Saturday, 27 February 2010

Book Review - "time of my life" by Allison Winn Scotch

book review

I love books and find I immerse myself in them, getting totally lost in the narrative.  I’m going to tell you about the latest book I’m reading, called “time of my life” by Allison Winn Scotch.  Thanks to another great pick from @hemymusic (the first book being “Hollywood Ending” by Kathy Charles – please read it, it’s great)  I have totally immersed myself in this book – to the point where having only about 20 pages to go, it is with mixed emotions that I read it to the end.  The characters and their lives are so interesting and enjoyable and their problems are so like our own, that it seems a shame to say good bye to them so soon.  Surely that’s a mark of a good book...

Basically, the story is a little like this – Jillian, the main character finds herself in the life that is a little too suburban, shall we say.  She’s married, has a child, a beautiful home, lovely friends...but is this it? Is this really as good as it gets?  Fantasising about how life would have been different had she made other choices earlier on, she manages to find herself in the situation where she can change her life’s direction.  Of course, such a twist in the story comes with its own problems – how will the writer handle Jillian’s situation and the sequence of events, will they be cheesy, will they be predictable, will they be unrealistic or over the top?  Thankfully, the characters and their encounters are none of these.  The warm, friendly and candid style of writing means you could almost be listening to a friend speak with you about her problems; there’s a genuineness about the characters and a realistic and somewhat humourous portrayal of their problems - qualities that make the story so engaging.  Jillian is, after all like many mothers who discover their lives are so very different once babies come along.  Often feelings of “is this it” aren’t talked about during pre-natal classes or even in mother’s groups, the subject being taboo.  And of course, there’s the old adage of “be careful what you wish for” to contend with.   I’ve really enjoyed how this little talked about topic has been treated in this book.  It’s been given a certain lightness so it’s not depressing, whilst at the same time it’s a serious situation the character find herself in, with some very serious consequences.

It is with reluctance, trepidation and excitement that I will complete those last 20 pages tonight.  Reluctance that I will no longer be reading about Jillian’s life; trepidation that the last 20 pages are going to rush through to the conclusion leaving me feeling a little ripped off – so much action happening in so few paragraphs (why do some writers do that? Rush through the ending?)hopefully it won't be the case in this book; and excitement, how will Jillian’s life choices be resolved. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, 1 February 2010

How different Photographic Treatments change the look of a Subject

Take a bunch of hydrangeas, a hand painted ceramic bowl, a string of pearls, a cedar table, some floaty organza and a couple of torches.  Add to this mix your favourite camera equipment and your editing skills.  Get busy and arrange the items in a pleasant fashion. And now experiment!

In the first photograph, a standard 50mm lens – the plastic fantastic, diffused torchlight, and a long exposure of a couple of seconds was used.  The diffused torchlight was used to “paint” the light onto the hydrangeas.  The brightness, contrast, levels were then adjusted in Photoshop to get this final results.

Still Life Hydrangeas - straight photo

There’s a real trend toward adding textured layers to photographs these days.  Adding textures really changes the feel of the photo.  It somehow ages the photo, giving it a real retro/grungy/moody look.  I recommend you shoot your own textures or if you really prefer, you can obtain free textures by simply searching Google for “free textures”.  I’ve used 3 different texture layers (my own) to the original image, and have blended them using varying opacities and blending modes.   I find I use overlay, soft light, hard light and multiply the most.

still life hydrangeas - textured

This image is identical to the image above - it has been layered with textures to change it's appearance to a more moody and vintage look.
This final image was shot using a very different technique – in fact it’s a blend of two techniques that I enjoy – the dreamy Lensbaby and the Through the Viewfinder techniques are absolute favourites of mine.  Different brands of Twin Reflex cameras will also yield varying results.  So, in these final two images, I used the Lensbaby Muse with the +4 macro filter; I inserted that into the “tube of darkness” which directly points to the viewfinder on the top of the Twin Reflex Camera.  Using the Muse lens, really softened the overall look of the image and the square format plus some cross-processing, gives it an aged appearance.  Follow this link if you’d like to know more about the Through the Viewfinder technique.

Hydrangea TtV - argus
Through the Viewfinder using Lensbaby Muse +macro 4 filter and Argus Argoflex Camera

Day 31 of 365
Through the Viewfinder using Lensbaby Muse + macro 4 filter and Kodak Duoflex Camera

Coming Soon - How to apply textures to your images.

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