Sunday, 20 April 2014

More Spring Flowers - Shrubbery

About 4 or 5 weeks ago at the beginning of March, I posted a few photos of some early flowers in my garden. I do it every year, its always the same flowers but I still take more photos - maybe one year I will get a definitive shot and be satisfied.

Now it is the turn of the flowering shrubs, the daffodils have come and gone and the tulips are looking sorry for themselved and the bluebells and their cousins the whitebells are coming to the end of their flowering season. But the forsythia, japanese quince and magnolia stellata have come into their own.

 Beautiful red blooms on the japanese quince

 the startling yellow flowers of the forsythia
(last years trimmed shoots look sorry though)

A corner near the bottom of my garden, the two shrubs
I have shown above, with the magnolia between them.

The magnolia is just coming into flower in this shot, and guess who forgot to go back and take a close-up of that bush. A little too late now as it is past its best. But the Eonymous (variegated leaves and later on white flowers), right at the bottom is coming along strongly. You can just see a remnant of my vegetable garden in this shot as well. I still have one rhubarb crown which feeds us without taking over the freezer these days.

I have started the work which needs to be done in the garden, yesterday I was painting the sheds. Last week I mowed the lawns and now they will need it everyweek. And I have been vainly trying to stop a bamboo from colonising my stream-bed - a never ending task. Ah well, We enjoy it, don't we?

Monday, 31 March 2014

Have You Discovered The Usefulness of Blend Modes On Photoshop?

I guess most old hands on Photoshop will know all about Blend Modes. But I have used it for a couple of years and never really touched these useful  tools. I would not class myself as an expert but I thought I could do most things I needed with other tools.

Today however I finally found a book which explains what they do and how to use them. I have been playing with these for a while since returning home and thought I would post a few of the results. I have yet to really get to know them but at least I have an idea of what they will do - or at least some of them. I will be working on getting a better understanding and maybe pass some of my learning on in this blog.

So lets take a simple photograph of Kennilworth Castle, it leaves a lot to be desired; quite flat and little contrast / colour even though the day was reasonably sunny.



Now after copying the background to provide a second layer (drag background to the new layer icon) select the blend mode for the new layer and choose overlay.


The result is a much more lively image.



Now this could be have been achieved by using the IMAGE/ADJUST/ ... menu and going through the brightness/contrast and maybe compensating for colour; but it will take much longer.

Now without giving any details, here are a few effects (I will give the blend mode of the copied layer. All were done in a similar manner. Again, there are many ways of achieving the same thing in PS; use whichever works for you but I know I have found these to be very useful.


Here I used vivid light mode, the shadows are rather deep but good for effect.





Exlusion mode was used here, although other edits were made to the image as well.




This was a combination of effects, so I am not going to name just one of them.


I have enjoyed playing with these effects, and as I said may post some other results of my plaaying around with them. Definitely adds another string to the photographers bow.

Oh, for the record, the book I am referring to is PHOTOSHOP Blending Modes Cookery Book by John Beardsworth published by ILEX Digital Studio. I have no affiliate connections with the author or publisher.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Visit To Whitlenge Gardens near Droitwich

Another promising day - another garden visit, this time to Whitlenge Gardens. This garden is a show garden for a garden design company. We were a little disappointed with the weather as it's promise was not upheld; and after we had had some lunch in a wonderful tea-room the rain started coming down in buckets.

Not to be outdone however, we fetched our brollies from the car and paid for a look around, as it is still early in the year we knew there would not be too many plants and we could enjoy the architechtural features and water features. A few things had been added for the youngsters since our last visit.


There are many water features around the gardens, this Green Man feature shows just waht can be achieved in a small area.


This log bridge separates two areas of the garden. From water features, fountains and bubblers you arrive at Hobbiton, with a hobbit burrow in this bank - I do believe it was not real grass growing there however.


Another bubbling water feature which reflects one of the three labrynths near the back of the garden. One of these is a simple path with the path laid out with pebbles at the edges. Very simple and easy to do. In the centre of this labrynth were three standing stones as in the water feature. each stone was 3-4 feeet high. From the labrynths there was a splenin view across the adjacent countryside.


I want to include one other shot in this post, I edited a photo of a stone built folly and a statue from the hobbit area which I think was supposed to be Gandalf. I have used this as part of a collection which I am building for inspiration to write my first novel, a fantasy.






There were lots more photos, but maybe next time ...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Arrow Valley Country Park

This is a country park near Redditch, UK. A place which is so interesting when they wanted to create a calendar, they used photos of the roundabouts in the town. (no affiliation)

But it does have some interesting places of interest if you look hard. The Arrow Valley country park is one of these. Last week, making use of the sun to enjoy a walk around the main lake, I took a few photos as we walked around. It is a pleasant walk mostly on tarmaced surfaces so it is easy and flat so that all ages can enjoy some pleasant exercise.

Here are one or two images from this collection:-


It was a lovely sunny day, seeing a few whispy clouds made me want to take this shot. No I don't know what the clouds are called, but tell me if you do.


The sailing club was inactive, waiting for the summer and better weather I expect.


There were lots of water fowl around but although I took lots of shots of the birds, I thought this one of the noticeboard was my favourite. There are spots for fishing all around the lake but this one spot has a deck built for the kiddies (of all ages) to get close up to the birds in safety.


Turning your back on the lake presents a number of shots of undergrowth and "country" subjects. I loved the small bridges over the streams running through the park.

See you again with some shots with "fantasy" subjects next time.

Monday, 17 March 2014

A Vist To Hanbury Hall

Taking an opportunity whilst the weather has suddenly turned to spring, I took my camera along on a trip to the National Trust property, Hanbury Hall.

There are plenty of shots of the grounds and property on the NT site (above) so I have chosen some more unlikely subjects.


OK, an apple orchard is pretty normal. But this was spring and there were lots of apples lying under many of the trees. As I walked through the orchard the smell of fermenting apples was just like being in a cider brewery - which I have also visited in the past. In fact it was Westons Cider Mill in Herefordshire.


Unfortnately, it looked as though the grounds at Hanbury Hall had suffered the loss of a large number of mature trees in the extreme weather that we have seen this year. This one had seen the chain saws and was waiting for disposal. not a pretty site but I found it interesting enough to take this shot.


At the side of the remains of the trunk, there was a pile of pieces which have been cut up and probably waiting to be used as firewood, The shadow is of course myself.

Hoping that the weather men are right about this great weather lasting for several weeks.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Springtime And The Garden Blooms ...

Well almost, but with the excellent spring weather we are finally seeing there is some movement on the flowering front in my garden. Daffodils and primula are in evidence but many others especially the early flowering shrubs are in bud and willl be flowering very soon. A couple of early risers in my garden are The hellebore, commonly known as the christmas rose because it flowers so early...






I love this colour, and the pieris ...





such a delicate flower. Of course after these white flowers we shall see the wonderful red new leaf bracts forming which give the plant its nickname of the flamebush.

I am always in the garden with my camera and each year I follow the different plants through their flowering cycles, in fact I have written two Squidoo articles about this topic. You can find them:-

1.  A virtual tour of my garden

2. Ten favourite red flowers for your garden

But Spring is a wonderful time for the gardener and photographer, although so I guess are the other seasons each has its own charm. Enjoy your garden.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Snow Wars - SLR digital photograph published

Published, my son has just had one of his photographs published in the April copy of Digital SLR Magazine.

My son is really the photographer in the family, My interest is a passing one, related to my art/painting really but he is quite serious about it. This represents quite an accolade and is important for him. He did also get one of his photographs published in Our local newspaper The Solihull Times, This was a landscape taken at a local beauty spot.

The photograph in question was of a group of toy (Lego) Star Wars figures in a snow storm. The snow was actually flour, ordinary plain flour. Neat idea really!






This photo also got over 1000 views on Flickr, something I would give my back teeth for