Incredible views and moody grays and blues are things we've come to expect from Jade Swaine (@j_swaine). A plethora of perspectives and angles flashing gorgeous landscapes and edited to create emotive images are splattered across her feed. Not to mention she's often kind enough to share her formulas to give other Mextures users a quick peek in to her process. We had a fantastic time hearing more about her and her work and we think you'll love reading along with us.
My full name is Jade Natasha Swaine (almost got named Natasha, imagine that.) I'm an anglophone living in the heart of Québec, Canada. I work full time as a service assistant at a teleconferencing centre which consumes my days. Outside of work I am a full time dreamer, avid wanderer, total gamer and I love to immerse myself in the beauty of photography. I have a deep yearning to be surrounded by mountains and my life goal is to explore all the places on my never-ending bucket list.
What was it that first attracted you to photography?
I always loved the art of being able to capture and preserve the scene in front of you. For years I had a curious interest in photography and it was something I told myself I wanted to dive into and learn in the future. I only had my iPhone at the time and I was taking pictures with that but I was never completely satisfied. Then, in October 2014, I had a friend that was selling his DSLR and I told myself that I might as well start now! And from there it was set. My life has completely changed since then and I'm so glad I didn't wait any longer.
What have you found inspires you to continue to take and edit pictures - just to create in general?
I have two answers for this one. What inspires me to continue taking photos is that photography is like my form of meditation. Going deep into the forest with music in my ears and my camera around my neck brings me a feeling of bliss I can't get elsewhere. I often find myself smiling and I'm usually alone so this smile is just meant for myself and mother nature.
What inspires me to continue editing is truly the community. If I take away the support I receive from everyone on Instagram, my motivation to continue wouldn't be as strong. Yeah, it's cool when you create something that makes YOU feel and makes YOU think, but when you're able to make an impression on someone else, who maybe even finds a greater appreciation for what you just created, that is such a wonderful feeling.
Talk to us a bit about your editing process.
All of my editing is done through my phone and I always use Mextures. It's rare that I use other editing applications, but even if I do, I finish it off with Mextures. The process definitely changes with each photo. When I have a shot where I want to create my edit from scratch, I open Mextures of course, and start adding layers. Sometimes I have no idea what I'm going to do and sometimes I'll aim for a specific colour or vibe.
I'm a huge sucker for the Landscape Enhance and Atmospheric packs so I usually start with those. Playing with blending modes is a huge must for me as it helps give me that darker mood I seem to subconsciously aim for. I love using Emulsion overlays for texture, Franklin being one of my absolute favourites. I could go on about how each group of textures is just so awesome at providing character to an image. So then I choose a preset and make a bunch of adjustments. I usually always tone down the saturation and highlights, up the shadows and sharpening and add some fade. Then I'll add more layers if I feel it's needed.
I also tend to reuse formulas I've created. I'll open up a photo and go through my formulas, find one that fits the mood I want to portray or one that I think fits the shot really well. I usually scan the most recent ones because I have way too many - almost 400. I should really do a clean up. Anyway, I love it when I create a formula that looks good on multiple photos and for some I've even gone back to them to make them better. I have a few that I've used so many times I started hashtagging the formula code so I can keep track of them - like little sub galleries within my gallery.
Would you be interested in sharing a few of your formulas?
With pleasure! The first two formulas actually have no name assigned to them, so I made some up.
Haunting - HFHIWKG - This is my absolute favourite formula that I've created. It's gives a very dark and eerie vibe to the shot without ruining any of the exposure. There's a little bit of grain to add to the depth of the edit as well as Aperture from the Anomaly pack to add some light. It has a lot of character I find. And definitely a lot of mood.
Vintage - TFFMTWK - I sort of went crazy when I first created this formula and shared a lot of shots using it. It's a very beige edit that enhances browns and blues and adds texture everywhere. It's not even a big formula - there are only 3 layers (preset did most of the work) - but two of those are for texture so there's a lot to look at when applied to a shot.
Midnight - KMCVCLS - This one is an oldie, derived from a collaboration actually. It's a dark and purplish formula, best used on shots of flowers because there's a very strong vignette so the focused object really stands out.
Soft - RBDCLGQ - Pure and simple, this formula softens the shot for a very somber feel.
The Dark Side - JLTNWZX - Pretty much turns everything grey. Saturation is turned all the way down so there's no colour and a little emulsion coming down from the top adds some extra detail.
Do you feel like Mextures offers anything unique to your editing process?
Unique doesn't even begin to cover it. There are so many different ways you can incorporate Mextures into your work that you could never get bored. I love how diverse it is; if you just want to add subtle touches you can do that, or if you want to transform your entire image, you can do that too. I'm always discovering new ways to tweak my images because of all the combinations there are to create with the layers. The results are unlimited and it turns my photos into surreal creations that I would have never even imagined without it.
Before I was introduced to editing, I barely edited my photos. I just used filters. But it was winter time and everything was just white. White ground, white skies.. It was the perfect canvas for Mextures. I started throwing colours on my photos to make them dramatic and to give them some appeal. I was hooked immediately. Once spring rolled around and I had more colour to work with, well that was when I really discovered that there were no boundaries. I honestly can't see myself stopping anytime soon. It'd be weird, like a change of lifestyle.
I feel really lucky to have discovered it so early on after starting photography. It's not only an application for your phone, it's an entire community that I feel blessed to be a part of. It's also fun and insightful seeing how your friends and strangers use Mextures, seeing what type of world they've created. Imagination's a powerful thing and Mextures compliments that immensely.
What is your favorite picture that you’ve capture so far?
That's a realy tough question! I have multiple favourites that I love for unique reasons. This would be one of them because of the simplicity and because I actually have no idea what it is. I was walking in the forest and saw this plant, thinking to myself how soft it looked. I didn't touch it. I should've. But without a doubt it's the Mextures edit that completed the photo. This is also the shot where I created my favourite formula that I previously mentioned. The darkness, light, and grit adds a mysterious effect that I personally adore.
With a new year upon us, is there anything you hope to accomplish in regards to your photography?
This year I'm going to be focusing on expanding my knowledge in regards to photography so there's going to be a lot of experimenting with my camera. If I can learn how to pull off a decent long exposure of the stars and the Milky Way, I'll be pretty ecstatic. I'm going to try and travel as much as possible to broaden my experience with different landscapes and I'm also going to look into pushing this further than just a hobby because right now that's all it is. 2016 for me will be a year of growth and I'm looking forward to sharing that with everyone.
Who are some of the people that have most inspired your work?
Of course there's my family. Their continuous support makes me strive to create and be better in everything I do. Them, my friends, and lots and lots of music all play their own part.
There have been so many people on Instagram that inspire me. There's an incredible amount of talent out there and I've come across edits that I've even tried to sort of mimic. It's really fun.
One of those people specifically is @521gemini. I've barely even spoken to her so she has no idea the impact she's had on my work. She might've been the one to make me fall in love with emulsions.
There's also @timhf. Tim always has a sombre mood to his photos that I can never get enough of. His tones are always on point. It's not even just his work that's inspiring; he's really freaking nice!
@victormunt is another friend I admire greatly. I remember when I first took a trip through his gallery, I was mesmerized. He's definitely someone to go to if you're looking for some Mextures inspiration.
And then there's @barctic78. Bart was one of the first people I started following a year ago and when he eventually followed me back I had a moment of fan-girling. His photos are consistently wowing me and many of my forest shots are inspired by him.
Delve further into the world of Jade’s photography right here!