Rad A. Drew Photography: 2021

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The New iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max Go on Sale September 17!


The New iPhone 13 Line Up
(Image for Apple Site)

Apple announced its new iPhone lineup yesterday and there are plenty of things for photographers to be excited about!

While the entire line of 13 phones is quite remarkable, the two phones that provide the most advanced photography experience are the 13 Pro and the 13 Pro Max, the Pro Max being the most advanced of the group. 

The new line will feature many of the advancements that we saw with the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max like Night Mode, ProRAW, and LiDAR sensor, but the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max take things a little further. Here are some of the new features I'm excited about and what they mean to photographers.

First off, if you’re into the cosmetic features of the new line, you’ll be happy to see new finishes in new colors, along with the very practical water resistance improvements and and tougher glass. 

New Sierra Blue
Photo from Apple.com Site

When it comes to photography, here are the things that I’m excited about.

  1. The new A15 Bionic is comprised of two new high performance cores, and 4 new high efficiency cores, as well as a faster neural engine. 

    All this tech jargon translates to faster operation of just about everything, and doing it with longer battery life.

  2. Improved ISP (Image Signal Processing) means improved noise reduction and tone mapping.

    I’m eager to see how the new 13 Pro Max does with creating Infrared images, as noise is one of the challenges when creating IR with the iPhone.

  3. A new display that will be 25% brighter when working outside in bright light. This should make it easier to see the iPhone screen on a bright day. Hallelujah!

  4. Three redesigned cameras!

    • The telephoto camera has a longer lens (77mm up from 65mm in the 12 Pro Max), allowing longer reach and making this a great portrait camera.

    • The wide angle camera has a larger aperture of f/1.5 which translates to 2.2 times improvement in low light images. That’s HUGE! (Again, I'm eager to see what this means for iPhone Infrared photography.)

    • The ultra wide angle camera also has a wider aperture (f/1.8), now has auto focus, and a 92% improvement in low light shooting.

    • The new Ultra Wide camera allows for macro photography! The camera can focus at just 2cm! This is a wonderful addition to this camera and I’m eager to see what this camera will do in combination with the Macro Mode in the  Camera+2 app. 

      Photo from Apple.com Site

  5. The improved Smart HDR 4 offers improved color, contrast, and lighting. Just like its predecessor, Smart HDR 4 adjusts for high contrast lighting in a scene to produce a wonderfully exposed image, while providing accurate skin tones. A good feature just got even better.

  6. Night Mode on every camera! This means we'll be able to take advantage of computational photography with night mode, or situations where the camera "thinks" it's dark (such as when we have a 720nm infrared filter attached!)

    Photo from Apple.com Site

  7. Improved video with the new cinematic mode that allows for professional depth and dynamic manipulation of focal points throughout the video. While I'm not a videographer, I'm excited to explore the new video features of the 13 Pro line.

In summary, the cameras I recommend for photography pros and enthusiasts are the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, (my preference is the Pro Max). 

Not only will the new phones do just about everything faster, all cameras now have Night Mode so they'll perform better in low light, allow us to make macro photos without an accessory lens, allow more focal length to play with for portraits, and help us see the screen better when shooting outside on a bright day. The wider apertures and larger sensor also mean each camera will be able to shoot faster (for sharper images) and produce less noise. 

The new phones go on sale this Friday, September 17, at 8AM EST, and will be available Friday, September 24.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Goth-O-Matic Poetry Generator for the Temporarily Mentally Impaired


While recovering from surgery, one can watch only so much mind-numbing television. 

Alternatively, my drug-addled, vulnerable brain is seduced by dark corners of the internet. 

One such threshold across which I recently stumbled? 

The Goth-O-Matic Poetry Generator

That’s right! 

Now we all can generate the Gothic Poems of our darkest, angstiest, nightmares with such ease that even the most drug-addled among us can achieve astounding literary success!

Here are a couple of my recent efforts, aided by the The Goth-O-Matic Poetry Generator, combined with my images of a gothic nature made in our own local Gothic Paradise, Crown Hill Cemetery, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Darkness Descends

The night falls as if slain by the sun, cold and alone are we.

The salvation for which you sacrifice yourself

flares once, then dies, smothered by madness

all hope must surely perish.

Your being craves no more. 

How could you leave me?

Our darkest thoughts surround us, crying, we have lost our light.



Slender beams of illumination enter this darkened

place as I kneel, always fearful, always

despairing, frozen here, waiting. 

Tortured forms

wrought in panes of glass loom as dust dances,

forming an image in my mind,

penetrating my shamed flesh.

Realization dawning on a deathless face. 

I raise my head, now

kneeling before this callous salvation.



What have you ruined? 

A miasma of agony

as commiserations writhe. 

Once we drank of innocence, virginal and childlike, but your desire paled, a deadened morass of agony —

drops of blood follow bone, follow death,

love withered.

In a haze of sorrow, I see you.



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Handmade Cards by Cuban Artist Amy Hernandez!


Amy in her studio with one of her cards featuring Flamingo's.

In the case of creator Amy Hernandez, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! Amy is following in her father's footsteps as an artist and entrepreneur. She is the daughter of my friend, Cuban Photographer, Ramses Batista. 

On a recent visit to their new home in Atlanta, Amy showed me her line of handmade postcards and note cards available on Etsy

Amy ponders what she will reach for in her collection of materials.

Working in a studio that she shares with her dad (who does his extraordinary encaustic work there, but that's another story!), Amy works with mixed media using found objects, art papers, lace, colored inks, and a large collection of ink stamps, to create beautifully unique, wonderfully constructed works of art, all in postcard or note card size ready to frame or mail to a friend.

This is how she describes her experience:

As an artist I have found a way to express myself through the creation of these postcards. In them I reflect all my thoughts, the way I feel, and I combine those thoughts and feelings with vintage techniques which is something I have always enjoyed doing. Creating mixed media postcards allows me to use different materials that I put together creating each postcard as a unique piece of art.

Amy's designs vary and may be whimsical, nostalgic, humorous, and personal. 

The card above was created with a family friend in mind who is obsessed with Flamingos!

To view and purchase Amy's work, or contact her directly, visit her Esty Store.

Thank you for taking time to read. I hope you'll visit Amy's site and let her know what you think of her work!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Making Beloved Infrared Images with Our Beloved iPhones!


iPhone 12 Pro Max
© Rad A. Drew

The Journey to IPhone Infrared

Infrared photography first captured my imagination in college many moons ago. I fell in love with this depiction of the world around me and was drawn into these snowy white fantasies.

Infrared became a lot easier in the digital age. Modifying a digital camera by removing the camera's IR blocking filter and installing the filter of choice (e.g., 720nm, 830n, etc.), gives us a camera dedicated to infrared. Modern digital processing helps to get those bright whites and rich blacks, and we can even add that soft ethereal glow so characteristic of early film IR.

iPhone 12 Pro Max
© Rad A. Drew

For the past seven years or so I’ve made images first with a LUMIX DMC LX7 point-and-shoot, and later with a Fuji X-T1, both converted to 720nm infrared.

Chasing the Dream

While I love shooting with my “big” cameras, I’ve had a love affair with the iPhone since getting my first, an iPhone 4, in 2010. I love the iPhone’s portability and, with today’s iPhones, I’m not sacrificing much in the way of image quality. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max
© Rad A. Drew

For several years, I’ve dreamed of making IR images with my iPhone.

Last year with the help of friends, that dream became a reality! In the beginning there was a lot of trial and error, and a few screaming pixels, but today, with all we’ve learned, well, the proof is in the pudding. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max
© Rad A. Drew

Clearly, the phone’s technology is quite different than a traditional camera. There’s no modification of the hardware, no removing of the IR blocking filter. 

Instead everything is done using select camera apps, designated settings, an infrared filter, RAW files, and processing techniques. As Dewitt says, there’s a lot of jiggery-pokery! But for the determined, patient photographer, the results are worth it.

To create my beloved infrared images with my beloved iPhone has been pure joy and so much fun! And it’s been great to see so many other mobile photographers become excited with this approach to IR.

Facebook Group and Member Gallery

Last year with support and encouragement from friends Dewitt Jones and Jack Davis, I created a Facebook group for other mobile IR enthusiasts. Today there are nearly 550 members and counting! You’re welcome to join us to learn more and be inspired. 

Here are some of my favorite images created by photographers in the group. I've included a link so you can see each photographer's work.

I’m inspired by the variety and unique expression seen in these images. 

Thanks to everyone in the group for sharing your images, knowledge, and enthusiasm for iPhone infrared!

© Jackie Klieger, 

© Joe Bumgardner,  

© Gary Litwin, 

© Jack Davis, 

© Dewitt Jones, 

© Jerry Hug

© David Stearn, 

© John Wrather

© Judy Diver

 © Irene Marchuk Oleksiuk, Instagram.com/honor_life

© April Cowan Robinson, 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Cheryl Tarrant, creator of the iPhone app Distressed FX!


An Interview with Artist Cheryl Tarrant

Editor’s Note: 

Distressed FX has been a favorite editing app for iPhone creatives around the world since it first arrived on the scene in 2013. The app’s collection of textures and filters in a simple but effective interface makes using Distressed FX a lot of fun and can yield magical results.

Those who have or purchase the original Distressed FX can purchase a recent upgrade as an in-app purchase to get advanced editing tools including:

  •      Touch and depth-based editing
  •      Image sharpening
  •       Save as PNG option, and 
  •      The ability to change blend modes

If you have Distressed FX Plus, you’ll get this update for free. The main difference between FX and FX Plus? The Plus version comes with all of the editing features mentioned above, plus all of the filters and textures for one price. There is no subscription fee and there are no in-app purchases in the Plus version.

Links to the apps:

Distressed FX

Distressed FX Plus

Cheryl Tarrant and I met on line a few years ago when she saw one of my early How I Did It!™ YouTube videos on Distressed FX

I thought it would be fun to learn a little more about Cheryl, her work, her life, and her story on the origins of Distressed FX. She agreed to this interview and answered a few of my questions.

Cheryl Tarrant

Rad: Where do you find your inspiration for your art? 

Cheryl: Like so many others, nature is a very large influence on my art.  Also, moments in time from my past, trying to recreate a time when life was simple. My grandfather was an early rancher in Southern California and he had an old barn on his property and it was really a magical place as a child. I can remember cautiously approaching the wooden structure, not being able to resist the light streaming through the slats, finding little bird nests in its rafters… Because of this I have a true appreciation for old barns and sheds, so that is a common theme in my art work. 

Rad: What led you to create Distressed FX

Cheryl: Distressed FX was born out of necessity and security to be honest. I had moved to East Tennessee with literally nothing. I saw an article in the newspaper about a virtual world called “Second Life.” I went in and after a while started making textures in the world there. I was also taking photos and using textures to create painterly images. I met a programmer in Second Life and one day he approached me and said, “If you know anyone who wants an app, I am making iPhone apps now.” I said, “I do!” This is a very short story, of a long story. The reason for the name “Distressed” is due to the hard nature of life during that time for me. I literally had to find a way to survive and all of this came from that.

Rad: Your FB page is filled with poetry from favorite poets, photos of your cats and peacocks, posts of favorite music, and samples of your own wonderful writing. Will you tell us a bit about how you live and what you appreciate about your lifestyle?

Cheryl: This ties into my photos, my poetry, my animals and lifestyle. Due to life experiences that challenged me and created a great deal of loss and trauma I truly appreciate the little things in life. Taking moments to see every perfect feather on my peacocks, or taking photos of spring buds, writing as a way to release feelings, memories and thoughts – all of it is a part of me and my life experiences. Some things I am willing to disclose; others things I tuck away privately for me. It all ties into the app actually. A lot of the textures and gels have symbolic names. Not all of them, but many of them have names close to my heart and hidden meanings. The birds, all of those are flocks I have chased here in East Tennessee. Long car rides alone are very healing for me and I would drive for miles looking for flocks and then ultimately turning them into transparencies to use in the app and for Photoshop brushes on my website. Most of the photos used in the app are from places I have been, or are just around the block from my home. The app is deeply personal. 

Rad: What other ventures are you involved in? I know you offer a line of textures that can be used by traditional camera photographers as well as mobile photographers. Do you have any other ventures or projects you’d like to share?

Cheryl: As for other ventures, I have been taking oil painting lessons for four years now. A bucket list item of mine. I am so fortunate that a renowned portrait artist lives 25 minutes from me. I could not draw a thing before this but had a dream to paint like the old masters. Working remotely with the app and my texture site has made this all possible for me. I have even incorporated some of my oil painted canvas in some of the texture packs. 

Rad: Describe your relationship with your audience and how you incorporate user feedback, suggestions, and requests.

Cheryl: My relationship with users of the app and my textures, is important. I man the live support line myself, 24/7. I am the one looking at the Distressed FX hash tags on Instagram. I see almost every photo under that tag. When I look at images on Instagram I love seeing artists support one another, the interactions between all of them. 

One last interesting fact: Right, when the app was released I was walking downtown one summer day. I walked by a store and was immediately drawn in, I felt like I had to go in. There was a psychic there. After some chatting and her giving me a Gratinini*, I agreed to have my tarot cards read. After we got settled in at her table she looked up and had tears in her eyes. She said, “You have the most beautiful colors surrounding you, you have so much creativity flowing from you, I have never felt this before. It’s so beautiful!” She went on to say, “I have no idea what you are doing, but keep doing it because it affects THE WORLD.” And she was right on that, the app had just been released and was being featured all over the world.

(*A Gratinini (I had to ask!) is a gratitude martini made with seltzer water and fresh fruit.)

– *** –

In addition to the iPhone apps, Distressed FX and Distressed FX Plus, Cheryl also offers a line of textures beyond those found in the app. I have these textures on my desktop for use with desktop apps like Topaz Studio 2, and also have them in folders on my iPhone so that I can easily select them when I'm editing on my iPhone or iPad.

You can purchase Cheryl's textures here: www.distressedtextures.net.

Follow Cheryl Tarrant on: