Sunday, 26 October 2014

Through Chevin Forest Park to the White House, Otley

I have always been attracted to the White House which can be seen from the heart of Otley high up on the hill in the middle of Chevin Forest Park. This particular misty October Sunday morning seemed like a perfect time for a first visit. I got to Otley fairly early and set off along the lovely cobbled Station Road that has beautiful houses and front gardens towards the entrance to the park. I was delighted with the misty scenery. The White House was built at the beginning of the 18th century and was a farm house at the time. Today it is the Visitors's Centre for The Chevin Forest Park. There is also a cafe for refreshments that was open but on this occasion I did not go in as I was not ready to stop exploring yet. I walked past the house into the woods and as I did so the sun slowly started to show through the trees creating a magic atmosphere. By the time I got onto Johnny Lane leading down back to Otley the mist had lifted altogether and the misty morning turned into a beautiful sunny autumn day.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Still Life with Red Leaves

I wish I could easily find out the names of all the lovely plants I come across. I came across this one on my way home from work one evening. There was a lot of long stems with beautiful red leaves hanging down over someone's fence. I guess it is some type of vine. I thought I'd cut a few stems for some autumn still life work. An idea came quickly to me to use an old earthenware beer bottle to prop up a stem and form an arch. Then I thought of "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" I have had for a while. It is in the form of printed manuscript and is full of beautiful drawings from nature. For my still life with the red leaves I chose a page with just handwriting on it and the one with the "October" heading seemed particular suitable as it underlines the autumn theme and suggests the time of year the image was made.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Otely I

I first visited Otley, a little old and picturesque market town in Mid-Wharfedale years ago. I was very impressed straight away but it is only recently that I actually fell in love with it. I realized Otley has everything I love in one place - unusual and quaint shops, antiques and vintage shops, charity shops, a great florist's, cosy traditional tea rooms, charming streets and passages as well as beautiful countryside on its doorstep. And all that with just half an hour pleasant drive from my home! I go to Otley every other week now and always come back very happy with a few good shots and a goodie or two in the shopping bag. Photographing Otley is going to be an ongoing little project for me and I will be posting five images at a time as I finish processing them. Here is the first lot.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Still Life with Asters

September brings asters which I like very much. They are so colourful and pretty with their numerous tiny petals and different colour centres. They are also inexpensive and last long. This year for a first time I came across phlox - the little pink flowers that smell gorgeous. I paired them with red asters and used my old milk churn for some vintage looking still life images. I thought I'd use a different approach for each shot so the first one is a set up still life, the second one "found" still life (my kitchen window as it was at the time of shooting) and then I went for a very simple, minimalist look using a single flower and a small milk bottle.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

September Beauties

Just a couple of pretty sights you can see in nature in September. Wish I had some scissors with me to cut and take a few thistle stems home. They would look lovely in an autumn theme still life. And I love sedum. It starts changing its green colour about this time of year and ends up being any of the most gorgeous deep pink and red colours later on in autumn. The first image I processed with a couple of textures and actions and the second one is more or less straight out of camera apart from one or two basic tweaks.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Still Life Background

I finally have solved the issue of backgrounds for my still life work. I could not find anything small enough that would be suitable for my tabletop work to buy. All photographic backdrops seem to be designed for portraiture work and are much too big for still life. It took me years to come up with a solution. I bought a cheap curtain pole at work, removed the rings and ask G to fit it above the chest of drawers I use as my tabletop. I also bought a white and a grey bed sheet that I can easily and quickly throw over the pole to create a backdrop. They are long enough to cover the top of the chest of drawers too if I want the background and tabletop to merge into one in the image. And when the pole is not in use I simply wrap a silky scarf around it to make a feature of it. Quite pleased about it all. Just need to buy a black sheet too and my makeshift bakcground collection will be complete.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Apricots and Snapdragon

I like to regularly create still life images but I must admit I have really struggled recently. I would prepare and set up a combination of elements, shoot a few frames, look at the result and then discarded it all as I just would not like it. And time after time I would dejectedly put everything away and tidy up without having a decent image in hand. I looked on internet for inspiration. I sort of lean towards classic still lifes consisting of more than two elements and that is the main reason why often it is not easy. It can be difficult to achieve a happy set up where the elements work well together. Then it occurred to me I can also get that vintage and rustic look by shooting just one or two objects at most. I started looking at simple, even minimalist still life images, primarily those by Jill Ferry whom I always admired very much, and slowly I could feel my mojo coming back to me. All of a sudden ideas started filling my head and I felt a rush of excitement as I usually do when I have a picture in my mind that I want to realize.

For the image below I simply took my small vintage bowl and put in it some supermarket bought seasonal fruit and flowers. I used my new laminate floor remnant as the tabletop which I blurred in post processing. I also used a stepladder to get an elevated view point, something I have never done before but like it so much I will use it freely from now on.