Friday, 28 March 2014

The Colour of Flowers

Today's colour boost comes straight from nature. 

This week I went on a mission back to the little paper shop, because near there is a lovely little florist and I was on a mission to capture some natural colour. (... yes I did buy some paper too! Again!)

The florist at Flora Ambiente, was very helpful and patient with me as I hand-picked the individual blooms for my photos. She pointed out the graceful shapes and forms with such love, it reminded me what creative people florists are. Flowers are natural creations that instantly rebel when you put them in my hands. They always turn in the opposite direction I want them to and end up just doing their own thing. I've learnt to accept that, and to appreciate the magic that florists do. They are masters at combining colour, shape and form into tightly wrapped works of art. Works of art that always bring pleasure to somebody, that capture joy in fresh fragrances and beautiful colours! Works of art that are temporary - so they always have to keep creating more! What a creative life to create with colour every day!

The ballet studio where my daughters do ballet, always have fresh flowers. When you walk in there, you immediately feel happy and good. Everyone comments and enjoys the flowers. It creates a lovely atmosphere.

So I've bought a new vase, so that I can regularly treat my family to a splash of colour. The vase is made up of a circle of little bottles glued together! So clever! The flowers can stand and turn and lean in any direction they want to now and because of the way the bottles are arranged, it always looks good. So now I choose whatever colour I'm in the mood for that week and it always brings me joy!

PAUSE: Live creatively! Go take some time, and wander around to your local florist. Just look around, ask about the names of the flowers, smell them, touch them, admire the shapes and the delicate patterns - and then treat yourself, to your own splash of colour. 

Enjoy it!

(NOTE: The photos below are available to buy as Fine Art Prints from Society6)

Monday, 24 March 2014

INSIDER TIPS: Controlling Natural Light

Lots has been written about natural light and artificial light. I believe there is a time and place for each of them. My initial Frozen Berry Smoothie was taken with a big beautiful soft box. Artificial lighting gives me absolute control, any time of the day, in any weather AND it is much brighter than indoor lighting, which allows me to use the lowest ISO and if I want to I can still hand-hold. It's great!

But there's something magical about using the real thing. Natural light has a beautiful lively quality.

AND then there are those days, when you think you've done your shot, packed away your lighting, you're eating your frozen berry smoothie, it's melting in your hands, when suddenly you realise: THIS is the shot I want! NOW! QUICK! Grab the camera! And then? Then, natural lighting is the only way!

What I'm realising is, that when you choose to use natural light, controlling it just a little bit, can make the difference between a good shot and a blagh shot!

A lot of it comes down to choosing your window.

Lets start at the beginning. You know if you give kids too many sweets and they end up with so much energy that they're bouncing off the walls? Well that's light for you! Light is energy that moves in a straight line and bounces, or reflects off everything that's in it's way!

Have you ever played snooker/pool/billiards or even squash? Seen the ball bounce off the sides in different angles? Light bounces off surfaces in the same way. Imagine millions of white ping pong balls bouncing around you at high speed and all those ping pong balls are coming from one place - your window... Now you get the picture!

A problem with the light bouncing everywhere is that light picks up colour along the way, so if it's bouncing off a blue curtain, you might be photographing blue yoghurt. Pull back those curtains and try to choose a window in a relatively neutrally painted room. If you don't want green in your eggs, or in your baby's face don't photograph near a green wall, some of the evil little light particles WILL fetch you some green from that wall. Also remember that if the light is making it's way through some leafy trees to get to your window, you'll be sitting with leafy green images. Chop down the tree, or simply choose a new window.

Choose one window to work at and make sure all the other windows in the room are blackened out. Don't let any extra stray light balls in!

The bigger the window the more space for more light "balls" to come bouncing into your shot and bouncing up and down and around and everywhere and the more difficult it is to control the lighting in your shot. The smaller the window, the more directional the light is.

That said, sometimes you want that extra light - the bigger your window, the more the light will have the possibility of creeping around your object and lighting it from all sides. This is a soft light, with soft shadows and makes for a slightly flatter, but subtler shot.

If you're wanting a moodier, more contrasty shot, cover up part of your window with black card, so that you make a narrow passage for the light to pass through. There'll be less bouncing all over the place, with stronger more defined shadows.

It's only by playing around that you can get a feel for how you would like to control the light. I recently realised that I don't like the window to go all the way to the ground, but prefer my windowsill to be at the same level or slightly above my table. I find that too much light coming from below is affects my shots. Fussy, I know!

Sunlight coming in directly through the window, is just too bright and harsh (Those ping pong balls will sting you!).

You have 3 options: weather, time, or diffuser.

So either you need to choose a cloudy day, a time of day where the sunlight is not bouncing directly in, or you need to "diffuse" the light. This entails sticking a piece of white cloth or some tracing paper over the window, to soften the blow of the light. (Do it properly, no short cuts, you don't want it to come falling down in the middle of your shot - I speak from experience!)  I emphasise white cloth because I've made the mistake of grabbing a slightly off-white cloth before and it does show in the colour of the photo!


Because of the light bounce, placing a white card on the opposite side to the light will reflect softer white light back into your shot, beautifully. This way you control the light. You can softly, subtly add some definition into your dark shadows. You can capture the light and aim it in different directions. Use different sized card for different purposes - bigger card - more light. Placing the card at different angles will cause the light to reflect differently. Straight up isn't always what you need! Try different angles. Move the card closer or further away. Try using a piece of card covered in gold foil for some warm light. Or a small mirror to add a zing of a highlight just where you want it.

Natural light is constantly changing and varying in intensity - There comes a heavy cloud, change all your settings, ready? Aim... Oops, now it's light. - Remember to constantly check your light reading and adjust it accordingly. I like to find something in my shot that's the same tone (lightness or darkness) as a mid-grey card would be. I keep aiming the camera there, to check whether the light has changed, between every shot. Subtle differences can make all the difference.

One final check: If the room is quite dark - are your house lights still on? Quickly switch them off! Otherwise you'll have mixed lighting - yellow or green casts that you just can't fix. Yuck yuck yuck!

Now you're ready.

Let me know in the comments below if you found this post useful. Do you have other ways of controlling light?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Pantone Colour Trends - Spring 2014

I'm not one to follow trends religiously - I'd much rather follow my own gut! But when a bunch of colour-fundis put together a delicious range of colours, why resist? You know you're going to see them all over the place - in fashion, in design and interior decor.  So when you have millions of colours to choose from, doesn't it make sense to narrow your choice down a bit? And these so speak to my gut, anyway! Using an existing colour palette like this one can be a fun starting point or very limiting challenge.

In my case it was a bit of both - fun, but not easy. The colours are generally quite soft, mostly cool, with a lot of purply hues. My eyes started to weigh up everything around me, just in terms of their colour. 
Here are some of the shots:

My favourite of the colours is the Cayenne! Which of them speaks to you? Give me your vote in the comments below.


(PS For you Southern Hemispherians or advance planners - You can find the Autumn colours in Pinterest here: Pantone Colour 2014 )

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Lemonade Syrup - Lemon and Blue for you!

You know that special homemade lemon syrup, that you only really get at farm stalls or markets? Well, this is one version - Wait, this month is all about colour, hey? Yes I know, but I got distracted, ok? Isn't it wonderful? 

I love blue and this is the specific blue that has traveled around with me everywhere, since I was a teenager. Ask my friends and they'll say : It's your blue of your blue and white kitchen. And it is! (I have this wonderful collection of blue and white bowls to match!)

Anyway, in the passed week,  I've had this urge to add yellow to my blue - blue and yellow pansies in my kitchen window, daffodils and blue flowers in the garden, lemons in my blue bowls - and then I saw a recipe for lemonade. See it DOES all make logical sense! 

So here's your colour boost, with a hint of lemon.

Quick&Simple Lemon Syrup. 

  • Really! 2 minutes squeezing + 5 minutes boiling = 7 minutes to YUM!
  • Kids can help - My daughter went singing through the house: "We made Lemonade!" (on repeat)
  • The most difficult part is choosing which empty wine bottle, you should wash out for the syrup.
You will need:
  • A simple plastic juicer (lemons are soft and squeeze easily)
  • A clean empty wine bottle with cork
  • A small pot
  • 5 lemons cut in half and ready to squeeze
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • 1/2 a cup of sugar (I used brown sugar, because it was all I had in the cupboard - probably why my syrup was slightly brown in colour)
  1. Squeeze your lemons and pour juice into the pot
  2. Add Water and Sugar
  3. Bring juice to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes
  4. Pour into chosen wine bottle, while warm. 
  5. Allow to cool and store in the fridge
Serving suggestions
  • Dilute with plain or sparkling water, and add ice
  • Dilute 1 to 10, or however you want to
  • Try adding fresh chopped mint leaves
Wallah! Done!
It doesn't make a huge amount. Probably about half a litre, which means that you'll have polished it off long before it ever has a chance to go off. No preservatives! Good old-fashioned good stuff.


Stitched Postcard Swap - CREATE

I got my postcard! I got my postcard! I am just SO special!

I have a Paula Joerling  original! She created my postcard with layers of snippets of paper, of text - lovely definitions of all the words relating to the postcard swop. Very clever! Somehow she's made all the paper melt together beautifully and then she stitched it together with the word Create. I love it!

Here it is:

I love the fact that the Great Stitched Postcard Swap, gets people to create something inspirational, and then give it away. It encourages a kind of random creative generosity. Throwing my postcard into the postbox was like tossing a message in a bottle, out to sea. (I hope it gets there in one piece.) I don't know the person I've sent it to, but hope that my message will bring her a little joy.

A friend of mine made me think recently : WHY I feel I need to inspire people to create stuff or just include creativity in their lives. My answer was that Creativity gives life flavour! I believe we all need a little of it in our lives and when so much emphasis is placed on logic and practicality and day to day slog, we sometimes forget to include that flavour, enjoyment part. I've received some lovely emails from people who are re-discovering their flavour.

So even if you didn't take part in the postcard swap, this year, I hope you're inspired to go out and make stuff, share a little bit of you with others, and enjoy it!

Just keep creating!

If you want to see what other creative people have done, creating their beautiful postcards, go to facebook here: Postcard swap and then click on Recent Posts by Others 

Lisa, from Australia also left me a comment - see her beautiful creation on her blog: Sprouting Creative Wings 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Choosing Colour

March is practically Spring in Europe, as far as I'm concerned. The last couple of months it's felt as if somebody put a sheet of tracing paper over the picture. The light has been flat, faded and the colour bland. But now, the paper is lifting. I have even seen a few buds of colour peeping out. There is a promise that there will be full colour and light again, soon.

So this month I choose :

I'm going to send you images filled with gorgeous colour! I want to make images where colour is practically more important than what's in the photos. I want to experiment with colour combinations and I want you to rediscover the joy of colour too!

Do you remember when you were a child and you were asked, "What's your favourite colour?"

Did you also hate that question? I found it so hard to answer, because there were so many beautiful colours and, and ... what if I changed my mind?! I chose blue at the time and blue has travelled along with me, in the background through the years. But in the foreground my favourite colour changes all the time! And it should! Colour love grows and changes according to the colour and energy you need in your life, at that time.

At the moment (that means today) I'm loving a coral red. See the flowers I couldn't resist at the local supermarket? The colour vibrates with so much warmth and energy. It's uplifting and bold. And when I occasionally take it a step further and wear my turquoise jewelry with my coral red shirt, I want to laugh at myself for the crazy beauty of it. I probably even look a bit crazy, but I hum with bright creative energy all day.

Living a colourful life, is about listening to your quiet voice of intuition and instinctively choosing colour that makes you feel good. Whether it be adding a bright fun scatter cushion to a room or adding a colourful scarf, necklace, shoes to your outfit, or it can simply be noticing, absorbing the colour around you. A splash of fun, delight, joy or peace.

In the masses of visual onslaught, we're exposed to daily, what colour speaks to you and shouts: "PICK ME! PICK ME!" louder than all the other colours? Which colour makes you smile? Is it a soothing grey-green or a delightful, fun lime? Do you need a light, airy blue or a full deep grape? Or is it just a happy-go-lucky yellow that's calling to you?

Do yourself a favour and listen to that voice! Next time you're window shopping, or paging through a magazine or fluttering. Pick your colour. Buy one thing - a bowl, a vase, a flower, a sheet of paper, a shirt - choose your colour and put it somewhere where you can see it, and it can make you smile, every day.

So? What colour are you naturally drawn to at the moment? How did you figure it out? And...? Did you get something?