Introducing – Pixel Sisters Studio

I have been hinting at something big being afoot again lately and now I can finally let you in it…..Drum Roll please;

Pixel Sisters

Desley (Desley Jane Pictures – and I have started a new business venture together, creating fun photography workshops for Melbourne based photographers. They say you should go big or go home, right? So we have been extremely busy of late, we have a brand new website –, a Facebook page and an Instagram Account. We are moving all this to a large professional photography studio in Melbourne’s South Eastern suburbs and the first workshop is set for 29th July, this has been a huge undertaking and a big adventure for both of us. Until then I am still running a couple of small workshops in my home studio, but it’s time to go big!


Our first Workshop is a Floral Fantasy Still Life and Macro, (honestly did you really expect anything else from us two?), but we are planning more workshops with varied themes, including; Desley’s Planner stuff and my Conceptual Portraiture, with lots of other fun stuff thrown in too. We will be catering to all levels of photographer, with an aim to getting beginners off auto and exposing seasoned photographers to different genres.

So if you are in Melbourne, check out what we have on offer and perhaps join us, if you live elsewhere in the world, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, as we will be posting lots of fabulous images and BTS stuff as well.

~ The Pixel Sisters (aka,  Julz and Desley)


New Inspiration…

I love a great collage image and over the last few months I have on and off, played around with a few varying different style. I have recently just found a new source of inspiration in Maggie Taylor, Oh My, where has this woman been hiding? So much love for her work, truly amazing.


The Magic Hour

Thus inspired, I started playing with a few bits and pieces from ItKupilli. Her images are so fantastical and full of whimsy; her Almost Alice series are breath takingly beautiful and haunting, actually all her images are.

~ Julz

Featured Photographer – Deanne Holmer

I’m really excited to introduce you all to a really nice woman, a great photographer and a very creative person; Deanne Holmer (or just Dee to her friends) and her Husband Bill – light twirler extraordinaire! Add to all this she is a fellow Melbournite and my introduction basic Light Painting. I first met Dee and Bill several months ago, at my very first light painting workshop [post here], and was struck by not only their knowledge, sense of humour, but their creativity towards this art form. We have corresponded over the last few months and I thought it might be interesting to do a post on their work. Light painting is an art form in itself, I guess not for everyone, but when done well, it is truly inspiring. Not to mention A LOT OF FUN!

So what is Light Painting?

Light painting, or light drawing, is a photographic technique in which images are made by moving a hand-held light source while taking a long exposure photograph, either to illuminate a subject or to shine a point of light directly at the camera. Light painting can also describe works where the camera itself is moved during exposure.

– Wikipedia (Some interesting history to be found here too).

Hosier Lane

Orb of spinning, flaming steel wool in Hosier Lane, Melbourne

So I thought it best to start at the beginning and asked how did Dee (and Bill) get started with Light Painting?
I have always loved photography and it was while Bill and I were

at Archie’s Creek, that I began to take it more seriously. We were living on a farm surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of beautiful rolling hills. I did a short course via Foons, the name of a photo shop in Wonthaggi.  I was tinkering around one night, where I set my camera up on a tripod and waited for Bill to get home. It was my first light trail and the bug began to bite. This moved onto the both of us scouring the best spots for light trails. I started following a photographer named the Photo Extremist. It was via him that the bug had truly bitten. So I ordered a few lights and then Bill and I began to try different lights and patterns. This also included the very popular steel wool technique which we practiced on a beach so we were well away from danger.

11935571_10153175433199779_7177461180288453978_oBoth Dee and Bill are so good at what they do, they make it look effortless, which then became the question, how long have they been doing Light Painting?
We began Light Painting in 2012/13 and since then we have slowly added to our tools and technique. But in the last year we have been more and more serious and have hosted a number of workshops. [I went to one a few months ago, it was awesome, and just did another one of the weekend, that’s actually me and Moth on the far left 🙂 ]

Courtesy Melbourne Photography Excursions

Courtesy Melbourne Photography Excursions

What inspires you to keep going, to strive for new ideas?
Other than we thoroughly enjoy what we do, we are both creative people. Bill being a passionate electrician and loves to have fun and enjoys trying new ideas. As for me, I was a chef for many years till health changed that. I have always loved creative things, with photography being a big part of it. I love to create different lights and see what patterns those lights will make. I make a lot of the lights and Bill bails me out when I fry things.

What is your favorite aspect of light painting?
We both are big kids and love to share the fun, because it is a fun thing to do. The most awesome thing is when we see people bouncing about like kids. I will never tire of hearing the sound of excitement. When we hear that and see how happy people are, we are happy. [Yup! that was me and Moth – big kids bouncing off the walls having the time of our life].

So what is involved in actually creating one of your lighting rigs?
It depends on what we are setting out to achieve, some things are just bunching up cheap battery operated LEDs, a bit of chain and a key ring [these then just get spin around, like a lasso]. Then there is using LED lighting extrusion and placing different led strips to them.  As for our most technical tool, we use the same extrusion and put in a 1 meter length of individually addressable LED lights. It is then controlled via Arduino compatible microprocessors and C programming.

Our tools are constantly evolving and with the technology, with lights these days the only limits are cost and time. We are constantly looking for ideas and it can be trial and error. There is a handful of specialized tools available but they are often very expensive. Such as performance lights, some of them can be upwards of $1000. Both of us are pretty good with making Light Painting tools. I mostly come up with the ideas and Bill makes them work or fixes them when I fry things. Bill is an electrician and loves all things technical, did an electronics course years ago which has been a huge help in the creating of our Light Painting Tools.

What is involved in setting up a shoot?
Generally it is finding a dark location somewhere that has a good backdrop. Like an abandoned factory, a tunnel, even near a popular landmark. We also check everything is ready to use, batteries charged, everything is working and so on. 

What are the dangers and pitfalls? Has anything bad ever happened?
We haven’t had anything bad happen (touch wood). We put a lot of energy in to making sure things are as safe as possible. We are essentially lurking in dark places, which alone are dangerous. You are also spinning, waving, walking and you could hit yourself or someone else. Bill and I have been tinkering with Light Painting for some time now and we do make things look very easy. And most things are easy but in the scenario of creating an orb it takes time to get a good technique. We are very serious when we say to people NOT to do Steel Wool paints. This is because it’s hot metal and you could burn yourself quite badly or someone nearby. Steel Wool and lenses don’t mix and could destroy a lens with just a spark. So we keep as far away as possible and tell others to do the same. 

What is the coolest, craziest shot you have attempted?
It would have to be when we got the Addressable Led wand working. It took us ages to do but with the help bunch of Melbourne Western Suburbs Hackers (M.E.S.H) and a fellow photographer friend (David Gilliver, not the UK David, the Aussie one). Both were amazing helping us getting it working.  David, Bill and I have worked together with light painting numerous times. The collective minds of the three of us resulted in the Light Wand being more user friendly and more functional too.
Flinders St
Name one place you would adore to do a shoot if it was possible?

Stonehenge in the UK, it’s such a mysteriously interesting place, which could look amazing lit up. 

And then finally, because everyone always seems to want to to know – what camera gear do you use?
I use a Nikon D800E and a Nikon D750, both on Manfrotto 190XPROB Legs and 804RC2 Heads. I mostly use Trigmaster Plus remote release triggers, I have two of them as they are both sender and receiver. They also have long distance capabilities and a heap of other great things. I use a variety of lenses based on the location and what light paint technique being shot. I love the combination of my D750 with my 14mm Samyang the most. I also love my 24-70 Tamron they are my most used lenses with Light Painting.

Well I hope everyone enjoyed reading about Light Painting, if you have never done it, it is such fun, I thoroughly recommend it, especially if you are in Melbourne. I would like to Thank Dee (and Bill) for A) allowing me to feature their work and Dee’s photos, and B) For being such fantastic hosts at our workshop, hoping for many more to come!

You can find more of Dee’s images and follow her on Facebook, or Blog.

Til next time…………….happy snapping


Featured Photographer – Dorothea Lange

dorothea-lange-1895-1965-grangerDorothea Lange (1895-1965)

Dorothea Lange is one of the most famous photographers and influential photojournalists of her time, particularly for her work during the Great Depression. She was credited for capturing intense photographs of the misery during the Great Depression and her influences to the growth of documentary photography. Due to the contentious and raw images she depicted in her photographs, many of her works were confiscated at the time, but are now available for viewing at the Berkley University.

Born in 1895, in New Jersey, USA. Dorothea did not have an easy start in life, she contracted Polio, at the age of 7, which severely weakened her right leg. When asked later on about her disability, she replied, “It formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me and humiliated me. I’ve never gotten over it, and I am aware of the force and power of it.”

She was educated and apprenticed in New York City, New York where she learned the rudiments of the craft in various photography studios. In 1918, at the age of 23, she moved to San Francisco, and a year after opened her very own photography studio. Married twice, once to Maynard Dixon, from 1920 until 1935, and once to Paul Schuster Taylor, from 1935 until the end of her life.


Migrant Mother - Dorothea Lange, 1936

Migrant Mother – 1936

One of her more popular images and perhaps most well known is ‘Migrant Mother’, 1936, which depicted migrant worker Florence Owens Thompson and her two children leaning on her shoulders with their backs in front of the camera. This image is considered one of the most iconic images of the Great Depression era. It is said that Thompson had just sold their car tires to be able to pay for food. The image highlighted the hardships that women and children underwent during the time.

Lange was employed by the Resettlement Administration, she built a reputation for her photos of unemployed and homeless individuals during the Great Depression, she decided to go to the streets to capture the poverty at her time, and bring forward their plight. However it was her marriage with agricultural economist Paul Schuster Taylor that brought her to become even more aware of the various social developments of their time. Taylor educated Lange on many political and social issues, and they detailed and recorded poverty in farming areas, as well as the exploitation of the migrant workers. With her husband’s focus on research, Lange concentrated on photography. From 1935 to 1939 her moving photographs appeared in newspapers across USA, bringing national attention the misery of rural families and her images became iconic to this time.

After the war, Lange taught at the California School of Fine Arts and founded a photographic publication called Aperture. She passed away in 1965, at the age of 70, due to gastric problems and residual polio effects.

Reference –

I hope you enjoyed my visit down memory lane, there are so many more wonderful photographs by Dorothea, please do go have a look online.

til next time…..Happy snapping.


Featured Photographer – Julia Margaret Cameron


Painting of Julia Margaret Cameron by George Frederic Watts, c. 1850-1852

I have not been able get out to shoot for awhile, so I thought I would do a bit of net surfing. I heard about a woman photographer from the 1800’s; Julia Margaret Cameron, intrigued I decided to do some research and just for something different; a post featuring some of her work.

Julia Margaret Cameron

Born Julia Margaret Pattle in Calcutta, India, June 11th 1815. She was educated in France and then returned to India where she married Charles Hay Cameron, 20 years her senior, in 1838. After visiting her sister and being taken with the Isle of White, the Cameron family purchased and moved to a property on the island, called Dimbola Lodge, after the family’s Ceylon estate.

In 1863, at 48 years old, her daughter gave her a camera as a present, thereby starting her career as a photographer. Within a year, Cameron became a member of the Photographic Societies of London and Scotland. She remained a member of the Photographic Society London, until her death 26th January 1869. In her photography, Cameron strove to capture beauty. She wrote, “I longed to arrest all the beauty that came before me and at length the longing has been satisfied.”

“Annie, my first success”, 29 January 1864. Cameron’s first print with which she was satisfied

During her career, Cameron registered each of her photographs with the copyright office and kept detailed records. Her shrewd business sense is one reason that so many of her works survive today. Another reason that many of Cameron’s portraits are significant is because they are often the only existing photograph of historical figures. Many paintings and drawings exist but, at the time, photography was still a new medium.

“The bulk of Cameron’s photographs fit into two categories—close ups (portraits) and illustrative allegories based on religious and literary works. In the allegorical works in particular, her artistic influence was clearly Pre-Raphaelite, with far-away looks, limp poses, and soft lighting.” 1


The Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry photographed by Cameron in 1864 “Sadness”

The basic techniques of soft-focus “fancy portraits”, which she later developed, were taught to her by David Wilkie Wynfield. She later wrote that “to my feeling about his beautiful photography I owed all my attempts and indeed consequently all my success”.

At the time, photography was a labour-intensive art that was dependent upon crucial timing. Cameron was often obsessive about her new occupation, and made her subjects sit for countless exposures in blinding light as she took each plate. The results were, in fact, unconventional for their time, with a soft focus created through blurred long exposures, where the subject moved, and leaving the lens intentionally out of focus. Other photographers worked tirelessly for different applications, which led some of her contemporaries complaining and ridiculing the work. With the support of her friends and family she was one of the most prolific and advanced of amateurs in her time. Her enthusiasm meant that her children and others sometimes tired of her endless photography, but it also left fantastic records of her children and many notable figures of the time who visited her.

Alfred Lord Tennyson. Carbon print by Cameron, 1869

Alfred Lord Tennyson. Carbon print by Cameron, 1869

Cameron’s sister ran the artistic scene at Little Holland House, which gave her access to many famous subjects for her portraits. Some of her subjects include: Charles Darwin, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, John Everett Millais,William Michael Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Ellen Terry, and George Frederic Watts. Most of these distinctive portraits are cropped closely around the subject’s face and are in soft focus. Often Cameron was a friend of these Victorian celebrities and, knowing them well, tried to capture their personalities in her photographs.

“Beatrice Cenci” (1866), a study for a photographic series devoted to Cenci by Julia Margaret Cameron

Cameron’s posed photographic illustrations represent the other half of her work. In these illustrations, she frequently photographed historical scenes or characters drawn from literary works, which often took the quality of oil paintings. She made no attempt however, to hide the backgrounds. Cameron’s friendship with Tennyson led to him asking her to photograph illustrations for his Idylls of the King. These photographs are designed to resemble oil paintings from the same time period, including rich details as historical costumes and intricate draperies. Today, these posed works are often dismissed by art critics. Nevertheless, Cameron saw these photographs as art, comparable to the oil paintings they imitated.

In 1875 Cameron moved back to Ceylon, but due to technical difficulties with obtaining willing models, chemicals and clean water, she practised little photography and almost none of it survives today.

Her legacy…

cameron12Cameron was not widely known (outside her immediate circle) until 1948, Helmut Gernsheim wrote a book on her work and in 1977 Gernsheim noted that although a great photographer, Cameron had “left no mark” on the aesthetic history of photography because her work was not appreciated by her contemporaries and thus not imitated.


Alice Liddell as Alethea, Pomona, Ceres, and St. Agnes in 1872

In 2013, Getty Images noted in its caption of a portrait of Alice Liddell (whom Cameron photographed as Alethea, Pomona, Ceres, and St. Agnes in 1872) that “Cameron’s photographic portraits are considered among the finest in the early history of photography”.

It is amazing with so little equipment available, the skill and sheer determination in achieving such photographs, it is a shame Cameron was not given more reference at the time. I think she truly was a woman that should have left a mark on the history of Photography, especially for Women. More of her work can be seen here;

1 –

I will leave you with a gallery of just a few of her photos

Til next time, happy snappin


Featured Photographer – Daniel O’Brien

“Living in Craughwell, Co. Galway, I’ve been taking photos for over 10 years and my style is very natural and genuine. My photo shoots are always relaxed, full of laughter and lots of fun. Although I’m interested in a lot of areas of photography – my passion is the portrait shoot – families, children and especially babies.”

I first spotted Daniel on Facebook, his newborn photos caught my eye and my interest and I have been following him ever since, however it is not just newborns and babies he photographs, he has beautiful landscapes as well as some macro shots too.

He has some stunningly beautiful images from around Ireland, I love the castles. So very, very different from here in Australia.

He does some great, fun, quirky kids shoots too;

And you cannot deny, the babies and newborns are so, so cute……granted not for everyone, but as I love doing newborn photography, it has a special spot in my heart.

You can follow Daniel on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or visit his website. All photos displayed with Daniel’s permission.


Featured Photographer – Jude Allen

11178317_1599761203571661_2945030028165868344_nJude Allen is another photographer I have been following on Social Media for quite awhile, his imagery is a little different, but there is something special there, something about his work speaks to me, they are full of life and color and symmetry. This Dude is not afraid of heights, that is for sure and judging by all the nighttime and /or early morning shots a bit of a night owl! His photos have a soft, surreal, almost dreamlike appearance to them, Jude appears to shoot a fair bit of long exposure, with soft silky water and rushing clouds. I also love the fact that Jude doesn’t just shoot one thing, granted there are very few people in his photos, but he has 4 main galleries; seascapes, cityscape, landscapes & some composite shots. I adore his Nighttime Cityscape, these cities (all appear to be in USA) are so full of life and vitality, even with no people in them, these photos have the appearance of teeming with life. When he does use people they are not random, but add some quality to the image, as in the B&W with the red jacket and umbrella or the red jacket on the stairs, featured below.  I adore his astro shoots, as he always features some other element to them, not just the sky. It urges me to shoot more astro, and to play and create with light and color. Jude currently makes his home base in the Bay area, California.

I asked Jude a few questions, which he graciously agreed to answer for me;

When did you first pick up a camera? and why? 

“I first bought a camera to take photos of objects to incorporate them into flyers and logos I was doing during my music days. I didn’t actually learn how to shoot until I started doing skateboarding photos of my friends a few years ago. I quickly learned that manual mode was the only way for me and then about a year later I started doing landscapes which then sparked a total obsession for me.”

Apart from nature and the natural elements..what inspires you?

“I would say people pushing the envelope of what is possible creativity wise. It can be music, painting, skateboarding, photography etc. I tend to gravitate toward things that are not the norm as I find the norm somewhat boring. Also those that are bold and almost rebellious in what they do stands out to me a lot.”

Do you have a methodology to your shooting or do you just go with the flow? 

“Well if you were to know me you would know that I am not very organized. I would say I go with the flow. Clouds, light, subjects change direction all the time. I like to think I can be somewhat fluid to capture those moments.”

You can follow Jude on Facebook or Instagram (Instagram: jude_allen) and of course you can check out his galleries on his website here. I will leave you with a few images from his Facebook page.

So many thanks to Jude for his time and allowing me to share a few images. Til next time………..happy snapping

– Julz

Featured Photographer – Ray Collins

White Dress - Underwater

White Dress – Underwater – Ray Collins

I rarely feature other photographers, not sure why, time factor possibly, sometimes I get too busy and I kind of forget. Sometimes I am a bit nervous about approaching people I do not know. The good side is when they respond and are happy for me to feature them, this is exciting!

So it is my pleasure to introduce Ray Collins. Ray is a photographer I have been following for quite some time, I love his amazing water shots. It’s fun following him on Instagram and Facebook, you never know where he is off to next, but it is always something surf related. He has lots of shots of various surfers; Kelly Slater etc Ray appears to be living the unending summer surfers and beach babes dream of.

If you do not know Ray’s work you can check him out here, of course you can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I had hoped to maybe ask a few question but he has just jetted off to Tahiti for yet another shoot. He did however kindly allow me access to feature some of his photos.

‘Having only bought his first camera in 2007 to shoot his friends surfing around home, within a few short years Ray progressed to having companies such as Apple, Nikon, United Airlines, Isuzu, Qantas, Patagonia, National Geographic and Red Bull using his unique signature seascapes across their international campaigns.’


Triumph – Ray Collins

As you may have guessed Ray is a surfer and his images are predominantly ocean, surf usually. They are raw, natural and very, very beatiful. I am sure you all know my affinity for water, especially the ocean, so there is something is Ray’s images which seem to reach out and touch me. There is motion and light and energy, there is a honesty about them. I can (and have) spent hours going through his galleries. He has also produced a book – Found at Sea I find it truly thrilling to see someone who only picked up a camera a few years ago (2007) is doing such amazing things…….what I call Raw talent! I guess what they say is true if you got it, you GOT IT…………and I think Ray has GOT IT!. I will leave you with just a few images, please feel free to visit his website to view more.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing someone else’s work on my blog, just for a change. Perhaps I will feature more over time. Til next time…………happy snapping

– Julz