The summer after GCSEs at the end of year 11 is a long break. It’s full of possibilities. Before we even get to the school summer holidays my daughter Fizz has an awful lot of revision and pressure. As her parent, I don’t get a lot of information in advance. School in the final weeks of year 11 For example, we have no confirmed start date for study leave. It will be a last minute decision by the school based on the behaviour of the year group. I don’t know when my daughter is going to be working at home, which is awkward as we have some disruptive plumbing work to book in! Other things are very last-minute too. The history and science courses are so long that they will…View Post
Valentine’s day, Pancake day and Ash Wednesday all fall so close together this year. I am spoilt for choice for an appropriate photo blog opportunity. Romance, recipe or fire? In the end I chose romance, as I think last week’s boozy gift guide blog post has really got me in the mood. I hope there will be lots of happy proposals and engagements on Valentine’s day, and perhaps some wedding anniversaries too. If you have a new ring this year, or perhaps have never taken a ring photo (think of your insurance!) then take a look at my creative ideas for shots.
I have written before about how I used to photograph weddings as a second shooter. During the wedding breakfast the main photographer and I would borrow the couple’s rings to try to get some interesting close-up shots. This was always a nerve-wracking moment as they are such tiny and valuable things, and they ROLL! We would balance them in all sorts of places. I particularly remember one time we nearly lost them in the bottom of a huge vase. This vase was nearly as tall as me, so it would not have been an easy rescue.
Cast a heart shadow with a ring
This ring shadow on a Bible is just my test shot, which is why it’s a bit blurry and poor quality. The final version of this ring photo was taken by the main photographer, not me. One person holds an off-camera flashgun behind the ring, opposite the camera and a little above. This casts a heart shadow across the page.
Flowers from a wedding
A slightly easier idea is to loop them onto the flowers from the bouquet or table decoration. I whipped the vase off a table onto the lawn to get this ring photo.
Ring photo with a chrome background
This last shot is my favourite and the rings are lying in the base of a chrome ice bucket. The caterers had brought these to chill the champagne but we got in there first and dropped the rings inside for a photo. I love the shimmer and metallic texture of the curving base.
Do you fancy trying out a shot like one of these? Let me know in the comments below.
Regular readers will have noticed that I blogged on both Sunday and Monday this week, which is unusual. Sundays I always write about photography. On Monday I simply could not wait any longer to publish my Boozy Valentine’s Gift Guide and Drinks Review as the day is nearly upon us! So after two days with two blogs I felt it would be nice to keep the blogging rhythm going and join in again with Morgana’s blogging linky. #LittleLoves is a linkup which opens each Friday, and the five headings are the same each time: Read, Watched, Heard, Made, Wore, and Lastly.
Here’s what I’ve been up to in recent weeks.
Since my recent surgery I’ve been resting and read a few things. I’ve especially enjoyed discovering some new blogs. A newborn photo shoot is something I’ve never done so these photography tips from Lilypad and Bow make interesting reading. Another blog with lots of lovely photography is Waffle Mama – I particularly like her great timing and decisive moment images. On The Mini Mes and Me I was interested to read about getting girls interested in careers in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Maths). Emma has a daughter in year 9 – just a year ahead of Belle – and choosing her GCSEs now. Travel is another of my favourite topics and Helerina Blogs has had the same idea as me; she’s dreaming of visiting the Scottish Highlands. She also went to a Blog on the Beach conference that I had to miss because of my surgery, so it’s been nice to catch up on news about that. Lastly I’ve found a recipe for Welsh Cakes on The Rare Welsh Bit blog. My mum used to make these and I love them . These are heart shaped for Valentine’s Day – perfect!
Belle was in a Drama club showcase at school one evening this week. I haven’t seen her act since primary school so it was lovely to see how much she has progressed. It was a short comedy of errors which suited her perfectly. I particularly enjoyed watching her tip-toe in an exaggerated way across the back of the stage holding a bag of “swag” in each hand. I think she will miss her calling as a bank-robber in later life, however! These phone pics are fairly poor but you get the idea (and you can’t make out the childrens’ faces, which is deliberate).
No new discoveries here but I’m still enjoying BBC Radio 6. We still have Radio 1 on the alarm clock as they always sound so very awake, but Radio 6 is on everywhere else. I find Radio 2 sounds too much like local radio for my liking, and I like new music, not golden oldies.
Not my creation, but my husband has made a super miniature railway in N-gauge. It has taken over a year to get this far and it’s looking amazing. This small board fits under the coffee table but he wants to make another two this size. We do not have space! The girls love it and they are heavily involved in the design.
This is really about what I am NOT wearing: A post-surgery boot! It’s five weeks since I had surgery on my arthritic toe. The pain started years ago so I am really hopeful that this will be a cure. I recovered much quicker than predicted at first, but progress has slowed down now. I was expecting to be on crutches for two months. However after just two weeks I abandoned them and just use one light stick when I go out. The boot came off when my stitches came out.
Lastly – Post-Surgery Thoughts
My recent foot surgery has given me some pain and tiredness as you can imagine. Walking is hard, so I don’t get out much. I haven’t been to the supermarket, slimming world, I’ve missed some church things, I’ve had to stop my volunteering, I haven’t been clothes shopping, I’ve seen less of my friends. I didn’t think that these little things would affect me so deeply but they’ve added up to have a strong effect on my state of mind. It feels quite dangerous and it’s hard to find the personal strength to save myself. I hope that after half term I will get out more.
Were you avoiding alcohol for “Dry January” this year? Now, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner I’ve been searching out some of the most interesting boozy gifts. I’ve found some choices to suit either the man or woman in your life. There’s even an option to suit a party of singles on Valentine’s Day. All these gifts are far more interesting than just chocolates a bottle of wine (you may know already, I’m not a wine drinker!) so there’s no excuse for dull gifts this year.
DemiJohn Raspberry Vodka Liqueur
This is a warming berry flavour and quite a syrupy texture. We think it’s best suited as an after-dinner drink or nightcap. It has a nice hit to the back of the throat but even though it’s 22% ABV it goes down very easily. It’s the perfect colour for a Valentine gift too. DemiJohn have a really huge range of liqueur flavours in vodka, gin, whiskey, brandy and rum. Any of these can be bought in a beautiful heart-shaped bottle with a personal message. With this Raspberry Vodka Liqueur the 500ml heart bottle is priced at £31.20. Do check out the heart bottle on their website; it’s quite something.
Edinburgh Gin Distillery Pomegranate and Rose Liqueur
This pale peach coloured liqueur has a Turkish delight aroma. The rose flavour really comes to the fore when you take a sip but it’s light and not sickly at all. This is a good drink to have with your dessert; it made me think of cheesecake. I like it even more as an aperitif with plain tonic water, but that didn’t suit my husband who prefers it neat. It’s certainly versatile, and would work well in a prosecco cocktail. At 20% ABV this gin liqueur is stronger than it tastes. The 31Dover website has a 500ml bottle priced at £17.95.
Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey
This cheeky whiskey has a dark golden colour and a slightly treacle aroma. At first taste it is smooth but there’s a bite that quickly follows onto your tongue. It’s matured in sherry casks and this adds a clear flavour. If you’re used to Scottish single malt then you will notice there are no dominant peat tones. Instead a hint of smoky wood adds interest. It’s warm and easy to drink and the label conjures up a romantic version of the past for your Valentine. A 700ml bottle from 31Dover is £24.99.
Revolution Lager Making Kit
If you’ve ever wanted to bring the pub home, here’s a way around that problem! Brewing lager is made easy with this kit. All you need to do is add water. The kit includes a keg , two matching pint glasses and a pair of beer mats. After three days it will have produced eight pints of lager at 4.5% ABV. The flavour is lightly hopped and the lager is the slightly cloudy sort. The keg is a perfect accessory for a party but no one is saying you have to share! Usual price from Find Me a Gift is £29.99 but it’s recently on sale with £5 off.
Spill – A Drinking Game
I was unsure about reviewing this one but I’m so glad we gave it a go. Spill is a really entertaining game to go alongside your drink. You can play it as a couple, and my husband and I had quite a laugh with it. It would work really well in a group and I’m definitely going to take it to my next get-together with friends. It might also be perfect for those singles’ anti-Valentine’s parties.
There are lots of funny and awkward questions. With each question there’s a chance to vote, and this adds to the fun because you can see what people think of each other from their answers. There are enough cards in the pack to keep the game fresh for several uses. A number of the questions are highly risqué and a few we couldn’t understand as they were too American. Overall it was good fun, and the aim of the game is fun chat, not getting trollied. Spill is coming soon to the UK, and it’s a game for adults only. Remember: Spill responsibly!
Going out for dinner for Valentine’s Day? Why the right mindset is important if you have to complain in a restaurant – click here to read.
More drink on review: Yorkshire Craft Brewery tour – click here to read.
I was gifted samples for the purposes of this review, but I chose the selection from the samples on offer and all opinions are my own. Please drink responsibly.
This week’s photo for Pic of the Week is a snap of a product photography setup. I took this with my phone. I get a lot of use out of my circular reflector. It’s a five-way reflector and can be turned inside out or zipped open to reveal different surfaces.
– highly reflective, I use this opposite a window on a cloudy day to reduce shadows and generally increase light in a photo.
– reflects a bit less light and in bright conditions it won’t cast harsh light. More useful in direct sun or with flash.
– reflects light in warming tones. Best used for improving skin tone in portraits. It doesn’t suit everybody’s skin colour however, so test it first with each person.
– shine light through to diffuse it so it’s less harsh. You could try using it it for close work with sunlight. More commonly it’s useful with a bulb or flashgun.
– this is the unusual one and many people wonder what it’s good for. Today the black reflector surface has been invaluable because I’ve been taking product shots of a shiny keg which has been a bit dented in the post. By using the black refector along side the dent, most reflection has been removed from that side and there’s no shiny outline of the dent. Somehow the black manages to subtract light from the scene.
I hope you can see how effective this is in the final blog post: Boozy Valentine’s Gift Guide and Drinks Review.
The light from the window casts a bit of a shadow on the background and for most of my product shots I have used the silver reflector. As you can see, my setup is not very high tech! I have been able to use daylight over the last few days with close-up shots, so I didn’t need a lot of space and just popped everything on the sofa by the window.
You can buy this same reflector using the Amazon link below (affiliate link).
See more of my recommended buys in Photography on this page.