nature + garden

At last, some progress...

 
The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.
Yousuf Karsh
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Hello lovely people,

Hope you are all bright eyed etc :) Spring at last here in the Northern Hemisphere…

After quite a few teething problems, false starts and delays - no internet, slow internet, dying laptop - I am, at last, making headway with my first of three eBooks. The content has been solid for quite some time now but actually getting that content onto my computer ready for the design and page layout has been a non starter. I even resorted to writing out copy in a notebook with a real pen and paper!

Fortunately, I do love the theatre of writing - the lovely paper, notebooks, the right fine liner, then there is the table where you write and the flowers - of course - and the drink to sustain… tea or coffee? The cup, the pot and so on. Yes I insist on setting the stage so that it becomes a pleasure that it elevated from the ordinary to the extra ordinary. It’s all in the detail. The little things. The image above was from a time early in the morning when I set up a writing place in my studio - the light is beautiful in there first thing. So inspiring. So very peaceful. Lovely.

The framework of the second and third volumes in the series are all set out, so they will too be a pleasure to bring together, as and when I get there.

It is now, and only now that I feel I can think about other things.

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By nature, I aim a very caring and generous person. So, naturally I’ve been wondering what I can give to you, my lovely community of followers and supporters. It needs to feel good in my bones, whatever I do. From the heart.

Whilst I was out wandering with my dogs earlier in the week, I had a spark of inspiration! From that, I am planning to make an eBook to put in my Inspiration Library for all my subscribers to my New Shoots Magazine to enjoy, to download for free. What’s in it for me, I hear you ask. I’m seeing it as a personal project that will fill my need for design and photographic exploration, whilst at the same time celebrating my love for all things seasonal and country. I am conscious that we can all bring a little seasonal country into our lives - wherever we live - town or country.

I would love to think that I can pop this in my Inspiration Library towards the end of Spring, to celebrate that season. I have a good working title, notes of ideas of what I would love to include and share. I am going to proceed with fingers crossed that there will be no more hurdles to slow down this project and I have a vision in my mind’s eye that I will be doing the work towards publication on this from my lovely new all white, light filled workspace that is being painted now!

If you are not already signed up to my New Shoots Magazine, but want to take advantage of my Inspiration Library, then please do subscribe in the panel in the right hand margin here or from the one at the bottom of my home page.

Wishing you a light filled week end

love

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ps There are some new calendar pages for April going live this week end in my Inspiration Library. Jx

A tip, a quote and a book for March

 
I believe photography is a tool to express our positive assessment of the world. A tool to acquire ultimate happiness and belief.
Ansel Adams
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Hello creative people,

Here in the UK it is grey, cold and wet after an unusually glorious spell of the complete opposite. Hello Spring :)

I am thinking that a tip, a quote and a book is a good collection for a series of blog posts to kick start the new growing year here. Hope you enjoy them….

The image above is of a Crocus Giant Ruby and I have applied one of my own photoshop actions to give it that pared back, muted colour palette that resonates with me so readily. The image speaks of quiet beginnings in early Spring rather than a literal, documentary style that is not me. Hope you like.

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On slowing down.

Something I always share with my creative students and fledgeling photographers is simply to slow down! This actually helps you see better, by placing you in a better creative zone. Every little extra moment of slowing before you press the shutter will help.

Slowing down is like a tiny meditation of gratitude.

Slowing down, not only opens your eyes, but will also open your mind and your heart to discover the magic in the everyday.

I really do believe that by finding little pockets of you in the everyday, slowing down, is a path to creativity.

A simple pleasure in any event.

And finally a book - I feel that I want to recommend something that aligns nicely which my thoughts on slowing down. Something that will add to your photography through increased awareness of creativity. Enter The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.

‘A prism through which all worlds from literary creation to housework to aesthetics take on enhanced and enchanted significances.’

…from the new forward in my copy, that has been read several times and is now full of underlines, annotations and asterisks! Thats a recommendation in itself. Do go and find yourself a copy to read, well worth the effort. Enjoy. Read slowly :)

sending lightness through this grey week.

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ps Thank you for all the lovely kind words on the Spring edition of my New Shoots magazine - much appreciated…



Looking back looking forwards

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The sun brings forth unlimited possibilities and the moon, reflection and deep gratitude for all that we have in life.
Satsuma Shibuya

as Winter becomes Spring…

Within my photography practice, overtime I have built in to my days a period of early morning brainstorming and list making. The evening will often see me reflecting on my day’s progress in readiness for the morning’s noting of possibilities…

I’ve noticed that this has become part of my week’s, my month’s and quarter’s practice to keep me aligned with my business plan. My creative side allows time for this too. Except instead of being a quarter, it is looking forwards to the next season and also reflecting what has happened in that season.

Cherish the season.

Here in the UK, this Winter will be remembered for extremes - for me snow and an iced over lane in front of my cottage kept me home for a week then only a couple of weeks later wandering in the sunshine and seeing people in shorts!

I adore evenings filled with log fires and candlelight and the foggy starts to winter days as I plot and plan the time ahead. But equally I enjoy the planning of my season’s cutting bed, list making of treasures to grow, dahlia tubers to order notes of narcissus varieties for Autumn orders and designing the colours capes that they will bring.

From minimal snowscapes to minimal waterscapes featuring a gorgeous cygnet enjoying the sunshine and record temperatures.

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My Winter has been a visual feast - from holly to snowdrops, then the fragrant delights of narcissi on the kitchen table and bowls of white hyacinth on my studio table ready for when people drop in for meetings. My own take on Shinrin-yoku - forest bathing involves taking my camera out into the countryside, purely pleasure - to experience total immersion in the moment.

My mind is already turning to food as I’m growing some peas on the kitchen windowsill for salad shoots.

My Colour Wheel for Winter 2019

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Adding to the visual feast, my research into Colour Psychology is, as always, continuing. I know there are a lot of readers out there that are really interested in this aspect of my work, so I thought I would share… I have been particularly aware of the neutral colours this Winter… taupes and soft warm greys. Fleeting promises of things to come but mainly muted subdued tones.

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Reading for the Season

Some recommendations for your Spring reading pile -

I am evangelical about pointing students - creatives and fledgeling photographers, to read about the works and ideas and theories of not only classic photographers, but those of other noteworthy creatives and artists. Inspiration for a new photography project can come from one nugget of an idea mentioned in a book by an artist.

David Hockney’s A Bigger Message

A record of a decade of private conversations with art critic Martin Gayford, through reflection, anecdote, passion and humour the fruits of his lifelong meditations on the problems and paradoxes of representing a three-dimensional world on a flat surface. Some of the diverse people he has encountered along the way – from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Billy Wilder – make entertaining entries into an entertaining read.

The evergreen, Ways of Seeing by John Burger

Ways of Seeing, a television series of 30-minute films by writer John Berger in the 70’s and adapted into a book of the same name and discusses the way art has become available for all people and how that has affected its meaning. A must for all Art, Design and photography Students.

Edmund Burkes Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful

An analysis of the relationship between emotion, beauty, and art form is now recognized as not only an important and influential work of aesthetic theory, but also one of the first major works in European literature on the Sublime, a subject that has fascinated thinkers from Kant and Coleridge to the philosophers and critics of today. Not an entry level read but a worthy one to provoke thought…

I do hope that this post has been of interest and fuelled you for an inspirational new season to get out doors with your camera and go off to mindfully find that magic in the moments. After all, it really is about the little pocket of joy that your camera can bring you.

Sending joy and magic your way,

love from

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taking care...

When you breathe out… the planet breathes in.

Michael Townsend Williams co-founder of
BreatheSync and Author of Do Breathe

You can download Michael’s app here.

Hello lovely people,

Hope you are all well and full of creativity…

It’s a funny thing isn’t it, but how often are the obvious things right in from of you and you don’t even notice?

There is much talk on Instagram about algorithms and how fragile some people’s futures are as they are completely dependent on it for their income. Some have thousands and hundreds of thousands of followers and drop more followers that I have overnight! I personally find social media too noisy and hard work as you have to watch it all the time. I prefer to travel a path less trodden in that and most things in life. Are you the same? Recently I was brought to a halt when a highly successful (and quiet soul) online designer wrote about her tiny foot print on social media and her success from and care for her blog and newsletters.

This is me! I have always been precious over my both - both with content of posts but also the design side. Ditto my newsletters.

This made me consider the feedback I receive from my blog. I have had a lot of feedback about my look back on the last season as we start a new one. This has made me want to do more posts for you like this… Can I commit to one such post every month? I certainly want to give it a try. So, from the end of the month - maybe it will settle at every other month, I’m certainly going to give it a go… I should have lots to write about, living my seasonal life emerged in nature, as well as my photographic world existing in the same universe.

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A gift

In the meantime, can I leave you with this? A gift from me… if you would like to download this image to enjoy as wallpaper, then simply click on the image. It is 2400px wide. Please respect my © and do not use it elsewhere without my permission… simply contact me. A photograph from possibly my favourite woodland in the world. It is a twenty minute walk from the nearest road and if you stop and listen, there is absolutely no manmade sound at all. A place that I have visited regularly for over a decade. At certain times of the year, the sound of the birds can be deafening. I visit this special place frequently to just be… I will take my dogs and a flask of tea so that I can sit a while and take even more of it in.

If you are interested in reading more about the Japanese way- the practice of walking slowly through the woods, in no hurry, for a morning, an afternoon or a day, then pop here, published last March, you may find it interesting.

The image at the top of this post is from a shoot I did with Fiona Perry Flowers in an entirely different wood.

If you would like to receive more gifts from me - from wallpapers for your monitors to calendar pages and some discount codes in the future, then simply sign up to my New Shoots Magazine in the right hand margin here → I love to share.

Wishing you good health and relaxation,

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Looking back as Autumn becomes Winter

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Oh what a glorious Autumn we had here in the UK - after the long hot Summer, we had an equally amazing Autumn, but this time it was the colours that took centre stage. As you will know I started Autumn off in my beautiful Cotswolds and ended it in Cheshire - getting to know it. Country lanes and the flat plains where you can see for ever and oh, those big skies!

What has struck me most about my shift in geography is the difference in tones! The greens are so different - lush, saturated, bright - compared with the gentle greens of the Wolds. The reason? Simply, it’s the rain.

I have been creating and settling in to my new studio… I still have the peach coloured vertical blinds to swap for white voile curtains so that the whole place becomes one giant soft box… slowly, steadily that is happening. I have sent my camera kit off for a much needed service too in the studio down time.

New friends and contacts are in the making, just as finding new locations and venues for workshops and 1:1 Mentoring sessions… as you will know, location matters hugely - as does the food. I want my guests and students to make my offerings a destination as well as offer quality content.


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I have been quietly shooting in little corners - finding little pools of quality Autumn light and making my seasonal colour wheel - part of an ongoing personal project for my research into Colour Psychology… No russet tones here this year - instead a wheel fuelled with brights and gorgeous bedfellows - bright oranges and fuchsia pinks go so well… Mother Nature - ow I love you - the ultimate colourist.

 
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If you hear a voice within you say - you cannot paint - then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

Vincent Van Gogh

The story behind the Cottage Garden Series.

As a teenager, I stumbled upon the history of the English cottage garden.  I was hooked by both the very sight of then and also their rich history and all that this brought, including Helen Allingham's chocolate-box views of tumbledown cottages with flower-filled front gardens.  Behind the romance that she portrayed in her art, there was poverty and hard work.

The earliest cottage gardens were practical out of necessity, provided nourishment for poor cottage dwellers.  With focus on vegetables and herbs and fruit trees, a beehive and possibly livestock could often be found.  Flowers were used to fill space and, gradually became more dominant. They also had a practical use - edible flowers used as a food and fragrant ones used to make pot pouring or were strewn on the floors to combat odours. The traditional cottage garden was usually enclosed, perhaps with a rose-bowered gateway.

Cottager’s plots were small and crammed with plants for maximum productivity.    Increased prosperity during the Elizabethan era meant that cottagers could afford to grow more flowers. Some still had functional uses -  violets which were strewn on cottage floors as their scent deterred vermin. Other flowers, hollyhocks for example were grown for their beauty and nothing more .

There is nothing pretentious about these cottage gardens.

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Cottage Garden Series

Limited Edition Prints

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph a traditional English cottage garden where fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers to decorate the house were grown cheek by jowl. I wanted to record the contents of this garden in line with my passion for the Florilegium. I felt it acknowledged the historical side beautifully. 

Each editioned image is carefully printed onto a Baryta/Fibre based silver gelatin photographic paper based upon traditional B&W silver halide technology which has beautiful panchromatic sensitivity.  Again this printing process and use of the particular nods gently at then historical base of this series.  The Series can be found here.

Back soon,

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