My Wife the Textile Artist.

My wife Jane is a textile artist and goes by the name of “The Riverside Crafter”, she just loves anything to do with needle craft and especially patchwork, Applique and embroidery. She recently asked me to photograph some of her most recent work which is destined to become cushions – of course, I was more than happy to oblige and had good fun doing it.

I think that her work is rather good and in the spirit of sharing I am going to show you (we have given all of the works names!):-

This is Hector – a dog appliqued onto blue fabric.

This is Rosie.

This is Ermintrude – a cow appliqued onto brown felt and named after the cow from the ‘Magic Roundabout’.

This is an example of English Paper Piece – Jane is particularly proud of this one as she learned this art from her late grand mother.

Jane’s version of a hare staring up at the moon – dyed cloth appliqued onto denim layers.

Flora is an appliqued textile cow onto a felt background.

The cow compositions are loosely based on Scottish Highland Cattle; you can see the influences with the tartan and the large horns.

If you enjoyed seeing Jane’s work, pop along to her fledgling blog at:-


You can make these artworks into things through my Fine Art America link under my title banner.

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聽My 500px Fine Art Gallery聽here (the colour versions are there too).

Mobile Phone Photographs.

Have you got a smart mobile phone with a camera? Good. Do you take photographs with it? Do you try to take artistic photographs with it as opposed to “record shots” (not that there is anything wrong with doing that – millions of us do it)? So do I and I have recently been playing with some of the free and paid photo apps that are available for Android phones on Google Play. (Many of the apps are available for iPhones through the usual channels for iPhone apps) I am having a wonderful time and the experience has increased my creativity – whether my efforts are any good or not remains to be seen but I am feeling more creative.

If you are trying to create something from your phone pictures you need to use some apps because with the best will in the world 5,10 or even 13 Megapixels from the tiny sized sensor on your phone is not going to give the same quality as the equivalent Pixel count on a Digital Slr or bridge camera due to technical limitations of physically small sensors – the apps help you to overcome those limitations by “covering up” digital noise and other aberrations 馃槈

I have tried several apps, some I have kept and some I wasn’t so keen on so deleted them. The ones that I use most often are Snap Seed – great for general editing and it has several creative effects, Super Photo – I started off with the free version but there are quite a few adverts and some of the best effects are unavailable unless you upgrade to the paid version (the paid version is about 拢2.50) which I did – the effects are much more pronounced and I will go to SuperPhoto聽when I want something arty – you cannot really make adjustments like cropping, brightness or saturation but it is good for effects, PicsArt which is good for making adjustments and it has some great effects – the thing that makes me use this one mostly is its ability to make your picture format square (for Instagram) without losing a bit of your picture, it does it by expanding your rectangular photo into a square and filling the extra bits with blur or colours – your choice. The first app that I downloaded was Photoshop express; I think that they call it something else now but it is free and useful. It has some good effects and you can edit cropping, brightness, saturation and a whole load of other things, and it is from Adobe. I have also downloaded Photo Lab (free), Photo Editor (free) and PicShop lite (free). There were others that I tried and deleted because they were too much like apps that I already had or they were very clunky and kept crashing. You just have to try a few and see how you get on with them and then if you like them, consider investing in the paid version if it is worth you while.

Here are a few of the photographs that I have taken聽On my phone and then processed with one or more of the apps:-

The majority of these have been through Snapseed, SuperPhoto or both – 聽the great thing is you can then send them directly to Instagram (which also has some good tools build in) , Facebook, Pinterest or to more or less any place that you have an account that you might want to share your photos to without having to bother with your computer.

Next I thought it would be a jolly wheeze to download photos from other cameras onto聽my phone with a view to using the same effects on them. Here are some of my efforts:-

As you can see I have managed to utilise many different effect onto what were “straight” photographs – effects such as “Banksy” (SuperPhoto), Photo in an old book and face in coffee cup (PhotoLab), Conte camera girl (superPhoto), And a couple of “Pop art” inspired shots (again SuperPhoto).

A word of caution though, often these apps will reduce the resolution of your full resolution photographs – even ones that say that they don’t – I had this problem with SuperPhoto, I wanted to use some of the new creations for printing and found that they were too small – I subsequently found that SuperPhoto do an App (paid – about 拢3.50) for Windows, so I bought that and I am a happy camper again. Another solution is to use a resizing Program on your computer, I use the one that comes with OnOne Phot0 10.

I had been curious about photography using my phone for some time but I was particularly inspired to indulge in after seeing a presentation at my local camera club by Gerry Coe. He is a Northern Irish photography expert who not content with Becoming a Fellow of the British Institute of Professional Photographers (FBIPP), a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a Fellow of the Master Photographers Association and a Fellow of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers, went on to gain a second FBIPP for his iPhone photography. His iPhone photography site is:-

Gerry Coe iPhone Photos

If you want to have a look at my Instagram stuff – search for paulcullenphoto

Gerrys instagram account is聽coeiphoneart

Why don’t you give it a try?

Photo project – three of a kind.

The camera club that I belong to聽Beeston Camera Club聽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 聽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聽and聽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?

Lilies, Sunflowers and Gerbera.

I rather like photographing flowers, so I decided to buy some and do just that. The ones that appealed to me the most out of those available on the day were a mixed bunch which included Lilies, Sunflowers, Gerberas and some kind of Brassica which I must admit didn’t seem quite so photogenic! I was inspired, in part, by an article written by Lee Frost in one of the magazines about creating “Fine Art” flower photographs, so armed with said magazine, flowers and various other props, I went ahead and here is what I came up with:-

Beautiful white Lilly isolated on a black background.

Beautiful white Lilly isolated on a black background.

Beautiful white Lilly isolated on a black background.

Beautiful white Lilly isolated on a black background.

Beautiful white Lily isolated on a black background.

Beautiful white Lily isolated on a black background.

Dark pink Gerbera isolated on a White background profile view.

Dark pink Gerbera isolated on a White background profile view.

Beautifully rich golden Sunflower isolated on a black background.

Beautifully rich golden Sunflower isolated on a black background.

I was quite pleased with the result but I wondered what they would look like in black and white:-

Beautiful white Lily isolated on a black background.

Beautiful white Lily isolated on a black background.

(looks better on a full screen and without the watermark, as you might expect)

I then decided (some time later) to have a play with some of the photographs in some photo manipulation software called “Smart Photo Editor” by Anthropics Technology Ltd – the Makers of聽Portrait Professional聽and again I was more than happy with the result. Smart Photo Editor allows you to put new skys, backgrounds, and make more adventurous editing changes with a couple of clicks. Many of the effects are a bit “over the top!” but you can get some good results if you don’t over do it:-

Dark pink Gerbera isolated on a white background.

Dark pink Gerbera isolated on a white background.

Beautiful white Lilly isolated on a watercolour style background.

Beautiful white Lilly isolated on a watercolour style background.

Beautiful white Lily isolated on a red background and a dry brush paint effect.

Beautiful white Lily isolated on a red background and a dry brush paint effect.

Beautifully rich golden Sunflower isolated on a oil painting  background.

Beautifully rich golden Sunflower isolated on a oil painting background.

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder; I like them and I hope that you do too, otherwise I wouldn’t be showing them to you – I don’t think that they will be to everyone’s taste but if you fancy having a play with some of you photographs on a dull rainy afternoon, you could do worse than giving it a try. Do a search for Smart Photo Editor or failing that, Anthropics and you can get a trial version for free. I think that the full price is 拢39.00 but they are always having sales and special offers – the last time I looked it was at the reduced price of 拢19.99. I have posted some of these on my Fine Art America page:-

My Fine Art America site.