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Dispersion and Twirls in Photoshop

Set The Music Free 3

Dispersion and Twirls in Photoshop

With the current restrictions on going outdoors, many photographers are using this time to go through their back catalogues and learn new techniques. I am part of the fantastic SheClicks community for female photographers. Last week one member shared her experiments with the Twirl technique. I will add links to YouTube tutorials for both techniques at the end!

By the end of the week, we were all hooked! Between us all, I think we could fill a few galleries with these fun abstract pieces. You can also use the twirled images as overlays or textures. Some members used the effect to create an abstract background, revealing a part of the main image through masked layers. I loved some of the peacock twirls that others had done so I thought I’d have a go too! Here are my before and after images.

I decided this was the perfect time to finally learn a technique that I have wanted to do for years! The dispersion technique can be used to great effect to make your subject appear to be disintegrating, or exploding outwards. It’s a fun way to create a story for a portrait shoot. I went back to some images I made last year with my dear friend, singer-songwriter, Julia K. I’ll start with a simple edit where I have kept the background clean and simple. The act of singing appears to be reverent, a prayer to the gods.

Julia K

Initially we wanted to visualise sound through shapes and movement. It was a great opportunity to use long exposure and light-painting to frame a story within my images. We took inspiration from the name of her studios, Firespark, and brought in some indoor sparklers and fireworks. Yes, we did set off the fire alarm a couple of times! It’s such a joy to be able to work with a fellow creative, just exploring different ideas, even if they do sound a bit bonkers.

Firespark

I wanted Julia to be static in the images, with the sound emanating from her and surrounding her. We tried a number of different poses that allowed me to create in-camera double-exposures, as well as single images that I could turn into composites within Photoshop. Both techniques are creatively satisfying with similar, yet distinctive results. In-camera multiple exposures always have a more organic feel to them. Creating a composite using Photoshop gives you a much crisper end result. In these three edits of my image of Julia, you can now see why I had her looking up into the space above her. The spirit of music is reaching out to her.

I think I was attracted to the dispersion technique because it brings back that organic feel to a digitally created composite! In addition to using dispersion, I also brought in some overlays of musical notes that I warped, to give them a sense of movement as they explode out from the microphone. Including a bit of texture, with an overlay to the background, added to the organic feel I was looking for. I made three final images for Julia to choose from; full colour, monochrome and selective colour, that revealed the vibrant red against the black and white. Selective colour is very much Julia’s signature look, her brand. I knew she’d choose that one, but which look do you prefer?

I have called this piece Set The Music Free. It’s given me inspiration for creating more stories from other images in my back catalogue, as well as some future projects that I really hope to be able to do with Julia in the future! I hope this has given some of you a bit of inspiration to learn some new techniques and keep creative during this turbulent time. You can learn how to do these two techniques in the following video tutorials. Have fun with them!

Twirling:

Dispersion:

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ShareMonday2020 – Songbird Of Shadows

Songbird of Shadows

ShareMonday2020 – Songbird Of Shadows

Happy New Year everyone! A new ShareMondays tag and my favourite muse to start it all off. Happy Birthday to the wonderful Julia K, dressed as Brandon Lee (aka The Crow) for her Dead Famous party on Saturday night. She’s singing I’m In Love With A German Film Star with purity and passion, well, one of The Passions in fact, Clive Timperley on guitar! What a great party and I absolutely loved hearing two dear friends performing this beautiful and haunting song together. Thank you both!

Clive

Video by my wonderful hubby, Simon Williams!

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ShareMondays2019 – Lazy Days

Juno

ShareMondays2019 – Lazy Days

I’ve been out of action for two weeks now and I think our Juno is as bored of it all as I am! The antibiotics did improve my throat infection and I finally have my voice back. I only started the correct treatment for the inner ear infection last Thursday though so I’m still a little bit off balance. Hopefully things will improve soon and I’ll be back out there again!

 

 

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ShareMondays2019 – Vogue

Vogue

ShareMondays2019 – Vogue

Another appointment in London led to another visit to St James’s Park last week. My lead image is a macro of one of the new pelicans. The three are just ten months old and have yet to develop their punk-like crests, but they have such beautiful shaping to the feathers on the back of their heads. They all still have some of their juvenile plumage on their wings, a brown colour, which easily distinguishes them from the three adults.

Gliding

Of course the pelicans aren’t the only birds in the park! I had great fun watching juvenile coots munching on mushrooms around the edge of the lake. Anyone foraging for fungi in the Royal Parks should seek permission first! Not all fungi are suitable for human consumption, but many are an important source of food for hungry wildlife.

Fungi Feast

Lots of visitors to the park feed the birds and squirrels with peanuts. This is actually a great food for them at the moment as they contain plenty of calories to keep their energy reserves going in the colder weather. The parakeets love being fed! They’ll come and sit on your hand (head, arm or shoulder too!) to eat nuts or fruit. The smaller birds like the robins, tits and dunnocks will happily come to take bird seed from you too.

A Bird In The Hand

 

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ShareMondays2019 – Put A Spell On You

The Cat

ShareMondays2019 – Put A Spell On You

So this is what happens when a coven of six, female creatives gather together for Halloween fun, food and photos! I couldn’t resist getting Nadie to create some poses that I could work a bit of magic into in processing. I even managed to take a couple of spooky selfies!

The Crone

Put A Spell On You

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ShareMondays2019 – Tunnel Vision

Lost In Translation

ShareMondays2019 – Tunnel Vision

I often shy away from portraiture in street photography. As much as I have always loved portraits as a subject, I feel uncomfortable trying to capture candid images of people in public. Daft really, as it’s not so different from the music events I cover! There’s something about the Leake Street Tunnel and Arches that makes me feel more at home though.

So Much To See

Immersive Art

Perhaps it’s because almost everyone there is consumed by the art in one way or another. Urban artists, apprentices, viewers, photographers, party-goers and skaters. It’s a hub of activity, vibrant and constantly evolving. I rarely see the same pieces of wall art twice on my visits!

Tunnel Vision

Pink Panther

On this particular visit I wanted to try to explore the relationship between the people and the art. My lead image is an in-camera double exposure of a man who seemed to be just hanging out in the space. There was something about the lines of his face and his posture that really drew me to him as a subject. He was like a ghost passing through the space, not fully engaging, not quite there.

Eyes

Captivating

I tried to speak to him after having taken a few images, just to be polite and ask how he felt about me sharing his portrait online. Well, something really got lost in translation. He seemed to think that I was asking him to pose nude for me, right there in the tunnel!!!! AWKWARD! I hastily retreated and went to speak to one of the artists. That led to a much more insightful conversation. He was training an apprentice and they’d spent 7 hours working on their pieces that day.

The Artist In His Work

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ShareMondays2019 – Electrify

Will Purdue - Electrify

ShareMondays2019 – Electrify

Experiments with multiple exposures and ICM (in camera movement), to express the feelings and attitude of music and musicians. These images are from the first part of the Americana Festival held at Fiery Bird in Woking over the weekend. Sadly I succumbed to a bug and couldn’t return for the Saturday evening or Sunday sessions! I’m glad that I did get to see and photograph Will Purdue (above) with his band, as well as Phil Coleman, Nick Hyde and Ajay Srivastav. The musical energy really was electrifying!

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Be The Canvas, Embrace The Colour!

Amy Turk - Be The Canvas, Embrace The Colour!

Be The Canvas, Embrace The Colour!

It’s the wee small hours of the morning but I just wanted everyone to start their Monday off with the joy of colour, collaboration and art. Amy Turk, you were an absolute joy to work with. This is the final image from the day when all the paint and Holi powder had been (literally) thrown into the mix of our painted canvas backdrop and make-up done by myself and Julia K. Our team was completed by videographer, John Hoskinson and my wonderful hubby, Simon Williams. Turns were taken mixing paint, placing and holding the backdrop, setting lights, making tea, chucking paint and powder about, all whilst looking like a bunch of extras from Breaking Bad or CSI in our blue boilersuits, gloves and shoe protectors! What a BRILLIANT way to spend a Sunday 😀

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ShareMondays2019 – Stick With It

Stick With It

ShareMondays2019 – Stick With It

I had a great photoshoot with drummer Andy Gray yesterday! It was a shoot that was testament to the resilience of creatives in the face of adversity. Andy’s bad back and my multitude of medical annoyances were NOT going to get in the way of the creative photoshoot we had planned!

Using the rehearsal space at Firespark Studios with the wonderful Julia K has allowed me to get back to a style of photography that I have always loved. For me, portraiture needs to tell a story. Sometimes a minimalist, subtle image can carry that story in a far more powerful way than a traditional portrait. Andy’s drumsticks are an extension of himself, in much the same way as my camera is now, or my brush was when I was painting.

When you stick with the thing you love, not just what you do, but who you are, the means by which you choose to express yourself aren’t just tools any more. The connection becomes organic. I am my art. Julia is a spark of creativity and Andy is his music!