Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge # 23 – Black and White

Now we are getting to something I can really sink my teeth into with Cee’s CYC, I adore using B&W in my images, doesn’t mean I always do, but I still love a good B&W. I love how a great contrast between dark and light can make an image pop, making skin almost seem to glow


Lots of colour can be so distracting, but once removed the details seem to jump out at youDSC_7247

I love to mix contrasts of soft glowing skin and high textured objects like this bear, in colour the details would get lostDSC_5413-Edit

I love this image, the shadow and light, the texture of the wings and softness of the skin, I have added a slight rose tone to this image, but the original colour and B&W are below, the colour looses definition and seems almost drab SOOC.DSC_1501-Edit-Edit-Edit24098609642_6f9b449868_z

Contrast between light and dark, have to be careful not to loose details, especially ijn the shadowsDSC_2445

High Key is another element I use, making the highlights push into nothing for a soft dreaming feel23579023524_f126b0ff88_z

High Key, mixed with some deep shadows, gives a wonderful mixed element on this imageDSC_1978

In comparison this is a Low Key edit, with deep, dark shadows and lots of added grain, still had a lot of texture with the hay, but I didn’t want to place as much emphasis on the hay; just the faces. Gives an old world cinematic feel to it, see colour version below.

Studio Session-171_2

Studio Session-171

I know I have probably broached a few processing elements from next week, but then again maybe not? Til next week, happy snapping…

~ Julz


Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge #22 – Guide the viewer and flipping Photos

This week Cee examines leading the viewer’s eye through a photo with S curves and Brightest spot, as well as reading a photo from left to right / right to left etc. It is really interesting to see the photos which were Flipped to engage the viewer to linger longer. I have never really thought about the reading left to right and then off the page. I know the compositional rule about leading lines and thirds, brightest spot etc. But I have never thought about flipping a photo to engage the viewer more.

So the first few photos are easy enough; Brightest spot.


Created a vignette to darken the edges so the bloom and the bee is the first place the viewer’s eye goes to


I guess this is the exact opposite, due to the fog the tree really stands out, although after looking at it further, you eye sees the tree and then leaves the page


Ignore that the signature is now back to front, but flipped you now notice the little pathway on the left and then the tree and over to the right of frame.


I beleive this image draws the eye from the bottom right up through the image to the top and then to the sunburst in the trees.


Whereas this image leads the eye straight off the page

Cloude Hill Gardens

‘S’ curve is subtle but it still leads the eye from the bottom middle up to the sculpture and then off the frame………it does tend to make the tree on the left (in shadow) redundant


These two images have different curves (one left and one right), which one does your eyes linger over more? It’s interesting, does everyone read from left to right or just Western Cultures due to our written language? Or is it a brain thing?

Sorry I couldn’t offer too much attention to this month’s post, pleading a busy hectic life at the moment.

~ Julz

Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge – Week 21, Landscapes

Has it really been 21 weeks?  Wow time does fly and I know we are only posting twice a month so I guess it has actually been longer. This week Cee asks us to concentrate on Landscapes and compositional rules.


Keep your horizon level.  We talked about this during our composition classes, but unless you want to give someone a headache or a queasy stomach, always level out your horizon.  There are a lot of free applications out there that will help you with that.

Show perspective.  Chris and I went to the Grand Canyon once and were really disappointed. It was a drizzly kind of a day, which flattened out everything we were looking at.  There wasn’t anything in our line of sight to give us perspective, or depth to what we were seeing.  It didn’t look like anything interesting.  I know that sounds plain crazy, but when what you are looking at is so immense, if you don’t have a frame of reference, your brain just yawns and looks for something else to entertain it.

I have just spent an amazing few days up in the Victorian Alpine Region, so I have plenty of photos I can use.

Craig's Hut

This first one is a 7 shot stitched panorama, but I love the whole vista spread out before you, the bushes the the left and in the foreground gives some depth, as does the mountain range in the background and the little hut gives a sense of scale.

This next image  I straightened the horizon line as much as possible, however with such mountainous terrain it is quite difficult to get it 100% straight.


The next two images are using rule of thirds as well as bottom 1/3. The horizon is difficult to get straight, due to the lay of the land, the fence and paths……..it’s all an optical illusion. In the end as long as the roof line looks mostly straight and the vertical post of the fence were straight, it’s about as good as it will get.


This next one was also a little difficult to get a straight horizon line………….I still feel a little like I’m sliding off the screen? I also left the car in for a sense of scale. Unfortunately you cannot see the angle of the incline in this image; picture it in Winter – it’s a major ski run!


The next two images definitely needed to be straightened, the bridge making it much easier to get a straight line, also used rule of thirds and left in some cars for scale, as well as the empty foreground in the bottom image to give a sense of scale to the draught affected lake.


Til next time, safe travels and happy snapping…



Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge – Week 20 Review & Practice

This week, Cee’s CYC is about Review for the past 19 weeks (Has it really been that long?) and review and practice. Here are the topics we have covered.

I must admit that my photography has taken on a new life since I started this challenge, way back when. Not only because of this very helpful and insightful challenge, but because I everything else I have been doing as well. In fact if I look back on some very early photos from 2014 (When I first got a DSLR) to now, it’s hard to believe they were taken by the same person.

I find I am more mindful of my compositions as well as my subject matter. I often know what I am trying to convey in a photo, as opposed to taking 100s of photos hoping I GOT something.

The other thing I am finding, is projects that interest me. When I first picked up my camera I wanted to learn to take nice photos for a holiday we were going on, and I did get nice photos………not brilliant, but nice. And then I spent a year or so learning different techniques, different styles, immersing myself into different areas of photography and digital art. So now I have some personal projects I am working on, just for me, and no-one else, it’s fun and creative and exciting.

I know Cee wants us to display various images old and new never before seen, I know I wont be getting a gold star for this week, as I am venturing away from the topic, slightly. This is my latest piece of art; I am quite proud of it, it uses rule of thirds, leading, diagonal lines, symmetry and perspective, colours and 1/3 and everything else a good composition should have.Midnight Madness

And this is a photo I took in December 2014, sure it’s a lovely photo, but there is no real depth, no story, no texture and detail, just a hum drum holiday pic. No real rule of thirds, no leading lines, there is contrasting colours, but they are a little washed out.Highlights in top corner too much, not enough blacks..the list goes on.

Grants Park

Grant’s Park

Even my signature has changed! So what have I learned? The rules of Photography and when and how to break them, post processing is a journey and can take a so-so photo and improve it, but it can take a really good photo into a whole new realm of digital art. I have learned depth, colour, composition and sharp focus are all essential; and how to obtain them. I have also discovered my journey is just starting and I still have a long way to go.

Remember….it’s the journey travelled and not the destination that matters.


Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge – Geometry

When I started this challenge I thought it will be good to brush up on art theory from school, good for my art and my photography; and it has, it has got me thinking. This week’s challenge on Geometry in Photography has me scratching my head. Have I never really noticed these shapes before? It was actually a little more difficult than I first thought, I hope I did it correctly………I possibly missed some geometric shapes, in some of the images, as I was trying to find less obvious ones.

I tried not to go for cush obvious shapes, windows and doors in buildings etc. They are a bit rough perhaps, but you get the idea. I have found squares and rectangles and triangles, just realised there are no circles……..perhaps I should have added some to the fruit? Does this have some hidden meaning that the shapes I found are not round or does round happen less often? Or am I not looking hard enough?



Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge, Week 18, Contrasting Colours

Last week I won Cee’s Gold Star for my post on complementary colours, such a lovely surprise, and so many nice things about my pictures……always a bonus! So thank you.

This week Cee takes us through Contrasting colours, I love a good contrast but as Cee explains, in nature it does not really happen all that often.Mostly I have gone for bright contrast flowers against a backdrop of greenery, of course there is red and green for Christmas (even if it is desaturated). The Blue and white is not technically a colour contrast but the blue ducks certainly pop against the stark white……a partial French flag with its blue, white and red……….and the last one is my sweet nephew; I really wanted the colours to POP! the reds, yellows, blues and orange…….I love it and so does his parents! Cool Dude indeed…..wow he’s like 5 months old now


I actually found it really hard to find certain colour contrasts in nature, I must admit as much as they are striking, most of my images are more muted and using complementary colours or B&W. This challenge is really quite interesting as it makes you examine your image more intensely and you start to notice things in the way you shoot and even opens your eyes to more possibilities, you may not have tried before.

Til next time, happy snapping…


Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge – Complementary Colours

color-wheelThis week Cee discusses Complementary Colours, these are colours that are next to each other on the wheel. As opposed to Contrasting Colours, which are colors that are opposites on the color wheel; orange and blue, red and green.

I remember learning all this in art at Secondary School, but sometimes these things are learnt and then forgotten, or you just never really notice them anymore. When I got back into art and photography after so many years, I realised how much I had NOT been taking notice of the physical world around me – not any more!

Quuenstown - 12 mile Delta

Purples, Mauves & Blues


Oranges and Yellows


Blues, Aquas and Greens

Cloude Hill Gardens

Greens and Yellows

Til next week, happy snapping…


Cee’s Compose Yourselve Challenge – Colour Basics

This week Cee walks us through the colour chart, starting off with warm and cool colours;

Which Colors are Warming and Which are Cooling

The color wheel below will give you a quick idea on which colors will give you that warm, cuddly feeling and which colors will make you want to put a jacket on.


Borrowing Cee’s Colour Wheel

You see that the warm colors are red to yellow-green.  If you want to warm up a photo, add a little bit of orange or yellow to your photo.  You can do this with the white balance on most post-processing software.  You can even change your camera settings to help.  I usually wait until I do my post-processing because it all depends on the feeling I want from the photo once I decide to edit it.  – CCYC for more details.

The assignment – 3 warm and 3 cool coloured photos

The first image is slightly tricky, as there are a lot of blues and greens which do make it more on the cool side of the palette, however the warm hues that dominate the image in the sand and the grass give it more of a warm toned image. The rest are all definitely warm tones, the soft yellows and the warm pinks all say summer warmth to me.


Now the next group are all cooler tones predominantly blues and greens. The last two are the same image the colour is slightly warmer due to the lime green prominence (Even with all the pops of blue), but the B&W is all cool tones.

Autumn Sunset--5Brighton Bathing Boxes-5-6Lake Te AnauDSC_8014-Edit-EditDSC_8014-Edit

So I guess everything is not always so straight and easy, sometimes an image is slightly more warm than cool or vice versa. You can always change the tone of an image in PS with a warming or cooling filter too.

That’s it for this time……….


Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge – Week 15, Cropping

Cropping is this week’s focus from Cee for CCYC, I agree with Cee, that it is an essential part of editing for most (if not all photos) and can be a powerful tool all in itself.

I may play around with a lot of digital art, but my images pretty much always start out as digital photos, and the crop tool is a vital part of getting things just as you want them.

Sometimes it’s just a subtle crop, to improve the composition, rule of thirds etc. or to remove a shadow or distracting area from a shot.

Sometimes it’s to zoom in on something special

Or to give a different perspective

But more often than not it’s to get rid of something that ruins a perfectly great photo

Til next time, happy snapping………..


Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge – Week 14 Symmetry

This week’s assignment, Cee calls for Symmetry


To start off with I thought I show the dictionary definition of Symmetry.

sym·me·try\ˈsi-mə-trē\                noun

  1. the quality of something that has two sides or halves that are the same or very close in size, shape, and position
  2. the quality of having symmetrical parts
  3. balanced proportion
  4. beauty of form arising from balanced proportions

Synonyms: balance, coherence, proportion, harmony, unity

A love of symmetry is something that is hard-wired into our brains.  We crave balance and harmony.  It’s how we define beautiful people.  Look at any woman the world considers to be beautiful and you will see that the left half of her face looks almost exactly like the right half.

Using symmetry in your photography can lend interest to your pictures by making them more subconsciously beautiful to your viewer’s eye.  It can elevate your subject matter, if done correctly.

I decided to hunt back through some images for this one, I discovered that I shoot asymmetrical. I rarely shoot using symmetry, apart from under piers……..I must confess I really love that look. I have lots of photos from under piers. But I have decided that I must be wired differently as (apart from Bridges and piers) it’s not a look that I particularly like. Personal choice and all that, I find it less interesting than something unexpected in shot or asymmetrical. When it comes to bridges and piers I think it’s probably the leading lines  I enjoy as opposed to the actual symmetry.



Enter a caption

Alowyn Gardens

Alowyn Gardens

In saying all that, there are times where it does work, and I know people use it all the time to great effect, personally I prefer the ruly of thirds. Also (not that I have any shots here) but when shooting with symmetry it tends to work better sometimes with a square crop against a 2/3 shot, or is that just me?

Til next time, happy snapping……..