Shift Art – June

Back again, with another Shift Art entry, it is becoming increasingly difficult working with images that are not my own, it seems. But this challenge does push you beyond your creative limits and boundaries……..and that’s a good thing.

June Shift Art_Comp

So taking these four images from the selection on offer, I decided to merge the woman’s face onto the body of the mannequin, quite an effort in itself, the tonal range and colours did not match, just to start. So I embarked on a series of curves adjustment and hue saturation layers to blend it all in, including removing the lime green. I used the dandelion and oil in water as lighting elements really, as well as some other images in my stocks. Changed the lighting, backgrounds and re did her make-up.

One thing that did annoy me was her hair, so I decided to do something about that. Using hair stock by Cindy Grundsten (DeviantArt), I added hair; piece by piece, moved, rotated and warped it all into position, as well as re coloured it.

JuliePowell_Lady in the straw hat_2000

With fingers crossed, I rated another Honorable Mention  and something else good came from it, a few people requested a tutorial on HOW I did the hair, so another tutorial was created by request for…………….and THAT is a great thing! If you are a member, go check it out.

~ Julz



Topaz FX Labs

I have fallen in love with an old program that is fairly new to me; Topaz FXLabs, I received this in a bundle I got a little while ago from Topaz Labs. Sure I regularly use other programs in Topaz; Adjust, Denoise, B&W, Impressions, just to name a few. Some of them seem to crash while trying to use them and I eventually gave up. FXLabs didn’t really seem to make much sense until I watched an eye opening tutorial by Jai Johnson at Daily Once I learned just how amazing and powerful this program could be, I could not wait to start playing with it.

Now my first few tries, weren’t exactly a huge success, but it did not take long to get use to it. It has built in layers and masking and scale, and adjustments, you can open multiple images from Photoshop or without, but the beauty is you can then access all the Topaz plugins directly, and so far………..NONE of them crash while inside FXLabs.

The control and ease of use of the program as become a go to for me, sure there are some things I still do in Photoshop and Camera Raw and basic editing I still use Lightroom, but I must say I am adoring this cool new (to me) program. It can be used with other editing software, like Paintshop Pro as well.

I must admit I have done several YouTube tutorial by Jai now and they are mostly quite long, but very informative on this subject, her backgrounds and overlays which can be purchased are truly stunning as well, and yes I have purchased a few to play with.

Julie Powell_Barn Owl-1Julie Powell_in Flight-1Julie Powell_Kestrel-1

I was concentrating mostly on animals, birds in particular, but have branched out and used it with people with equally stunning results.

There is something so sumptuous and earthy about these textures and this technique, I love the end results I am achieving. There is a 30 day Free Trial available on Topaz Labs if you want to check it out too, it’s not on special or anything and quite frankly the whole bundle is expensive, but if you can get it on sale or afford just a few of the kits, FXLabs, Clarity, lens effect, Adjust and Impressions……….it’s a great start.

~ Julz

Creating a Concept Shoot

I thought today I might share a little of the behind the scenes information on shooting a conceptual shoot, as I find it is the most often asked question……..

“how or where do you get your inspiration?”

Firstly I find if I work in a series it is far less stressful. I can work out the basic scenario and then I just have to work out the individual images. The hard work is in the initial setup.

I have a shoot list and I will pick random things that can help me create the base image; colour, mood, theme, character, emotion, scene, time period, props, etc. So I might pick red, woman, dress, sorrow, ocean, cliff, dark and intense, sitting or standing, late afternoon sun. So I have pretty much all the elements; a woman in a red dress, sitting on a chair, on a cliff overlooking the ocean, sun glinting off the waves. Then I might add unexpected elements, the balloons and bear, is there a story in the teddy bear and balloons? What does it say to you? I love the juxtaposition……I mean why on earth is a woman sitting on a cliff in a red ball gown with a teddy bear and a bunch of balloons? Such fun!sunset-reflections

Same dress, same location, but I wanted a sense of freedom with the light breaking through the clouds and wind blowing her hair and dress. In both of these images I went for over saturated colours. I wanted to create a sense of freedom and flight.juliepowell_fear-of-flight

This next image is so simple, yet powerful at the same time; a simple tu-tu and ballet pointe shoes. Same again I wrote a list; Blue, tu-tu and ballet pointes, dark and dramatic, no people, a little mysterious. Does it tell a story, where is the drama or point of interest, add a pop of colour and heavy contrast……what story does it tell?dsc_6473

Things that also need to be considered is;

  • A clever (or fun) Idea and great photos
  • Cool setting or Background (Even a plain black backdrop is great in the right setting)
  • Beautiful Models or real people (Someone you can connect with, sometimes it is anonymous with no faces as such) remember the hero does not have to be a person.
  • Unorthodox wardrobe (Honestly some of my ‘clothes’ are sheets pegged at the back)
  • Unexpected Props and poses  (Red Balloons and teddy bear)
  • Composited elements (will I add additional elements or just as it is shot)
  • Trick Photography (levitations shots)
  • Textures for toning
  • De-saturated or over saturated/ Dark or Light
  • Use of one striking colour (perhaps red or blue on black or white, I love mauves, blues and reds.)

These are questions I ask myself, I don’t use all of the aspects listed above, but just a few, so one simple pose, one single prop, plain Black background. For Instance in my Tarot series I am mostly going for Dark desaturated colours. Jess below in wearing just street clothes with a platinum blonde wig and a black cape, holding a wooden branch in front of a black background

Page of Wands

Ace of Wands

The smoke, light beams, vines and butterflies are added in post in photoshop. Also I used additional textures subtly to add depth. The below image is shot on site, with just the bird added in post, so the actual shot was taken keeping in mind I wanted to add a bird on Mel’s finger, and she is looking directly at it.


So even after all this I still get asked, where do the ideas come from? Dapper Rabbit came to me in a dream and the story flowed from there, once I had the story I had the images I would required, the models, scenes, props, poses etc.

Alice………so easy; Jess had the costume and I just watched the movie and flicked through Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration, wrote out a shot wish list

The Tarot, my initial inspiration was from Rusty McDonald and Dividing Me……and then of course I went straight to the Tarot Cards for my shot list, needed particular props and poses; wands, swords, crowns, cups and am still working on my pentacle.

The Red Dress series was inspired by a red ball gown I was given, just needed different locations and moods and props. This is a continuing series. So I have a woman (usually) in a red dress…….I think of different locations and props. The Beach, a forest, sitting, standing, add in some props, do I want day or night, do I want happy, sad, anger etc. What mood, what atmosphere etc, etc, etc.

If you practice on these enough, it becomes a much quicker process. I also am always looking on-line; Flickr, IG, 500PX, DeviantArt, ShiftArt, YouTube, plus of course some of my favourites like Brooke Shaden and Rusty McDonald for an endless supply of inspiration.

~ Julz

P.S. Still not sure? Try  this one hour YouTube video from Brooke, it literally changed the way I think and work.


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.


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… 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……… to you respond to those? Or are they mainly likes and not comments anyway?


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





Weekly Photo Challenge – Ambience

This week’s WPC theme is Ambience, ambience can be uplogting or that real show stopper affect. I frquently like to add ambience to an image, through the use of smoke machines, candle light…..actually varying lights in general can make a difference, as can natural elements like fog of mist…….can create haunting or creepy/ mystical atmosphere and ambience.

Ambience is the atmosphere of one’s surrounding environment. It basically boils down to how one’s surroundings impact the human senses and alter the feelings of an individual. Things like light, temperature, smell, sound, and sometimes taste, all work together to create ambience. The term ambience usually refers to a positive atmosphere that uplifts a person’s mood. As an example, one might say, “Wow, this place has real ambience!”


Add smoke to an shoot


Glow from candles


12 – Sparklers in glass jars


Light Painting with steel wool


Fog or Mist

Til next time I hope you all have a great week, and happy snapping…

~ Julz

Shift Art Challenge update…

I wrote a post earlier in the week about my submission for Shiftart Challenge, considering the competition this month; I did not envy the judges. It was won by an amazing piece by Jason Hahn, followed by an equally amazing first and second runners up. I rate a mention, so I was pretty happy with that. A win would be nice, maybe one day. I would also love to do another tutorial for them as well, also maybe one day.


December Shift Art Challenge Submission – Inner Peace

I was still pretty happy with my image and I think I might do a tutorial for it anyway……..I did use some unusual techniques in it.

If you get a chance pop over to the ShiftArt page and check out the winning image, they are fabulous.

~ Julz

WPC – Tiny

Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Tiny, so I thought for once I would do a bit of shameful self promotion, this is a piece entitled “Tiny Rabbits” I created for a video tutorial on Photoshop.


Tiny Rabbits

If you would like to see this tutorial or see any of my other tutorials you can click here or below….don’t forget to like and share if you enjoy it!

Here’s hoping you have a great week and happy snapping…

~ Julz

A Deconstructed Rose, again…

Way back when Desley and I first dismantled a very pretty rose and were amazed out just how gorgeous the inside was, we have both been together and individually re creating, or at least trying to, every flower is different and amazing.. So when I visited Desley recently for another afternoon of shooting fun, I spotted this hand dyed rose; so pretty and so unaware of it’s fate! I didn’t even have the heart to tell the guy I bought it from what we planned to do with his very pretty rose!

It is slightly weird with the colour, it was more of a mauve, but the white balance both in Lightroom and in Camera made it more blue, the more I attempted to adjust it, I blew the whites out? Anyway, it was a very pretty colour and then…out came the scissors.

OK so maybe not quite as dramatic as previous attempts, and no bud in the middle, or is that only peony roses? Does anyone know on that score? Anyway it’s all in the name of fun and experimentation. You should pop over to Desley’s page to see her stunning macro shots of the same flower – truly gorgeous.

~ Julz


52 Week Challenge – Week 42

This week’s challenge was green. Green in Spring, that means fresh grass, leaves, gardens, there are pale green buds burgeoning and softest green flowers peaking through the trees and garden beds……… I went into the studio, closed doors, curtains, turned off the lights and played with Christmas lights, martini glass and cocktails and long exposures 🙂


ISO 100, 24mm, F/4.0, 2.5 seconds

My Lights are those one that run on a cycle, change colour and then flash and then new colour, flash, new colour etc…….I’m sure you get the picture, so I got mostly reds, mostly green…dsc_2603

Then at the end of the set they all come of and flash, this was shot on black perspex with a blackboard painted ply as the backdrop. Camera on a tripod  and my wireless remote trigger.dsc_2614

It just goes to show, you don’t need anything fancy to make amazing pictures, just some time and a little effort (well I did have to dig the lights out).

~ Julz

Home Made Snoot

I recently did a post, where I featured a few images taken using a snoot on my light source, thinking back on it, I thought perhaps some of you do not know what a snoot is……….I only heard of it about six months ago (it might have been longer, but I didn’t know WHAT it was lol), and I had used one a few times for rim lighting and even back lighting, but never for such directional lighting.


A Snoot was used here for highlights or Rim lighting, for her hair and feathers

So what is a Snoot?

In photography, a snoot is a tube or similar object that fits over a studio light or portable flash and allows the photographer to control the direction and radius of the light beam. These may be conical, cylindrical, or rectangular in shape. Snoots can isolate a subject when using a flash. They help by stopping “light spill”, or when lighting falls in a larger footprint than intended.


Some have been making Snoots out of Pringles can over a Speedlight; great idea, as it also has a reflective inside and I might jump up to one of those next time too.But My Snoot used in the above shots, is just a cylinder of cardboard, placed over a continuous light….


Basic Continuous Light


Cardboard Snoot


shot without the snoot


shot with the snoot


Final edited shot

I have to admit I love the directional effect and it gives a fabulous mood. I find I am using it more and more.

~ Julz

P.S. I have just purchased some studio equipment and was given a free snoot…….make sure it actually fits your model speedlight or standard light properly……..I didn’t double check I assumed if it fits the 900 model speedlight it would fit my 910 speedlight………..guess what it does not! Colour me stupid for not double checking.

P.P.S. Sorry some of the images are a little blurry, I took them in a rush to write the post and didn’t take my mind in set up etc as I normally do, apologies