Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Archive for March, 2012

Getting Extreme With David And Jack

It’s been a while since we announced a new exhibition in the fotofilia gallery. The last one, “My Story Through A Lens”, was extended and was very well-recieved, but since then we’ve (or more correctly, Simon has) been repainting the white walls for the next season of exhibitions.

But there has been another development that we are very excited about. Jack Nelson and David Shepherd, second year photography degree students from the University of Wolverhampton, have joined us as our resident curators and are lining up an impressive series of photography shows to be seen over the next few months.

And so here is the very first exhibition curated by the boys here at fotofilia – “Extreme” And Other Works.

The flyer below pretty much says it all. It would be great to see you at the launch on Wednesday.

More information on future shows as they are confirmed. 


Miles Away

I know it’s been over a week since my last post but I wanted the last piece – about f2‘s “Miles” exhibition at The Custard Factory Gallery – to remain for the duration of the show.

Well, the group’s images are now “unhung”, re-wrapped in their bubble-wrap and taken home. I think we could safely call the exhibition an unmitigated success. The way that the group approached the production and presentation of the images, the launch, and even the catalogue design and print showed a great deal of flair and more than a little teamwork. I feel especially proud that f2, one of fotofilia’s two photographic societies, has achieved all of this with only the very minimum of input from myself.

So here are a few images from the exhibition in case you didn’t manage to make it along to see the show…

This image by David Tunney

Image courtesy of Laurence Sharma

Image courtesy of Michelle Smith

Jim displaying his wares (not for the first time, we would imagine). image courtesy of Michelle Smith

Finally, a big thank you to everyone involved in the exhibition, and not least Melanie Glass of the Devenish Girl bakery who provided the toothsome “tea party” nibbles for the launch, and Leigh Swingler of Orchard Corporate for his invaluable help in the design of the catalogue.

Oh, and the group seem to be chomping at the bit to do this all again. But look out for an exhibition from THE CLUB too…

Miles For Custard

I am very proud to announce “Miles“, the exhibition by 19 of our f2 members, which opens at The Custard Factory Gallery, Gibb St, Digbeth, Birmingham this weekend.

As you might expect, the theme has initiated a wide range of interpretations. The above poster pretty much says it all except that you are very welcome to attend the exhibition’s opening from 5:30pm on Sunday 18th March (yes, we know it’s Mothering Sunday – why not bring her along? It’s free!).

The group have worked very hard to put this together so I do hope you’ll be able to come along and support them. Of course this is also an opportunity to see what kind of work our clubs are capable of, and to pose any questions about the work to the photographers themselves.

If you can’t make it along on Sunday, the opening hours for the rest of the week are as seen on the poster above.

We look forward to seeing you there.



The Scooby Doo Effect – by Nick Shale (part 2)

So here’s the second part of Nick Shale’s wonderful little Photoshop trick…

10.  I want to make the sky in this image appear more brooding and menacing in order to give the image a bit more of a dramatic flourish, so I’ve turned the rain effect layer off for the time being and have selected the sky around the house using combination of magic wand and polygonal lasso tools, and then deleted it.

12.    Back onto google images and quickly found a suitable thunder storm skyline picture at a high resolution which I’m going to drop in behind the Victorian house layer and use as my stormy sky for this picture.

13.   I’ve done the same with the thunder storm image as I originally did with the image of the Victorian House. I’ve desaturated the colour so the image is black & white. Then I’ve gone into ‘image’ then ‘Adjust image’ then ‘Shadows and Highlights. Set ‘Lighten Shadows’ to 0% ‘Darken Highlights’ to 47% and ‘Midtone Contrast’ to +98%. This really makes the forked lightening stand out against a dark and brooding sky.


14.    I’ve now added this thunderstorm image as a layer to the composition I’m working on. I’ve positioned the layer behind the Victorian House layer so it now acts as the raging thunder storm for this picture.

15.   I’ve now made the rainfall layer visible again to see how the final composition looks. It’s all there but it still looks a bit flat and lifeless.

16.   I’ve added a few more flourishes to make this picture stand out and give it a bit of drama and mystery to it. Firstly, using the ‘Dodge’ tool I’ve brightened up the lightening forks in the sky layer to make them really stand out and add more contrast to the house. I used a fairly large brush size for this and just experimented until I was happy with the result. I then decided to make it appear as if a light was on in one of the windows in the house. I did this my selecting the house layer, choosing the window I wanted to add the effect to,  then with the polygonal lasso tool I drew a mask until I had the shape of the window panes. I then created a new layer with the mask and filled them with White using the paint bucket tool. I then tried adding an outer glow effect to this to give the effect of light spilling out from the window, but the results were not what I hoped for, so instead I used the Dodge tool again and lightened the area around the window on the house, and that gave me the effect I was looking for.

17. Finally, I made the rainfall layer visible again, made a few minor tweaks to the contrast of the house…and voila! A suitably scary looking house that even Scooby Doo and co would think twice about investigating!

Don’t worry if your results aren’t perfect first time. It took me numerous attempts before I got this right and was happy with the end result. Just have fun with it and keep making adjustments until you’ve a result you’re happy with.

Hope you’ve found this useful, and if anyone give it a go, please post up your work as I’d love to see your results.

Cheers, Nick Shale.


As previously mentioned, Nick will be imparting his Photoshoppery wisdom at our forthcoming “Masterclass: Photoshop Tricks with Nick Shale” event. Date will be announced shortly.

The Scooby Doo Effect – by Nick Shale (Part 1)

Now here’s a funky little Photoshop trick for you, as shown to me by my colleague at MAC, and leader of a forthcoming Advanced Photoshop Masterclass event at fotofilia, Nick Shale. I’ll hand you over to Nick to explain…

Photoshop tutorial: Adding a rain effect to images.

(or: Instant Scooby Doo house).

Your spiritual leader David Rann has very kindly asked me to submit one of my photoshop effect tutorials to the fotofilia group.  So I thought I’d introduce you all to an effect with is alot of fun to play around with in photoshop and can produce some really striking and atmospheric results. This is the technique for adding a rainfall effect to images in photoshop, or as I call it…instant Scooby Doo houses.

1.   Getting started. I’ll be doing this tutorial using Photoshop Elements 9 but the directions I’ll give can be replicated in any CS Photoshop version too.

Right, first off I did some google image browsing and found myself a suitably dilapidated Victorian house with which to add my effect.

2.   Next step was to give the image a quick spruce up and remove any elements I didn’t want with the clone stamp tool…in this case, the removal of the satellite dish on the side of the house.


3.   I then desaturated the picture to black & white. You can convert the image to greyscale if you wish, but I personally find desaturating it gives me more options to play with in terms of tone, contrast and depth.

4.   Next step was to add another layer to the image and fill it with black.

5.    Now go to ‘Filters’  and select  ‘Noise’ then ‘Add Noise’ The layer will now fill with what looks like TV interference. Make sure the Gaussian button in the filter pop-up screen is selected, set the amount to 72.13% then click ‘OK’.

6.  Go into the ‘Filter’ drop down menu again, and this time select ‘Blur’ then ‘Gaussian Blur’. Set the radius to 1.2 pixels, then click ‘OK’.

7.   Go to ‘Image’ in the drop down menu and select ‘Levels’. In the levels pop-up screen you notice three tab markers at the bottom, coloured black, grey and white. Move the black tab marker until it is in the middle of the black histogram hump, then start moving the white tab marker towards the left. You will notice the white noise speckles will start to stand out prominently against the black background. When you’re happy you have a suitably good contrast between the two, click ‘OK’.

8.  Now go to ‘Filters’ and select ‘Blur’ then ‘Motion Blur’. Set the angle to 70 degrees and the Pixel distance to 89, instantly you’ll see that the speckled noise effect is starting to look like heavy rain fall.

9.  Now reduce the opacity of this layer to 70% so the image of the house behind starts to become visible. We’ve now added our heavy rain element to this image. But theres a few more steps I want to add to make it a lot more atmospheric and sinister looking.

Come back in a couple of days for the second part of this post.