Friday, December 30, 2011

memories, dreams and reflections 2011–part 3–the seasons

Back to the computer after a relaxed family Christmas with plenty of yummy food and laughter, a jigsaw, lego and very few photos.

Looking through my photos from the year, I picked out items for Ashley’s list to represent the seasons – hard to pick one.  I found it hard to focus on the photos that I had rather than the image that I have in my head for each season.  I only have photos of snow on one day in 2011 but nothing else said winter to me!


I regularly take photos of my feet – I have done for years.  These also provide a nice summary of the seasons: spring I’m walking the beach but still in boots, summer I’m in the garden weeding and in light shoes, autumn there are fallen leaves and I’m back in boots; and the snow and my wellies for winter.  [Frame from  The CoffeeShop Blog].


Monday, December 19, 2011

Tis the season for a jigsaw


With my work commitments finished and endless rain and it getting dark at 3.30pm I’ve been enjoying working on a jigsaw.  Growing up we always had a jigsaw on the table over Christmas for everyone to add to. We still generally complete a jigsaw together at sometime over the festive break  Finishing this jigsaw last night I was thinking about jigsaws and Christmas and thought of one of my favourite relaxed photos from Christmas 2007.


In 2007 I was living in New Zealand and rented a holiday beach house with some friends for Christmas week.  This is us doing a jigsaw under the sunshade in the front garden looking out over the water – the blue strip you can see above the fence.  We did several jigsaws as a relaxed, communal activity in the shade. 

Are jigsaws part of your Christmas traditions?  as a way to enjoy the shade or the dark evenings?

Monday, December 12, 2011

First snow

Our first snow of this winter inspired me to create a layout – while making it I realised I haven’t created one for several months and can’t think why.


The template is one of this weeks free items from Kate Pertiet, including the winter clusters behind the photos, making it an easy creation.

Journaling: What a surprise when I opened the blinds on Saturday morning – it was white.

I put on my red wellies and headed out with my camera before it all melted.  Walking by the river I liked the contrast of the dark trees.

It was all gone by the evening – this kind of snow I can deal with – seasonal photos and no disruption.

I know grabbing the camera hasn’t always been my first reaction to snow – making a snowman and staying inside have been my normal reaction over the years. Have those of you in areas that get snow in December had any yet?

Friday, December 9, 2011

‘tis the season for lights and cards

Last weekend the local community council had its annual torchlight parade along the highstreet with local pipebands and lots of local families – all kids who take part are given a chocolate selection box at the end.  According to the notice the parade finishes with carol singing but actually the band played and a few people murmured some words but there was no great joining of voice in song.  it would help if the organisers chose carols that lots of people know and had someone on the microphone to lead the singing – maybe next year.  No-one minded though – we were there for the lights (and the chocolate, and when there aren’t renovations in the theatre for mulled wine and a mince pie).  The lights are lovely – there are the usual ones on the streetlamps but I love the light wrapped trees.


I’ve added a tree image and a second button to my ‘tis the season button for my recording of the seasonal sightings and happenings.


I personalised some stocking cutout cards that I bought and attached a chocolate tree decoration inside for some of the more young at heart of my family (including my nephews in their early 20s and my Nan who is 95!).  I had to attach a small clothespeg to each so that it would stand up – js

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

‘tis the season for mincepies and the German Market

About 10 years ago, while I was still living in New Zealand I read somewhere that each different mincepie eaten brought a month of good luck the following year.  Since I love mincepies I adopted this habit for December and make sure that I have mincepies from 12 different sources to ensure a good year ahead.


I’ve eaten 2 types so far – the easy ones from highstreet bakers and both were very tasty with a good balance of pastry and filling.

I’m recording my seasonal journey with a button and journaling on photos – as the events happen.  As with last year, my first sign of the season was a visit to the German Market in the middle of Edinburgh – yum hot chocolate and big pretzels as well as lots of pretty gift ideas


Monday, December 5, 2011

Memories, dreams and reflections 2011–part 2


Continuing with this scavenger hunt of 2011 memories organised by Ashley on Ramblings and Photos

I’m enjoying finding the items in my archive at random – here photos are from May, June, August and September.  I will include at least one other travel photo as part of this project because it was so hard to choose just one.

The one of me and my friend on the beach makes me laugh – I do have some when we are facing the camera as we played with the timer function – but I think the body language says more in this one – and I know we are both laughing at having to run to the location and then walk casually.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Playing with bare trees

One of the things that I like to photograph at this time of year is bare trees silhouetted against the sky.  With the strong winds we have been having recently there are plenty of trees that have lost all of their leaves – the trick is capturing them when there is a blue sky behind!

For Photo art Friday we were encouraged to experiment again so I played with some of my bare tree photos.


Here I used the invert filter again – to turn the tree white.  Then I added Bonnie’s wicked texture on vivid light and got this spooky image that I think looks as if it is bathed in very strong moonlight

Next was a photo I took in town of the trees and monuments on top of a hill


I started by using a Pioneer Woman action to turn it to black and white so as to dramatise the silhouettes.  Then I added some textures and stumbled upon an interesting effect.  There are several layers that create the action effect and I accidently put the texture between these layers and discovered that it produces an interesting muted effect.  I will definitely play with this discovery some more.  The textures here are Bonnie’s Old Master dust and unconditional – both on colour burn.

And finally I used a tree silhouette to apply the polar coordinates distort filter which I saw applied in something I read over the summer (sorry can’t remember where).  Ever since I saw it I have been trying the effect of different photos because getting the right photo to use makes all the difference to the result.  This is amongst the best I’ve created.  It reminds me of one of the illustrations in the book The Little Prince.


I’ll be taking more photos of bare trees this month so that I can create some more dramatic photo art with them.  Are you a fan of photographing bare trees?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Memories, dreams and reflections 2011–part 1


Ashley over at Ramblings and Photos has set an interesting photo quest as a way to reflect on the year.  She has a list of 25 items and invites us to share photos that fit the categories between now and the end of the year.

The idea appealed so I decided to play along.  I want to print them out so I created a  8 x 8 page with a collage and brief description.


I’m doing the items on the list in no particular order.  I’ll create and post one page each week.

Anyone else playing along with this exercise?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Photo art from the archives

For Photo Art Friday this week Bonnie proposed that we all look through our archives and post a piece from the past that deserved another showing. 

I thought it would be fun to show my first use of a texture and blending modes – the texture was from ShadowHouse Creations.  I created it as part of creativity bootcamp in response to the prompt ‘hush’.  I still really like it and haven’t lost the interest in applying textures.


I also came across this image which for some reason I have never posted.  I know it has a linen or canvas texture applied but don’t know which one.


Do you have the 1st instance of using a technique that you now use all the time?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Istanbul–I believe

Last week I had my third work trip to a big city for a workshop.  I know that I was in Istanbul but the suburb and our hotel could have been in any large city.  There were lots of tall apartment blocks, busy roads, lots of cafes (including Starbucks) and some corner shops selling basic supplies.  There was a school and yellow taxis and buses crammed full of people.

One clue that this was Turkey was the flag flying in the school playground.  And form my bedroom window on the 16th floor, in the distance I could see the shape of large domes and turrets of the large mosque on the hill in the middle of town. 


Unfortunately I did not have any free time on this trip so did not get into the middle of town to see the bazaar or historic sights.

So I decided to have just 2 pages for Istanbul in the photo book I’m creating with some Biograffiti templates.


I haven’t shown the text because it has details of the people at the workshop.

I included some photos taken from the plane on my flight back as they show the snow capped mountains and a glorious sunset.

That’s it for my trips this year but I will continue this album next year as I’m likely to be running workshop in more big cities.

Friday, November 18, 2011

abstract pixels

Another fun play session for Photo Art Friday.  I was inspired by Carola Bartz’s piece last week where she inverted the image so I opened up several photos and inverted them all.  One photo of flax leaves – now in shades of blue – attracted me because of the lines.  I found that the change in colours freed my eye to see the image as abstract rather than an object. Then I flipped it horizontally and then the 2 images vertically to create this kaleidoscope effect.


Thanks to Bonnie for encouraging us to experiment and play with photo art.  Check out what everyone else has been up to here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taking Phoebe to Battery Park

OK so the Phoebe in my title is the name of a texture from Kim Klassen that she wanted us to use for Texture Tuesday this week and I applied it to 2 photos that I took in Battery Park, at the bottom tip of Manhattan when I was there.

First applied to the fabulous statue erected to commemorate all the immigrants who entered the USA there.


the original was dark and I like the way the texturizing brings out different aspects of the figures


Then I applied the texture to a photo of the Statue of Liberty taken from the shore, with flowers from the remembrance garden in the foreground.  I was pleased with the composition when I took it and love the results of my texturizing


Check out Phoebe’s other adventures at Texture Tuesday

Friday, November 11, 2011

Frosted fruit and flowers

Bonnie invited us to try a photoart technique that we do not usually use. I’ve been wanting to create a collage of abstract textured images that all use the same texture.


The photo in the middle is the texture applied to all of the others – it is the frost on the car windscreen taken last year.  I applied it to various photos of fruit and flowers from my collection and used mostly colour burn and overlay blending modes, plus one on difference.

I like the balance of repetition and difference

To see what else people have been experimenting with visit Pixel Dust Photo Art

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NY through my camera


An eclectic mix of images that together made up my 9 days in the city. Some are events that I happened upon and some are sites we see on the TV all the time.  I love the range of templates in the Focus Biograffiti album set that I am using for this photobook of my travels.

Top left going clockwise: 

taxis on Times Square – there are masses of them but never an empty one when you need one! 

there were a lot of mounted police around the financial area because of the protests – these 3 are outside Lehman brothers and seemed to sit all day rather than moving around

fabulous views from Battery Park at the bottom of the island – skyline is how I think of the city

Red M&M on a massive electronic billboard in Times Square – do they really make that much from chocolates?

The wall street protestors

Show hoardings in Time Square.  I went to see Mama Mia which was fabulous – such energy and fun

In a subway station – efficient and functional and utilitarian

One of the 9/11 memorials – this one a damaged statue now in Battery Park

One of the flags on the scaffolding around ground zero

Flags fly everywhere – something I really noticed as being different from the UK

Pizza by the slice – v yum and so many choices.


For the title page of the set of 4 for NY, I followed the same pattern as the Nepal set and featured the workshop, including me in action explaining something.  I have filled the bottom box with a summary but I did not include it here as it includes details of the participants and facilitators. 

I’m liking this format for the city summaries.  Next up will be Istanbul.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Look up


New York has to be portrayed in tall, thin images – its the shape of Manhattan. 

Walking around the financial area where I was staying and attending the workshop there are many tall buildings and we did have to bend our necks back to see the sky.  I had forgotten how many amazing art deco buildings there are in the city alongside the mirror glass that we see so much of now. I loved the contrast of architectural styles.

Top row – looking along the street my hotel is in; view from the 21st floor of the office block – with and without snow; glass and brick

Bottom row – Empire State building; the ubiquitous metal fire escapes on brick buildings; Liberty from Battery Park; Times Square as the natural light fades.

More of my NY pages tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Halloween NY style

When I heard the dates for my workshop in NY I was excited that it covered Halloween so I could see the special things in the shops.  I was even more excited to hear about the annual Village Halloween parade and to find a spot where I could watch some of it.  In fact the journey to and from the parade was equally entertaining as many adults were dressed up as anyone in costume can join the parade.  Some amazing costumes – I absorbed the atmosphere and sights rather than trying to take crowd photos when it is dark.

I decided to focus one of my travel photobook NYC pages on Halloween


The large photo and the other one of skeletons are the puppets at the start of the parade.  The cakes and loaf with the cat I spotted in shops.  I ate some delicious dark chocolate cupcake with lurid orange frosting too.  The carved pumpkins were outside an apartment block and the trough of pumpkins were outside a restaurant. 

The template is by Biograffiti (being retired in November).  More of my take on NY tomorrow.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Visiting Gotham City

On my wanders around downtown Manhattan on Saturday before heading for the airport I turned a corner and found myself transported to Gotham City!!  filming of crowd scenes for Batman were underway.  I’m beginning to thing that ‘not typical’ IS typical in New York.  I’ll have my glimpses of the city pages for you later in the week once my jetlag is gone and I can concentrate on picking photos.

In the meantime here are some groups of security personnel in Gotham City


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

not a typical October weekend in NY

Snow in New York City in October for the 1st time since 1952 – on the weekend I visit !

not typical

Some was still in piles the next morning but the pavements were clear

not typical 2

I was expecting cold weather so I had come prepared with boots, coat etc. 

The other site I walk past each day as I leave my hotel is the tent protest on Wall Street.  On Sunday I took some photos.  Of the protest

not typrical 3


not typcial 4

and the large groups of police in evidence

not typical 5

I also did a whole lot of more typical things – more on those later in the week

Monday, October 31, 2011

Shades of autumn–red

No thinking or hunting needed for this one – it had to be my lovely shiny new wellies


The frame is another of the fabulous freebies on The Coffe Shop Blog

Check out other red shades of autumn here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Making nature psychedelic


Yes, the big image was created using only the 4 photos on the right which I took on a walk earlier this week – mixed together using blending modes in PSE.  I like the idea of my shadow against a psychedelic river.

I used the colour palette frame from the CoffeeShop Blog.

Check out other photo art created with digital magic on Pixeldust Photo Art

Thursday, October 27, 2011

shorter days do have a silver lining

I’m not a fan of short days.  One of the things I love about living in Scotland are the long evenings with plenty of daylight.

But, I have to admit that this week the shorter days have delivered some fabulous light on my daily walks.

At 4.30pm along the river


and coming back in the other direction


and then in the morning by the sea


and when the sun came from behind the clouds


I’m loving how my familiar views are taking on new looks with the amazing light of the golden hour that I’m actually seeing due to the shorter days.  Have you been noting the change in light at the moment?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In a New York state of mind


My next trip is to New York City so I’m looking for suggestions from my lovely blogland friends who have experience of the great city on things to see and do and eat.

I’m there for work so only have free time in the evening and, I hope one afternoon and a Saturday morning.  My hotel and the workshop venue are in the financial district.   I’m interested in any suggestions of places to visit in Manhattan that I wont have read about in the ‘top 10 things you must do’ guides – shops, photo-ops, walks etc.

In particular I’d welcome suggestions on things to eat.  I’m going to buy some candy corn and other Halloween related treats – what else?

And for my non-American friends – I’m open to some photo scavenger hunt challenges to hunt down on my trip – yellow taxi cab; statue of liberty; Halloween decorations – what else??

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shades of autumn–orange

While searching for orange in the gardens I pass on my daily walk I discovered that the vast majority of berries and rosehips are red – a deep red, red.  I did find a few that were orange – and appreciated all the more for being unusual.  A nice range of oranges from the yellow to the red ends of the range.  I love the colour contrast with both the green leaves and also the blueblack of the iron fence.  Check out what others found in orange for this weeks shades of autumn


Frames are again from The Coffee Shop Blog

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wrapping up the week with some photo art

To end my week of memory keeping with photos of my Kathmandu trip, I played with some of the photos and textures to create some photo art to share on Photo Art Friday.


I loved these flowers that were floating in a large tub in the hotel lobby.  I included them in my photo page about the hotel which I posted yesterday.

For the art I added Bonnie’s medieval magic texture on linear light blending mode at 50% and then her dappled dawn texture with the same blending mode and opacity.  Then I applied the rough pastels filter for that painted look.  I love the vibrant colours.


Red brick in common in Kathmandu – this is in the hotel gardens.  I added Bonnie’s fanciful texure on colour burn blending mode at 58% and them her medieval magic on colour dodge mode at 62%. 

Finally I really went to town on one of the landscapes that I included in my post on Monday and created an almost abstract piece. I can imagine it as a silk print


I applied Bonnie’s dappled dawn texture on luminosity blending mode at 100% and then duplicated the photo and used hard light blending mdoe at 14% to bring back a small amount of the building details.

Thanks to Bonnie for the fabulous wild textures and the prompt to share photo art each week.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

more of Kathmandu trip


I’ve decided I’m going to have 4 pages for each place in my photobook of my current work trips.  I’m using templates from Biograffitti who is running a retirement sale at oscraps at the moment if anyone needs some great album templates.

The above will be the first page.  I have written about the workshop and trip in the bottom block but it contains too many details about other people so I’m not showing it here.  I did manage to get one photo of me at the workshop – looking rather colonial with the cup of tea !!  I loved the tables all ready for the workshop with the flowers and marker pens.

pages 2 and 3 will be the one of Kathmandu buildings from Monday’s post and what the women were wearing from yesterday’s post.  Then page 4 features the hotel and the fabulous views of the snow capped mountains of the Himalaya range behind the city hills.


I loved the bright flowers that were displayed all around the hotel.  And that large lounging seat in my bedroom was fabulous for relaxing and looking at the view, checking e-mails and blogs etc.  I didn’t take a photo of the outside of the hotel because it was a dull modern building.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nepalese women are so vibrant

I was in Kathmandu to conduct a workshop which had many women participants who were all quite happy for me to photograph their lovely clothes.  I used another Oscraps template for a page.


Most of them wear the long tunic over leggings and have a matching scarf.  A few wear a sari although they said these were more often kept for special occasions as they have not pockets and are not practical when moving around a lot.  Several of the women were wearing western style clothes but  didn’t photograph them.

I love the bright colours that many of them wear and the patters.  The one on the top row, 2nd from the left, is woven cotton from hill tribe designs. On the bottom row, 1st picture, the 3rd women’s tunic has amazingly detailed embroidery in gold thread all over the front. 

Interesting that this style which they have been wearing for generations is very similar to how many western women dress at the moment with the popularity of a dress or tunic over trousers or leggings.

More of my trip photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



Kathmandu is a spectacular city, ringed by hills and then the mountains behind.  The buildings are tightly packed, tall and often look either rundown or unfinished. Cables and wires are strung all over the place, including big bundles of cable.  In many buildings there are shops on street level with 2 or 3 levels of housing above that. There are small Hindu and Buddhist temples scattered around everywhere (which I didn’t photograph).

I love the vibrant colours with all of the brick and the painted walls and plenty of trees as well.  Many buildings have plants on the roof and a relaxation place.

I also like how these photos seems to have captured the strong light and also the distant haze.

I used a template from Biograffitti (who has a retirement sale over at Oscraps). I’m going to use the set of templates to create a photobook of my trips.  Photos of what the women wear tomorrow.