Have You Had Your Daily Dose Of Beauty?

beauty abounds

It’s about time. There is so much horrible stuff going on in the world I thought a timely reminder that there is free beauty out there we can all share just might be welcome. It’s easy to get caught up in all the war and nastiness, the economic doom and gloom and walk around with clouds around our heads. But if we blow the cobwebs away, perhaps with a short walk or drive into the countryside, perhaps just a stroll round the garden and open our eyes, beauty is all around us. My garden has been adopted by a baby blackbird who obviously left the nest a few days early. He sits listening to me when I go out to throw him some mealworms and apple to feed him up, then dives straight onto the food. He is gorgeous! I can’t show you, because the danger of me taking the camera out there is that he’ll panic and end up food for a local cat.

Calendula beauty. Pure sunshine in a flower

But flowers don’t get frightened! So today’s pictures are here as testimonial to the wonderful world we live in, even if us humans do make a mess of it, the beauty still abounds, and we should hang onto it with all our might. Some of these shots were taken before I bought my trusty Nikon, but nonetheless remind me of lovely times of gorgeousness that helped me switch my brain into a more positive mode. I hope they do the same for you.

Mint. Beautiful flavour, beautiful flowers

Spring has brought me inspiration. I’ve been taking photos, seeing friends (it was a long, lonely winter) and working on new projects. I discovered a couple of weeks ago a site called Squidoo. What fun! And it’s somewhere I can showcase my work with photography and with Zazzle. Having started with WordPress last year as a reluctant technophobe, I appear to be well and truly hooked on computer wizardry. I’ve been so wrapped up in all of this I hadn’t realised I’d been neglecting my blog. oops! Finding the time to do everything is getting more difficult, but I can’t complain. At least all of this keeps me busy and making lots of new cyberfriends. In case you’re interested, Squidoo is a great site for doing very tightly focussed ‘lenses’ that deal with one subject and really go into detail about it, usually with accompanying links to relevant sites and helpful hints and tips, plus where to buy relevant stuff. It’s quite easy to get lost in it for hours – much like on WordPress. I’ve so far made eight of these lenses, some of which are photography and flower ones. It gives me the opportunity to write about subjects that wouldn’t really fit under a general photography blog like this one, so I feel the two compliment each other. You might want to take a peek at my Grow Hellebores in Your Garden  lens or Spirals or even wild flower garden one.

Happy Spring!
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Photographer Spreading the Word. Work is For Sale

It’s been a busy old week. Having spent three glorious sunny days last weekend catching up with the gardening, when the weather turned cool I came indoors and began  working on actually being found on the wonderful web. As we no longer have effective agencies to sell our work, us creatives have had to find creative solutions to the question ‘how do I get seen?’ Of course a WordPress blog and a website is a start, but experience has shown me it’s not enough to get you off the ‘starving artist’ income I’d like to avoid.

So I investigated Squidoo. The first day was a nightmare. This none techy person was alsmot driven to the point of baldness and rescued by advice from Zazzle people and my partner. The second day I mastered some of the technique need to build a Squidoo lens. Now I’ve got something to tell you about! I’ve made three lenses so far. (go on, cheer!).

Lenses are very specific. Apparently, the more focussed they are, the more successful they are. So I have one on Digital flower art, one on Photographic Flower Art and one all about hellebores, which I featured in a recent WordPress post. They are quite good fun to do, once you learn the system.

I’ve not stopped taking photos, needless to say! So todays offering is an arum lily. My partner brought them for me (yes, he’s a sweetie, though that might ruin his street cred). It’s not an easy flower to photograph, I’ve found. But I’m fairly satisfied with the result. What do you think?

Spring’s Spectacular Displays

Tulip Tarda Macro

Hyacinth Macro

Primula Denticulata close-up

Fritillaria Milleagris

Bee Fly

Spring Finally arrived, bringing colour and life into my garden. Hooray! It’s hard NOT to be dazzled by the sheer exuberance of spring flowers. They shine out even on the gloomiest of days, announcing their wares to the insect world. While taking my photos of these glorious blooms something caught my eye. I thought at first it was a busy bee. I tried to capture its image on a hyacinth, but it didn’t stay put long enough and I chased it around the flowers until it landed where I feed the birds. Here it sat, grooming itself as I watched it through my Zoom macro lens. I found out later it’s a bee fly. They sip nectar as adults, but lay their eggs in solitary bees nests, where the grubs hatch out and feed on the bee grubs. Gruesome yet fascinating. Everything seems to have parasites, once you look closely enough.

Anyway, it hasn’t deterred my enthusiasm for spring. I wish I had the energy to jump up and down about it. Writing and taking photos and smiling like a Cheshire cat will have to do. Happy spring, folks everywhere. What’s blooming in your garden?

My Photos on Products

Just a quick post today to show off the products from Zazzle we ordered as gifts. I’m really pleased with them and can now vouch for the quality Zazzle produce. The mousemat is thick durable, and comfortable under the wrist. The mugs are great! I’m glad I decided to use some of my photos this way, as well as offering others as prints on my freshly updated website.

Here are photos of them, modelled by my partner Jon.

 

Shell Mug

Houseleek mugs

Pride Mousemat

 

 

Macro Versatility and Creativity plus Website Updated

How can I ignore the fantastic shapes and forms of flowers? They are beautiful, fascinating and better than anything humans could design!

Hellebore, seed pods forming

Hellebore, flower fertilised

Hellebore, freshly opened flower

Hellebore just opening

These last shots are as close as I can get with my equipment, and give you an idea about the creative us of macro. It doesn’t matter if the entire shot is not in focus. Throw some of the image out of focus and use it to create a softer, more artistic picture.

Hellebore macro creative 1

Hellebore macro creative 2

Who can resist such diversity on one plant? I think some of my friends believe I’m a bit strange as I wander around in my macro world. They miss it, busy getting to the next point (eg the car or the shop). What fantastic stuff they walk past and never see! It’s all there for free and beats a lot of entertainment you pay an arm and a leg for.

What can you see in your garden? Do you have a magnifying glass? Take it with you. Or get the camera out and have a closer look. There’s a miniature world waiting for you to discover it. Be careful, though. You might just find yourself buying extension tubes or macro lenses. Then you know you’re hooked.

PS I’ve cracked it! Sorted my website out, put lots of new images up, organised my prices and sizes and actually got PayPal to work so that my customers can get the image they want with minimum hassle to them. Whew! As a photographer and not a web designer, this was no mean feat, despite using a great web hosting service. I’m just not cut out to understand the logic of the silicon chip! It’s abstract and can’t be composed in a frame. You’re welcome to visit and let me know what you think!

Of course, there are some macro shots on there now, soon to be joined by more. I haven’t just been playing with raindrops. As you know, flowers attract my eye more than anything else usually.

Magic Macro Moments-What’s in a Raindrop?

I’ve been playing again. I’m finding macro both fascintating and frustrating. Here’s what happens. I spot gorgeous raindrops on a plant. Then I rush outside, camera in hand. Set up the tripod, switch off image stabilisation, focus with all my concentration, camera on delay shutter release. The raindrop is in perfect focus. Then…whooosh. One tiny bit of breeze makes the leaf shudder and my shot useless. Try again! And again, and again. Then there’s the light, changing by the second, changing the reflections, the brightness of the shot, the sparkle appearing and disappearing. I think you need almost as much patience to take macro shots as you do to shoot wildlife. But the results are both as rewarding and fascinating as wildlife. A whole world in a raindrop! I’ve had a lot of people asking me about macro, and how to go about it. Here’s what I do.

The biggest problem, you’ll quickly realise with macro, is that you have a long lens, possibly with extension tubes, as I do. The minutest movement will be magnified, cause camera shake and blur the shot.

Use a good tripod making your camera as still and stable as possible.

If you have delayed shutter release on your camera, use it. It locks the mirror up before the shutter is released, thereby reducing any camera shake from the mirror movement.

If not, use a remote or wired cable to press the shutter, as this will also reduce any camera shake.

Spend time getting the focus as you want it. Increasing depth of field will enable more in the shot to be in focus, but increase shutter speed. Only you can decide how much time you can allow the shutter, given your lighting and weather conditions. If it is the slightest bit breezy you’ll need the highest shutter speed you can obtain, therefore the smallest depth of field. Be creative and position your main focus of interest well in the frame, allowing the blur of out of focus items to frame the shot. I sometimes underexposed slightly to allow a faster shutter speed. I can correct this under exposure in Photoshop, as I shoot in RAW.

After shot processing usually means a simple exposure adjustment, a little colour and contrast boosting and cropping to improve the framing if necessary.

Macro can be taken to different levels. In the first two shots I’ve used all my extension tubes on my Nikon D90 with a 70-300mm Tamron lens, but didn’t switch it to macro, just zoomed in as much as I could.

Macro water 1

Macro water 2

The next few are full-on maximum, with my current equipment, macro. All extension tubes, lens on full zoom and maximum macro, focussed as carefully as humanly possible. It’s another world in those raindrops! Oh, of course you can cheat. No rain? Get the watering can out and give that plant a sprinkle. This works really well on alchemilla mollis (ladies mantle), which naturally hold rainrops like jewels, due to the tiny hairs on its surface.

Marco water3

Macro water 4

Macro water 5

Macro water 6

Macro water 7

This last shot is full on macro, but I put the tripod a little further away as I liked the jewel like quality of the smaller water droplets.

Have fun with macro and investigate another world!

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