Using Photography To Make Greeting Cards

Photography isn’t just, for me, an end in itself, as anyone reading this blog will know. I like to use it to illustrate, to investigate (macro gives an insight into another world) and to design. Recently I’ve discovered card making. Not just a photo printed on a card, but using photography to personalise cards and make them much more meaningful to the recipient. I take shots of friends and family from my archives and give them the Photoshop treatment. Then I print them, as photos on photographic paper. I then apply them to blank cards, and add extra embellishments and personal greetings before popping them in the post. Everyone’s so pleased with them I thought I’d share the idea and some of the photos I’ve used with you.

greeting card mum

Mum’s birthday card

Mum loved her card. Despite being over eighty, she looks great in ‘Marilyn’ mode. I achieved this by going, in Photoshop to image – black and white – and adding here the colour I want by playing with the tint hue and saturation tabs. Once I has the colour set, I took the image into the filter gallery. In this case, the film grain setting  under the ‘artistic’ tab finalised the effect. You will need to play with the filter gallery, as I’ve found that each photo I work with for these effects can be surprisingly different. It depends on background in the shot, the contrast in the image, the subject you are dealing with and many other factors. But these effects are well worth exploring, and it’s quite fun to do. Give it a try! Once I had the image as I wanted it, I added text, picking the colour for text from the creamy white in the image, so it all looks coordinated and works as a card front. To give the card a border, go to select – all, then select –  modify –  border. Choose the pixel width you want then go to edit – fill and choose the colour you want your border to be. You can use the colour picker to lift a colour from your image. Once you have the border as you want it, go back to select and choose deselect. You’re now ready for printing.

This next picture has a completely different technique.  It utilizes the sketch – photocopy function within the photo gallery and works well on clear, uncluttered photos. It seems to work well to comic effect, as on this card.

greeting card

Birthday card sketch

greeting card

Inside the card

This last one is fairly simple. I took a shot from a wedding speech and put it through the filter gallery. Here I used ‘film grain’ and the adjustment tabs to the right to get the flattering film star effect on this photo.

greeting card

Film grain card

Recipients seem to love them, so why not play in Photoshop and see what you can do? It’s got to be better than buying one, and you get to have fun in the process.

Druids Temple or Folly? – a photographic trip into the past

As you know if you follow my blog, we travelled a lot this summer around the UK. One trip was a camp with friends that ended in a rather special treat. Our good friend Pete took us to one of his favourite spots. A so-called Druids Temple in Yorkshire. Built in the 1800’s, we think it was used by the wealthy family for ceremonial purposes but can only guess just what kind of rituals were performed here. Some say it was just a folly, but the scale, detail and magnificence of it gave me the feeling it really wasn’t just a showpiece but a large piece of working kit. What do you think?

My Friend Pete proudly waiting at the entrance

A First Glance Inside. Scale.

Inside the Temple Space. This thing is huge!

The Inner Ring-not visible when you enter, with cave-like structure

Taken from above the 'cave'

Inside the Cave Structure. The standing stone in front of it shields it from view.

Friends above and behind the Temple - barely visible through the trees. Well hidden!

This is one set of photographs that was hard to pick out for you. In the three hours we were there I took over 100 shots trying to capture the flavour of a very mystical space. I hope these do it justice. A hidden gem from the past still there for us to enjoy. I look forward to visiting there again, probably next summer. Come on, what imagery of unusual place have you got on that hard drive of yours? Care to share?

 

Inspiration for Photography – Where does yours come from?

Where do you find inspiration when you take your camera out? Do you shoot friends? Do you concentrate on wildlife? Architecture? Do you experiment and see what happens? Are you willing to think outside the box? Personally I can’t help but keep trying new ideas. I can’t help shooting anything that takes my eye. When you look back on this blog at previous posts, you may be forgiven for thinking that all I’m interested in is flowers and animals. But here are a few of my experimental shots. I’ve never done night photography before, but on holiday this year, high on a hill overlooking the Brecon Beacons I was wending my way back to my camper when I stopped, looked and felt compelled to return with my camera. I’d been at a wedding all day. Then our camper had got stuck on the way back up to the site and I’d trekked, still in wedding gear, up the track to the site and across the field to our new found friends. They’d wrapped a blanket around me and the farmer helped get our van back on site. By now it was one in the morning so I was very tired But I had to try to capture what I saw for my own memories of the place. The wonderful, scenic place we’d found ourselves in after booking over the internet. Memories of my partner’s son’s wedding, memories of the friends we’d made on that hill around a camp fire in the dark. We’re still in touch, months later with those new friends. And the memories of the place are preserved.

Brecon Beacons at Night

This was the place during the day. Still beautiful, in not the best of weather conditions for a brilliant shots, but these aren’t intended for sale or for competitions. They’re for me and my partner to fondly look back on and share with friends and family.

Brecon Beacons

We left Wales and crossed the Severn Bridge. I’ve never been over it before and was interested in getting pictures of it but slightly worried because of my heights phobia. So I focussed (pardon the pun) and got busy with my camera. Of course you’re not allowed to stop on the bridge and my partner was driving. I could only point my camera out of the window and hope I was getting a good shot. I didn’t want our slightly grubby windscreen to interfere with the images, so used auto focus and kept my fingers crossed. I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Severn Bridge

Then I went for some more obscure angles, to see the structure of this wonderful bridge.

Bridge detail

Severn Bridge detail

No, they’re not perfectly composed. No, they wouldn’t be judged as great pictures. Does that matter? Quite frankly, no. What matters is that I have my memories and I have experimented and got interesting detail of that bridge I couldn’t have otherwise captured.

Wellies

When we reached our next destination on our trip, we were greeted by these in the entrance to our campsite. This is an image that was inspired by someone else’s inspiration to brighten up their site. If only more people helped to make the world a brighter, more recycled place. Delightful!

So where does YOUR inspiration come from?

Rare chance to Photograph Baby Birds

While on our travels this summer, we visited Porlock in Somerset. It’s a lovely little place with friendly people, a picturesque village and a visitor centre. Imagine my surprise when I saw a swallow flitting in and out of the  porch there, looked up and spied these swallows.

swallows

At least that’s what I think they are. Of course, if you know different…let me know, please! Here’s a close-up picture of the babies. All I could do, technique-wise, was steady the camera, point in the right direction, get someone to tell me when mum (or dad) was coming in and shoot with fingers crossed.

Baby Swallows?

Next Blog…Drowned forest at Porlock bay.

Photos Make Memories

Roundhouse

I’ve been away for a while, photographing everything I could on my travels. Photos make memories! Now it’s time to share some of them with you. This is the best use of anyones photos! Memories to shore you up through the less enjoyable times are worth their weight in gold. In July I attended a pagan camp that only happens once a year. It’s the only chance I get to catch up with old friends who, ten years ago were like me involved in building a modern-day stone circle. The owner of the land I also now consider an old friend. He turned his farm over to conservation and has done a wonderful job of making wildlife welcome.

He also makes people welcome. Since the stone circle was built, volunteers have also built a roundhouse on site. It’s a wonderful space, perfect for gathering together on a wet day or cold night. In the photo above, you can see the weather was awful and the fire lit! Laughter and music was in abundance, though, so our gathering didn’t let rain and cold in July spoil our re-union.

The roof structure is a work of art in itself. I couldn’t help myself. The camera came out even when we were sitting listening to music. I looked up and realised these were views I wouldn’t see again for another year…unless… I shot away.

Roundhouse Roof

Inside, we were all cosy. This picture is dark, but I respect people’s privacy, so the photo I’ve used gives you the flavour of the space without compromising that privacy as the people in it aren’t recognisable. Isn’t it cosy, though? Certainly much better than sitting in a wet tent! The site is a farm, not a camp site, so there are composting toilets and fresh water. Other than that, the roundhouse is the best shelter from the elements.

Roundhouse Interior

Outside, the carvings make wonderful shapes in the dusky light, as I noticed when I emerged, camera in hand, just as the light was fading, here’s what I saw.

Roundhouse Gateway

The weather was of course a key feature, as it always is when you’re living outdoors, even for a few days. Storms make for stunning skies, and I had to capture them.

Stormy Sky

We also had gorgeous sunsets. How many times do we have a wonderful sunset and it’s missed because we’re indoors? When you’re living outside, the wonders of our natural world are much more obvious and more easily appreciated. My memories of these fabulous days are now captured forever! These shots may not be the best technical examples of award-winning shots, but they’ll preserve Summer camp 2011 for me and I can revisit whenever I want. Make the most of your camera and preserve your travels, events and good times to see you through the darker days we all have.

Sunset on Camp 2011

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!

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?

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