Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mute Light paper pack

Started sorting out stuff that's residing on my hard disk, and am in the process of compiling paper sets out of them. The papers have been made for my digital scrapbooking layouts, but they are free for you to use for what ever you see fit. Just please do not claim them your own, and let me know what you create with them.

Click on the preview to go to download page

 You may expect to see quite a few of these in the near future, as I get my hard disk rearranged. :-) 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Freebie template 005

Here's a template I posted over at deviantArt. I've created others for my own use, posted them at dA but thought I might just as well post a link here. All free to use, enjoy!

Click the image to go to the download site.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Snow, Birthday & Tricks

We woke up this morning to see the first snow, and it seems it's not going to go away either. Not really surprising in the sense that it's been frosty all the weekend, but still. It's cloudy now, the temperature is at zero °C, and the weather forecasts for the rest of the week promise even colder weather, with daytime temperatures around -4°. It's about time we had the winter tyres changed for my car today, Better Half has had them for a week already. Wouldn't really have wanted the winter to start already, there would have been work to do on our yard, if not exactly in the garden anymore. But luckily we were so hard-working a week ago and prepared most of the garden for winter, and it was only on Saturday that we raked the last leaves.

Our kids Justiina and Marleena turn one year today. Happiest birthday, girls! I guess they enjoy the weather - when they first got out of doors, there was plenty enough of snow around, and they had months of it before they even saw the first glimpses of bare soil, let alone grass. Anyway, they certainly have changed from what they were a year ago. Here's one of the first pictures of the girls: Nuppu, Marleena and Justiina having a meal a year ago.

- template by myself (link upcoming)
- texture Sweet Tart by Kim Klassen
- papers from kit Pour Loane by Margote
- font Daniel by Daniel Midgley
- font Channel by Måns Grebäck

But to get to the original topic of this post, on day 30 of Beyond Layers Kim shared a few tips with us. The first one of them was how to create animated gifs. Now I have to state that I'm not a great friend of animated gifs in general. I think there are far too many of them blinking around the net. Sometime ages ago I had also created quite a few of them, so I wasn't too enthusiastic about it to start with. But Kim's got this wonderful way of throwing in something new that you'd never known or realized. Since Better Half uses Photoshop at work and especially when making all the various club magazines in the so-called free time, I've also been using it for years, starting even before we bought Elements 2, but I'm constantly learning new things.  That's exactly how it was this time, too. Watching the video, I was suddenly inspired to dig these two series of photos I took of Misaki and Foxy in March 2011 and make animations of each.

Here's Misaki, placed firmly on snow and observing the road, making her presence known to anybody who happens to be within earshot by howling regularly.

This turned out to be quite funny. As if she climbed up from a hole or something, Foxy appears out of nothing behind Misaki, walks around her, goes down to the path, shakes herself and disappears again.

Credits for both:
- font Mawns' handwriting by Måns Grebäck

The second tip of the day was creating a triptych, which, simple as it was, again taught me two new, quicker techniques for creating storybook layouts. Had to try out both of them, and the beautiful bouquet I got a few months late for my 50th birthday from the trade union was the perfect subject. Well knowing my favourite colour, my workmate had ordered the bouquet only stating "make it orange". Well, orange it really was, and I just loved it. I took the photos on 15 October, and didn't retouch them in any way, only piled them together and added the labels and text.

Belated Birthday Bouquet

Autumn Bouquet

Credits for both:
- brush from Kinetic Splatter Brush Set by Dustin Schmieding
- font Mawns' handwriting by Måns Grebäck

Now off to take the car to the garage and buy some birthday presents for the girls.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Being Brave

Diving into Beyond Layers again. For day 29 the theme was Being Brave. Firstly, Kim challenged us to remember / write down a brave moment in our lives. Don't know about big and brave things, but thinking about this made some little things surface.

This is such a silly and clichéd thing to be telling about, but oh well. It was my first ever performance on a real stage alone, and it was a big thing for me.

I've always been singing, sung in all the small gatherings my Mum and Granny took me and Sis to, and thought nothing of it. I had also been performing with the school choir, but then one day when I was thirteen I think, my music teacher asked if I'd do a solo performance in the morning assembly. Now the morning assembly was a big thing in our school. All of the 700+ pupils and all the staff gathered together at the beginning of each school day to the central hall of the school, and there'd usually be the headmaster or one of the teachers speaking, a current issue we needed to know, or a "thought for the day", something inspirational. It was here that I was to sing, all alone, accompanied by my music teacher on piano.

Rehearsing had been so much fun, but when the particular morning came, it was such a huge thing to face. To go there, stand all alone next to the grand piano, my only support sitting behind the huge black thing. To stand there in front of all my classmates and the older kids and teachers… My, was I nervous. So nervous in fact that when the teacher played the short intro I was for a while at a total and complete loss for the words. They were in Swedish, too, which naturally didn't make remembering them any easier, since I hadn't been studying the language for that long. It took only a couple of seconds, however, before I caught up with them, and then I remembered all the verses without a problem, but those certainly were among the longest seconds of my life. But I survived, and the elation I felt afterwards has undoubtedly kept me going to the stage afterwards. Yes, I do love performing.

There have been other moments I consider perhaps "brave". Travelling to England at nineteen on train through Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, especially parting with my friends in London to go to a strange place to stay with people I'd only exchanged a couple of letters with, not knowing if they'd even be at the station to meet me or not (no mobile phones had even been thought of in those days…). Some years later, telling Mum about me and Better Half. Facing my fear of dogs, created by our Dachsie who turned unpredictable and aggressive, and taking a new puppy. (Suddenly shuddered to think, what if I hadn't… well, I certainly wouldn't be me now, with six Dandies snoring around the house while I type.) Then some of the unavoidable kind: five years ago, saying good-bye to Mum when she was in terminal care, knowing I'd probably never see her again. Supporting Dad through the worst times after, teaching him to cope. A couple of years later, travelling south to support and help Sis after Dad passed away. But these are things one does because one must.

The second part of Kim's challenge was to make a list of Five Photography Dreams. Don't know if I have any - wait, at least some, though I'm not sure how brave and bold they are.
I'd like to learn to
- take better photos of the dogs
- take nice photos indoors and in low light
- shoot more in manual mode
- develop my eye for composition
- select and keep only the best photos I take

Then to the third part of the challenge, creating a picture that somehow depicts "brave". My take is from spring 2010.

Early Bird

This Wood Pigeon arrived up here in mid-April, when there still was plenty of snow and precious little for him to feed on. It's not always a good thing to be the early bird! But he - and a few days later on another, she perhaps - found our feeding post. For a couple of weeks perhaps they visited us, and we did hear them cooing in the summer in the woods next to our house, so to our great delight they did survive.

Resources used:
- overlay mask MO8-2012-1 from Assorted Mask Overlays by Jerry Jones
- texture Cool Grunge by Kim Klassen
- texture Softly by RH West

Friday, 12 October 2012

One Photo in Three Ways

At Beyond Layers, the day 28 challenge was to take a photo and process it in three different ways. For the photo, I took another stroll in the garden. This time, on the 9th October, there were considerably less flowers to photograph than a month ago, but surprisingly many anyway. I rather liked the picture I shot of the Narrow-leaved Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba) with all the raindrops, and so it ended as my subject for this challenge.

Hardly surprisingly, I made a scrapbooking layout of all the versions. The one in the bottom right corner is where I started from. The template is my own, I'll post the link once I get it uploaded, and both the papers are from my set Cold Spell.

Meadowsweet in Three Versions

Here are the resources and recipes. I used a couple of the techniques Kim showed us on her video, but not all of them.

Bottom left:
- Hue/Saturation layer, preset Old Style
- texture Framed by Kim Klassen at Colour Burn 18%, brushed away from blossoms with a layer mask
- texture Fall Returns by Distressed Jewell at Soft Light 46%, brushed away from blossoms with a layer mask
- levels adjustment, preset Midtones Darker, applied to previous layer
- returned a touch of colour to the blossoms by adding a burn layer at Soft Light 38%

Top left:
- action Heartland by Pioneer Woman
- added a tad of colour with a layer mask
- action Boost by Pioneer Woman, applied mostly to the blossoms
- action Soft & Faded by Pioneer Woman at 20%
- texture Abstract by Kim Klassen at Soft Light 25%

Top right:
- action B&W Beauty by Pioneer Woman
- added just a hint of colour with a layer mask
- texture Cool Grunge by Kim Klassen at Soft Light 25%
- texture Frost from Heavenly Vintage Set by Jerry Jones at Soft Light 85%
- texture Baby Blue from Heavenly Vintage Set by Jerry Jones at Colour Burn 25% on the blossoms

Originally I thought it would be rather tough to create three different versions, but actually it wasn't. What's even more surprising, I find that I'm rather pleased with all of the versions, as well as the scrapbooking layout. And yay, with this I can move week 14 of BL into the folder Done!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

You First?

It seems that my backlog at Beyond Layers just keeps growing, at the moment I'm a whopping twenty-three days behind. Furthermore, the challenge for day 27 was to take some "me time" and document it with at least one photo. That made me groan - for me it just happens that these challenges are the time I've reserved only for myself, but arranging the time is not so simple.

Well, photography and singing fall into the "placing myself first" category, too, but since my photography is taking snapshots it takes next to no time, just having the camera along. And as I take singing lessons and sing in an ensemble, that time is necessarily scheduled, which means that this photo-tweaking hobby of mine and blogging get their turn only when work and other hobbies leave me enough time.

So far that time has been gloriously lacking this autumn, as work turned out to be far busier than I thought. At the moment I have nine hours more to teach a week than originally planned, which equals about eighteen hours less free time every week… We've also been busy with dog shows, both visiting some, arranging some, working in some, so it's really no wonder I've had little time for photo blogging.

But yes, I did actually manage to snatch some time for photography. It might not sound like a big deal, but since it was the first half an hour I didn't need to use for preparing lessons or doing the related office work, it actually was a big deal. On 11 September I took this stroll in the garden with the doggies and the shiny new camera, which had been in my possession for four days then. I'll share some storyboards of the new camera and the pictures of the garden here - this has taken more doing as it is far more time consuming. But I'm so happy to be doing this again.

New Camera

Here's the new toy. Better Half noticed this ad for a considerable reduction in the price of a camera, which was of the same make as our previous one, and the one before that. So, on Thursday 6th September, I hurried to the shop after work and now I'm the happy owner of a brand new beautiful camera. *beams*

- photos by me and Better Half
- template by myself (link upcoming)
- Tone textures 3 & 10 by Jerry Jones
- textures Poetic & Luminous by Kim Klassen
- pattern from Pack 87 by Elemis
- gradient Rivendell 14 by ElvenSword
- font Bank Gothic
- font Savoye by Alan Meeks

Below I'm sharing the results of my photo walk in the garden on 11th September.

Animals in the Garden
The dogs were, of course, with me, and I got some nice shots of Renny, Justiina and the Leopard Duck, Misaki and Leia, the sixth creature is our Garden Gargoyle that Better Half found somewhere a couple of years ago. He (the Gargoyle) has been guarding our garden at various spots ever since.

Flowers in the Garden
There were surprisingly many flowers still in bloom, here some of them: in the large picture, the Panicled Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) we planted almost exactly three years ago - this autumn it luckily has had time to blossom. Below it, Narrowleaf Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba) with a visitor. On the right, a New York Aster (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Bistort (Persicaria bistorta).

Resources for both of the above:
- template by myself (link upcoming)
- texture And Then Some by Kim Klassen
- brush from Real Brush Strokes Set by Doodle-lee-doo
- font SF Arch Rival
- gradient by Digital Phenom

Autumn Flowers
Still more, and this time more colourful flowers: the blue Monkshood as well as the blue-and-white one (Aconitum napellus), pansies, Petunia Million Bells, Loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata), Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) and a strawberry bud.

- template by Margote @ Au coin de l'objectif
- papers from Close to Ground by myself
- texture Happy Heart by Kim Klassen
- font Zirkon
- gradient by Digital Phenom

Autumn Colours
The fading and faded flowers of Marguerite Daisy (Argyranthemum frutescens) and a leaf of Thicket Shadbush (Amelanchier spicata).

- template by Esther @ Au coin de l'objectif 
- papers from Close to Ground by myself
- texture Happy Heart by Kim Klassen
- font Zirkon
- gradient by Digital Phenom 

I wonder if it occurred to you that I might be studying the plant names in English, too? ˆ_____ˆ