Making My Own Photography Background Boards

Dearest readers, sincere apologies for my lack of proper posts.  Since the beginning of this year my health has been not good, I have had food poisoning, a root canal, an issue with my wrist and a virus that went on for 7 weeks!

Not a lot of energy for creating or posting as a result beyond my other writing commitments – which you have seen posted here too.

I have been playing a lot with mixed media art and in the last week my enthusiasm has been fired up by this course

Making Beautiful Background Boards

Initially I was a bit reluctant, its quite expensive (tho its on special til end May) but I had seen several pieces done by students and was really impressed.  So paid my money and have sat down and devoured all the videos over the last week.


Denise teaches you cool techniques which you can use or adapt to your own preference and has lots of options with products (where possible) so you can find something you like to work with.

I had to wait til the weekend to go shopping for supplies!
And here are some of my finished pieces

These two boards started with the exact same coat of paint and were finished off differently.

Also check out the picture at the top of the post with my amazing Cherry Stain board!

If you are frustrated by the lack of options or the cost of photography boards and you do a lot of food or still life – I highly recommend this course 🙂


Posted in Camera Adventures, For Beginners | Leave a comment

Last of the Still Life Article Series

The third and last in my series of Still Life articles has been published this week – this one is about the fun that can be had with creative post processing of your images.

Still Life Post Processing Article

Its free to read – I hope you enjoy it

Posted in For Beginners, LR & Photoshop | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Wander Through An Old Cemetary

Its been on my mind for a while to visit this cemetary, its one of the earliest ones in Christchurch and has many notable people buried there, including Kate Sheppard who was instrumental in NZ women getting the vote.  I found all this out as I read the noticeboard on my way out 🙂

Cemetaries are an interesting place, especially the old ones.  You see generations of families buried in the same plot, some living to a venerable age, but many dying very young.

It was a lovely day to walk around, with a few other people encountered.  There were some spectacular mature yew trees covered in berries, and some decent sized oaks dropping acorns all over the place.  For an area near the central city and in a densely populated sububan zone backed up against some light industry, the volume of bird song was heartening.

The damage from the earthquake was all too visible with many of the headstones toppled over or uprooted at crazy angles.  It was impressive to see slabs of marble a few inches thick shattered into pieces but sad as well.  Its unlikely anyone will be around to front up the cost to repair or replace these, evident in the fact they are still in this broken state several years post quake.

The lovely rusted railings with their fleur de lis  pattern were around many sites, with this spider making good use of its environment.

It fascinates me how much detail can be carved from a piece of stone, if one has the time, patience and funding to be able to afford it.  Todays sterile affordable headstones pale into comparison with these gorgeous monuments to loved ones.

I very rarely do a selective colour, but this headstone caught my eye, even though the people listed have been dead for over a century, someone still cares enough to mark the headstone with some flowers.  I wonder who…. and why?

So many stories to be found in a cemetary, questions about the lives of the people buried there.  Its fascinating….who else enjoys a wander through a cemetary?





Posted in Camera Adventures | 4 Comments

I have worded a lot lately

Some of you will have seen posts from me about articles I have written for DPS – Digital Photography School.  I am still writing for them and had quite a few articles published over the last few months:

Turn your Photos into Watercolour Art

Writers Favourite Lens – Canon 100mm Macro

How to do Digital Painting

How to Reboot Your Creativity in 15 min

I was also approached late last year to write a series on starting out with Still Life for Photzy and you can access that article here:

Beginners Guide to Still Life

There are two more in that series, on Lighting and Post Processing Still Life images but I don’t know when they will be published.

A couple of food photography courses were released recently, one from Denise Love at 2LilOwls and Rachel Korinek of Two Loves Studio also released her Composition Essentials course.

Here is a sample of some of the images I have taken recently which have come out of my learnings of these courses – a MAJOR step up in styling and use of props and setting a scene to tell a story.

Really enjoying this new learning directing, with an added bonus of getting to eat yummy treats once I’m finished.  In fact I will be off to the local farmers market tomorrow in search of fresh new treats to shoot.

Its been a bit quiet on here lately, what have you all been up too while I have been away? What new things are you working on?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.





Posted in For Beginners | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Name and Backup your Lightroom Catalog Properly

My C: was getting a little full a few days ago, which was causing me issues with using Photoshop.  So I started doing a bit of a cleanup of some old folders that were taking up space and could be deleted.

One of those was really large, but it was titled LR5catalog  and I was using LR6 and there was also an LR6catalog file – so Shift+Delete to totally blast it off my hard drive.

Couple days later, go back into LR and……. no catalog to be found!!!

Somewhere along the ways I had got my catalogs confused and not realised that I was using an older version and had deleted my active one!


Hangon…..LR has a backup system and I had been using it…….

But no, dear reader, something had gone wrong there too!

You see, the default backup file location is in the SAME FOLDER AS THE ACTUAL CATALOG!!!!

If you don’t change it to somewhere else (which I’m pretty sure I did as I have the files) or if you change the catalog but don’t reset the backup location, and then you delete the parent folder (like I did)  YOU LOSE EVERYTHING!!

Just to be clear here, it wasn’t my image files, just my LR catalog files with all the editing settings.

It took two days to rebuild it, one to rebuild the catalog from scratch, and one to recreate all the preview files.

I now have the files clearly marked as Active Catalog – DO NOT DELETE and I also have the backup stored in a completely different place, and also marked as Active and not to be deleted.

Also at some point in my past, I had a moment of genius and set LR up to save the .xmp files (the ones with all the info about your LR edits) NEXT TO THE ACTUAL image files – so when I imported everything, all my edits were still there *thank god for that*

SO if you are a LR user, check these two things:

Are your ACTIVE Catalog and Backup files/folders clearly marked so you know which ones they are?

Is your backup destination to another separate folder on your hard drive (or on another actual drive if you have the option?)

Also check where your .xmp are being saved, it might save you some heartbreak too 🙂

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

2017 Roundup

2017 was a difficult year for a lot of people for a variety of reasons.  My biggest challenge was the “Conference That Ate My Life” – I was part of the organising committee for a large Project Management conference that was held late Sept.  Yes it ate my life, consuming my spare time and energy and leaving little left over for photography.

Plus this year I really struggled with my mental health, the unwelcome combination of anxiety at levels I had not experienced before, and depression.  That by itself makes it difficult to have any creative energy, and usually has the added benefit of making you feel really guilty about it, which makes you even more depressed *sigh*

I did go to Melbourne for two weeks, for a photography conference for the Australian and NZ Awake students, which was unexpectedly delightful.  I then stayed an extra week with a fellow student, and we had lovely adventures and outings, and I got to go to IKEA!

This was the year I discovered the fun to be had with mixed media, and it opened a whole new creative door for me.  So while I wasn’t always doing photography, I was creating and making stuff and having fun.  Also spending a small fortune on art supplies!

So lets look at a summary:

  • Survived the Conference That Ate My Life
  • Ran a very successful conference and Awards Dinner
  • Learned a new craft – Mixed Media
  • Went to Australia and met some online friends in real life
  • Went to Healesville Sanctuary and got up close and personal with the wildlife (cross that one off the Bucket List)
  • Saw much more of Melbourne than just the central city
  • Attended WWGSD UnConference and met some fantastic women, who get shit done
  • Dealt with mental health issues
  • Had some personal challenges and milestones
  • Started a new project with the intent of getting exhibited
  • Attended a Storytelling workshop to assist the new project
  • Started seriously writing for one photography site and got invited to write for another one – and they pay!
  • Got my tattoo seriously upgraded 🙂
  • Worked on improving my Still Life skills
  • Pulled back from contributing much to Awake as I just didn’t have the capacity
  • Went back to the gym, working with my PT to get much stronger and fitter
  • I discovered the joy of drinking whisky
  • Dappled in using iPad to create art
  • Survived my first Root Canal – which led to my first professional commission!
  • Had some “interesting” work discussions with my boss

This was a year for redefining goals, being real and brave about my choices, to be clear about what I wanted to do, admitting I wasn’t 100% OK when it was the case, taking risks and chances and grasping opportunities when they were offered.

It was a year for taking myself and my art seriously, taking steps to provide it with a foundation to build on so that this year I can really make some progress!

How was your 2017?


Posted in Camera Adventures | 4 Comments

Berry Berry Delicious

Yay its Xmas time, I am on holiday and its berry season again!  Time to get into the studio and shoot some more food porn.  BTW yes I am still alive, it has just been one of those years where I haven’t done as much shooting as I would have liked.

Got three weeks off over Xmas though, so putting some effort in, plus I get to eat the yummy goodness once I have shot it 🙂

Last year I was very much learning my craft, and Still Life is an art form in its own right.  So this time I am stretching my boundaries and trying different props, different angles and different lighting techniques.

Last year I was concentrating on the Dark Light technique, where it was all black and moody.  This year I want to also look at a lighter brighter and more summery feel.

And yet when I go to process them, I am still drawn to the darker, more punchy preset options but it made the silver jug look so fantastic!

Finally get to use my homemade bead board background, softened with some white fabric and a light hazy matte preset for that summery feel.

Trying different angles, I liked how the berry by the handle was reflected in the side of the jug.

Five very different images, shooting quite different angles, experimenting with light and different processing techniques.

The first image at the top is my favourite – love to hear which one you like!

Posted in Camera Adventures, For Beginners | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments