KAIZEN – Skate Park Project

A couple of months ago I joined KAIZEN, which is step up from the AWAKE Advanced Photoshop training course I have been doing for the past year.  KAIZEN has a different structure and we are given monthly projects which challenge us to create in different ways and for different outcomes.

This first challenge was for a Skate and Bike shop in the US who are developing a program to help kids stay away from the temptations of drugs, by getting them into a community or like minded interest group – in this instance: Skateboarding and BMX.

We were given access to a selection of images of local bikers and skaters to work with, and our challenge was to create memorable, eyecatching images to be used on posters or a website for advertising.

I knew on seeing these images what I wanted to do – add real energy and power and movement, take them into an entirely new place.  My theme for these images was Clarity and Breaking Through – finding a way out of the drug scene and into better choices.

My secret weapon for these images are the fabulous PS Actions from sevenstyles, an incredibly talented PS artist who makes these fantastic actions that do the work of hours in a few minutes.

However each of these images has had a good couple of hours of work put in AFTER the action is run, to tidy it up, polish it, personalise it and add my preferred finishing touches and colour schemes.

A confession here, I have been *dying* to try out some of his really cool actions but had absolutely no reason up til now :)  Very pleased how these turned out and have since done a couple of other images for friends in the same style with great response.

We had to keep these project images under wraps until it was all cleared with the client at the other end – some really fabulous creative work was generated out of this project, and pushed many artists totally outside their comfort zone, myself included.

All of these images can be viewed here

The two actions featured here are Storm and Fragment, with some smaller shattering added as well.

Explored different colour schemes and tried to add energy, power and movement to the subject as well as transport them into a new place.

This is a very different style for me, so love to hear feedback – does it work for you?  Maybe not your thing? 

Anyone else using sevenstyles actions?

Posted in For Beginners, LR & Photoshop | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

5 Day Deal Photography Bundle


Given I have bought it a couple of times already and still hardly made a dent in catching up with all the training, I was resisting getting this one as well.

But there is SO MUCH useful stuff in this  – tons of actions and presets – and it turns out our exchange rate is much kinder than last time.

So I clicked the Buy button this morning.

As I type this you have 1 day and 18 hours left to do the same!

Posted in Waffle and Burbling | 4 Comments

My Second Article for DPS – Lightroom Radial Filter Tool

radialfilterpaneltigervignettebeginning-7Still auditioning to write for DPS, they wanted my second article to be a Tutorial, to see how well I can explain complex concepts.  I chose the Radial Filter Tool in Lightroom as it is one of the most useful features, but one not as widely known as it should be.

Lightroom’s Secret Weapon – The Radial Filter Tool

Click the link to view the article

For anyone who wants to give their image that extra level of polish and finish beyond the standard global adjustments.  Especially useful for anyone who doesn’t have or want to use Photoshop to achieve similar results – get a much better result out of Lightroom with the help of this tool.

Did you already know about the Radial Filter tool?  Do you use it?


Posted in Camera Adventures, For Beginners, LR & Photoshop | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trialling a Helios Manual Focus Lens

Today I had a treat – a wander in the gardens with a local photographer who taught me about his vintage manual lenses.

All these shots were taken on a Helios 44-2 with a Canon adaptor to fit my 7D MK II.

This lens is a manual focus lens with a particular swirl effect noticeable in the bokeh (can see it quite clearly in the image above) which was apparently due to a fault in the manufacturing process.  Photographers being the contrary creatures they are, have decided this is a desirable feature and you can buy these lenses for quite cheap pricing.

The working distance was around 25-30 cm and I found it very difficult to accurately focus on a small subject through the viewfinder.  Unfortunately my Live View wouldn’t work with this lens, so did the best I could, and had to wait patiently for the wind to stop, to maximise sharp shots.

Using these lenses was a good experience.  I don’t usually shoot in Manual mode so this was different from my usual process.  It highlights the necessity of knowing your exposure triangle, and having to adjust the shutter speed to get the right exposure for different light conditions.

I like how it really makes you slow down, and think about your process – the composition, the light, the aperture, the shutter speed.  Forces you to *be* in the moment, rather than click and move on.

This shot of a tiny new fern has the swirly effect visible here.  The fern is about 10cm at its tallest point.  I liked how it was so bright green and isolated from the background.

The first 4 images were shot at F 2.8.  This last one is shot around F5 approx – this lens has a manual aperture ring as well as the focus ring, so I just dialed it around til I got the necessary depth of field I wanted in this image.  These ferns were quite big and at the back of the clump, so I couldn’t get the tripod any closer.

Most of these are not 100% sharp but I am OK with that.  The swirly bokeh is an interesting effect.  Given these lenses are extremely cheap, it is not an unaffordable option to add for a different and creative approach.

Do you shoot with these old vintage lenses?  If so, what do you like about them?

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

Before and After Edit

This is a Paeony shot around Xmas time, this time its been edited with some new Kim Klassen presets and had a couple of textures added as well.

I wanted to show the vast difference these presets make.  Some people will like them and some won’t but with a click of a button, you can make an image completely different and I really enjoy experimenting with the different effects.

It is much quicker to have an interesting place to start from and tweak from there.

This second image is the completely untouched raw file from the above image, not cropped, and no processing has been applied – yes the flower really was this bright crimson colour and its a pretty good exposure, all things being equal.

For me the edit brings a different feel to the image, adds drama, highlights the structure of the petals, changes the mood and the focus of the image, makes the flower look almost sculptural.

The texture gives subtle interest, something for the eye to rest on as it travels around the image.

Does the edited image work for you? What story does it tell you?

Posted in Camera Adventures, LR & Photoshop | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Night Scented Stock Still Life

I was supposed to go away this weekend but felt like I was coming down with a cold on Friday so didn’t go.  Instead had a quiet weekend running errands and indulging in some still life photography.

This weeks star is some gorgeous white night scented stock, absolutely divine fragrance, delicate white petals and soft green buds.

One of my errands was to look for some new props to use in my still life arrangements, and this lovely old book was acquired yesterday.  Its very torn and well used around the corners and the edges of the pages are finished with a wonderful marble pattern.

Also new is this fabulous small crate and the scissors.  Had the scissors for a while but put them away in a safe place and forgot about them LOL.  The crate was found in a fancy furniture store that was having a sale, not a place I would normally shop in so very pleased I took the chance for a quick wander.

Yesterday I shot against the window to get the nice white background that comes out well with this soft hazy look.  Not sure if its my camera or the nifty fifty lens but these images came out very grainy and a bit soft so I exaggerated that in the processing for a soft retro look.

Still finding my way with staging the scene, pretty happy with the above look, I just wrapped the linen around the jar that was holding the flowers, I like the soft folds of fabric adding texture and interest and softness.

The images shot with the crate had the light behind me and even though the ISO was still set at 400 the grain seems to be a bit better.  I did change the lens as well.  Will have to experiment further, I like the nifty fifty but would prefer less grain in these images.

Finally got the 100mm F2.8 IS L Macro lens out for a play after spraying the flowers with water.  The abstract look of this is appealing, and the lovely spots of water add an extra dimension to this.  It has been finished off with a texture.

Shooting against the wall gives a slightly darker background but with these soft white flowers I prefer it has some depth to show them off.

All images processed with Kim Klassen presets and some also have some of her textures added.  I also treated myself to the My Still Sunday Preset series for my birthday and have enjoyed those a lot.  They are subtly different to the Studio series and very adaptable.

Lots of different styles of images here, both in composition and processing.  I like them all for different reasons.

Which ones appeal to you?  Why?

Posted in Camera Adventures, LR & Photoshop | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

My First International Photography Competition

steam-engineFor a while I have been thinking about entering my work into some competitions – a recent talk at my camera club inspired me to make the effort and when I saw this competition was available for online digital entries and ENCOURAGED creative work, I decided to pay my money and give it a go.

TRANSFORMATION – by the Pennsylvania Center for Photography


Last night I received an email to say that two of my submissions had been accepted and would be shown as part of the digital exhibition!!!

Very exciting for me as this is the first international competition I have entered for photography and also the first one where I have entered my digital art as well.

Find out the final prize winners on Opening Night early Nov, but I am delighted to have got this far!


Posted in Camera Adventures | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments