Sunday 2 September 2018

How to Maintain Ash Blonde Hair

I'm a brunette who started to go blonde last Summer and haven't looked back yet. I love my natural brown hair, but I wanted to try something new and have found being an ashy shade of blonde suits my colouring quite well after admiring it on others with similar a similar skin tone to me.

My original salon experience to add highlights was a disaster. Despite having gone lighter before with no issues, the bayalage I had done was not the greatest and the warm tones in my natural, un-dyed hair just didn't lift, even with a cool toner applied. I appreciate that going blonde is a process, but I was surprised how far from my goal colour I was due to my previous experience with bleaching.

Not one to give up, about eight weeks later I tried another salon and was really happy with the results. I used Olaplex as part of both my colours which stops the bleach damaging your hair as much. With fine hair like mine, I didn't want to take any risks of my hair breaking off which it no doubt would without the Olaplex. My new colour had some lowlights with an ashy blonde to create some texture to the colour. 

I've been getting highlights every three to four months since last Autumn and I'm really pleased with my current colour- most recently done by the lovely Emma at Kate Preston salon in Fareham. 

See my blonde evolution below and read on for how I try to maintain my colour at home.

Monday 27 August 2018

Post-Summer/ Autumn Skincare Favourites

As the hot weather dwindles and there is the suggestion of colder spells ahead, I felt inspired to share some of my favourite Autumn/ Fall skincare products. I'm a strong believer in learning to 'read' your skin when choosing products or routines. Many of us are left with areas of pigmentation post-sun and perhaps drier skin types need a bit of nurturing as the temperature changes. These products help to brighten and nourish my drier, freckly complexion and make me feel ready to face those beautiful, chilly September days.

Sunday 11 March 2018

Triptych of the Week #10


As a follow on from last week, here are some high contrast black and white shots of our cat, Maisie, in the snow. 

At two years old, she has never seen anything like this before and although she bravely explored, she didn't really like the freezing cold on her paws for very long.

As we haven't had proper snow in this part of the country for years, I was holding out for a time when I would get to photograph Maisie in it. She looked majestic contrasted against the white and I brought this out as much as possible in the bookend photos of the triptych using the black and white shoot mode on my camera.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Review: Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Nectar

I have a confession to make. After years of loving to wear the original Flowerbomb and rating it up 
there with the most glorious fragrances I've come across (even owning the body lotion), I've fallen out of the love with it somewhat... It's still a comforting, sensual, beautiful scent, but it's so popular that I seem to be smelling it everywhere. 

When the flanker, Bloom came out last year, I purchased it with my Boots Advantage points. This sweet, airy rendition of Flowerbomb is, I have to say, very lovely. I reviewed it against the original here, but needless to say, it is an enchanting Spring/ Summer scent which is not just a poor imitation of the original masterpiece. Nectar is equally as well done and I had to have it after I sprayed it on myself in a department store and was left with the ghost of it for many, many hours afterwards. As I had sprayed quite a few different things on myself that day, I was charmed to find that the distinctive Flowerbomb jasmine sambac and patchouli marriage at its heart shined through. It was a comforting, warm blend which made me realise that despite the original being frustratingly overplayed, I still absolutely love the blend of heart notes.

Sunday 4 March 2018

Cold Weather Skincare for Sensitive, Dry and Irritated Faces

My skin has been really feeling sorry for itself of late. Just before the snowy weather hit the UK, I started to suffer a backlash from the chemical exfoliating I had been doing. Usually, I'm quite in tune with how much my skin can take, but I didn't factor in the cold weather which had sensitised my face. When I started having flushed red cheeks and dry, flaky patches, I knew it was time to whip out my old faithful: La Roche Posay's Cicaplast cream. 

Triptych of the Week #9

Snowday 2

Its now all gone, but in the South of the UK we had the most amazing couple of days of snow on Thursday and Friday. Fancy it being Spring and having snow! It caused havoc nationwide on the roads and many businesses struggled to open. We just aren't prepared for snow in this country; it's such a rare occurrence, particularly in Hampshire. Every time there's been snow over the last few years, we've failed to see any lay where I live, so this was very exciting.

We got two days off work as the schools can't open when the site is unsafe. We frolicked in the snow, went walking about and even made a roast dinner! It has been the most amazing gift. It made me feel so thankful for life- and particularly grateful for the privileges I have. Some are not so lucky.

Black and white mode was used a lot in my snow photography. As you may know, we have a gorgeous black cat, so she looked amazing in contrast with the white. I used 'pop colour' mode for the roast- and doesn't it look like the most delicious dinner you've ever seen. It was hot and delicious and we felt like kings being off work and eating the type of meal we usually reserve for special occasions.

What did you do in the snow?

Sunday 25 February 2018

Triptych of the Week #8

As a follow on from last week, here are some more photos from a trip to Lulworth Cove in Dorset a week ago. 

The hill pictured in the first shot felt like a mountain! It's a steep incline and a great workout. You can walk down to Durdle Door, which is what we did. The ducks in the second photo are shot in 'colour pop' mode on the Sony A5000. I love ducks in general and I often photograph them; this image is particularly pleasing in terms of composition and colours- I say this because sometimes the camera doesn't do these beautiful animals justice.

The final picture of Lulworth Cove was taken whilst waiting for cheeseburgers at the mobile van nearby. We'd done our walking and were about to get on the road. This father and son were a lovely subject matter against the backdrop. I wish I'd got more skyline in.

Sunday 18 February 2018

Triptych of the Week #7

Coastal Trip
We had a lovely day trip Lulworth Cove in Dorset this half term break. Here are some coastal-themed offerings from the day.

It was a surprisingly sunny February day, but still with a chilly edge. I composed this triptych of colourful offerings and some texture shots. Shooting with my wider angle zoom lens was probably not the best for the middle photo which would have been a bit crisper with a wider aperture. Nevertheless, the overall triptych is pleasing enough.

I'd highly recommend a trip to this area, whether you're a family or with friends. It was the 'pick me up' we needed at this time of year and the walks offered some much-needed exercise and challenge (expect to be climbing steep hills for the most beautiful views). Tourists are well catered for and it was very busy even at this time of year. There are some also quaint cottages leading to the beach which are fantastic photo opportunities; a fish and chip cafe; a nice gift shop and other little places to buy souvenirs. I took some more shots of the views and Durdle Door, so more to follow next week...

Sunday 11 February 2018

Triptych of the Week #6


I took these photos on Christmas Eve 2017 on a walk around the park. They are all shots of the River Medway in Tonbridge, Kent. 

I brought out the colours by shooting in 'Colour Pop' mode and managed to capture some reflections in the water.

These images capture a stillness and silence, revealing something about the secret lives of those who live by the river.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Triptych of the Week #5


A rainy Saturday, feeling a mixture of weekend release and gloom, coupled with the bittersweet nostalgia which tends to follow me around when I'm in this neck of the woods: my old university stomping ground- this is what this triptych focuses on. 

I used 'miniature mode' on my Sony A5000. It's good fun to play with and seemed fitting for the subject matter. This is Portsmouth Guildhall (just around the corner from where I first lived when I came here at eighteen). I was young, free and troubled, although I didn't really know that at the time. The area is very different from when I was living here all those years ago. Guildhall Walk, once a club-ridden, bustling student hub, is now now relatively sobre (at least by day). There is a Sainsbury's Local in place of the cheesy, meat-market night spot, Walkabout, and a Seven Bone burger place (I recommend it) where once one of the more sedate pubs used to be. I enjoyed parts of the student life- the freedom, for example- but mainly I was just a square peg in a round hole.

Guildhall Square is quite something though. I walked through it every day in that first year and even before I'd decided to settle here for University, the grandness of the buildings impressed me. It makes you feel small when you walk through an area like this, particularly if you come from a humble, small town. And I guess that feeling of being anonymous and insignificant has its pluses and minuses.

Sunday 28 January 2018

Triptych of the Week #4

Saturday Morning

I shot in black and white yesterday morning. Saturday mornings are always such a relief: not having to get up at 6am and getting some time to myself. The slow pace of a Saturday morning is what I wanted to convey with this triptych. I had quite a few photos of Maisie to choose from, but I liked the silhouette of her in the photo I chose. I turned up the exposure to capture a crisper shot and I particularly liked the stripey top in the background.

The first shot is not particularly original or exciting, but as this was going to be self portrait photography, I wanted to have a photo that opened the narrative of waking up. The shadows in the photo help to get that across.

I obviously had to wear that stripey top today! I got a tripod for Christmas, so I set it up and started playing. It's a bit of a luxury to have time to do my make-up and hair on the weekend. Usually I'm bleary-eyed and in a rush. Being childless has its perks and I find the whole process of doing my skincare routine, make-up and hair very cathartic. The tripod enabled me to actually snap away while I was doing my routine. There were a lot of shots to choose from, but I chose this one because I liked the texture of the brushed, damp hair, particularly the lines which link to the other lines in the images. 

Sunday 21 January 2018

Triptych of the Week #3

January Reflections
These three photos were all taken on the same day, with photos 1 and 3 being taken on a cold evening walk. Last year, when I was doing my 'Photo a Day' challenge I realised that reflections were a subject that I was drawn to photographing. These reflections convey the coldness of the time of year due to the colour theme, but also perhaps there's a allusion to the hope and 'wonder' of the new start.

Photo 1 is a reflection of a reflection of someone looking in the window at a shop's January sales. There's something a bit miserable about January sales to me! I'm a hypocrite, because I will hunt the sales (particularly online), but it feels sad to see the presents that you carefully chose for people on sale as if they are discardable objects. I guess, in the grand scheme of things, they are! 

The other two photos are reflections in water (it's been quite rainy in January). Photo 2 is obviously colour-enhanced in editing to give it a more whimsical style. Photo 3's sky is a contrast to the colours within it and bleak. I could have photoshopped out the car, but there's some element of narrative to be had with it being there. 

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the photos, but I'd like to get better at using Photoshop to get a more professional finish. Any tips anyone?_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday 14 January 2018

Triptych of the Week #2

Circles of Time
On January the 1st, I felt at quite a loss. Not really one for change, the new year business is always bittersweet for me; the loss of the old and familiar, yet also the feeling that something new and exciting should be happening. The bleak weather, the passing of Christmas, the impending idea of going back to work: it's a dark cloud which I feel guilty for allowing to cover me. Do we all feel this way at this time of year?

Then there's the familiarity of the whole process of starting a new year in which I will get a year older. The neuroses of time slipping by and not achieving what I think I should; the fatal flaw of not living in each precious moment. I've got a bit better at that, but there's still the pining after those memories once they're gone. We're complicated creatures aren't we.

So this triptych expresses the cyclical nature of our years. The cold season and the feelings that come with it. I chose the final shot (ironically the first I took which inspired the 'circle' theme) to complete the triptych. It is there to represent newness and growth. 

I'll leave it on that more positive note!

Sunday 7 January 2018

Triptych of the Week #1

The Park

Taken in Tonbridge park, these photos document a solitary stroll around the perimeter of this wide, green space. 

I used the zoom feature on the top and bottom photos, more out of wanting to be inconspicuous than anything else. I also shot using the 'pop colour' feature for these shots. The difference in vibrancy between the top and bottom is a happy accident, but adds to the narrative. 

As a kid, I loved the zip-line; the man with his dogs was also a solitary stroller who I passed on my walk and then captured later. He was sat on a bench with his two dogs for company. I thought about asking to take his photo then and there, but it seemed quite obtrusive as he was clearly out to have some time to himself, perhaps a pre-Christmas day breather. The goalposts in the two images tie them quite nicely, I think.

The middle shot was taken with a slower shutter speed; I achieved more or less what I wanted here. The framing could be better in this image, but I chose this one because the foot was in shot and the shape of my coat with the button looked better than in some of the others.

So this is my first attempt at a triptych and I hope to produce some interesting images this year, pushing myself to tell some stories with my photography.

Friday 5 January 2018

New Additions to my Vinyl Collection, January 2018

Since my first vinyl collection post last April I've acquired some new editions to my collection- both newly pressed and second hand. It's quite hard to group my new records in the same way as I did before ('classic'/'iconic' albums vs. random finds) as I have found some popular, classic albums by chance when out and about. A gem of a place for good prices on second hand vinyl is a shop called Boiler Room in Poole, Dorset. 

Monday 1 January 2018

The 2017 Photo a Day Photography Challenge: A Reflection

At the start of 2017, I set myself the challenge to post a photo to this blog every day in an effort to explore my photography hobby. Yesterday I posted my final photo for the year and felt an unexpected moment of sadness. It was unexpected because it has been testing at times. For certain stretches of the year, during busy periods at work, it was hard to find the time to post on a daily basis. I found at my most productive periods I was taking hundreds of shots and pre-scheduling a weeks' worth of photos, but at other times I had to get creative with my posting. It was simultaneously enjoyable and challenging- and now, looking over the collages above, there is a feeling of achievement (for someone who doesn't always feel they have achieved much). In fact, I posted twice on a few days by accident.