How did I name Spikey Mouse Photography?

I am often asked how I came up with ‘spikey mouse photography‘ for my business, I have to admit that it is all thanks to a boy called Ben who wanted to buy his mum a birthday present. Ben is my eldest son and one day when he was out with his grandmother he decided that he was going to buy me a present for my birthday, I think he was around 3 or 4 years old at the time. They finally came up with a ceramic ‘Hedgie’ hedgehog and Ben has been buying me 2 or 3 of them a year ever since. It is an understatement to say that I now have quite a collection and when I was naming my new business adventure everyone suggested using ‘Hedgehog’ but I wanted something a little different and found that in Bengali Hedgehog was spikey mouse and a business was born! Strange how things happen, I have a great and memorable company name and am reminded every business day of my little boy Ben and my lovely Mum who has sadly passed away now. Ben is now a grown man and a father himself and is really happy I chose to use him as my muse, thank you Ben. x

You are NEVER too old to learn!

Way back in the day, when home computers started to be the ‘thing’ i was lucky enough to be gifted a ‘home computer.’ People these days just dont realise that once upon a time we didn’t actually have ‘computers’ as such, not like now when nearly every home has at least one and people work mostly on line on computers at the moment because of Covid 19. We were lucky, my brother-in-law gave us the old computer from work which was a Compaq, it used ‘floppy disks’ and the RAM was 64K and the memory an impressive 512KB. No one knew how to use them so when things went wrong they stayed wrong until you found out how to fix it and you couldn’t just ask Google! The next computer which we bought was a Medion with a Pentium 3 processor and Internet! Dial up 56kbs netgear modem and emails through AOL, oh the luxury 😉 That’s when i got the bug and started to learn, taking course after course and buying software through Serif, mastering that and after several computer upgrades, Adobe Photoshop.

I taught myself how to use Photoshop when i bought my first digital camera, a Canon Powershot and then a Minolta bridge camera and as i have worked through PC’s, Laptops, cameras and versions of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, i have picked up more and more knowledge, mostly thanks to good old Google. But i knew something was lacking and as i am always eager to learn new things i jumped straight in when i had an email from Dave Cross inviting me to his virtual Lightroom Summit. Five days of Lr goodness and most importantly for me, learning about gradient filters and editing goodness! It has made me look at my images in a different way and has given me more tools to use when editing them, the hard part is not going too mad with the editing, i have a style that i want to keep, i just want to refine it.

  • at the end of the the wirral peninsula sits the fort perch lighthouse, standing in the evening light guarding the mouth of the river mersey as the irish sea rages around it.

I’m not sure if your one too but i’m a use it or loose it kind of person so end up writing things in books so i can go back to them, writing it down helps it stick, so now i find myself sitting at my computer all day, bang goes the housework, out go the dog walks, someone else can do the cooking i’m on the computer! I am creating a workflow in Lr that i didn’t have before and i really like it, it makes it so easy to find the images you like in among all of the thousands in my catalog, so i’m creating again but i’m also kind of appalled at how few photographs i have taken over the last 18 months! :0

This year i have taken to taking my camera with me when i walk my dog Storm but i walk the same places, see the same views that I’ve seen and photographed over the last 12 years and i have itchy feet. I want to go places and photograph new landscapes but SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE and i want peace and quiet not hordes of people escaping after lockdown 3.0. Can you feel my frustration? So i’m staying at home, ignoring the housework, the cobwebs and the young adults that always want feeding at a different time to me and i am putting my head down to learn. Lightroom is first then its Photoshop with maybe a little bit more about techniques using my camera and most deffinatley more about filter systems and ND filters. 2021 is most deffinatley my year of learning.

New Work

Finally, after how long? I’ve broken the back of my creative drought! It’s taken long enough and i have had to battle long and hard to break through but I’ve actually made new work. Mind you it was a battle to get the camera out, so i have been leaving my bag by the side of my chair in the hopes that it would make me go out. It has kind of worked, i have sat and watched countless sunsets while wishing i had the energy to move and when i have moved the sunsets been terrible! Murphy’s law i suppose. I’ve taken to walking the dog with my camera, he still uses his lead 😉 and the camera gets in the way but i HAVE used it and have started to experiment with filters too.

Fort Perch Lighthouse

The craft fairs are starting again now, I’ve a bit of a conundrum as i’m in a bit of a catch 22 situation, I need money to make money and unfortunately have missed out on a three day fair over the Bank holiday due to lack of funds. It is so very frustrating! I also need to print new work as I’m fast selling out of the old stuff which is exciting as it will be great to see customers reactions to my new work. Looks like i will have to start skimming off the housekeeping money!

Just a reminder that the VAA International Open Exhibition is on until June 30th and there is still plenty of time to visit the exhibition and voting is still open on the peoples choice award. My photograph ‘Formby Beach Pathway to the Sea’ is receiving plenty of views and hopefully plenty of votes, use the link to visit the exhibition and visit the Peoples Choice Award page here. There are over 250 amazing artists showing there work from all over the world and i am very proud to have a photograph in the exhibition.

Rule of Thirds anybody?

You know when you look at other peoples photos and you think ‘oh That’s Nice!’ And then you start to actually ‘read’ the photograph and you know they have nailed it, well have you ever wondered ‘Why’? Yes you probably have and then read it a little more and figured out why its so good, your not stupid! So this is for the ‘new to photography’ person and just so i can show off my photograph 😉

Rule of Thirds, probably one of the first things we learn in photography other than learning to take the lens cap off first! The art of breaking up your image into bite sized chunks three across and three down, like this.

Formby Beach Pathway to the Sea

The rule of thirds is the most well-known composition guideline. It helps draw the viewer’s eye into the image and places more emphasis on the subject. Ideally, the empty space that’s left should be in the direction the subject is looking or heading into and as you can see from my photograph, this draws your eye down the sand dune towards the water and creates a balanced image. You might like to activate the grid on the view finder of your camera to start with, many have it in the settings. Don’t forget you have the option to crop an image to position the important subject where you find it most pleasing. The Digital Photography School has a great tutorial which goes, step by step, through the Rule of Thirds and is well worth a read.

If you have made it through the babble this far, thank you! I would just like to tell you about the Visual Artists Association (VAA) International Open Exhibition which runs from April 12th 2021 until June 30th 2021, it goes live at 6pm. You will get the chance to see the work of over 250 international artists, myself included. I do hope you will click the link and brows through the art, there is a ‘Peoples Choice’ award where you can vote on your favorite piece. The photograph above ‘Formby Beach Pathway to the Sea’ was chosen to be included. Many thanks for making it this far, stay safe and wear a mask!

https://visual-artists.org/

Peoples Choice Award

The VAA International Open Exhibition has a PEOPLES CHOICE AWARD!

Will you vote for my photograph please? Its easy enough to do all you need to do is go to the website here and scroll down the page to the Peoples Choice Awards vote button, click the button and follow the page 3/4’s of the way down to KAREN LAWRENCE and click on my name, easy. It will also mean a lot to me, i am growing my ‘Tribe’ slowly, why not become a member and follow me on facebook, instagram linkedin. Be the first to know what i’m doing, where i’m going, what i’m publishing, where i’m selling, become a ‘Spike’ and share my journey and perhaps pick up a new piece of art on the way. Thank you.

Formby Beach, pathway to the sea.

VAA Online Art Exhibition

I finally found out which photograph has been accepted into the VAA Online Art Exhibition! Its only one of my most favorite images and just happens to hang on my living room wall! ‘Formby beach, pathway to the sea’. Taken back in 2012/3 i think, on a days respite with my husband Chris when we just got into our car and drove, something we love to do. We were wandering the sand dunes and happened on a gap down to the beach, so we went down it. It was quite a steep incline which was easy to get down and we were able to explore the beach taking numerous photos as we went. Upon closer inspection we realised the tide was actually coming in and quite quickly too so there was a bit of a mad dash back to where we had entered the beach, only to find it was easier to go down than it was to get up. Especially when your laughing at each other, it was literally two steps forward, one step back as the sand shifted under our feet but we made it in the end and i managed to capture this lovely image.

Formby Beach Pathway to the Sea

The exhibition is online and free, you just need to register here for your ticket and you should receive updates etc until the start of the exhibition on April 12th until June 30th 2021. All the work is for sale and is an opportunity to purchase art from up and coming artists and photographers.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-vaa-international-online-spring-exhibition-tickets-148780200585

Happy Spring Solstice!

Finally, We can now say we are headed towards summer, Happy Spring Solstice everyone. I am so looking forward to lighter nights, sunny days and warmth. Get the shorts out, go on a diet, get a tan line, woop woop!

Look what Google marked the solstice with, yes a Hedgehog.Its so cute.

I’ve spent the solstice putting new work onto my website I was supposed to be walking the dog but im sure Storm wont mind waiting until tomorrow for his long walk, he gets a long walk once a week the rest of the time he gets around 20 minutes and plenty of play which is more than enough. (Storm is an Alaskan Malamute, we thing he’s around 6/7 years old, we are his forever home after being through 6 homes in 5 years)

Cheeky half hour on Mum’s bed

Have a cheeky check on my Instagram, I’ve added new work there too, playing around with Polaroid film, my favorite!

Well its Good News……..

I wouldn’t say that this year (2021) was off to a good start with Covid and all, but and there is always a but, i have managed to do some pretty amazing things so far. So i had a look at the organisations who have been helping me business wise over the last 12 months and i have become a member of the Visual Artists Association and entered work into their International Art Exhibition which was accepted. It runs from 12th April until 30th June 2021 and i am so thrilled. I have also become a member of Independent Wirral, a chamber of commerce initiative to help small businesses on the Wirral and been awarded the ‘Good to go’ industry standard from Visit England which means i am now Covid friendly when i attend events. All i need are the events and we are good!

I’ve also managed to successfully go out photographing the shore line and i have made several new Polaroid images which i am very pleased about and maybe the best bit is, im going to be a granny again and its a boy! So with all that excitement i have also been able to book several new events over the next few months starting in April where i am going to be selling my art locally in Chemist and Co Hoylake, Wirral on Saturday the 17th. I also have several dates in May and June so far, i hope as we come out of lockdown there will be many more events to participate in, fingers crossed.

Not feeling the creativity …. But

Everyone is being told that during this lock down 3.0, we need to really look after our mental health, in fact for the past 12 months we have heard a lot about making sure we cater to our mental health needs. Exercise, fresh air, doing things you love to do but what happens when its travel that is your love? Nobody can go anywhere! Literally, we are stuck at home, so what can we do about it?

For me and i admit to suffering from depression, i read, i walk the dogs for my hours exercise every day, i try to be creative but there is a block there, spend time with my family, watch television, the usual stuff. I’ve been working on some portraits that i took last year, i cant publish them on social media yet as they were for a film that hasn’t been released yet and i have been contemplating.

With limited resources i have to be careful what i use my Polaroid film for, so i have been waiting for the right photograph to come around so i can transfer it to Polaroid film via my Polaroid Lab. Over Christmas i caught two images of light traces and decided to create an image with my Polaroid Lab. As soon as it was developed i opened the film and on the very back you could still faintly see the image left from the developing paste so i decided to frame both sides of the print in a deep black frame and im really pleased with the results! As soon as lock down is over im going to get them into Chemist and Co. this is the shop that stocks my Polaroid photography and hopefully they will get lots of attention.

Struggling with ways to boost my creativity i look through social media every day, read about what is going on in the world, watch documentaries, look at what my fellow artist friends are doing but for me the one big boost will be to travel again, nothing epic, just around England, even the mere thought of being able to travel whenever i want could be enough, i think it is the thought of freedom that excites. What do you do, how do you manage your mental health, do you have a creative block? Leave me a comment letting me know how your doing, we could start a dialogue and help each other, i think at this time kindness to each other is an essential dont you?

Back Focus

Is it Hockus Pocus?

Turns out no it’s real and my Nikon D7000 suffers from it. I’ve had my camera for years and have always found it to be reliable though i did wonder if i had a focusing problem because no matter how hard i tried, well, i did get shots where the focus wasn’t where i wanted it to be.

I haven’t used my Nikon for roughly 12 months, nothing like the previous few years. Depression and my carers roll stopped my creativity dead, I’ve dabbled a bit with Polaroid cameras but nothing has got my juices flowing enough for me to grab my camera and go. Until January 2021 and its full moon. I decided i wanted to photograph Liverpool waterfront with the moon rising overhead, so off i went, waited 2 hours in the freezing cold, took my shots, around 45 in total and when i looked at them in Adobe Lightroom they were ALL out of focus. Yes i used a tripod (Benro), yes i used a remote shutter button, yes i set my focus point, which is how i have come to the conclusion that i have a backfocus problem.

Here is also a nearly there focus, i hate missing opportunities like this!
This image of the Liver building should be tack sharp as normal but its all soft and just nearly focused, so disappointing.

There are plenty of videos and tutorials on how to attempt the fix so i wont go into it, i hope i have fixed the problem having re-calibrated all of my lenses, which when i finally figured it out was quite easy, now all i have to do is go and attempt another night shoot. Hello creativity and enthusiasm, where are you, im over hear! I can tell you with all seriousness that i was – – this close to selling all of my equipment and buying something else. Lets see what happens next time, maybe i will be selling it after all!

Running out of Gold Foil is not fun!

This is Me.

Well, i ran out of Gold Foil and on my shopping trip i bought, 100 sheets of Gold Foil, photographic spray mount, a pack of A3 foam board and half a dozen frames. Nice shopping list but what is it to do with you? Nothing, just making conversation. The project i have been not really giving my attention to keeps calling to me and every so often i will go and attempt to draw something from my stagnant creative heart. An exposure here an exposure there, maybe a deconstruction of some Polaroid film but im not really feeling it.

Anyway, i have a Polaroid Lab (on SALE now) and I’ve been taking photos on my phone whenever I’ve walked the dog, so throughout the Autumn (Fall) i have collected some really nice photos. This day i exposed a film on my Lab of a beautifully coloured leaf, the Lab is so easy to use, you have an app on your phone which allows you to do single images or up to nine images creating a beautiful collage, you open the app, select how many film you want to make up your collage, pop your phone image down on the Lab and press the big red button.

Deconstructing the film

Once i had my film exposed i had to wait around 10 minutes for it to develop full then i took it into the kitchen and deconstructed it. You slice the edges off with a sharp blade, cut the black strips that hold the film together and peel the backing off carefully. The developer is toxic so dont put your hands near your face and dont let it come into contact with anything edible.

Emulsion off the plastic front

You then pop the image into a dish of hot water and watch as the emulsion floats off the plastic front, this jelly like thing is the image you will then transfer into cold water and place onto a piece of watercolour paper. However, i didn’t do that this time, i left the image on the plastic front and played around putting Gold Leaf on to the back. (This is the bit where i ran out of Gold Leaf). So now i have this piece of film covered in gold and for the life of me i just dont know what to do with it next. Inspiration has left the building.

I feel such envy for those artists/photographers who are creating at the moment, the only thing i am doing is arguing over the rights to the photographs i took for someone as a favor. If you think you can help drop me a message in the comments. I feel conflicted, torn in different directions, do i have a go at hand making a photo book of my Polaroids, do i have a go at filming, just with my phone, do i spend the night over in Liverpool doing night photography, or forget my camera and just wallow in social media, go and learn something new on the internet? Its just push me pull me.

I’m sure im not the only person in a funk, 2020 has been the worst year ever which is an understatement. My mum passed away at the end of 2019 and we are coming up to the anniversary of her passing so that doesn’t help but i am grateful that i have not got troubles as bad as some. Lockdown eases on the 2nd December and the shops will open again, hopefully that will help with sales of my work, there are actual physical markets happening again, yippee, i miss talking to people about my work, oh yeah, Christmas is just around the corner. Turkey, mince pies, family, gifts, love and time together, maybe its time to forget about work and time to concentrate on family and myself, have a drink or three and just have a bit of fun!