Category Archives: Art

Praying Mantis Series: Photo 5 (final)

A bit of fun. I thought the praying mantis with the shadows looked a bit like one of those obviously fake Godzilla-like monsters in old movies. It needed to be black and white of course.



Kid’s Craft: Christmas Decoration Tutorial

And now to confuse my photoblog followers!

DIY Rainbow Ball Christmas Decorations

With Christmas around the corner as a mum I am looking for things that my 3 year old can make with some level of ownership. These Christmas decorations are so easy to make and look pretty effective.

You could also make them larger by using A3 card and could even make them outdoor proof by laminating the card used. You could make them elegant by limiting your colour palette and adding subtle sparkle or design. You could light them by running solar fairy lights onto them. The options are endless. This is the toddler craft version.

Here’s the How To:

First Things First, To make a medium sized ball

You will need:

  • 8 strips of card per ball approximately 2cm or 1 inch wide and 20cm or 8 inches long (I used 8 different colours) Note: you can use any width or length strip and any type of card, old Christmas cards would work if you didn’t want to decorate the pieces
  • pencils, crayons or textas to decorate the strips
  • stickers, glitter etc also to decorate the strips
  • 2 split pins per ball
  • string
  • tinsel
  • something to poke a hole, eg stanley knife, scalpel, scissors, skewer etc
  • stickytape


1. Let your child loose on the strips of card. I asked my 3 year old to first colour in, then stick stickers on the strips. Depending on your child’s capability level you can decorate these in any way you like. If your child is young remember to REMOVE the strips from them before they colour right through the paper or destroy them in another way! (wink)

2. Unfortunately from here the construction is an adult thing. Take the 8 strips of card and arrange them in an order that is pleasing to you in a pile. (don’t do like I did and forget that I had a green on the top AND bottom of the pile so that when they were fanned out they were together!) Using something sharp poke through all eight pieces of card¬† to make sure that the holes are in the same place. As a guide, about 1cm in from the end and centred from either side. Repeat at the other end.

3. Starting on the coloured in side push a split pin through all eight cards. This is the bottom of your ball. Open the split slightly, but not fully yet.

4. Tie the end of the string tight around the slightly open pin and trim the end.

5. Completely and firmly open the pin over the knot securing it. At this point I cut the string at about 20cm long (a generous allowance, but you could also do it by leaving a long string (half a metre) and tying knots or using clamps at the other end, I will leave that to you.) This tutorial will cover what I did in this instance.

6. Take the new end of string and tie it around the other split pin. This is FIDDLY you may need to tie it, then slip it on and tighten it.

7. Poke the split pin with the knot through the card at the other end starting from the decorated side and push it tight to secure your knot. Then take the string from the first split pin and tie it around the slightly open split in the same way that you did before. This string should now pull taut and the card should form an arc. You can estimate how long you want the string by how you want your arc to look. Once you have tied your knot, completely and firmly open the pin to secure the knot. Trim both loose ends of the two strings neatly. You should now be able to hold your decoration by the hanging string.

8. Fan out the card pieces evenly to form a ball shape. (Note: you may notice as you start to fan that the card forms a teardrop shape, once fully fanned out this will disappear and become a ball.)

9. Take a minute to admire your handywork.

10. To hang the tinsel on the inside, just attach either end with stickytape. Move the card pieces slightly if you can’t fit your hand through and readjust them afterward.

You could also add a hanging ‘tail’ by cutting similar width, but longer strips of crepe paper to blow in the breeze. To do this you would first poke your bottom split pin through the tail before the card strips.

11. Hang them where ever you like. My son liked to watch them spin. I hope your kids do too.

Merry Christmas!

If you make these, consider leaving me a link in the comments to your photo so I can see them.

NOTE: This is the first tutorial I have written. If you have any questions or I have forgotten to add something please let me know so I can update it.

Studies in Composition: translating the work of the masters of art into photography

We can feel if a photo is “right”. I’m talking about composition. If something is off you can tell, but sometimes it is hard to figure out exactly what has gone wrong. For this reason while I am trying to teach myself about photography I have been thinking actively about composition in the hope that when I take a photo instinctively, the work I have done thinking about composition will rub off and magically appear in my photos! Ha!

When I think of composition I confess it’s art that comes to mind. Probably a throw back to high school. Nice to know something stuck.

So I decided to do a bit of research into composition in artwork thinking that if the Masters of Art couldn’t help me out, noone could.

Here is what I learned (very briefly).

Rhythm, Balance & Unity.

Rhythm helps to lead the eye around the image using the repetition of shape and/or space. ‘Dynamic’ varies it up while retaining balance (a bit more quirky) and ‘controlled’ is more evenly spaced (more traditional or classical). Too hard for me to explain well, here is a link that shows some good examples in existing works of art.

Balance gives a sense of equilibrium to the image. It can be symmetrical (we know what that means)¬† or asymmetrical where although the objects on opposing sides are different, their visual ‘weight’ combines to give a balanced feel. There are many ways to achieve balance using the obvious like shape and colour or less obvious by contrasting areas of activity with areas of space. Van Gogh gives a basic example of using colour to create balance in his image of shoes, here. If you cover the orange tongue of the shoe on the right the image becomes unbalanced.

Unity creates a link between different areas within an image. Colour is an obvious way to achieve this, but any repeat would so the same. Texture, exposure, the list would be endless. While looking for examples of Cezanne still life images I stumbled upon this blog post, check it.

This is not my information. I first learned about it here. Then did some more digging. I suspect I could spend years on this alone. I will try not to, I should really pick up some toys and do the dishes.

Now I just need some time to try out the practical application for this information.