My favourite image of the week is my nephew, Finley, playing at hand-clapping with my mum. I’m not allowed cuddles yet as a shielded person, but to be able to get together in the garden, as a family, was wonderful. Seeing my parents being able to rekindle this special bond with their grandson was so very precious!
Something a bit more simple for the weekly competitions today! Juno, posed on the windowsill, giving the classic shaping of the famous Art Nouveau poster, Le Chat Noir, by Théophile Steinlen. I can’t really share just Juno! This portrait of Luna focuses on the beautiful colouring of her eyes.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 😀
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!