03/23/2012 03:13 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2012

Magically Change the Proportion of Your Photographs With the App 'Liquid Scale'



You can use the app Liquid Scale to distort the frame of an image without distorting key elements in it. Like Adobe Photoshop's Content Aware Scale, this software identifies image elements that are most likely to be more important than others and distorts other areas, typically areas that are smooth or randomly textured. There are limits to how far you can go before less distorted image elements begin to look unnatural, which are largely image dependent. In some cases, you can go so far as to convincingly turn a vertical image into a horizontal image. It's magic.

There are at least two important reasons to use this app. One reason is to change the proportion of an image's frame. One cannot underestimate the expressive potential of the proportion of the frame. By making a frame taller or wider you can accentuate both the way the eye flows through an image and it's emotional tone. Another reason is to bring objects closer together. A tried and true way of making images stronger is to reduce amount of dead space between important elements. When you do this, you strengthen the relationships between objects by bringing them in closer proximity with one another.

It takes three or four simple steps to get results with this app. First, take a photograph with the app or load an existing image into it. Second, use the +/- icon to paint a mask over the areas that you would like preserved; use the green plus to paint on areas to be preserved and the red minus to paint on areas to be transformed; in some cases this step is unnecessary as the transformations without masking frequently work. Third, tap either the arrow at the top or bottom of the frame to distort the image vertically or the arrow to either side of the frame to distort the image horizontally. Finally, drag the arrows toward the center of the frame and evaluate the distortion; during this process you'll see white seam lines along which the greatest transformation to the image takes place; in some cases you may need to wait a few seconds for the preview to be generated.

The app compacts rather than expands images, so when you use it, you will lose some resolution, but this can easily be overcome by resizing the results and sharpening with other apps.

This app will do more than change your images, it will change the way you see. Practice using Liquid Scale and you'll start thinking about taking and making photographs in new ways. You'll see many more new opportunities for creating successful images around you.

Which image in the slideshow dp you think is undistorted? Comment below. I'll provide the answer shortly.

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John Paul Caponigro is an environmental artist and author, who leads workshops, seminars, and lectures internationally. Learn more at