Thought for the Week

"A hug is a perfect gift - one size fits all and nobody minds if you give it back."

The 'How To' guide

Lots of you wanted to know how the images in my last post were created, so this post will give you all the information you need, not only to understand how they were created, but to have a go yourself. It really is simple.

The images were created from nothing more than smoke. Yep, really. The clue was in the title folks!!

I was going to write up a brief description on how to do it, but thought it would be easier to follow the original instructions instead of my ramblings, so what follows are photo's of the magazine pages which tell you everything you need to know from what equipment, how to set it up, right through to how to process and colour them in Photoshop.

I hope that if you click on the images they will be sufficiently large for you all to read the instructions.

Happy Snapping to you all, and if any of you create your own pictures, please drop by and let me know how you got on, I would love to see them.

Smoke Signals

Some of you may remember the photo I posted of bubbles, a very creative shot I produced after reading 'how to' in my camera magazine. For those of you that haven't been visiting since 2006, you can find it in my post 26things January 2006 . The only equipment needed to produce the picture was a pint glass, straw, washing up liquid and a bit of time.

Well, this month's magazine provided another of these gems. Something so simple you could do it at home with minimum kit and even better, with minimum time. The completed images they showed in the magazine were so fantastic I couldn't see how I could photograph something so beautiful, let alone reproduce them, but it gave all the 'need to know' info...

... so I just had to have a go and here are some of the results:

I hope you enjoyed looking at these as much as I enjoyed producing them.

Merry Christmas everyone. x

Photographic work

I know, I know, you're all fed up with seeing those damn fireworks on here... or maybe no-one is visiting anymore cos it's been so long since I posted!!!

As I don't have the energy to blog, but am missing you all so much I thought I would share a couple of pieces I have been working on for the current unit of portraiture and the human form in my AS course. If you haven't already guessed, this is where my limited energy is being spent!

After researching other photographers and/or artists we are meant to try to replicate at least one piece and also to show that our own photographic work has been directly influenced by what we have researched.

With this in mind, whilst conducting my research I came across this composite photograph by the great Jerry Uelsmann. It touched me instantly, being such a strong image I knew it would be the one I would recreate.

This is Uelsmann work, entitled 'Symbolic Mutation', produced in 1961

This is my reproduction with my own photo's which I have titled "Wife Beater"

I was also influenced by some of his other work. Many of his images involve hands, often with the sea or a landscape in them and figures of some description.

The following, although not a copy of his work was influenced by it, and is a piece that I am really pleased with.

I entitled it "In God's Hands"


A few photo's from a firework party I went to last weekend.

The Wedding

These are a few of the photo's from last weeks wedding shoot, as promised. As you can see, the shots at the reception, in very low light, leave a lot to be desired, but it was the beginning of a very steep learning curve for me!!

'M' is for ....


I know, I know, it's almost a week late, but my regular readers will know why and you are all very supportive about my severe lack of scheduling recently, for which I thank you, and again, apologies for not being able to visit you all regularly. x

As you know, I have just shot my first wedding, so I thought I would catch up with ABC by posting a wedding photograph depicting the marriage of a friend of mine from college last year.

I haven't had time to photoshop as yet, so this is the image captured in the camera. It needs a little work yet, but I wanted to post 'M' before 'N' comes along on Wednesday!!! I might even shock you all and actually post the next one on time. Don't hold your breath though... lol

As for the other wedding pics, I will try to put a post together and show you a few. All I can say is I still have a lot to learn about photography in dimly lit rooms of moving people!!!!!!

Wedding Photography.

Thx to everyone for your encouragement and comments over my photos, you guys rock.

The trip to Middlesbrough went well, although there was no time for sight seeing, it served it's purpose and was very worthwhile. Of course I paid for it yesterday and spent the entire day doing absolutely nothing!

Have been recouperating so that I have the energy for tomorrow, Saturday, when I am shooting a friends wedding!!! God help me!!! It's the first one I have ever done. I have not been hired as a 'professional', neither have I been paid as such, so I am sure it will be fine, but I want to do the happy couple proud, and am quite nervous about it. It's the glare of the white dress with flash that scares me most I have to say, but I am well prepared and I guess what will be will be.

My friend works in an area that means she is in contact with Photoshop everyday, and is very accomplished at using it. She has simply asked me to shoot in RAW and put the photo's on a disc so that she can choose her own images and will do all the manipulation herself too, so I get to shoot the photo's with none of the post processing/album sorting/print worries. Suits me just fine!

Will let you all know how I get on.

Catch Up

Up and down, changing day to day. On Friday I had the best day I'd had in ages, and was feeling quite positive that I would be able to start my return to work in a fortnights time when I see my GP again. Then Saturday I had the worst day I'd had in several weeks. It's so bloody frustrating, I just wish I knew how much longer it's gonna take to recover. This is seriously doing my head in! A trip away tomorrow I suspect will leave me with more frustrations, as it is way more than I should be doing, but unavoidable... such is life.

Tomorrow I am driving 330 miles from home to Middlesbrough. To be precise, to Teeside University. My daughter is hoping to attend the Uni next year after the completion of her Access course and they have an open day, which will provide her with a real insight into the course, the campus and the area. We are travelling up by car, and I am driving. The AA travel planner logs the route at 5 hours 50 minutes, but I'm sure I can knock a bit off that, traffic conditions permitting. We are staying overnight, and then spending Wednesday at the University.

Unfortunately, due to work commitments, she is not able to stop for 2 nights, as this would have given us the ideal opportunity to visit the moors and the local area in more detail. It would also have meant that I didn't have to do the return drive after a full days activity. Is such a shame, we both wanted to venture onto the moors, and I was hoping to take my SLR camera for the obligatory shots!!

With the lack of time, I don't think I will have the chance for much in the way of photography, but I will take my little point and shoot in case I get the chance for a couple of shots!

I have let 2 anniversaries slip by unnoticed too, for one reason or another. The first was my 1st anniversary here in blogland, which was way back at the beginning of September. What a long time ago that seems now! The second was my 21st. No, not my birthday, I wish, but my wedding anniversary last Thursday.

I am continuing the enjoyment the Camera Club provides with regards to learning about photography in more detail, and also in being very critical about my own photographs that I produce to enter into the regular competitions they hold.

I have participated in the first 2 digital image comps already, and last week I entered the 1st print competition of the season. I spent ages trawling through my photo's, finding a very good reason why each would not quite cut the mustard so to speak! Having by that time, already sat through the judging session of the 1st digital comp, I had the judges comments ringing in my ears!!!

Not happy with any I had, I went out to shoot for the 'perfect' shot. It will be a long time before I produce such an ... but this was the second photograph I took that day, and the one I entered into the competition. I'll let you know how many holes the judge picks in it when the competition is judged later this month.

One of the categories they have for the digital competitions is 'Creative'. This is meant to be more than just taking a photograph and applying a filter in photoshop.

This is what I entered in Digital 1, which was judged at 18 pts. (The marks are always out of 20)

... and this is what I entered in Digital 2 ...

... in preparation for the third entry, this is the beginnings of an idea for Digital 3. The sharpness of this image is not right, I need a much greater DOP, but I was playing with the idea, and will hopefully shoot the eye again to create the image I enter. Each entry has to be titled, and after much deliberation, I think I found a fitting title for this effort. You may need to click on the image to really see what's going on:

Sight Seeing

London Day 2

London Day 1 can be read here

Day 2 began at 7am, after about 4 hours sleep for the both of us following our inability to stop talking the night before and actually go to sleep!

Today, we were going to meet our American blogger friends Cherri & Hardin. We had to be out of our hotel by 10:00 but were unable to check into the new hotel until 11:00. We sat in the breakfast room chatting some more about what today might bring, and what we might do with Cherri & Hardin and the morning news was on the TV behind me, churning out the latest events locally and nationally. For some reason, half way through brekky, I turned to look at the TV and noticed, right there on the shelf beside it was another TV, but this was not tuned into a station, this was showing the view of the security camera which surveyed the exterior of the front door and the steps. The very same steps we sat on at 2 in the morning in our night

We decided that we would walk down the road and see if we could hook up with Cherrie & Hardin earlier than planned. Originally we hadn't planned to travel up the day before and so our timings gave us more time. We tried the hotel we were booked into that night, but the owner was unable to tell us if they were there or not. We would have to wait until we booked in, when his son would be able to furnish us with this information.

We did a little wandering, and sat in the park for a while, watching a very cute dog fetching a stick, well it was more of a small branch really, for his owner's amusement.

There were a group of guys on the next bench along the park, a little lively but harmless looking.

One of the older guys approached us and began to sing for us, it was quite amusing really, and some of the other guys in the group seemed to think so too. He saw the camera and said we should take his photo, so we did, of course. For a while, he sat on the bench with us, telling tales of his daughter and his life and was really very friendly. After a small ruck broke out between a girl and one of the guys on the other bench, we thought it was time to move on, and left again.

It was time. Time to collect our suitcases from hotel one and move into hotel two. I think we were both quite nervous about meeting Cherrie & Hardin. We didn't know them as well as we had gotten to know each other over the past couple of years. I didn't even know what they looked like! But it was exciting. Heading for the hotel, wondering what the first words would be. It was earlier than planned, would they even be there?

We'd had a laugh walking down the road as to how you ask the whereabouts of someone you think you remember the first name of but have absolutely NO idea of their surname!!! We checked in and then asked, referring to them by christian names only.

"The American couple" came the reply from the owners son,
"Yes, they checked in yesterday, and they are in room 21"

Phew, that was easy. We took our cases to the room, and went to knock on their door. Stood like two little, giggly school girls in the corridor, each egging the other one to front the initial introductions!

"You knock"

"No, you knock"

This went on for what seemed like ages, whilst the maid in the corridor gave us wry looks with a somewhat confused look on her face. Eventually, Laney knocked, and we stood there waiting. And waiting. No reply. A little disappointed, we returned to our room to sort out our bags and returned half an hour later to try again. This time, the conversation about who was to knock started on the stairs, way before we got to the but again, no reply. We realised our impatience was not going to pay off and we would have to wait until 12:30 to meet them in the lobby.

When they came in it seemed strange but lovely to finally put faces to the literary friends. In no time at all we were chatting away and they were telling us of the great morning they'd had watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. After a short discussion, and a freshen up we all headed off to the tube into the city. We had decided, mostly because of my condition and partly because of time constraints, to take a Big Bus Tour of the City's landmarks and points of interest. Cherrie was lovely, and had a smile to die for. Unfortunately I can't show you the photograph I took of her on the bus, as like me, she stays anonymous on her blog. Hardin was a complete love. He was so organised with directions and his research on the area we stayed in.

They filled us with stories of their lives, current and past, and kept us entertained for hours with tales of home. On the way into the city, the three of them were on one esculator and I on the adjoining one travelling up to ground level. Cherrie decided to race me. Oh dear, why can I never resist a challenge??? As knackered as I was, before I even remember making a conscious decision to race her, I was running up the esculator for all I was worth, lol.

The tour guide on the bus was quite amusing too which added to the enjoyment. Every chance we got, Laney, Hardin and I were snapping away with our cameras.

Being in motion at the time meant most of them were pretty awful, at least mine were, but C&H seemed to enjoy the trip and Laney and I enjoyed not just the sites, but the rest from walking too!

This is us on the open topped Big Bus reflected in one of the buildings, I forget which one.

We alighted the bus and got onto the City Cruiser boat on the South Bank, all included in the ticket price for a very enjoyable trip down the Thames and yet more photo opportunities.

I love this shot I took of the underside of Blackfriars Bridge, (least, I think it was Blackfriars). The single colour dancing with the sunshine and shadows appealed to me.

In the evening, the ever resourceful Hardin, had been online to check out the reviews for some local restaurants, and we all set off in a taxi for dinner. It was just a short trip and in no time we were seated in a lovely little Italian restaurant. There was just one other couple there, which was either a sign that the locals knew better than to entrust their digestive systems to this eatery, or the luck of the draw because it was a mid-week evening.

We chatted whilst we perused the menu's and the waitress took our order. Hardin chose the wine, then Laney changed his mind and he was so insistant that she have what she preferred. In fact, both Cherrie & Hardin went out of their way to ensure that both of us enjoyed our day and our evening too. They were fantastic company and I'm so glad that I had the chance to meet up with them. It turned out that we didn't need to worry about the food, the meal was very nice.

Much to mine and Laneys dismay, Hardin wouldn't let us pay for our meals, and quietly paid the entire bill whilst we were all still engrossed in conversation. Hardin, you were bad, but we did appreciate it, it was very sweet of you, thank you.

As we left the restaurant, a cab was driving by and I instinctively shot my hand in the air to stop it for us. It pulled over. I was so chuffed with I hailed a cab in how sad am I, but I have never done it before!! (Mike, that was a rhetorical question love). Back at the hotel, Laney and I were presented with a gift of a bottle of wine each which Cherrie & Hardin had brought with them from their wine tasting trip to Paris. How lovely was that. It's a 2005 vintage, and Hardin explained that it should be at least 5 years old before it is drunk. Laney is struggling every day NOT to open hers!!! I can see her now, looking at the bottle longingly, lovingly, stroking it, almost tasting it.

To round off the evening, we walked a couple of minutes down the road and had a beer together.

What a lovely day, and one I will remember for a very long time. Thank you to both of you for sharing your short London trip with us.

Once back in our room; this one on the second floor, but with uncounted amount of steps, Laney obviously couldn't part herself from her bottle of wine to go outside for a ciggy... just look what she did!!!! Bad, bad girl, you wouldn't catch me having a crafty fag out of the window.

Finally, this was the view as we got ready for bed, a perfect end to a wonderful day.

'L' is for ...


Lily's are one of my favourite flowers. They are just so beautiful.

I love to watch as they begin to open from the bud and the fresh new stamens make their way into daylight. Smooth and virgin. Close and careful regular inspection will show their wonderful transition as they begin to split, and turn themselves inside out, revealing the most wonderful, pollen encrusted stalks of any I have seen.

I first noticed this transition when I was working with macro last year at college, and it has amazed me ever since.

I received a bouquet of flowers from my nephew and his girlfriend as a thank you for doing the photographs for their daughters christening. In amongst all the other lovely flowers was a spray of these gorgeous lily's.

Their petals, with the visible 'veins' arching over and curling around and the stamens, once emerged, standing tall in a circle. Just beautiful.

... and following on from my trip, how could I not include my very dear blogging (and real life) friend in this post? So, here is a photo of the gorgeous Laney in London Looking Lovely

PS: See what she's doing with her hand, don't even think about asking what we were talking about, just look at that glint in her eye... you'll get the picture!!

'K' is for ...


Some of you will remember the B is for Bark I did in week 2; this week, partly due to lack of time and energy to shoot for K, I decided to post from some photo's I shot on a day out with my Mum to Groombridge Place about 3 weeks ago. Many of the trees there are 400-500 years old and they have fantastic textures and patterns in their barks, so I found myself photographing them.

I know I am nearly a week late, but here are four of my favourites: