Just leave it alone!

Maybe I really shouldn’t be sharing this; sometimes when it comes to image retouching, just leave it alone! Everyone of us when we have a camera in our hands are on the ultimate quest for capturing the ‘perfect’ photograph.

What is the ‘perfect’ image? I firmly believe that there isn’t one! That may sound controversial, and I’m sure there are many of you out there will disagree with me. Let me elaborate on what I mean by that statement. I do not believe in complete perfection. As far as art is concerned, there has never been a work of art created, nor will ever be produced in the future that everyone will like, let alone love. Art is a matter of taste, it is totally subjective. What one person loves, another hates. Whilst at University I quickly realised that the search for perfection is utterly futile.

If perfection is unachievable, what is possible? What I strive for is a sense of completion, being happy and content with what I have achieved. knowing that I could not do anything more to enhance what has been created. Sometimes the skill in creating a piece of art is not adding further to it, but knowing when to stop.

As I have demonstrated over previous blog posts, sometimes taking a photograph is just the start of the the creative process. Today I will show you an example that sometimes, when it comes to photography, a click of a button can compress the whole creative process into a fraction of a second.  Lets take a look at the image:

View of Loch Lomond
View of Loch Lomond

What a beautiful view! This photo was taken whilst visiting the picturesque village of Luss on the banks of  Loch Lomond. Surrounded by a large number of people all with their cameras, I stood at the end of the pier and took as many photographs as I could. Thankfully we are now in the age of the digital camera, we are only limited by the capacity of our SD cards.

What effect has that had on our photography? To be able to take thousands of photographs at a time is a fantastic thing. On the other hand, when you are limited to the amount of photographs you can take it makes you think a little bit more. You really take into consideration everything before clicking the button on your camera. When you have only one 24, or 36 exposure roll of film at hand you don’t want to waste it.

Maybe a helpful exercise for us all would be to only leave enough room on our SD card for 24 or 36 photos. It would be interesting to see if we would approach taking a photograph in a different way.

I’m sure there will be some of you would look at the image above and want to change a few things about it. But for me I’m delighted with it the way it is. As the title of this blog post says, I have decided to just leave it alone.

If you would like to know more about ReClick Photo please visit our website at http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk.

Thanks for reading!

Hugh at ReClick Photo.

Inspired by: Alphonse Mucha

Welcome to first in a series of Inspired By: posts in which I will share with you artwork I have created  inspired by well known artists, designers, and photographers of the past. This Inspired By: post will feature an artwork created with inspiration drawn from the great Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist, Alphonse Mucha.

Alphonse Mucha © George R. Lawrence Co./WikiCommons
Alphonse Mucha © George R. Lawrence Co./WikiCommons

Trained and worked in Munich, Vienna, and Paris, Mucha created a prolific body of work, but it was through his poster designs that he gained international prominence and success. The actress Sarah Bernhardt features in some of his well known poster designs as Mucha was employed by her to design costumes, jewellery, posters, and stage sets. After several successful visits to the United Sates, where he had built up a following, Mucha returned to his homeland of Czechoslovakia where he worked on a series of 20 large scale oil paintings depicting the mythology and history of Czechs and other Slavic peoples, entitled The Slav Epic.

Mucha’s poster designs predominately featured women who were beautiful idealized symbols of femininity. Their curved forms, posture, and fixed gazes evoked a powerful aura of sensuality.

With this in mind I needed an image to begin with. My aim was to find an image which reflected the qualities that the women possessed in Mucha’s original poster designs. Turning to a few stock image websites I finally found what I was looking for.

Original image.
Original image.

This Public Domain image from Pixabay was perfect. The models stance and the way she held her gaze was just right, now I could begin.

Firstly I needed to decide on a colour scheme. Mucha’s work was often created with a limited, sometimes subdued palette of colour, so I decided on a colour scheme of muted yellows, pinks and blues. Mucha’s poster designs feature an abundance of natural elements i.e. Flowers, foliage etc, so I now turned my attention to source suitable images. With the colour scheme in mind I looked for images of flowers within my selected colour range. Here is a gallery of Public Domain images I selected from Pixabay to use within the work:

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Now with everything I need I now could start work. Firstly I cropped the original image and then painted out the background leaving only the models head and neck on the page. Next I moved on to arranging the floral element of the work. Opening each image I selected only the flower and copied into to my image of the model. What I wanted to create was a floral headpiece which sat on the models hairline almost like a tiara. The purpose of this was not just to add decoration to the image, it also serves as feature which draws attention to the models face.

Detail of the floral element.
Detail of the floral element.

As you can see I have also subdued the colour saturation of the flowers in keeping with the rest of the image. When creating an artwork, it is extremely important to think of it as a whole, each of the elements within it must work together.

Art Nouveau was one of the first styles that did not draw its inspiration from the past. It looked more to the present especially the natural world all around it. Some of its defining features included:

  • The whiplash motif
  • Elongated curved lines
  • The female form
  • Stylised Flowers and foliage

Now I turned my attention towards creating a more Art Nouveau look to my image. After considering a few options I could not decide on a way to achieve it.  After taking a break from the image I came across the solution by accident. I was sitting having a cup of tea and as I sat my cup down on the table, the steam that was rising from its contents where rising into the air creating the curves lines as seen in some of Mucha’s posters. By using decorative steam/smoke in my artwork could be the most effective way to issue the image with an Art Nouveau style, but still keeping a modern feel. After a few attempts I was finally delighted with the finished outcome. Here is the finished work in all its glory:

Mucha inspired art work.
Mucha inspired art work.

What do you think? It may not be not be a direct copy of one of his works, but I did not want it to be. My main goal was to create an image which embodied the spirit of his work, whether I have been successful or not I will leave that decision in your hands.

I first came across the work of Mucha as a teenager whilst at school, and since then he has remained one of my favourite artists. Please if you can take a look at some examples of his work, some highlights include:

  • Gismonda (1984)
  • La Dame aux Camélias (1896)
  • Zodiac (1896)
  • Rêverie (1897)
  • Moët & Chandon: Dry Imperial (1899)
  • The Slav Epic (1910 -1928)

A fantastic source of information on the life and works of Alphonse Mucha and his work is the Mucha Foundation you can visit their website at www.muchafoundation.org.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my first Inspired By: posts and please look out for more in the future. For more in formation about ReClick Photo please feel free to visit our website at http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk.

Thanks for reading!

Hugh at ReClick Photo.

Christmas ’83

I know what you are thinking, why am I showing Christmas themed pictures in the middle of July? There really is a method to my madness. Today I want to show you some examples of how we can restore old photos that have a colour cast on them.

So what is a colour cast? There are many reasons why a colour cast happens; but In terms of old photographs, especially those used in this post, it is when one or more of the colours used to print the photo has faded quicker than the others.

Looking through the family photo albums, I wanted to find some images that had been effected by this. In the photo album of Christmas 1983, I found two great examples.

My Dad sitting on my car
My Dad sitting on my car

The first image I found, features my Dad sitting on one of my Christmas presents from that year – a bright yellow Rolls Royce toy car. I was an extremely happy two year old that year! Looking back at all the photos from that era, everything seems to have been made in autumn inspired colours; brown carpets, brown furniture, people dressed from head to toe in brown. The sales in brown Corduroy must have been at an all time high!

My Dad playing on one of my christmas presents.
My Dad sitting on my car – restored

After fixing some of the blemishes and other damage on the photo, I started to adjust its colour and tonal levels. As with all older photographs, you will never have a crisp high-definition image at the end of the restoration process, but you will have a image that has character no modern image has.

Anyone who knows my Dad will agree that this image shows my Dads sense of humour off at its best, some things never change!

Christmas dinner clear up
Christmas dinner clear up

Now we will take a look at the other image from our archive. This was taken on the same day as the image above, Christmas Day 1983. As you can see it shows both my Mum and Gran making a start on the clear up after our Christmas Day Dinner. If you look at the clock on the wall it is around 3pm, The Queen’s Speech must have just finished on TV. Sadly washing the dishes back in 1983 would have been a much more laborious task than it is today, There was no sign of a dishwasher in our kitchen back then! Feature walls are not  only a recent invention: we had them in 1983, obviously in autumn colours of course!

Christmas dinner clear up - restored
Christmas dinner clear up – restored

Just as the image shown above I restored the damage on the photo, then adjusted the colour and tonal levels to correct the colour cast. Now you can see the wallpaper in all its glory – that certainly is a strong pattern!

Every image is special whether it is captured on film, painted on canvas, or retained within our memory. For me it is the images like the one of my Mum and Gran clearing up that I enjoy the most. They represent our lives in their true form. It captures our reality. Standing in front of a camera and sporting our best smile, does not give a true representation of who we are, or the lives we lead. But an image like this one does, it illustrates who we are in the context of where and how we exist in the world.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and if you have any images you would like restored that have been effected by a colour cast please contact me here at Reclick Photo. This type of restoration starts from as little as £5! You can contact me by emailing, with your image(s) attached to info@reclickphoto.co.uk or please visit our website http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk for other options and more information.

Thanks for reading!

Hugh at ReClick Photo.

P.S. If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy our other post: Retro: the past in our present.

Fairy-tale: the image as art

Today I’m going to showcase something completely different. Yes you were right, that was a quote from the great Monty Python! I’m a great believer in that your creativity is only limited by your imagination, so with this as my mantra I got started. Firstly I needed an image to work with.

Original image
Original image

After selecting a few images I liked, I decided to use this photo of my sister taken when we were on holiday in Germany a few years ago. The trip took us along the Fairy Tale Route in Germany visiting some of the locations which inspired some of the fairy-tales written by the Legendary Brothers Grimm. This picture was taken at Sababurg Castle, located in the Reinhardswald Forest, next to the small town of Sababurg in Northern Hessen, Germany.

After Grimm’s Fairytales were published in the 19th century, many people started to wonder where the famous brothers had drew their inspiration for their tales, as it was well known that both brothers wrote their stories taking inspiration from their own lives and surroundings. At the time Sababurg Castle was believed to be the source of inspiration of Grimm’s Sleeping beauty as it was reminiscent of the castle in the tale, and when looking at it you really can imagine the story may have happened there. Plus, it was known that the Brothers spent some time in this area of Germany.

Sababurg Castle
Sababurg Castle

With all this in mind, I knew I wanted to create a fairy-tale inspired image. Not in the sugar-coated Disney style, but more in a Brother’s Grimm fashion. After sketching out a few ideas on paper I knew what I was going to do, so now I needed some more images to achieve this. Knowing that I did not have the images I needed, my search ventured out in the the world of the stock photography website. As you can imagine there are many to choose from, but at the moment I like to use www.pixabay.com. Here the images are free, all in public domain, and can be used for commercial purposes. Here is a slideshow of the images I selected to use in my project:

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When you look at the finished image, sometimes it is not evident that some of these images have been used. This is because I did not use the whole image, only parts e.g. the doves wing, segments of the hair etc. Each section I used I adjusted the colour, brightness/contrast, and sometimes the exposure levels in order to blend it in with the original image. I also retouched my sisters skin and eyes, so that they would contrast strongly with the hair and background. Lets take a look at the finished project:

The finished image
The finished image

What do you think? I think its safe to say that there has been a major transformation! I wanted a truly atmospheric image which you could imagine illustrated within the pages of a fairy-tale book. I hope you agree with me that this is an example of the image as art; of how you can, with a some time and creativity, transform a holiday snap into a piece of art.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and if you have any images that you would like given the same treatment then please do not hesitate in contacting us. You can do so by sending us an email, with your image attached, to info@reclickphoto.co.uk. You can also visit our website at http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk for more information.

Thanks for reading!

Hugh @ ReClick Photo.

Retro: the past in our present

Today we are surrounded by an upsurge in retro culture, is it because we are secretly tired of modern life and everything it entails; fast paced technology driven lifestyles, austerity, looking towards an uncertain future in front of us? Or are we merely drawing comfort from our nostalgic past? What ever the reason is, retro culture is a major part of our modern lives, from vintage fairs to the retro style packaging being used on some of our favourite products in the supermarkets, the fact is the past is making money in the present.

Retro – the Latin prefix meaning backwards, or in times past

Looking at photographs from the past, especially the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s they all have a distinctive look of their own. Looking through magazines and viewing other types of visual advertising we see retro style images which draw inspiration from photographs of the past. In this post we will show you how we can take a contemporary photograph and enhance it with a retro feel.

Original image
Original image

As you can see this is a contemporary head shot. Our idea here is to transform this image to reflect an image from the late 1950’s / early 1960’s just like the ones you would see in a fashion magazine of the day. What are the objectives?

  • Transform the hair into a more structured vintage inspired hairstyle (by the early 1960’s hairspray was the best selling beauty product and it was used extensibility).
  • Tidy up the eyebrows, and smooth out the skin slightly.
  • Finally, adjust the colour levels in the image so it appears as if it had been photographed in the past.

What do you think?

Enhanced image
Enhanced image

With all the objectives we set ourselves being satisfied, we now have a completed project. We hope you agree that this represents a photograph from the past, but still holds on to some elements of the present. Sometimes the most successful editing of a photograph in the retro style is when it is influenced by the past instead of directly duplicating it. Now you can compare each image with the comparison below:

Comparison of both images
Comparison of both images

With this project we not only have demonstrated that we can alter the physical look of a photograph, we can also make it a symbol for our own nostalgic past.

If you have any photographs you would like treated in the same way a those above, please email us with your image to info@reclickphoto.co.uk or visit ww.reclickphoto.co.uk. With this service starting from as little as £15 please contact us for a free no obligation quote.

Thanks for reading!

ReClick Photo.

Our Industrial past.

Living in Ayrshire, in the South West of Scotland, we are surrounded by relics of our country’s industrial past. Amongst other industries, the coal mining industry was a major source of employment, which, in turn, was a great financial help to the local economy. In Ayrshire, like many other areas of Britain, there were generations of families who were all employed by the coal mining industry. Our family was no exception. On some occasions grandfather, father, and son we all working together alongside uncles, cousins, etc. This was not merely a man’s world, there were many roles for women within the facilities of a colliery also, canteen staff, office workers, cleaners etc. In fact, in times gone by, many woman were employed down coal mines in order to carry the coal in baskets up to the surface.

The Barony A Frame, Auchinleck.
The Barony A Frame, Auchinleck.

The photograph above was taken of the Barony A Frame, Auchinleck, Scotland. This impressive structure is what remains of the Barony Colliery which operated from 1907 until 1989. This pit was the first large scale modern pit in Ayrshire when it was modernised in the 1950’s.

As you can see this photograph was taken on a typical dreary November day. Here in Scotland we have the perfect word we use to describe such a day:

Dreich – wet, dull, gloomy, dismal, dreary, miserable or any combination of these.

When looking at the photograph again we thought that it was lacking some of the sense of atmosphere you feel when visiting the monument.

The Barony A Frame, Auchinleck enhanced.
The Barony A Frame, Auchinleck enhanced.

What do you think? With the addition of some texture to the background, and darkening the outer edges of the image we believe that this adds to the primary subject, the A Frame itself. We also took time to highlight and sharpen many edges and features of the A frame to draw attention to them. We believe that now this image refers back to the structures past as it echoes some of by-products of the industrialisation process, dust, smoke, pollution etc.

Comparison of both images.
Comparison of both images.

From the 1950’s onwards the British coal mining industry was in a rapid state of decline. Over the decades pit closures occured on a regular basis, it is believed that the number was excess of one hundred pits were closed in this time. In 1984, the Conservative government of the day headed by Margaret Thatcher, sanctioned the closure of a further 20 pits which inevitably led to the UK miners strike of 1984. After the miners were defeated further closures happened until the coal industry was privatised in the early 1990’s.

Sadly since the closure of the coal mines in various areas in the country,whole communities were left without of work, and the local economy was hard hit. Some communities have never recovered, and are still feeling the loss to this day.

One year after the Barony Colliery in Auchinleck closed, in 1990, the A Frame, the former winding engine houses, generating station and water treatment works, were given listed building status, as category B listed structures. The A Frame is the only remaining example of its type left standing in the UK.

The Barony A Frame trust was set up in 1997 by the local community, and with help from East Ayrshire Council, they began the process of restoring it. Receiving funding from various sources, including Historic Scotland, and the Heritage Lottery Fund, over £1 million was spent and it was official reopened by Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay (Prince Charles official title while in Scotland) in January 2008.

Today the A Frame stands as monument to our industrial past. Surrounded by villages and miles of agricultural land, this structure is quite an iconic one. Instead of existing only as a piece of industrial machinery, it now sits in the landscape as a piece of sculpture, making all who see it think of our local county’s past and of those who worked in places like the Barony Colliery.

The location of the A Frame lies just 1.2 miles (2 km) west of the village of Auchinleck, East Ayrshire. If you are ever visiting the local area, we highly recommend visiting it asit  is certainly a sight to see. If you would like more information on the A Frame you can visit the Trusts website – http://www.baronyaframe.org/.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this post and if you have any images like those displayed above you would like given similar treatment, please contact us with your image at info@reclickphoto.co.uk or please visit our website http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk for more information.

Thanks for reading!

ReClick Photo.

Snap shots of time: our treasured memories.

Most people have their own personal archive of treasured possessions whether they are photographs, heirlooms, or even children’s drawings. Although all the objects in our collections are treasured there is a few that are exceptionally precious. In this post I will share with you an extremely prized object from our family’s personal collection.

Photograph of Gran and Papa
Photograph of Gran and Papa c.1958

This is a photograph is of my Gran and Grandpa when they were dating taken around 1958. Believe it or not my Gran is only 19 and my Grandpa is 22 years old! This was a world without mobile phones, internet dating sites and speed dating. what is captured here is what a lot of couples did in the 1950’s in our home town of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. On Sunday afternoons couples would meet and walk, arms linked, up and down King Street, before going for tea, and depending on what was happening later, would go to the cinema to see was was showing on the big screen. Things are so much different now. This image captures a happy moment from my Gran and Grandpas past; before they were married, had a family, and before I, their oldest Grandson was born. This two dimensional object brings this moment from the past it into the future so we can experience that time with them. Now we are going to give this photograph the care it deserves.

Photograph of Gran and Papa restored
Photograph of Gran and Papa restored

As you can see all the scrapes and scores are all removed. This photograph was taken in an age before digital technology so we are never going to have a crisp clear high definition image no matter what we do to restore it. But to be honest, with this image we would not want that anyway. Old photographs have a charm and an atmosphere all of their own, and we believe this really should not be altered. The restoration process should deal only with damage that the photograph has suffered in the period of time it was taken till present day. We at Reclick Photo will do everything we can do to return your photograph back to almost its original condition.  Below is a comparison of the images before and after restoration:

Gran and Papa comparison
Before and after comparison

This project is extremely close to my family’s heart, as in December My Gran, featured in this photograph sadly passed away at the age of 76. All of our memories of her are extremely precious and they serve us all as reminders of the time we had with her. When a loved one has gone,our memories are all we have of them. Those we have lost, need not be forgotten, it is up to us to keep their memory alive.

If you have any treasured photographs that you would like restored like the image above, please contact us by sending the photograph to us at info@reclickphoto.co.uk or visit http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk for other options and more information.

reclick poster

Thanks for reading!

Hugh at ReClick Photo.