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Living Arrows : 41/52

Living Arrows : 41/52

by Clare Mansell

ISO 400, 50mm, f/2.0, 1/6400

Blackberry season has only just finished, but we are already looking ahead to next September. This week a letter arrived from the council asking us to express our preferences for Theo’s primary schooling. Only a few weeks ago he was still a two year-old, so this landmark moment has come quicker to us than to some others.

Fortunately we have good choices of schools locally and completing the form was a five minute process. We have in the past debated holding him back to start school when he is five, but increasingly I have noticed how he holds his own with the older children he mixes with and I believe he has the confidence and strength of character to get along well when he starts next autumn. 

The next challenge is a diplomacy one for me. Our local primary is almost visible from our house, just the other side of two fields. There is a track between the school and our lane with a warning sign that forbids trespassers. My challenge is going to be persuading the farmer to allow us access along this track before school starts or face walking three sides of a square along a main road. Apparently that could be a bit of a challenge. But if you don’t ask…

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Living Arrows – 30/52

Living Arrows – 30/52

by Clare Mansell
ISO 400, 35mm, f/4.0, 1/200

I’m a bit late posting for Living Arrows today. We’ve spent most of the weekend sorting the house out and that has meant the computer has been unplugged, the camera battery was flat and my desk was in pieces, but we are getting ourselves straight again now.

Amongst the big leaps forward this weekend, we now have our sitting room back. When we sealed it off and handed it over to the builders 5 months ago it was less than half the size it is, the kind of room you might generously call cosy!

In it we had a three seater Ikea sofa which we had bought in Cyprus, moved to Scotland and then brought with us to Sussex. It was broken and rather tired. I was worried that at the end of all the building work we’d have nothing left to spend on a sofa and we’d end up in a lovely house on a broken sofa – I was right to be worried, we did finish with nothing left to buy a sofa!

However a few months ago my parents decided to change up their 10 year-old red corner sofa and we became its lucky new owners. We sat on it in the sitting room for the first time last night, we all love it, but Theo in particular is besotted with it and keeps telling me “I love our new sofa mummy”

So this week’s portrait just had to be taken on it!

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Living Arrows – 26/52

Living Arrows – 26/52

by Clare Mansell
theowashingcar
ISO 125, 50mm, f/2.2, 1/1600

I let Theo join in with washing the car yesterday. It was a bit more hazardous than I would have liked as most of our drive is taken up with a skip and various building materials and the car is sticking out into the road, but hazards aside he loved it. He got completely soaked through of course, but we all knew that was going to happen!

Photo wise, I realised when I sat down at the computer that I missed a trick with this shot. If I’d repositioned slightly I could have got the whole of his reflection in on the left. Seeing reflections is something I’m still trying to train myself to do as it doesn’t come naturally…

theowashingcar2
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Living Arrows – 25/52

Living Arrows – 25/52

by Clare Mansell
theo220614
ISO 100, 50mm, f/3.5, 1/200

When I publish my Living Arrows portrait I often get comments from people asking about how to take better images. There is a lot of advice available about how to improve your composition and the lenses to buy, but one thing that remained a mystery to me until about three years ago was processing images.

The image above is a processed image. The image below is straight out of camera. The difference isn’t massive, but the alterations I have made help make the image more striking. I shoot RAW which enables me to alter my saturation and exposure (and other things if I want) in a non-destructive way, so that was the first step with this photo. I then took it into Photoshop where I sharpened the eyes and duplicated layers to play with the light. This last step I made up as I went along. I don’t know Photoshop inside out, even after many years use I am still learning, so I use the Living Arrows project as an excuse to experiment every week.

By showing you this what I’m really trying to say is don’t be disheartened if the images you download off your camera are lacking an X factor, they often do. Processing is a vital (and sometimes time consuming) step, but I think it’s worth it.

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Living Arrows – 24/52

Living Arrows – 24/52

by Clare Mansell
raspberry
ISO 250, 50mm, f/3.5, 1/500

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been teaming up with five bloggers for a great photo project centered on colour. As with all photo projects one of the best things about it is that it provides the motivation to try taking photos in new ways. This week’s Living Arrows image is he result of my experiments with capturing the colour red and I love the way it turned out.

Theo loves fruit, particularly raspberries and we had great fun putting them on his fingers and seeing how long he could resist the temptation to eat them while I took photos. As with most two year-olds he finds it hard to stand still or hold something in place for long, so he kept moving and eating the raspberries as I tried to take the picture. In the end (as is so often the case) it isn’t the photo I was trying to take, but I prefer it to my original idea…

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