I completed the work I am exhibiting at The Talented Art Fair over dark Winter months, I'm calling them Floral Abstracts. I paint contemporary landscapes too, although the thought of standing outside while my fingers froze didn’t appeal, so I decided to work on this new collection.
I have spent the best part of 18 years photographing flowers and gardens for magazines so my mind has many, many images burned onto it. And I love them, does it show? You see, I thrive on colour and flowers, it might be cheesy to say this but they bring my soul to life.
These paintings are somewhat abstract, some more than others. Tulips and roses a common theme. Tulips because I love them, to me they mean Spring and all that promise. Roses because they are just so paintable and who doesn’t love roses? But most of all I have enjoyed shutting myself in my studio in the lovely town of Frome and playing with paint. I did it as a child and I still get the same enjoyment today.
Many of these paintings have more than one layer. The first is an underpainting of acrylic this gives an interesting texture. Acrylics dry in an instant so I can then overpaint with oils, which for me are much more forgiving and pliable. I move the paint around with palette knives and rags, occasionally using a brush and see what evolves, what shapes appear on the canvas and then develop the painting around them. In general, my paintings are intuitive rather than planned.
I have enjoyed painting on large canvases too. You need to be brave, a large white canvas is pretty intimidating but the results have been exciting.
Shortly before I came here I moved them all to my home. For a few days, I was surrounded by vivid colour and nature and it felt incredible, uplifting. I hope they lift your spirits on this bitterly cold and icy 'Spring' day.
.Come along to The Talented Art Fair this weekend 3-4th March 2018 to see and even buy part of this collection.
Cherry Blossom is one of my favourite images. It heralds the real beginning of Spring.
So grab your photography gear and get out to photograph some blossom.
I took these photographs at Batsford Arboretum this time last year for Gardens Illustrated. It took a couple of visits to capture the blooms as they flower over a few weeks.
I photographed most of these using a long lens as many blooms on mature trees are fairly high up. My camera was fitted onto a study tripod because you need a lot of patience to get the shots, because the wind catches the dainty flowers and the smallest movement can spoil your composition or blur your image.
Camera Canon mark III DSLR
Lens Canon Zoom - EF 70-200mm
or for lower down a macro, Canon 100mm
Tripod with remote shutter release
Patience (which doesn't come cheap)
Some tips for success:
Here are a small selection of my favourites.
This is the final feature in Gardens Illustrated April 2015
Next week: Focusing know-how.
You are a published photographer
We all are.
We are published on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a blog.......
If you want your posts to be seen and shared then you have to take photos that stop people in their tracks.
Follow these tips to grow your following:
1 Tell a great story:
2 Shoot in beautiful light
3 Compose interestingly
Now read this post on how to get paid for your photography!
Brick Lane in the East End of London is like Portobello Road or Camden Lock Market back in the 80's.
Clinging on to the edge of edgy but fast becoming fashionable with a heavy dose of vintage and good coffee and where artisan and traditional food vendors trade side-by-side. Buy a meaty salt beef baigel for breakfast and wash it down with an iced guava and passion fruit smoothie, why don't you?
Filled with the colours of street art and heaving with atmosphere it makes a great day out and not just for the food, it's a popular venue for likely photographers.
Here is my take on Brick Lane on a Sunday morning in February.
Shot with my Samsung S5 would you believe?
The basic elements
What is macro photography?
And it is great for art subjects too.
New compacts, bridge cameras or even smart phones are geared up to take great macro shots now.
Pretty impressive stuff, and the file sizes are impressive too.
However, you do need to use equipment that is suitable for your end use:
Mastering the technique
As with most things once you have nailed this, you just have fun getting a good composition and seeing the results.
So here are my tips on how to shoot great macro images:
Once you have mastered the technique it's all about composition, choosing:
Top tip: shoot the same subject several times altering the aperture (f-stop) each time then choose which one has the right amount of the subject in focus and good background blur. Edit on your computer, ideally; blow it up to 100% to see what it really looks like. This takes a bit more time but guarantees you a good result.
Shooting butterflies and insects
Watch out for my blog post on that. It's a whole new technique.
Why not sign up to our email subscriber list for a heads up on when I will be posting,
'Shooting butterflies dead...SHARP!'
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Have you ever been somewhere and seen something that captured your imagination and wanted to save the memory forever, maybe framing it for you wall? Creating your own artwork?
Whether you are an aspiring pro-photographer or simply want to take better shots here is a breakdown of how I produced this photograph just for you;
I was walking in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, it's very beautiful in a crumbling sort of way and to be fair there are lots of lovely photo opportunities. I took my small but trusty Canon G15 with me. It's pocket-sized but packs a punch with lots of fancy and useful features, you can shoot in RAW, JPEG or both.
I just wanted to capture some moments while on a long weekend break and have a bit of fun, so I set the camera to P, similar to Auto but this allowed me to adjust the exposure up or down a notch (f-stop) to create a bit more atmosphere and to regain a bit of control.
The light was gently stroking the building and lighting up the moped in the distance. I like photographs with people in them, but this empty scene spoke to me, it held a story. The light, the solitary moped, the sense of anticipation stopped me in my tracks. I quickly lifted the camera, composed the scene so that the arch framed the picture and took the shot. Then we drifted on to a lovely Tapas bar.
As we wandered I quickly shot scenes I liked, often when the light was playing beautiful games across the buildings, or casting dramatic shadows. As we passed one of the tiny roads I spotted this.
Back home, and after downloading the shots, I stopped at this one and decided to convert it to black and white. Here is my process; I used photoshop, but you can use any photo-editing software, you can even approximate it in your smartphone, if it's one of the newer models.
Open in Photoshop
Desaturate by moving the saturation slider to the left
(you find this under Image>adjustments>hue/saturation)
This leaves the image looking a bit 'thin' so time to get some atmosphere back.
Lets adjust the Levels.
CTL L opens up the dialogue box, then:
Move the left hand slider along (dark tones)
Move the middle slider to the right (mid-tones)
So from this...
I'm happy with this, there is just enough light to show some detail in the blacks.
Next I want highlight the light areas. I do with with the dodge tool. See below.
I only use 5% or less in 'highlights' for a delicate touch. Right click on the image to get your brush and wipe it over the areas you want to highlight, a bit like painting.
Next, sharpen the image. I don't want to sharpen too much-this can ruin a photo.
Go to Filter>sharpen>unsharp mask and use similar settings shown below. Play around until you get something that works for you.
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'There is always a photo'
There is. How often have I gone on location for a shoot and someone has said,
'There's not much to see I'm afraid.'
I have just returned from The Black Isle, in the North of Scotland to visit my elderly mum.
It's November not a month I would choose to spend in Scotland and as anticipated the
weather was dreary, cold, windy and wet.
A long drive to and from the hospital where mum was being looked after was very grey and did nothing for my spirits.
I even Tweeted this photo with the caption...
One shade of grey...
After 4 days of this with my blog post deadline looming I took my own advice, and on the way to the airport I took some photos. My theme?
I didn't have my Canon 5D mark III DSLR, so I used my Smart phone (a Samsung S5) which has an impressive camera.
On the flight home, I edited my shots with the phones software and came up with this set of pictures.
This set of photos had a little adjustment to brightness and contrast and in some the colour was desaturated but that was it on the editing front.
It proved to be an enjoyable couple of hours, despite the weather.
So, set yourself a challenge and come up with a set of shots based around a theme, and make this your mantra-
Look all around.
Part 1 of The Magic Triangle of Exposure
This is a biggie. I know lots of you out there have a great camera but always shoot in the automatic setting - that's when the camera works out aperture and shutter speed and you just focus and shoot.
This is great for some situations, say when you are shooting at a family event and you don't want to miss the moment, but..
learn how to use these settings independently, and a whole new world of creativity opens up.
Let's start with aperture
What is aperture or otherwise known as the F-number? (I remember my dad talking about this and I completely glazed over!)
Put simply it's the amount of light you let through the lens which then hits the sensor to make the picture.
What does changing the aperture do?
It changes how much of your image is in focus and how much is blurred.
The aperture (F-numbers) needs to balance with shutter speed to correctly expose the image when your camera is set to aperture priority the shutter speed is adjusted automatically.
This is how I took the photograph above:
TOP TIP: By setting a low number say f5.6 it opens up the lens and lets more light through (large opening small f-number). To compensate your camera will automatically set a faster shutter speed so that the sensor doesn't get flooded with light and over-expose the shot.
This gives you a...
NARROW DEPTH OF FIELD
That's when the subject is in focus and everything in front and behind are blurred, great for photographing objects or people with distracting backgrounds, like the photo above taken at Highclere garden (aka Downton Abbey) and the flowers below-giving a dreamy effect not possible with a high F-number.
Top Tip: lower f-numbers = faster shutter speeds - handy in low-light situations
when you need a fast shutter speed to stop camera shake if you can only hand-hold your camera.
Now, suppose you are shooting landscapes, or scenes where you need everything to be
You achieve this effect by letting in a pin-prick of light by setting the aperture to say F16
(large f-number small opening) or upwards.
Your camera will adjust the shutter speed to let enough light through that tiny hole to properly expose the shot, so this will be a longer shutter speed.
You control your aperture, and the camera looks after the shutter speed.
Not so tricky after all!
Top Tip: those pesky F-numbers are the magic key to changing your aperture
Top Tip: higher f-numbers = longer shutter speeds and may necessitate a tripod or a higher ISO speed. We'll cover ISO soon, subscribe to my mailing list here so you don't miss out!
The shots below illustrate a wide depth of field.
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Next time: Creativity by controlling your shutter speed
'Perspective changes everything'
When you decide to take a photograph what do you think? Be honest with yourself, do you look at something and think, that's cool I'll snap that, then later look at it and feel it doesn't look as good.
We need to work on that. When I look at something I want to photograph, something else kicks in. I want to reflect how I feel. I do this (partly,) by using different perspectives. This does several things:
- Helps to tell the story
- Leads your eye through the picture
- Adds drama
Flowers are very photogenic, but to know where to place them in the image is not always easy.
Alliums are one of my favourite flowers, they are architectural. Instead of photographing them from above, I get down to their level.
Here, I used a tripod to keep the camera in exactly the position I wanted. I focused on one flower head and made sure that I found a position where the green stalks filled the bottom of the picture.
I adjusted the depth of field so that the flower head was in focus but all it around was blurred. It did take a few minutes to capture this, but patience is worth it.
This feature appeared in Country Living.
This image is of a guy demonstrating Japanese cloud pruning. I could have shot this so that you could see everything going on. But I wanted to show the students interest and the array of tools, the sense of him working. It doesn't tell the whole story in one go.
What does this picture convey to you?
Why is the woman there?
What is she thinking?
It leaves the viewer with lots of questions.
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Complimentary colours zing off the page. Complimentary colours are those opposite each other on a colour wheel (See below). Here I deliberately placed the green apple against the red door.
Play with focus and crop
If you choose colours opposite each other on the colour wheel they will have the strongest contrast.
Canon EF50mm f/1.4USM
1/320s at f1.8
In this photo I hint at the story; a family day out collecting apples. The mum is in focus, the children are blurred in the distance. I focused the lens on one of the apples in the basket and set a fast shutter speed, the children where moving quite fast. This is quite a contemporary way shot, it leaves you to imagine how the story plays out.
Canon 100mm f/2.8
1/50s at f2.8
The great thing about cameras today is that lots have a macro function, even smart phones and although I took this shot using a macro lens (macro lenses allow very close-up photography) I could get something like this with my smart phone or compact. However, you will need to steady the camera by using a tripod or placing the camera on a firm surface.
I placed a leaf and an acorn on a tree trunk, got down low and with the help of my tripod and a narrow depth-of-field to blur out the background this is the shot I came back with.
I took the picture below with my smart phone a Sumsung S5, which is a lot less expensive than a macro lens!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.