Friday, 24 April 2015

A little painting work in progress, and some Polaroid success

What a week this has been. One of those that you just want to move into some dark corner at the very back of your mind and never think about again. Just delete, and move on.

So on to something more cheerful. I have taken out my paints and brushes again, although I haven't really got very far yet. I've been taking a lot more photos again lately, and dived back deep into post processing in general, and Lightroom in particular. It's time consuming, and didn't leave much time for other things. But it is also a lot of fun and the beautiful trees that are in full bloom, showing off their delicate white and pink blossoms, are just making me happy. I just can't stop taking photos of them, with my DSLR, my iPhone, and my Polaroid.

I've taken out and been playing around with my Polaroid camera again, and I think that I might finally get the hang of it. After having wasted about three or four films, including a colour one with silver frame that I particularly liked and that the shop I buy the films from doesn't seem to have anymore. (A little tip: read the instructions...). With the first one, it was pure luck that it turned out alright, with the other two, well, they were after I read those instructions... The scanner doesn't do them quite justice, the colours are much nicer. But I'm really quite excited about the Polaroid experience again, and I'll be taking my camera out much more often now. And without wasting quite so much film anymore.

But back to the painting. I haven't that much to show yet, only a background - which isn't even finished yet. But I'm sharing it anyway - and linking up with the inspiring Paint Party Friday - as a reminder to myself to keep going and finish it, so that I'll have something proper to share next week.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Penguins and Seals

I still got so many photos of amazing creatures left, that I'm going to split them (well, some of them) into two separate posts. This one is for the Humboldt Penguins and the Common Seals. The penguins didn't really do much, but they were fun to watch. And they kept standing or sitting still or moving only little, which was of course perfect for taking pictures of them.

I don't know how long we spent watching the seals, but it was quite some time (and long enough to miss the little train back to town by just a few minutes). They were one of the first we went to see in the morning after we arrived, and we went back to them again in the afternoon. N lent me his big zoom lens to get some really nice close ups. It was fascinating to watch them swim and dive (they like to swim on their backs) and to stick their heads out of the water and observe their surroundings. Their noses look a bit like those of gorillas!

One last post with more sea creatures to follow soon.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Spring blossoms

Spring has arrived, and for good, it seems. Temperatures are rising quickly, although bit too much for my personal taste. I went up to the woods this morning, for a walk up and for some inspiration and Being Present; to see and listen. I took my camera, and decided to only use my 50mm lens. With my allround 17-70mm lens, it's easy to "get it all in".Get the wide angled view before you. Or just zoom in. Not that that's a bad thing. But sometimes, it's good to stretch yourself a bit. Having to compose your image more carefully, having to move closer to or away from your subject to get the picture you want. Standing on your tiptoes to get that shot. It helps you to observe, see, paying attention.

It is still looking very bare in the forest, except for all the beautiful tiny flowers covering the ground and making the best of the light before the trees grow their leaves, if you care to look. But the most striking at the moment are the gorgeous blossoms. So delicate and fragile looking. So cheerful. Delighting both the passerby and the bees. Have a beautiful Sunday!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

More stitching

I stitched another two sketchbooks over the Easter weekend, using the Coptic stitch. Once you remember and get the hang of it again, it really is quite straight forward. Back and forth, back and forth.

I used a green thread for these two and I want to make the covers and spine green too. Or maybe use an old map for the coversf or one of them. I've got two big bags full of old maps, which are always in my way. Time to start using some of them. The stitching is far from perfect, but it holds together nice and tightly.

These two are also a Fabriano Tiziano 160 g/m3 paper, but a different colour, Avorio, and size, 70x100cm. This paper size needed a bit more folding than the smaller one making the size of the sketchbooks 17x25cm. Same height as the other one, but slightly wider.

For this coming weekend, I'm planning to finally get the paint tubes and brushes out again, so these two will have to wait for a bit before getting finished.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Deep down in the deepest sea

I've been quite lucky with the weather on my visits to England before, but I guess one can't always be that lucky. During my 5 day visit over the last weekend, we had one really nice day, Friday (where we went for a lovely walk on the cliffs), and four cold, grey and sometimes wet ones. After having spent three lazy days, we decided to head off to Weymouth, to Sea Life. It was cold, and very grey, but the creatures there made for than up for it. They were just simply amazing.

These Moon Jellyfish were absolutly fascinating. I could have watched them for hours, as they gracefully floated through the water, reflecting colours of the changing light. Don't they just look like creatures from outer space.

Of course I took lots of photos of other animals too (about 500 in fact), and I'll share some of them (don't worry, I won't post all 500) later. But I thought these jellyfish deserved a post of their own.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Making your own sketchbook

I was really looking forward to this long Easter weekend, and after having most of the re-organising and importing into Lightroom of my old photos sorted, I was determined not to spend it all in front of the computer. For today, a misty, very rainy and cool perfect-to-stay-indoors day, I decided to do some bookbinding. There are loads and loads of sketchbooks available, in all kinds of formats and sizes, and and with different papers, but sometimes, the exact size and paper you want may just not exist. Making your own sketchbook allows you to choose exactly the size and paper that you want and it's fun to make (and actually not that difficult). And you can even cover it in some pretty paper.

I used some sheets of Fabriano Tiziano 160 g/m3 paper (colour: Perla), sized 50x65 cm, which I had cut in half and then folded. This makes the size of my sketchbook about 16.3x25cm. With all the cutting, folding and assembling the gatherings done, it was time for some punching, stitching and glueing.

First the punching. I finally got to try out my new Japanese screw punch. These seem to sell more quickly than the shops can stock them, and I had to wait several months until I finally managed to order one, together with some different sized punches. The one I used here is the 1.5mm.

Next the stitching. I have a whole pile of books on bookbinding, with different techniques and step by step instructions. I must admit that I have never been able to understand, let alone follow, any of them. So I always go back to the same method, the Coptic stitch. I found a PDF instruction that I more or less managed to make sense of on the internet some time ago, and I've been sticking to it ever since. I still get confused regularly, and usually have to go back and undo a few steps before getting the hang of it again. I just don't do it often enough. But usually, I manage to get it all stitched together in the end. If you haven't done any bookbinding before and would like to try it out, there are loads of resources available online, and I'm sure you'll find one that suits you, and that explains it much better than I ever could.

In addition to my gaterhings of sketchbook paper, I used a single sheet of folded paper as endpapers at the beginning and end of the body of the book. This allows you to glue the covers on to them without having to sacrifice a page of your good sketching paper.

With the gatherings all stitched together, I cut two pieces of cardboards to size and covered them with some pretty patterned paper for the covers.

Then comes the trickiest (I find) bit, glueing the covers on to the endpapers. I never know which one is the better way; to put the cover on the table and stick the body of the book on to it, or the other way round. You want the cover to sit straight, aligned with the spine, and with an even slight overlap around the other three sides. And the endpaper covering the folded over patterned paper, leaving an even margin on the tree sides. It's a bit of a fiddle, and everything being covered in glue, including your fingers, doesn't help. But you do have a bit of room for adjustment.

Last step is to cover the spine. I used a special bookcloth that I cut to size.

While cutting it out, I left an extra bit on both sides, the length of the spine and folded it over and glued it down, for enforcement. A very neat way, of course, would be to add a headband. I might put that on my shopping list for my next oder.

The last bit then is to put the bookcloth over your spine and glue it down on to the covers. Preferably without smearing glue on top of and staining the cloth. Which I find is pretty much impossible.

And there you have it. Your own, hand made sketchbook, ready to be filled. And with the Coptic stitching, you can open it completely flat on your table.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A quick photoshoot, and my first little stop motion film experiment

What do you do when you've got tons of stuff to do? Exactly. You try out something new instead of getting on with your stuff and getting it done. Preferably Something completely different. Something new. Which, because you haven't done it before, takes up loads of time.

I came across a tutorial for a stop motion film the other day, which I thought was really cool, and I wanted to try it out myself as soon as possible. In the tutorial, the film (made of a series of photograph), was made in iMovie. Hurray, I thought. I have iMovie. Unfortunately, when I opened my iMovie, it looked completely different than the one in the tutorial, with none of the buttons anywhere to be seen, and much less options. I somehow managed to figure out how to change the lenght of the film, but I'll have to spend some time figuring out how it works, where to find what, and how to create films the way I want them to look - and how to upload them so that they look the way I want them to. But apart from the frustrations, it has been great fun to create this little film.

Having taken out and set up all the equipment, I took the time to shoot some other things as well. I remember years and years back, when Granny Smith apples first appeared in the shops, how special and exciting we thought them, all bright green and shiny. I've been thinking recently, while shopping, that I haven't seen any Granny Smith in the supermarket for quite some time. What happened to them, I wondered. Did they still exist? A couple of weeks back, I happened to be in Germany for a day, and there, in a supermarket, I saw them. Of course I had to buy some, and I've been wanting to take photos of them for the past two weeks. I think they look just terrific.

I've been stressing myself out with my photo organising project, and I'm beginning to feel that I've been overdoing it. Those hours and hours at the computer after work and at the weekend. Today, my head feels like it's going to explode any minute. Good thing that I've got a little holiday coming up. And playing around with the photos and iMovie today has been a nice break. I still have loads of hours of importing photos into Lightroom to do, but I'm trying to take it a bit easier when I'm back from my holiday, all relaxed and full of energy again (and hopefully, with that constant headache gone).

But now I better start packing...