{Texture Tuesday} – the Free & Easy eDition

Just because….

Wow where did that week just go! It is Tuesday again, so I have edited another photo for Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday, this week Kim just told us “Your photo must contain at least one layer of any of my textures…that’s it..that’s all.” 🙂

Well what I did was as follows:

Adjusted the white balance in Lightroom 3 to warm the image (increased by 500).
Added a little fill light (5%) in Lightroom 3
Decreased the vibrance (5%) in Lightroom 3
Increased the saturation (18%) in Lightroom 3
Adjusted the Sharpened the image slightly (15%) in Lightroom 3
Transfered to Photoshop Elements 8
Cloned out the dark spot at the top.
kk_plaster squared, multiply @ 50% opacity
Created a Layer mask and reduced the effect of the  texture on the tulips, with the brush opacity at 50%.
Text layer and watermark added.
The pre straight out of camera shot which I was not impressed with at all is here below

I would love to know what you think?

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.


{Macro Monday} – Geometric shapes

Today’s Macro Monday theme was set as geometric shapes, as I had already taken a few recently for Picture Perfect Practice I found it more difficult finding something new to post.

Fully charged


We have been pretty hectic over the last couple of weeks with redecorating, hence I have not been around that much, I should be back to normal fairly soon and look forward to settling down with a nice glass and catching up with all my favourite blogs 🙂

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.

Wishes & dreams

Lets go fly a kite?

I often wonder what my children will become, at the moment my daughter has decided she would like to be a doctor or a teacher, she is pretty bright and so good with people that I can see her doing either. My son wants to be either a professional footballer or own his own company!

I was surfing the web and found this quote and thought it was perfect to go with this photo, as I know I just want then to grow up healthly and to be as happy as they can in whatever direction they choose.

Make a wish

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.



Red and black

Baked Berry Cheesecake

  • 8 digestive biscuits
  • 50g butter , melted
  • 600g cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
  • 142ml pot soured cream
  • 300g raspberries, blackberries and strawberries
  • icing sugar


  1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Crush 8 digestive biscuits in a food processor (or put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin). Mix with 50g melted butter. Press into a 20cm springform tin and bake for 5 minutes, then cool.
  2. Beat 600g cream cheese with 2 tbsp flour, 175g caster sugar, a few drops of vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 1 yolk and a 142ml pot of soured cream until light and fluffy. Stir in 150g raspberries and pour into the tin. Bake for 40 minutes and then check, it should be set but slightly wobbly in the centre. Leave in the tin to cool.
  3. Using the remaining 150g raspberries, keep a few for the top and put the rest in a pan with 1 tbsp icing sugar. Heat until juicy and then squash with a fork. Push through a sieve. Serve the cheescake with the raspberry sauce and raspberries.

Summer Berry Baked cheesecake

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.

In search of the light

To the point

Starting Project Life last year has meant that I often need to capture moments early in the morning before it gets light, in the evening or at night when the light can be challenging. I do not particularly like taking shots like this with a flash, as I just love to use natural light whenever I can for this as I prefer the atmosphere that it evokes.

When there is lots of good quality light, there’s no denying that it becomes easier to take a good picture, it does not mean though that you have to stop shooting when the light starts to disappear or avoid low-light photography altogether. It just get a bit trickier if like me you prefer using available light. You have to know how to set your camera up to make the most of the failing light.

The tips I have found along the way  (in no particular order) are:-

  • Shoot in manual mode – if you shoot in manual mode and monitor your exposure in the viewfinder, it becomes easier.
  • Shoot with both eyes open – often I know I do close one eye when shooting in normal situations, but in low light I make sure both are open.
  • Use Single point auto focus – if not manually focusing.
  • Increase the ISO – I am lucky that my camera handles higher ISO’s quite well, but I have found quite a few shots I have taken have been grainy, especially my Project Life ones, for these types of shots I have embraced it and found that I actually love some of these shots now.
  • Use a fast lens – the faster the better. I use my 50mm 1.8 or 35mm 1.4 most of the time for this type of photography and have had a lot of success with my 100mm 2.8 macro too :-)
  • Spot meter – this type of light often has extreme, uneven ranges of light levels. Metering for such situations is difficult. If you choose to meter, keep in mind that you likely will NOT want middle gray tones; you want your night scenics to look as though they were taken at night, so they will usually be a couple of stops darker than what your averaging meter says. If you have a spot meter, take your measurements off important highlight areas, and use those settings. Bracket if you can.
  • Find the light – position yourself according to how the light falls on your subject.
  • Use a cable release – it reduces the risk of movement from pressing the shutter down.
  • Know your camera – it really does help to know your camera inside out as it makes it so much easier.
  • Shoot in RAW – this maximises your chances of getting more shots that you can use.
  • Keep steady – one of most important things in low-light photography is the shutter speed, it is important that the camera is as steady as possible to avoid camera shake, which is inevitable with slower shutter speeds. As a general rule, for sharp images you should use a tripod when the shutter speed is greater than the inverse of the lens focal length (for example, if you are using a 50mm lens then the shutter speed is 1/50 or longer).
  • Improvise – if you are using only ambient light it can be fun to explore the different  lighting sources that can be incorporated into an image – candles, lamps, and torches etc.
  • Reflectors – I usually use one now to ensure that I make the most of any available light and bounce it back on the photographic subject.

I am sure there are a lot of other tips that you have found, but these ones have really helped me a lot to be more successful in low light situations.

Below are just a few photos I have taken (including the top one above of some of the older girls, at a ballet show my daughter did).

I found this document recently online (which I added to my Pin Interest account), as the post says it can be used on blogs, I thought I would share it here, as it has some useful info on it.

low light photography
[Snapsort’s Low Light Photography Infographic]

Don’t miss another photo due to low light, embrace it and the fun begins :-)If you have any other tips for photography in these conditions I would love to know?

Come over and check out my FACEBOOK page, I would love to know what you think and hit the like button if you’d like 8)

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.

{Texture Tuesday} – the celebration eDition


Kim gave the theme of celebrate, she said

“Your photo must center around the word celebrate….Before you think… but…but… Hear me out…there are so many ways to interpret this…………Next Tuesday…let’s CELEBRATE.”

The first thing that came to mind for me was a birthday celebration, this was a photo I took of my daughters Birthday cake and I added 3 of Kim’s textures to it.

I hope you are all having a fantastic week so far and Happy Texture Tuesday 🙂

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.

{Macro Monday} – the Rainbow eDition

Rainbow Droplets

Over the Rainbow

Rainbow of colour

Love Rainbows

Rainbow Sparkles

Colour me a rainbow

As you can see from all these shots the theme today was set as Rainbow for Macro Monday, I LOVE rainbows and have since I have been taking photography more serious taken LOTS of actual rainbows in the sky as well as ones I have created myself 🙂

Come over and check out my FACEBOOK page, I would love to know what you think and hit the like button if you’d like 8)

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.

A bit of light reading

I decided to go to the library this week with my kids and picked up a few books for myself too One was a landscape photography one. I started reading The Photographer’s Guide to Landscapes by John Freeman which I really enjoyed and would recommend to any beginner or intermediate photographer interested in landscape photography.

This is the third volume in John Freeman’s photographic series which gives advice on capturing the beauty of the world. It provides information on an exhaustive range of topics, including guidance on creating interesting foregrounds, modifying backgrounds, developing panoramas, framing, working with multiple images, and utilizing black and white as an alternative to color. Over 200 images offer perspective on capturing specific types of landscapes, from skies and deserts to waterways and urban landscapes. For me I found the advice on equipment: filters, lenses and film really interesting; technique: exposure, shutter usage; and editing: cropping and retouching.

The book raised a point to check out on my camera : how to set the white balance to a set figure (John mentions 5,200k for sunsets)!

Further techniques mentioned that I want to look into:
1. Creating multiple images
2. Building panoramas
3. Digital composites
4. Using filters (get some ND filters and a polorizer for my wider angled lens).
5. Infrared – I have a contact on Flickr who I have admired for a while, he does quite a few shots using this style.
6. Re-touching
7. Digital toning
8. Abstracts

Eek, I there is so much I want to learn and will re-read it before taking it back…………

This is the first blossom I have managed to take this year, surprisingly! I just love this quote by Robin William and think it goes so well here.

I have also decided to put a little effort into my online presence, so have updated my FACEBOOK page, come over and check out my new header, I would love to know what you think and hit the like button if you’d like 8)

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.


A slight change from the baking theme I have been posting each Saturday, as a family we love to cook and we decided that we would make a curry from scratch with the kids, these recipes made more than enough to serve 6. I do not think they realised how much went into the ones they like though. Before they were both born my husband and I used to do a lot of complex recipes and do a lot of experimenting, spending a few hours preparing. Now though we just tend to go for things that we can prepare in half an hour as we never seem to have enough time!

As the kids are now older and pretty adept in the kitchen. we have decided that most weekends we are going to try and cook something different and all get involved, it may not always be possible, but I plan to document our process and the recipes here.


  • 2.0 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1.0 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 500.0g potatoes, cut into 2cm, ¾in chunks
  • 1 large red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced
  • ½ tsp each black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric
  • 250.0g spinach leaves
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry for about 3 mins. Stir in the potatoes, chilli, spices and half a tsp salt and continue cooking and stirring for 5 mins more. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 8-10 mins.
  2. Check the potatoes are ready by spearing with the point of a knife, and if they are, add the spinach and let it wilt into the pan. Take off the heat and serve.


  • 1.kg Chicken breast or mini breast fillets
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 150g thick (plain) yogurt
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 2 finely chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp ghee or veg. oil
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • water
  • 75g creamed coconut
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 heaped tbsps ground almonds
  • finely chopped Coriander Leaves, to garnish
  • juice of  1/2 lemon
  1. Cut the chicken breasts into bite sized chunks
  2. Mix the chicken with the ginger, garlic and yogurt. Cover and marinade for 12 hours or in the fridge overnight.
  3. Liquidise the chopped onion and red chillies, add a little water if you need to. blend til smooth.
  4. Heat the ghee/oil in a pan.
  5. Add the ground coriander, ground black pepper, turmeric and garam masala and stir fry for about 1-minute over a low heat.
  6. Turn up the heat, add the onion and chilli paste and stir fry for 10-minutes.
  7. Add the chicken and the marinade and continue to stir fry for another 10-minutes.
  8. Add the creamed coconut and enough water to *just* cover the chicken and bring to the boil, stirring until the coconut is dissolved. Stir in the ground almonds.
  9. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is tender (30-40 minutes).
  10. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and salt to taste. Mix well.


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1 x 400g/14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5cm/2in piece root ginger, grated
  • pinch of garam masala
  1. Heat a deep saucepan or a medium sized wok and add the oil or butter followed by the onions and garlic.
  2. Fry the mixture till the onions are caramelised. Then add the salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric and red chilli powders. Mix for a minute and tip in the tomato. Cook the sauce until it begins to thicken.
  3. Add ¼ cup of water and stir. Then tip in the chickpeas and mix. Mash a few of the chickpeas while cooking. Cover and simmer for five minutes. Then add the ginger and the garam masala. Cook for another minute.


  • 4 chicken breasts, one per person!
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2cm block of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 400g ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 300ml water
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Coriander leaves, to garnish
  • 2–4 red chillies, finely chopped – You can de-seed if you prefer, but this will make it not as spicy
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1–3 tsp (or more!) hot chilli powder, to taste – Adding more or less will vary the hotness
  • 6–8 curry leaves
  • Juice of half a lemon or lime
  1. Cut the chicken into strips or cubes and put aside. Heat the oil and add the onions and cook until they start to soften which will be about 5 or 6 mins. Once the onions have started to brown add the chillies, the garlic and the ginger and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Then add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, curry leaves and chilli powder and leave to cook for a further minute or so.
  2. In that time, season the chicken you set aside earlier with the salt and pepper and add to the pan and cook stirring the pan until the chicken begins to go golden brown all over.
  3. At this stage you’ll want to add the water and the chopped tomatoes and then bring to boil. Once the pan is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan stirring ever so often. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes and add more water as needed if it begins to stick or the sauce becomes too dry – remember to stir well if you do need to add water. At the end of the 30 mins, stir in the garam masala and leave uncovered for another 10 mins, again taking care not to let it dry out.
  4. When the cooking’s finished and you’re ready to serve the chicken madras, garnish it with some coriander leaves (not the stalk!)


  • 450g/1lb basmatic rice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • large knob butter, plus extra to serve
  • 4 cardamon pods
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 600ml/1 pint hot chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
  • Salt
  1. To make sure you get lovely fluffy rice, wash it in several changes of cold water, then leave to soak for about 30 minutes in fresh cold water. If you don’t have time for this, place in a sieve and wash under the cold tap for a minute or so.
  2. Cook the onion in the butter for around 5 minutes until softened. Add the spices, saffron and bay leaves and cook for a couple more minutes. The spices will give a wonderful fragrant flavour to the rice. Add the rice and stir until the grains are coated in the butter before stirring in the stock or water and salt. Bring to the boil and then cover with a tight-fitting lid. If the lid isn’t very tight, cover the pan with aluminium foil before putting the lid on. Turn the heat down low and leave to cook for 10 minutes before turning off the heat. Don’t remove the lid; just leave the rice to continue cooking in the pan for about 5 minutes until you’re ready to serve.
  3. The rice should have absorbed all the water and will just need fluffing up with a fork. Add a knob of butter before serving.

We did though cheat and buy the naans :-)

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.

Natural Light v Flash

I have long been an avid fan of natural light photography, I am sure I will always have a preference for it, but as I am now starting to take a few bookings for shoots, I really need a back up plan just in case. To that end I am now teaching myself how to use my speedlight to give a “natural look”

Looking up

The above shot was taken in low light using just the available light, I love the drama that shooting in the dark towards the light has created. Here I just used the SOOC shot and converted it to black and white in Lightroom.

In contrast the shot below I used a bounced flash to remove the shadows and soften the image, I think that it looks fairly natural, I converted to monotone to remove the colour of our sofa, but to me the tell-tale sign that a flash was used is in the catchlights, but I can start to see the benefits of using a flash.


I would so love to know what you think as this is my first attempt using a speed-light for portraits  Also, if anyone has any tips for setting up or any good reference books to read on flash use for portrait photography, I would love to hear from you.

Come over and join me on my FACEBOOK page, I would LOVE to see you over there too 🙂

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.