Black and White Photo Study

The intimate nature of a Gunnera leaf

Here are a few black and white photos I took last weekend. What do you think?

A mallard duck paddling into the distance
A mallard duck paddling into the distance
Close-up of a chunky post
Close-up of a chunky post
Gunnera leaves
Gunnera leaves
Eryngium alpinum flowerhead and bracts
Eryngium alpinum flowerhead and bracts
Backlit head of an Umbellifer
Backlit head of an Umbellifer
Gunnera leaf with rain droplets
Gunnera leaf with rain droplets

Black and white photos can be so soothing. Not all photographs will work as black and white but I think these do. They are particularly good when there is texture involved and that texture has many shades of grey.

Do you take black and white photos?



7 More Ways to Change How You Take Photos: Part 3

Astrantia peering over a log

With Part 1 and Part 2 out the way, this is my final post on how to change the way you think about taking photos. Hopefully through the three posts you will be inspired to go and take photos. I’d love to see what you have taken – feel free to leave links to your photos below in the comments section.

Nineteen: Use your fellow photographers as models

Although photographers don’t always make the best models, feel free to grab someone you go out photographing with and get them to pose for you.

Using models for photography

Twenty: Look for complementary shapes

I don’t think this is a great photo but I love how this Allium head reflects the clipped ball Buxus in the background.

Allium, Buxus and Araucaria

Twenty-One: Be empowered by archways

Archways are so photogenic.

Archways can add a frame to a photo

Twenty-Two: Look for repeating patterns

Repeating patterns can look great in a photo often in black and white.

The pattern of these leaves is repeating but adds a nice balance to the photo
The pattern of these leaves is repeating but adds a nice balance to the photo

Twenty-Three: Shoot flowers

If it’s a grey day, then it’s perfect for photographing flowers. Don’t worry if you can’t get close, photograph them in their surroundings.

Honeysuckle - Lonicera
Honeysuckle – Lonicera

Twenty-Four: Give an idea of environment or context

Find something interesting in the foreground and allow the background to fade out into the distance.

Astrantia on the river edge

Twenty-Five: Take a ‘frothy’ image

I’m in love with this style of image at the moment. The style where nothing in particular is in focus, but the frame is filled with lots of a similar thing. Great for background images with a blurring filter.

Frothy Cow Parsley

That’s it for just now. I’m sure I will share some more images and ideas in the future. This is where we visited. Why not go down to your local park with a few interested friends or colleagues and have a go?

Annette X



Design: Saint Cuthbert’s Way Ultra Trophy

Saint Cuthbert's Way Ultra Trophy

We were asked to make a trophy base for the Saint Cuthbert’s Way Ultramarathon Race by the organisers of the race, Trail Outlaws. They had purchased a lovely replica St Cuthbert’s cross made by Wild Goose Studio and needed a mount and base with plates for engraving.

Saint Cuthbert's Cross from Wild Goose Studios in Ireland
Saint Cuthbert’s Cross from Wild Goose Studios in Ireland

Originally the base was supposed to be an ‘impossible wood’ design but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out and we went for this sandwich-style design instead. We both thought it looked better anyway. The woods are walnut and oak and are finished with Danish Oil which acts to protect and darken the wood.

The stand itself has a uniquely-designed celtic style detailing, carefully cut with a mini scroll/fret saw. It is fully removable to allow for engraving to take place. A small dowel holds the cross in place.

The engraving plates and name plate are made of copper and hand stamped. The letters will oxidise over time and add a lovely effect. I thought about adding another couple of plates on the sides but it would have overwhelmed the design with the amount of copper.


To finish it off we added these little rubber feet.

Rubber feet on the trophy base to help prevent scratches
Rubber feet on the trophy base to help prevent scratches

We were both pretty proud of the result!

Saint Cuthbert's Way Ultra Trophy
Saint Cuthbert’s Way Ultra Trophy

Congratulations to everyone who finished the 45 miles from Holy Island to Melrose along the Saint Cuthbert’s Way. We hope everyone had fun in the race and congratulations to Peter Gibson who came in first place and will be the first proud owner of this trophy … until next year!

Saint Cuthbert's Way Ultra Trophy ready to be awarded
Saint Cuthbert’s Way Ultra Trophy ready to be awarded!

Seaton Park, Aberdeen – As Beautiful as Ever

Grass heads in front of a rose

Despite there being lots of works on at the moment to improve the park, which at first glance may seem messy and destructive, Seaton Park, in my opinion, is looking as beautiful as ever. All thanks, of course to the hard work and patience of the gardeners, the local council and The Friends of Seaton Park. I hope these photos do it some justice.

Seaton Park by the River Don
Umbels beside the river
View up the River Don from Seaton Park towards Donside Village
Slate river effect
Flowering Cornus (Dogwood)
White-edged Hosta is reflected in these airy white flowers (Crambe?)
Lady’s Mantle and this Nepeta work well together
Lady’s Mantle glowing
Grass flowerheads
The formal walkway in Seaton Park
People enjoying Seaton Park
Views towards St Machar Cathedral from Seaton park
The hanging basket display at Seaton Park
Vibrant red Begonia
Clipped box line the path to the fountain
Memorial for the fountain
Festuca and this old rope work well together
The many colours of Carex
Rope fence detail
Driftwood and grass planting towards Hillhead
Catching the light
Glowing umbellifer
Glowing fern


9 More Ways to Change how you Photograph: Part 2

Iris with Azalea in the background

On saturday I mentioned my first 9 tips on how to change the way you take photographs. Here are my next 9 ideas.

Ten: Rule of Thirds

If you drew lines in your photo to divide it into thirds, the places where these lines intersect are natural aesthetic positions for an object to be. Aim to place the object of interest where these grid lines intersect. You can often add gridlines to your camera viewfinder or screen.

Rule of thirds
This tip of this hook falls roughly in the intersection of the furthest right and lower ‘imaginary’ gridlines

Eleven: Break the Rule of Thirds

Place your object right in the centre of your photo and see if it works.

Breaking the rule of thirds
Breaking the rule of thirds – place your focal point right in the centre of the screen. This photo follows ‘fifths’ more!

Twelve: Go Square

The square format is great. It’s the format of choice for Instagram and is great for really focusing in on a subject. You’ll see many of my photos here have been cropped to the square format.

Square photograph format works well for detail shots like this derelict shipping container

Thirteen: Look for Something Which Stands Out in a Scene

Find something that doesn’t fit into a photograph and enhance it.

This yellow sign on the side of this vehicle hut doesn't really blend in with the scene
This yellow sign on the side of this vehicle hut doesn’t really blend in with the scene


Fourteen: Try Simplistic and Minimal Subject Matter

Completely blur out your background using a large aperture to keep your photo focused on one thing.

The only thing here that is in focus is this cow parsley head. It would make a great card.

Fifteen: Quirky Signs

Capture a candid of something which is out of place that might be seen as fun in years to come.

Find run things in a scene that are out of place.
Find fun things in a scene that are out of place.

Sixteen: Try Abstract

Look for unusual detail. Think of something that would fit more into a modern art museum that a photograph you would show your mum.

Abstract photo of bamboo against a neutral grey background

Seventeen: Look for Interesting Shapes and Positioning

Think about how objects are connected in a scene. Are things in order or is one thing out of place?

These floral heads all look identical and fill up most of the frame of this photograph
These floral heads all look identical and fill up most of the frame of this photograph. They are all equidistant and connected by the starburst style petioles.

Eighteen: Look for complementing colour and texture

Find harmonious colours and textures and try to photograph why they look good together.

I loved how the texture, shapes and colours complemented each other in this photo.
I loved how the texture, shapes and colours complemented each other in this photo.

That’s the last one for today. Check back Wednesday for the last installment!



9 Ways to Help Change How You Photograph: Part 1

White-edged leaf hosta in black and white

As I mentioned previously some friends and I recently went on an evening after work taking photos. I thought I would share with you some of my top tips when it comes to taking photographs and how I consider different aspects of a scene. This will be Part 1 of 3, so I hope that you will also join me for the next parts on Monday and Wednesday.

The idea is, if you’re just getting into photography to suggest some things to think about to change how you take photos and for those more seasoned experts, maybe some inspiration. In my opinion none of these images are going to win any competitions but they were all taken within a couple of hours and they demonstrate perfectly how photographers can see things differently.

One: Frame the photo with something

Leaves, a window, a building, a fence – it provides focus.

Seaton Park - The formal garden with view framed by leaves
Seaton Park – The formal garden with view framed by leaves.

Two: Zoom in – try and find things in the distance.

Zooming in changes the perspective and makes things seem closer together than they are.

The formal walkway showing plants - zoomed in view
The formal walkway showing plants – zoomed in view.

Three: Get down low

Look at what’s happening under your feet. A low perspective emphasizes size and scale differences.

Daisies and buttercups low view
Daisies and buttercups low view.

Four: Aim up high

Point your camera upwards or get a higher vantage point. It can give the impression of things towering above you.

Dappled sunlight in the canopy of a beach tree
Dappled sunlight in the canopy of a beach tree – looking upwards.

Five: Be quick to act to changes in light

Lighting is around 90% of a photo in my opinion so be quick to act when the light changes. Have locations in mind that you would like to return to when the light is better. Generally evenings and mornings are best but it depends what you want to photograph – cloudy days are better for flowers.

Cocksfoot grass
This Cocksfoot grass would have been boring had the evening sun not come out and back lit the stems.

Six: Look for unusual colour combinations

Sometimes the light or a different view can change the colours of things completely. Find a colour combo you like and try different angles to highlight them each in different ways.

Bronze-leaved sycamore
This dark-leaved sycamore at first looks bronze but the light shining through leaves made them look glorious yellow.

Seven: Go black and white

Black and white looks best where there is good contrast across the image. Red and green will look the same shade of grey hence why colour blind people can’t tell the difference.

Black and white version of the bronze-leaved sycamore.

Eight: Use lead-in lines

Lead-in lines do just that – they lead your eyes into the frame of the photograph and leave to wondering what lies beyond them.

Lead-in lines formed by the edges of the path. Also considers point ‘Three.’

Nine: Try an easy ‘fake’ infra-red filter effect 

If you are lucky enough to have photo-editing software, try converting your photo to black and white and lightening only the green tones in your image. What you get is a really easy way to make a ‘fake’ infra red effect which is where all the plant foliage goes white.

Easy fake infra red effect using photoshop
Easy fake infra red effect using photoshop

Want more ideas? Check back tomorrow!

Annette X

A Unique Craft Business – Medals and Trophies

So, in case you don’t already know, I, well technically we(!), have a little craft business on the side (one that is designed to be profitable rather than just a ‘hobby business’ as they say). We have the rather unusual business of making bespoke and different-to-the-usual medals and trophies.

We have made anything between 3 and 500! Get in touch if you are interested in what we can do for you!

I want to go through each thing I’ve done individually, but here’s my favourites so far:

Cakefest 1
Cakefest  (2014) – my ultimate favourite medal!
D33 2016 medals
D33 ultramarathon (2016) medals and trophies
D33 beer and medal
D33 ultramarathon (2011) – the first production
D33 ulramarathon (2014) – another favoutite
Jedburgh Ultramarathon
Jedburgh Ultramarathon (2015) – designed around the Jedburgh Abbey window
Lindsays borders marathon
lindsays Borders Marathon (2014)
Stonehaven running club
Stonehaven Running Club (2011)

What do you think? Would you be happy to receive one of these?


Why do you Blog? Blogerative.

In the last few months I have written more than I ever have in my life. I’m writing a Master’s thesis, I’m writing a book and I’m writing a blog. I’ve learnt to express all aspects of my mind, my dandelion mind, in a way that makes me feel better about myself and the people around me.

So why do you blog? Why do we become obsessed by getting those little ‘likes’ everywhere? Or a comment – those little gold nuggets which make us feel a little like we’ve won the lottery. Are we so craving approval by other people? Does that little like button somehow give us a sense that we are normal?  

On the internet we can almost be anyone we want to be. We can give the impression of a perfect life. Like the fact that every meal is a delicious work of art, that we are fit and healthy and that we always look great.

We want people to think that is how we live our lives. 

We all respond strongly to imagery, colour and beauty. There are a hundred ways to photograph and construct your buddha bowl but you must now do it in a way that is a lot more than throwing a few things together to make a lunch. There must be art and beauty and colour and pattern in the image. We find the best background and take multiple images until, yes, that’s the one. It makes us feel better when we have that beautiful image to share with the world.

And so we construct some text to accompany the image. It could be something we want to inspire others with, something to make us feel better by ourselves, it could be a confession or a story. It expresses how we feel we want to be seen at that time. It follows our mood. Then there are the keywords, tags, hashtags, anything we find to add to share our wonderful moment with the world.

That’s it now, that’s what we want to say. That’s what we want to say to the world. That’s what we want people to listen to us say. People will definitely be interested in what I, the writer, must share to the world.

And then nothing. Then maybe a few likes. Did they read it? Did they actually read it and take it onboard? How do they feel? Do they agree? Have we changed their life? Was it useful? 

Or did we just waste 30 minutes of our time talking, as usual, to ourselves, in our mind? Except this time anyone can now read our thoughts.

Why do you blog?


Playing with fire..

Well, playing with smoke to be precise. I made these really fun images a while ago after seeing the technique in a photography magazine. What annoys me is I can’t really remember how I did them. I used a candle, though you can use incense as this can produce better smoke. You need a black background and a lighting source, a tripod and of course your camera. And that’s about all I remember.

I remember tweaking around with them in Photoshop a bit improving contrast and saturation to get the vivid, dynamic colours. Also I mirrored them all to get more interesting sames and patterns.

An animal with long fangs or moustache perhaps? Slightly elephant like.
A bent spine?
Any ideas?
A pelvis
Smoke 1
Two snakes about to take each other on, or two walking sticks….
Smoke 2
Who knows?

This is definitely a fun thing to do on a dark, rainy day. You don’t even need electricity! I’d love to see your images. I’d like to try these again on my new camera as I have some noise in these and each shape will always be unique – see how you get on!

Annette X

X-ray cat graphic

A while ago I thought I would have ago at my own X-ray vector art on Adobe Illustrator and here is the result:


This is modeled on a photo I took of our cat Suri – a Scottish Fold (but without the folded ears). I thought it was pretty cool for a first attempt although the area at the side of the nose is possibly a little too dark for my liking. Look up Evert Martin for some way cooler designs. Also Digital Arts Online shows you a tutorial on how to do it. It’s pretty straightforward but it took me a while to get the right effect, especially for the eyes and mouth/nose area. This probably took me about 2 hours but it was my first project on the program.

Also stay tuned for some real X-ray art – the perks of having access to an X-ray scanner!!