The eyes of a Wolf always see straight into your soul ...

...You can't hide the truth from them


Please visit the main site - www.wolf-photography.com


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Be Kind to Writers!

You'd think that being a writer is all about two things:

1. Writing stuff.
2. Getting that written stuff published or at least read.

However, there's much more to it than that and I'll warn you in advance that I may get arty and soulful. To begin with, it's a helluva thing to even consider calling yourself a writer, never mind actually telling other people about it. Because, when it really comes down to it, every piece of writing contains a little bit of you in it – your memories, your perspective, your experience of the people around you, your hopes and also your fears.

It can feel like an indulgence to spend quality time away from loved ones and friends, especially when you're using that time to wrestle with people and situations that you've created in your head.

Reading also takes on another dimension when you’re a writer. What used to be a leisure activity now becomes a vital part of your craft. You still read for enjoyment, but you also look closely at style, plot, characterisation and all the other elements that already give you sleepless nights.

Try this one on for size: A writer is an artist.
You write fiction? Congrats - you're an artist.

There's also a deeper, inner level to this writing journey. Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way is a brilliant resource (among others) for getting into the soul of writing. I believe there is a part of every writer that is secretly – and sometimes overtly, on the page – grappling with the big issues of life, death, justice, purpose, love, freedom, etc.

Sometimes we not only express who we are on the page, we also explore who we wish we were. Read between the lines and it's as powerful as therapy and as real as it gets.

So, here's the thing: when someone tells you they've written something, or that they're working on something, treat them with kindness. When you give feedback, make it constructive – it's fine to say you didn't like it, as long as you say why. Feedback on what you enjoyed – and why - is also welcomed. However, tell the truth. And for the love of God, please try and avoid the word ‘nice’. It’s the writer’s kryptonite!

Some writers will not get the recognition they deserve. For some, the only feedback they'll receive is the snipey kind on ebook sites or forums. But wherever writers are, on that endless and invisible ladder of literary success, they stay true to their craft. Well, you wouldn't expect anything less from a writer, would you?

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Using Textures with your Photographs to Create a Painterly Effect

Once you have taken your photographs, uploaded them, edited them in terms of brightness, contrast, saturation etc, you may well feel that you have finished. But why not explore the idea of using textures in your photography to create a ‘painterly’ effect? This works particularly well with my own favourite floral photography, but it is equally useful with all kinds of subject matter. You are limited only by your own creativity!

Here are a couple of before and after shots:

In both cases, there has been no further editing other than a texture being added and the opacity altered to taste. The difference between the ‘before’ and the ‘after’ is subtle but - I hope you’ll agree - it works to enhance what is already there. And it is so quick and easy to do that it has to be worth a try. I have added a step-by-step guide to this technique below using Photoshop Elements/Photoshop but any software program that allows you to use layers should be okay for this. In all cases, please try to make sure that you first copy the original so you can work non-destructively. If you don’t like it, you can always go back to the original. Nothing to lose J

Applying Textures in Photoshop Elements/Photoshop

1.     Open your chosen photo in Photoshop. (If using Elements, make sure you are in ‘expert’ mode)

2.     Make sure your ‘layers panel is turned on and that you can see it on the right hand side

3.     Before you start working on your photo, make a copy of the ‘background layer’ by clicking Cmd (control on a pc) and J

4.     Now click ‘file’, ‘open’ and find the textured layer you want to use.

5.     Open the texture and click Cmd(control) A to select all, and Cmd (control) C to copy

6.     Now move back to your photo and click Cmd (control) V to paste and Cmd (control) T to turn on the transform tool.

7.     Using the ‘handles’ stretch the textured layer so it is the same size as your photo. Click on the tick once you have done that.

8.     Check that you now have 3 layers on the left: 2 background and one texture.

9.     Make sure that the texture layer is selected and play with blend modes until you find something you like. The best modes to try are normal, multiply, overlay, soft light and hard light.

10. You may like an effect but find it a bit stronger than you wanted. Now play with the ‘opacity’ selection until you’re happy. At this point, think more about how the background looks rather than how your subject looks.

11. Now we can start to remove some of the texture from the subject by adding a ‘mask’ (circle in a square icon on layers panel).

12. Select a brush a brush and move the ‘opacity’ to about 50%. This will remove some of the texture but will leave some behind so there is more unity between your subject and your background. Gently begin to brush away the texture. If nothing seems to be happening, check that your colour is set to black.

13. If you remove an area by mistake, you can either press Cmd and Z to undo, or change the colour to white, opacity to 100% and paint it back in.

14. Once you are happy with the result, click ‘layer’ and ‘flatten image’ and save in you usual way.

Extra tips:

Try using different subject matter and different textures. It’s very subjective so you may find that different choices work for you.

If something isn’t working as it should, it is most likely to be because you do not have the correct layer selected.

There are lots of free textures available on the internet. ‘Shadowhouse Creations’ have some, as do ‘2econd Skin’. Please read the terms of use on these and any others you may find. It is often the case that you may use them for commercial purposes as long as the image has been flattened so that the texture cannot be extracted and shared around.

It is very easy to make your own textures by taking shots of tree bark, concrete, peeling paint, grasses, leaves, water. A touch of gaussian blur and a bit of imagination can turn them into fabulous textures that you can use.

Google, google, google – if you prefer to be show how to do this, do a quick online search and turn up about a zillion video tutorials. And once you’ve mastered this, find another new technique to try. The learning curve is, thankfully, never-ending J

Please visit my Flickr page for more examples of textured flower photography:

Guest blogger: Sue Woollard

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Thursday, 28 September 2017

DAN, WIPE and WPICC Exhibitions at Tesco Bulwell Extra, Nottingham - The story so far ...

I met Chris Tilley, the Community Champion at Tesco Bulwell Extra last year and we had a conversation about Meiyo Karate Club moving to the store as the club was having problems finding affordable accommodation.

What transpired  was further dialogue about a community arts project to make use of the corridor space outside of the Community Room at the store.  Some 8 months later, we were given the green light to set up a rolling exhibition space at the store.

It's been a good team effort from all concerned:  staff from Tesco, members of Meiyo Karate Club, members of the poetry group, camera club and members of the Disabled Artists' Network all got together and put their energies into helping this project come to life.

Our youngest volunteer - Benjamin Latos
(Meiyo Karate Club)  with Dad Hubert
We all have different skill sets and we all contributed whatever we could to help bring the change that was needed to turn this space into an art gallery but not just any art gallery, this gallery has a purpose apart from the obvious ... to destigmatise disability - particularly mental health.

Our volunteers varied in age, ability and disability but we had a common goal: to get this gallery setup and operational before the end of August 2018.

Staff from B and Q
Left: Paul (DAN) - Right:  Jim (Tesco Staff)
Nandina & Dave (DAN)
The boards, paint, fixings, ladders etc were purchased at B&Q Riverside, Nottingham.  We were given a discount and some vouchers for which we were very grateful.  We wouldn't have been able to meet our deadline without their financial help.  We also had some vouchers from Tesco Bulwell Extra to help cover the cost of the materials from Chris Tilley.

Jim, the maintenance bod from Tesco Bulwell Extra kicked off the first board installation with Paul and Tim, Gary and myself helped with the first boards.  We cracked on with it once Jim had shown us what to do but the pace was slow.

Hannah and Adam (AR Walker Plumbing and Heating)
Then along came Hannah and Adam (parents of one of our Karateka) with a surprise drop in from Nandina (DAN) and partner 'The Tool Man'.  The rest of us assisted where possible and these people had the remainder of the boards up in no time while Julie and Ravinder made a start on the painting.

Julie and Ravinder (DAN)
Good progress was being made now and the most worrying aspect of the project had been overcome - the boards were up safely.

Over the next 2 weeks the boards were painted, coat after coat, under the direction of Julie (Assistant Project Curator) until they looked just right.  Angie and Karen from the Camera Club dropped in to help with the painting too and the boards were soon looking good.

Ready for the art work!
Paul and Tim (DAN)
Next we had to install all of the signage that had been produced by Gangeprint.com at a considerable discount.  We also have a series of statements about disability and life experiences that are a permanent feature in the space.  The aim being to help other people understand how easily one can find themselves in a position of difficulty through everyday life - let alone traumatic events.  We were now a week away from the deadline as friends were going to be flying in to view the exhibition before the official opening.

Poetry Group Exhibition
We noticed that there was a problem with some shopping trolleys bashing or scraping into the boards, so stanchions with safety belts had to be purchased and put into place to protect the boards and art work (when it would be installed).  Nothing was overlooked in terms of safety and presentation.
Camera Club Exhibition

Then it was time to get the art work installed for the first show.  We had a wide ranging selection ready from a collection of artists that had been working with the project over the last 18 months or so, including exhibits from the Camera Club and the Poetry Group.

DAN Meeting
We have three exhibitions in one here!  We also have people contributing towards these exhibitions from other countries:  Canada, Finland, Denmark, Romania, India, Nepal, Wales, Scotland, Netherlands and Eire.  I'm hoping that the level of inclusion will help to break down barriers and promote greater understanding of our differences ... and through the arts ... our similarities.

Angie and Richard working on image editing.
Lord Mayor opening the exhibition
Just before the official opening, we had a sponsor come and visit us and sit in on one our DAN (Disabled Artists' Network) meetings.  Jon Souza, of LSM Global, was visiting with his wife Kris and totally surprised me by announcing that he'd be sponsoring Wolf Photography to continue running these projects.

Myself, Cllr Michael Edwards and Chris Tilley
On Wednesday 13th September, Cllr Michael Edwards, Lord Mayor of Nottingham, officially opened the exhibition to the public.  We had a great turn out from the contributors and other people that have been responsible in bringing this project to Tesco Bulwell Extra, Nottingham.

We run an event every Friday evening at the store in the Community Room in the following order: Social meeting of all groups, DAN meeting, Poetry Group and the Camera Club.  You can see the full list of events taking place on the project's main Facebook Page.  These are community events to which you're all welcome.

If you'd like to contribute your art poetry towards the exhibitions, please click on the appropriate title below the image.





In 2013, I launched a series of rolling exhibitions to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and to promote creativity as a coping mechanism for disability. My poetry raised awareness of what living with PTSD  feels like, while my photography demonstrated my escape from the ‘Chains of PTSD’.

My exhibitions, ‘Living with PTSD’ and ‘Intimacy with Plants’ ran over a 12 month period from November 2013 and surpassed all of the goals that I’d set.  While allowing me to interact with and listen to other people with disabilities, civilians and veterans alike –  I was made aware of similar problems being experienced by others but on a wider scale.   People were opening up at the exhibitions by either leaving comments in the Guestbook, through social media or talking to me direct.  Some people thought that PTSD only affected veterans.  I spoke to some people that described symptoms of PTSD whose symptoms started after incidents as wide ranging as sexual abuse, to bullying and road traffic accidents.

One issue was made clear to me: there is still a lot of ignorance about Mental Health related
conditions, not just PTSD, in society.  I was given examples of that ignorance as people
relayed stories of how they’d been mistreated by professionals and, unfortunately, these included police officers, paramedics, solicitors, barristers, doctors, GPs, nurses and NHS admin staff in
 parts of the East Midlands.  There is also a tremendous amount of ignorance about the link between
 physical health and mental health.  If people with mental health conditions are isolated and
stay indoors without any exercise, they can develop physical health issues.  If active, social people
 find themselves isolated because of a physical injury they can develop a mental health condition.

I started setting up DAN (the Disabled Artists’ Network) in 2015.  I wanted to give others a chance to tell their own story about disability and creativity and how  it’s helped them to survive.  I didn’t rule out non-disabled artists but I needed to prioritise raising the profiles of disabled artists in our communities.

It's your turn now

It's up to you now ... get involved!  Come and exhibit your art, photography and poetry with us from wherever on this Earth you are ... or further afield!

My sincere thanks to everyone that has helped to get this new venue setup;  I have a feeling that this project will be here for a good while.

Thank you for taking the time to read this piece.  Please share it out on social media and let's get other people involved.

Kind regards

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu
Project Curator

Monday, 25 September 2017

Wildlife Photography - Empathy For The Subject

I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and insights on how to prepare for wildlife photography in a hide.  I go to Attenborough Nature reserve and use the hides there now and then.  It's an idyllic spot where I can tune out the stresses and strains of daily life and just enjoy the tranquility and stillness of nature that gives me a sense of peace deep within.

My biggest asset, apart from the equipment I take with me is my empathy and limited awareness of the natural world ... and my ability to be quiet.

A hide is like a sound box.  If I talk loudly, the sound echoes out and animals that I would dearly love to see and photograph won't give me much of an opportunity.  If I alter my mindset and remind myself that I am the visitor and that this is the home of the wildlife I want to watch, it gives a sense of balance back to the scenario; after all, as humans, we have decimated so much of this country's, and the Earth's, wildlife habitat - which in turn has led to dramatic reduction in the populations of many species across the planet.  So I remind myself that this is their home and I am the visitor and must therefore mind my manners; I know that I wouldn't tolerate loud or thoughtless behaviour in my home, so why should they?

I often hear people complain, in loud discussions, that certain species don't seem to land and spend the time that they used to hunting in certain areas.  Yesterday I found myself counselling that we'd see more if people were quiet in the way they talk.  There should never be any loud talking in a hide - if at all.  I've spent time in hides across the UK and other parts of the world ... if you made loud noises in there, you would probably come to some harm as the photographers concerned would have spent a lot of time, effort and money for the opportunity.  I have found that local people that are frequent visitors to free hides sometimes take them for granted and forget about the need for silence.

Some species grow up with us watching them and become accustomed to us.  The clickety clack of our shutters doesn't concern them, loud voices and jerky reactions do.

I was watching a juvenile male at Attenborough yesterday who seemed skittish, to say the least.  He alighted on a perch a couple of times but wouldn't hang around and hunt.  Once we kept quiet and entered the peace of the scenario, we were graced with his company for just over an hour.

I felt like I'd been reconnected and felt a sense of peace and happiness deep down.

Seeing a lovely bird like a Kingfisher is a privilege - but I want to see more than a quick touch down on a perch.  I want to study how it hunts, where it lands, how it flies ... where it's going to stun it's prey.  Then I get an idea of its patterns and I can start trying to get the shots that are different ... and I get to witness the different aspects of its character and behaviour ... that's wildlife photography - it's more than just getting a good shot.  It also gives you ideas of what to try for next time to keep things interesting.

You can see the full set of images from yesterday on: https://www.facebook.com/Wolf.Photographer/

Silence is golden.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Monday, 21 November 2016

jAlbum - A very useful tool ... 'watermarking' guide.

If you care about photography as a profession - please watermark all your images and never post full sized images on the Internet.  It doesn't matter whether you want to sell your images or not; the simple fact is that copyright theft and 'royalty free photographs' together with competitions that obtain full rights to submitted images have had a negative effect on photographers that are trying to earn a crust.  Added to which the government changed the laws on images and IP rights on the Internet

Social media sites (eg Facebook, Twitter) assume rights to any media that we upload, as do the BBC, National Geographic and others.  Always check the 'terms and conditions' before you upload images anywhere.  This is my way of submitting images and holding on to my Intellectual Property rights.

This is a quick guide to using a very nifty little program called 'jAlbum' to watermark your image by using presets that you setup on first running the program.  Please be aware that jAlbum is, in my opinion, the easiest way to create web-ready albums of your images - with 'Paypal' support - if you write your own websites and host your own domains.  This article concentrates on 'watermarking' only though.

1.  Create a folder on your C:/Drive or a secondary drive called 'my photos'.  Never save images inside your profile. Follow the guidelines on an earlier post.  Now create another folder within that folder create a folder called 'AA_copyright_only'.  This is where you will copy any images you want to make slides of for Social Media useage - Facebook, Twitter etc.

2.  Visit http://jalbum.net/en/ and download your trial version.

3.  Open the program and select a skin that appeals to you (the options differ from skin-to-skin).  I use 'Chameleon'.  You can select it in the bottom left under 'Skin & Style'.

4.  Now click on 'Settings'.  Point your folder locations to C:\my photos\AA_copyright_only on both boxes.  Ignore the 'Album Thumbnail' dialogue and place a tick in 'Change directory locations'.  You can create a separate output folder if you wish.  Now, using your file manager, copy the images you want to make watermarked copies of into the folder that you have made.  They will appear on the jAlbum screen.  Never work on your original file and this should be a copy of your finished image - just in case something goes wrong.  Click 'Ok' when done.

Now go to the 'Images' tab and select 640x640 for your image size.  Select 90 for thumbnails if you want to use them for .ico files or small profile image files - I leave mine on 120x120.

Now click on the 'Chameleon' tab on the top right and then select  'filters' and 'watermark'.  Then enter ©Copyright (your name).  Play with the other settings to your satisfaction.  I currently use size 11, Horizontal alight - Left.  Margin 20px.  Vertical align - bottom. Opacity 30%.

If you have a business logo - or have made one for fun, simply click 'logo' on the same screen and tell the program where to find it and position it.  It's worth using a logo as part of the image remains hidden for high resolution purposes should you ever need to take legal action.

Once you have done all of the above, save the configuration file and name it 'copyright'.  Now click 'Make Album' as on the first image.  It takes seconds to make 50 web ready images.

To find the images that are now ready for posting, use your file manager and look in the following folder (if you followed the instructions here):  c:\my photos\AA_copyright_only\slides.

There's no point in re-naming your files as Facebook etc strip all of the metadata from uploaded images. This way, you now have a file with your name on and logo if you wish.  Every time you want to add an image for online use - just copy it to the same directory as above and click 'make album'.

The gang at jAlbum are offering a 20% discount on 100 jAlbum licences for members of the WPICC. Just enter "wolf-photography" as the discount code on their checkout page.

All the best

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Monday, 31 October 2016

Backing up your images

I still hear about so many people losing their images because of hard disk failures, corrupted profiles on NT based operating systems or accidental deletions.

Follow these guidelines:

1.  Create a folder on your C:/ Drive (NOT in 'my documents') called 'my photos'.

Now every time you add photographs, create a folder on that day that you download images from your camera to your hard disk.  If it's a special occasion - add some words too (you may want to add words anyway if it's a work collection) eg 2016Oct31_Attenborough.

That's your basic housekeeping taken care of in terms of file management.

Now buy a backup device.  I recommend the WD Ultra Passport series.  You can buy one from Amazon.

Make sure the advert says it's a new device and don't buy it from some sources like Ebay as it might be a refurbished drive.  To validate the warranty, you'll need to create an account with WD on https://westerndigital.secure.force.com/ind/?lang=en.

After registering the drive and ensuring you have 3 years of warranty cover, run the software on the drive.  It will install a program called 'WD Backup' which comes free with the drive.

Tell the program how often you want the backup to run.  Then select the folder that you created on your C:/ drive called 'my photos'...and it's done.

You can also kick off an immediate backup if you've just got back and downloaded images from a work session.

If you work as a photographer, I recommend that you make a triple copy of your images in the same way.

If you work as a writer, a musician or want to save your music collection or back up any files, use the same process of file management and backup regime.  NEVER store documents in 'my documents' on your PC.  It's the most common way of losing data.

Please share this article around if you found it useful.


Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Osprey - Nature section

Osprey - Nature section
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