacked a little excitement. The sunset at the time was a warm orange colour, and the clouds were a little dark, grey, and gloomy. I wanted to edit this photo as if I were seeing one of those beautiful sunsets of Thailand or Fiji.

Let’s see how I made this happen. The photo below is what I took from the iPhone 6 Plus native camera app. You can see how I exposed primarily for the highlights because that’s what I wanted to highlight in this photo.

My focus here was to capture the changing light in the clouds, so by exposing for the highlights I allowed the shadows to fill in, attracting the eye to the most important part of the image.

Tokyo sunset

Photo as it was taken from the iPhone 6 Plus native camera app.

See those orange clouds in the centre of the image? I felt as if that area needed some more excitement, as it looked too plain the way it was. I imported the image into LensLight, a great app by Brain Fever Media, which allows you to add lighting effects-among other things-to your image. I added a subtle sun glow and made it peak out from the clouds. One of the great things about this app is that it allows you to fully customize the look of the lighting effect. I changed the opacity of the sun, and the colour to match my scene. In addition to this sun glow, I added a warming filter as well, which gave it more of an orange hue to the overall image.

IMG_8482

First round of editing done in LensLight, where I added a sun glow and warming filter to give rise to a more pleasing sunset.

After saving this image back to my camera roll, I imported it into Mextures where I edited the image to reflect more of what I envisioned with this particular photo. Adding the Bonfire filter in the Radiance section gave it the purple-pink hue I was looking for. It added a little more excitement to the bland, grey areas of the photo, giving it new life. In addition, I did some further tweaking by adjusting the Tint, Fade, and Sharpen options to my liking.

As a final touch, I often like to import my image into VSCOcam to see if anything else can be done to give it that extra something special. As it turns out, applying an F3 Mellow filter at a strength of 8 yielded a softer version of the image that I liked. So that’s the version I uploaded to Instagram, after cropping it to a square format.

IMG_8483

The final image after editing in Mextures and VSCOcam, giving it the overall feel that I was after with this particular image.

Cropping an image is an equally important part of editing an image. It’s important to take care in that you don’t crop out any vital part of the image, and that you retain the feeling that you wanted to disseminate.

I could have easily left out the hand rail on the bottom left of this image, but I wanted to keep just a little portion of it in the final image so that it looks like we are peaking over it. Leaving it out would have made for a nice sunset image, but keeping it in adds just a little more interest to it.

The final image cropped and uploaded to Instagram.

The final image cropped and uploaded to Instagram.

Apps used:

lenslight

LensLight

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Mextures

Mextures


How I edited Odaiba Fountain on my iPhone

I’m starting a new series on my blog today, called iPhone Post-Processing, or iPP, for short. These posts are meant to complement my Instagram uploads as they describe in more detail how I post-processed the uploaded image. Sometimes it may be as simple as opening up a single app and straightening the image, while other times it may involve lengthier process of editing through a number of apps.

These blog posts will hopefully inspire you to try something new with your post-processing techniques, because the more you experiment with your images, the more you’ll learn what can be done with them.


The image below is what I captured from the iPhone 6 Plus native camera. I shot this through a window while travelling on a monorail, so there’s a rather ugly green cast to the image.

Straight out of the iPhone 6 Plus native camera

Straight out of the iPhone 6 Plus native camera

I imported the image to VSCOcam, and straightened the image out.

Straightened image.

Image straightened in VSCOcam.

With any cityscape photography, it’s important—or desirable-to fix your verticals so that they are straight. Eliminating any perspective distortion goes a long way in making a clean image. There are several apps that do this, but I have always used Perspective Correct, which does the job. The resulting effect here is subtle, but evident if you look on the right side of this image.

Perspective corrected to make verticals, vertical.

Perspective corrected to make verticals, vertical.

I reimported the image into VSCOcam, (deleting the first imported version). I then did my first pass of editing by applying my favourite filter of the bunch, K2. This reduces some of the green cast while making other colours a little richer. In the editing suite, I sharpened the image (typically about 2-3), and cropped it to a square format for Instagram. Normally I would go further and perhaps adjust the saturation, fade and/or shadows, but for this image, I exported it back to my camera roll for further editing.

In cropping this photo, my intention was to give more importance to the fountain. I did this by cropping out the noise surrounding the fountain, and placing it around 1/3rd of the way up from the bottom of the frame. This position is key as it allows the eye to flow naturally within the frame, ending at the fountain.

First pass of editing done in the VSCOcam app to remove some green tint through the K2 filter.

First pass of editing done in the VSCOcam app to remove some green tint through the K2 filter.

I imported this image into Mextures, which does a great job at adding subtle colour to your image. The trick is to do it in a way that it’s not recognizable. I applied some Landscape Enhance and Radiance filters, and added some Fade and Sharpen settings. This brought some much needed colour to the image and opened up the shadow areas.

My formula for this edit is: QRGMIXS.

The final edited image is below, and that’s what I uploaded to Instagram. It’s considerably better than what I started off with, and I’m quite happy with the results.

Final editing done with the Mextures app to add more colour and clean up image.

Final editing done with the Mextures app to add more colour and clean up image.

Apps Used:

Perspective Correct

Perspective Correct

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Mextures

Mextures

Instagram

Instagram


Snow from all directions

iPhone 5s photo edited in Mextures and VSCOcam.

iPhone 5s photo edited in Mextures and VSCOcam.

Some say photographers are crazy for going all out in taking their shots. But truthfully, if you don’t go to places where others don’t normally go to, you wouldn’t be able to get that extra special shot that you’re always after.

Winter typically gets in the way of people being able to enjoy the outdoors. However, that shouldn’t change us photographers in going out there during the worst snow storms possible to get photos of snow coming down horizontally!

I have no idea what this winter will bring us, but I am quite curious as to what I will capture. Perhaps people will think I’m crazy for going out, especially when I don’t even have a proper winter jacket yet. Which makes me think I should at least window shop a little on sites like www.nitehawk.net/9-best-mens-down-jackets/ , being prepared for the elements will make me a better photographer. That always makes a difference, doesn’t it?!

App Review: Mextures

Mextures

Mextures

Mextures is an award-winning stylish app that brings grunge and film textures, epic analogue light leaks and gradients to enable beautifully crafted iphoneography.

 

[ Website | iTunes ]


Mextures is an app created by photographer Merek Davis in 2012 to leverage the great textures that he had been using to edit his own photos. Originally started as a texture overlay app, it has now become a full-fledge editing suite with great social interaction from their sharable Formulas.

I personally use this app to add subtle textures and colours to add life to my otherwise plain-looking photos.

Functionality

The core features of Mextures lays within the main screen that lists the following options:

  • Favourites
  • Radiance
  • Grit and Grain
  • Light Leaks 1, 2, and 3
  • Emulsion
  • Grunge
  • Landscape Enhance
  • Vintage Gradients.

Within each of these sections, a number of presets are provided to get you started on your editing. It would take you hours just to play with each one, and with its ability to layer an effect over one another, it becomes a great tool to add a little spice to your iPhoneography. I love these presets because each one is unique in its own way. You can change the opacity, direction, and blending mode to further customize the look to your liking.

The app also goes a step further and allows for photo adjustments as well, including adding film effects, adjusting exposure, temperature, saturation, fade, and more.

However, the strength of the app doesn’t stop there. Mextures allows you to save your custom edits, known as Formulas. You can share your formulas to the world so they can in turn get the look that you created, on to their own photos. And if you’re starved for ideas, you can always head over to their News or Inspiration sections to look at what others are doing, or select the Formula tab on the main screen to apply any number of Guest Formulas or other preset formula packs.

User Interface

I have been using Mextures since its original version so I’m quite used to how they chose to implement all the options. However for newcomers to this app, I can see how things can be a little confusing to navigate. Once you select one of the options from the main screen, you’re presented with a screen with a number of options that can be a little overwhelming at first. What I originally found a little confusing was the lack of a “back” button to get you back to the previous screen of options. Instead, they opted to use a tab at the bottom with an arrow pointing up. And that X icon on the top left? That’s not to go back, but to start all over from the beginning, while the X you see once you press the up arrow signifies a “cancel” to go back to your settings page.

The settings page also lacks a button for you to see what the original photo looked like. I often like to see this so that I can gauge how much of I’ve changed the photo from its original state.

These are by no means deal breakers for me, but they can be somewhat confusing for newcomers.

Final Thought

Overall, I think this is a versatile app that allows you to apply any number of effects to suit your taste; while some may prefer the heavy grunge, textured look, others may prefer a subtle enhancement to their photos. With it’s ability to fine-tune your photo and applied effect, I find myself drawn to this app more and more. If you take advantage of their Formulas, there’s really no reason not to be inspired to take your iphoneography to the next level.

Below the screen captures, I’ve added some of my favourite Mextures edits that I have done. You can tell that I prefer a more subtle touch to the textures, lights, and gradients.