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MM 2-16: Monochrome Madness 2-16

There have been a few emails asking me about the next theme and when it is. Next week is theme week. So I hope you have planned what you are going to do for the letter K. There are so many options and I’ve received quite a few already. I’m still working on mine, but I know I will have something by next week.

So remember for MM 2-17 it is a theme.  Anything starting with the letter K.

Shall we take a look at this week.


I spent a lovely day in the country the other day. I went with a friend and we went to so many places. Initially we kept stopping and we realized we were never going to get anywhere, or least to where we wanted to go. Still, we had fun and we will do this some more. This is the Viaduct bridge for the train in Malmsbury. It is an amazing bridge built around the 1880’s.

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.

Now, Monochrome Madness will continue next week and if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is
  • The image size should be low res, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.

Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs: A Slow Week

There’s no point pretending that it has been a busy week, it has, but not really in the ways you would normally expect. I’ve been spending more time writing for Digital Photography School. I think I just had a few days too where I just wanted to relax and not take much in. I was feeling quite lazy. Let’s see what I’ve got to tell you.

Trip to the USA

I’ve been trying to see if I can get some sponsors for the trip. I will be borrowing a couple of Tamron Lenses, and I have a ripponleal-20131011-8956Lowepro bag to try out on my trip. So I decided to see if I could get some other sponsors.

One thing that I thought would be good would be a travel tripod.  I sent an email to Gitzo to talk to them about the possibility and got nothing back, never heard from them.  I sent an email to Manfrotto and got some generic email back saying if they were interested they would let me know, needless to say I didn’t hear anything back. Then I sent an email to Right Stuff, and they were quick in their response, they couldn’t help me, but at least they responded.

I have to wonder if I am in a good position to get things like this. I did try sending an email to Merrell about maybe lending ripponleal-20131011-8905me a pair of hiking shoes for the trip, but I did only send it today, so who knows. I do love their shoes, well, I’ve only got one pair, but I wear them everywhere these days when I’m going to take photos. I can’t believe how comfortable they are.

It seems that I’m set for the trip and today when I looked at my tickets they said that I was leaving in 70 days, wow, so soon, I will be there before I know it.


I’ve spent a lot of time this afternoon trying to get my computer working. Seems I have a small problem with shutting it down and then getting it to turn back on. I had a technician here all afternoon and it seems the problem isn’t quite fixed, but shouldn’t take too long.

Learning from Me

I’m supposed to use this day to remind you that I can teach you photography as well, so if you are in Melbourne or coming here then you can book a One on One Photography session. I can teach you photography as we wander around the city taking photos. For more information click here.

ripponleal-20131011-8896If you can’t get here then I also do online courses, you can book, one, three or five sessions with me. For more information then please click here.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

I don’t usually talk about television here but I’ve been watching Miss Fisher on television and I find it such a thrill when they have buildings in it that I recognize. It is filmed in Melbourne, and set in the 1920’s. It is not a very serious show, but I love it. the costumes are great, but what I love is the architecture. I especially love it when it is a building that I have been too and love or recognize.

One of those buildings is Ripponlea. I’ve been there a couple of times and today I thought I might share with you some photos that I’ve taken there of the gardens. They are always so beautiful and they photograph so nicely.

Today I’m just going to leave it there today. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Introductions: View from a French Hillside

Today’s Introduction is new to me, but as soon as she was recommended to me I knew I had to introduce her to you. Her name is Jane Morley and is the person behind the blog View from a French Hillside. What a blog, I love still life photography and I think hers has so many great examples of it. It is also French and I think you will agree with me that a lot of the work has a definite French style to them.


Her work as a softness that goes with the composition and they remind me of beautiful old masters paintings.  How many of us search for the perfect flowers to photograph when one falling apart could also be beautiful in its deconstruction.

I asked Jane where in the world she was.

I live on top of a beautiful hill in South Western France, surrounded by fields and vineyards.


What we expect the French countryside to be like. It is beautiful with the colours of what looks like dew and mist. Hay bales left on the ground, it is reminiscent of paintings by Monet.

My next questions were about how long she had been taking photos for and why.

I started taking photos 5 years ago when we were asked to host the local theatre company’s summer spectacular. I thought it might be fun to take pictures at the rehearsals and I’d just bought a little camera. I loved it so much I’ve been taking pictures ever since. I still love portraiture but there is so much that’s beautiful in the world around us here and the more I look, the more I see, I think that’s the wonder of photography for me, my world just keeps getting richer!


I’m quite envious of work like this. It is something I would like to do, but I know I’m not very good at it. I can never seem to get the story right or the lighting. This work really inspires me, maybe I will try doing something with all the tea sets I have.

I asked Jane about her inspiration.

My inspiration comes firstly from painters.  I’ve been an art lover all my life and one of my favourite painters is Caravaggio and his extraordinary work with light. I’m always drawn to images which convey mood, atmosphere or drama, and I suppose I take the kind of pictures that I would paint if I were a painter.  I’m also inspired by the beauty to be found in the ordinary, everyday things around us. I believe everything has it’s own beauty if you look hard enough.


Trying to work out which image to choose is hard, I love them all and yet each is different in a unique way and I’m sure when you see them together you will feel the same way. The idea of baking, a French pastry perhaps, I don’t know, but images start coming to my head about what is about to happen.

Is there any special about the way you work was also asked.

Because my photos tend to be of small everyday things and details I don’t have to travel far to find subjects so a lot of my images are taken in my favourite corner of a courtyard space we have here. I only ever use natural light and the sidelight that comes in from the south in this spot is just perfect!

rose-garlic-knife-and-mortar-cropAnother great still life, all things that most of us have in our homes. The light, again, is just stunning. I am inspired after reading about how she works.  I also like the colours, they aren’t really strong, there is a kind of antiqueness to them, if that makes any sense.

My final question, as always was about gear.

My gear is fairly simple really, I use my trusty Nikon D90 which I bought 4 years ago with it’s kit lens and a 40mm prime lens which I always use for my still life photos. I don’t have any filters and I only use natural light so I don’t have any lighting equipment. I do use an excellent Cullman monopod – it came with a tripod but I rarely use the other bits, the monopod is more portable and practical. I also recently bought a little Sony RX100 so that I could always have a camera in my pocket, the image quality is amazing!

I would like to thank Jane for giving me permission to feature her work on my blog and to introduce you to her. I know many of you will go and visit her blog View from a French Hillside. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

I have a gallery now for you of a selection of her work. They are the images that I loved, though I could take them all, and if you want to see more take a look at her blog.

Weekend Wanderings: Melbourne Bridges at Night

A couple of weeks ago I was given an opportunity to take some photos along the river at night. We started at Docklands and found a great place to take some photos of the Bolte Bridge. I’ve never been that close to it before.  We then wandered back and took photos at various places along the river till we got to Flinders Street Station. It was here that we said good bye and caught trains home.

I do love taking photos of the river at night, the best time. I am thinking of organizing a group outing to do it.

This morning I’m going out to take more photos in and near central Victoria. It should be a great morning/day for photography. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been wanting to get back to this place for while, but you will have to wait to find out where I’ve gone. There might be hints on Instagram.

Here is a gallery of images for you to see. I hope your weekend is going well.

Weekend Wanderings: Walking the Streets of Melbourne

Yesterday morning I got to spend some time with a new client and we walked around the streets of Melbourne to take photos. It was a One on One Photography Session that her husband got for her for her birthday. It was a great morning for taking photos and I certainly enjoyed myself, and I hope my client did as well.


Hopetoun Tea Rooms

I started by taking some photos at Hopetoun Tea Rooms, well in the window. It was nice as it was early and I could just take photos without lots of other people getting in the way.

I got to take some photos of some birds and St Paul’s Cathedral and then I met my client. We went and had a coffee at the new Cafe 1932 at the bottom of the Manchester Unity Building before heading out to take some photos. I loved the Cafe and was delighted to see a couple of my photos up on the walls, ones I had taken of the outside of the building.


Work on what was Australia on Collins

We walked along Collins Street and the shopping area that used to be Australia On Collins seems to have been gutted. It was quite amazing looking into it.  I liked the Keep Out Sign and then the workman standing there.


Over the Rail Bridge and over the River – Flinders Street

We liked this scene. The railway bridge that takes trains from Flinders Street Station to Southern Cross Station.  We kept waiting for trains to go over so we could get them in the photo as well.


Great Chocolate and Lolly Shop, Chocamama

We walked back towards Flinders Street Station, into Degraves Street and just had to stop in at Chocamama, a new shop, definitely new to me. Lots of lollies and chocolates. I was in heaven. I was allowed to take photos and I took quite a few. I also came home with two bags full of goodies, I would certainly recommend the chocolate honeycomb.


National Gallery of Victoria Show – Holden EFIJY

We went to Federation Square to try some Street Photography, but first we got distracted by something inside the National Gallery of Victoria.  There is a special show on, we didn’t look at the show, but look at that car. It was fantastic. We took lots of photos of it. It was very shiny with lots of reflections and that made it so hard to photograph.


Street Portraits

I was surprised to find myself doing some street photography and with people. I know, I am surprised with myself as well. I was amazed with how much I enjoyed it as well. I tried to take photos of people taking photos which was funny. I did have a chef in a restaurant who spotted I was trying to take his photo and he just turned and smiled.

Hosier Lane was great for the street photography, though I have to say it was disappointing with the graffiti now. Not much imaginative stuff there and just taggers really. I thought it was really boring.  Shame considering what it used to be like.

I had a great time, and I hope my client did as well. The weather wasn’t too bad, though it was a bit chilly in places.

I have a gallery for you now and have included places I hope. I can’t say where everywhere is as some we really shouldn’t have been taking photos in some of them.  I hope you have a great start to your weekend, I think it’s meant to be sunny here this weekend, perfect.

UfD: Black and White Photography My Way

A few people yesterday expressed an interest about me doing a tutorial on how I do black and white images. There are so many different ways of doing this, and so while I’m going to show you what I do, this is only part of it. This is going to be an easy way, I hope.  Just a few steps, though the first part you can do and leave it there if you choose.

Here is the final image and then I will show you how I did it.


The first step is alway going to choose the image. The best types of images are ones that have lots of contrast, which is lots of darks and lights.  If you choose one that is very colourful but with little contrast it won’t convert to monochrome very well.

I choose an image that was taken in at the Docklands recently of the Melbourne Star. I have opened it in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), which you can do by using the o Browse in Bridge. Click on the image then go to the file menu and press Open in Camera Raw.

You can see the basic processing I did in the image below.


Everything that is done is ACR can also be done in Lightroom.

In the panel on the right, the area above the red oval in the image above and press the fourth icon from the left, as in the image below. Check the box to Convert to Grayscale. You can see the sliders for the different colours or tones that are in the image.  Try playing around with them and watch what happens to the image.


Each colour will give you a difference effect.  Be careful with Aquas and Blues.  They can make skies very pixelated and make them look unnatural.

The image was opened in Photoshop CC 2015. There were some marks on the edge of the image so a new layer was opened and the spot healing tool selected. Make sure the Sample All Layers is checked in the tool options under the main menu at the top.

image-3If you do the changes on a separate layer then you are starting to work non destructively so you never have to do anything to the original image.

To make a new layer you go to the panel where the layers are and down the bottom are a series of icons. Click on the one next to the rubbish bin and it will open a new transparent layer.
image-6You can also open a new layer by going to the Layer Panel in the main menu at the top.  Click new and then okay.

Add a Curves Adjustment Layer. (I don’t know why but sometimes on my computer Curves is upside down, so you might have it up the other way.)  If you click on the triangle at the lighter end and move it along it will increase the highlights a little. Be careful doing this that you don’t blow the highlights out.


Open a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer. Move the contrast to the right, again be careful that you don’t go too far.  Go to where you think it looks good, then go further so it looks horrible, then go back until it looks better again.


Add another new layer (1). Go the tool box and select the gradient tool (2). Up in the tool options turn the opacity down so it isn’t strong (3).  Then add some to the top.  Make sure the gradient is set to Foreground to Transparent.(Do this by with the long icon/window in the tool options bar.)  Click outside the image at the top, then do the same inside just down from the top. You will see where the gradient has been applied. Take a look at the image below. Make sure that black is set as the foreground colour.


A new Curves Adjustment Layer is added and the image is made a little darker. With the lasso tool (located in the tool box) make a selection around the middle of the image. Though this can be done for any part, depends on your photo.

You need to feather the selection, click Shift F6. In the Feather Selection window change Feather Radius to what you would like, I chose 200 pixels.  Press OK.


Add a new Curves Adjustment Layer. In the layer mask, the square that is normally all white now had some black in it. You can see that in the image below. In the curves panel make the image lighter.


You should have noticed that it only happens in the area that you selected.

You are going to add a tone to the image now, but to do this you have to convert it back to a colour image.  If you don’t whatever tone you add will look like a shade of grey.

In the Main Menu at the top click on Image, then Mode and select RGB colour. You will be asked to do a couple of things, pick the don’t do it for each option.


You will need to select the Paint Bucket Tool (1below). If you can’t see it then click and hold on the gradient tool and a window will pop up. In that you will see the tool.

Click on the foreground colour (2) and the window below will appear and you can select your colour. A blue tone was chosen for this image. Press OK


Add a new layer and with the Paint Bucket Tool click on the image, make sure the new layer is highlighted. The whole image will go blue. In the image below you can see the drop down menu that was opened, these are the blending modes.  Go to Color and select it.


Once you have selected it you should see your image have that tone. Look at the image below.


It may be too strong and  you will need to change the opacity for the colour layer. Use the opacity slider at the top of the Layers Panel. Look at the next image.

image-14Here is the final image again.


You don’t  have to do all of these, but it gives you an idea of what I do.  Please remember that, it is what I do, and lots of other people will do different things. I’m sure that we will get lots of ideas for what else you can do to Black and White photos.

Good luck with your own black and white images.

Quiet Thursdays: Trips Away

Last weekend I was able to get away for the weekend and take some photos down at the coast.  I think for the two days I was there we got two sunrises and two sunsets.  Not all great, but the sunrise on the last morning was spectacular and the best.  It was a great weekend, and we made use of all the time we had there, but it was exhausting.  We left on Sunday feeling very worn out. We did a lot of down hill walking and up hill. The beach can be hard for that.

Before I show you the photos I thought I might ask you want you wanted for tomorrow’s Up for Discussion.  I had a couple of ideas, one was to look at the new version of Photoshop and see what’s different or what they’ve changed. The other option was to do a tutorial on how to do Black and White images.  I need to know fairly soon what you want.

Today I have some photos that have been up on Social Media this week. Three are Instagram photos, so taken with my phone, and two are ones I worked on quickly and put up.  There are also two that I had worked on, but didn’t do anything with, so I am going to include them here as well.


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