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#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Remains

Remains

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Remains

Remains

Shadow of the past
Of what has flown and faded
And all that remains

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ShareMondays2020 – The Shielded

Shielded

ShareMondays2020 – The Shielded

So just who are The Shielded?

Well the media are rather misrepresenting us I think! We are the unseen 1.8million. We’re not all in care homes, aged over 70 or “people who would probably have died at some point this year”. If I hear, or read, one more report that claims that many of the Covid-19 related deaths don’t really count, because that person would have likely passed away soon anyway, I will scream! Every death is a person, an individual with loved ones. All the World War rhetoric inspired me to get hold of a vintage gas mask. DON’T wear one of these to protect yourself against Covid! It’s a representation of the suffocating mask I feel has been placed upon me. I can’t help but think of Wilfred Owen’s poem Dulce et Decorum Est! Please read it. I am stumbling and floundering.

Masked

Many people in The Shielded group are there because they have a lifelong illness that requires immunosuppression. This could be because of cancer, organ transplant or autoimmune disease. The aim of our treatment is to give us as long a life as possible! Many people in this group are young. Most people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis – are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25. I was 19yrs old. My mother was told that it was 50/50 if I would actually make it through the night. I stay shielded so that she, and the rest of my loved ones, don’t have to hear that kind of news again, because I’ve contracted coronavirus!

Shielded Warriors

While the majority of the population are now thinking about the easing of lockdown, The Shielded know that we’ve got a few more months of being shut away in our own homes, before we can even get that “one exercise outing per day”. Count your lucky stars people! We’re not superheroes, just ordinary people who would like to get on with our lives in the usual way too. Some people are waiting for operations, new therapies, hospital referrals or local treatments. Part of normal life for a lot of us. We’ve accepted that certain things have had to go on hold. You can help us get back to our normal by Staying Home, Protecting The NHS and Saving Lives. Who knows, you might even save mine!

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ShareMondays2020 – Life In Lockdown

Destroyed

ShareMondays2020 – Life In Lockdown

I set myself another learning challenge this week which forced me to stick myself in front of lens! I wanted to learn how to create a displacement layer with text to overlay onto my face. I watched several video tutorials on YouTube, and pieced together elements from the different approaches, to find a method that worked for me. The text is from one of my own poems called Identity, a self-portrait in words if you like! I used an online tool to place the text into a word or tagcloud. There are several available. You can also add the text straight into Photoshop and arrange as you want.

Self Portrait in LockdownDisplaced IdentityDisplaced Identity

Identity

Do you know me yet?
My name is whispered in
The gathering breeze,
Sung with elation by
The wild breaking seas.
It screams from the cliff tops
Into soft, shadowed lees
And is hushed by the warmth
Of tumbling leaves,
A gentle susurration
Twixt autumnal trees.

I have flown on the winds,
Delved fathomless oceans,
Fallen great heights,
Risen from depthless emotions.
Felt the warmth on my face
Of a sun kissed horizon.
I’m the song of the earth.
My roots run far, deep, and wide,
Bearing scars of life lived,
From your sight, I’ll not hide.

My height is unmeasured,
My depths undiscovered.
‘Tho my glow may be dimmed,
My soul still recovered.
I am born of this world,
A sweet force of nature,
A creature of magic,
Mother, lover, carer, creator.
Determined, desired,
Oft’ tired, yet inspired.
A wild thing, set free!
I ask you again,
Do you, yet, know me?

This video is a good starting point!

I decided to take a number of portraits while I was set up for it and try to convey some of the emotions that so many of us are feeling during lockdown. Not even being able to leave my flat, as a shielded individual, I’m feeling the pressure even more. The outdoors has always been my sanctuary, my coping strategy. Channelling my feelings into photography and poetry has been a good outlet for me. Learning is my main coping strategy now! I’ve always loved learning, but the good feelings and sense of achievement are more important to me now than ever before!

My homages to The Scream and Anxiety by Edvard Munch

I couldn’t resist a homage to Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry.

Two Minutes To MidnightHidden

And then I decided to really try and let my inner turmoil and frustration show. I’m only human, of course it gets to me! And although my Crohn’s has had me housebound or stuck in hospital for weeks on end before, nothing can quite prepare you for something like this. Especially knowing that I am so vulnerable to complications if I was to contract the virus. It is frightening. It is desperate. We need to everything we can to keep minimising the spread of Covid-19, staying home, protecting the NHS and the incredible front line staff and all key workers. Together we CAN save lives.

DestroyedDestroyedDestroyed

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ShareMondays2020 – For The Fallen

For The Fallen

ShareMondays2020 – For The Fallen

Everyday we hear the statistics, the numbers. I don’t want to forget that every number is a person. An individual with life ahead of them. With loved ones. With hopes and dreams. This for them, the fallen. They should never just be a statistic.

As my roses started to wilt, I was reminded of a poem I wrote many years ago. I was newly diagnosed with the Crohn’s, and bit by bit, all my own hopes and dreams were stripped away from me. I survived though! I still have a life ahead of me and many loved ones. I have fought hard to live so they don’t have to grieve.

My sincere condolences to all the family and friends of those who have been taken by this dreadful virus.

Youth

A single rosebud,
Dew dropped
And heaven scented,
Plucked by its stem
As a gift presented.
A tainted token,
Its arteries broken,
Uprooted and taken.
To watch it now wilt,
All that’s felt is guilt
For natures treasures forsaken.

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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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ShareMondays2020 – Budding

Budding

ShareMondays2020 – Budding

A bit of creative stuff for you all this week, inspired by the beautiful shaping and colours of the amazing buds of a tropical plant in the Glasshouse, at RHS Wisley Gardens.

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ShareMondays2019 – Interstellar

Interstellar

ShareMondays2019 – Interstellar

I’m actually judging ShareMondays this week so my image is only being entered into the Fotospeed challenge this week. I’m still keeping the ShareMondays title up there though as this piece was created very much in the spirit of our Twitter togs challenge. It’s really all about connecting photographers, generating discussion and inspiration. It’s for the love of art!

I spent a fantastic day with my godchild, Quinn, last week, sharing our love of creativity and photographic art. They’re currently doing an art project at school based on patterns in nature. It’s something I know we’ll explore more at RHS Wisley Gardens soon, but I thought we could try a “rainy day” project and create our own, imagined, cosmic patterns. For our subject we used milk, cornflower, food colouring, inks and a couple of straws to create the swirling patterns we wanted.

Our results really spoke to the science-fiction fan in me and I decided to take a couple of the base images a step further with two 3D rendered spheres as planets. I added some light effects in overlays for stars and bands of particles spiralling out from the planets. This one’s for you Quinn! Keep creating, keep seeing the cosmically-beautiful in the small and simple things x

Cosmic Imagination

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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 – State Of Decay

State Of Decay 2

ShareMondays2019 – State Of Decay

It’s Sunday night, you’ve not had any camera time during the week due to illness, how do you produce an image for the following day? Decaying leaves and a scanner! These are from the sycamore tree that sits just out the front of our flats.

State Of Decay 1

I thought I would try to do something creative, with processing, to help inspire my godchild, Quinn, who has an art project on patterns in nature. I had a bit of fun taking the natural patterns and then cutting them together in strips to create a new pattern. This next one is the most stylized, looking almost like a tile.

State Of Decay 3

The fallen leaves are losing their colour as they rot down into a mulch on the ground. There are lots of creatures feeding on them already, particularly slugs and snails. I brushed and washed off the leaves before scanning them! I think my hubby would have had something to say to me if I’d left any slugs crawling around the bedroom.

State Of Decay 4

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ShareMondays2019 – Gold Dust

 

Gold Dust

ShareMondays2019 – Gold Dust

Inspired by the Autumn golds at RHS Wisley Gardens last week. I will let the images speak for themselves today!

Liquid AmberEye to EyeAutumn Borders