A year ago, Paul Debois and I collaborated on a project I have talked about on this blog called Wildlings. Paul photographed me painting 'Wild Thing' one of a series of my paintings then made this timelapse video: some people have loved it, some laughed at the comic timing! If it makes you smile, job done!
I painted this earlier this year. I used a photograph by Paul Debois (who I was working with at the time) to paint. I'm not altogether comfortable painting urban scenes, but I like a challenge so I set to...
Now I have called this blog easy steps and this painting looks very complicated, but by taking it slowly
and layering it over a few days the final image is revealed.
Prep your canvas. I used cotton drill, a heavy weight cotton primed with gesso or acrylic primer. I decided not to stretch the canvas, but to pin the cotton onto a plywood wall, and use the rough texture as part of the painting. Finally, roughly paint a dilute mix of yellow ochre and white spirit over the canvas to knock back the white primer. Leave to dry-this doesn't take long.
Roughly paint in the main shapes to give the correct balance to the painting. Then paint in the base colour of the two sets of bricks. The 'white bricks' were mixed with:
Vandyke Brown or Burnt sienna
Experiement with different quantities of each to add texture
The red bricks were painted with:
Again, xperiement with different quantities
I didn't worry about each individual brick I just put down rough colour.
Why is this called 'Teaching the world to sing?' Because there is a Coca Cola can in the image.
Just a few brush strokes. Cadmium red and a little grey made with Blue Black, Titanium White and
Put in the finishing touches. The final details to the poster, the Wildling growing in the wall.
The writing on the plaque. more texture to the bricks and a small part of the pavement.
And don't forget to sign it.
Because I liked the rough feel of the canvas I decided to frame these by pinning them onto matt black painted board and mounting them in a black frame.
I painted this as part of 'The Wildlings' series. At the exhibition, Alan Watson a dear friend looked at this painting for some time, and said that he found it very hard to look at rail tracks without thinking about prisoners of war. Art has a profound way of touching us, I found his comments deeply moving. He is publishing a book on Churchill next year.
'I like it when a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete, it's so **** heroic.' George Calin
'Wilding or Wildling….a plant sown by natural agency'
Oxford English Dictionary
Over the last year and a bit I have been working with photographer Paul Debois and Alys Fowler on a new project called 'Wildlings'. It describes in photography, painting and words, plants growing in extraordinary circumstances.
I think of Wildlings as warriors of nature. In reality nature is a warrior, one that protects us and destroys us in uneven measure. We can't tame nature, we must learn to live with it and to wonder and enjoy it's strength and beauty. These images look at the ordinary and the extraordinary persistence of nature.
How it all began...
In 2012, Paul explained the idea for this project by describing a foxglove he saw growing in a wooden post on the River Thames. Against all the odds it survived both the elements and the tides.
Paul's description captured my imagination and drew me into the project. This image has stayed with me constantly-so I painted it.
It is the only Wildling that wasn't photographed.
oil on canvas
78cm x 49cm
I specialise in garden and plant photography. All my work is out there somewhere, in magazines, books and of course the internet. Here I want to share with you some basic composition know how. Once you have mastered these you will be able to let them sit there in your brain, like a background program chugging away keeping things ticking along nicely so that you can start photographing more intuitively, and crucially have the confidence to experiment and become a story-teller not just a photographer.
So here are a few to get you started...
1 Rule of thirds
Place the key points of your picture at the intersetion of an imaginary grid of 9 boxes on your picture. So in this shot I didn't plonk the flower in the centre. This is a good one to nail. But then allow yourself to break this rule occasionally because all rules and no play make Jack and Jill dull.
2 Depth of field
Look out for your backgrounds. Usually they can be distracting to your main subject, but in this case the points of the leaves lead seductively toward the flower. As there is a huge contrast in colour I have kept the background in focus as there is enoughdifference between the leaves and the flower.
Otherwise, if you have a distracting background, blur it with a narrow depth of field. Set your camera to appature control, and experiment with low f numbers until you get a shot that you are satisfied with - a tripod is handy here to frame your shot perfectly. If you can position yourself to get a lovely background colour which compliments the subject even better. The background here was an ugly concrete wall.
3 Viewpoint or angle
Look at life differently. Crouch down, lie down, climb up, look up, look down, look closer. Find a way of looking at something differently. Here we are looking straight down to see a bean pod being opened and a nice pair of green wellies. So this picture is telling more of a story. The hands are in focus the wellies are thrown out by a narrower depth of field. Whenever you watch a professional photographer working they adopt some very funny positions, I often feel I've done a work out. It's hard work!
4 Leading lines
I have also drawn a line diagonally downwards. This is often called a leading line. It's a natural line you can find in the composition of a picture that draws the viewer into the photograph, it makes it more pleasing to look at.
With this type of shot you are getting close to your subject, so do ask their permission and be bold but polite.
Another tip, if it takes you more than 10-30 seconds to find your angle you haven't got one. Move and think again.
The next one is simple, photographing the berries in a bowl from directly above. Here the interesting trick is the crop. The whole bowl is not in shot and some berries are falling out of shot, it makes you want to know more.
Another interesting view. If I had photographed the screw vertically in the middle of the picture it would have cut it in half and looked awkward so I tilted the camera, stood on a chair and looked over the shoulder of these obliging wine makers. Hands are great in photographs they are as expressive as faces. I didn't ask them to pose, I just shot away.
5 Frame your picture
Look for interesting ways to frame your picture. Looking through doorways, windows, overhanging trees or in this case 2 trees in the foreground are cradling the main subject.
In the next picture I have loosely used depth of field to frame the rose. It looks as though it is being cradled gently in the leaves.
This is what I call them anyway. If you can see this in a picture grab it and thank the photo pixies for their help. The main image is in focus the echo is slightly out, practice using different f numbers to get this and a tripod is very handy otherwise you lose your shot.
However, sometimes a tripod won't work. In this case, to get the shot I had to take a deep breath and hold as still as I could crouched near the ground. I balanced the camera on my knee and used a fast shutter speed by setting a high ISO because I wanted a narrow depth of field. I will be covering this shot and how I took it in another blog. There is a double hit with this shot as some white flowers near the ground also echo the flowers-fairy dust.
"To love beauty is to see light"
There's a lot of stuff talked about how to take a good photo. Lots and lots. To be fair there is a lot to learn. But if you can play with this, experiment with this you are 50% of the way there...
play with it...
I photographed this in early evening when the sun was still a little strong, I used the shade from the tree to filter the light but shot through the petals into the sun...
It was breezy, so not great conditions so ISO setting was high at 640-but I needed the shot.
Canon macro EF100
...and plenty of patience
With so many pictures flying around the internet, you want to make sure that your photos don't get ripped off, or at the very least people are aware who produced them and who owns the copyright.
Just for clarification, unless someone buys the copyright from you-all the pictures you produce are owned by you and should not be reproduced without your permission. We are of course getting into greyish areas here now, with so much social media pictures get shared, and you may want to share your pictures to promote your business or whatever. So, here is a quick way to put a copyright symbol.....
....onto your pictures using photoshop and saving it to a size that is easily viewable but not big enough to rip off.
1 open your picture in photoshop
2 select the type tool (big T on the left toolbar) and highlight where you want to start typing on the picture. You may want to place it somewhere that is tricky for someone to photoshop out.
3 For PC hold down the Alt key while pressing the keys 0169 © will magically appear then type your name or business after it. If you want to make it a different colour click on the text colour box at the top of the page and choose one that is readable on your picture.
For Mac the magic code is Option + G
4. Now if you don't want it to be too obtrusive, go to the Layers panel and move the opacity slider down until
you have the level you want-try it, but around 40-50% is usually pretty good.
5 Then go to the Layers menu at the top of the page and Flatten the image.
6. Now time to re-size and save it. Go to Image > size
Select resolution and set it at 72dpi. This will reduce the pixels to something readable on a
computer/pad /phone screen but that's all. Save this as a jpeg Quality 7 with a name you will
remember. You now have an image with your hard earned © emblazoned on it and a good size
to upload but not rip-off.
That's all folks. Enjoy sharing
© Lynn Keddie
Galanthus - Snowdrop - Canon 100mm macro F8 at 1/80
At last, there is a splash of colour on the ground, our long and wet winter (in the UK anyway) is coming to an end. I suspect a lot of damage has been done by the water-logged, cold ground and some plants won't have survived. It's difficult to believe that this time last year a hose-pipe ban was announced and now we seem to have more water than we know what to do with (for now at least).
So I turn to spring flowers - a real joy to look at but what about photographing? Not my favourite - often low to the ground and with plenty of bare earth around which never looks good in a shot.
So how do you get the best shots?
Well, unless they are in pots and you can focus on the flower rather than the form it's all about getting down, and dirty. Yes-photographing prone, lying on your stomach....on the cold damp earth.
I have tried all sorts to make things easier. I bought, at great expense an angle finder for my Canon. This I discovered was more awkward than lying flat-I wouldn't recommend it, in fact if you want to buy one...
I have tried little bean bags to prop up my camera - with moderate success and getting my tripod really low, bad for the knees. For me the best solution is this:
-One camera set on the lowest ISO you can get away with to render a sharp image - which is probably going to be 400 minimum and maybe more if the light is low.
-A macro lens or equivalent I use a long lens to capture details too.
and the magic ingredient...
-One old shower curtain. I have experimented with all sorts of waterproof stuff, ground sheets, exercise mats etc etc. But a cheap flexible shower curtain is easy to drag around and easy to clean. Washing line, hose.
-A lot and I mean a lot of patience, holding your camera very still, I usually prop it up on one hand holding the lens and snap with the other. I usually end up grumbling about snot drops (aka snow drops) as I work. Yes, I know they are beautiful but to photograph?
So there you have it. A professionals trick for photographing flowers that are low to the ground. Not rocket science and definitely not glamorous but it gets the results.
Chiaroscuro (kiːˈɑːrə.ˈskʊroʊ, –ˈskjʊroʊ, Italian for light-dark) in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. Quote from Wikipedia
Chiaroscuro, a word I learnt from my father when I was very little. He was good with words. He introduced me to photography and was the voice of reason in my family. I miss him. Tomorrow would have been his birthday. This picture reminds me of him. Probably because it is a good example of chiaroscuro, which is a very good word. Thanks Dad for everything.