Sunday, 9 January 2011

A bokeh experiment

 Last year, I came across this amazing bokeh tutorial by Amanda of  I'd always wondered how photographers created this incredible effect...but at the time, I didn't have 1) a 50mm f/1.8 lens 2) a DSLR camera.  This year, I'm lucky enough to have both, so I decided to have a go at creating my own custom bokeh before my Christmas tree came down. 

I almost exactly followed Amanda's instructions to create this effect.  I would, however, recommend using the 'manual focus' setting on your lens if you have one...focusing on a particular object and then moving it at the last minute was pretty challenging (and I had a lot of botched photos).  If you do alter the setting, just make sure that you very gently push your custom hood over the lens after you have manually adjusted the focus...I found that even the lightest touch could reset it and lose the overall effect.

Of the four punches I used, I think the stars were my favourite.  I'm looking forward to trying this again next year with some different punches (maybe some more Martha Stewart ones?) and perhaps even my Slice (although that might be a bit ambitious).  I loved how pretty the multi-coloured fairy lights looked, but I'm excited to try it with white lights next year...I think they look so very romantic.  And a little less '80s disco.           

Amanda also suggested using a tripod or resting your camera on a flat surface for this kind of photography, but I snapped away by hand without too much camera shake.  And the best part of this tutorial?  As a scrapbooker, you can pretty much use everything that you already have in your supplies!  

Let me know if you're a bokeh fan, too...

Have a wonderful start to the week :)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Dusting off the cobwebs...

...and popping in to say hello :)  More importantly, a very happy New Year to you!  So much has happened since I last checked in that I'm not entirely sure where to start, so I thought that today I would share my New Year's resolutions with you (my One Little Word will follow in the next couple of days).

Last year, I put this layout together to record what I hoped to achieve in 2010.  I've never really been a fan of making 'resolutions' as such, but I do like to have some goals that I can work towards as the year progresses.  I didn't do too badly in 2010, but you'll see below that I carried forward several resolutions into's hoping that I finally get round to taking my driving test this year (and, of course, passing it!). 

*Click on the picture to enlarge

Made using Studio Calico's Metropolitan kit (December)

More than anything, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a happy, healthy 2011.  I started 2010 with high hopes and equally high expectations...but for the most part, it was a very hard year, as I think it was for many people.  2011 brings with it many changes and a new beginning of sorts, and I'm excited to share the journey with you as it unfolds over the coming months.  I suppose, like so many others this year, I'm hoping that the best is yet to come.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Just to say...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

December Daily/JYC Day 5

Sooooo....after worrying that I would be marooned in Scotland by the imminent adverse weather, I made it back to London without any problems at all.  And then today, it snowed.  Big time.  London had about 3 inches, which might not sound much...but trust me, that's a lot of snow for London.  It meant that we left work early this afternoon, so I had a welcome couple of hours this evening to work on my December Daily (although the 'daily' part is probably a bit redundant now.  Oh well).  

For day 5, I wrote about how - for me at least - the annual Coca-Cola Christmas commercial marks the start of the Christmas countdown (using Shimelle's prompt as a starting point). 

Here's a close-up of the envelope on the left:

I'm excited about how this album is coming together - I think I'm finally starting to find my groove.  And hopefully I'll be able to catch up over Christmas it really only a week away?!  I'm slowly chipping away at my to-do list, but I honestly can't wait to have a few days to 'pause' and enjoy the festivities as they  reach a crescendo next weekend.  How are your Christmas preparations coming along? 

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Off on an adventure

 I'm currently sitting on a train, hurtling towards Edinburgh.  Loving the pearlescent skies and snow-covered English countryside.  Also loving the opportunity to wind down after another hectic week...right now I'm sipping a cup of tea and watching Pride & Prejudice (the original BBC version).  As a side note, I have a bit of a crush on Mr Darcy.

I'm spending the next few days in Scotland and I can't wait.  I should still be able to check in from time to time, so expect an update soon :)  And here's hoping I can get back down to London - with another dip in the temperatures predicted for next week, I have a feeling that Edinburgh will get more than its fair share of snow and ice for the second time this month.  

*And yes, after professing my undying love for the Hipstamatic app just a few days ago, I am celebrating a new love affair with InfinicamSharyn, I place the blame squarely at your feet :)

Have a fantastic weekend everyone...and thank you so much for your wonderful comments on my last post.  I know I've said it before, but you guys rock

Thursday, 9 December 2010

December Daily/ JYC Days 3 & 4

Before I started putting my foundation pages together last month, I spent a few happy hours researching Christmas albums from years past.  Needless to say, I came across some fantastic and equally inspiring albums, but the ones that stayed with me the most were those that incorporated photos + journaling + memorabilia (like Molly Irwin's beautiful December Daily from last year).  This year, I decided that I would try to use this formula to tell a more rounded and more complete story of Christmas 2010.  And, since I've shared scans of my first two pages with you, I thought that I would do a post about the 'bits in between,' which will hopefully give a more complete picture of where I'm going with my album.... 

Day 2:
You've already seen the page on the left, but I also included some photos that I took on my iPod Touch (Hipstamatic and IncrediBooth apps) in the snow.  The 'Baby it's cold outside' stamp is from the AC Dear Lizzy Christmas collection - love it!       

Day 3:

And the before:
 Day 3 is about the Spirit of Christmas Fair at Olympia (back in November).  I collected a lot of business cards that day, so I put a few of my favourites inside the envelope.  Attached to the back is my journaling and a metal 'season's greetings' tag, which I purchased from one of the stalls.  I also included the Spirit of Christmas pamphlet...I've got a lot of bits and pieces like this to go inside my album (I'm just hoping I'll have enough space).  I included just one photo of the fair itself, but I might put a couple more inside a divided page protector if I have the room. 

Day 4:
Images from Victoria magazine.

And the before:
 Day 4 followed Shimelle's prompt about 'perfection' (click on the image to read the journaling).  The twill ribbon is from a local art shop.  If you look closely at the last image on the left (taken from a magazine), the name on the table setting is Genevieve :)  I thought that the list on the right (a hand drawn brush by Ali Edwards) would finish off this page pretty much epitomises everything 'perfect' about this time of year.   

And that's my album so far.  There have been a couple of hiccups along the way and the 'daily' dimension lasted for all of 24 hours, but that was to be expected!  Otherwise I'm happy with how it's coming along.  I have a feeling it's going to be a slow process, but this fabulous post by Sian reminded me why it's so important to persevere.  How's your album coming along?  

Saturday, 4 December 2010

December Daily/JYC Day 2

Webster's Pages and American Crafts papers, Bazzill cardstock, Fiskars punch, number tag from every jot and little

On Thursday morning I peered groggily through the gap in my curtains....and there before me was a winter wonderland.   I spent most of the morning snapping pictures before my parents and I risked a walk to the station to investigate the train situation (I had a presentation in London on Friday that I couldn't miss).  As we plodded down the lane towards the centre of town, we were overtaken by a small group of kids chattering away whilst hauling their sledges along behind them.  For me, that almost timeless moment pretty much epitomised everything that I love about this time of year...and just for a minute, I wished that I was 8 again.    

I wanted my page for day 2 to capture that sense of nostalgia, so I used what turned out to be the perfect piece of scrap paper from the Dear Lizzy Christmas collection alongside my photo of the retreating backs of the kiddos and their sledges (edited with the Pioneer Woman's PSE actions - it looks a lot more sepia in real life!).  It also helped to tone down the busy pattern on the foundation page, which I felt detracted a little from the photo.  Also for that reason, I decided to let my journaling stand alone on the adjacent page:

I also included a divided page protector to accompany this prompt.  I'm going to do a bulk order of 4x6 prints from Photobox once Christmas is over...but in the meantime, here are two of the pictures from Thursday that I will include:

And on the other side (from Friday):

Even London had to get to grips with snow and ice!  I took a detour through Trafalgar Square on the way to my seminar on Friday afternoon and snapped these photos on my phone.  It was freezing....

And here's a look at the original:

Thank you so much for looking!  I'll be back soon with day 3.  And I hope you're having a fabulous weekend...perhaps you've been working on your December Daily too?