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

52 Week Challenge -Week 38

This week’s 52 Week Challenge is Week 38 – HDR or Panorama. Wanting to do something a little different and expand on my Light Wand experience I created this 7 shot HDR Stitch with different exposures and different lighting through the RGB Spectrum on the light wand; ISO 100, F/22, 35mm approx exposure is 0.6 to 1 seconds. Put together in Photoshop, I also added a little texture.


ISO100, F/22, 35mm Various exposure times from 0.6 – 1 second

A HDR is usually creating by blending different exposures of the same shot, a few under exposed and a few over exposed to get better High Dynamic Range (HDR) in an image. This HDR does give me more details in the blacks and whites……so it is HDR, just not what most people think of.

Here’s hoping for a brilliant weekend…

~ Julz

Still Life Light Painting

A little while ago I stumbled across a website by Harold Ross and was immediately drawn to his amazing Still Life, I have permission to show his art, but seriously check out his page. I showed it to another Photographer and fellow Light Painting extraordinaire Deanne Holmer, who offered to create a special Light Wand for me. It did take awhile to get it right and I think it possibly needs a few more tweaks and I need to refine my methods, but I have now had three sessions and I am in love with this art all over again. I invited Desley over for a afternoon of fun in the studio.


Shot of the light wand and Desley’s camera, care of Desley’s smartphone

My one of a kind light wand can be seen on the left lighting up the rose, you can see the rose in the liveview on the camera (Desley’s Olympus – love the macro shots she gets)………we then turn the studio lights off and let the magic happens, each of the below images are of the same rose, on the same settings on the same black perspex, the magic is in the light wand………oh my isn’t the blue luscious! Ultraviolet roses xoxoxoxox


The knack is in what Harold Ross calls ‘Raking the light’to add a soft dreaming almost painterly feel to the subject. I still have a ways to go, but I am extremely happy with the results I have achieved so far.

I have RGB LEDs which I can use individually to make a range of colours or together to create a soft white.


It also has a larger ‘monster’ light which I can also change colours and use as more of a spot light effect, works especially well through a diffuser.dsc_1303

It also works quite well with other lighting features, such as this Eddison bulbdsc_1330dsc_1333

This image is a multiple exposure composite shot using various sections of highlights and colour spectrums, see the slight blue tint to the glass and the almost blurred petals on the flower? Still got a little way to go…dsc_1386-edit

One of the colours on the LED strip is almost like an Ultraviolet light, see what it does to this RED rose? We sprayed water mist on the petals, oh how they sparkled like diamonds


I am sure you will see plenty more of this type of photography as I learn and grow and hopefully perfect this type of art.

~ Julz

P.S. Yes all shot with my new baby 35mm Lens

The Concept of Truth in Photography

I am doing a Open University course, Open2Study, The Art of Photography, It is VERY technical and really goes deep into the mechanics of photography, but also a little into ethics. It is something a little different for me. We had a lesson on the Concept of Truth in Photography. The truth is, truth in photography can be quite abstract;

The existence of horses means you can take a photograph of a particular horse, but it does not prevent a horse painting from showing no horse in particular.  You cannot, however, take a photograph of no horse in particular.

-William Mitchell

This simply means, because you know horses exist you can draw one from memory, but you cannot photograph a horse from memory, it needs to physically be there. In saying that once taken, the horse can be digitally removed from the image, so if it is no longer there, if you never knew it was there in the first place; was it ever there? Or as my daughter succinctly said you can photograph a horse but not a unicorn!

Can photograph’s be trusted? I guess it boils down to what is digital art compared to a photograph and how much ‘editing’ is done, creating a true representation or turning it into what the photographer (or artist) wants it to be. Personally I do both. Sometimes there is something annoying or distracting in a photo, a piece of rubbish or a blurred bird in the sky……it is not there as a permanent thing, so why not remove it, same with pimple on portraits, the pimple is not WHO that person is, so why leave it? Removing a car from a photo by changing your vantage point, is that the same as digitally removing it? You can make a construct however you see fit by physically moving yourself or camera, you can change focus, focal length, aperture in camera, are they not distorting the image before you?

The photo is my vision of a place or moment in time. Sometimes I adjust the light, the exposure, shadows, contrast, straighten, but that is all I do, make it the best possible version of what I saw. Other times it is straight into Photoshop and I edit it til it no longer resembles the original photo……now it is digital art.But where lies that blurry line between?

What about truth in photojournalism? Is it real, does it exist? In this day and age it is more likely an image has been photoshopped (this is no longer a just software program, it is also now a verb, apparently), than not. Look at all the glossy fashion magazines, they have been known for quite sometime to flawlessly ‘paint’ their subject to perfection. Actually finding mistakes in editing techniques is something of a game these days. What about for newspapers, covering world events, current affairs…can these photos be trusted? How would we even know if we are not there to witness these events for ourselves?

Got you thinking now, haven’t I? This Open University learning course I am taking is something very different for me, it is very technical, which I find a battle in itself. But then the lecturer throws ethics at us, or philosophy, there is hours of extra reading material, assessments and group assignments. I am struggling with the group assignments as well, they are in Google+ , and I seem to be lacking the knowledge, energy and brain power to figure it all out; especially when my mind is mulling over stuff like this……….writing it all down helps.

Til next time……….happy what ever 🙂