Tag Archives: Fine Art

A Tiding of Magpies

The result was not anything like I had expected. The creative process is not always straight-forward. I had ended up with images much different to those I had envisaged. When Shirley, the Gallery Director asked me did I want to take part in the group show “A Tiding of Magpies” naturally I said yes. About 10 seconds later I realised that I did not actually have any images of a magpie!

Hmm – this sounded like a challenge…

I am not overly concerned,  it should be easy to get a photo as we often have a family of magpies in our yard. When I am out working in the yard, they will often follow me around as I stir up a bit of a smorgasbord for them. The parents attend to a rather large chick, who always seems desperately hungry if you judge by its constant cries. However, they became shy as soon as I got my camera out. So rather to try to approach them, I just started pulling out weeds like I normally do. It was not long until one of the parents come closer for a look through the pile of weeds. I managed to grab a couple of frames, and headed inside to download.

One of the frames was perfect! Despite the shallow depth of field, the eye was tack-sharp and I really liked its stance.

I had decided to make a black and white image, but when I looked on the screen, I thought it was boring. Recently I had played with a series of macro shots of Rosella feathers as possible scarf designs. A thought crossed my mind of what if my Magpie was a Technicolor one, and that maybe my scarf design could be somehow draped over. After a few attempts this also was not working for me.

Finally I wondered what this magpie would look like in a Warhol inspired series. So I placed the magpie into each very bright background, then brushed some of the visibility back to make the magpie seem to burst out of its background.

I am really happy how this series turned out and that the images work well on their own, or as a set. What was amazing was that had I not been asked if I had any images of magpies, then almost certainly these images would never been made.

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A Tiding of Magpies

#magpies #southernhighlands #milkfactorygallery #warhol


Warhol Magpie One

Warhol Magpie One

Warhol Magpie Two

Warhol Magpie Two

Warhol Magpie Three

Warhol Magpie Three

Warhol Magpie Four

Warhol Magpie Four





Cloud Portfolio Three

Anyone that follows my work, knows that I love clouds (eg my Cloud Abstracts post). Here is a simple portfolio of black and white cloud images. All were taken in Mittagong in the Southern Highlands NSW.  All shot hand-held on the Phase. Very limited editing in Capture One. I cropped, added contrast/detail and dialed in the cyan and blue to stop clogging up the blacks too much.

Mitto April Cloud #2

Mitto April Cloud #13

Mitto April Cloud #16

Mitto April Cloud #17

Mitto April Cloud #41

Mitto April Cloud #60

Mitto April Cloud #62

Mitto April Cloud #74

#clouds #fineart #squareformat #blackandwhite

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Fine Art Photos That Look Like Etchings

In an earlier post I outlined the steps to convert a photograph into a fine art etching. Below are some more examples of the technique.


“Waratah I”


Kangaroo Paw

“Kangaroo Paw”


Paper Daisies

“Paper Daisies II”


Sun Orchid

“Sun Orchid”


Flannel Flowers

“Flannel Flowers”


Fallen Gums

“Fallen Gums”

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How To Make Fine Art Photos That Appear As Etchings

As part of a TAFE poster assignment, I had mocked up a couple of different layouts. I thought rather than spend a lot of time and effort on an idea that may not work, I would complete a rough sketch. Unfortunately, I could not find a sketch that suited my needs but I found a suitable photo that I converted into a sketch instead.

I remembered that I had some time ago developed a method of taking making a fine art photo that appeared as if it were an etching. I certainly do not claim to be the first, or that this technique is unique, just that it can give interesting results when the following these steps.

Step 1A – Take photo (subjects that are sharp and contain a lot of detail generally work best).

Step 1B – Make 2 x copies of the background – (this will leave a spare copy of the colour to re-arrange layers in Step 6)

Step 2 – On the second copy of background Use “Find Edges” filter (result will depend on each image).

Step 3 – Use “Find Edges” filter again (optional – may give an improved result when filter is applied again).

Step 4 – Convert to monochrome (lots of different techniques available – try image->adjust->desaturate or for greater flexibility add a Black and White adjustment layer).

Step 5 – Increase contrast (again lots of different techniques available – try adjusting curves by making an “S” bend or using levels).

Step 6 – Flatten all layers (EXCEPT the spare coloured one), then re-arrange layer order so the monochrome etch layer is sitting below the original coloured photo, and start painting some of the colour visibility.

(NOTE I use a black and white copy of the image as a mask. I then paint on the mask using a 10-20% opacity soft brush to gradually reveal the colour. I find multiple applications of a low opacity often give a better result than a single brush stroke at high opacity. Also the colour layer has reduced opacity to give colours that “watery” look)

Step 7 – Continue using a low-opacity soft brush to brush through colour from underlying photo.

Step 8 – Finish image with sepia background

NOTE there is no “right” or “wrong” way, you just have to experiment. Sorry, if you are looking for an automated conversion, this is not it. What I like about the technique is that the hand-painted colour has a very attractive artistic  style.

Also somewhere between Steps 4 and 5 you could also consider removing or fading any distracting elements (such as messy backgrounds)

I have also discovered that some images just do not work well with this technique. It is a case of just experimenting to see what works for you and hopefully this article will help getting you started.


Waratah etching step 01

Step 0 – take photo

Waratah etching step 02

Step 2 – apply filter “find edges”

Waratah etching step 03

Step 3 – try applying “find edges” filter again

Waratah etching step 04

Step 4 – convert to monochrome

Waratah etching step 05

Step 5 – increase contrast

Waratah etching step 06

Step 6 – start hand painting to reveal colour

Waratah etching step 07

Step 7 – continue brushing through colour

Waratah etching step 08

Step 8 – finish with sepia background

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When Is Too Much Not Enough? – Part 2

My previous post certainly focused on the colourful side of Autumn in New Zealand. Some of the images are quite surreal, but that is precisely the feeling I got when was capturing them. Also, a slightly slower shutter speed and the wind moving leaves gives the images a “painterly” look which I like very much. In Part 2 this folio of images have a much subtle use of colour. I am particularly happy with the tree images as the fine detail have a texture that looks like brush strokes.

The water texture is gorgeous & the single leaf lets you assume it is autumn

A black and white image with tiny splashes of colour

I love the patch of colour and the back-lit trees

These trees almost look like feathers

Dead trees contrast against the rugged hills

The trees look like beautiful brush strokes

Receding layers of different trees creates a wonderful depth

Soft light through branches creates a brush-stroke appearance








Karijini Exhibition Invite – Sat 16th Feb 4pm

An exhibition of photographic prints by father and daughter inspired by the wonderful rock formations of Karijini National Park.

Dragging The Shutter

My daughter and I  recently attended  photo workshop to the  Fiordland District in New Zealand.  Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken are multi-award winning Canon EOS Masters that operate the Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography (QCCP) and run numerous workshops.

During one of the workshop presentations Jackie suggested that not all landscape photography is about everything in focus and perfectly exposed etc. She suggested trying to capture mood and emotion and “the essence” of a place by using really shallow depth of field and even introducing motion by using very slow shutter speeds.

Hence the title of this post “Dragging The Shutter”

I experimented with various shutter speeds, but finally settled on around 2 seconds.  I found a shutter speed longer than this resulted in too much blur. Rather than trying to get too complicated I choose simple small amount of vertical camera movement.

This method is completely opposite  to my normal methodology regarding shooting with medium format. In my previous posts I describe always shooting on a tripod, using mirror lock-up and often focus-stacking! (iPhone vs Phase aka David vs Goliath In The Camera World)

I am very happy with the images I took. It was a very useful exercise on a number of fronts:

1. I tried a completely different approach.

2. It pushed me out of my comfort zone.

If you are going to New Zealand and are planning to visit Queenstown I would highly recommend attending one of QCCP‘s numerous workshops.


Oreti Flow I

Oreti Flow II

Oreti Flow II

dragging the shutter - abstract fores image

Oreti Flow III

slow shutter abstract forest image

Oreti Flow IV


iPhone As A Visual Diary

I was walking in bushland not far from my home the other day and noticed some Waratahs starting to flower. These are a couple of quick “grab shots” that I have processed in Snapseed. I often find now  that I am using my iPhone as a sort of visual diary. I can quickly try out ideas for images. Why don’t I just shoot it with a regular camera first – I hear you ask?. Well two reasons. When I went for a walk it was the middle of the day and quite harsh light even under the trees. The other important consideration was that it was extremely windy. With my “regular” camera I would have simply struggled to get the shot.

I am not too worried, I got some ideas to work on and I am sure there are other ideas bouncing around somewhere on the “back processor”. Also, I have started keeping a visual diary as part of my TAFE visual arts course (ie paper, not digital.) I have never kept a visual diary before, but I find that creating quick images on the iPhone as well as sketching ideas in my visual diary get me thinking more like an artist, not a photographer.

So next time I go to photograph some Waratahs, I will have had some practice, and “practice makes perfect!”


Cloud Abstracts – Part 1

I love clouds. Working out in the garden was hard, as every time I looked up the approaching weather front had some absolutely stunning cloud formations. I used Snapseed to “tweak” these images a little.

  1. add drama
  2. add detail
  3. crop if required
  4. increase saturation
  5. alter colour balance

In between  these “test shots” I also shot a heap of images on my “proper” camera as well. I will process and post these in due course…

Cloud Abstract ICloud Abstract IICloud Abstract IIICloud Abstract IVCloud Abstract VCloud Abstract VICloud Abstract VII

Red Centre Adventures In Colour – Part 2

A few of my friends have commented on the strong use of colour in my earlier post!. Just to show I am in touch with my softer side here are a couple of images just for you…