I watched an interesting video interview with Rick Sammon a day or two ago during which he touched on the concept of removing realism from photographs (the interview can be found on the Nik Software Podcasts on iTunes. You're looking for the 7/19/12 episode). As someone who has spent most of his photographic life striving for the most realistic images possible, I initially found the concept almost appalling. But then, I began to think about the photographic art that has been appealing to me the most over the past few months. It's the stuff that people messed with!
The images that came to mind at first were those that Tony Sweet and Karen Messick have been making with their iPhones. In "camera" with various apps, they've been creating some remarkable images. I've even experimented some using the Hipstamatic and other smartphone cameras.
Anyway, back to the interview. The talk turned to the various software tools used for removing the realism from photographs, and almost in passing at first, Rick mentioned a $20 program called Snapseed. Rick was specifically talking about using it on an iOS device, but it's also available for Windows and Mac computers, and will be "coming soon" to Android devices.
I downloaded the demo, and started to see what it could do. Here are a couple of examples. There's no need to label the "before" and "after" pictures -- I pushed the sliders pretty hard.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind with Snapseed. If you want to work with RAW files, you'll need to be sure that you have the appropriate patches/updates for Windows or MacOS, as Snapseed does not have its own RAW conversion. Also, it doesn't work well as an external editor in Lightroom. Lightroom will send the image into Snapseed, but the finished image won't be automatically imported back -- at least I couldn't get it to do it. Finally, if you're working on a computer and want to crop the image you're working with, it may be best to do that in Photoshop, where you can handle any resizing, before bringing the file into Snapseed. Snapseed's cropping tool is exactly that -- a crop. No resizing is available.
This will probably be $20 I spend. It's a fun little piece of software, and I like fun little pieces of software -- almost as much as I like new (old) lenses and camera bodies. Thanks, Rick!