EAP June Monthly Theme

The EAP Creative Photography June Theme is Hazy Shade of Winter

(because 1st June is beginning of winter in NZ)

You can interpret that in any way you like for whatever image you like.

Here is a Quick Tip to get you started:

June Quick Tip #1 – Matte Overlay

The matte look is quite popular these days, combined with a slightly desaturated look, it can be found all over Instagram, among other places.

You can do it within Lightroom fairly easily (there are lots of presets available)  however you don’t have as much control as you do in Photoshop.

Its also very easy to do in PS.

Open your image in PS.

Hover over Adjustment Layers and click on Colour Fill.

Select white as your colour.

Change the Blend Mode to Soft Light and then adjust the opacity to the amount you want.  I have it quite high at 75% as I wanted an obvious difference to be seen in the Before and After image.

Thats all you need to do 🙂

You can experiment with using other colours instead of white as well – I suggest sampling a colour tone from within the image using the Eye Dropper colour picker


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Four Ways Challenge May 2019

Many years ago we used to have the One Four Challenge – where you edited One image Four ways over the period of a month.

It was one of the key things that got me actually excited about learning to edit creatively and was so much fun to see what other people had done each week.

For May I introduced it to my Creative Photography group on FB  and it generated a lot of really fun images, people clearly having many attempts to master a technique or just trying something new.


It was a trip down memory lane for me, as participating in this challenge was a highlight for many months when I was just starting out.  The challenge provided a safe place to experiment and try new things, to get constructive critique and feedback.  Where you could share your successes and your failures and your learnings in a place where other people were experiencing the same things as you were.

This challenge is what gave me the confidence to get started using Photoshop layers and it was a fundamental first step on my personal creative journey.

So coming back to it several years later was a more emotional experience than I anticipated.  First, it made me realise how much I missed the regular creative dabbling, and how helpful it was for my own wellbeing.

Mostly, it made me realise how much I had forgotten because of not doing this kind of editing on a regular basis.

Lastly it drove home the fact that this is a skill which needs to have time invested in it.  Making art in whatever medium you choose requires you to ‘do the work’ ie put the time into practicing what you know and mastering new skills.

It made me sad that I had lost my ability to play and create for fun, but also glad that I had returned to it.  Plus there is a new artist whose work greatly inspires me but the style is very different to mine, so learning it is a new challenge.

For those of you who did undertake the Four Ways Challenge, THANKYOU and I hope it was fun and I look forward to new exciting images from you in the coming months.

My Final Image for May is the one featured on this blog post.  All my other images for the month are in the slideshow below.

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Watercolour with the Mixer Brush

Replicating a real watercolour style in PS or similar has long been a challenge for me.  Mostly because I am not a painter and have no real understanding how paints work in the real world.

So eventually I did a course on painting with watercolours and it taught me a lot.  Plus I have Rebelle, some software that mimics w/c about as realistically as you can get.  But you still need to THINK like a painter, and I don’t.

Yesterday, while trying to solve another problem, I came across a video that showed you how to use the Mixer brush to give you a more water colour effect.

So today I decided to give it a go.  I like the sketched out style so I did a sketch using Akvis Sketch – it has much more control and level of detail than Find Edges has, but Find Edges is free and included in PS 🙂

Then many layers of colour were dabbed down, brushed about and mucked around with.

Its a first proper experiment so made all kinds of mistakes but I still like how it came out and understand better how it can work.

Here are all my layers as I built up the different stages of colour.

The sketch appears twice, once as a base so I knew where my lines were, and then blended softly on top with Multiply to finish it off.

Here is the original photo for comparison

Should I keep going with working on this style?  Think its got potential?

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EAP Learning Portal is Live

Hey everyone!  I mentioned in my last post that work was being done to develop my Fine Art Textures Workshop.

Well in the meantime, my EAP Learning Portal has gone live!!!

EAP Learning Portal is HERE

This is where my courses will be hosted but to get you started is the Creative Moments video series.

Short videos (around 10 min) to show you a specific tool or task – just the key information you need to know how to use it!  No droning on for ages about stuff you don’t care about 🙂

And if you sign up for the Newsletter on the site, you will also get FREE access to a Bonus Texture Sample Pack too!

We also have a FB group to support and encourage people who want to edit and think more creatively about their images

EAP Creative Photography Circle

I hope you get a chance to check out the Video and love some feedback if you do!


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Online Photography Training Courses Coming Soon

Currently in development is my FIRST Online Training Course!!

Fine Art Texture Workshop

For anyone who:

– is overwhelmed by Photoshop
– wants to be creative in new ways
– wants to have FUN when they edit
– struggles to create with their own unique style and vision

This course is going to:

  • help you master Photoshop Layers/Mask/Blend Modes
  • learn to use artistic plugins and actions
  • develop your own style
  • give you the tools to create in new fun ways
  • confidence to play and experiment

Click on the LINK to sign up for Release Date information and Updates!

As you can imagine, this being the first course I have developed, its a pretty scary exercise, but I am really excited about it!

Learning to use Photoshop properly completely unlocked a whole new world of creativity for me and changed the way I thought about art and photography completely.

I know a lot of people are wary of how big and complicated Photoshop can be, so I hope to make learning that much easier, so people can have fun, feeling confident to experiment and try new things!



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Introducing my new WEBSITE

Creating a proper professional website has been a project for a while now.  So please find my new photography website here

Evoke Artisan Photography

There is a blog on that site and I will have different content on there, with tips and tricks and creative ideas.

Fear not, dear readers, I still intend to maintain this blog for the future but the content will not be replicated across both as they have different intents.

This is the place where I can share my experiments and learnings and waffle about stuff !

Hope you check it out and if you spot any typos, sing out 🙂

Posted in Camera Adventures | 1 Comment

Plum Lattice Pie

I have never made a pastry pie like this, nor have I done a lattice top before so this was exciting!

Bought some fresh plums and poached in a cinnamon sugar syrup.  Reduced the syrup down until thick.

This is a new pie dish I got recently, its a small one but fits well into frame and therefore looks much bigger.

Got some frozen pre made flaky pastry, left out in the sun to thaw.

Lined dish with a layer of pastry, added fruit and sauce, and carefully cut and assembled the lattice.  Brushed with egg and baked.

Slightly dark on the edges but look at all that lovely PUFF – much better than my last pastry experiment!

After mucking around with the pie for ages, time to cut a wedge on to a plate.

A dollop of greek yoghurt on top to finish – possibly a bit heavy on the drops and drizzles and it ran down, just making the plate look dirty instead.  Lesson learned!

A cleaner plate and a different angle and a less cluttered background – am liking this one a lot more.

Finally THE CLOSE UP!!

Ta Da!

What I Learned In This Shoot:

1.  Don’t line the dish with pastry too, it wont cook.

2.  My oven is still a bit hot – this puffed well and browned up but wasn’t properly cooked through.

3.  Reduce your sauce even more, the juice in the fruit will dilute it.

4.  Look at that gorgeous colour!

5.  I need nicer plates – this is too plain.

6.  Greek yoghurt is very white but holds its shape much better than whipped cream and doesn’t melt over everything.  Useful standin!

7.  I shot tethered and spent time looking at the images and still missed a damn cat hair on the pastry *sigh*

8.  Wear your glasses !

9.  I shot this nearly in the dark and you would never know – OMG I love my flash and softbox!

10.  Coffee crystals AKA big sugar granules look FAB!

It was over 30 deg and my dedication to my craft was such, I still baked this LOL

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Loaded Apricot Meringue

Time to step up my game and start making food specifically for the camera.  I had some ripe apricots and a pomegranate, and experimented with one way of combining them, but it didnt work out so well.

Today I bought this giant vanilla meringue, setup the shoot – broke it apart, loaded it with greek yoghurt/creme fraiche, apricots and shot it.


Everytime I shoot I make ALL OF THE MISTAKES!!!

So here is what I learned this time round:

– taking time to setup the gear, style the shoot using a standin, getting the lighting etc right is well worth it

– pay attention to the positioning of your hero item on the food – in this instance it was the sliced fan of apricot – except I didn’t notice the first shots were of the BACK of it *sigh*

Still looked pretty good tho!

– if you are mixing up whites, make sure they are the same tones – the white of the board is quite blue toned but the plate is a lot warmer and then the meringue etc is other tones of white.

– cut apricots go brown quickly – I need lemon juice or something to stop that

– on your first shots ZOOM IN AT 100% and view – and check for cat hairs!!

I have two white long hair cats and the fur gets into everything!  There are two in this shot and I didnt notice til 3/4 way thru, so most of my shots were wasted.

– tweezers are amazing – glad I am assembling a tool kit

– paper towels and a spray bottle of water are my new best friend – cleans up pomegrante juice off the background (and hands)

– if you want your food to look messily assembled – you have to work carefully to make it LOOK like that!

Food that is messily assemble just looks awful – you have to build it up in careful layers

And finally – yes its hard work, but it does pay off 🙂

I am TOTALLY eating this BTW !

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Zephyr Marshmallow

  One one of my food FB groups, a lady posted an image of gorgeous pink swirly meringue looking things – turns out they are an east european dessert called Zephyr.

Zephyr recipe link

They are a marshmallow made with agar instead of gelatine – which means I can make them for a vegetarian friend 🙂

The recipe is a bit fiddly and my piping bag was too small and I made a bit of a mess.  Plus I wasn’t sure how much working time before it set so I could pipe them – turns out there was plenty of time – its sets over several hours.

Today was camera day – carefully transferred over to a clean sheet of baking paper, onto the tray and into the studio.

I think I positioned them a bit too far apart for the size, the camera exaggerates distance, so I will remember that for next time.

These were made with tinned cherries but came out much paler than I expected.

The mixture is very firm and pipes really well, and holds its shape as it sets.  Some swirls were more successful or artistic than others 🙂

This was a new recipe for me and made a few mistakes, lots of learning and ideas of ways to fix it for next time.  Despite that I still got nice swirls that were set and able to be shot and moved about without too much damage.

Plus they get to be eaten once finished!

I also used some of my shiny new LR skills in editing these images – to give you an idea of the difference here is a Before/After shot

That was a fun way to spend 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon!

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Props and Accessories for Food Photography

One of my biggest challenges when I started out with shooting food was not having enough variety of props.  The range of things you need is quite extensive and will also depend on the style of shooting you do as well:

1.  Backgrounds
2.  Fabric
3.  Cutlery
4.  Plates
5.  Other props
6.  Random stuff

Its expensive to have to gather a collection together so my philosophy was simple – get simple classic pieces that can be used over and over again – the extra fluffy bits you put with it can change the mood/theme/style as necessary.

This means we can build up a solid library of elements that can be used in a variety of different ways.

Second – I *scrounged* hard! Go through the cupboards of friends and relatives and dig into the dusty back corners that never get used.  Go to markets for bargains.  Take time to buy the right pieces, I walked away from many cute things because it wasn’t the best fit for my requirements.  Resist the temptation to buy everything that appeals 🙂

Make friends with secondhand shop owners – I was such a regular at one place, they knew I was looking for old tarnished silver ware and they had a box full from an estate sale they didn’t want to polish.  I got about 12 good pieces for $10!

Third – Make stuff if you can.  I made a whole heap of my own backgrounds.  Note this isn’t necessarily the cheapest option, but you get a totally unique look, plus the skills to make new ones to suit in the future if needed.

Finally, be creative, you can use various elements in new and different ways, mix and match in unusual combinations and see what happens.  I have some white feathers acquired for another project, and am using them as foreground interest in winter themed shots.  No one has pointed out that feathers aren’t particularly winter relevant yet 🙂

Lets Look At Props


When you build your scene you start with the backdrop and baseboard ie backgrounds.  These will set your colour tone and provide the first level of texture

Here are some of my custom made ones – the grey industrial one is a personal favourite

Here is a finished shot with the grey one

Also with backgrounds I use plain black and white a lot as well –  either FoamCore sheets or big sheets of heavy grade cardboard (from art shops).  Light and easy to work with – double sided.  I also have smaller ones to use as my reflectors and V-flats.

Lots of people use vinyl backgrounds they have purchased online, unfortunately its way too expensive to ship them here to NZ, plus the exchange rate doesn’t work in my favour a lot either.  So I opted to make my own, but there are LOVELY options you can by online.


I use fabric a lot – first I was really afraid of it because I couldn’t get it to look right.  Then I realised that using the right colour fabric and also the texture of it makes a big difference.

Light weight open weave muslins and similar in neutral tones help add in soft subtle texture and soften the hard lines of plates and cutlery.  Heavy linens add more impact and scale when required

This is a sample of some of my white fabrics – you can see there are different shades of colour in these


very light gauze, muslin, heavy cream linen, white linen

I use white fabric a lot to drape in the backgrounds and hide the join between the background and backdrop.  If you buy big quantities from fabric supply places its more cost effective and you can cut smaller pieces off and hem for napkin sizes etc.

Here is a draped background shot showing the effect.

Coloured Fabrics

This is a sample of some of the different coloured fabrics – this probably 20% of my total collection.

I buy a lot on line – Etsy, Silk&Willow and Mollycoddle (baby prop supplies) are my main sources.

Here are some closeups so you can see the different textures

Here is an example with one of the light open weave fabrics, used to soften and frame the lavender salt.

Hard Props – Plates, Cutlery Etc

OK this is where it can get expensive, but it doesn’t have to.  I have spent a couple of years building up my collection, and I am *absolutely* on a budget here.  Take some time and scrounge, shop online for bargains, find out where other people get stuff.

My cutlery is all old tarnished vintage stuff, it doesn’t reflect as much as shiny new stuff, and I personally prefer the classic styling.

My plates are all simple plain MATTE finish (very important) and I have a collection of old tarnished silverware as well.  Love my round slice of wood board, that was a recent treat.

Old glass bottles are good for background interest and stand in for milk bottles.  Glass jars are good as well.  My most favourite piece of all is a big slice of black slate that was designed as a cheeseboard.  Its very matte and textured and looks great in close up shots – see below.

Other Accessories

Ribbons, string, snips, feathers, fairy lights, dried leaves, nuts, twigs, dried berries, fresh flowers and so on.

So there you go!

My first bit of advice is decide on the style you like for propping your shoots.  I use Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration a lot.  Build up some boards and see if an obvious theme develops.

Then use that as a basis for building a list of base props to start with – some plates, cutlery, fabric, backgrounds.  Enough to get you started.

Once you begin to experiment, then it will probably grow quite organically.  Turns out I have a real thing for collecting spoons LOL

Remember – HAVE FUN and play 🙂  That is how we all learn!


Posted in For Beginners | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments