Summer Outings – Night time Beach Bliss

I am sure you are all aware now of my affection for the ocean, I always feel a sense of calm and release when I can see, hear and smell the ocean; apparently I’m not alone. I guess Seafarers for centuries have spoke of the desire to be near the ocean. The is a way to heighten the senses while near the ocean; a warm summer night, with clear skies allowing you to see the Milky Way over the water………sheer magic if you ask me.

We recently found ourselves pulled back down to the Mornington Peninsula for another spot of Astro Photography, not our normal spot, it was too windy, we decided to try another, it appears I have come full circle, as this is the same spot I learnt astro to begin with….life is funny like that isn’t it? Now Summer is the perfect time to be outside at night, warm tropical breezes and all that……it is not the best time for doing astro; the Summer heat radiates off the ground and adds to any possible light pollution….but hey! Light Pollution can be cool too!

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So we set up for the night, I was on top of the cliff (for want of a better word) and Moth climbed all the stairs down to the beach, he wanted to shoot from ground level and I wanted to look down, across and up. He wanted to do star trails, I just wanted standard shots.

Even though it’s night, once your eyes adjust it is quite light enough to see and light enough to get light leak in my silly camera, I am also finding a really bad graininess at higher Higher than I used to get. This is a three shot vertical panorama, done in PS, you can see the light pollution near the ground, I like it; gives a cool ombre effect as the sky darkens.

Astro is not as easy as taking a snap in the dark, there are processes to follow and sky maps to check, processing to be done afterwards. But sometimes, like this night I didn’t really take that many photos – I just stood and looked and listened, and felt a sense of rebirth and wakefulness. Staring at that big expanse of the sky, puts me in my place, the sky is stunning, but has no ego, it was there long before me and will probably exist long after me. Someone else will be standing in this spot, staring at the night sky and thinking the same thing.

Mysteries of the universe and all that…….are we alone? I doubt it, I mean the universe and galaxies and such, are we so egotistical to think we are the only ones? I mean seriously, look at Humans as a whole……would you want to be friends with us? We fight and bicker worse than 5 year olds, we kill each other for ridiculous reasons; hello?????????? why is your God any better than theirs? I’ll stay atheists thanks. If you want proof of a higher existence, look at the night sky; billions of years old…….it gave birth to this galaxy and many others, it gave birth to Mother Earth……….and it is stunningly beautiful.

WOW! I am getting so deep and philosophical, see what the ocean does to me, expands my mind. I will stop now and leave you with some pretty pictures.

If you look really close on the last image in the middle, left hand side, some one in the distance was light painting with steel wool 🙂 we tried to find them, but never succeeded.

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Playing around and making it look like meteor showers, kind of cool huh?

Seriously though folks, every now and then, stop and look up at the night sky and enjoy its majesty.

~ Julz

Concept Shoots – The Red Dress

A little while ago I took The Red Dress out again for another spin, this time it was my daughter (Youngest), and her flowing long hair (before she cut it all off for charity). This time I saw sweeping beach vistas and knew just the place to visit. Down Blairgowrie/Sorrento way. It was still quite warm and not too hot and my eldest daughter cam with us as well.

I have three shots I really wanted to try, two meant climbing through sand dunes, lugging camera gear and paraphernalia with us. This is both my daughters, assistant and model……we made a girls night of it.

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It was lovely and warm, but not too hot, I wanted several images for my Brooke Shaden 20 Day Portfolio challenge, as well as a Kaizen Group Project and also to add to me Red Dress collection.

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Sunset Reflections

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Learning to Fly

This is one of my favourite spots for long exposures and night photography, it is part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park in Blairgowrie on the Back Beach (Bass Strait) side of the point. Then lugging all the gear back down to the car we drove to St Paul’s Beach  (Other side of the point) to much calmer, warmer waters. Where I really had an image in mind, but we tried a few other things first, just as well, as it did not work as well as I wanted……dress is too big and too heavy in the water.

We had quite an audience by now, remember – Summer Peak Holiday Season, at the beach on warm night. My Daughter decided to then fall back into the water, my other daughter did a live feed onto my Facebook, I can’t seem to show you the actual video, but if you go here it might work, scroll down til you see the live feed of the women in a red dress standing in the water. Oh man was it funny, all the people watching could not believe she just fell back in a full ballgown, there were audible sighs, groans and shouts of NO! Then lots of laughs as she repeated it again………..she then got a round of applause as she attempted to climb back up the beach dragging a VERY heavy wet dress behind her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were all laughing so hard. What a great night out and a special memory for me with my daughters.

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Into the Unknown

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The Waiting

I love the first two, and I have processed these last two images, but I seem to be drawing a blank with some of the others, I am sure it will happen in time. Forcing the issue does not help. “Into the Unknown” has become a Nemesis of sorts, with about six edits and I am still not completely happy……..maybe it will never be what I imagined?

Now will the dress survive for another shoot? Time will tell, I had to hose all the sand and salt water off and just let it hang to dry…….poor dress, but it has served me well.

~ Julz

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.

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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

Brooke Shaden 20 Day Portfolio Challenge….Week 4

Read week 3 here, it’s amazing how time flies doesn’t it? When we started this journey on Jan 1st, it seemed such a big chunk of our lives to devote to one challenge…….but I am all done now.

Day # 16 – Words with Images…….I was always taught to believe that explaining what we do, is not part of the art, it should be open to interpretation. In saying that sometimes words NEED to be said. I have on occasion written to go with the images either on on My blog, or using Adobe Spark……..have you ever used Adobe Spark? Here is one I created early last year, a little bit rough, but you get the point.

I have also teamed up with a Writer to produce a series of images and Prose, which we had printed into a book for family and friends for Christmas….it was such fun and everyone (on both sides) loved it……here is just one we did as a Spark. Actually it was the first one that started the whole project.

So often I don’t write the process behind an image I just show the image, so perhaps I will expand on that in future posts.

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The High Priestess

I have started a new series this year loosely based around the Tarot Cards.The are 21 Major Arcana and then the Minor Arcana. The Major are things I am sure you have seen or heard about; Death, The Hanged Man, The Fool, etc and then there are Pentacles, Cups, Wands and Swords for the Minor. I have always been fascinated by the mystical and what better way to explore the symbolism behind the Tarot Cards?

The is The High Priestess, often linked to sexuality, the moon, femininity, and inspiration…….hence the nude, This is a shot of my Fine Art Nude model Chey, in a cloak, I knew I would use it some day. I loved the whole idea of putting her in a temple at night, the moon shinning on water, mysterious and secretive, holding a key to unlock the secrets of the universe at her fingertips.

What 10 words reflect my art?  – Surreal, fantasy, textured, fairy-tale, colourful, imaginative, whimsical, symbolic, storytelling, depth, emotive.

Day # 17 – Social Media…as most of you here know I am very active on Social Media, but it took a bit to get started. I wonder if I am too prolific? I tend to bombard ‘followers’ with images and challenges (especially on WP). I should learn to control my output more regularly. I believe in leaving comments, especially on great or interesting things. It is too easy to just hit ‘like’……I know I am guilty of this on Instagram and am currently working to improve. I like to build a community for which I am apart of it. I do not hashtag enough, this sounds like an excuse I know, but if I could IG on the PC I could had so many more, because typing is so much faster than texting. I should use my 500px and Flickr more often than I do; I tend to post picks randomly and don’t visit others as often as I should. But realistically there are only so many hours in a day…..so I stick to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr (sometimes) and occasionally Twitter, and of course my blog. Now I don’t have a 100k followers, but I am sometimes finding it hard to respond to all the comments (please don’t think I am shallow), I worry what happens if I do get to 10 or even 100 thousand followers………..how to you respond to those? Or are they mainly likes and not comments anyway?

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Day # 18 – Creating a Series…this is something I don’t really have to think about right? I mean I have created several series, The Mask, Dapper Rabbit, The Red Dress, Guardian Angels. But am I delving deep enough? What I have done is tell a story, or a series of stories…….not that this is a bad thing. But perhaps I need to delve deeper into a topic, what is it that drew me to this series, what do I want to convey? What is my emotional connection? I am starting a new series based on Tarot Cards…….why? Am I simply just recreating images from a pack of old cards. Perhaps I should do a reading and then create based on that……….there would certainly be less images. Or should I do a reading for someone else, a character and follow that character? Am I just grappling around the edges? My Super Woman has more of an emotional connection……..why-me

That feeling of rejections or exhaustion or being completely overwhelmed, women today are expected to be Super Woman, to work and to have kids and keep a family together, with all the outside pressure to be thin and beautiful and ‘well kept’, anyone who is a parent knows that ‘why me’ feeling…….we know we are not alone, it’s just that it feels like it sometimes. This series captures some of the thoughts and feelings we keep on the inside and lets them escape and live a little.

Day # 19 – Printing…I have actually just printed off 10 images, in varying sizes for an upcoming exhibit. Due to poor timing, so many Fine Art Printers were closed and I had to go a more commercial route. It’s OK, it’s a learning curve. I want to learn more about various fine art printing and have been wanting to try some raglan and metallic prints. Framing and matting is another avenue I am still getting my head around, I know that ‘off the rack’ is much more affordable, however there are other avenues. A friend of mine recently purchased frames, glass and matt board second hand and restored the frames………they looked wonderful. Something for future exhibits, assuming I come through this first one intact.

Another thing was the colours and saturation, I use some fairly saturated colours at times and once printed they looked a little flat, she mentions this great article on different types of printing here. I guess it explains why I often get canvasses looking they way I want more often that standard printing I know the canvas I use a giclee, where as my prints probably are not, here is too for the exhibition……sorry terribly photos from the phone.

Then there is the cost………I’m not exactly Scrooge McDuck, but all of this cost money, and I know you get what you pay for, but when it all has to be out-laid upfront – it is daunting. Then there is the time factor, fine art printers can take weeks can’t they? I know two of the ones I have looked at can for fine art prints. I need to have re prints available much quicker than that, days at most; not weeks.

I wander about the matting as well, I know some people keep the same frames for their shows and only change out the matting as required, or sell the matt with the image, just not the frame. What do others do? This is an interesting topic and one I need to learn more about. I found at my recent exhibit, that the photos were not in Matte or a frame, just pinned to the wall? Looked very unprofessional in my opinion.

Day #20 – Presenting…I wanted to thank Brooke and everyone else in this group, this last 20 days has been enlightening and extremely helpful. As I headed into my first exhibit, I am aware of some of the mistakes I may have made and how things could have been done differently, but I will look on this as a learning session and hopefully gain experience and coverage to get more exhibits, more fans/followers and more clients. Thank you and I wish them all well on their individual journey. I know I have made friends there. I will be printing more images into a display folder to perhaps keep in the car and on our wanderings I can offer to galleries and stores we visit. I need to pluck up the courage and put myself out there, I KNOW I have something unique to offer.I have also  made some changes to my website and have created another Facebook page just for my art, I may look at getting another IG account

I have already reached out to new online avenues and am already seeing some results, 2017 will be a year to remember.

~ Julz

 

 

 

 

Brooke Shaden 20 Day Portfolio Challenge….Week 2

So Last week I brought you my responses to Brook’s 20 day Portfolio challenge – week 2 brought a lot of soul searching, we don’t always like the comments we come up with ourselves, but sometimes it’s hard to hear it from others too.

Day#6 What is My Dream shoot; I have so many. I have already done some, and have more planned. However there are things I would love to try even if they are not a dream shoot so much. Under  water photography of course. I want to shoot with a model in the snow (can’t stand the cold), red dress billowing atop a sand dune. I have been working a lot with my own models so I can create shoots as I dream them 🙂

Day #7 Identifying Business Goals, what do I want to spend my days doing? Too easy right? Not so long ago I used to make all the excuses in the world, just like Brooke said. Now I am actively spending my time doing mostly what I want. I Create EVERY day and I am working towards my goals, they are real, they are tangible. I have my first gallery exhibit in a few weeks, I now run my own studio part time, I direct and run my own shoots using my own models. I have just produced my second book of art and I have been published in magazines and online galleries. 2016 I went places and now I am going to go even further in 2017. I hope by the end of this year to have a few more exhibits and I will also be running workshops and training sessions, create more licensed art for books and CDs, perhaps quite my 9-5 job and make an actual living off my art. So create, teach, sell……………that is my dream days.

Day #8 Inspiration This was something I used to struggle with until I watched a few of Brooke’s videos on finding inspiration, it was extremely helpful in unlocking my imagination. These days I find inspiration in so many things, a song, a TV show, a movie, a patch of sunlight/ or shadows, nature. I find and endless source of inspiration in looking at what others before me have created. I also find inspiration in books and magazines………honestly it is everywhere. I can sometimes pick up an object in a thrift store and my eyes will light up and the ideas flood through me. My problem is more in remembering all my ideas; I have a journal that I carry around with me, as well as notes on my phone. I see something and I have a spark, so I write it in my journal. Sometimes it is a one off image and others are a whole series, like my Dapper Rabbit. I write various notes and plan, props, colours, tones, models and other stuff as well. Most of my shoots are so pre planned they only take a few minutes to shoot, the setup can often take much longer than the actual shoot.

 

Day 9- Light Theory Believe it or not I most often use studio lights, frequently in strange set ups and configurations. I have continuous and strobe lights and love the fact that I can shoot in the studio any time of the day or night, any time of the year. The weather is irrelevant. But it took awhile, and I am still learning. I seldom shoot with natural light, this is something I wish to do more of, and in perhaps harsher conditions – summer in Australia, now THAT is harsh lighting. On the other hand My Still Life (which I can be sometimes obsessive about) is almost always in natural diffused light. Depending on WHAT I am shooting I tend to be either warm or cold, rarely ever neutral. I play A LOT with lighting in PS, I love to alter or enhance light with overlays, adjustments, Dodge & Burn, I also ‘paint’ in alot of lot in my images, especially when making a composite or image manipulations. These two images were shot same place, same day, same time. I altered them both in PS. I also do quite a bit of light painting (Strobes, steel wool etc) which taught me so much about light and capturing it. I would love to shoot more at dawn, just before or after…..getting my lazy butt out of bed and finding a willing model 🙂 ………..or maybe that’s just an excuse lol

Day #10 Colour Theory I have two slightly different types of art, and two slightly different colour palettes. I have my fantasy images; which are warm, slightly hazing with surreal highlights. I used a lot of purple and magenta in the shadows, with cyan and yellow/orange in the highlights. My Surreal/Dark stuff has the blacks and whites clipped off, darker desaturated colours with sat a pop of red to add interest and intensity. I love exploring the dark sides of human nature, without getting into blood and gore so much. I have done a series on Masks, even wrote a paper (somewhere) about social masking and why people do it, and then I have done other shoots like my Vintage Circus…….although was full of bright colours on set, I toned them all down and added grungy/dirty textures to feel dark and gloomy and slightly eerie.

Stay tuned for week 3…

~ Julz

 

Manic Mondays…

You know that saying “Make Hay while the sun shines?” well I have been so busy making Hay, it’s becoming a wee bit………manic! Don’t get me wrong I am loving every minute, and I know I have to take offers as they come in, it’s just some times I wish things could sort themselves out a little me.

Exhibition

All ready and pieces pretty printed and framed, done my artist bio and statement, made the invites, you did get yours didn’t you? Had a few dramas with the framing…….picked up all the frames and then found out one was damaged. Too it back and when they went through their stock quite a few were damaged, finally found the correct size, colour etc (I want them matching) that was undamaged. Also I went into a bit of a panic as I had not written an Artist Bio and Statement before………..thankfully I have access to some wonderful, people in my Kaizen and Awake groups who steered me in the right direction.

Reviews

I have been asked by the wonderful people at SleekLens.com to review the Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions Collection…….no money for it, but I did get the Actions for free, and quite frankly they are pretty good. Hopefully I might get asked to do more?

Read my full review here if you missed it yesterday

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Other Stuff

I spent all weekend pretty much working, had to finish up my projects/assessments for Kaizen Group, still working on my latest two concept shoots, will post soon I promise. I finished off and submitted my Shiftart submission for January, plus I am taking part in Brooke Shaden’s 20 Day Portfolio Challenge……..was doing great til Friday, now I am behind again 😦 …………no panic, no stress there. I have also been approached to do some still life shots for a web catalogue/ Blog thing…….still sussing that one out, more on that later.

Out and About

On Saturday we had a 21st for my Nephew and then met some friends in the city for a lovely evening out finished off with Papa Gino’s Pizza in Lygon St………BEST pizza! Yummo. We also did another shoot at Princes Pier……..I swear we are cursed with that damn pier, all afternoon had been beautiful blue skies and just a hint of cloud, perfect for sunset right? Get to Princes Pier, wind, wind and more wind, then cloud and it was cold (it’s Summer here remember)……….oh man, it’s just not fair lol. Also the sunset was pretty mediocre; one day, just one day at Princes Pier and I will happily give up!

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Finally after all the work, the food shopping, laundry and insanely inane house keeping duties were done I finally managed to get into the studio to play with some new finds at the thrift store (Pewter Milk Jug and tea cups)and some luscious summer fruits.

I am sure I have not covered everything, but it is enough for now………the rest will all come out in the wash. Til next time I hope you have a truly fabulous week and happy snapping…

~ Julz

 

 

Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions Review…

I was recently approached by the wonderful people at Sleek Lens whom asked if I would like to try and review their Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions Collection. Now I spend a great deal of time in Photoshop and I frequently use actions to as a tool to speed up my workflow, they do not stifle creativity and if used well, can really make an artist life so much easier.

For starters they have a couple of great tutorials on how to use the actions to the best effect here and here. They were easy to understand and follow along and gave great tips on using the actions.

So what do you get? 56 actions in total; base colour, base tones, colour correction and enhancement and retouching, love the Candy Store actions for quick and speedy face edits. Nice, simple and easy to work with, also completely editable, go ahead and play with opacity and brushes……..the sky is the limit. As everything is done on a layer you can alter blend modes on some and of course change the opacity and fill. Each action usually comes with a pop with instructions or there is suggested opacity and such within the action name or layer name.

Even if you have never done retouching or frequency separation, these tutorials along with the built in tool can have you on the way to fabulous portraits.

Now there is also All in One Actions, which I played with but for my money I prefer to alter each image to my own taste as I go. Even with the Frequency Separation in Portrait Perfection I found there was no glow or halo (around the model) that seems to be present in some other actions, It handles that quite well. You can change the amount of blur you would like to use in the Low Frequency as well. There seems to not be anything for hair, I have asked,  hopefully they can point me in the right direction. Below is three before and after images, including a newborn which I have created a video for, visit my YouTube channel to view Part 1 & 2, as well as the actions I used

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Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions Collection is available from sleeklens.com

The cost is a reasonable US$49.00 for 56 Actions set, they have various other action collections as well as Lightroom Presets as well. There is also some freebies, so check them out too. I was quite impressed, how the LR Presets compare I am not sure, and I must admit to doing quite a bit of my portraits in Lightroom. These actions will make things quicker and easier in PS, once I am used to it all. I also recommend watching the videos a few times to get a feel for what the different actions do.

If nothing else the Portrait Retouch Actions are amazing I love how you can really make the eyes POP!, love love love the eyes.

P.S. In offering complete transparency I was not paid any money for this review, it is therefore unbiased.

 

For more info visit
https://sleeklens.com/product/portrait-perfection-photoshop-actions/
https://sleeklens.com/product/professional-photo-editing-service/
https://sleeklens.com/product-category/photoshop-actions/)

~ Julz

Brooke Shaden 20 Day Portfolio Challenge….Week 1

Late last year I had a portfolio review done by none other than Brooke Shaden herself, it was a wonderful experience and I came away from it, with a new found confidence and knowledge that I really did have something to offer. She sent a followup email about doing her 20 Day Portfolio Challenge, which I jumped on. It is basically a Private Facebook Group, she emails us a link daily with questions and exercises and we carry them through write stuff on the FB wall, post images, ask questions etc. Then every 5 days she recaps with a video and even more exercises. So far it has been challenging and soul searching, I realise that while I think I am getting somewhere I have a lot of room to grow, and that is a good thing!

Day 1 – What are my strengths and weaknesses? 

I really need to learn to ask for what I want, seriously I am such a chicken shit sometimes, I need to be braver……..that’s my word for this year, braver. If I want it, ask……take it a step further than I ever have before. I don’t do self portraits, I HATE having my photo taken, but I am moving beyond that slowly, I just had a portrait session with another photographer, one who I trust and knew would make me feel comfortable.  baby steps and all that

I am imaginative and creative, I am wild and free, I think outside the box and I can very good at what I do, my talents are beyond great in Photoshop and I think I can quite confidently call myself a Master.

Day 2 – Style Words

Warm, colourful, imaginative, fantasy, whimsical, surreal, fairy-tale……….these are words applied to most of my images, occasionally creepy, weird and nightmarish.

I love the surreal, fantasy, whimsical and fairy-tale, I would love to perhaps add, brooding, dramatic, story telling and cinematic in there as well. Something to work on for future edits.

Day 3 – Critiquing Yourself

  1. First, choose ten images to form your portfolio. Let these be the images you are most proud of. Other factors for selecting images could be: groupings from a series, color, location, popularity, etc. I have discovered that my favourite images all come from my own ideas and photos, perhaps as I have a more vested interest in them?
  2. Think about where you want your images to end up (magazines, book covers, galleries, etc.) and pretend that you are the director from one of those establishments (an editor, publisher, gallery owner, etc.). Putting yourself in their shoes, what do you think they would say about your portfolio? I don’t think most of my art is wall art……I would love to have it as CD/DVD covers or book covers. Even as images in e-books, now that would be cool. Some of my stuff, say the animal art might be nice hanging in a child’s bedroom.
  3. Portfolio reviews are often broken into several parts: strengths, weaknesses, and business. We have already looked at strengths and weaknesses and have discussed overall style. Look at your images in terms of sell-ability. Which images do you feel best fit into the genre you are looking to create? I feel that most of my images are eclectic, apart from my series most of my images are all over the place, the colouring and edit are similar and possible recognisable…….but my work is constantly evolving.

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My favourite shots from, 2016….Avalon which was one of the best shoots I did I wrote a blog post, but haven’t even got the images on my website, as you can see my images are very surreal and whimsical with a fantasy edge to them

Day 4 – Identifying Technical Problems

When looking at your portfolio of roughly 10 images, can you identify a recurring technical issue? For example, in my work, I frequently have trouble with cutting hair off of a background. Even if it isn’t obvious in the images, what techniques have tripped you up in the past?

I guess my biggest Technical issue I have is when it comes to printing, I have lots of art by have not really printed much, actually if I was to be honest apart from a few small 12″x12″ and one canvas, I have not printed anything. Should I even print on paper and frame it or stick to canvas. What does everyone else do? I do not really exhibit my art in galleries other than online.

Day 5 -Outside Perspective

I actually had a few people critique my website, picked up a few new fan (always a good thing), but they also felt perhaps my website is a bit eclectic and hard to focus on any one given thing. The upshot is perhaps I need to either specialise a bit more of start splitting things up, Photography on one website and Digital Art on another…..but then I have photography which is fine art……blurred lines.

So a lot of thinking going on already and it’s only day 5. This is just a snap shot and we are all on a slightly different journey of discovery. Next week I’ll cover the next 5 days.

~ Julz