Appstraction by Daniel Berman

iPhoneographer Daniel Berman is best known as Reservoir Dan and for his dreamlike landscape photography, especially the countryside around his home near Toronto, Canada. Recently, Dan has been creating and sharing some very interesting abstracts, including one of my favorites I recently shared here on the blog, “You Can Break My Eyes but Not My Heart”. Daniel Berman’s Appstractions series is a complete 180 from his other recent work.

Here, Dan shares with us a few pieces of his abstracts. He talks candidly about the origins of the project and shares his toolbox for creating them.

The Appstract project began as a way for me to re-invigorate my work and break free from the constraints of pictorial photography.  I enjoy shooting landscapes but winter in Ontario kind of had me down. I found myself stuck in a repetitive creative cycle. I decided to let the images I see in my dreamscape emerge directly without filtering them through the metaphor of reality. The freedom and immediacy of working with shapes and colors became addictive.  As time went by, I began to find more meaning in abstractions and less meaning in literal imagery, so I continued to pursue the project.

All of these pieces begin with an iphone photograph. There is no computer editing at all. Everything is done from beginning to end on the phone.  I have a toolbag of eight or nine apps that I use to manipulate and create each image.  There isn’t one method but rather a series of methods that have evolved throughout the course of the project — methods that intersect and build upon one another.

There are multiple adjustments and runs through each app. Some pieces have taken many, many hours until they look right to me.  There certainly isn’t a button I can press to make these images.  For the most part, they each begin with various distortion effects and then it’s a matter of working with the colors and placing the shapes, adding exposures, and developing a depth perception until it looks right to me.

My main apps are Filterstorm, Iris Photo Suite, Photo Wizard, FX Photo Studio, Tiffen PhotoFX, Cameramatic, PictureShow, BlurFX, Percolator, Diptic and lately I’ve been messing around with 3D Photo.  In one way or another each image goes through most of these apps more than once before I’m done.

This process has been liberating for me as an artist.  I’m compelled to create stuff whether it’s a documentary TV series about musicians or a landscape shot of the Niagara Escarpment.  If I don’t create I stagnate. The appstract series has given me, for the first time, the opportunity to dig deep into my sub-conscious and share what I see when my eyes are closed.  My work is usually more linear than this stuff.  I’m not sure how this project will impact my future art — I don’t really think of it that way. It’s more about creating for the sake of keeping myself sane and occupied so I don’t get into trouble. It’s been a blessing to be part of the iphoneography community and to share my work with a receptive audience.

You can see the entire set of Daniel Berman’s Appstractions series in his photostream on Flickr. Follow Dan on Twitter/@reservoir_dan.

Daniel Berman’s new book, “Appstractions” is available now — 36 images in a beautiful hardback package with slip cover. For 20% off, use the promo code NEWBLURB for US orders, NEWBLURB1 for UK orders, and NEWBLURB3 for Canadian orders. Click here to purchase or preview.