LAPC #237 – Bringing Softness

We need softness in the world. When you go to sleep at night, do you lay your head on a brick?

– Adrienne Posey

For this week’s challenge, our guest host, Bren, wants us to show how we soften our images. Bren is a master of this, and now we can learn how it works. ” You don’t have to stick to flowers, landscapes and architecture are also ideal subjects. By lowering the clarity and creating softness in those areas frames the subject in an image, be it a tree, path, bridge, even a door or house or just a dreamy looking image.”

I decided to try some different subjects, starting with a flower and finishing with a seascape.

My first try was a Nasturtium plant close-up –

Then some fluffiness against a rough wall – I guess the bee was collecting building material for his home.

My red camellia is in flower now. I love what the softening did in this image – it made the ”unreal” look of this flower more tempting and strikingly beautiful. The white camellia is in flower as well, but the softness did not work as well as in this one.

The blue colour of the chikory flower is unsurpassed, according to me.

A gallery from my forest walks and Hovdala Castle. Colourful tapestries and soft trees mimicking the clouds.

Golden beech leaves among the larch trees. A picture I was to throw away – until Bren’s challenge saved it for me!

The last tree standing. I made the layers of twigs, grass, forest and sky soft/clear in those sections.

Another gently woven tapestry with field, forest and sky. The colours really appealed to me, and the skies were great that day.

I didn’t believe this technique would work quite that well with a seascape – but I just had to try.

Thank you, Amy, for last week’s wonderful challenge with so many interesting interpretations! And thank you, Bren, for letting us play and learn – I hope you all had as much fun as I had. Now we are looking forward to seeing your responses to this week’s challenge! Please remember to link to Bren’s original post and use the Lens-Artists tag.

Next week it will be me, Ann-Christine/Leya who is your host. See you then!

For more information on joining the challenge each week, check here.

LAPC #233 – One Lens Walk

Annes challenge for us this week is to take a lens for a walk. Yes, to choose a lens and walk. We can also use our cell phone or point and shoot camera. Another trick, when using a zoom lens, is to pick an aperture and stay with it. It is of course also possible to go for our archives. The important thing is to have fun! Remember to link to Anne’s original post and use the Lens-Artists tag.

I usually walk with my Fuji 16-80 lens, or my 35 prime lens. But my absolute favourite is the Tamron 90 macro. It is not a coincidence that my blog is labelled with a quote from William Blake: ”To see a World in a Grain of Sand…” The complete line goes: ”To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.” To me, this is the essence of Life.

As there are very few flowers and insects to photograph right now, I have chosen some of my old macros to show the different possibilities of this lens. Close-ups and macros yes, – but you will notice it is very versatile.

For macros I normally use f/11, but f/8 – f/11 works fine. I always use a tripod, and that is why most of my macros are shot in my own garden. I don’t carry a tripod on my walks. Not only because of the weight, I want to feel free. And, I often have my dog, Milo, with me too. In the beginning I tried to hand hold the camera, but there were too many photos to throw away, so Milo and the tripod are two of my best friends.

Droplets and frosty petals are always a treat, but even with flowers and other subjects that often don’t move much, I also use the timer in order not to risk accidental camera movements while pressing the button. The photo with many droplets, to the left in this gallery, was hand held. When I don’t take close-ups or macro with the lens, that works fine.

When we get really close, like in the first and the last picture, and the roses, the photo turns almost abstract. Other worlds open up and lets our fantasy work magic.

We enjoyed looking back with all of you during Sophia’s challenge last week. You sent us unique and interesting responses – some surprising ones too. Now we are looking forward to seeing your one lens walks!

Next week our new team member, Donna Holland of Wind Kisses, will be leading the challenge. Be sure to visit her beautiful site for inspiration!

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Lens-Artists Challenge #224 – Exposure

Sofia leads us in this interesting challenge – Exposure. Please visit her beautiful site for inspiration! Now, it is up to you how you work on exposure. I prefer using aperture when photographing, but for this challenge I decided only to play with changing the exposure settings while editing. In general, I find that the easiest way to get the look I want. The idea here is to see how the mood of any photo depends on its exposure.

First, some of my high key flower images. I used to be rather obsessed with that some years ago.

What is High-Key Photography?

In short, high-key images are those that have few shadows and have the subject set against a very bright background. High-key images are often set against over-exposed backdrops and the average of all the pixels in the image is very bright. High-key is the opposite of low-key images that are defined by their darker tones.

But, I am cheating…I have this opportunity in one of my cameras, and I also use NIK. If you want to try it for real, here’s an explanation and a tutorial.

Hiking last week in the deforested area, made for sunlit roots and grass. The area felt desaturated – in a positive way.

I decided for monochrome before changing the exposure in LR. The low exposure was a hit for me. I could almost feel the beautiful, whitened roots come alive in the play of light and shadow. Please click to enlarge.

For this plumbago flower, I used Lightroom to create different exposures. You can see that in the underexposed image the light is softly shining through the petals, something you cannot see that well in the overexposed picture. Harmony.

NIK can make striking high key images, while the low key one with LR touched shadows gives another feel.

Different umbrellas

This fly agaric stood alone in the shadow, neutral exposure – with an underexposed image, you can make the ”hat” glow when editing in for example LR. More magic!

Landscapes – well, I don’t know what you prefer, but I prefer the ethereal look of the overexposed image.

Last, but not least, if you are a follower, you already know that I love double exposures. You can make them in Photoshop, but I am lucky enough to be able to make them in my camera. This image I have featured several times, but it is the one I think have turned out the best. So far. In the header – roses.

To sum it up, for me it’s aperture photography, but I often find that playing with exposure while editing gives me a wider range of opportunities. Good for me – I am not always fast in deciding how I want the final image to look. I think that underexposed images make for interesting edits and overexposed images can lift the photo to something ethereal.

Last week we had John’s creative challenge to lighten up our windows to the world. The variety of replies showed how every challenge can be interpreted in a different, personal way and that applies to this week’s challenge as well. We” invite you to play, think or just do your own thing with exposure, either on camera or while editing. and then show us the result.”

Please link to Sofia’s original post and tag with Lens-Artists so we can all find you. Next challenge it is Anne hosting, be sure to visit her beautiful site for inspiration.

As always, stay calm and kind.

LAPC #211 – What’s Your Photographic Groove?

Our host this week, Anne Sandler , is asking: ”What type of photography do you truly enjoy doing?”

I enjoy almost all types of photography, but Nature is my Muse. More specificly: flowers, close-ups and macro. And I am happy if in the flowers there is a critter or two as well… I believe our ”groove” changes over the years – as the world is changing – so are we.

For many years my photography was all about travel, new places, new people, new architecture, new food… but there has always been flowers. And why flowers? Well, I was born in the countryside, and from my grandmother I learned the importance of the little things – to see a world in a grain of sand. Flowers – nothing beats their great variety; in colours, shapes and sizes. I have to have flowers in my life!

My blog was named lagottocattleya after my favourite breed of dogs and my favourite orchid. So, the first image is a cattleya hybrid pictured at Keukkenhof, Holland. Then follows a gallery with some old and new favourites, from close-ups to macros and from Spring to Autumn. From forest to garden and indoors plants. I hope they will speak for themselves.

Special thanks to our guest host Sarah Wilkie of Travel With Me for the exercise of picking out three of our favorite images. And thank you to all our wonderful July guest hosts, Aletta, Jez, Andre and Tracy. If you join us, please link to Anne’s original post and use the lens artists tag. We’re looking forward to seeing your photos! As the LAPC team resumes rotation, Patti will present next week’s challenge. In the meantime, have fun and safe travels.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Lens-Artists Challenge #197 – The Rule of Thirds

Tina explains the well-known Rule of Thirds, and asks us to show our own examples. Visit her site for more inspiration!I must admit the rule is somewhere with me always, but I never think of it. It is true that this composition is pleasing to the eye, but so is breaking it…

This Shar – pei beauty on the steps – is maybe not totally in the ”right” position, but almost. Many times you need to fit into the frame what would look strange if it wasn’t there – and the dog had to be there, just as I wanted the steps to be there as well. And, I had to be fast – or the dog would go indoors again.

In this image I just wanted something in the foreground, and matched the single boat with the boats to the left and the lady on the bridge – a balance after all. My overall idea is that a balanced image is more needed than following the rules. (Rules might help the balancing of course…)

The Mockingbird and the blue bottle makes a balanced picture despite breaking the rules. I almost always avoid putting the significant object in the middle, so, the balance here is kept by the bottle and the bird leaning away from each other. The lack of other colours/the blending in also makes the bird a star.

I say trust your own feeling for when an image has got the finish you want. This Iceland motif is a favourite – warm evening colours contrasted to the darker, colder side of the mountains, and the distinct line going left-right and upwards. The farm in the lower left corner.

Another example, from Ireland, where I would have liked the shot a bit more from the right, putting the ruins in a better position. But, that was not possible – so I made this image anyway. It works for me, thanks to the hiker on the road.

Finally two images where you cannot follow the rule of thirds properly – and it is not needed either. The Moroccan dune works like the Icelandic mountain ridge – the contrast between light and dark, warmth and cold. Just decide where the line should go. One third?

Finally a horse in the middle, or almost. I felt that was his right position. Do you agree?

In the end – were you familiar with the rule? Do you use it? This week we hope you’ll share some rule-of-thirds examples and explain how and why you chose to compose them. Please link to Tina’s post and use the Lens-Artists tag!

Sincere thanks to John for making our week filled with smiles! Much needed…Patti will lead our next challenge with Light and Shadow. Until then, stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #191 – Curves

Magic lives in curves, not angles. – Mason Cooley

On a visit to Gothenburg last week, I was mesmerized by some intriguing curves, in nature and at a museum…so, this week, I thought we would find more examples of curves: funny, beautiful, unusual – roads, paths, art, architecture, animals, plants – anything that interests you. Because, curves are everywhere around us. In nature almost everything is – curves.

You will find them in small stones under your feet…

In water…

In trees…

Under and below the trees…

Sometimes they are a bit scary…

But mostly friendly…

Curves exist in every little creature on Earth…

In roads and manmade things too, like in this agricultural landscape.


Last weekend I found great curves in something called a Treillage – at Gunnebo there is a really big one – 7 meters high. There are three reconstructed ones in modern times (they were common in 1500-1800), and those are to be found at Hampton Court in England, Het Loo in Holland and Versailles in France. The trellis forms a kind of link between nature and architecture, and over time, the growing trees at its sides will form a bower.

Finally, in the opener is my favourite curve, a koru. And, I will close the circle of this ”curvy”post with an orb of a spider’s web in my garden.

In life, as in art, the beautiful moves in curves. – Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Many thanks to Patti for the great Close and Closer challenge that gave us such a variety of interesting entries – thank you all for the treats!

We are now looking forward to seeing YOUR curves… pun intended! Be sure to link your responses to my original post, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Next week, Amy will be our host – until then, please stay safe and be kind.

If you would like to participate in our weekly Lens-Artists Challenge, we have easy to follow instructions. Just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Lens-Artists Challenge #185 – Change

Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.

– Albert Schweitzer

This week, we’re delighted to welcome John Steiner as a new member of our Lens-Artists team. For his topic, he asks us an interesting question: What does change mean to you? John has some clever answers worth visiting!

The opener shows the change we all are waiting for now – at least here in the northern hemisphere. But it will not arrive for another two months…

Change is inevitable, and I believe Charles Darwin says it best: ”It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who will best manage change.” But survival comes at a hard cost too. I have chosen changes from my own life. A mixed bag of joy and sorrow – Life is.

I love photography, even though it sometimes has to rest for a while – now much due to covid times… This photo is from a dam close by, always an autumn hiking treat. With different possibilities in computer programs, you can play around and get almost any change you want. Photosketcher used here. It is nice when you are in control yourself, isn’t it?

My hiking interest is huge – I have to visit the forest every day for dogwalks and fresh air that will keep me breathing and happy. Some favourite paths are gone, but other areas have become new favourites, and new trees will be planted where the old ones once stood.

In the autumn 2020 we finally decided for a glass house. The old stump from the big birch tree had to go – and make room for so many other plants. I have never regretted building the glass house, because all my special plants will easier survive winter. (And you might get some nice pictures of them too…)

Lastly, some changes are not wished for at all, but belongs to our closest circle of life. I lost my dear mother in 2020, and I lost sweet Totti. Little Milo has now grown up to be my handsome number 1 companion.

Many thanks to Amy for her ”Travels Have Taught Me” challenge, where we learned a great deal from your travel lessons! Next week, we’ll be looking forward to Sofia Alves’ challenge topic. Be sure to visit her beautiful blog!

Lens-Artists Challenge #176- One Image/One Story

I thought we would go for a minimalistic challenge this week – a good excercise, but I know you as I know myself… So, that doesn’t mean you must only use one, single image…I am sure you have several stories to share! Pick one or two, maybe three? As long as you use only one image for each (possible) story you have captured.

What is a photo story? Some photos are staged, or taken just for their story, and some stories come up first when you see your photo on the screen. A lot of photographic storytelling involves capturing shots of interesting scenes and phenomena that cannot easily be explained through words. These photos either tell the story of an interesting person or persons/animal or animals, or maybe occupy a human rights or awareness angle by depicting the plight of people in poverty-stricken or war-torn places. There are so many stories to capture…and to tell – we are looking forward to seeing some of yours!

I have chosen three different stories. The opener is a staged image at an exhibition of painted (artist Martin Jacobsen) back drops from a famous Swedish play: Queen of F*cking Everything, starring Jonas Gardell. Here Jacobsen uses landscapes in a dialogue with art history and popular culture. We easily recognize the Disney castle and the beautiful Swan Lake hint.

Standing close to a theatre back drop is indeed awe inspiring, just the size of it, and I always wonder how an artist can paint at such a large scale and get the perspective right. Be it in churches, street graffiti or elsewhere. I guess that is what the people in this image are expressing too.

The above image is from an outdoor exhibition in Denmark, where a big ring was set in the grass, and children were happily jumping in and out of it. – Suddenly the ring started sending out smoke (smoke-rings, haha…), which got parents (and me…) swinging up their cameras. An ordinary thing doing extraordinary things… this had to be immortalized!

My last image is from an autumn hike, where I was lucky to capture this scene. Through a narrow tunnel of leaves – in a glen of light… I saw the old couple standing. As the path was narrow, I waited for them to pass first, and then I showed them the photo, asking if I could keep it. They were all smiles and happy to share. Before walking our separate ways, they told me their story…..

Thank you so much for last week’s blissfull moments! Amazing opportunities for us all to share wonderful inspiration. Now we hope you’ll join us in sharing YOUR stories: funny, inspirational, beautiful, special….as they are yours. Be sure to include a link to my original post and to use the Lens-Artists tag so we can all find you in the Reader.

Next week, December 4, Amy will be your host, and her theme will be Celebrating. Be sure to visit her on beautiful The World is a Book.

Wishing you a lovely weekend and hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.

Lens-Artists Challenge #175 – Follow Your Bliss

Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.

― Joseph Campbell

Lindy is very welcome as our guest host this week! She has already taught me much about birds, and now a new expression – Follow Your Bliss. She explains that to follow your bliss is to pursue that which provides you happiness and joy. In my life, and I guess in yours as well, there are many such things to follow. I have chosen three of mine. They are all connected to the natural world, as you know is my Life.

When I was young, I would sit painting and drawing for hours after school, but today I am afraid these skills are almost forgotten. Being retired, I am having great fun though, trying to conjure them up again. After so many years hidden in some crevice far back in my head… I enjoy every minute I am filling an empty page with doodling or watercolours – This is indeed a revival of an old bliss.

Another great way to relax is by pressing flowers and plants, and making them adorn books, cards, and frames. Many years ago I even arranged my best friend’s wedding bouquet and framed it for her bedroom wall. It is still there after 35 years…

This year, my son decided to give me a real flower press for my birthday – I have always used books and papers and ”under the rug” pressing before… Now I collected my first leaves for the flower press from the hike in my opening image – and framed some of the really delicate ones for this post.

My last example is maybe too obvious a bliss… – photographing the world around me. The big world during my traveling days, and now mostly the little worlds that are essential to make our big world a whole. I have made it my mission to show how magical and fantastic our world is, down to its microscopic parts. We need everybody to understand, that if we lose these small worlds, we will lose our only home, Planet Earth.

Fauna – ( Fauna, Roman goddess of earth and fertility)

Humans (Homo sapiens) are the most abundant and widespread species of primate

Flora – (Flora, the goddess of plants, flowers, and fertility in Roman mythology)

Thank you for last week’s many shapes and designs – amazing! Now we hope you’ll join us in sharing how you follow YOUR bliss. Be sure to include a link to Lindy’s original post and to use the Lens-Artists tag so we can all find you in the Reader.

Next week, it is my turn to lead the challenge, so you are welcome to stop by at Leya’s on Saturday, November 27, and join us. Until then, stay safe and well.

Lens-Artists Challenge #162 – It’s All About the Light

Tina has chosen Light for this challenge –

I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical.

Trent Parke

The most crisp and serene light ever, is to be found in Iceland. So, for a starter, an image from north western Iceland, that I have posted before. I have done nothing to enhance or change the original. It has it all – natural, clear Light.

I could have chosen so many images from Iceland – but only one more pick – the graveyard. There is the light, and the beauty of flowers, mountains and water. A well chosen place to rest.

A couple of days in Denmark last week was refreshing. We visited the biggest sandcastle in the world (- now in the Guinness Book of Records). It was raining when we arrived at the sculpture park, so I took a photo before it would get even worse… The second photo was taken about two hours later – as when we were leaving the park, the sun came out! The most significant difference is the colour of the sand, and how much more alive the feeling is in the second photo.

In Aarhus we wanted to visit their famous art museum, ARoS – but also the harbour area with its modern architecture. They were still building new there, and at a traffic light I opened the window and photographed some of the constructions. The next morning we went there again to see more of this interesting area. This time we parked the car…To our great delight, now the light and the clouds made the visit an almost surreal experience.

I leave you with a favourite image made at the Fluela Pass in Switzerland. At our hotel they featured a big poster of bikers riding along the spectacular pass road, and we were eager to see this the following day. While we were aiming for a couple of interesting villages, we were also on the lookout for ”The View”. To our great disappointment, there was no ”view”…there was only a lake and a mountain. Quite ordinary. But, when returning to our hotel in the afternoon, taking the same road, this magnificent view suddenly opened up. Magical! The right time of the day, the right angle, and the right light. I learned something that day. About patience, and waiting for the magical moment to arrive.

We hope you will join us this week for Tina’s inspiring theme for LAPC #162: It’s All About the Light. Many thanks for last week’s fun Feet and Shoes. There were many smiles as we saw the variety of your responses! This week your challenge is to share images that illustrate the power of light – even better if you also include the same or a similar scene at a different, somewhat less beautiful time. Remember to link your post to Tina’s original, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Finally, we hope you’ll join us next week as Amy leads us on her Share and Connect post. Until then, please stay safe and be kind.