Creativity

Like a shadow, creativity has walked beside me throughout life; and along with his twin brothers, Curiosity and Imagination, has influenced nearly every aspect of my life.

I don't seek Creativity, he is always there, constantly stimulating me, suggesting new projects for my good friend Challenge to take on. Curiosity makes me look at the world with new eyes, really pay attention, and analyse what I see. At which point Imagination steps in. Without him, Creativity and Curiosity are not complete. Imagination is always asking me: “how can you do this differently?”

Questioning, channelling my inquisitive inner child, experimenting, immersing myself in imagination and fantasy, exposing myself to new experiences and sensations, persevering ... I approach every challenge with 200% enthusiasm. Then, without warning, and with the same intensity that I start a project, I grow bored, ready to get my teeth into a new venture.

I am always pursuing inspiration, exploring hidden patterns to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena; my brain is full of thousands of ideas, with never enough time to turn my visions into possibilities.

Mostly a blessing, a creative mind can be exhausting, as my insatiable visionary thoughts bounce around from one idea to the next at a hundred miles an hour.

I take on every new project with my mother's words ringing in my ears: “If other people can do it, so can you!”
"I've told you about throwing stones!"
Trying to keep on top of my water intake
Sometimes only explosively strong coffee and a cake will do 
The Car Mechanic

The LSH gets down and under.

After the axle collapsed on our RV, David removed it, sent it to Scotland for refurbishment, and re-fitted it. He had to cut the brake pipe in order to get it off, so he has re-created the bits he needed, and is now putting the final touches on the repair job.

In order to create (or stage) this photo, there was no way I was going to lie down and crawl under the van: a) I would never get up again, and b) I suffer from claustrophobia and the mere thought of it sends me into shivers!

Instead I placed my camera on a gimbal, fitted with a wide angle lens and a flash gun off to the left in the image. David dragged the camera and light into position, and I operated it via my phone from a safe - and vertical - distance.

Canon 8-15mm @ 10mm

f/9

1/320 sec

ISO 400

Edited in Photoshop, with a couple of filters in Nik Colour Efex PRO 4 (Detail Extraction, Bleach Bypass, Lens Vignette)

Film Noir

The idea was to recreate a 1950s film noir look.

To get the heavy shadows covering my face, I created a striped gobo from a black foam sheet which I cut into thin strips and stuck on a piece of plastic, mounted in a frame to keep its shape. I had the LSH hold this between me and the main flash gun (which was at a 45° angle to my left), moving it back and forth until I got the desired effect.

Behind me I hung a black velvet cloth from my glass cabinet, held in place by a couple of heavy vases (it's all high tech this shoot, you know! ) I also placed a flash gun between me and the background, facing forward, to create the rim light.

Using my phone to operate the camera, I was able to see how I should pose to get the look I wanted; although getting the shadows in just the right place took some trial and error, as obviously they would only be visible once I fired the camera, thus activating the flash.

The image is heavily edited in Camera Raw, Portrait Pro (to try and make me look 35 years younger), Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (for the black and white conversion), Nike Define 2 (to get rid of some noise) and Photoshop to add drama and the colour pop.

Newton's Eggsellant Cradle

I only had to break four eggs to get the timing right for this image, with the LSH pouring the egg through a hole in the top of the broken shell on the right. That shell was attached a metal BBQ skewer held in place with a clamp. The rest of the image (the four 'hanging eggs - which incidentally were hard boiled), lower egg shell and the little broken bits) was taken as a flat-lay on a fish tank on its side with the blue paper underneath. Thankfully it was pancake day, so I could use up the raw eggs! 

 The Smoky Dancer

A Moroccan teapot was positioned some distance in front of a black background, with the LSH (Long Suffering Husband) holding an incense stick behind it.  Two images joined together, then manipulated in Photoshop to make the right hand smoke plume look like a dancer. 

Making a Splash

The whole scene - glasses, lemons and limes, ice cubes, umbrella and straw - was attached to a plank using a hot glue gun. The plank was then mounted upside down and water splashed upwards. 

The Brightest Bulb in the Box
For this image, I balanced an old fashioned bulb that I rescued from my dad's cupboard on top of a sheet of black plexiglass, using a couple of metal washers to ensure it didn't fall over. Behind it was a sparkler in a clamp attached to a light stand. My LSH (Long Suffering Husband) then lit the sparkler as I took the photos. 
Refractions
image, I placed a fish tank on its side, with a colourful chequered paper on the bottom shelf, and small water droplets on the top (using a pipette). Photographed straight down.
The Water Punch
He packs a powerful punch, my husband. 

For this image I had him punch the water in a fish tank, turning the image on its side in post processing for greater impact. 
Indoor Light Painting with a Crystal Lensball

Placing my lensball on a sheet of black plexiglass, I got my LSH to wave my phone around behind it, with colourful stripy images on the screen.  See more images from my shoot here
Harris Shutter

The Harris Shutter

This technique was developed by a chap called Bob Harris who worked for Kodak. The effect is achieved by creating three separate images in each of the three primary colours: Red, Blue and Green. When layered, only those areas within the frame that are different to the other images take on that colour.

Pencils

With lockdown #3 in place, I had to start looking inside the house for items to photograph - pencils seemed like a suitably versatile subject. You can see more of my pencil photography here
Strawberry Bubbles
Filling my fish tank with sparkling water, I immersed various items (fruits, vegetables, flowers) into the water, holding them in place with a metal skewer attached to a clamp to prevent them from floating to the surface. The effervescence of the water creates a number of bubbles sticking to the surface of the subject. 
More Lensball fun

Crystal lens ball, crumpled tin foil, black plexiglass, head torch with red bulb and an LED light.

Water Drop Art

Water drop art. Check out how it is done here

Floating Paper Clip
See my set up and trial and tribulations here.
Refractions
After creating a diagonally striped paper in Photoshop, I draped it at right angles onto the dining table. Various shaped glasses partly filled with water were placed in front, creating some awesome refractions. 

Lots of tidying up in Photoshop to get a clean image like this
Soap Bubbles
Reflections on a simple soap bubble. See how it is done on my Blog
ICM
ICM - Intentional Camera Movement - moving the camera up and down while taking a photo. 
Flour Power
Flour power

You can see an explanation of the step by step process here
Scanography
Scanography
I wanted to create a highly contrasty and slightly creepy image of my own hand. I have always had quite lined hands as far back as I can remember – I call them my 'old lady hands'.

Using a technique called Scanography, I placed my hand on my flatbed photography scanner, creating a digital image ('digital' - see what I did there?) which I then manipulated in Photoshop.
Cross Polarisation

Cross polarisation

With a completely white background on my laptop screen, I placed a glossy black board over the keyboard, upon which were various plastic items.  By adding a polariser filter to my lens and turning it, I managed to show stress in the plastic in amazing technicolour! 

Time Stack
Time Stack

Fluffy white clouds moving across Clevedon Harbour

Camera on tripod, all fully manual. ND x 10 filter attached. This means very little light shines through the viewfinder, but using Live View you can still focus even after the filters are attached.

A bit of trial and error as far as the shutter speed goes, when settled on something that looks suitable, I just pushed the remote control, left it on continuous shooting and let it take one photo directly after another until I got bored. Meanwhile I sat on a bench freezing my butt off in the biting wind.

I used 13 of them in the end, as any more would have washed out to the picture too much.

Layering them all in Photoshop manually, I changed the Blending Mode for each to Lighten.

In Nik Colour Efex Pro, I added some detail and contrast; and I changed the white balance a little on the foreground as it didn't look right.
Falling Sugar
Sugar on a Strawberry
Read all about the project in my BLOG

Brenizer Method
Brenizer Method - Bokeh panorama stitched from 152 images

I have been wanting to have a go at a technique called the Brenizer Method ever since a first read about it back in the 1980s (long before Ryan Benizer, who made this effect famous much more recently, had even taken his first photo!)

To create the effect, a larger panoramic picture is stitched together from several photos taken with a telephoto lens at a wide aperture. The object of the exercise is to get a panorama picture with a much shallower depth of field than is possible with a wide angle lens.

According to the on line calculator, my painstaking photography / editing has resulted in an image, which in order to achieve the same composition, perspective and depth of field in a shingle shot, would have had to be taken with a focal length of 13.69mm at an aperture of f/0.28. That's pretty darned impressive.

As this photo was taken using a vintage lens, I wanted a vintage finish to it too.

I dragged my poor long-suffering husband out into the woods to pose for me, then made him stand completely still as I took a series of photographs covering different areas of the image.

I put my camera on a tripod, with a vintage Pentacon 135mm f/2.8 lens on it.

Dialling in the correct exposure and setting everything to Manual, I made sure each photo overlapped the previous one by at least 30%, using the pan and tilt function on my tripod.

Back home I adjusted the WB, and sharpened / increased the contrast a little in Camera RAW, synchronising them so they all the images received the same edit.

So, OK, I got a little carried away with taking photos, and almost blew my poor little computer up, trying to get it to merge 152 x 30MP RAW image files together into one picture. I have a pretty powerful machine, and I increased the amount of RAM that my PC allows Photoshop to use to near the maximum, but the automated load and merge procedure still took my PC 2 hours 49 minutes to complete, with a further 41 minutes just to save the image as a Large Document. By then it was time for bed.

The next day it took another 15 minutes just to open up the image again, and once it had finally loaded, I realised that the vintage lens seems to be darker on the right hand side than the left which meant that I had to go through every single image, all 152 of them, adding a layer mask and using a soft Brush to remove the edges of each image to blend the whole picture together smoothly as one and remove the one rogue image which appeared to have confused my CS5. To say it was fiddly and time consuming is an understatement.

Once I had smoothed out all the joints, I went over the image with a fine tooth comb to make sure there were no offending sharp edges left, and then flattened the image and cropped it to a suitable size / shape, resized it and saved as a jpg (a massive one at 252MB).

I further edited the jpg in Photoshop / Nik Colour Efex Pro, using Curves to give the image more of a punch; a Graduated Neutral Density Filter, Burn Brush and Graduated Layer / Blending Modes to darken the sky, adding a Skylight filter for warmth and some cloning to tidy up a few wayward bits and get rid of the smiley someone had painted on the tree.

To get the 'old' feel to the finished image, again in Nik, I added Ink and Duplex, and finally a very slight Vignette.
Smoke Photography 
Smoke machine
I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and it involved buying a smoke machine. Fortunately David is even more into gadgets than I am (if that is at all possible), and a very savvy internet shopper, so he was quite happy to embrace that part of the challenge.
On our back patio, we set up the smoke machine one end, with two LED video lights the other. With David standing in front of the lights, almost completely blocking them, and directly opposite the smoke machine, I set off the smoke and took a few pictures. This was my favourite. PS: it's a toy gun.
Please may I have some cake? 
Please may I have a cake
I knew exactly what I wanted for this image and it involved buying cake! I chose the most picturesque cupcake I could find and added some Smarties for extra effect.
The 'glass tabletop' is the mirror from the inside of my wardrobe, placed right to the edge of the table.
Black velvet backdrop behind Francesca, held in place on the curtain rail by clothes pegs.
Off camera flash to the right, white umbrella to the left.
Thank you my young friend Francesca for her modelling skills, as always, Lyn and David for being photographer's assistants, and Chris for eating the cake.
Slight tidying up in Photoshop CS5.
Freelensing
Freelensing
A photographic technique where the lens is detached and merely held up against the camera body while taking the image.
Scary Monsters in the Night
Scary monsters in the night
As usual, I had a plan of what I wanted to achieve from the shoot, and enlisted the ever-willing Francesca to assist.

In my living room 'studio' I hung a white cloth from the ceiling, draping it along the floor to create a seamless background. Using an off camera flash from the right and an LED light on the left, I asked Francesca to crouch down and look over her shoulders with a scared look on her face. As always, she was very obliging.

My long suffering assistant (AKA husband), held his hands out menacingly between the flash gun and the scene in order to create the shadows.

In the post processing stage I added a texture for the crumpled look, a heavy vignette, darkened the shadows for greater contrast, and added a blue cast to get the night-time feel.
Strobe Photography
"Did someone say free booze?"
Multiple exposure created by having a model run across the frame in front of a black background with a long shutter speed while firing a multi- strobe (seven flashes per second)
A Sparkling Drink
"I'll have something sparkling" she answered when asked what she wanted to drink.
Lit sparklers placed upside down in a cocktail glass , with this image being a combination of several. The slice of orange was added afterwards. 
The Seven Stages of Life

The seven stages of life

It Looks Like Rain

It looks like rain

Panning

Panning

Light Painting

Light painting

The Magic of Books

The magic of books

STOP!!!!!

My husband gets so obsessive about his car

Dropping Strawberry

Strawberries and cream anyone?

You can read the whole process of creating this image here

Spinning Tennis Ball

Anyone for tennis?

Pop over to the BLOG entry to see how I created this. 

Double Exposure

Double exposure

Two images from Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania layered in Photoshop

Bouncing Paint

Bouncing paint

Find out how I created this image in my BLOG

The Washing Machine Repair Man

The LSH is always useful to have on hand should something go wrong. Like the washing machine. 

The Bucket Challenge

How do I repay him for everything he does for me? Throw buckets of water over him, of course. 

The Drowning Man

Or I simply drown him

Full explanation here.  

Focus Stacking

Focus stacking

Seven images were combined to ensure every part of this gerbena was in focus. 

Crystal Ball Refractions

One crystal ball, one mirror, two forks, one sheet of wrapping paper. 

Fire?

Blue ink dropped in clean water in a fish tank, image turned upside down and inverted in Photoshop.

Eggshells

The Eggshell Project

You can read more about it here

More Lockdown Fun
Bursting Water Balloons

Pop over to my BLOG to find out how I created this image. 

Screw the Skyscrapers

Screw the skyscrapers

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