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Blue Monday: Holly Blues In Spring

Holly Blue Butterfly

Blue Monday: Holly Blues In Spring

These last few weeks of warm, sunny weather have brought out many of our native butterflies and they have been delightful! The Holly Blue is the first of the British blues to emerge from overwintering pupae in the Spring generation. They stay high in the trees most of the time and you have the best chance of seeing them near holly trees, where this generation will lay their eggs. The late Summer generation, hatched from these larvae will, in turn, lay their eggs on the ivy to complete this wonderful cycle! I finally managed to get close to one as it sunned itself, lower down on brambles, at Dapdune Wharf on the Wey Navigation in Guildford. It refused to open those beautiful, little wings but you can still see the silvery-blue of the undersides.

Holly Blue Butterfly

One Four Challenge: July Week 4

One Four Challenge: July Week 4 2

One Four Challenge: July Week 4

For the final week of July’s One Four Challenge, from Robyn Gosby, I’ve taken inspiration from some of the great masters of landscape painting. I wanted to add to the romanticism of the scene with a vibrant oil-painted effect and some colourful wildlife. In Lightroom I used an onOne Movie Look preset, Arkham, on my Week 1 edit. I customised this to get the colour balance and tonal quality that I wanted. Then I moved on to Photoshop CC to create my montage and add textured effects.

From two other photos taken at Dapdune Wharf, I used the Lasso Tool to select and copy the foxes, and then placed them onto the background image. I merged the two layers with the foxes into one and adjusted Hue/Saturation to match the tonal qualities in the background. I then applied a Grad ND adjustment layer to the foxes to match the shadows in the background. I duplicated the background layer and aligned this above the Grad ND layer. I added a White Masking Layer to the background copy and using a Soft Black Brush gradually removed areas of foliage to reveal the foxes. Finally I applied a Greater than Gatsby Golden Sunset Burst to the top right corner to match the natural light on the foxes.

To create the oil painting effect I created three copies of my new montage. To the first I applied Conte Crayon with Canvas Texture in B&W. To the second I applied Rough Pastels with Canvas Texture and Craquelure filters. To the third I added a Fractured Shell Texture which I blended using Multiply and adjusted the opacity to suit. I then copied and pasted both other edits over this new background and blended using Soft Light for the B&W and Multiply for the second edit. It was a lot of work but so much fun!

If you have a favourite please let me know using this poll or in your comments 🙂

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One Four Challenge: July Week 3

One Four Challenge: July Week 3

One Four Challenge: July Week 3

Last week I took you all back in time so I thought that, for Week 3 of Robyn Gosby’s One Four Challenge, I’d attempt to take you into the future. Only a couple of months though! Autumn felt just about doable. I started the process with my Week 1 edit and reopened it in Nik Colour Efex Pro. I used Tonal Contrast, Indian Summer, Dark Contrasts, Low Key, Colourise, Grad Fog, Foliage, Grad ND, Polarise, Pro Contrast and Glamour Glow filters, customised to my own liking.

My image now had the general tones and haziness of a cool autumnal morning but needed some extra dimensions. In Photoshop CC I used Greater Than Gatsby actions Garden State Foundation, Cool Greens Brush, Moody Brush, Fog Brush, Amelia Bedelia, Bright Contrast, Forest Vignette, Bright Colourless Burst (top left) and a sunburst Light Overlay. After customising my adjustments with masking layers and blending modes, I merged all and then applied a Hue Adjustment Masking Layer and used a soft Red Paint Brush in Overlay Mode to build up some colour on the apples. Hope you like it!

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One Four Challenge: July Week 2

One Four Challenge: July Week 2

One Four Challenge: July Week 2

Yes, I know, I’m late! My brain clearly wasn’t firing on all cylinders on Monday. Having completed the post, I then somehow forgot to actually publish it. Doh!

My second edit for July’s One Four Challenge from Robyn Gosby is a vintage style. The scene made me think of a photograph you might find in an old collection tucked away in a box. When I first started developing my own prints in a darkroom I really didn’t know much about the timings of using each chemical bath and washing my photographs. Many of my early prints are now faded and discoloured as a result of my lack of knowledge and their exposure to sunlight over time. They seem even older than they actually are! I wanted to try to recreate this feel within this week’s edit.

In Lightroom I applied a Greater Than Gatsby preset to my Week 1 edit. I used the Enchanted B&W Base which I then customised to my own liking. I opened this edit in Photoshop and created several duplicate layers of the base image. To the first duplicate I applied the Solarise filter which I then inverted, blended with Soft Light and reduced the opacity. To the second I added a Warming Photo Filter and blended using Overlay. I applied a White Masking Layer to this then using a soft black brush, gradually removed areas of the overlay to reveal the effects beneath. To the third duplicate I added a customised blur with masking layer and gradually removed the blur from certain areas. Finally I added a texture overlay of a tea stain which was again customised with a masking layer, blended with Overlay and I reduced the opacity until it felt right.

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One Four Challenge: July Week 1

One Four Challenge: July Week 1

One Four Challenge: July Week 1

I couldn’t resist this scene captured at Dapdune Wharf in Guildford at the weekend. It seemed an ideal composition for Robin Gosby’s One Four Challenge! As you’ll see in the original image, the sun had dropped and this rundown area beyond the allotments was actually quite dark. It sparked my imagination though. There’s something magical about the setting. So much greenery, almost as if the landscape is reclaiming this lost and lonely spot for its own. I could imagine that this old and unused shed would seem quite sad and forlorn in the midst of winter but Summer has brought it light and warmth. This old shed is probably an important part of the local habitat now. Abandoned by man it can provide shelter for many small mammals and insects. This would be the perfect place for butterflies to overwinter, for hedgehogs to create a home underneath, for birds to build a warm and secure nest.

For my first edit I wanted to bring the warmth of the summer sun back to this scene. First I did an edit in Lightroom using the Greater Than Gatsby Clean Edit Base which I customised to my own liking before opening it in Nik Colour Efex Pro. I applied and customised Tonal Contrast, Detail Extractor, Polarisation, Skylight Filter, Pro Contrast, Reflector Efex, Vignette Filter and Glamour Glow. Now it feels like how I imagined it 🙂