Photography Blog Interview-an honour

Many thanks to Ed of Exhibitions Without Walls fame! I’m honoured to say he asked me to do a guest interview with them. This was not an easy interview, asking some searching questions, but I enjoyed the challenge. If you would like to read it, and see the photographs chosen to accompany it, you can find me here. You’ll need to click read more at the end of the visible part of my interview to see it in full.

sempervivum photograph

sempervivum

Exhibitions without walls is a website devoted to photographers and digital artists, holding competitions six times a year. It’s worth checking out if you fancy a challenge, as the quality of images is very high. It’s also worth getting your camera out  and having a go!  Nothing ventured, nothing gained. They have a blog too, which is where they showcase digital artists and photographers, and where you’ll find me. Thanks again, Ed, for the opportunity.

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.

Photographer Filtering out Distractions

 

Rubbish

 

I had a bit of an accident yesterday and scalded my wrist. This pretty much knocked me for six and all my plans from thereon in were scuppered. We had to spend nearly two hours at the Walk-in Centre but they soon sorted me out. So my partner lost two hours work, I ended up further behind than I should have been and really should just have slowed down. It would have saved pain AND time. Time I really needed to get on with photo processing and new images.

 

Primrose

 

It made me think, though, about filtering out distractions. The scald was done in the first place because I was trying to do too many things at once, reached over the kettle and caught the blast of steam on my wrist. I’m old enough to know better, but was NOT filtering out distractions. I seem to be much better at that with a camera in my hand. Filters on cameras, of course, can filter out unwanted flare etc, framing filters out unwanted objects that might distract the viewer and Photoshop filters can be used to remove distracting elements either by calming their colours or blending them into the composition better.

 

My neighbour's front garden

 

In life, we are constantly distracted. Advertising, yet another human catastrophe, noisy neighbours, a TV show, phone calls. What stops you concentrating? My pet problems are

1/ Noise-unfortunately I live in quite a noisy area. People shout when they could walk and talk, their dogs bark incessantly, their children scream.

2/They throw rubbish around and let their kids run riot.

3/Terrible human tragedies

4/Phone calls.

5/Housework

I cope with number one by wearing headphones and playing myself music when trying to write or process images. The music depends on what I’m writing/doing. Today it’s Anastacia. I need cheering up and some extra energy.

The rubbish? I try to concentrate on the beauty around me. Today’s photos are by way of antidote, but there’s one shot of the stuff that could depress me if I allowed it to. Spring is here! Flowers, greenery, new life. We have to celebrate the positives in life or we’d truly go mad. I do my garden, make my bit of the planet as rich in wildlife as I can, grow beautiful things to surround myself with.

Tragedies? All any of us can do is sympathise, contribute to relief efforts financially and refer to our spiritual beliefs for comfort. Then go back to putting beauty and joy back into the world. How else would there be any balance and how else do we stay sane in a mad world?

Phone calls? Can’t hear them with headphones on. That helps. But if stuff has to be dealt with then do it as soon as possible then get back to work!

Housework? Do it as quickly as possible without scalding or maiming myself, and try not to let it distract me if there’s stuff left to be done.

 

Grape hyacinth. Small but a welcome distraction!

On the subject of filters, I’ve recently been given by my father and a friend, some new filters for my camera, and some extra ones for Photoshop. So I’ve definitely got plenty to do learning how to use them and finding out what I can make them do. I’ll keep you posted as I hopefully make progress. I’ll try to filter out the distractions that slow me down. What do you need to filter out?

 

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.

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.

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!

DSC_3086

IMG_4736

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…

IMG_4698

I’ll leave you to wonder what this is.

Happy New Year! New Enterprise for 2011

Well, the bug that blighted Christmas has finally vacated my system. While it laid me low all the holiday, I did get a chance to think long and hard about where I go from selling images from my website. As this is my only income I’ve had to think of ways to increase business. Disenchanted with agencies I spent time surfing and talking over the holiday and it has sparked me into a new form of creativity. I’ve opened a shop at Zazzle. I’m busy ‘making’ new products that can be purchased from my own store with them. They do an amazing range of items from giftware to office bits and bobs, like mousemats and mugs, so I’ve started with them. the images in today’s post have been used on the products, and I’m going to be kept very busy building up the store with new designs.

It’s all rather exciting, and I feel invigorated by having found a new outlet for my work. I’ve lots of ideas for new pictures, but need to spend time with Photoshop to get some of the effects I’ll need for my designs. Some good may have come from the isolation we’ve had this holiday. I’m even considering entering some photographic competitions, something I’ve avoided so far as I’m not really a competitive person.

As this is my first post of 2011 I’ll wish you all a very happy prosperous new year. Good luck with your own visions and dreams.

What would you buy if you loved the design?

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