Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - Kelsi Doscher Photography

One of things I love about Etsy is them team environments. It engenders a sense of community and support which is essential for that kind of endeavour. My favourite group is the Sneak Attack Team who surprise a new seller or three each week with a whole bunch of views, hearts, sales and love. Supporting budding shops is one of the best things you can do.

This is all a long way of getting around to today's Wednesday Heart, the new Etsy seller Kelsi Doscher Photography. Her photography is simply stunning.

Take this first image for example. Crisp, clear - a fantastic micro shot.

The colours and the pattern are what mostly drew me to this shot. I love images like this that encourage people to see the beauty in the small, often overlooked, things in the world.

Texture is an important part of the above shot, but it is what takes this next print from being just ordinary to absolutely stunning.

It's the ideal desert shot, it makes you thirsty just looking at it. The cracked, parched imagery just leaves me reaching for my hand cream. And I absolutely love the colours.

Lastly, there is this amazing black and white landscape:

The first thing that jumps out at me from this shot is the excellent composition. I love how the symetery works both vertically and horizontally. It's also a great example of black and white photography. The blacks and whites are sharp and distinct and there is no problem with pixellisation, something I sometimes struggle with.

Kelsi Dolcher Photography is one of those photographers who both inspires me on to greater quality photography and intimidates me a little with how professional her work is. She brings the unrecognised beauties of the natural world out into amazing works of art. Kelsi Dolcher Photography, you are my Wednesday Heart!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Great Photographs - Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange

It was 1936 and the US was in a time of great depression. Dorothea Lange was travelling the countryside with her husband, an economics professor studying the economic conditions. Dorothea, a trained photographer, would take pictures while her husband conducted interviews and provide them free to newspapers to highlight the depth of the problem the country was undergoing. After spotting this impoverished mother with her young children, and without much discussion on either side, Lange took a series of six pictures, the above, Migrant Mother, going on to symbolise the plight of the intransient and poor.

This photo was later identified as being a portrait of Florence Owens Thompson. a 32-year-old widow who earned 50 cents for every 100 pounds of cotton she picked. There is an interesting recorded interview with her that can be found here.

This image really demonstrates the power imbalance between photographer and subject. When asked about the image, which became hugely famous and contributed to Lange being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in photography, Florence Thompson is quoted as saying:

"I wish she hadn't taken my picture. I can't get a penny out of it. She didn't ask my name. She said she wouldn't sell the pictures. She said she'd send me a copy. She never did."

Lange's actions brought attention to a serious problem, and even prompted the Federal Goverment to send much needed aide to the area. The photograph took on a life of its own, drawing people in with it's stark reality. So should she be forgiven for taking advantage of Thompson? Is the greater good that she achieved worth the shame that the picture's popularity caused the children in it, who felt stigmatised as lower-class poor?

When Florence Thompson was ill and dying, a campaign was mounted to come to her aid and 2,000 letters arived bringing the family over $35,000 from people who had been uplifted and inspired by the portrait. Florence's son Troy said this:

"None of us ever really understood how deeply Mama’s photo affected people. I guess we had only looked at it from our perspective. For Mama and us, the photo had always been a bit of curse. After all those letters came in, I think it gave us a sense of pride."

You can find the entire series Lange shot of Thompson here. As an interesting contrast, here is a picture of of Thompson and her daughters taken many years after the depression had ended:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Canon Photo 5 Competition Finalists

That's right, another year and the Canon Photo 5 competition finalists list is woefully short of a me. However, what it's NOT short on is some absolutely fantastic talent! You can check out all the finalists here, but here are a couple of my choice picks. As this is a positive blog in general, I won't be featuring the ones I looked at and went "What the?? How did THAT beat me?" :-)

As I may have mentioned before, there were five briefs in this year's comp. The first one was close-ups of 100s and 1000s. Here is my favourite, the creepy Sprinkle Face by danielh:

The second brief was to capture an opaque liquid in motion. I never got around to shooting an image for this brief, though I had some cool ideas. This image is It Came From Above by ezzz:

Mostly I just love that the liquid is basically green slime and that it appears to start out of mid-air. Awesome :-)

The next brief was something called a Bokeh experiment. It makes lights appear as little stars. I couldn't make it work with my all-in-one camera though I'm not sure why. This is definitely something I will continue to experiment with in the future. Allyeska, the creator of this image, obviously figured it out better than I did:

Penultimately, there was the fantastic brief of a portrait of someone where somewhere in the image a pair of really cheesy black glasses had to appear. I am just in absolute awe of this Black, White and Read All Over by Bloto:

I mean, the reading theme was used in a lot of the entries, but this shot is just astounding. If it doesn't win it's category I will run rioting in the streets and set fire to some expensive luxury cars, all in the name of art.

And the fifth category was open this year to all and sundry and the theme was nearly black and very low-light photography. I actually had a hard time picking a favourite from this category as small imperfections in each image ruined it a little for me. Overall, the one that stuck with me that most and that I kept wanting to go back and look at again was She's Watching She by WillSpill:

I love the perspective and the atmosphere. I know the slight blurring around the face was unavoidable, and perhaps even intentional, but for me it's a detraction.

So, that's this year! I'll be interested to find out who actually wins, and I'm very much looking forward to competing again next year. I find it one of the best competitions in terms of taxing your creativity.

And don't forget to vote if you want someone to actually win!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How to get a Treasury Main on Etsy - The Treasury Hunt

It's finally happened! My very first Etsy Treasury Main!

It's crazy, when I first started on Etsy I had no real idea how to get a Treasury. I would show up and there would either be 800 treasuries or there would be 334, I'd keep refreshing to make sure I didn't miss the change and then suddenly there'd be 800 again! It was very, very frustrating. So, for Etsy newcomers and others who just enjoy hearing the sound of my writing voice, here are some tips to getting a Treasury on Etsy:

1) How do I know when??

I don't know how people used to do it, probably by judging the position of the moon at the equinox or something, but Craftopolis has taken all (well, most) of the hard work out of figuring out when your best shot of getting a Treasury is. Just go to and click on "Treasury Clock". It should be just to the right of the "Treasure Hunt" tab. This will tell you approximately when you should be heading over to Etsy to stake out your claim. When the needle hits the red, click on the timer and it will take you straight to the Treasury or Treasury West page!

A word of warning, this site does need some sort of flash player, so if you have an old school system you may not be able to use that aspect of the site.

2) Okay, now what?

So now you're on the Etsy Treasury page. The numbers say 334 or 336 or something like that. Just sit there and watch. This may take some time, so I recommend a crossword puzzle book. You'll need something you can focus on for short periods of time while continuously checking the numbers. There is a countdown timer but they can be inaccurate, especially when there are a lot of people on the site as there usually are when a Treasury is about to open up.

This is very important - Do Not Refresh or Reload! The Treasuries update automatically and you do not need to refresh. In fact, if you do you are far more likely to miss out. I live in Australia, so when I'm Treasury Hunting, I shut down all unessential internet applications to leave the line as free as possible. I don't know if that makes any different, but at least I feel like it does ^_^

3) How will I know when the Treasuries are open?

There will be no warning. The notice that the Treasury is full will just be replaced with this:

(Image from the Storque - they have a very interesting article on treasuries here)

Then all you need to do is type in your title and press create and congratulations, you have a treasury!

Note at this point that you cannot just create a Treasury and fill a title in later. It is an extremely good idea to have some idea of what your theme will be in advance so that you can very quickly type a title.

4) So - that's it?

Not quite. Then you will be faced with a screen that will ask you to put in all the items that you would like to display in your Treasury. As you will have already had a theme in mind (see above) it's likely that you will know what kind of images you want. If you want to be really organised, Etsy provide this excellent Treasury preparation tool which lets you put in items as practice and see how they look. It's fun to play around with even if you don't have a Treasury Hunt in mind.

I hope this helps some people avoid the frustrations and obstacles I struggled with when I joined Etsy! As I say, I now am the joyful owner of my very own Treasury Main.

Happy Hunting All!

Friday, November 6, 2009

PSPX2 Photo Editing How To and Competition!

Paint Shop Pro X2 has some very simple to use tools that can really enhance your photos and even change the entire feel of them. I think a lot of people try and stick to the simple stuff purely because they don't know what some of the other buttons do. A couple of my favourites are found in the makeover tools. They can be incredibly handy.

Another under-utilised tool can be found under Adjust - Brightness and Contrast - Clarify. Clarify, according to the Corel help section, is "to enhance depth and clarity". Basically what it seems to do is both brighten and sharpen the image simultaneously. Not much is needed and a very low setting (even 1.3 or 1.7) can provide a very satisfying result. The advantage of using this setting seems to be that you don't get the over-pixelisation you can get with the sharpen tool. I would still recommend using the Brightness and Contrast tool after this, just to make sure your image is exactly how you want it.


My dear friend has let me take photos of her for my portrait portfolio. Beneath are two images, one as shot and one enhanced. Pick out one of the differences between the two images, throw it in a comment and you're in the draw to win an 8 x 12 inch print of your choice from my store! Looking at the bigger images will definitely give you an advantage in finding things others won't.

Happy hunting and I look forward to picking a winner just before the Sneak Attack on Tuesday, US Time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My New Listing - Earth Saved 8 x 12 inch digital art print

Inspired by the wonderful photo collages of last week's Wednesday Heart, Imagine Studios, I sat down and had a bit of a play around last night and came up with this:

A giant, shadowy man emerges from a smouldering, smokey volcano to save the world from an evil swan monster. It must be true, it was in the paper.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - Imagine Studio

The other day I mentioned briefly the concept of images that were in the public domain. As a funny coincidence the person who jumped to my attention as today's Wednesday Heart uses public domain images to create awesome photo fusion collages. I absolutely adore this type of digital art and Imagine Studio practices this artform to an extremely high level.

You all know what a big fan I am of fractals and photographic patterns, so it was a pretty sure bet that I was going to love this wonderful picture of a naked woman with a swirling blue pattern covering her body:

I love the romantic feel that hearkens back to the legends of Arthur and the poetry of the early Regency period. The blue circles echo down to the water beneath her form and it gives the whole piece a dream like resonance.

A common theme through most of the images created by Imagine Studio is that they focus a lot on women and have overtones of celebration and sexuality. This next print is a very clear illustration of the theme:

The sensuality comes through in the full lips and the darkened eyes, the mystery in the veil of shining colours across her face. The curves of hue beneath the eyes and upwards from the corners of the eyes enhance the feeling of a veil and give the image an exotic feel. I love this picture.

The exotic and the foreign is another theme that carries across the body of work. This picture is stunningly beautiful and evokes a Japanese feel:

It also reminds me of the work of some of the more fantastic body painters around. I'll do a completely separate post on them. Suffice it to say that the technical photo editing skills that have gone into this image are really very, very good.

Browsing through the work of Imagine Studio is like wafting through a dream that is both bold and sensual. That is why she has my Wednesday Heart.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Great Photographs - Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry

This is one of the most famous portraits ever taken. This 1984 photo was published in National Geographic in 1985 and Sharbat Guala became the human face of the Afghani refugees for the western world.

Steve McCurry is a photojournalist who makes his living through his evocative and tremendously brilliant images. Have you ever wanted to be a photojournalist but don't know where to start? Have you tried the method Steve McCurry used?

His career was launched when, disguised in native garb, he crossed the Packistan border into rebel-controlled Afghanstian just before the Russian invasion. When he emerged, he had rolls of film sewn into his clothes of images that would be published around the world as among the first to show the conflict there.

(NB - I don't actually recommend entering war zones in disguise unless you are really, really dedicated)

The image was shot on Kodachrome. I'd be lying if I pretended to understand the process, so I'll just give you a link to the Wikipedia page which you can peruse if you want to know more about the technical aspects.

In the end, Steve McCurry and National Geographic went back to find her and talk to her and see what had happened to her. After a long search, they found her and (with the permission of her husband, which is essential in that part of the world) re-photographed her. It's amazing the difference a lifetime can make.

If you'd like to buy a copy of the original image in poster size, please try Steve McCurry's website here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Alien Cloning Pod

Okay, I made some changes to my purple alien cloning pod and listed it. Here's the finished version:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - Nature is Art Photography

One of my favourite photography books that I have at home is one featuring winners of the Wildlife Photography Awards. I'm not sure if Greg Ledermann of Nature is Art Photography has ever won such an award, but if he hasn't I'm willing to go out on a limb and say he certainly should!

Take for example this first picture of a hummingbird in mid-flight:

Technically amazing! The capture is perfect, no blurring of the wings at all. And the colours are so crisp and sharp. If I was to be a nit-picker, I might say that the flower distracts a little and maybe a slight crop would be good, but then the green spaces may be a little overwhelming. All in all, good choices, good technique and an excellent shot!

Harping back to my snow theme from my last Wednesday Heart, I love this shot of a red fox standing in the falling snow:

I love the soft blur of the falling snow, the beautiful colour contrasts between the red fox fur, the dark forest greens and the snow white and the excellent composition. Awesome.

Picking my third feature image was really, really hard! A cute little bobcat kitten almost won my heart, but this print of a wolf sitting on a floor of autumn leaves was just really too good to go past:

Again, the composition and colour are excellent. I also love the personality this shot has. The wolf almost seems to be smiling. It's both cute AND extremely well done.

Seriously, I loved almost every image in this shop. If he made a book, I would seriously consider getting it (*hint, hint* ^_^) Nature is Art Photography, you ARE my Wednesday Heart!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quilting Weight Fabric Finally Arrives!

Quilters, dress makers, designers! My new designer fabric has arrived. I have a yard and a fat quarter of quilting weight cotton that has this wonderful digital art design imprinted on it:

This is a really unique fabric, no-one else has any yet. The blue and black looks fantastic and this could go towards the creation of some really interesting items.

As an added bonus, if you buy this material and send me a photo of what you make with it that I can add to my blog you can take 10% off your next purchase ^_^

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Public Domain Photographs

Images in the public domain are fantastic things for both digital artists and traditional photographers and that's where sites like The Public Domain come in.

As a photographer, it's interesting to study what people have been doing in the past. How they have framed their images, what poses they used, what they bothered taking photographs of and thinking about how that can improve your own skill levels. For artists, it gives you something to work from and also becomes a source of ideas.

I am also a big fan of writers using pictures to inspire their work. Here are two images from the The Public Domain which are just wonderful. I keep trying to make up stories that go with the pictures and thinking about different things I could create using them :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - No Stone Turned Photography

I have a big problem with the cold. I shiver in Autumn and hibernate in Winter. Strangely, I also love snow! I love to look at snow while I'm sunbathing next to the pool, mostly :-) Another person who loves the snow is the American nature photographer, mother and teacher behind No Stone Turned Photography.

Still a relative newcomer to the wonderful world that is Etsy, No Stone Turned has some really stunning images and I love how each one has information that gives you insight into the environment it comes from. For example, this shot:

The image itself is beautiful and the soft pastel tones convey a sense of peace and awakening with the early dawn. But at 10am!! And -20 degrees celcius! I don't think I could do it, and it just adds an extra dimension for me to the ice crystals hanging on the twisting reeds.

This next shot I think is simply fantastic. I love the composition and the way it engenders a sense of duty, iron-will and freezing cold!

To me the image itself tells a story, and the way that that is fleshed out in the item description is really well done. If there was one thing that I would change about that image, it's the traffic lights in the bottom right-hand corner. I find them distracting but I can't think of a simple way that could be fixed. I think cropping the image would damage the compositional value, either done horizontally or vertically. But can you imagine being that guy? I run for the house going from the car to the loungeroom. This is one of those iconic images that will stick with me as representing exactly how dedicated people can be.

My final pick for today is I think the best of the lot.

This is technically really good. The interplay of light and shadow is wonderful and the composition is envocative of a timeless sense of peace and possibility. I love it.

No Stone Turned, you have my Wednesday Heart!

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm in a Treasury!

It's very exciting :-) It's a real bright sunshine-y collection. is the link if you'd like to take a squiz.

The Post a Long Time in Coming

I've been unwell and away, but now I am well and back! The Wednesday Heart will start up again from next week, just so y'all know. My etsy store is now also back up and running.

If you're an Australian or New Zealand photographer, you might want to check out this year's Canon Photo Five competition. I gave it rave reviews as being a whole bunch of fun last year, and this year there is an open category for people who didn't register in time to receive the box. Meaning you can still take part! Just head on over and take a look at this website here.

I love that this year the box is split up into briefs. It makes it FAR more challenging creatively, because there is a greater chance that at least 50 other people are going to be doing the same thing. For example, on of the briefs is taking a close up photo of a 100s and 1000s, those little coloured candy things you put on top of cupcakes. I can guess now what a lot of the images are going to look like. I have no clue what I'm going to do yet.

When I'm done and dusted, I'll post my efforts here for everyone to take a look at :-)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - Michael Garbutt Exotic Photography

Today is the day for loving local artists! Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oy Oy Oy! Michael Garbutt Exotic Photography, aka elgarbo to fellow Etsians, is a Sydney-based photographer who, in his own words, has travelled 'the world with a camera in hand', taking interesting shots of the wonderful things he has seen.

This first print is of tank traps up in Newcastle. I say "up" because it's pretty much 4 hours north from where I live. The thing I love most about this image is the interplay of light and shadow. Just wonderful. The patterns created by the shadows are so well defined and so perfect. It makes the whole shot seem more like created digital art than a photo. They're like tiny pyramids trapped out in the desert.

As you all know, I love a photographer who has variety in their portfolio. This next shot is a perfect contrast to some of the other images Michael Garbutt has put up. I like that he is just as comfortable with fast and furious action shots as he is with beautiful landscapes.

And my final pick to show you all is an image I actually purchased myself. It's a trifecta to my mind. Cute baby animal? Check! Artistically done? Check! Technically competent? Check! Yay for cute baby monkey pictures!

So in summary, Michael Garbutt is a fantastic photographer who seems to stradle all the disciplines nicely. It's really nice to come across a body of work where you like almost everything, but these images are all strong, interesting and well done. Elgarbo, I heart you!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - Grand Ole Bestiary

Digital manipulation is a big thing in photography these days and, like any other photographic trick, can either be done awfully or fantastically. The person behind the Grand Ole Bestiary does it with a quaint flair and great execution that makes these photographs highly collectable.

This first one, of a kitten-woman walking a puppy, is just so cute:

The thing is, the principle behind this technique isn't particularly hard. And yet so few people manage to make art like this with their photographs without making it look a bit tacky. What I like about these photographs is that there has obviously been a lot of effort put into getting them exactly right.

I also like how the Grand Ole Bestiary matches people so well with their animal. It's like one of those Facebook quizzes, but awesome and in photographic form:

I'd also like to add that this shop is an excellent example of tapping into a niche and doing it really, really well. Wonderful photographs, wonderful Etsy store! I heart you Grand Ole Bestiary!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

International Garden Photographer of the Year

The winners were just announced for the above competition, and while I am a bit sad still that I didn't get anywhere (I was so sure that at least one of my photos would make the highly commended list!) I can rest happily knowing that nothing I made would have competed with the image that actually won the competition. It was this spectacular black and white fairy-tale-esque garden view. The image really holds your eye.

They are holding their next competition soon and I totally plan to enter. I keep having all these ideas for how I can do better this time :-) The categories I'm thinking of entering are Trees, Wildlife in the Garden, Plant Portraits and People in the Garden. I like the idea of the Edible Garden category but I just can't think of what I would photograph that hasn't been done to death.

If you'd like to enter too, the address to go check them out is

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - The Eye

Occasionally you come across a photographer who imbues everything they do with such style and panache that even their photos of the most mundane items make you go Wow! The Eye is one such photographer.

This photo for example has such a simple object, and yet manages to convey an almost film-noir sense of style, beauty and depth.

As I think I've mentioned before, I love photographers who can so easily straddle multiple styles. The Eye is another one of those people who make it look like it's easy. The creativity and technical skill that went into this are great, and I love how it's just sitting there amidst the butterflies and flowers like it was cleverly camouflaged and just waiting for lunchtime :-)

I've always had a penchant for pictures that tell a story. It's something I've been playing with a bit in my own work. This one, A Valentine Story, I love for the concept:

I'm not sure I'm so keen on the technical execution. The third image with the flames seems to be a little muted for what it is symbolising (love being devoured by flames) and I think the image would be stronger with simply the first and the last picture. But I absolutely love the concept and I think the multi-panel layout is a great idea. There should be more of this kind of experimental print making in the photographic community, not just landscapes and kittens.

Honestly, I could go on about this girl's work all day. I'll just simply say you should go here: The Eye! to check out the rest of the images. I <3 you The Eye!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - QuietDarling

I had it all planned out, the way I was going to describe this photographers wonderfully dreamy, child-like, nostalgic and slightly disturbing style, but she's gone and said it all in her profile:

"chapped lips and skinned knees
blanket forts and paper cranes
hiding behind the magnolia treedreams of whales and the milky way
memories and grandma
freckle summer and bubble tea
someone to read withold ghostssecret treasures and whispering secrets
sad ghosts
lace and grandfather elk
run-away dollies and pippi
sailing a wooden shoe and peter piper
honey cakes and pear piea garden of my own
these magical mountain forests."

That's what her photography is like. Take a look:

I love how a lot of her work is about what's not seen. And that each of her images is a one of a kind (OOAK for those in the biz) polaroid that comes to you framed and signed. Her style is so distinctive and I love the feel of her work, like the feel in the few minutes where a normal film suddenly becomes a horror film that both entrances and disquiets.

Quietdarling, I heart you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - Mystique Island

I love etsy, and there are so many fantastic photographers on there. I'm going to review one photographer I love per week. This week is American-based photographer Mystique Island.
One of the things I love to see most in a photographer is variety, and Mystique Island certainly has that. I've chosen three photos here, and all are, I think, really good examples of different aspects of photography. This first one is just beautiful. I love the colours especially. The burnt orange leaves with the dark stamen contrast really well against the bright yellow of the background flowers and the high green of the grass.
It's also a great example of macro photography. The detail of the foreground works really well with the blurred background. On a slightly more symbolic note, this makes me think of how we tend to remember tragedy in so much detail, whereas the bright, happy times are more of a warm, fuzzy blur in the background. Therefore, this photograph symbolises the process of living, and you can't get much bigger than that :-)
The wonderfully vivid colours combine well with the framing to give the overall image an eerie sense of a life floating under the ocean in complete silence. Awesome.
And this one is in just because it is such a cute elephant picture
I heart you Mystique Island!

Friday, April 10, 2009

How to make patterns with your photos

Recently I've really enjoyed making patterns out of my photographs. I especially love how the high detail photos can turn into really awesome patterns that have a lot of texture to them.  Of course, it's really easy to do. 

First pick a photo that you find really interesting. Lots of detail and lots of colour I find tend to produce the best results.

If you're using Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 just click on "Effects" and then "Reflection Effects" and have a play around with the Kaleidoscope or Pattern functions. 

There should be a dice located on the effect screen when you've gone into one of the above and when you click that it will randomise the settings and create a new image. I always make sure my preview screen shows the whole picture because that can definitely make a

The other thing I would recommend is playing around with your colours and so forth after you're happy with the pattern you've chosen. Especially go to "Adjust" - "Brightness and Contrast" - "Brightness/Contrast" and play around with those settings. You can give your piece a muted, ancient feel or perhaps a highly vibrant psychadelic vibe!

The one at the top of the screen is made from a picture of the water from a waterfall at the local Bontanical Gardens hitting the pool below. This one is from one of the fireworks pictures I took at Skyfire a few weekends ago:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Skyfire XXI

Skyfire is a Canberra tradition, held by the banks of Lake Burley Griffin. The local radio station, 104.7, holds this excellent fireworks display once a year. I love going, but normally the weather is drizzly and you have to sit around for hours if you want to get there early enough to get a good spot. This year the weather was perfect! I took my camera (naturally) and was very excited about the prospect of photographing fireworks. Here are the results of my attempts :-)