I have a Photographer’s Dilemma

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And here it is. One pretty small garden, illness that often keeps me at home and my passion for photographing (and growing) flowers. Colour. I love to grow things that attract wildlife such as bees and butterflies. I support birds with food water and nest boxes all year round and have hedging plants that bear winter berries for them. The garden should be alive. Even the mice are allowed to steal a little food, and get caught live and released near a pond if they seem to be growing in numbers.

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Yet we are now bombarded with news about food shortages, and I’ve just planted new perennial flowers where I had veg last year. Do I carry on with my plan to get more butterflies and bees and hoverflies in the garden and squeeze the veg into tubs? Do I backtrack on my plan and move the plants out again? In such a small space I could grow a few spring onions, a couple of runner beans and a tomato plant, but when we realise just how overpopulated the world is and how tough things are getting, maybe we all should be doing what was done in Britain during the war and turning our gardens into vegetable plots.

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Perhaps we wouldn’t be in such a state if people wasted less, but I’ve composted everything I can for years. I do mean everything. Cotton T-shirts, waste paper baskets made of wicker, rat bedding, shredded paper and of course all kitchen waste that isn’t meat. We throw away very, very little. Compared to our neighbours, our bin collection and recycling collection is tiny. So what would you do? Food or flowers?

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Photoshop Tutorial Resources for Photographers

Watermead Country Park

Hi everyone. I hope you’re having a good weekend.  As  promised, I’ve been investigating some resources that could be useful if you wish to learn more about Photoshop and how to manipulate your images once downloaded. I’ve found some very interesting sites. Although it would take me weeks to work through all the information available on these sites, the tutorials I’ve read and watched seem very comprehensive and fairly straightforward to follow. So I’ll pass them onto you and you browse away to your heart’s content. The images I’ve posted today are from our walk yesterday at Watermead Country Park. For those of you who are interested, I’ve used a couple of waterfall shots from yesterdays post to create new products on Zazzle. I’m having fun building my shop there. Once I’ve finished photoshopping I enjoy seeing what products some of my shots would be suitable for then going and creating them. Now I just need more people to see them and like them. If you do pop into zazzle please let me know what you think.

Watermead Country Park

OK, here are the sites for your reference and a little about what each one has to offer.

http://www.russellbrown.com lots of video tutorials including creative masking without masking, green screen removal and clone painting. An interesting site with several sections. I’ve found the most useful stuff in ‘Tips and techniques’ and ‘Dr Brown Scripts’.

http://3rdelement.com/photoshop/a-letter-from-florence/ Very easy to watch video tutorials on all sorts of stuff including extracting an object from its background, masking and applying adjustment layers.

http://www.dpbestflow.org/ Find information on here about workflow, colour space, image editing, copyright registration, metadata and more. This is a very technical site but well laid out and with explanations that are easy to read an follow.

http://photoshopcafe.com/tutorials/pen/pen.htm loads of written tutorials, images are not very clear but info is good and directions easy to follow. CD/dvd tutorials available from author. Topics range from creating water drops on an image to using the pen tool.

http://designshack.co.uk/articles/css/create-seamless-web-background-textures-in-minutes written tutorials on subjects like creating seamless background textures in minutes and making reflections in Photoshop. There are weekly freebies inc free textured papers. A designers website with useful stuff for photographers. You’ll also find information about marketing and CSS. This site is well worth a look, although only some of the information relates to Photoshop and photography.

That’s it for now. If I find any more I’ll mention them in a later post. Of course, for those of you with full versions of Photoshop there is also the Adobe site itself. Happy Photoshopping! If anyone wants to add a cool resource they’ve found, please leave a comment. We’d all be more than grateful.

Birthday Wanderings into Beauty

Weir 1

It is my partners birthday today. We decided to take time out from computers and visit a previously unexplored local haven, Watermead Country Park near Leicester. What a gorgeous afternoon! The first thing we saw when entering the park was a weir, and I had to play. So I’ve given you three of the shots taken each with a different effect in mind. They are abstract shots, and all I changed between each was the shutter speed, then a little curve readjustments to get the effects I have done. On the last shot of the three, you can see the swirling water in front of the weir.

Weir 2

Weir 3

We watched herons fly overhead and glide down onto a lake, saw cormorants (I think) roosting in the trees and a beautiful sunset. We had to wrap up warm, but just look at the colour for this time of year! Imagine my delight, too when we found catkins. Looking up at them the contrast with the sky was stunning, so I had to show you. So today is all about winter wonder and my partners birthday.

Catkins

Gorgeous sunset

Watermead Country Park

Sunset at Watermead

We came home and had a lovely meal, candlelit of course. He’s now busy blogging, so I’m taking a moment to get this post out to you. I’m investigating some nifty websites with Photoshop tutorials. When I’ve finished going through them I’ll pass them on to you. Photoshop is and amazing programme that seems to have endless possibilities, and for those of you who, like me, want to do more with their photos than just shoot and post, I’m hoping to find some new ways of using Photoshop to enhance or even transform the humble photo.

Postcard from Preston

four weeks old and so cute!

Hi folks. I’ve been visiting family this last weekend-for Christmas! I fianlly got there and caught up with all the people I should have seen at or before Christmas but weather and bugs conspired to prevent. It was, I have to say, the best weekend I’ve had in a long time. We stayed with my sister who made us very welcome, and went to my nephews daughters fourth birthday party. That also gave me the chance to meet their new baby, only four weeks old. How cute! We also had a great time with my parents and spent a great Saturday night at my older son’s with his partner and my granddaughter. Fabulous! So I thought I’d share a few photos of the weekend. I’m sure they won’t mind.

the cake yum!

Kayleigh and her cake

aren't they cute when left to play with their new toys?

Pam, my sister, the proud grandma

I’m also sure my sister won’t mind if I tell you that she is a fabulous singer! That’s all I’ve had time this weekend to do and tell you about. whilst there, we were so busy that despite having my laptop there wasn’t time even to check email properly, so today is one mad dash to catch up. But it was time well spent and we felt it made up for our rotten, poorly Christmas. I got to see everyone open their presents, and they gave us ours. It was actually better than a normal Christmas, as everyone was more relaxed (I presume because the stress of the season is all over) and of course because all the bugs have left and everyone was well. I hope you all are, too.

Nature’s Imagination or is that My Imagination?

I’ve been collecting the images in this post for some time now. I’m often amazed at some of the forms nature takes, all by itself. I’m sure it has no idea what happens when humans look at it and see something I’m sure it never intended. But I find them entertaining, interesting and different, as you could not invent these forms. Some are only apparent in certain light. I’ll tell you what I can see. It might just be me. But if you can see it too please let me know, so I know I’m not just a batty old nature lover with an over-active imagination!

The image above is a lump of rotting wood I dragged home to place in my garden. Looking out of the window I saw a wolf. Do you?

This one we call ‘sex on a stick’. Can you see why? It’s a log I took from a pile my friend had bought for her wood burning stove in Scotland. Once the bark was removed it became an ornament that many have asked about. They wanted to buy one!

Here’s another shot from another angle of the same log.

This last one is in woodland close to where I live. The rock it’s growing against is pre-Cambrian, some of the oldest rock here in the UK. but look at the tree. I see a female form, arms above her head, posing beautifully. Do you, or am I crackers?

When I find these things I can’t help but photograph them, although they’re never going to end up on my website as saleable images, in my private collection they do create interest among friends.

Fantastic. I’ve got my wish! Extension tubes for my Nikon on the way.

Well, yesterday was brilliant. After  a ropy start to the year I found on Ebay the set of extension tubes for my Nikon I never thought I could afford. It took an hour of nail-biting tension to get them, but I won at a price I can afford in the last few minutes and I’m thrilled. From what I’ve read, with my macro zoom lens and these babies I’ll have more than 1:1 macro at my disposal. A whole new world is about to open up to me and I simply can’t wait!!! How exciting!

The mind boggles. Eyes, details of plants, details of spiders and webs, insects and butterflies, frost and even fruit, all macro style. Of course I’ll share some of the results for you once I’ve had a play with them. You never know, I might even get something good enough to put on zazzle products or my website.

Zazzle has kept me pretty busy, and I’ve added today some fire art products that should be online tomorrow. It’s fun designing and especially using images I never thought I would find a way to share with the world.

The fire art is something we can only do when we’re camping on plenty of land. six feet of Kevlar rope is dipped in paraffin and set alight. My partner then whirls it around while I do long exposures and we hope for the best. It’s entertained many people and I’m hoping the images will be popular. Let me know what you think. If you look carefully you can just see a human form in the middle of the fire. Click on the image to enlarge it.

One of our fire art photos

Think Abstract for Something Different in your Album

I fought shy of doing abstract when I first took up photography with serious intent. I wanted to record things exactly as they are. Then I realised I was missing a lot of good interesting shots that were no less valuable, either to my art form or my albums.

So I started thinking differently about my composition and what I’d be prepared to shoot. One night, while accompanying my partner on a business trip to Glasgow we sat in the hotel restaurant watching the rain. I noticed the lights outside and their distortion caused by the wet glass. One quick shot later I had this.

Rain

Here, I went to the Botanic gardens and for a moment took my eyes off the plants and flowers and looked up. Kibble Palace

This next one hasn’t been cropped and I grant you should be, but I wanted to show you the original effect. You can see how it could be cropped on both sides to get a more balanced. picture. I could also have turned the camera sideways, of course, but the effect was only possible if I used one hand to touch the plasma ball. Assistant please!

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And the one above is a close-up of the inside of a tepee. I looked up again! Of course I have the photos of the interior and of my friends inside it, but I value these less common images. They make me smile, agencies quite like them and they do serve as reminders of the time I took them They are also a talking point when others are look through my albums. So add a little something unusual to your collection of photos. Don’t just take snapshots, but look for the abstract to get something a bit more arty.

And finally…

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I’ll leave you to wonder what this is.

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