The Black and White Treatment.

Life is very busy at the moment – lots of distractions – and I am having difficulty keeping focus on progressing my photography. Often at times like this I go over my older stuff with the intent of giving the old stuff a make over – edit them in a different way to produce something new; I quite like messing around in Photoshop and Lightroom so this quite suits me, although some might say that I should just get out and take some different photographs but somehow with everything else (life) going on it is not always that simple. I am off to Normandy in a few weeks and I have great plans for that trip so watch this space. In the meantime I have been going over my old (2011) Northumberland photos and thought that I would share with you some that I have converted to Monochrome (mostly black and white but I do like the toned effect too) within the Photoshop plug-in Nik Silver Efex pro. I really like these – I wouldn’t be showing you otherwise – and they have had lots of positive feedback when I have posted them on 500px, Pinterest, Facebook, Fine Art America and Photo4Me, so I hope that you like them too.

Lobster pots stacked on the quayside.

Lobster pots stacked on the quayside.

Abstract river flow - water taking on a milky form through long exposure.

Abstract river flow – water taking on a milky form through long exposure.

Statue of Field Marshall Viscount Hugh Gough, K.P., GCB, GCSI, PC, who fought many campaigns oversees, now situated at Chillingham Castle, Northumberland.

Statue of Field Marshall Viscount Hugh Gough, K.P., GCB, GCSI, PC, who fought many campaigns oversees, now situated at Chillingham Castle, Northumberland.

Statue of Field Marshall Viscount Hugh Gough, K.P., GCB, GCSI, PC, who fought many campaigns oversees, now situated at Chillingham Castle, Northumberland.

Statue of Field Marshall Viscount Hugh Gough, K.P., GCB, GCSI, PC, who fought many campaigns oversees, now situated at Chillingham Castle, Northumberland.

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Warkworth Castle, Northumberland.

I love Northumberland and will go back there to capture its natural beauty again but converting to black and white or toning the images give the images a different dimension based on tone and contrast, light and shade rather than colour which changes how we view them.

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Rim-lit Bottle and Glass.

There are many subjects that I want to tackle at some point and this is one of them:-

A rim-lit bottle and glass – but I wasn’t sure of the best way of achieving it. I was flicking through this book looking for inspiration (not necessarily looking to fulfil this ambition):-

Photos that sell Lee frost.

when I came across the answer, or at least one answer (page 176), I decided to get to work. Lee Frost recommends a large backlight with a strip of black material covering the middle; I used a bit of black card instead as my black material was too heavy but I think that I achieved a pleasing result – here is my set up:-

_DSC3416 small

I have blinds in my studio and so I pulled them all down. Lee describes using “a couple of bottles of decent full-bodied plonk (knowing the contents would have to be consumed afterwards)”, I cheated; I used blackcurrant squash, and a cheap one at that! I didn’t drink the squash afterwards – it only has to look the part right?

I did take a light reading but this was only a ball-park figure as the light meter will give me a mid-tone (18% grey for those who need more detail) but I knew that I was dealing with extremes of the spectrum and not mid ranges – I tried various exposures around me metered reading until I was happy. Aperture was set at f16 so that I had sufficient depth of field and adjusted the strength of the octibox and flash head to get my exposure. I then tried a selection of compositions – the ones that I have shown are the ones that I was happiest with.

Post processing consisted of fiddling with contrast, saturation and exposure in Lightroom – I like to selectively sharpen my images so that large swathes of one colour, in this case black, don’t end up generating digital noise. I also made sure that I had absolute black when appropriate, for the same reason. I output my files from Lightroom as TIFFS in case I want to edit further in Photoshop.

I decided to try then as monochome images too; again I was pleased with the results:-

I created monochrome images in Nik Silver Efex pro. I gave each a different treatment; one has a sepia effect, anther a cool blue tone whilst the other two are black and white.

It is not that easy to see the subtle changes in treatment here but they can be seen in greater detail in my My 500px Fine Art Gallery here (the colour versions are there too).

Sliced Cucumber Background larger slices – Picfair

via Sliced Cucumber Background larger slices – Picfair.

My first sale on Picfair. Just click the link to see what I’m making such a fuss about. You might want to look around to see what else I have on offer.

They say you never forget your first time!

I’ve had a good week on – Picfair

via Surfer at Lynmouth. – Picfair.

The above image was picked for a Picfair award earlier this week. It was picked 16th out of 25 in an Online exhibition called “Hot and Cold” and it has been trending on their home page all week. I am very pleased. It has now had 639 views – the most by far of any of my Photographs on the site.

If that wasn’t enough, I found out this evening that I have made a sale of another of my photographs on Picfair – this time it was of a background of backlit sliced cucumber – it looks way better than it sounds.

Hot and cold – Picfair

via Hot and cold – Picfair.

My image “Surfer at Lynmouth” has been chosen by Picfair as one of 25 to receive special attention in their “Hot and Cold” themed presentation and has earned me a Picfair award – I am really excited and what is more, it has attracted a lot of attention as a result. Thank you Picfair.

Only a Rose

Red Rose Vintage style

Beautiful red Rose given a Vintage effect.

I have continued the floral theme and having done with the Tulips decided to look for another subject – I didn’t have to look very far so soon after Saint Valentine’s day – I spied a bunch of roses on the window sill that had been received by my wife on the 14th of February. I must admit being a little curious where they came from – maybe I should investigate, but I have been so busy. ( I know where they came from really, and this time they were bought with her as the first thought – honest!)_DSC5686 antique.jpg

So there were these roses and it was a bright and sunny day, so I decided to take them outside and photograph selected ones against an out-of-focus green hedge, but it turned out to be a bit breezy and I was going to have to use a very slow shutter speed if I was to use an iso of 100 for maximum quality – I wanted to shoot in the shade as the direct sun would have given harsh shadows. I decided to photograph them on a window sill inside of the house. I needed something to fill in the shadows on the inside because there was too much contrast between the window light and the inner side.

Red Rose colour isolated.

Red Rose colour popped.

At first, I tried a home made reflector (flat baking tray covered in crinkled cooking foil) but I wasn’t quite getting the effect that I was looking for so I used used a speed light type camera flash connected to my camera with a curly cord so that I could move the direction of the light around for best effect.

Red Rose Close-up

Red Rose Close-up detail saturated with differential focus – Landscape format

In the end I really only used one or two of the roses for this project, partly because the leaves of some of the roses were starting to split – you often don’t notice that sort of thing unless you get very close up, or are editing the results at 100%! I have posted a few here but to see the whole collection, visit my website using the link below. You will find them on pages 7 & 8 – Enjoy!

via Paul Cullen Photography | Floral Gallery..

More Tulips

I’ve had a bit of a busy day today, sorting out some more Tulip photographs – I do hope that I am not boring you…..

All taken in natural light with a reflector opposite the main source and coloured card behind the flowers. Oh, I did have fun…

Tulips on a yellow background.

Tulips on a yellow background.

I definitely got my moneys worth out of them and what is more, my wife thought that I bought them for her (no, I don’t think that I managed to fool her really!) I had two attempts at photographing them over two days.

Two colourful Tulip flowerheads on a black background.

Two colourful Tulip flowerheads on a black background.

I would like to think that they have a different feel to them despite using some similar methods. I went for a more three dimensional effect this time.

Three colourful Tulips on a dark blue background.

Three colourful Tulips on a dark blue background.

Three colourful Tulips on a white background.

Three colourful Tulips on a white background.

Experimenting, yet again with a range of coloured backgrounds – all A2 size coloured card from Rymans – (other stationery shops are available). I have even tried a bit of focus stacking, but I haven’t processed them yet so I’ll save them for another post.

I was quite pleased that I achieved the vibrant effect that I was looking for and now I have distributed them onto Fine Art America – where people can make framed prints, bags, phone covers, duvet covers and a whole lot more from my photographs – and, if I’m honest other peoples photographs and other artworks:-

flower framed prints for sale

I have also put them on Photo4Me

You will remember that I wrote recently about joining them. I have well over 100 photographs on there now.

And, 500px Prime

God loves a trier!

In addition, I have also shown them on Flickr, Pinterest and on my Facebook Fan Page – See I told you I had been busy.

Photo project – three of a kind.

The camera club that I belong to Beeston Camera Club is always on the lookout for new and interesting ways in which to engage the members in activities as well as turn up for the great variety of interesting and varied speakers which have been hand-picked from fine photographers from near and far. One such activity was to create a photo project which was to be constructed from three separate photographs. We were sent some examples but the brief was very open (and essentially open to interpretation). The resulting works were presented to the members at a “members evening” last Thursday, the 11th February 2016. Several members produced works for the event. The result was wonderfully diverse in terms of interpretation. I contributed five works and had great fun doing them – here they are:-

Triptych 1

This was my first attempt. It is made up of the same image but in the three instances the image was given a different treatment in Photoshop with Nik Color Efex pro  4 and Nik Silver Efex pro 2 plugins.

Triptych Tulips

Next, I decided to use some square images that I had produced. This time it is three separate images/compositions and they were given different treatments in Photoshop and Nik Plugins. It started as just the three squares but it looked a bit long and thin so I extended the canvas above and below and coloured the extensions black. I think that it looks quite effective, but then I don’t let ’em out until I am happy with them! I was only going to enter one and this was my choice, but was encouraged to send more, so I sent my first work together with three further works after contributing this one.

Saint Emilion, one of the great Bordeaux wine regions and a beautiful place to visit. Saint Emilion is found to the North-east side of the City of Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France.

Saint Emilion, one of the great Bordeaux wine regions and a beautiful place to visit. Saint Emilion is found to the North-east side of the City of Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France.

I thought of a wine theme with this one. The larger background image is of Saint Emilion, the very famous wine region – part of the Larger Bordeaux region in Aquitaine, France. I have been there several times now and it is always a pleasure. It is a beautiful village, even if you are not interested in wine you will enjoy a visit. The grapes on the vine was actually taken outside of Bordeaux (not far) in a village called Villeneurve de Duras in the Cotes de Duras wine area, not far from Bergerac – it is one of my best sellers on Shutterstock and has sold all over the world. (I did take some photographs in the centre of St. Emilion and some of those have sold too). The third photograph was a still life photograph that I made and then put it through Smart Photo software from Anthropics to give it an older look.

 

A mixture of Oxalis, Kerria and Clover on a textured background.

A mixture of Oxalis, Kerria and Clover on a textured background.

A while ago I went out and picked some flowers – the Oxalis and the Keria grow in my garden – the clover from the Local nature reserve and I photographed them on a white high-key background in a light tent. The textured background was the back of a red granite grave stone. I changed the blending properties on that layer and altered the opacity (and probably the brightness). The flowers were placed onto the background by copy and pasting them.

Turbulence in Water - Abstract

Turbulence in Water – Abstract

Finally, the theme for this one was waterfalls. The background image was an abstract of flowing water from Aira force, approachable from the north side of Ullswater, Cumbria. Aira Force is a National Trust managed series of lots of waterfalls. The image in portrait format with the bridge is the first substantial waterfall that you come across as you ascend Aira Force – I would have been happy with just this one, but there are more falls – lots more culminating in a huge wide torrent at the top. The other photograph was taken at Watersmeet near Lynton and Lynmouth, Devon and is within the Exmoor National park.

I am sure that I haven’t done my last three in one composition; I enjoyed myself so much with this photography project that I am keen to explore more possibilities – why don’t you give it a try?

Photo 4 Me.

I wanted to tell you all about a new web service that I have just joined; it is called Photo4me and it’s brilliant.

I know, it sounds a bit like Phones4U or something like that – that put me off for a bit because I thought that it might be a little gimmicky. I was looking for somewhere else to sell my photographs   – another market so to speak. I am glad that I finally looked into it as I am really excited at the prospect of selling through their site. Hot on the trails of me joining 500px Prime and Fine Art America, I decided to sign up with Photo 4 Me.

Photo 4 Me is a U.K. based photo site where you can put any of your photographs (preferably those which would look good as wall art) onto their site. If they get through the “quality control” phase can be sold. Where they differ from traditional stock libraries is the product fulfillment function of the site – if someone wants to buy your image they have the option to have them presented as a canvas print, a large print, a framed print, an acrylic print,  a box print or a wooden print (a textured layer that shows the grain of the wood through your image – it is very effective). All of these prints are available in a large variety of sizes to suit every wall – they sort out the production and delivery of the goods with your image on it to your customer; all you have to do is put your image on there and set your profit margin and the minimum and maximum amount that you expect to receive for your artwork. You get paid 30 days after you make a sale through PayPal (so you would have to set up an account if you haven’t got one).

Tidal scene in abstract.

Tidal scene in abstract.

It is possible to put your images up on the site but not have them go forward for sale – I suppose that you would build up your collection online as you might with other sites like Flickr.

It is free to join whatever path you take.

When you first start out, you can submit up to ten images per day which they look at closely after thirty images they begin to trust you a little more because you will have learned what sort of standard they expect by then. After that the site sort of polices itself; if the standard of your images falls another members are encouraged to flag it up in order to keep a consistent standard, but let’s face it, your images are not going to sell if you’re not giving them your best stuff.

One of the good things about the site apart from the chance of supplementing your hobby or business, is that the members are very active in giving encouraging feed back; furthermore, there is a coloured camera system – when your image gets between 5 and 15 comments you get a green camera, 16-25 an amber camera, 26 + a red camera. There are also signs to show when it has featured on the Front (home) page gallery or is an editors favourite – so there is plenty to like. You get notified by email when you get a comment from a member, and for thirteen published images, I ended up with 200 emails – a bit much really, the good news is that you can turn them off in the settings.

Pink Wood Sorrel or as it ia sometimes known, Flowering Shamrock. It is an Oxalis rather than a clover from which true shamrock comes.

Pink Wood Sorrel or as it ia sometimes known, Flowering Shamrock. It is an Oxalis rather than a clover from which true shamrock comes.

I am really excited about this; I don’t know whether I will sell any photos but I think that it is worth a try. Perhaps you would like to assess my chances at :-

Paul Cullen Photography at Photos 4 Me

Perhaps you would care to tell me what you thought of the experience as a reply to this posting.

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This is the photograph that has attracted the most comments so far and earned a red camera Yeh!

Rainbow Tulips.

I am going through a bit of a floral phase at the moment. Not long after my fun with Lilies, Sunflowers and Gerbera came a couple of shoots with Tulips. These ones were labeled “Rainbow Tulips”, presumably as they were in many different colours. Now you could be thinking that I have an arrangement with a high-class florist but you would be wrong, these ones came from ASDA (for any American readers – Walmart own ASDA). On this occasion (the first of two) I decided to arrange them in a variety of patterns with a variety of backgrounds – I have a selection of A2 card in different colours. I used natural light with reflectors, indeed the sun was quite bright in my little studio so I had to make judicious use of the blinds to prevent harsh shadows. Camera on a sturdy tripod, lock up the mirror and slow exposures at between f11 and f16 – well the flowers were not going anywhere!. Enjoy…..

Three Tulips on a textured background

Three Tulips on a textured background

Three Tulips on a wooden board.

Three Tulips on a wooden board.

Three purple Tulips.

Three purple Tulips.

Five colored Tulips on a blue background.

Five colored Tulips on a blue background.

Five Tulips arranged like a bow.

Five Tulips arranged like a bow.

Three Tulips.

Three Tulips.

Three Tulips.

Three Tulips.

Three Tulips in colour.

Three Tulips in colour.

Three Tulips arranged in a circular pattern in sepia on a textured blue background.

Three Tulips arranged in a circular pattern in sepia on a textured blue background.

Four Tulips on a textured background- monochrome square

Four Tulips on a textured background- monochrome square

Three cool tone effect Tulips on a textured  Background.

Three cool tone effect Tulips on a textured Background.

Five colourful Tulips on a bright yellow background.

Five colourful Tulips on a bright yellow background.

Three colourful Tulips on a bright Yellow Background.

Three colourful Tulips on a bright Yellow Background.

Of course, I had to have a fiddle about in Nik Colour Efex Pro 4 and/or Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to finish them off. I’ll hopefully be able to show you the other ones soon – once I have processed them through Lightroom.