Definition #02: Pluviophile

Pluviophile

A study in yellow: yellow wellington boots, yellow flowers, yellow strands in the cascades of her hair, yellow. She ambles, watching a world of opposites as it ripples in the puddles at her feet, the other She watches back. There is a quirk there, a difference in the smile of the She in the ripple world but she does not notice, enraptured as she is by the rain. She inhales, imagining the petrichor which will follow, and, swept up with the moment, begins to sway to the pluviasonant drippings and droppings as if they were music. Raising her hands, she laughs and the rain beats a little faster, a little brighter, a little more warm.


Rain. We have a love hate relationship with rain. This was love; accompanied by mist this particular morning felt magical, and so, in a small village close to the moors with the occasional passing dog-walker, we bundled ourselves out of the door and into the fresh air long before we perhaps had planned.

There was no plan, not really. Wait for rain, find something nice to wear, and enjoy it were the only things that could really be plotted out beforehand but it was perfect. It worked exactly as not-planned.

More information about this shoot, this image and the theft of this image can be found in this blog post. We would appreciate it if you could read it.

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Definition #01: Alpha

Alpha by Elou Carroll

It begins with sleep, hazy not-quite sleep, a lilting only-just sleep wherein such worlds and images and peoples are born that could not exist on waking. The Alpha rolls her head across the White and the brightest stars in her constellations wink in response, her fingers twitch and clasp at her chin, and tease at the violet strands they find there. She is a balancing act. A rocking point between sleeping and waking and, as she moves, the stars tremble, waiting as the world beneath grumbles and groans and pushes ever forward. She breathes deep and her stars sigh. The night continues.


First. It begins with me, with my mind and my notebook and my love of words and images so the first image begins with me too. A self-portrait. A challenge. At the time of writing, and when the first shots trickled through my lens—refracting, recording and reflecting my own face—the idea of a self-portrait is, was and continues to be a trial. A gut-wrenching, stomach-twisting, my-fingers-are-shaking-justpressthebutton kind of a trial. A challenge to myself to step in front of my own camera, with the image completely under my control and with artistic intent, for the first time since 2012. In the meantime, I have posed for Dress.Simple in tiny trickles of tiny unplanned shoots, the ones I liked being the ones in which I did not look like myself.

So this image? This image is a dare. I dare you to like yourself.

Second. I adore the stars. Looking up at the stars, when there is little light from towns and cities, is like stepping into a large expanse of freedom but at the same time the endlessness is oppressive, I am crushed by it. I love the stars, and I fear them.

All stories must have a beginning, and so begins the narrative. With stars, and night, and a celestial figure inspired by: Nyx, the Greek goddess of the night, who was present near the beginning of creation, the first of all things, seen only in glimpses and in the shadows of things; and Nut, Egyptian goddess of the sky, who is portrayed as a bluish woman, covered in stars, arching over the world. With her it begins, and perhaps, with some glimpse of her it shall end.

And from these two remarkable creatures is born Alpha; the first night. The beginning.

 Other definitions

noun

  1. the first letter of the Greek alphabet
  2. the vowel sound represented by this letter
  3. a code word representing the letter a in radio communication
  4. Chemistry. one of two or more isometric compounds
  5. the first in a series of related items: frequently used in chemistry and physics

adjective

  1. (of an animal) having the highest rank in a dominance hierarchy; being the most dominant, powerful, or assertive person in a particular group
  2. alphabetical
  3. Chemistry. pertaining or linked to the carbon atom closest to a particular group in an organic molecule

symbol

  1. a plane angle

Origin: Latin, Greek.

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Design diary: Cardboard Castle, Inspired by Bunnies

The Shoot

Back in August I was asked to take photos for the debut EP of Cardboard Castle, a local, Oxfordshire band, who are not only great musicians but wonderful people to boot. After a few talks about what they wanted, we bundled into the car and drove the tiny, winding roads to Bernwood Forest. Anyone who has looked at my photography before knows how much I love green, leafy, natural settings, combine that with the golden hour and I am pretty much in heaven.

We arrived when the sun was starting to set but couldn’t find the location we were looking for, or rather, the location we were looking for was so overgrown that at least one band member would be lost in the grass. Luckily for us, a very excitable dog took interest and with that dog (whose name I cannot remember, but I do remember him being incredibly cute) came his owner, who pointed us in the direction of what would become our set.

It was perfect; a grassy path bordered on each side with trees, and the sun setting behind the trees (a word comes to mind: komorebi, the Japanese word for sunlight filtering through trees). It wasn’t dappled, it was just soft and golden. Due to the time of day, there was no one about and our shoot was pretty much uninterrupted. While it is nice when people take an interest, I do prefer photoshoots in which I don’t have an audience, where I can be more relaxed and not super aware that there are people standing behind me, quite possibly judging every shot I take.

I knew before the shoot started that I didn’t want it to look too staged, people always look their best when they are at their most relaxed (unless you count me right now, sprawled on a sofa in my PJs – comfy but not photogenic). Other than getting them to stand/sit where I wanted them, I didn’t give any direction at all. The guys played their instruments and Georgina (who may be referred to as Gorg later) stood in the middle, reacting to things they were doing and enjoying the scenery, opting not to sing in case of unfortunate expressions.

Hopping about, taking photos as I went, I left them to it and it paid off. I knew which shot would end up on the EP as soon as I’d taken the photo, and while I did offer them more options, I knew that this would be the one. It was, in fact, one of the only photos I took the time to expand. If you’ve ever heard me talk about my photography, you already know I prefer to expand rather than crop. It’s always better to make an image larger, than smaller, so expansion photos are a pretty crucial part of the process.

Once we’d finished taking the EP images, I shot a load of random portraits before we hopped back in car and went home in the last fleeting moments of daylight.

Editing

I always had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted the colours to look like and stuck pretty closely to what I could see while the shoot was happening. The camera dulled the warm tones and I very much wanted to bring them back. Cardboard Castle often perform quite bright, happy, playful sounding songs so I wanted the colours to reflect that, while their posing and expressions were more serious. I didn’t want to do a huge amount to the images, so it was mainly just colouring and contrast.

The back cover required a different edit due to my standing with the sun behind me, I had to make sure the trees were dark enough to make the text readable and that there was enough space. Again, I didn’t do too much to it. The edit was mostly trial and error, while I was clear on what I wanted for the front, I hadn’t made any editing plans for the back.

Design and Typography

I played with fonts for a while, I knew I wanted something playful, sans serif, possibly handwritten but I wasn’t sure. The original draft of the type was a very thin sans serif with a doodled castle bordering the top right corner. The castle didn’t take, I couldn’t get it to look as crisp and clean as I wanted and after a few trials, it wasn’t really something I thought worth pursuing. Perhaps, on later EPs (providing they keep me!) I will attempt to bring it back but for this EP simpler was best.

The fonts I ended up with are Belta for the logo, Amatic SC for the EP title and tracklist, and Lane – Narrow for the back cover credit text. The tracklist could have been centred, but that approach looked better on a different image. All in all, a simple design from the off.

The Finished Product

Cardboard Castle - Inspired by Bunnies

Cardboard Castle - Inspired by Bunnies

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – an MA Publishing Design Project.

As I spent last Tuesday wandering around looking ridiculous in a boiling hot, very heavy graduation gown. I figured it was high time I posted about my major project, which I have been meaning to post about for 9 months now.

See above, here I am in said ridiculous graduation get up with my best friend, without whom, along with our Alice, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts and etc. pictured in the images to follow, my major project would not have been possible.

We had long wanted to do an Alice related photography project and my MA seemed like the perfect opportunity. Beth, pictured above, assembled all of the costumes (having made some of the pieces herself!) and did the makeup and hair styling for each character, Rebekah acted as our chameleon and played the entire cast of characters barring the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, I shot the images, manipulated them and typeset the text until we had a finished book. I call these two my dream team and for good reason.

Three days were spent shooting all of the images, I took at least 800 , if not more, during those three days. It was quite possibly the most entertaining experience of my life. Once all of the images were shot, 3 months were spent creating the rest of the book. Each image had to be carefully chosen and manipulated, only a small number actually made it into the finished book. Images were shot in natural light on a Canon 550D using a 50mm f/1.8 lens, mostly in a garden in front of a white sheet. They were edited in Photoshop CS6 and the book was designed in InDesign CS6.

Surprisingly, it all fell together without much trouble, though a few of the images can no longer be edited (I am still baffled as to why).

The book wasn’t the only thing I submitted, I also included a website splash page, some designs for playing cards, an AI, alternate cover and what OICPS classes as a BLAD, in addition to two videos which can be found at the end of the post.

There are a few things I wish I’d done differently but, overall, I was incredibly happy with this project and have a printed version sitting proudly on a shelf in my bedroom. It was the biggest project I’d ever undertaken and I came out the other side with all of my faculties still intact and more Adobe knowledge than I had before I started.

Below, you can see the whole thing in all its digital glory (though, seeing it in print is far more satisfying and I’m not sure why the issuu viewer is appearing quite so tiny – click on it for full-screen).

KeyChild.net: Relaunch

KeyChild Preview

I realise at this point that I blog too much but I can’t sleep (curse you, sore throat!) and I spent a very long time battling with WordPress and it all resulted in the beautiful new look of my website. I still, probably, need to add some pages but for now it’s finished. Hoorah!

Please, have a browse. Relax, enjoy.

Wedding Photography: The Bartrops

Back in September, I had the pleasure of photographing the long-awaited wedding of Julie and Andy Bartrop, my lovely cousin and her lovely now-husband. Here are a few of my favourite images (Yes, I have just discovered the gallery function):

The day was lovely. Not only did I get to take photographs but I got to spend time with family members I, until recently, didn’t get to see very often.

Hello world! (WordPress summed it up well, I think.)

Hello World, hello WordPress.

This is my first blog here and it will definitely not be my last. No, you’re not seeing things. They are really there. The posts below were  imported from my old Blogger account – I didn’t want to leave them there, abandoned, as I embarked on a new blogging journey. (This also explains why they are horribly formatted, and shall be fixed in the coming weeks.) I have since deleted the posts from my old blog, these will be replaced/updated in time.

Here you will find, as below, blogs about publishing, photography and life at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies and beyond. While I may do the occasional blog like those below, I don’t think I quite have the time to keep up three entries a week (as is evident by the huge gap between the last post and this one; dear future-followers, I apologise).

So, without further ado, I proclaim this blog open for business.