Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Recent Still Life Work

While I have been waiting for spring to arrive I have been busy doing still life work indoors. Spring always comes to my house before it does outdoors thanks to the beautiful spring blooms you can buy in the local supermarket and which I simply cannot resist every time I am there. This year I was pleasantly surprised to see anemones for a first time ever in a supermarket. And I noticed snowdrops in the park next to my house for a first time too as I now use the park to walk to the bus stop when I go to work.

By the time I picked these snowdrops they had fully opened. I think they are very pretty looking like they are about to take off! I bought the blue checked cloth and the earthenware pot specifically for a shot with them. I like the contrast between the delicate flowers and the sturdy pot. I teamed them with a vintage mantel clock blurred in the background for some extra interest. It also helped me with titling the image - I called it "Snowdrops Time".

This is a completely unplanned and spontaneous shot. As I was tidying up after a shoot the light suddenly changed and the window became bathed in lovely soft and gentle sunlight filtering into the room through the net curtains. I quickly grabbed the vase with pink hyacinths from the dinning room table and paired it with the first thing that came to my mind - the blue and white Delft candle holder. The post processing was very quick too - just one cloud and sky texture to add to the fleeting mood of the image and the pastel colour palette.

I love flowers and I love photographing them but I am finding it increasingly difficult to come up with fresh ideas of capturing them. You cannot go wrong with a simple composition so there it is: anemone sitting on top of my blue and white vintage candle holder. The anemone was actually red but I wanted to create an image with spring shades and feel so I changed the colour of the anemone to hot pink. I processed it subtly with the lovely Pastel Painterly Flypaper Textures which I have been using quite a lot lately.

I had been looking for a vintage ring for a while and have finally found one in one of my favourite vintage and antiques shops in Otley. It is a 1950s ring with a tiger eye stone and a concealed lip balm container. I love it, and of course, wanted to do a still life with it. I thought my little antique porcelain trinket box with a lovely cameo on its lid would be a suitable prop so I placed it behind the ring and made sure the cameo is just clear enough for the motif to be discernible. In post processing I darkened the area of the image behind the box and applied a heavy vignette to keep the eye in on the ring and the box, and to add a romantic note I used lace and veil texture layers.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A Couple of Interesting Place to Eat and Drink

One of the things I enjoy doing in life is visiting unusual hospitality places - restaurants, pub, cafes, tea rooms etc. Not only am I a gourmet and a big fan of good wine and coffee, but these places also offer different photo opportunities. I don't take my camera out here as I am a shy photographer, I just take photos with my mobile phone which I feel is less intrusive than a camera. It also handles low light scenes pretty well anyway, and is quick to use.


A lovely cafe situated in an old court in Otley, full of vintage and antique decorative objects giving it a lot of charm and character. It serves delicious home made food. It is very busy and usually it is hard to get a table, but yesterday I was lucky and it was the fourth time I tried!


This is a concert venue with a rock & roll spirit present throughout the building. I got to know about it through a blog I like to read, little birdie, and it is only around the corner from where I work so it was a must to visit. I was particularly interested in its unusual feature, the roof garden, and was pleased it was open even though it was very cold. As the photos show it is an amazing place and it must be delightful in summer. The canteen only has pizza and burgers on the menu but the burger was to die for!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Otley Bridge

It was a bitingly cold but sunny winter day at my favourite Otley. I decided it was too cold to be taking a lot of photos and spent most of my time looking around the shops. I paid a quick visit to the Wharfe Meadow Park and watched people feeding swans while I ate my lunch. The sunlight on the bridge arches and its reflections in the water were very attractive so I took a few shots. When I imported the pics onto my computer I was pleased to see that the light in shady areas was blue providing a nice colour contrast in the image. Composition-wise I liked best a shot that did not contain the figure of a woman in a red jacket. However I was keen on using the figure because the red was going to add another striking colour so I made a layer of it in Photoshop and merged it with my desired shot. I added textures and a bird brush, and also some radial blur to create dreaminess and draw the attention to the woman enjoying the view from the bridge.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Winter in Yorkshire

This is a typical English lower ground winter scene - no snow, and still quite a bit of colour around, especially in the grass. As someone on Flickr commented, but for the bare tree branches you would hardly know it is winter. I liked the little winding path with a stream next to it leading the eye towards the house, and I also liked the wooden fence posts. What I did not like and what nearly made me discard the image was the poor winter light making the scene look grey and drab. I knew I had to do something drastic to save this image. I decided to process it in a totally new and unusual way, not in my Elements 12 which I normally do, but online, in ipiccy.com. I played around and tried different things. I applied lens blur and hdr effects, a texture, a bird brush and can't remember what else, and ended up with this airy, I thought quite a creative watercolour look. I was pleased I managed to give a rather dull looking photo a new lease of life.



Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Winter Sunlight

It has been very cold with a lot of wind, snow (not settling) and rain. Not very motivating at all to go out with the camera, so I thought I would edit an earlier photo for posting to Flickr, and, of course, here on my blog.
I like the simplicity of the composition of this image with the remains of an old wooden gate giving it an unusual interest and contrast of tones. Also the lovely low sun casting a beautiful warm glow onto the snow. I felt the image would benefit from deeper, more colourful sky so I added a brownish "grunge snow" texture. It also created a nice soft vignette and made the sunlight golden. These days I try to use textures more carefully. I believe gone are the days when strong textures were a fashionable style of processing. It is good to use textures to enhance images but overuse can easily have a detrimental effect. It's all about measure....as always for that matter.



Friday, 16 January 2015

Still Life with Dahlias

I have always loved low key still lives but have only recently bought some dark background cloth. I thought if you applied a dark texture in post processing you got dark results no matter what the colour of the background. But it can be very difficult working that way, and often it is impossible to get the richness and crisp contrast of tones a dark background allows you to achieve.
I shot this image last October wanting to create an interesting and different autumn still life. The colourful and luscious dahlias must be the most beautiful  blooms at that time of year, and I had found some unusual looking autumn plants to team them up with. I hardly did anything to this image in photoshop, it just did not need much. You know you have a good shot when you can show it virtually straight out of camera. All I did is slightly deepened the colour of the background to make the set up stand out better, and I slightly decreased the highlights to get better detail in them.

Friday, 9 January 2015

My First Book Cover

I am a very very happy woman who has had a great start to the New Year learning I have sold a license for my first ever book cover at Trevillion Images. I have sold images before but I have always wanted to get a book cover being a great fan of books and literature. Now it has finally happened I am over the moon! The title will be released mid September so there is going to be a long wait before I can get my hands on it. In the meantime I can start saving for a camera upgrade.