Going for Gold

The mammoth task that is compiling records, creating proof sheets of the 55 images below and loading award-winning images on CD – all in pursuit of the accreditation EFIAP/Gold – is now finished. After I post it all off tomorrow, all I can do is wait, with bated breath (what is bated breath?), to find out if I have been successful. This will take a few months so, while I’m waiting, let’s see what the requirements are for the Platinum level …..

Taking a Photograph … and … Making a Picture

Although I spend a lot of time creating composites, I also enjoy portraiture work. On being asked recently how much work goes into a portrait, I replied, “Very little”. But, as often happens, that little question stuck in my mind and, conscious of how time can fly by when I’m engrossed in working on my computer, I decided to keep a record of just how many steps it required to move from “taking” a “photograph to “making” a picture.

This photograph of Mason, complete with clown make-up and wearing a bowler hat, had been lit in exactly the way I wanted it and then with the ‘right’ lens so, having ten minutes to spare, I thought I would just ‘tickle it up’ a little bit. Frame 1 in the screenshot below is the original RAW file in Lightroom, where I adjusted exposure etc fractionally. All other frames are either in Photoshop or Silver Efex. By taking a screenshot every time I made an adjustment, I soon realised that my spare ten minutes had stretched into an hour.

For a while now, I have been carrying out dodging and burning by using the Curves tool. For instance, to lower the whiteness of Mason’s shirt, adjusted in a Curves layer, reversed the mask and painted in the area required. By doing this, I accumulate quite a few Curves layers which require precise naming, if I want to back and adjust them. Frames 2 -8 are records of just such adjustments, as well as a mini crop, enhancing the black lines and painting in the rim of the hat. Frame 9 is a flattened layer, where I used the healing brush and the clone tool to neaten up the image. Frames 10 – 11 are where I copy-pasted a small section of the hat brim, reversed it and added to to the other side of the hat where there had been a break in the fabric.

Frames 12 – 14 are a series of small adjustments in Liquify where I gave Mason’s mouth a bit of a down-turn, narrowed his eyes a little and changed his jawline, all in pursuit of making him appear a little meaner. Frame 15 – 16 reflect an excursion into Silver Efex to render the image into monochrome. Once this had been saved back into Photoshop as a layer, I masked off all of it except Mason’s face, making the ‘whiteface’ more startling.

The strangely coloured swirls in Frame 17 are a picture of waste printers’ ink I took many moons ago when I was gainfully employed. I overlaid this as a layer, choosing Pin Light at 45% and masking off Mason’s face to give the effect you see in Frame 18. Mason’s eyes are heterochromatic (one is green, the other is brown) and Frame19 is a Curves layer to enhance the colour … Frame 20 is the finished article.

As I said, just a bit of a tickle up …

The Many Faces of Jay

Jay is many things … an actor, a model, an entrepreneur, a man who makes things happen and a dead pirate captain. This is a small selection from a morning in the studio with Jay, some are composites and some are pretty well straight from the camera, and all are a reminder that you just never know what is going to happen in the next few hours.

Clockwise from the top: Haunted by the Past, Rings On My Fingers, Don’t Give Up On Me (with Amanda Sills), Looking Back, What Shall I Knit Next? and Born to Rock.

Bring in the clowns …

… well, there ought to be clowns, no?
Meet Martyn and Mason, admittedly not quite your usual fun-filled entertainers, and perhaps more the stuff of nightmares than likely to raise a chuckle, but – you know – I think they’re more likely to stick in your mind than the last time you saw clowns at a circus. Just don’t upset them …..

No More Mr Nice Guy


Steampunk / Gothic Day Out

A recent shoot at Studio 3 by Severn … as well as being hugely enjoyable, it yielded an initial six acceptances into FIAP International Salons … and, hopefully more to come when I get my computer head back on in 2019.

The Bravest Beagle

This is Vinnie, the Beagle. I met Vinnie and his owner at Skylarks Nature Reserve. When they walked along behind us, Vinnie shied away from Jan’s mobility scooter and I commented that dogs often did that. But the real explanation was actually heart-breaking. Vinnie had spent the first three years of his life in a laboratory in France and been with his new owner for just a month. When I bent down to stroke him, he flinched, and any movement, however small, had the same effect. Eventually, after nearly a quarter of an hour’s conversation, he approached me and had a good old sniff, although I still wasn’t allowed to pet him. Vinnie had to be carried back to his owner’s car because nothing would coax him to walk past the scooter. At all times, his owner talked to him in a slow, calm voice and said Vinnie was getting better all the time but it would be a long job. I consider myself a tough old bird, but I shed tears for that dog. I have never given much thought to ‘animal rights’ but you can be sure I will do in the future … and more than just think about it. I hope to meet Vinnie again and see him grow in confidence and courage.

First-ever Talk

Posted on September 15, 2018

I gave my first-ever talk about my photographs at Keyworth Camera Club this week. It was a good evening – I was made welcome by a crowd of friendly people, who gave me the following review. I am still smiling at the memory.

September 13th saw Jacqui Jay Grafton EFIAP/s DPAGB BPE5* give us her presentation New Tricks and it proved to be fascinating, educational and inspiring. Jacqui’s images covered fantasy images of unreal scenes that captured the imagination with their beauty and creativeness, the techniques behind some of them involving many hours of dedication to piece them together. Other pictures were classed as photo-realistic – montages that are much subtler and have the look of a straight photograph, and those that were as taken. Nearly all of Jacqui’s pictures featured people, some being professional models, others being members of her long suffering/eager to pose family.

Jacqui gave her talk in an easy to understand manner, was open to questions, and had us all laughing many times with her exploits with models that couldn’t speak English, ripping duck-tape off a naked man and of what other people have thought of her work. Our packed audience appreciated the work that had gone into Jacqui’s images and all have taken away some new tricks that can be applied to their own work. Thank you, Jacqui, for giving us a very entertaining evening supported by wonderful imagery.

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