Beginning of a new Project

For about 18 months I have had a project in my head and finally got all the pieces aligned so I can start shooting and making the concept real.

These two images are the first in a series, exploring a different darker place.  As you can gather, the images will be quite adult themed, there will be (hopefully) tasteful nudity.

I know these images will be challenging for some people, and that there will be a variety of reactions.  I look forward to the responses.

You have already seen me go down this rabbit hole with the more macabre bloody style of images – this is more conceptual and abstract, with a limited muted colour palette of white, black and red, edited in a higher key than I usually do.

Also for the first time, I hope to have another participant to interact with and help me tell much more of a story.

I only have one shot at doing this, so I plan to take it slowly, my art journal is already brimming over with ideas and poses with more coming every day.  Also I have another major project happening in real life which is going to take up a lot of my time.  So this is going evolve organically over the next few months.

Love to hear your feedback!  I’m really excited to be finally working on this project and bring it to reality.

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2 new DPS articles online

I have two new articles published up on DPS for July

Event Photography Etiquette

10 Bad Photography Habits to Quit

Please check them out – interested to hear your thoughts – have I covered off your bad habits or do you have different ones?

Posted in For Beginners | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mental Health and Creativity

I have depression, and have in some form since childhood.  Its like wading my way through cold liquid tar.  Most of the time its about ankle deep, but sometimes it gets up over the knees – and wading through the cold black sticky stuff is hard work.

Depression taints everything in your life, taking the shine and colours away, making everything less joyous.  I can still have moments of happiness, laughter and joy, but the difficulty in getting to those places makes it so much harder to achieve them.  It also makes them that much more precious.

For the last year or so I have been feeling …… flat…. is the best way to describe it. Additionally another symptom that has  been kicking my ass is anxiety – that is what has really messing with my general mental wellbeing.  Anxiety affects my ability to sleep, instead lying awake at 3am with the hamsters in your brain running flat out on their treadmills – spinning all sorts of possible problems, scenarios and outcomes. This generates more stress, being aware of and awake for hours with the need to eventually function for work, plus the additional adrenal overload on my system in trying to react to, and process all these made up scenarios (which invariably are never as bad as imagined!)

But I can’t turn it off and having tried medication before and been singularly unimpressed with the response, am not willing to turn to a medical establishment whose default setting appears to be “prescribe and damn the side effects”.

I’m depressed, tired, strung out, wrung out and struggling to cope some days.  I am not suicidal or self harming or any danger to myself or others.  This is not a cry for help but an explanation and an opportunity for discussion.  Mental health is an issue that affects many people but is stigmatised and not discussed openly.  So in the spirit of The Bloggess – I share my story, maybe you will tell me to harden up, maybe you will quietly nod and understand.

Being tired and stressed tends to affect my ability to filter and be less *me* – a friend describes it from his POV as “the shielding around the reactor core fails and leakage may be experienced”.  To avoid radiation burns for those I care about, that often means staying at home, hibernating or hermiting – listening to music a lot.

So I isolate myself from people, and feel guilty about that, and then stress about the guilt and……..

Jenny aka The Bloggess says emphatically Depression Lies – but when everything in your life is covered in black sticky yuck, its hard to see the truth in that.

So here we have a brain, clogged up with black sticky sludge, making everything difficult and sucking the joy out of life.  How does that impact on creativity?

Stress makes me lose my mojo quite seriously – after the earthquakes that damaged Christchurch I didn’t pick up my camera for a couple of years really and even then I had to force myself.

Since my trip to Melbourne I haven’t touched my camera, nor edited more than a handful of images.  In fact my Tasmania trip from 3 years ago still has half the images yet to be edited. Its another thing that nags at me, makes me feel guilty and stressed about not having done what I should have *sigh* sound familiar?

Doing Awake has taught me a lot more about my creative drive and how that manifests, and one of the good things is learning that it is OK to give myself space and time to fully evolve a concept.  If ideas are being generated and journalled to come back to, then even though nothing may be actively created, the brain is still engaged and thinking.

Those ideas can be stored away for when I am in the right headspace to create with them.  Giving myself time has actually meant the final outcome was often better than my original idea, so there is added benefit.  Plus its easier to be kinder to myself and not add to the guilt and stress loading.  I give myself permission to do exactly what I can, when I can and how I can, and be OK with that.

Managing your mental health is about making compromises.  This may mean never becoming the award winning artist I want to, but right now, that is the choice that needs to be made.

What interests me about how my mental health impacts my creativity is the direction it takes.  There is a darkness inside everyone, whether they are willing to admit it.  Maybe mine lives a bit closer to the surface than other peoples, or maybe my brain is just wired that way.

Right now its damn near impossible for me to create anything light, fluffy, pretty etc.  But my brain is overflowing with dark twisted ideas relating to the things its feeling right now – ways to express pain, anger, frustration, loneliness.  Being able to tap into the horrible yuck and create art, whatever it looks like……that helps keep me sane in a way I never realised it could.

Therefore I’m embracing all that darkness, holding it close and singing it bittersweet songs of despair and unhappiness, because dark twisted flowers are blooming in that landscape, and right now that pleases me greatly. Seriously, how fucked up is that 🙂

Instead of having to deal with all the unpleasantness that depression and anxiety usually bring, and being left in a barren landscape with little hope of relief, knowing you just had to endure.  Now I can harness all the angry darkness, and create something….. not necessarily beautiful…. but compelling and evocative.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger 🙂

What doesn’t kill you gives you unhealthy coping mechanisms and a dark sense of humour!

I won’t lie, this is pretty tough to deal with long term.  Maybe trying to do it unmedicated is making it harder than it has to be.  Maybe the wear and tear on my friends will be more than they are prepared to handle.  Maybe it doesn’t get better and this is my new normal.

If you read this far, then thankyou. If you have any thoughts or insights or your own story to share, I would love to hear from you.  If you would prefer to email me privately, thats OK.

A recent event has made me conscious that life is precious and we need to make the most of it – so be kind to yourself *HUGS*

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Posted in Camera Adventures | 38 Comments

Necessary Accessories – latest DPS article

necessory-accessories-memory-cardsAnother article published on DPS site – my opinion on the necessary accessories a beginner might like to consider. Interested to hear your thoughts?

What accessories can’t you live without?  What have I missed off the list?

Posted in Camera Adventures | 2 Comments

My latest DPS article on Finding Inspiration is up

You can find my article HERE – my thoughts on how to find inspiration when you need it, and how to push your boundaries and shoot in a different way

Happy to hear your thoughts on my article!

Posted in Camera Adventures | 3 Comments

Artists Down Under magazine

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Hello lovely people, apologies for the continued quiet on the blogging front, since I got back from Melbourne, things have been crazy busy.  I was very tired after an eventful 10 days of photography, and the jet lag took a bit of a toll.  The day job has been super busy as well.

In the mean time, the art continues, and I have two images published in this month’s Artists Down Under magazine.  Prints are available to purchase

Click here to view magazine

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Kookaburra

After 10 days away I have returned with approx 2000 images to process.  First job is to import them all, and then the time consuming job of editing out the keepers from the blurry duplicates.

This image is one that could be considered not up to snuff, but with some careful editing it went from being a dark dull shot that was not 100% sharp, to some artistic magic instead 🙂 – Click on the image above to see a larger size

Here is the original image, after quite a lot of editing in Lighroom.  As you can see, the background is very bright and distracting, the heavy dark branch overpowers the image and takes focus away from the kookaburra.

Post Processing Steps:

  1. Edit original image in Lightroom with the focus on the kookaburra
  2. Bring into PS and run through Nik Color Efex to enhance the colours in the bird some more
  3. Select and mask out the bird on the branch with Topaz Remask
  4. Spend time tidying up the mask
  5. Trial several different Daily Texture Backgrounds until the right one is decided on and oriented correctly
  6. Tidy up the mask some more
  7. Flatten bird on background and bring into Topaz Impression
  8. Find the right effect, apply
  9. Tidy up some details

The lighting is at an awkward angle from behind and above the bird, so I had to make sure the tonal ranges with the background suited.

Overall I am pleased with how the final image came out.  The end of the branch is a bit soft and could probably be tidied up a bit but its a vast improvement over the original photo

Its nice to be able to shoot an image, knowing that you can later edit it, and take an average photo and make it into something much better.

Do you like the painted version?  Not your cup of tea?  Let me know!

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Posted in Camera Adventures, LR & Photoshop | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments