My first post of the year

I don’t know what to call this post as i haven’t written anything here for a while, it’s not that i haven’t been busy I’ve just been busy in a different way. I have had a difficult working year up until now, nothing seems to have gone right and at every turn i seem to have been hindered in one way or another and not able to make my art.

I have been battling with ill health for many years now, i have fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis among other things which have both got to a point where i have struggled with every day life. The arthritis in my hip had become so bad that just to walk i was taking morphine and paracetamol to get me through it. I have a great Doctor, she helps me so much and we both decided that we had to do something about the hip, she told me about the prerequisites for having the hip joint replaced and armed with multiple leaflets i went home to talk it through with my family. We would need to put a lot of thought into it as i am a carer for my mum who has cancer and i am the only driver in the house, the one who gets everyone everywhere on time. There is a lot resting on my shoulders that would have to be delegated carefully to others.

One thing on the list for the hip replacement was weight, body mass, i hold my hands up and can say that yes Chris and i have let things slip a bit, ill health and medication with side effects of weight gain weren’t helping me and i was told i needed to loose weight.

 

I guess in my heart i new that this year was going to be the year things had to change, i looked deep inside and new that i couldn’t go on with the way things were and made a pact with myself that i would do everything possible to fix my hip. I committed to loosing weight to take the strain off my joints and so far have lost over 2 stone and dragged Chris in with me which has been good for him too.

At the beginning of April i went in for surgery and had a total hip replacement. I was a model patient, did everything i was asked to the best of my abilities and pain threshold, which wasn’t easy i can tell you! Now at home i am forced to sit quietly with my feet up wearing the most ridiculous white pressure stockings, taking many short walks throughout the day. I am healing  incredibly quickly and recovering well but oh am i bored!

 

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Chester Arts Fair

 

November is the start of the truly busy time for craft fairs, artisan markets and most notably for myself, the Chester Arts Fair. This will be my third outing with a Deepbridge sponsored arts fair and hand on heart i have to say i just love them. You are guaranteed a very healthy footfall, fabulous art work from truly great artists who are all very friendly and you are guaranteed to find something to buy at reasonable prices. If you fancy visiting, Christmas gifts and all that, i have added a ticket to my Facebook page that you can download for free and this will give you free entrance in to the Arts Fair.

 

 

chester, arts, fair, grey, friars, tickets, complimentary, deepbridge, blackmango, spikeymouse

Chester Art Fair

Dipping your big toe into the Craft Fair pond is ok if you are prepared to put in the time and money, stand behind a table all day and not make any where near enough to live on. I have dipped my big toe in the Craft Fair pond, found the traders very friendly but the shoppers very tight with their money.

I have 2 VIP tickets and 10 weekend tickets for those who REBLOG this post. Good luck.
If you are trying to make a living out of your art it is quite disheartening when shopper after shopper looks through your work, has a chat and then walks away empty handed, no matter how hard you try to sell them one of your fabulous photos. Looking around there are various options open to you, give up, carry on as you are, look for exhibition space or go for bigger more prestigious art fairs.
I decided to ‘have a go’ at the Liverpool Contemporary Art Fair, nestled among the galleries and established artists from all over the world and it was great! As it is a ticketed event you knew that who ever stopped by your stand was actually in the market for some new wall art and had the ready cash burning a hole in their wallets. The fair prints the tickets, has the website, hires the space and stands, invites the VIP’s and you use your social media to advertise and turn up.
That’s why we decided to do another and signed up for the Chester Art Fair.walking on water
Deepbridge_Arts_Fairs_Chester_2015_
Chester Arts Fair

Liverpool Contemporary Art Fair

dazzle shipArt Lovers,

Liverpool Contemporary is nearly upon us! Opening Saturday 26th June, no where else in the North West will you see such a large collection of contemporary and affordable art to view and buy. Entry is free all weekend so pop in to the Royal Liver Building and browse from our range of visual art, sculpture, glass work, ceramics and photography.

Here below are the best 6 reasons to visit the Liverpool Contemporary this weekend:-
Affordable Art for Everyone
The Liverpool Contemporary is the perfect opportunity to purchase artwork that you love and which inspires you, ranging from £40.00 – £10,000 plus.
World Exclusive Collection by L.S Lowry
For art enthusiasts, a £3 million collection by the much loved British Painter L.S Lowry will be on display with paintings never before seen in the UK.
Live Demonstrations and Artist Workshops
A full programme of live demonstrations by leading UK Artists will be running all day Saturday and Sunday. Starting at 11am and finishing at 4pm, make the most of your trip to the Fair and watch the artists in action.
Exclusive Darren Baker Collection
Leading Hyper Realism Artist, Darren is the official artist to the Professional Footballer’s Association, the 2012 Olympic Games and this year’s Ashes. A stunning collection, you wouldn’t want to miss out.
Located in the Prestigious Royal Liver Building
Taking place in the Royal Liver Building on the Waterfront, this magnificent building is an iconic symbol of Liverpool making it the perfect place to display such beautiful pieces of art.
Children’s Area and Café
Fun for all the family, our children’s area offers a range of arts and crafts activities for your budding artists, and don’t forget to visit our cafe area serving up hot and cold refreshments throughout the weekend.
You can download your tickets here https://gallery.mailchimp.com/d46ae5305f2d2b93309481b7d/files/complimetary_newsletter_ticket.pdf
or here
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/liverpool-contemporary-arts-fair-2015-tickets-14896302241

Wanderings with Chris ……Hoylake is enjoying the Open Golf, again!

Eight years ago the Open Golf came to The Wirral, we had money thrown at us to improve Hoylake, which they did really well but it didn’t go all the way through it just kind of stopped up by the Anchor, still Hoylake was left looking pretty. We had thousands of bodies and their cars visiting and they were neatly parked in massive carparks and shuttled in and out. They (quite a few but not all) visited our pubs and wine bars leaving behind their money and going home with great impressions and wonderful memories and we are doing it all over again this month. We have Tigers, McIlroys, Scotts, players from all over the world and they have brought their caddies, managers, families and goodness knows how many other people all geared up to make their week go without a hitch. http://www.royal-liverpool-golf.com/ Our hotels and guest houses are full and if you wander down Market St after 8pm you can hear people commenting on how it feels like you are in a foreign country as there is such a great holiday atmosphere.
During July we have also held Hoylake’s festival of firsts, a fortnight of entertainment and art, the shops, pubs and bars have local poetry and art in their windows and on their walls, which add’s to the great feel of excitement in Hoylake. Thursday was the first day of the Open and i went to Hoylake with Chris to say Hi to our artist friends manning their art stalls hoping to sell their art to the milling hordes. There were plenty of hordes and some selling of art but i was more interested in the movement of Hoylake, the people and the change of pace. People pored from the golf club, jumped on buses and trains or headed for the pubs and bars, they spilled out over the pavements onto the grass and laughed and joked and drank. Prime opportunity for some great street photography.

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We wandered along Market St slowly, chatting to people we know, stopping and sitting drinking in the atmosphere and taking photos of the people doing the same as us. Along the way we walked past Jill’s Cookshop where i have several photographs entered into the Festival of Firsts art competition, in the window is the Lighthouse at Fort Perch and underneath it is….. a Silver award!!! 🙂 Way to go me! and congratulations to all of the others awarded.
fort perch lighthouse
Of course we were really excited and whenever anyone went to look in the shop window Chris would dash over and tell them that i took the photo, i think he is rather proud of me. After we hung out and chatted and took loads of photos we drove down to the promenade and drove along to the RNLI station just in time for a beautiful sunset, a great time to take some photos of the Grace Darling sculpture.

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The sister to the Black Pearl in New Brighton. We watched the sun go down together then headed home to replace the hustle and bustle of Market St with the hustle and bustle of family life. (Read BEDTIME) We have two more days of the golf and then weeks of getting everywhere back to normal again. I hope they bring the Open back to Hoylake eventually it is an amazing event and an amazing opportunity for Hoylake and the Wirral.

What makes an image?

A good question. Does it mean, what is in the image, who took it, what did they take the image with, how did they process the image or how did they ‘see’ the image?

My secret, ‘shhh’ is that i ‘see’ the image i want to create, only in my head. I think it stems from art college and being told to ‘see’ the image i wanted to either draw or paint. So this means i have to travel around the Wirral, where i live, trying to ‘find’ my image. Once it is ‘found’ i then set about recreating the image from my mind and i may do this by ‘bracketing’ my exposures and using photomatix to merge the images or waiting for the ‘right’ kind of weather conditions. There may be a bit of post production using photoshop, or not. I use a Nikon D3100, so i manually bracket the exposures, occasionally i may get a good image with my phone camera, they do go through photoshop as they are generally either over or under exposed.

I feel sometimes that unless you are a ‘name’ then it doesn’t matter how good your images are and its a kind of snobbery, if you haven’t had the exposure and your name isn’t known then no one will take a chance and say ‘ well hey, actually this image is pretty good!’ This is a shame as there are plenty of unknown’s out there waiting to make their ‘name,’ its such a slow process.

Here are two images of the same lighthouse, can you tell which is the bracketed image and which not?

Image

Image

I want to be able to recreate the image my eye see’s rather than just a flat replica of what is in front of me, so i have been experimenting with what makes an image and i have decided that i ‘like’ the end result of ‘bracketing’ exposure’s and combining the images. The images seem more alive, they have more depth, so for me, at the moment, what makes an image? is best answered as ‘being able to see the image, using exposure bracketing and then combining the images together with photomatix and a little bit of photoshop too.’  It’s a bit more complicated than just point and shoot but i think it is so worth my while. I just wish people would buy my work!

If you are interested in bracketing exposures and how it works, this is a great article.                       http://www.thephotoargus.com/101/how-to-use-bracketing-in-your-photography/

An experiment with ISO

Today the house is quiet, (apart from the plumber as we are having a new bathroom installed) so i decided to have an experiment with the ISO settings on my camera. I have an image in my mind that i am working towards, i think i need more experience behind the camera before it will come out, please keep in mind i have only been using a digital camera for the past 10 months, so i have been taking bracketed photos of my hearth at different ISO to see what would happen. (I do know, i just want to SEE it)
So for those in the know, skip this part or add your own comments. What is ISO? Not to make me look stupid i went to http://www.geek.com/digital-camera-buyers-guide/iso/ and asked them. Their reply was ‘Simply put, ISO is the measurement of a camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO number the more sensitive the sensor is. A higher ISO number means that a camera will be able to shoot images in conditions with less light. ‘ But we know that a high ISO means noise BUT can that noise be useful in a photograph or not? Below i have five photos of my hearth each bracketed to a correct exposure, -2, +2 and using a different ISO setting. I then loaded them into photomatix and used the tone mapping and creative button.

This image is at 100ISO

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image is at 200ISO

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image is at 400ISO

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image is at 800ISO

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this image is at 1600ISO

 

 

 

 

 

 

The images become more and more ‘noisy’ especially in the blacks, so i guess that is why we always use 100ISO if possible!

I used tonemapping as i want to get as close to the image that our eye see’s as possible, this is why i am experimenting, i want to be able to produce HDR images that look like the real deal, not something thats been tinkered with in photoshop. I think i am getting there, i know that at some point i will need to update my camera for one that automatically brackets the exposures as you do get movement when you do it manually. But for know i am content to experiment and hone my skill with what i have.

Finding the flavors of Autumn

Sunday and Chris and I are off driving around Wirral on a lovely sunny day, we wanted to find the flavors of Autumn, the colour, the crispness, the floaty leaves, the beautiful reflections. Cough cough, can someone tell the trees in Wirral its time!
We went to Rabymere, its owned by the Angling Society people so you cant walk around it and anyway the trees were still green, we went to Dibbinsdale Nature Reserve, green trees, we went to Portsunlight in Bromborough, better but not great, we went to Caldy (mega rich big houses, i could tell you its where my Dad grew up but the wrong impression would be gained. He did grow up there but was the gardeners son 😉 ) We went to Arrowe Park which was also ok. BUT not what i wanted. Am i too early for autumnal colour? Will it happen or is it going to be a ‘damp squib’, come on trees put on your Autumnal shades, Canada and America will not outdo us! anyway i can’t afford to go there just now. I think i will leave it a little longer and try again, you never know it may be we are just having a late Autumn.
If that is so, one thing, why are the trees alongside the roads changing colour? Pollution?


Escaping the mad house

I had an urge to escape the mad house i call home, i craved the peace and quiet of my own company, a letting go of the responsibility of  being a wife, mother, carer. So i grabbed my camera and my new tripod, the other one fell to pieces after only a few months. Side line, i bought a Manfrotto tripod which is pretty neat. And i headed down to Gilroy Rd nature reserve.

Over the last 12 months or so i have been photographing specific scenes there, a gate which i find fascinating, a stand of trees, the pond, all at different times of the year and using varying techniques.  The sun was shining and it was a lovely day, not overly hot or cold either, the sky was a deep blue and the clouds interesting shapes, how i was looking forward to solitude and my own company. First up was the gate, i had decided to try a multiple exposure HDR  technique as i was pretty sure it would look really great and just as i am setting up for the shot, well lets just say all of the dogs on my side of the Wirral decided to take their owners for a walk. I HATE taking photos when people are watching me, i feel like my privacy is being violated, so i waited and taking my time took the shot, sounds like a cereal killer 😉

I dont know about anyone else but when i am in photographer mode i look at things in a different way, all of a sudden even the smallest of things took on a different view and i was quickly taking  photos of anything that took my eye. I wandered down paths and around bends stopping at interesting views and looking at the wildlife flashing past too fast for me to photograph. I was so enjoying the peace and tranquility that i was very startled when a young lad walked around the bend in the path carrying his fishing gear, nearly tripping over me as i am kneeling down, butt up, trying to focus my camera. I dont know who was more embarrassed, me or him! It turns out a dozen lads had decided that the day was too good to waste on computer games and thought it a good idea to fish the pond, even though they know, im sure, that the pond is a no fishing pond. Still, they were not disturbing anyone other than the fish and i dont think they were all that successful anyway.

Several wonderful hours later i wandered back home to my responsibilities again, i felt so much better after my ME time and i knew i had several good shots, i only had to pries my laptop from a childs hot sweaty hands and i could transfer them off my memory card and ooh and ahh over the images.   I decided to use photomatix to merge the images and photoshop to tweak them, its an ongoing thing but i am very happy with what i got out of the afternoon. Below is a sample of my work, there are other images on my flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/klawrenceuk/ if you want to see them through the year, I hope you enjoy them, if you do, or not, please leave a comment.

A chance find on youtube and Photomatix Pro is my new toy.

On Monday i dragged my poor husband Chris (clawfish) down to New Brighton. Why? Because we had the most fantastic high tide at mid day combined with high winds, sunshine and beautiful cloudy sky’s.  I have recently stumbled upon a youtube video of a guy teaching a group of photographers how to make HDR photos in Photomatix Pro. I have been using photoshop and the HDR tool in that program, however i was not getting the results that i wanted.  I wanted outstanding images, i know you need great images to start with and i knew i could get those but how would i get the finished image that i craved. And then along comes BHphotovideopro and shows me in a short video what i needed to do.     So taking my poor husband, my Nikon D3100, which i have just discovered does not take bracketed exposures :(, and my tripod we headed off down to Fort Perch lighthouse knowing we would come home with some great images. What we didnt realise was that we would also come home covered in sand, froth from the water and with totally windswept hair.(Well me not Chris, he is a bit follicly challenged, sorry Chris.)  I was so excited to load the pictures onto my laptop. I shot in raw as i believe this is the optimum for your images, opened them in Photoshop Bridge and was really pleased at my results. I chose the three images i needed, loaded them into Photomatix Pro and let it do its thing. A couple of the images came out, well wonky but I got six images that i am so pleased with, i know they need some work in Photoshop but until i figure what to do with them, then they are the best HDR images i own. I have shared them on facebook and twitter and had a lot of views and likes, one thing bothers the hell out of me though, why doesn’t anyone comment on them! How do you learn if no one tells you their opinions on what you produce. I would love to hear what they think and feel i am grown up enough not to be gutted when the idiot tells me he can do better than me, lol. So, if you have a comment, can give me constructive advice, i will appreciate it, give it a go and if it works, great. If you dont like my work tough! Its my style, my take on the genre and really i am the only one who has to be proud of what i produce.  Take a look at the images, feast your eyes on the wonder of New Brighton beach and please, let me know what you think. Thanks. x