My Dad’s challenge this week was simply ‘music’. So I turned to my violin which, I hate to admit, has been neglected in the last few months so it was nice to give it some attention!

I wanted to create a slightly more abstract photograph, so experimented with close up shots of various elements of the instrument. Eventually I went for this shot, focusing on the bridge in the foreground but giving a glimpse of the rest of the instrument into the distance. I created two layers with the top layer black and white, and the bottom layer remaining in colour. I really like the subtle hint of the brown wood, while trying to preserve the atmosphere created by the black and white effect.




The title for my challenge this week was simply ‘winter’. I considered using one of my frosty early morning shots, but thought I’d challenge myself and experiment more with Photoshop Elements.

Today at work we were running a flower photography workshop led by Sue Bishop. I was able to listen to the initial presentation and picked up some ideas on how I can use Elements to enhance my photos, beyond just playing with the lighting! This led me back to one of the photos I took in the Cotswolds last weekend, that I thought had potential but I hadn’t quite captured this on the day. We were walking down to the village of Broadway and walked through a field of trees. With the winter sun and fairly barren land it was quite eerie.

I wanted to enhance this atmosphere and thought it would be the perfect time to try the Gaussin blur filter which Sue had mentioned in the course. I created two duplicate layers of my image, adding the blur to one layer and changing the opacity of the top layer to reveal just a hint of the very blurred image below. I quite like the effect it’s created, as you can see in the before and after shots below!

3 trees
Original image
Three trees_edited-1
Edited image

I also edited out the other tree stumps in the image as felt these distracted the eye, although not sure if this makes the 3 trees in the foreground look too “stuck on”.

Again I’d welcome any thoughts, comments and constructive criticism!



A weekend away

On Friday morning my boyfriend and I headed to London Paddington and boarded a train heading west. We had decided to escape the city for a long weekend in the Cotswolds, a part of the country we’d not been to before. It was wonderfully relaxing, our hotel offered a retreat in the middle of beautiful countryside. We even tried our hand at archery on Saturday morning! This was also the perfect opportunity to practise some more photography.

We were very lucky with the weather, and stunning sunsets allowed me the opportunity to experiment.

I particularly like the photograph above. However it is a shame that I didn’t manage to capture the top of the tree which is washed out by the sun. Any tips on how this could be avoided would be appreciated!

On Saturday we walked from our hotel to Broadway tower, the second-highest point in the Cotswolds. The approach to the tower offered some more opportunities.

Experimenting with colour and black and white. I think that I prefer the black and white in this case, it seems to make the tower more imposing.

From the top of the tower we were treated to some stunning views, which I did my best to capture. The winter sun was so bright it was difficult to get the light and exposure correct, I think the shot below is my most successful although still slightly washed out on the left hand side.

deerlow restowerlow res

I particularly like the line of frost in the shadow of the tower in the photograph above!


sheep 1low res

We also made some friends along the way …

After viewing the tower and the views it offered we started the descent into Broadway, a small village often referred to as the jewel of the Cotswolds. I think that I’ve captured a small part of its beauty and charm below.

street low res

A few more shots from the weekend:

morning frostlow resA frosty morning, and our view from the room!


sheep 2low res

Sheep being sorted!

big skieslow res

horseslow res

I’m not very confident at landscape photography, and it is difficult to capture such stunning vistas and to know which settings will best capture them. But it was fun trying!

Any comments on how I could improve are very welcome.


My second challenge from my Dad was ‘Triangles’.

I puzzled over this for a few days. But then on my way home on Tuesday I walked past Albert Bridge and loved how the lights stood out against the clear night sky. I also noticed the shapes created by the structure …

So here is my photograph for this weeks challenge: Triangles.

I did a few more edits on photoshop this time, so will be intrigued to hear any comments!


My commute with a camera …

When the weather’s in my favour, I have a wonderful commute. A 45 minute walk along the river! So this evening I decided to make some stops along the way and try my hand at night-time photography. I wasn’t sure of the best settings so just used the Advanced SR Auto mode.

I also knew this would be a good time to take the photo for the first of my Dad’s weekly challenges, ‘2 minutes from home’.

Albert Bridge

I love this view, from Battersea Bridge looking at Albert Bridge (you can just about make out the Shard to the left). The two bright ‘stars’ are just planes starting their descent into Heathrow – I rarely see stars on my way home unfortunately. I’m not sure I’ve quite got the settings or post-production right with this image, the bridge is so bright it is hard to keep it focused and the overall image is a little blurry. Although I was bracing myself against the wind in the middle the bridge!


Another of my favourite views on my walk, the contrast between St Mary’s Church and the stark modern flats behind always catches my attention. There has been a church on the site since 800AD, and this particular building was completed in 1777. Photography wise, I think that this is a better shot than the bridge. The church is in focus although I think that the building to the right overpowers this slightly.

power station

This is Lot’s Road Power Station which used to power the London Underground is now being converted into flats and shops in a £1bn regeneration. Even in the 18 months I’ve had this daily journey, the riverside has changed drastically. There are always new flats going up, and an endless vista of cranes. Not that I can complain as I live in a 2 year old building in a regeneration of an area in Wandsworth. But it does seem a shame that this oddly beautiful industrial building will soon be swamped in glass and surrounded by new towers. Not a great image though … I’ll have to try again once I pick up more tips!


Finally this will be the photo I send my Dad! Although it’s probably 7 minutes from home (shh). I’ll wait to see what he thinks …

If anyone has any tips on how I could have improved any of these photographs, or on night-time photography in general, please do leave a comment!

If you go down to the woods today

On New Year’s Eve my Dad and I headed into the woods to take some photos! My Dad is a keen photographer, and has an ever-expanding collection of cameras. He is also a member of Selsdon Camera Club, so he is often looking for new subject matter for their competitions. The plan was for him to teach me a bit more about the technical aspects of photography, and to help me get my head around aperture, shutter speed and ISO.


I don’t have a particularly mathematical brain so I am finding it quite hard to get my head around the balance between these three elements and how this affects a photograph. I mainly focused on changing either the shutter speed or the aperture in the settings, which then automatically adjust the other elements.

Firstly I experimented with shutter speed, finding a spot in the woods that looked onto a road. This was a good way for me to see how changing the shutter speed affects how moving objects are captured. With the van I had set the shutter speed too short, so it has frozen the motion of the van. Trying a second time with the car I altered the shutter speed so that the shutter was open for longer therefore showing the motion of the car.

Then I experimented with aperture and how this affects the parts of the photo which are in focus.

In the image on the left I have deep depth of field and in the image on the right I have a small depth of field which has only focused on the moss with the background blurry. Although I’m not convinced the moss is entirely in focus.

I also experiemented with aperture when taking the photos below.

mossmoss 2

However on the image above the focus is on the dried leaf in the left hand corner which is not what I had intended!

My camera automatically sets the ISO, so I have left that alone for now. Although my Dad has suggested I borrow one of his film cameras where the ISO is fixed, so I’d need to make sure I’m setting the aperture and shutter speed correctly.

I also had a lot of fun experimenting! Some of these worked, I think, and others were not quite so successful.

All this, I imagine, is very simplistic for advanced photographers. So if anyone has any advice for how I can better understand aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and the affect of these on images, I’d really appreciate it.

I’ve also been given my first photography challenge of 2016, the topic is ‘2 minutes from home’. So I’ll be wandering around outside my flat over the next week looking for inspiration!