Hello and thank you for calling in...

My name is Helen and I am a Photographer living in England. I started this Blog on the day that my Grandma died, three months after my Father died and several weeks before a third funeral. Initially it was a very personal way to stay connected to the people I'd lost and it helped, it really did. But writing and taking pictures everyday has opened back up a creative side that I had lost during the everyday. A big thank you to my followers, to those who take the time to comment and to new visitors, I hope we will become Blog friends too...

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

beside the seaside

We spent the Bank Holiday weekend in Tynemouth, lots of seasidey things to photograph and I really liked the colours and textures in this pile of nets, ropes and buoys at the Quay. It was a gloomy day so I used the flash and brought out a real sunny seaside feel to the picture with the blue and green nets looking a little like the waves of the sea rolling over one another with the buoys bobbing in the middle.

My photography teacher would be pleased with this shot as every element leads your eye to the fishing boat coming into the Quay, the waters edge snaking towards the land which leads your eye to the jetty and light house, all pointing towards the ship. Even the rocks bottom left 'stepping stone' in that direction. It has more impact in a larger size and I will probably at some stage photoshop out the mast on the hill but its working well on a technical level!
Its the colours of this one that really work for me. I like the way that there is the same colours in the buildings behind as in the nets in the foreground and the fact that they are all on the right side of the picture. The seagull gives it a seaside theme and he matches all the grey elements in the shot. My partner thinks this is a dull shot of nothing in particular but its the way it all blends that attracted my eye.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

a good days photography

Three friends and I had a photography day out at Bradgate Park, a local location for us and had a fine, if a bit blustery day. I love windy days, it creates nice natural blurry bits on photographs and we were lucky with some lovely shadows created by the bright sunshine and dark rainclouds which thankfully we were only on the edge of.

The photograph above works really well as the angles are perfect. The fence beginning at the bottom right leads your eye diagonally into the picture towards the left and back again to the right, with the stream taking over and leading you left again towards the centre and off along the river and trees into the distance.

I learnt about 'travelling around the picture' on a photography course at the beginning of the year and it makes you look at the composition of your shots so differently while your taking the photograph. The end result is much more interesting.

This one on the left doesn't have anywhere near the impact, its still a pretty shot but theres not enough in the foreground to grab your eye and only one direction to travel in the photograph. It was so interesting that for the first hour or so none of us could 'get into it' We had a huge park with so much to see but we were all uninspired or maybe it was that we were overwhelmed with large areas and only got into the flow of it when we found some smaller things to photograph.
This picture works well, the centre of the pine cone is the first thing that catches your eye with the body drawing your eye along it towards the back of the photograph. Rather than standing above and taking a shot of the long pine cone this is a much more punchy angle and setting it bottom left gives a much more dynamic shot.
Standing in our group chatting about our photographs we suddenly noticed a huge caterpillar at our feet and he caused the most excitement of the day! He made a disinterested muse and not one of us got a focused shot of him which was strange but I do like this one.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

quote 2

"If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come"

Chinese proverb

photograph by Shenton Canal, Sony 550

Monday, 23 May 2011

a bee sting on the bottom

So i went to the bank with my Mother today, moral support, as she took my Fathers death certificate in to them. They have a joint bank account and as the finances are being sorted out, it was time to take his name off it. Theres a million and one practical things to do when someone dies and it doesn't half take a lot of wading through.

Now my Dad was a little squirrel, ISA's here, insurances there, he dabbled in shares, he fiddled with money, it was his thing, it made him happy.

oh I do miss him terribly.

Anyway I hadn't given today much though really, it was all about supporting mum and that was fine until they slapped a form down in front of me with my Fathers name in big black shouting letters saying 'The Late...................'

That's the trouble with death, the death part isn't the end of it. It creeps up behind you pantomime like when your not looking BOO!! I swear its laughing.

Reminds me of the time i got stung on the bum by a bee. I was in an important meeting, my sparkliest self on display and the damn thing flew undetected up my skirt and took its best shot. It was not a moment to show weakness so with heroic composure I excused myself straight faced and unsussed to 'fetch some paperwork' The pain was immense and the little bugga 'got it' as soon as I was out of sight I can tell you.

This coming to terms with death business feels just like being stung on the bottom by a bee, when your least expecting it.

How odd to take his name off things, like he's disappearing bit by little bit. And odd for my mother too, there she was a 'Mrs' with a joint bank account and slowly she's becoming just her, on her own. It was the same at my uncles funeral, I looked across at my Auntie holding court with all 'their' friends and now just her, alone surrounded by people.

Death is so cruel, I wish I could make some new armour and wrap us all up in it, to protect us from these sudden wall closing in moments that were still getting.

Today my armour has fallen off and rolled under the sofa.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

have hat will travel

lying awake at a ridiculously early time this morning I notice my summer hat sitting there just waiting. Theres so much hope and excitement in a summer hat, hats somehow spell adventures, possibilities of being someone else, somewhere else for a while. You could have a whole new different adventure depending on that hat you chose. I always admire a person in a hat.You can put on jewelry and it dances along with the outfit as a whole but a hat yells 'hey look at me!'
Both my Grandmas were hat wearers with lovely hat pins and once i get past the 'wont they be a bit dirty as they never get washed' part of hats, I love them too.

Don't get me wrong, I don't often wear one mainly because I'm never organised enough with my wardrobe and they do irritate me a bit after I've had one on a while but I have a small collection and intend to make it larger. Hats would be a fabulous thing to photograph, people in hats wouldn't that be a thrill, to wander around the city one day and see how many different hats you could spot.

Hats worn in the summer are splendid because its an actual choice to wear one, there isn't really a need unless your trying to keep the sun off but it never really gets that hot in this country, they're just worn for the absolute thrill of wearing a hat. A statement. This is me, this is my hat. It says something about the you your wanting to be.

Hopefully I will have a flicker pool in the future and if your reading this, put on a photo of your hat!

Friday, 20 May 2011

a cheaky Lion

A cheery picture today, a group of sunflowers, naturally sitting in a group that looks to me like a lion. Funny picture, to cheer me up miserable cow!

Tired today, very tired. Yesterday I was an emotional mess, had to go and have an ultrasound on a lump. Thankfully its a friendly little lump that's come along for the ride at no extra cost.
Now I can love it instead of being cross with it, a happy ending. But there were no fanfares, no champagne, no cuddles and I was livid. I hadn't made a fuss about it, I guess somewhere deep down I knew it was ok, especially as it is in my arm so not really a scary area.
I'd even forgotten about the appointment at some points but suddenly it really mattered that my nearest and dearest hardly batted an eyelid.

I'm not prone to being a drama queen, don't particularly think I'm emotionally high maintenance and actually felt more than a little guilty at expecting fireworks when my relatives had become sick and died from their illness, so whats with that?

I'll need to give it considerably more thought, as every single inch of me feels drained today!

photograph taken near Sutton Cheeney, Leicestershire. Sony 550

Thursday, 19 May 2011

i am an artist and photographer!

This picture is unedited apart from pushing the contrast up just a touch. Taken in natural daylight without flash it created that ethereal quality all on its own. The composition itself isn't very exciting and the pansies in the background were much prettier flowers and more striking on other photographs but this one has impact because of the depth it creates in the pictures. Its almost a 3D effect.

Its the kind of picture that makes me feel like a photographer because its exciting, it shows me the possibilities and fires me up to continue.

My friend Gren's (www.myspace.com/theconvolulutionrooms) sister has just started out as a photographer. He's a very successful man in his creative field and he left a message on her Facebook wall that really struck a cord with me

'You are a photographer, because you say you are and you back it up with creative and visually stunning images. End of.'

Its easy to loose heart and become unmotivated when the initial enthusiasm of a new venture doesn't exactly make you an overnight sensation. It takes time to prove yourself, huge energy (and money) to promote yourself, exhibit your work and generally get seen. I've been painting and selling for two years now but I haven't done any new pieces since Dad died or possibly before and I really should. I've been taking photographs instead and i suppose its still the same artistic process although I haven't been trying to sell them. I've ground to a halt.

The point is that right now I don't feel like an Artist, I'm not standing up and saying 'I'm an Artist and Photographer' like Gren said. I need to do that again and quick!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

four Chinooks and a camera

Four Chinook helicopters just flew over our house, I get excited about helicopters running to the windows when I hear them coming. A little odd I know but Dad used to take me to airshows and displays where he worked and it was always the helicopters I loved. Once, I don't remember where, I watched a group of helicopters 'dance' in the sky, it was mesmerising. So here I am this morning yelling upstairs to my son (who is about to leave school to join the Army) to look out of the window and taking pictures to show him incase he doesn't see them when he stopped me in my tracks with "if theres four then theres dead bodies in them"

He knows a great deal about planes and Army goings on but surely that can't be right? it shocked me. Thankfully or maybe it was fate, there was no memory card in my camera, what a disrespectful thing to take a picture of, if it was the case. I had a look on the Internet but couldn't find anything about it. I suppose its struck me so much because although you hear about wars on the TV and my son is about to join which is a worry in its self, the actual reality of war is a very long way away from here.

We had the Falklands War when i was a child, a vivid memory of friends being off school when HMS Sheffield was bombed, waiting to hear if their brothers were coming home. They did thank goodness. And we watched the start of the Gulf War on TV late one night with the talk on The News of conscriptions, that was scary. But on the whole its all happening somewhere else to someone else, someone else's sons and husbands.

I firmly believe that i don't have the right to try and dissuade my son from doing something that he has been interested in for years. He has a rosy view of it all of course and I know that there will be a few coming down to earth with a plop moments, a few phone calls home but its 'in him' I can see that.

Its the fear of death again, the emotional pain of it and I suppose if those helicopters did contain sons and husbands of other women it seems so hard to balance what we've just been through with three painful deaths in our family and the fact that these boys are making the choice to walk towards it.

Thank goodness they are brave enough to do so and how they do that I will never know. I'm sure that if someone was threatening my children I wouldn't hesitate but its a different thing entirely to make it your job, your way of life with that risk of death every present.

It has to be done, I know that from conversations with my father, as he worked for the Ministry of Defence, so I understand war and understand the need for Army's to protect us. As children we looked proudly at photographs of my great uncles in the Second World War in smart uniforms doing their duty. My grandmas wedding dress was made out of parachute silk taken from a German pilots parachute who ejected and landed in the field behind their house. War and war stories, planes and military equipment have been a part of my life in an ebbing and flowing kind of way for years but with the cloud of deaths still lingering over me and my sons impending departure to the Army those helicopters didn't half give me a shock this morning.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


"Some say life is too short, others say its too long but I know that nothing we do makes sense if we don't touch the hearts of others ... while it lasts!"

taken from an e-mail sent to me about these two guys who found each other and a new reason to live when they were both very sick :-)

studying statues

It struck me yesterday how truly very personal photography is. When your producing a piece of Artwork its pretty much your soul on a canvas. Its an incredibly brave and nerve racking thing to paint what is all your own creation and then hold it up for citisism from the world at large. Its what dissuades many artists from carrying on, one bad review and they're back at school with the teacher telling them they can't draw. Game over.

But on the whole with photography your capturing what has pretty much been created for you. You see a shot and take it. Slightly different if you construct the objects or people into a picture but still the objects or people where initially available fully formed for you to use. I had the impression that photography was a little less exposing but I realise now that it is just as much a blaring horn of ones talent, or lack of it, as painting is.

The two pictures above are what prompted this revelation. My friend and I took and hour out of our busy Sundays to wonder around our local memorial gardens, in the centre of which is this wonderful copper statue. We both snapped away and moved on and these were our best shots. One picture works and one doesn't. One has impact and emotion and one is just a picture of a statue. Mine is the one that doesn't work.

I was trying to get an amazing angle, from below with her left hand pointing to the top of the picture and her right hand to the side but it just doesn't work. My friend moved back and took the picture from the front, straight on. How dull i thought, wrong! Two peoples different interpretation of the same subject and the end result totally exposing their creativity at that moment. Thank goodness the pictures are not for an exhibition, that would be a standing in the church with your clothes off nightmare!!!

We're going to do more of these photography trips as its really helpful and inspiring to see others interpretations of the same locations. We start a new photography club in a couple of weeks also, a creative cell.

I'm looking forward to it.

We also wondered around the deserted streets of the town on Sunday and I'm pleased to say I did get some shots that I am happy with.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Lemons and Garlic

We have a photography competition at the gallery, some stunning entries and the photograph that won was of garlic. I work in the cafe part of the gallery for a couple of hours once a week, which i started as an emergency fill in one day when i wondered out of my studio there for a coffee and a year later I still do it. Its enjoyable as the people are lovely and a whole week on ones own in your studio is enough to drive anyone loopy so it gets me out for a bit!
Anyway the point is that its very interesting to hear the comments that the people who have come for lunch make about the exhibitions and this one being the first photography exhibition has provoked many responses.
As the clientele of the cafe are generally of a certain age and a certain intellect (is it pc to say that?) the critic and purchase of the artworks on display are a valuable source of information for me as to what the public wants and i have to say that no-one to my knowledge had commented on the Garlic picture. This may have been that it was small and got lost amongst the striking larger works but I had noticed and loved it and just had to have a go myself once I heard that the photographer had simply wondered into his kitchen one day, plonked some garlic on his kitchen window sill and snapped. And who knew that garlic was such a wonderful thing to photograph! The paperyness of the skins, the wigglyness of the roots wonderful!!!

I went hunting for more and found lemons in the fridge, although much more vibrant and colourful
they just didn't inspire me at all after the Garlic. Looking at the images again today I can see a couple of reasonable photographs but to me at least they still don't have the impact of stunning Garlic :)