Monochrome Madness: Look This Way

Look This Way

Monochrome Madness: Look This Way

For Monochrome Madness Week 24, I delved into my files from our holidays in Greece. These two cats were living in Nikea on the volcanic island, Nisyros, which we love visiting by ferry when we’re in Kos. They made me laugh, almost seeming to be on watch duty!

Leanne Cole creates a gallery in her weekly post to share all our entries and I always enjoy reading everyone’s comments. Cybele from “There was a time” had us all laughing with her perfect quote from T.S. Eliot’s book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats on The Naming of Cats:

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation.

I have to say that of all the cats that I’ve met, Greek Cats are the most Jellicle a cat could be! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they had secret names in Ancient Greek, Roman and High Egyptian too 😉 I often define the cats I meet by one or other of Elliot’s great poems.  My old cat Pan was a mysterious Macavity type, always up to something but never getting caught out! Pixel was the magical Mr Mistoffelees incarnate! Luna and Juno are very much like two of the kittens, perhaps Electra and Etcetera 🙂 This Greek pair instantly made me think of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer:

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer had a wonderful way of working together.
And some of the time you would say it was luck
And some of the time you would say it was weather.
They would go through the house like a hurricane,
And no sober person could take his oath
Was it Mungojerrie – or Rumpleteazer?
Or could you have sworn that it mightn’t be both?

I’ve known a few Jellicle cats over the years and every now again I meet a Bagpuss, although they are more usually found in quintessential English cottages, curled up in front of a roaring fire, purring with contentment! I knew one called Mr Bigglesworth, a big ginger tom who loved a walk with the dog, a ride in the car (not in a basket) and when he was poorly, still managed to purr at the vet whilst having his blood taken!

That Bagpuss reference is especially for fellow blogger Laura Macky, who’s recovering from surgery at the moment. Wishing you a speedy recovery Laura and I hope this post gives you a giggle!


Monochrome Madness: Shoreline Of Sheppey

Shoreline of Sheppey

Monochrome Madness: Shoreline Of Sheppey

There are a few other moody landscapes alongside mine in Monochrome Madness: Week 23, hosted by the brilliant Leanne Cole and ably assisted by Laura Macky.

The storm clouds converging on the Isle of Sheppey, as we picnicked on the beach, a few weeks ago were a wonderful sight. If I’d had my wet weather gear I could have happily stayed there to watch the full show! I suspect I would have lost my ride though 😉

This second, colour image is from the same spot looking across the Medway and the Thames Estuary toward Southend. We were clearly able see the shoreline and the town itself just five minutes before the clouds devoured it from out sight. There’s nothing quite like a good Summer storm!

Summer Storm

Both of these images were processed in Lightroom with the Nik Software plugin, using Silver Efex Pro and Colour Efex Pro.


Monochrome Madness: Tips On Processing

Clint in B&W

Monochrome Madness: Tips On Processing

Monochrome Madness has reached its 22nd week and is still full of surprises and diversity! Thank you to Leanne Cole and Laura Macky for bringing us all together.

I wanted to talk about the processing that went into creating my image for this weeks challenge. I spotted this beautiful horse, a show jumper called Clint, at the Elm Lane Stables where young Mylie was competing in her first show.

He was braying for my attention and I couldn’t resist! Such beautiful lines and markings, he reminded me so much of some of the horses that I used to love painting and sketching.

His pasture was elevated from my position which enabled me to get a great base image of his profile against the sky from which I could work on to get the look I wanted.



I imported my original image into Lightroom to get all my levels, hues, saturation and contrast right. I also cleaned up the foreground, removing the strands of grass and thistle with the cloning tool.

First edit in Lightroom

I really like this edit, it’s soft and natural. However, I really wanted to get the look of a pencil or charcoal drawing. I tried a monochrome edit in the Nik Software plugin but I wasn’t happy with the results this time. I just couldn’t quite get the detail right!

Nik Software edit

At this stage I imported my first Lightroom edit into Photoshop CC to make use of some of my customisable Action Pre-sets and brush tools. I was able to isolate my subject using the wand and selection tools to get a crisp white background. I managed to achieve a really punchy, vibrant edit, reminiscent of a pastel drawing, which I accentuated using the smudge and blur tools.

Final Colour Edit

I then used the Greater Than Gatsby Timeless Black and White Action, with a few custom tweaks for my Monochrome Madness image. Really happy with it and I hope you like it too! Here’s a gallery to show the evolution from start to finish.



Monochrome Madness: Allium

Monochrome Madness: Allium

Monochrome Madness: Allium

There are sixty one intriguing images for your viewing pleasure in Monochrome Madness, Week 14! Leanne Cole and Laura Macky are inspiring loads of us to find our inner Ansel Adams, Angus McBean, Man Ray or David Bailey. These are a few of the photographic artists who have inspired me throughout my career!

All of these artists were forever experimenting with their chosen medium, finding new techniques and developing processes. Life is a constantly evolving learning curve! I love trying out lots of different developing methods and styles with some of my images.

As I’ve said before, monochrome doesn’t work with everything, you need to pick the right subject. This week I’m focussing on floral photos. Strong contrast and shapes can make a really good monochrome image. My featured photo is a white allium. The tones and sculptural shape of this flower make it a perfect choice I think! It’s really important to have a good base image to work from when you’re converting your photo to monochrome or B&W. I think the allium looks great in both colour and monochrome!

Using details of a plant can create a really great monochrome abstract. I was drawn to this next plant for the beads of rain caught in the hairs of the flower head. Again, I think this works well in colour and B&W.

These lilies have great contrast and shape, but it’s the colour contrasts between the orange stamen and the green stems and background that really make the image for me. Converting this to B&W lost the real beauty of the original!

The mass of daisies covering the stone wall really caught my eye. The image works well in both colour and monochrome but needed very different processing styles. I cut the contrast and softened the colour tones for the colour image but then boosted the contrast, sharpened and brightened the flowers for the B&W.

I love Dahlias! When I saw these white dahlias I knew they would make a great monochrome image. There’s nothing wrong with my base colour image but the high contrast B&W really speaks to me.

I find white roses are really hard to photograph well in colour! The shape of this rose looked like it would make a really great B&W image. It doesn’t work at all for me in colour but being able to isolate the flower in monochrome changes it from a mediocre photo into something beautiful 🙂

I hope this gives you all some ideas and I’d love to hear your thoughts on colour versus monochrome. Is there anything in particular that you’d like me to create for my next Monochrome Madness image?


Monochrome Madness: Tiger

Monochrome Madness: Tiger

Monochrome Madness: Tiger

There’s another wonderful collection of images over on Leanne Cole‘s blog this week for Monochrome Madness. She and Laura Macky have really started something here! I have to say that Leanne just astounds me, her own work is just sublime and her commitment to blogging has really inspired me!

Every week she brings up new points for discussion, introduces us to fellow bloggers, hosts the Monochrome challenge, interacts with everyone AND creates her own work! Hats off to you Leanne 🙂

I’ve had some lovely comments within Leanne’s post that I wanted to share and discuss:

RoSy said “Beyond beautiful!” –  What a wonderful thing to say! Comments like this mean the world to any artist.

Alex – buddhableu2000 – said “An excellent capture. Very well presented.” – Composition is really important to me! It’s good to hear when I get it right 🙂

Anica Art Photography said “Stunning portrait!” –  I very often categorise photos of animals as Portraiture and have been asked why on many occasions! I treat a photograph like this in exactly the same way I would when creating a portrait of a person. A portrait is very much about capturing the essence of your subject. I like to create expressive portraits 🙂

hutchphotography2020 said “An animal created for monochrome. Beautiful.” –  I couldn’t agree more! I’ve created many monochrome images of tigers over the years. In fact, cats both big and small are great monochrome subjects! I had a really interesting discussion with Laura about B&W photography. Not EVERYTHING looks good in B&W or monochrome. I wouldn’t photograph our garden birds in B&W but some birds-of-prey and sea-birds work really well in monochrome. Creating a good B&W image uses a very different skill-set to colour photography. I started out in photography using B&W Ilford film and my trusty old Praktica SLR. When I looked through the lens I almost saw the world in B&W. Processing is key! I always spent more time in the darkroom than I did on shoots and these days it’s more time with Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik. Learning to take good colour photos when I got my first DSLR was a real challenge! I’m always striving to learn more and challenge myself with my work.


Monochrome Madness: Welcome To The Labyrinth

Monochrome Madness: Welcome To The Labyrinth

Monochrome Madness: Welcome To The Labyrinth

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

Another fabulous collection of images have been compiled for this weeks Monochrome Madness with Leanne Cole and Laura Macky! I’m also linking my image to the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Wellers Auctioneers held an auction of sculptures at RHS Wisley Gardens at the weekend which I previewed during the week. My favourite piece by far was this sculpture by Andrew Sinclair called “Minotaur”.

I felt like the Minotaur was inviting me into his world of myth, monsters and gods! He inspired me to create a monochrome image in which I could add some Greek ruins to help tell his story.

The sculpture itself is a true work of art and I hope I’ve done him justice with my own additional artwork!