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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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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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Blue Monday: Deeper Into The Blue

Damselfish

Blue Monday: Deeper Into The Blue

These pretty little blue-finned fish are found in the seas of the Eastern Atlantic and The Mediterranean. It’s called a Damselfish (Chromis chromis) and we found these small ones in the seas off Kos this year. They are mostly juveniles, going by their colouring. They swim in shoals at depths between two and forty metres. I was incredibly lucky that this shoal came closer to the surface, while feeding on the rocks, where we were snorkeling!

We snorkel every year and I have been desperately trying to improve my few skills in underwater photography on each trip. The time has now come to attempt to delve a bit deeper into the blue seas of the Mediterranean! In order to do so, Simon and I are starting our PADI Open Water Dive (Scuba) training. At the moment we’re working on our coursework (knowledge development) with the dive video and manual. Lots to take in and memorise before our classroom theory, confined water and open water dives, starting in a couple of weeks time! I may not be particularly responsive online until we finish our course and, hopefully, get out certificates on December 5th. Keep your fingers (or fins!) crossed for us! I’ll try to keep posting (more fish perhaps?) but I apologise if you don’t hear anything more from me.

Blue Monday is hosted by Jeanne at Backyard Neighbor in honour of Smiling Sally
Smiling Sally

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Watch The Birdie!

Watch The Birdie!

There are a lot of fledgeling birds in the garden now! It’s a cacophony of peeps, tweets and pips amongst the hedgerows.

The adult Blue Tits are teaching their youngsters to come to the overflow pipe for a quick drink. Some are getting the hang of it quicker than others!

The adults look pretty ragged, in fact the adult Great Tit is completely bald! Her young are still (noisily) in the nest. My lovely Coal Tit’s are really looking very sorry for themselves.

The Robins appear randomly from under the shrubbery to jump for flies and dig for worms. It was hard to get close to them today but I have some food-bribery to tempt them with tomorrow 😉

They really are all such a joy to watch!