Category 'Art'

When I was a child the neighbourhood kids and I would spend our free time riding bikes among the surrounding bushland. Although our street was a branded a dead end if you ventured beyond the road signs you’d find yourself in wild terrain full of life where brumbies roamed and snakes slithered across your path. Inspired by the features of the landscape I used to make up stories for the other kids about how the land came to be. I wouldn’t say I was a natural storyteller but something about that place worked its way under my skin. Ever since I’ve wanted to travel around Australia with a dream of creating stories in our iconic landscapes to give the landscape a voice and inspire others to share and build their own stories in these natural settings. Australians have a long history of storytelling whether it be Dreamtime or “spinning a yarn”. It’s a framework we create to feel a sense of connection, both to the land and to other people, to the past and the present. Our Indigenous ancestors felt a deep spiritual connection with country fostered through the sharing of stories yet people of the present day experience a disconnect between themselves and the land; it’s merely something to plunder and urbanise. ‘The Land and I’ project is a photographic series that brings stories inspired by local history and Indigenous culture to life using iconic Australian landscapes as a backdrop with the intention of highlighting places of natural beauty to instil a sense of community pride that ensures these spaces will be protected and treasured. We need to be educated about and reminded of the histories, memories and stories our landscapes contain and keep a record of not just people but also place. I intend the works to become talking points for the community, inspiring others to visit these locations and make or share their own stories, photos and artworks, ultimately encouraging a sense of belonging and promoting reverence for our natural environment. These will be collected in an online cultural repository that attempts to capture the sights, sounds, smell and feel of these natural environments throughout time from a variety of viewpoints for the benefit of future generations. Initially I will flesh out the concept using locations within the Moreton Bay Region, experimenting with lighting, framing and set design, working with amateur models and costumes created myself to establish the look and feel for the series. In the long term I plan to expand this project all over Australia, working with locally sourced talent in partnership with sponsors, government funds, and tourism boards to raise awareness.

[caption id="attachment_3358" align="alignright" width="300"] 'There Was' by Charles Blackman[/caption] If I haven’t mentioned it before my favourite artist is Charles Blackman and, in particular, his Schoolgirls and Angels series. He manages to imbue his simple paintings with this lonely darkness that I just adore. And it’s a theme that all my favourite art pieces seem to have in common. Lonely darkness. Anyway, recently I learned how to make a photo of day look like night. It’s really simple. Basically you drop your exposure and blacks and add an overall blue tone, but for some reason I’d never been able to figure out how to do it, and not for lack of trying. Sometimes the simplest Photoshop tricks completely elude me. But now I finally have the tool I need to create my own lonely darkness.   [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="3361,3360"]   ‘The Stars are Falling’ was initially inspired by an episode of 'Angel' I watched long ago that featured a storyline where the sky rained with fire. It got me thinking about the moment of peace the world would experience when everyone looked to the sky wondering what was going on, before everything erupted into chaos. With all that has gone on in 2016, political upheaval, the deaths of so many icons, as well as personal struggles such as losing my job, alienating friends, and reaching a plateau with my art, it’s impossible to ignore that everything is changing. All of which has manifested in this image, ‘The Stars are Falling’. I started the year with an image that symbolises rebirth, ‘Metamorphosis’ and I feel as if this new image metaphorically completes that “circle of life”. [caption id="attachment_2869" align="aligncenter" width="300"]bird, conceptual, art, phoenix, baptism, reinvention, photograph, fire, flames Metamorphosis[/caption]   The rooftop in the image is from the bakery of my favourite restaurant, ‘Harvest’, in Newrybar and was photographed during a road trip I took exactly a year ago. The ‘meteor’ is a stock photo sourced from Unsplash and is attributed to NASA. The girl is, of course, a self-portrait, photographed, as usual, in my backyard. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="3354,3357,3356,3355"]   Happy New Year and here's to 2017 and whatever it shall bring. :)

Lately I've spent a lot of time staring at mountains and experiencing that feeling--you know the one--that is a mix of awe and wonder, interconnectedness and insignificance. There is no word for this feeling in the English language, or maybe any language, but it feels a lot like joy, or at least a kind of enchantment. When the clouds clear or the fog rises revealing a rainbow or a snow capped mountain and there you are to experience this rare and beautiful moment as woven by the elements, well, perhaps it would be an injustice to try and contain it in a single word. [caption id="attachment_3210" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Staring at mountains, Hooker Valley, New Zealand Staring at mountains, Hooker Valley, New Zealand[/caption]   I travel to find these moments and I photograph to try and immortalise them, but much like words, there is no medium on earth that can accurately convey the experience. This is what my image 'Enchanted' came to be about but as usual it did not start out that way, and as usual it ended as an image of a character interacting with nature, as the majority of my photos do. A lot of photographers who create the kind of art that I do have a very simple formula which is: a) a basic setting that isn't important to the story b) a moody sky c) a character d) something interesting happening to the character e) an overall colour tone, desaturation and overlaying of a texture My work has been getting too complicated and time consuming of late and arguably has suffered for it (or at least, I have) so I wanted to simplify things by creating an image using this formula. Without any plan I threw on a wig and a dress and posed for the camera, dancing, swishing, jumping and it was fun and freeing but probably not recommended because it's difficult to come up with a concept after the fact. I chose the final pose because it was the most pleasing to the eye, but it was a challenge to work with because she's observing, not interacting and that made it hard to put her in a story. Pose for Enchantment   The mountains were photographed from a train in Scotland and have been on my mind as a potential scene for forever and a day. Because she's observing I had to give her something interesting to observe and I liked how the mountains complemented the colour scheme of her hair and skin. The clouds are from the original mountain scene but combined from a number of different shots. It was at this point seeing the scene become the story that I ditched the formula and yet again indulged my subconscious desire to run off into nature. Mountain in Scotland She is standing on a stormwater drain mainly as a way of making her the correct perspective, but also, don't you find you like to climb things to get a better view of pretty scenes? Drain for Enchantment I added the rainbow because I wanted to create one of those rare and beautiful moments I talked about earlier. An epic mountain is one thing but an epic mountain with a rainbow is exactly the kind of scene that makes you experience that exquisite feeling there is no word for, but feels a lot like joy. Rainbow for Enchantment   FOOTNOTE: Two days after writing this post we had a stormy afternoon and with it came the closest, brightest double rainbow I've ever seen. As the neighbours came outside to view it it was a lovely to see so many people enchanted by the moment. [caption id="attachment_3208" align="aligncenter" width="595"]Detail of image - using the oil paint filter to resemble a painting Detail of image - final touches with the oil paint filter to make the image resemble a painting[/caption]

Last spring I created the image, 'Dance of the Jacarandas' to celebrate the month when my city turns purple, so after a trip to Japan earlier this year it seemed appropriate to make a companion cherry blossom themed piece for release this spring. I'm thinking of turning this into a regular series and am toying with poincianas, wattle or bougainvillea next, so if you know of any good spots ...   [caption id="attachment_3165" align="aligncenter" width="960"]A cherry blossom sighting in Japan (my mother can't be trusted with my camera). A cherry blossom sighting in Japan (my mother can't be trusted with my camera).[/caption]   It's embarrassing to admit, but back in my university / goth years, on the 1st of Spring I would dress up as the spring fairy, buying fresh flowers and weaving them into a wreath, and if I felt brave enough (because clearly playing dress ups was not already brazen enough) I would give out floral gifts to strangers (there is photographic evidence of this but it's such a terrible shame that I can't currently find it). If this series is any indication I guess I still like to play dress ups and celebrate spring. To my surprise cherry blossom trees are actually quite tough to photograph. For one, they are totally inundated with people. They bloom for approximately 11 days once a year so if you blink you'll miss 'em, which of course means everyone wants to experience them in person. We were on a regular commuter bus in Kyoto and as we drove past a cherry blossom tree, EVERYONE took out their phone cameras and started snapping away. Some companies even pay an employee to sit in a park all day during hanami (cherry blossom viewing) reserving the best picnic spot for when they all finish work. The Japanese also have this astounding ability that, while it may seem as if there's no one nearby, as soon as you point your camera at something at least one person will appear and stand in your way for as long as it takes for you to give up and move on. It's uncanny.   [caption id="attachment_3163" align="aligncenter" width="960"]cherry blossom Keage Incline, Kyoto: I got totally lost at Nanzen-ji temple looking for a waterfall and found this instead.[/caption]   Secondly, Japan has become quite polluted. On my previous two visits this wasn't the case so I'm sad to say it is now. I love photographing overcast scenes because colours become deep and saturated, even sunny days bring blue skies and lots of contrast, but pollution? It does no favours for anyone.   [caption id="attachment_3164" align="aligncenter" width="960"]cherry blossom Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto, and the most boring type of sky.[/caption]   Lastly, cherry blossoms come in a stunning array of colours and varieties but the majority of them are this wishy washy pale pink colour that just blends right in with the polluted sky and looks kind of mucky.   [caption id="attachment_3166" align="aligncenter" width="960"]cherry blossom Pale flowers, Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto[/caption]   The two trees used in my final image were both photographed at Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo on the first day of our trip, right before cherry blossom season had actually begun. They have thicker flowers and are a rarer rich, pink colour which is quite lovely. If anyone knows what type of sakura these are, I beg you to tell me so I can buy one. The other elements that make up the final photo are included below. [gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="3168,3167"]   [gallery size="large" ids="3171,3172,3170,3169,3173"]   I had the photo all ready to go but my Mum pointed out that the hedges didn't have any fallen flowers on them. It's these kinds of details that really make a composite believable and is why getting a second opinion is so important. (And also why I then had to spend an extra day on the image.) As with 'Dance of the Jacarandas' I created a brush out of a cherry blossom to paint some falling blooms into the scene and then added some more petal shaped brush strokes. Falling cherry blossoms are quite lovely and to experience them is like being caught in a soft, warm snowstorm. I have a video of what it's like featuring my mother being delightful but I can't figure out how to post it with Wordpress so check out my Facebook  instead. [caption id="attachment_3187" align="aligncenter" width="150"]cherry blossom brush Sakura Photoshop brush[/caption]   And then of course, there's me, photographed as usual in my backyard using an op shop parasol and an eBay dress. I really liked this pose but there were some problems with it so I photographed it again a few days later, only to decide that I preferred the original pose afterall.   Cherry blossom self-portrait   You can see more of my travel photography (I'm not up to Japan yet but I'll get there eventually) at my travel Instagram account @hayleyrtravels where I post a photo daily. Sayonara! jacaranda, sakura, cherry blossom, fine art, prints, photography, conceptual, series

I got into creating art because I love it. I live for it. Because nothing else has ever made me happier. And so I rode the wave and followed the dream, conveniently forgetting all the things I’d heard about surviving as an artist. I took courses, consumed videos, and read everything I could about the art I yearned to create – all from people who conveyed how easy it is to make a living from their craft, when in reality they make their living from teaching their craft. Nobody ever said how hard it is or how expensive, disheartening and lonely it can be. Nobody said that despite all this, once it’s in your bones it’s impossible to stop creating. So I’ve put together a list of twelve things you should know before turning your art hobby into a career.

Twelve things no one tells you about being an artist:

  1. We live in frugal times and for most people an art purchase is an excess, not a necessity. These days people prefer to adorn their walls with cheap, wholesale art produced by Ikea or Kmart rather than art that means something to them. For you this means that until you find a market for your work you can add ‘starving artist’ to your resume. It’s certainly not impossible to make a living out of art but, for most artists, finding an audience to invest in their work is astonishingly tough.
  1. To find a market for your art you need as many eyes on your work as possible but to get exposure you need to spend money. It costs money to enter competitions. It costs money to have a website. It costs money to run an online store. It costs money to have an exhibition. You might be lucky enough to get into a free community gallery but otherwise you’re paying venue rental fees, printing and framing costs, promotion costs, catering costs, packing and courier costs, possible airfares so you can be there in person to market your work, and you may not make a single sale. But you need these experiences on your resume because without being a published and exhibited artist no one will take you seriously.
  1. You will need to spend AT LEAST 50% of your time on marketing. Learning and mastering your craft is not enough if you then want people to see it. You’ll be spending your time setting up your shop, writing blog posts, crafting newsletters, building your social media following, networking, creating YouTube videos, writing grant applications, pitching to magazines, entering competitions and organising exhibitions. And then, in one of life’s great ironies, you’ll notice that some of your favourite artists barely do any marketing at all and still have great success.
  1. When printing your work it will NEVER look how it did on your screen or on your painting. Firstly, colour is such an impossible beast to tame for reasons that are far too technical to explain and secondly if you work on a computer screen it has a luminance that paper doesn’t. The first time I printed my work it came out VERY dark and I now have to work differently to compensate. This is why you want to work with a trained fine art printer who can help you fix it and not a cheap photo lab. It’s also why you need to ask or pay for a test print before ordering a full run of prints.
  1. Being an artist means being vulnerable and exposed. It is really hard to put your creative expression and months of work on display in the vain hope that it might get a few likes as people scroll past it on social media. Yet to make sales you need to continually spruik your work which is a struggle if you’re self-conscious about it and worried that posting too often will lose fans.
  1. People will buy your art only once they’ve formed a connection with it. Sometimes it’s enough just to like a piece, but often they will want to know more about the artwork and the artist. They want to know who you are, why you create, why you use the techniques you do, what story the piece is telling. This is difficult if you create on instinct. You will also be expected to be confident, positive, passionate, likeable and grateful. It’s tough when you’re putting on your bravest face and producing your best work and it’s still not enough to convert fans into buyers.
  1. Pricing. Ugh. People will tell you your work is too expensive. People will tell you your work is too cheap. Your pricing structure will never please everyone. You just have to accept that not everyone is your target market and brave their complaints. The prices the majority of people are prepared to pay wouldn’t even cover my bills, let alone my time.
  1. You need to choose a fine art career or a wholesale career because you cannot, apparently, have both. If you want to be respected as an artist it is very much frowned upon to be printing your products on mugs and cushions because it devalues the collectability of your art. But if you want to make money by selling smaller, cheaper, products at a higher volume, wholesale is the way to go. So do you prefer markets or galleries?
  1. Be aware that galleries charge a commission to sell your work which can be anywhere up to 70%. It is so disheartening to know that they will probably make more from your work than you do, but it’s a catch 22 because without their space, contacts and marketing you may not have sold the work at all. Just make sure the gallery you are working with is actually earning their commission. On the other hand, if you prefer to sell prints yourself online you will find that oftentimes people pay more to frame your work than they paid to purchase it, and that’s when you realise that everyone else makes more money out of your art than you do.
  1. You are a small fish in a gigantic pond and you’ll constantly compare your work to others. There will always be someone better than you. There will always be someone whose art is less accomplished but who wins all the competitions or makes all the sales. This is dangerous territory and you have to remember that you are all following your own path and creating in the only way you know how. You don’t know what demons anyone else is battling and what may look successful to you may be a failure to them. Comparison is only healthy if it makes you work harder to be better. It’s only healthy when you’re comparing your work now to how it was a year ago.
  1. Most artists don’t make money from selling art alone. They will have second jobs. They will teach their craft to others. They will write books. They will own galleries. They will benefit from other artists by producing magazines, or competitions, or running artist support websites. They will run courses on marketing for artists or sell artist supplies. They will live off artist grants or crowdfunding campaigns. They will have sponsors who pay them to use and promote their products. Diversifying your offering is key.
  1. With all of this in mind it is SO EASY to start doubting yourself based on how many competitions you don’t win, how many sales you don’t make, how successful every other artists seems. But you have to remember always, always, that you got into this because creating is your lifeblood and not because you wanted to be a successful artist. The most successful artists are the ones that persevere even when no one’s buying their work, who know their value is not defined by how many likes they receive or how many trolls leave hurtful comments. Because they love creating art and cannot live without it and know that everything else is just a bonus.
  * To learn how the image was created, see here.

There are some honeyeaters that flit about my house feeding on nectar. A few years ago one of them got trapped inside the house and after it eventually tired I scooped it up in my hands and set it free. After that I began to imagine a story where the little bird came back each day offering gifts. [caption id="attachment_3110" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Of course I grabbed my camera first. I, of course, grabbed my camera first.[/caption]   About a year later it happened again. Again it tired and again I set it free. But shortly after I heard some twittering at the front door. I went to look and found a family of honeyeaters flying about, tweeting like crazy and one flew right up to my face before flitting away. It probably meant nothing but I will forever believe that the family were trying to thank me for saving the trapped bird. Not so long after, a magpie started hanging around the house. It seemed to have something stuck inside its mouth so it let me hand feed it, and sometimes I would throw food in the air and it would fly up to catch it. When I sat outside on the patio it would sit on the back of the chair opposite me. This continued for a week or so before it (hopefully) flew off to his next destination. [caption id="attachment_3112" align="aligncenter" width="178"]Image courtesy of my father Image courtesy of my father[/caption]   I mention these stories because, clearly, I am Dr Doolittle. (I am! And I won't hear otherwise!) This image, 'The Woods Welcome', is the second in the two part 'Wildflower' series, and follows on from 'Where She Wanders'. That sure is a lot of W's. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" link="none" ids="3086,3115"]   In my first post about the series I mentioned how it was inspired by the urge to 'get back to nature' that many of us have. But it was also inspired by the nurturing instinct that humans have towards animals and our desire to humanise wild things. I'd always intended on incorporating animals into my work but I first wanted to make sure my compositing skills were up to scratch and, let me tell you, cutting out animal fur is definitely a challenge (but still not hard as my damn curly hair). I'm currently working with this method which is the best way I've found to cut out hair/fur, although it's unfortunately still not foolproof. The image is primarily composed of photos from Japan. The deer was photographed at beautiful Miyajima, the rabbits at Ōkunoshima (an island full of rabbits!!!), the background bamboo scene at Tenryuji Temple gardens in Arashiyama and the flowers at Kyoto Botanical Gardens. I photographed myself in my yard and the bird at Notre Dame in France. [gallery size="medium" link="none" ids="3108,3114,3107,3116,3109,3111,3119,3113"]   Like 'Where She Wanders', ‘The Woods Welcome’ is a limited edition print of 20. The cost of $200 (Australian dollars which converts to approx $150USD and 110 GBP) includes free shipping worldwide and a 5% donation to the RSPCA. It measures 10.9 x 25 inches excluding border and is printed on fine art archival paper. Prints are individually signed and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Purchase here.

Recently the opportunity to do a newborn photo shoot literally fell into my lap - when my neighbour handed me this doll and suggested I use it in a photo. Made by Reborn Baby Central, it's delightfully creepy so how could I resist? From Reborn Baby Central   It sat in my room for a few days mocking me with its lifelikeness and I had to continually check that it hadn't opened its eyes while my back was turned. But eventually I grew fond of the damn thing and so I decided to photograph it as if it were a newborn (or in this case, reborn) baby. I enjoy the work that newborn photographers do but I sadly lack whatever maternal hormones are required for baby-rearing and so being able to do a baby shoot without unintentionally hurting it, upsetting it, or getting pooped on was immensely appealing. People that are parents, I salute you. I did a little research into newborn photography techniques and learnt that with the right props, a shallow depth of field and some basic compositing skills it's not such a tricky thing to do. Although I'm sure the actual difficulty lies in trying to keep a real life child asleep or amused. There are a number of Photoshop tricks newborn photographers employ, like reducing skin redness, selective blurring and skin softening and I thought it was hilarious that this doll is so lifelike that it has red skin patches, wrinkles and discolouration that I needed to retouch just like a real child. I've also discovered how to use Photoshop's mixer brush to retouch skin which is my new favourite thing. [caption id="attachment_3077" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Actual background and before skin retouching Actual background and before skin retouching[/caption]   Naturally, being a vampire baby I then had to do some fancy Photoshop work to give the images a dark twist. I have tried to do this tastefully as someone pointed out that people may take offence. I genuinely hope this isn't the case and that these images can be enjoyed for the lighthearted fun they are. Let me know your favourite!   [gallery columns="1" size="large" link="file" ids="3063,3071,3067,3066,3073,3064,3070,3072,3065,3068,3069"]  

When I was small we lived in a house that backed onto undeveloped land and so the neighbourhood kids and I would grab our bikes and head off exploring, making up creation stories and brushing shoulders with snakes and wild brumbies. When I was a teenager we lived in a house that backed onto rainforest and so my friends and I would head off exploring, climbing mountains and swimming in undiscovered waterfalls. Perhaps because of these experiences or perhaps because a part or me is just a little bit 'wild', these days whenever I'm driving through the country I feel the urge to ditch my car and run off into the wilderness to befriend the animals and be at one with nature. But I'm not much of a camping fan and I really hate the cold so I have to quell my Disney-esque urges and just keep driving. Instead I decorate my house in a style that can only be called 'woodlands' as evidenced by this peek at one of my bookshelves. [caption id="attachment_3082" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Woodlands Bookshelf Mind the mess - perhaps I should have dusted first ...[/caption]   But this is why I love creating photographic art. Because now I can be the girl who wanders the forest wooing the flora and fauna, and yet still stay warm and dry. 'Where She Wanders' is the first image in the two part 'Wildflower' series. The second will be released in coming weeks. Trying to match the colours of the two images while still making each scene look realistic has been immensely challenging and has taken me nearly two months to complete, the longest I've ever worked on a piece, and most of that was just spent refining colour. A woodlands inspired fine art print   The poses for the images were photographed in my studio (backyard). The background bamboo scene was photographed in Japan at Tenryuji Temple gardens in Arashiyama and the deer in Nara Park. The grass came from Stonehenge and the birds from Notre Dame in France as trained by the fabulous Bird Man. The flowers came from a number of different locations after much experimentation to find those that fit. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" link="file" ids="3080,3083,3084,3081"]   It shall have pride of place among my woodslandy decor, acting as a reminder to always nuture wildness.   'Where She Wanders' is a limited edition print of 20 that will go on sale on July 10, 2016 at 9pm (AEST). The cost of $200 (Australian dollars which converts to approx $150USD and 110 GBP) includes free shipping worldwide and 5% of each sale will be donated to my local RSPCA. It measures 10.9 x 25 inches excluding border and is printed on fine art archival paper. Prints will be individually signed and are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Purchase here:  https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/ExposingIllusions from July 10. Where She Wanders print by Hayley Roberts Photography   “Like a wild flower; she spent her days, allowing herself to grow, not many knew of her struggle, but eventually all; knew of her light.” - Nikki Rowe

Recently I was asked by some work friends to create a special birthday commission. The gentleman subject, Russell, is a golf fan and world traveller so I knew straight away that I wanted to create a unique piece that combined his two passions. Sadly a trip to Europe wasn't in the budget so I had to use scenes I'd photographed previously for the background. But since the majority of the scenes I had in mind were captured from a moving train I was unsure what angle I'd need to photograph Russell from to make him fit realistically. To get some answers I first chose a bunch of possible scenes and then scoured the web for photos of golfers taken at different angles to see which fit the best. As you can see in the example, the first golfer looked the most natural, followed closely by the third and as it turned out, these golfers looked the best in EVERY scene regardless of the angle the original scene had been photographed at. Curious. Choosing a golfer to fit a composite   But what angle had THESE golfers been photographed at? Without access to this information I had to take a stab in the dark and guessed that both were taken from waist height with the camera straight on - but looking at the original images they appear to be photographed at quite different angles. Even more curious. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" link="none" ids="2958,2956"]   Now I totally lack the skills to confidently look at a scene and guess what angle it was photographed from, but I needed concrete answers before the client shoot! So I did this little compositing experiment. I stood in my backyard and photographed myself at all different angles so that I could overlay each person onto my scene and figure out which fit best. This way I'd know exactly how to photograph my model. It's also a handy reference guide when looking at the work of other photographers to compare the horizon lines and figure out what angle it was shot from. Genius! I've added a link to the end of this post so you can download and use this tool too. Although keep in mind that it's not foolproof because distance and camera tilt are also important factors. [caption id="attachment_2965" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Free compositing tool Free compositing tool[/caption]   So based on my original guess I added the waist height example into my scene and, WHAT?, it didn't fit! Yet it turns out, the one photographed at thigh height was a match. So now I could confidently photograph Russell from this angle and have him fit my scene. Brill! [caption id="attachment_2963" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Golf compositing example Waist height example on left, doesn't fit as well as thigh high example on right[/caption]   Photographing Russell was a delight and zooming around the golf course in his buggy was a tonne of fun. I spent about an hour photographing Russell using various locations and poses but it was actually the 13th image I shot that ended up being the winner because the pose was the most natural. Russell Plastow   To create the scene I used three different images of grass, 1 lake image, 3 photos of mountains and 5 images to build the sky! The ball was photographed wizzing along the ground and the geese just happened to fly over as we were shooting. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" link="none" ids="2957,2959"]   I did have a problem with moire in Russell's clothes, which is the flaring you get in patterned fabric (and coincidentally also happened in the dress I'm wearing in the examples). And because of this I learnt that there's actually a moire reduction slider hidden in Lightroom's adjustment tools. Who knew? So now I have one happy client, one happy photographer who got to hang out on a golf course and learn some new things, and hopefully one happy blog audience who now have a handy compositing tool which you can download here. :) Golf commission

[box style="info"]   SIGN UP to my brand new newsletter featuring latest news and images and exclusive access to flash sales! Enter your email in the box at the top to stay in touch. [/box]   To get between work and home I regularly drive a busy highway and as those who drive highways know, the traffic can often stop for reasons unknown. During one of these particular ‘jams I was daydreaming about what could be the cause of the trouble ahead and I started imagining an oversized girl lying on the road. This is going to sound really weird, but when I was young I used to have recurring nightmares where I would forget the size of things; so big things would become small and small, big, and I’d get upset because I couldn’t remember the ‘right’ size of things. Because of this I think about wrongly sized things probably more than is normal. If any shrinks care to weigh in on what this might mean I’d be interested to hear just how crazy I am. I was quite taken with the idea of this gigantic girl so to create the image I literally took to the streets, photographing all kinds of roads, but being an annoying perfectionist I couldn’t find any that matched the vision in my head. So eventually I coaxed Mum into driving me up and down (and up and down) the highway while I took photos of the road. I love the random and weird experiences I have when creating images. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="2912,2913"]   I shot the self-portrait twice because the angle wasn’t right. The second time was on a windy day and the backdrop kept falling over and smacking me in the stomach (so maybe not all the weird experiences are fun). I think the official term for this is “suffering for your art”. Especially since I never ended up using those second shoot images anyway. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" link="file" ids="2914,2916,2917,2915"]   The roadside trees were also photographed on my highway drive but as we were moving they are slightly blurred and were really hard to cut out, so I ended up layering many trees from different photos behind them to disguise the masking issues and give the image depth. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="2919,2918"]   The mountains are created from different European scenes, while the sky and stars are overlays I purchased from Jessica Drossin. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="2923,2920,2922,2921"]   Now, to that all important meaning behind the photo … I am obsessed with the stars and have been known to wish on a star or two (hundred) in my time. Some years ago I even started writing a novel about a man whose wishes on stars started coming true (which was also titled ‘The Luminaries’). But I eventually learned that the only person in charge of your destiny is you. If you want something to happen only you can take the steps to make it so. Perhaps the stars can align for you but you’ve got to already be pursuing your dreams to be able to seize the opportunity. So for this image I wanted it to be ambiguous – is she the kind of person who catches stars or the kind of person who creates them? (I‘ll leave the mystery of her largeness up to you.) Luminary definition And a quote I love featured in a photo posted recently by Damien Echols. [embed]https://www.facebook.com/damienwechols/photos/a.245185425537382.66621.215418411847417/1023696481019602/?type=3&theater[/embed]  

26
Jun

‘The Land and I’ project

When I was a child the neighbourhood kids and I would spend our free time riding bikes among the surrounding bushland. Although our street was a branded a dead end if you ventured beyond the road signs you’d find yourself in wild terrain full of life where brumbies roamed and snakes slithered across your path. […]

31
Dec

The making of ‘The Stars are Falling’

If I haven’t mentioned it before my favourite artist is Charles Blackman and, in particular, his Schoolgirls and Angels series. He manages to imbue his simple paintings with this lonely darkness that I just adore. And it’s a theme that all my favourite art pieces seem to have in common. Lonely darkness. Anyway, recently I […]

23
Oct

The making of ‘Enchanted’

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time staring at mountains and experiencing that feeling–you know the one–that is a mix of awe and wonder, interconnectedness and insignificance. There is no word for this feeling in the English language, or maybe any language, but it feels a lot like joy, or at least a kind of enchantment. When […]

11
Sep

Cherry Blossom (sakura) season

Last spring I created the image, ‘Dance of the Jacarandas’ to celebrate the month when my city turns purple, so after a trip to Japan earlier this year it seemed appropriate to make a companion cherry blossom themed piece for release this spring. I’m thinking of turning this into a regular series and am toying with poincianas, wattle or bougainvillea […]

14
Aug

Twelve things no one tells you about being an artist

I got into creating art because I love it. I live for it. Because nothing else has ever made me happier. And so I rode the wave and followed the dream, conveniently forgetting all the things I’d heard about surviving as an artist. I took courses, consumed videos, and read everything I could about the […]

31
Jul

The making of ‘The Woods Welcome’

There are some honeyeaters that flit about my house feeding on nectar. A few years ago one of them got trapped inside the house and after it eventually tired I scooped it up in my hands and set it free. After that I began to imagine a story where the little bird came back each day offering […]

13
Jul

A newborn photo shoot with a difference

Recently the opportunity to do a newborn photo shoot literally fell into my lap – when my neighbour handed me this doll and suggested I use it in a photo. Made by Reborn Baby Central, it’s delightfully creepy so how could I resist?   It sat in my room for a few days mocking me […]

3
Jul

The making of ‘Where She Wanders’

When I was small we lived in a house that backed onto undeveloped land and so the neighbourhood kids and I would grab our bikes and head off exploring, making up creation stories and brushing shoulders with snakes and wild brumbies. When I was a teenager we lived in a house that backed onto rainforest […]

22
May

Behind the scenes of a special commission (with free compositing tool!)

Recently I was asked by some work friends to create a special birthday commission. The gentleman subject, Russell, is a golf fan and world traveller so I knew straight away that I wanted to create a unique piece that combined his two passions. Sadly a trip to Europe wasn’t in the budget so I had […]

8
May

The making of ‘Luminary’

  To get between work and home I regularly drive a busy highway and as those who drive highways know, the traffic can often stop for reasons unknown. During one of these particular ‘jams I was daydreaming about what could be the cause of the trouble ahead and I started imagining an oversized girl lying […]