Monday, April 29, 2013

blog reader solution ?

Like most of you I was disappointed when google reader announced it was to close as I have been very happy with this tool for reading all the blogs I follow.

After several weeks of denial I listed the things I want from a reader; read through some lists of alternatives, looked at examples and made the switch last week to the old reader

old reader

It works for my tops wants:

* I can read the full post in the reader

* I can group blogs into categories

* the pictures are clear and load easily

* it is intuitive to use

There is no app for use on a tablet (yet) but that is not a problem for me as I hadn’t got into the habit of using my tablet to read blogs.

Transferring my list of blogs from google reader was a breeze and took less than 5 minutes.

It’s been working well so far so I can return to a state of not thinking about the architecture behind my daily blog catch up.

Friday, April 26, 2013

PhotoArt revisited

No PhotoArt Friday on Pixeldust PhotoArt at the moment as Bonnie takes a well deserved break.  Faced with no link up deadline and no suggested theme, I didn’t create anything last week.  so this week I decided to set myself a theme because I find that easier.  I went back to the first items I created for PhotoArt Friday and revisited the approach.

My first item was to create an abstract piece using 4 photos

paf 1

I used the same format and chose 3 photos from my recent trip to South Sudan and created what I think looks like a grouping of bejewelled eggs using different blending modes and the find edges filter


Then I used 3 photos from my garden and walks – I think it looks like a modern stained glass window


I liked the pattern here so I added some filters and created a tryptic which I think I’ll print to put on my wall


So glad I thought of a way to set my own challenges while Bonnie has a rest.

Do you prefer to have a theme when sitting down to create?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Project Life snippets week 16

One of the threads in my project life this year is to record my first sighting of the different flowers in my garden – this week I said hello to the fabulous bright tulips in one of the smaller ( 3 x 4 inch) pockets.


I like to add text to the photos before printing and using colours that I extracted from the photo.  The ‘hello’ in the circle is from Ali Edwards.

Another smaller pocket has a photo of my nephew who I saw on Sunday – again I extracted colours from the photo for the presentation – a square crop seemed to work best for the photo.


The ‘dude’ flag is from a set by Cathy Z and particularly appropriate as we called his dude as a child.

I’ve been doing Project Life for 18 months now (I didn’t feel the need to wait for the start of the year to start the project) and I realise that I rarely share its content here on my blog – because I don’t think seeing every spread every week is interesting and because there will always be at least one item on a page that I’d blur for privacy.  But then I thought I could share one or two inserts every week or so – to share bits of life and how I approach project life.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Look Up Look Down in sunshine


Celebrating the arrival of some warmer weather and blue skies – buds on the trees, daisies and going out with no boots or socks (my feet feel claustrophobic by the end of winter!)


Enjoying how this meme is providing a vehicle for storytelling, seasonal changes and local details across the different blogs

Monday, April 22, 2013

clean and simple success


I’m taking a great 3 month class by Cathy Z on BPS called ‘clean and simple’ in reference to her hybrid scrapping style.  I’ve always been a big fan of Cathy’s approach and design aesthetic and her teaching style. This is the third class I’ve taken with her.

We receive an assignment each week with tips on design and approach to memory keeping, a template and tutorials on using PSE for those who are new to it.  Each LO follows Cathy’s process of designing on the computer and then printing the photos and title and journaling separately and then sticking them together on cardstock. 

There is an interesting mix in class of those who are new to the digital aspect and those, like me, who are comfortable with the digital but have not recently cut and pasted for real (rather than using ctrl c and ctrl v !).  When putting together a LO I remembered how frustrated I am at my inability to cut in a straight line even when using a trimmer and how hard I find it to line things up and how I get glue in places it wasn’t intended to go.  And how hard it is to photograph a LO so it looks square and the colour looks good.

The LO above was easier to keep aligned because I taped the photo block and the journaling block together and then cut them both so the top and bottom lined up. And I doctored the photo in PSE to make it square ( I used the yellow of the background to fill in bits around the edge)

I’m really enjoying the class and weekly assignment.  The class community is very active on the gallery and in comments and assistance and Cathy is present all the time, commenting on LOs and answering questions and joining in chat.  It is these aspects of an online class that I most enjoy. 

And it meant I recorded my enjoyment of all the flowers in my front garden.

Any tips for a returning paper scrapper?

Friday, April 19, 2013

#bytheriver swans

Lovely blue sky and sunshine today and the wind from earlier in the week has gone so my daily walk by the water was a pleasure. I always take my camera on my walks and decided to share what I see semi regularly here in blogland.

The swans were so picturesque today – there were 20 or so up and down the river.


If you have ever been near flying swans you’ll know that their wings beating make quite a noise.  I kept my camera in my hand to try to capture the swans in flight – mostly pointing in their general direction and clicking then finding the swans back home using the zoom on the computer.  From 9 pictures I managed to capture some decent shots of swans in flight. I love the long necks of the top one.


And this swan was gliding about and feeding alone.  When I stopped to photograph him he came over, I suspect (s)he was hoping I had some bread.


I wasn’t the only person out enjoying the clear weather.  There were plenty of dogs running about (and their owners) and I couldn’t resist snapping this man enjoying the sun and the view.


Do you have a regular walk route?  what do you see?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Look Up Look Down for details

I’m back home now after a long but uneventful journey on 3 planes.

My pair of images this week are ones that I took in Juba, the up was in the workshop and the down in our housing compound.


One thing I immediately noticed is that many people in South Sudan are really tall.  Not just from my short view point, the ‘shorter person' in the middle is about 5’7”. So the up photo was trying to capture this height.

The down was from a wonderful riot of colour that appeared each morning but disappear once the sun was overhear – I guess the direct sun is too much for the flowers.  If you look close you can see a bee – top right quadrant – there were masses of them on the flowers.

Many of you commented on the fact you need a permit in order to take photos in South Sudan.  This is an old law from Sudan – as a newly separated country they kept all the Sudanese laws for now.  It was introduced for security reasons and as there are few tourists has never really been reassessed.  I’m told it was often ignored but over the last year in South Sudan it is becoming an issue as the number of outsiders increases, most of them accustomed to snapping with camera or phone.  Some have been fined by the police for taking photos of ‘sensitive items’ such as government buildings, the army and airport. In addition some locals keen to earn brownie points with the police will report any foreigners that they see taking photos – often the foreigners then bribe these people to not report them – and so it is being seen as a lucrative activity – and a problem for those of us wanting to take photos.  It was really frustrating to leave my camera in my bag as we drove around.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A sketch of Juba

I couldn’t take photos out and about in Juba as you need a permit for photography in South Sudan.  We could take photos inside the workshop so here are a couple of me at work and the lovely participants.



and with my fellow facilitator at a restaurant on the banks of the Blue Nile


I kept seeing little things that I wanted to capture and share – so I decided to list them and try to provide some flavour of this lovely new country.

I would love to have photos of the school children walking to school in their crisp white shirts and dark green shorts or shirts;

of the young children playing with a ball outside their house;

of the babies carried in a brightly coloured cloth on their mother’s back;

of the women walking back from the market with bundles balanced on their heads;

of the wonderful bright skirts and wraps that many women wear;

of the contrast of many younger women in very western (and brightly coloured) clothes;

of the group of old men sitting on plastic chairs in the shade of a tree, laughing and sharing stories;

of the men sitting outside a house smoking hookah pipes;

of the motorcycle with 3 young men sitting on it as it weaves its way through the traffic;

of the amazing ruts in the earth roads;

of the bizarrely contrasting pristine tarmac roads shown on a large advertising hoarding;

of the designs painted in white on the large rocks found at the corners of major roads;

of the ducks and ducklings scavenging beside the road;

at the group of goats that roams around near our accommodation;

of the woven bamboo fences around many houses;

of the groups of traditional mud huts  -  both round ones and rectangle ones;

at the lush tall trees (when I asked our driver what kind of tree it was he said ‘just a tree’ meaning no fruit);

of the eagles gliding on the thermals overhead;

of the red mountains outside of town;

of the lovely smiling people that I have met everywhere I go.


Now that would have been a photo heavy post!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Photo Art in the shadows

As I’m away from home this week and using my notebook, and so a small screen, I only created one piece to hang in the PhotoArt Friday gallery this week.

I’d read Bonnie’s suggested theme of shadow (and light) before I flew so when I was looking our of the plane window and saw the wonderful shadow under this lone cloud I snapped it. 

I turned it black and white, duplicated the image and used overlay blending mode and added a texture to produce this lovely image


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Look up Look down in Juba

Rainy season here in South Sudan so big grey clouds in the sky quite often, but the plants all look lush.



Monday, April 8, 2013

Where’s Helena?

Don’t worry I didn’t put on a striped top and hide in a crowd for a photo!  Although it would be kind of fun.

But I am away on another work trip – running a workshop on planning for an election commission.  But where?  can you guess from these clues?

I transited through Nairobi airport and then saw this out the window on my final flight


It is 34 C (93 F) outside so I am very pleased to have aircon on all the time.   This is where I am staying. home

We bought these at the morning market, most are grown locally


I can’t share photos from out and about in town because you have to have a permit to take photos and it is enforced, so not worth the risk.

Final clue – I’m in the newest nation state.  Any one know or prepared to guess where I am? 

Answer on Wednesday when I share my look up look down.

Friday, April 5, 2013

PhotoArt Friday creates timetravel

As soon as I read Bonnie’s challenge for this week ‘collage’ I was transported back to my Art class at around the age of 12 or 13 when we created a large collage, using fabrics and other media, from an image that we had drawn – mine was a large elephant. 

So I went with that idea and rather than draw an image I googled free colouring in pictures and chose one that had lots of distinct shapes that I could ‘cut out’ and fill.  I used a range of texturally interesting  photos that I had collected a couple of years ago for a class.  Much easier than my school experience but the process of cutting out the patters for each stage was still frustratingly dull.


The cat is covered if 2 images of carpet; the flower pot is the sea.  I added a bevel effect to some layers for variety.  It does remind me of the elephant collage and was a fun process

I then decided to play with using a simple shape and filling with some photos – I used images I’d taken of the spring flowers in my garden to fill a bunch of heart shaped balloons – another fun image


looking forward to seeing how others approach the idea of a collage in PhotoArt Friday

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Look up look down inside

I stayed inside for my snaps this week.  The up is the word on top of my display unit – its been a well used word since I could talk !  and the down is my Easter collection in one of the spaces in the same display unit


Still enjoying the added perspective each week of looking up and looking down and seeing what others are doing with this meme

Monday, April 1, 2013

March in numbers

April already, maybe Spring weather will turn up soon too!

Joining in with Julie’s month in numbers again


No April fools items in here – always tricky reading anything on 1st April.