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.

 

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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.

Shattered

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.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Week 11

This week in March was so busy for us, I seemed to be rushing here there and everywhere, we had our usual clubs and then a class assembly, Steel Pan Rolling Concert and then mufti day for Red Nose Day 2013, this year my two kids wore their pyjamas to school for the charity.

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

Moreish Chocolate Cookies

We were fed up with the choice of Easter products to give as a gift so the kids decided it would be much nicer to take a more personal approach and asked it they could bake some biscuits and then decorate them for Easter gifts to family.

Chocolate upon chocolate

Rich Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 175g (6 oz) butter, unsalted and diced
  • 115g (4oz) caster sugar (superfine)
  • Finely grated rind of one lemon
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • 50g (2oz) chocolate chips
  • 2 bars of good chocolate to decorate
  • Decorations of your choice 🙂
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) Gas 4
  2. Cream butter and sugar and lemon rind together until pale, light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg yolks, then stir in the flour and chocolate chips to make a firm dough. If it is a little soft (which ours was) chill it in the fridge until firm.
  3. Roll the dough on baking parchment to just under 5mm (1/4″) in thickness. Using a 9cm (3.5″) fluted cutter, stamp out rounds, and place, spaced slightly apart on non stick baking sheets.
  4. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, or until golden.
  5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheets (as they will crumble if you try and take them off!)
  6. Melt the good chocolate over a bowl of water until it is nice and smooth and then carefully spoon it over the cookie tops.
  7. Whilst the chocolate is still warm put any decorations on top. We used chocolate mini eggs, chocolate buttons, sprinkles and mini smarties.
  8. Finally leave the chocolate to cool and set again, then enjoy.
This recipe makes 18 moreish cookies  🙂

Watching

Decorating

The Easter presents

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

26 by 26

Last year I followed with interest the 52 by 52 project which was conceived and curated by David Gillett, a designer from the South West of England, I felt a little intimidated so did not join in this challenge which ended in August last year. The next stage of this started on 7th March and I have decided to participate.

“26 by 26 is a year-long series of photo-challenges set by renowned photographers. Every two weeks a new challenge is issued and group members are invited to interpret it by submitting a photo to a Flickr Group.

The project follows on from the success of 52 by 52 which attracted some of the world’s leading contemporary photographers including Edward Burtynsky, Nadav Kander, Simon Norfolk, Terry O’Neill, Martin Parr and Alec Soth.
26 by 26 aims to stretch its members creatively, encouraging experimentation in terms of approach as well as aesthetics.”

Challenge 1    Take a subject as far out of context as possible.— Andrew Zuckerman

Noted filmmaker and photographer, Andrew Zuckerman, utilizes a multitude of platforms to produce work that is systematically executed, conceptually based, and democratically presented. Minimalist in nature, Zuckerman aims to create atmospheres of clarity and neutrality to facilitate the viewer’s access to the material.

Zuckerman studied at the International Center of Photography before going on to receive his BFA from the School of Visual Arts. He first made his mark on the publishing world with the 2007 release of CREATURE, a compendium of intimate animal portraits set against Zuckerman’s signature white background. He has since explored this distinctive approach – which divorces subjects from their context and equalizes the larger conversation between them – in four additional critically acclaimed multi-media projects: WISDOM (2008), BIRD (2009), MUSIC (2010), and FLOWER (2012).  (www.andrewzuckerman.com)

I decided to take the route of a flower with this high key lighting. My thought behind this one was that by just shooting the daffodil on it’s own in this way and also by it being withered it is out of context. Normally we associate beauty in flowers with them being healthy, in colour and not taken on their own.

Withered

Challenge 2     Photograph an image which exemplifies the essence of altruistic behavior.— Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has been a one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than 30 years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name.

McCurry has created stunning images over six continents and countless countries, his work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike – yet always retains the human element that made his celebrated image of the Afghan Girl such a powerful image.  (stevemccurry.com)

I started of here by looking at the dictionary definition of altruism, which was:

“the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others, it is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of “others” toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness.”

I know there are plenty of people begging in London, so I could have traveled into town to take a shot, but it did not feel right to me to do this, I wanted to do something more “me”.  I was totally struggling with any ideas for this until this Sunday when I noticed my daughter helping her young cousin complete her Easter Egg hunt map. She had no motive other than love and wanting her cousin to complete the hunt too, so that she too would receive an egg for finishing. It may not be as powerful as the images taken by Steve McCurry as the subject is no where near as dramatic or raw, but I feel quite happy with these given where I live and in the time frame given (two weeks).

Easter Egg hunt

A helping hand

Let me know what you think, I would love to hear if you feel I have met the first two challenges or not?

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

Chocolate Heaven

Well it is Saturday, so it is time for our weekly baking share. This time the kids decided that they should be chocolate ones, with of course even more chocolate on top! :-)

Gooey Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 50g blanched hazelnuts, ground
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 200g chocolate and hazelnut spread (nutella)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) Gas 4
  2. Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl, set over a pan on gently simmering water. Do not let the bowl touch the water. Leave until almost melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the hazelnuts, then sift the flour into the mixture and fold in. Stir in the melted chocolate.
  4. Drop 1/2 heaped tablespoon of the mixture into each paper-case, then flatten and add an indentation into the centre using the back of a teaspoon. Drop a generous dollop of chocolate spread into the centre of each one, then divide the  remaining cake mixture between each cupcake, placing it on top.
  5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 18 minutes until risen and the top springs back when gently pressed.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  7. To decorate make some butter icing 85g butter, whisked until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in 170g of icing sugar. Finally add a few drops of vanilla extract and beat in.
  8. Top the cold cupcakes with a small quantity of the icing and decorate with chocolate buttons, hazelnuts or your own choice of topping :-)
This recipe makes 24 deliciously moist cupcakes
We are off on an Easter Egg hunt tomorrow where Downton Abbey was filmed………so excited 🙂

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

Another two bite the dust!

Work has been a little too busy for me getting ready for the management meeting this morning, I ended up working late last night to get everything ready 😦 so could not finish this post until now, 5 minutes before I go in! I loved doing these weeks spread as the memories once again flood back.

Week 9 – a busy few days

Week 9 – spring is springing

Week 9 for us was so busy, I could quite easily have made a six page spread with the number of shots I had taken!  Week 10 was much the same, my son had both Beavers and Cubs this week as he went to his final Beavers meet to receive his Chief Scout Bronze Award which is the highest award that a Beaver can achieve, I was SO PROUD of him, he walked out of the meeting and on his own decided to go up t each of the leaders to say goodbye and to thank them for making his time there so much fun (I felt like crying with pride at how grown up that was!!!).

Week 10 – The proud mummy moment

I have started doing the first year of my daughters life now (Project Life style of course). I wish now that I had learnt to shoot manually with my camera before she was born, as I know from the shots I take now of newborns how much better I have got. I guess I need to be thankful though that at least I have LOTS of photos and bits that I collected to pull my memories into a scrapbook. I now have quite a lot of editing to do though to see if I can improve the shots I did take. I will share a few spreads as I go along. I though am having a fantastic time going through everything now, I so love taking a walk down memory lane.

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

Where did February go?

As mentioned in my post last week, I am trying to play catchup on here so that I can get myself into a nice routine for posting my Project Life spreads each week. Here is what we were up to weeks 7 and 8.

Week 7 – A normal week

I seemed to spend most of this week at work so was feeling very stressed, I am so glad I still managed to get a few shots in though and even a selfie (much as I hate seeing photos of me, I keep having to remind myself why I do this!). I do think that it helps that I am still taking a photo a day as it always ensures I have at least seven photos each week! (and have been since 7th May 2009!!).

Week 8 – Half term holidays

Week 8 – Part deux!

This last week we all were on holiday, usually it would be fantastic to have some time off, this time though not as much as we ended up sorting out cabling that our electrician had mucked up!!! We had HDMI and network cables that when we tried did not work. This meant channeling out our newly plastered walls to re run cables…….NOT IMPRESSED to say the least. Luckily though my parents took my two kids down to Somerset for a short break so at least they had a nice holiday from school.

I am thinking of doing a couple of Clickinmoms courses at the moment, as I feel I have so much still to learn photography wise. So watch this space. If anyone can recommend any of them I would love to hear from you?

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

Two days in one

Slight change in what I had planned to post as I have a sore throat and cold, so feel a little rough, as I had this post written already I thought I would post this one today and my Project Life ones will now be on Wednesday and Thursday.

I had a lot of fun with day 7 of Beyond Beyond, the e-class by Kim Klassen, Kim gave a a few tips and tricks for using Lightroom (LR), I actually discoverd more about LR than I thought I would, I have only been using it for a couple of years and now realise that I have not even touched the surface of what it can do (I really should play with it more).

I also saw a few things I liked in Kim’s version of LR, I think I may splash out and upgrade to version 4 sooner rather than later.  This week Kim gave us a photo she took of the well photographed chairs at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, we were told to do what we wanted to processing-wise. I could play all day in Lightroom, the more I learn the more I LOVE it. I decided to desaturate the colours slightly and give it a “grungy feel”

After

Two’s company

Kim’s before shot

The following week and Day 8’s email came into my inbox, I so look forward to each week and seeing what Kim is going to share with us and the challenges given.

This week Kim gave us more than one challenge, the first one Kim said:

“Take your favourite quote….and turn it into chalkboard art. You can use the technique outlined in the tutorial or simply use a chalk hand font of your choice. Texture in the background or no texture….totally up to you. Imagine the possiblities.”

So many quotes, fonts, designs and edits that can be done, this was fun and has given me an idea for another photo which I am sure I will share soon 🙂

Smile

The second challenge from Kim was all about layouts. I had the perfect shots to try this out with. My daughter came home from school on Friday and decided she wanted to do some water colour painting. She asked if I could suggest something she could paint, I said that she should try something from the fruit bowl or one of the flowers on our kitchen table, as you can see she opted for the apple!

Water colour fun

The final challenge Kim posed for us was to create a “matte-photo finish”.

Enjoyment

I cannot believe how much I learned in these two days postings, I am so glad that I signed up for Beyond Beyond,  I LOVE learning. I think this is why I enjoy photography and editing them so much as the possibilities are endless 🙂

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

Butterfly Baking

Another baking afternoon fun when the kids got home from school they wanted to make some cupcakes for the school fete, who am I to stop them. As usual they made the cake and then this time I did the final decoration as it is a little tricky for a 8 year old to cut the tops and do the butterfly wings :-)

Butterfly Cupcakes

  • 200g (8 oz) butter
  • 200g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 200g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • 4tbsp milk
  • 150g (6oz) butter
  • 350g (14oz) icing sugar
  • 2-4 tbsp milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F) Gas 6
  2. Line two 12-hole bun tins with paper cases
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs, a small amount at a time, beating well after each addition. Using a metal spoon, fold in the flour. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little milk so that you get a soft, dropping consistency.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, dividing it equally. Then bake for 15-20 minutes or until nicely risen and they spring back when touched gently on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  5. To make the butter icing, cream the butter until pale, light and fluffy, then gradually add the icing sugar (I always sift it in and then stir slowly to avoid the sugar dust going everywhere!) beating it in really well. Add a few drops of milk if needed to get a smooth consistency.
  6. When the cupcakes are cold, slice the tops off with a sharp knife and then cut each top in half. Spoon a dollop of the butter icing on the top of each cake. Replace the tops to make the wings. Decorate with silver balls and jelly laces for the body and antennae or like I did with chocolate buttons!
  7. Finally dust with icing sugar, then enjoy.
This recipe makes 24 delicious and fun cupcakes  🙂

If you have a go at the recipe, please post a link to any photos you take of them or just leave a comment to let me know how they turned out as I would LOVE to know 🙂

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