One Four: February Week Four

This post is for week four of Robyn’s One Four Challenge. This is a quarterly photo editing challenge that asks us to edit one photo in four ways over a month, posting a different version to our blog each week. I would have liked to spend a little more time working on this final edit but, as today is the final day of February, I thought I probably ought to post it as it is!

Week Four Edit

Week Four Edit

For this final edit I wanted to create a cool, soft image with a slight painterly appearance. Thankfully, this week I actually remembered to record the steps I took to create it!

First I opened the image in Camera Raw where I decreased the temperature (-10) and increased the tint (+23). I then increased both the highlights (+61) and the whites (+26) whilst also shifting the shadows (-17) and the blacks (-2) a little. I increased the vibrance (+60), reduced both the contrast (-23) and clarity and finally increased the luminance all the way to 100 with a detail level of 21.

Next I opened the image in Photoshop Elements 13 where I added a Levels layer over the ‘campfire’ – increasing both blacks and the whites to make it stand out a little better. I also added a soft glow layer at 60% opacity, a ‘shiny sphere’ gradient map at 20% opacity and an angled strokes layer at 25%. To finish off I gave it a slight crop.

Here are all the edits together for comparison:

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As it’s week four it’s also time for a poll – please let me know which edit you like best!




FFftPP: Faded Calligraphy

This post is for Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. For this challenge we are given a photo prompt and an optional opening line / prompt sentence. This week’s prompt line is There it was. You could see the corner of the folded yellowed parchment sticking out of the torn lining of the battered book.” I’ve not used the exact words this week but I’ve kept the general sense of it. The story should be under 200 words and have a clear beginning, middle and end.


Photo Prompt – Public Domain Image

Faded Calligraphy

Hettie rubbed weary eyes as the candle sputtered its death throes; the scrawl on the page growing increasingly illegible in the oscillating shadows.

Sleep dragged at her mind.

She’d stopped comprehending the meaning of the words some time ago; had read the current passage three times at least, yet still had no idea what it said. The trail of allusion and conjecture she’d followed to this point didn’t even guarantee success – there was only the faintest chance the author had handled the Treatise. It was possible, probable even, that she was researching another dead end. 

As tired as she was, it hard to tell the difference. It was time to accept defeat – at least for tonight.

She noticed the folded parchment that peaked from inside the torn lining only as she closed the battered text. All thoughts of sleep fled. Possibility danced before her.

Unsteady fingers drew the fragile document free from its hiding place as the candle-flame gave a final guttering flare and vanished. She barely caught a glimpse of the faded calligraphy on the pamphlet’s cover but a glimpse was enough. Excited laughter burbled free. She’d found the Treatise.

She’d found the proof they needed.

Word Count: 199

To read the other entries, click the little blue frog.linksy


One Four: February Week Three

This post is for week three of Robyn’s One Four Challenge. This is a quarterly photo editing challenge that asks us to edit one photo in four ways over a month, posting a different version to our blog each week. .

streamside camp week four 3 small

I know I said I’d try to remember what I did to achieve the final edit this week but, unfortunately, I can’t. I’ve made so many changes, going back and forth between versions, that I couldn’t retrace my steps if I tried. I do know that there’s a soft light layer (or two) in there somewhere and a few different art effects. And I cropped it slightly. Other that that, I really can’t remember!

My intention with this edit was to create an image that looked like it could be an illustration for a kids’ adventure story – a slightly magical woodland setting, a campsite beside a stream…

I hope you like it.

Here’s all of the edits so far together for comparison:

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GPC: February’s Monochrome Garden

This post is for Jude’s Garden Photo Challenge. For February we’re asked to share monochrome photographs from around the garden.

I took all of these pictures around our garden earlier today. I’d intended to share photographs from my sister’s garden as I did for January’s Garden Photo Challenge – she has lots of nooks and crannies with interesting statues and ornaments – but unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to take any. Each time I’ve visited her house the weather has been too foul to venture out of the door! I managed to find lots of things around my own garden, though, that I thought would work quite well in black and white.

I hope you like them.

Saturday Songsters – Levellers

It’s  Saturday and so time for another Saturday Songster post. This week’s track is ‘Fifteen Years’ by The Levellers.

The Levellers

The Levellers are an English band formed in 1988 whose music crosses the boundaries between rock, punk and folk. Their name is drawn from the seventeenth century radical democracy movement that was founded during the English Civil War and this very much reflects the band’s political stance.

I first heard their music in the early 1990s when my sister returned home from university with their second album, ‘Levelling the Land’, that she played constantly in the room next to mine. I was eleven years old at the time and they’ve been my favourite group ever since. I’ve now seen them live at least ten times! The song Fifteen Years is from that album.

Fifteen Years

I never was a violent man
Said the man in the bar with his head in his hands
He’s trying his best to understand the ’cause of his dismay
But the years of gin have broken him
They’ve left him cold where he’s fitted in
But it’s too late now to turn around and find another way

And the lights in the late night lock-in
Have faded away when he gets in
The girl from fifteen years ago
Has packed and gone away

That’s never how it used to be, what happened to all that energy
You took one too many liberties, I’m tired of being afraid
So after the fight she took flight hiding swollen eyes and a wounded pride
The best years of her life denied is sold for liquid shares

And the lights in the late night lock-in
Have faded away when he gets in
The girl from fifteen years ago
Has packed and gone away

And the victims of their world
Are advertised on posters
Just a beach and a pretty girl
You just take this potion

It’s another week till his check comes through
He’s got a fiver left to spend on food
The doors of the bar are open and he breaks another rule
But he sits on the stool that bears his name
He’s got a favorite glass an’ is called the same
He’s never been kept waiting, ’cause he pays the landlord’s wage

And the lights in the late night lock-in
Have faded away when he gets in
The girl from fifteen years ago
Has packed and gone away

The lights in the late night lock-in
Have faded away when he gets in
The girl from fifteen years ago
Has packed and gone away

Lyrics from Lyricsmode.

If you’d like to know more about The Levellers or would like to check out more of their music, you can visit their website here.

FFfAW: Solitude’s Isle

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy.  The FFfAW challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the photo prompt below. This week’s prompt was provided by TJ Paris. Thank you TJ!

Photo Prompt: © TJ PAris

Photo Prompt: © TJ Paris

Solitude’s Isle

He watched from the clifftop as she meandered along the beach below, his hands clenched into fists.

She shouldn’t be there.

The agreement with the settlers on the mainland was clear and as ancient as the land itself. The lore had been passed down through generations; the songs of the bards warning of the consequences should his solitude be disturbed. Only when the causeway was freed from the grip of the ocean could human foot be set upon his isle.

The causeway was drowned. She should not be there.

It took only moments to transport himself to the shoreline. His anger at her presence was eased somewhat by the awe in her gaze; the fear and dawning realisation on her face.

“You’re real.” She stepped back as he advanced. “I didn’t think you could be real.”

“Oh, I am.”

“I didn’t… I’m sorry. Its just so peaceful here.”

He halted, his hand  against her forehead. He could kill her, it was the expected punishment, but…

The desire for solitude in her eyes matched his own.

Word Count: 175

To read the other entries, click the little blue frog!



One Four: February Weeks 1 & 2

Robyn’s One Four Challenge is back! Yay! This challenge has always been one of my favourites so it’s great to see it return.

For this challenge we’re asked to edit one photo in four ways over a month, posting a different version to our blog each week. I’m a little late joining in so rather than posting just a single edit this week, I’m posting two.

Week One

streamside camp week one small 2

Week One

I can’t remember the exact settings or even every step I took to create this edit. I know that I reduced the clarity, shifted the temperature and tint, increased the vibrancy and altered a few other settings in camera raw before opening it in Photoshop Elements 13. I then selected the area of the ‘camp fire’ and played around with the levels to make it stand out a little more. To finish off I overlaid a soft light layer in a low opacity.

Week Two

streamside camp week two small

Week Two

For this edit I reopened week one in camera raw and reduced the saturation. I again played around with settings until I was happy with the shadows and highlights, etc. In Photoshop I then added a faint ‘cooling’ photo filter to give it a chillier, bluish hint.


streamside camp original small


I hope you like them. Next week I’ll try to keep a better record of edits!


MWC: Freedom

This post is for Baheya’s Miniature Writing Challenge. This week’s prompt is Freedom. For this challenge you are asked to write either an ultra short story (50-150 words), a haiku or a little poem. This week I decided to share a poem.


Image supplied by Baheya


in a churning morass
of fear,
spiralling ever deeper.
Not as good;
never as good
as everyone,
who went before.

What’s the point in trying?
You’ll never succeed.

Assume a brave face.
Tell yourself
again and again,
say it until you
believe it

you are good enough.

There are no chains to
hold you down:
the world is full of

I wrote the first version of this poem a few years ago now and its been languishing in a folder on my computer ever since. After seeing the prompt for this week’s Miniature Writing Challenge I decided to resurrect it.

Writer’s block is something that I’ve battled with a lot over the years. It was only starting the blog and discovering flash fiction that really enabled me to move completely past it. I could write the occasional children’s story or poem, I could express myself creatively through painting, but trying to write the more grown up fiction that I love just left me staring at a blank screen thinking ‘why on Earth am I even trying – nothing I write will ever be good enough’.

I’m determined not to be imprisoned by such negativity any longer.