The Watchers

Vigilant Virago

Vigilant Virago

Some people see the world in black and white with stark boundaries between right and wrong, good and evil, beautiful and ugly. I’ve always preferred to think of the world in myriad shades of grey and a whole spectrum of colours. Race, sexuality, temperament. Things aren’t always as they seem and the boundaries are always more blurred than they first appear.

Creating images that make people question what they are seeing is something that really appeals to me. What at first glance might seem like a beautiful, innocent image is revealed on closer inspection to have a dark side or to have hidden meanings and elements.

Some months ago I stumbled across a drawing by Mexican artist Kikyz1313 and was fascinated by the concept of flowers with eyes. There was something very beautiful but also very creepy about the image that really appealed to me – I loved the sense of ambiguity and that there is a dark side to beauty in general. I wanted to create a very real interpretation of the concept and began constructing the pieces I would need to make that happen.



I started with the eyeballs themselves. I wanted them to be very realistic so I spent some time researching different methods of creating them on YouTube. I debated how much time I would spend on painting the irises themselves as I always knew I would do quite a bit of post-production work on them but ultimately decided it was best to take the time to get them as real as I could. This would help both as a reference for post-production work and would give me, the model and crew a realistic sense of how the final product would look.

Once I had the eyeballs done I needed to source suitable flowers to place them in. I found what I needed in the form of artificial peonies and construction of the individual flowers was relatively straight forward from there.

Then it became a matter of how I would construct the final piece that they would sit in. It was clear that using fresh flowers would heighten the sense of realism even though it would bring it’s own complications. I’ve made simple floral crowns before but never anything of this scale so I embarked on a one-day workshop with acclaimed floral artist Julia Rose. This gave me some extra skills and the confidence I needed to put the final construction together.

The final piece took over 13 hours to put together, measured over six feet and weighed in excess of 4 kg.



The shoot itself took place at a private house on a rainy Winter’s day. I’m not sure what is wrong with my brain but I always seem to want to shoot water images in Winter! Fortunately our model, Bella Murray, was a real trooper! I’d also planned a “dry” component to the shoot so we could limit the amount of time to be spent in the water. Having said that, there were several scenes that we had planned that had to be cancelled on the day. There was no option of rescheduling as the flowers would have wilted and died.

Post-production was relatively straight forward for most of the images. I’d previously created a series of irises based on macro images of real eyes and I used these to make my fake eyeballs look more realistic. Masking of the fine fern was probably one of the most challenging aspects and in some areas it was a pixel by pixel process!

Video courtesy of Paul Hagger

The end result exceeded my expectations and I think reflects the time I put into it and the help I had along the way. ;)

Model: Bella Murray
MUAH: Leish Cook
Assistants: Pauline Mandry, Paul Hagger
Special thanks to Natalie Humphries for the location and Jo Mason for wine pouring during construction.

View all the images from this series and purchase limited edition prints here.


Nasty Little Critters

They say you need a licence to own a dog but not to be a parent and that’s true. It’s also true that kids don’t come with an instruction manual. By modern, western standards I became a parent at the reasonably young age of 21. I was so naive. I also felt like I didn’t have a plan beyond “the opposite of anything Mum did” (and yes I learned not to judge her so harshly once reality set in but that woman had her moments!). I fumble through parenthood with my fingers crossed and the hope that my kids can survive me!

Monty's Picnic

Monty’s Picnic

Nasty Little Critters is a tongue-in-cheek reflection of childhood and parenthood. With the passing of several family members and my children reaching adulthood I find myself reflecting both on the sweet highlights and the painful losses of family relationships. As I embark on this new chapter in my life, I’m happy to poke a little fun at my past.

Sugar & Spice

Sugar & Spice

Most of the main characters in this series are toys from both my and my children’s childhood, albeit a little altered! There are also items from my parents and siblings. These images represent the darker side of how we feel about those we love unconditionally and those who we know intimately through shared history. We are all nasty little critters!

Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny

Frogs & Snails

Frogs & Snails

You can purchase limited edition fine art prints here or view a layer by layer video of Frogs & Snails here.

Dancing with Costica invitiation

“Dancing with Costica” exhibition to open at Romanian Embassy

I’m very proud to announce the opening of the Dancing with Costica exhibition at the Romanian Embassy in Canberra on the 27th of March at 4 pm. Here’s a sneak peak of the press release. I’ll make sure to get lots of photos on the night for my next post!

Art bridges cultures in celebration of diplomacy

Canberra, Australia. Monday 23rd of March, 2015.

This month Romania and Australia celebrate 47 years of diplomatic relations and to commemorate the event the Romanian Embassy in Canberra will host a diplomatic reception and a photo exhibition entitled “Dancing with Costică” by Australian artist Jane Long and Romanian photographer Costică Acsinte.

“Celebrating 47 years since Romania and Australia established diplomatic relations is an excellent opportunity to speak about two countries who never fought each other, with little common history but sharing the same European values of democracy, state of law and human rights”, stated Ambassador Bărbulescu. “I will be pleased to welcome participants to the reception I will host on March 27, starting at 4pm, at the Romanian embassy in Canberra. On a personal note (and one of the happy coincidences that might describe relations between Romania and Australia), I was also born in 1968, a memorable year in Romania as the most numerous Romanian generation was born in that year”.

“My choice for the cultural component of this celebration is contemporary Australian artist Jane Long’s photos due to their significance as a space-time portal between Romania and Australia: Costică Acsinte’s black and white photos, taken almost 100 years ago, become the current canvas of Jane Long’s photos. Now we start observing two stories, one about childhood, teenagers, marriage, happiness or the first World War as reflected in Romanian lives overseas and the second story, more suitable and updated to current realities, sometimes more sophisticated and going far away from the original photo. It’s also important to acknowledge contemporary passionate Romanian photographer Cezar Mario-Popescu, who recovered and restored more than 6000 Costică vintage photos, who hopefully will visit Australia soon”.

“I would like to welcome all art lovers to indulge themselves visiting the small but representative photo exhibition “Dancing with Costică”, by Jane Long and Costică Acsinte, from March 30, 2015 until June 30, 2015, at the Romanian Embassy in Canberra, on any working day between 2pm and 5pm”.

The series has received much acclaim internationally but has been particularly popular in Romania where photographer Cezar Popescu has been painstakingly restoring and digitising over 6000 glass plates and prints taken by Costică Ascinte during his long standing career.

Ascinte was a Romanian war photographer active in World War I who later established a photography studio in Slobozia where he worked until he retired in late 1960. He died in January 1984 and his collection was acquired by the Ialomița County History Museum in 1985.

“I wanted to change the context of the images,” says Long. “Photographic practices at the time meant people rarely smiled in photos but that doesn’t mean they didn’t laugh and love. I wanted to introduce that to the images”.

The series has had its controversies with some people suggesting it is disrespectful to use images of people she doesn’t know.

“On the contrary!” she responds. “I wanted people to see these figures as real people, more than just an old photograph. Adding colour completely changes our perception of images.”

Dancing with Costica invitiation

Dancing with Costica invitiation



Limited Edition Prints now available!

I am pleased to announce I will now be selling limited edition prints of selected conceptual works.

The images will be printed with archival pigment inks on a 9900 Epson printer onto 308 gsm smooth photo rag and will be hand signed. Larger sizes will be limited to an edition of 10 with smaller sizes come in an edition of 15 plus two artist prints for each.

At the moment only my conceptual works are available, and not all of those, but if you see something you like that’s not currently listed for sale please contact me to see if I can make the image available.

Standard sizes will be 50 cm x 50 cm and 25 cm x 25 cm with the exception of the Dancing with Costică series which will be printed smaller (40 cm x 40 cm and 20 cm x 20 cm) due to the small size of the original glass plates. Three of the images (Beacon, Gun Shy and All Hands On Deck) will become available as I recreate them in high resolution.

So head over to grab your print now before they all run out!

Beacon – colouring and compositing tutorial

A breakdown of how I created my image Beacon. Guides you through the colouring of a black and white image and compositing elements in Photoshop.

My website:
My facebook page:


Original image from the Costică Acsinte Archive on Flickr Commons.

Skin colour swatches:

More info on “Blend If” modes:

Blue Rose

Blue Rose

This was always a shoot on the move. From the initial idea based on the dress, I decided it needed more and began to create a headpiece from some artificial blue roses I had lying around. As I was constructing it I was listening to Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue’s “Where the Wild Roses Grow” and suddenly a new concept came to mind based on the song.

After an aborted shoot due to bad weather and the MUA having to cancel, we rescheduled for a Friday afternoon. Unfortunately there were storms coming over and I didn’t get the lovely golden backlight I had hoped for. Most of the SOOC shots were poorly exposed or I missed the mark with the speedlight. I was going to have to pull something out of my hat in post!

After an initial cleanup in Lightroom where I adjusted exposure and lens corrections, I brought the images into Photoshop for my normal post production workflow. I actually have a batch process set up for the first four or five steps of the video but I don’t show that in the video so you can see exactly what I do.

This my first bts video and recording of my methods so please be nice! It’s a little long because I’m a little slow. Unfortunately it doesn’t show brush sizes but I’m sure you’ll work it out. The colour toning and texturing is a little different to what I normally do but the basic process is the same. Anyway hope this helps someone!

Model: Catherine Hargraves
MUAH: Irima Vee

kim-boyce-0713 067-edit-3-lr

Swamp Queen – The Post Work

I’ve had a few people ask me about my post-production work so I thought I’d include a behind-the-scenes post for this shoot.

After moving from one scene to another during the shoot, I noticed a light haze as I looked through the viewfinder. At first I thought it was just the scene and took a few snaps. But it still didn’t look right so I checked the lens and found it had a little condensation on it (about as much of the fog as we got!). I duly wiped it off and continued. Of course Murphy’s Law states that one of the few shots I took before cleaning the lens would be the shot of the day and sure enough it was (see SOOC shot at the bottom of the post)!


I loved everything else about the shot though so I decided to persist. I pulled the file into Photoshop via Camera Raw and used a curves layer to even out the light. I cleaned up the skin and did a bit of reshaping. It’s not something I would always do but this was going to be somewhat of a fantasy image.

I wanted a little more drama for the face so I added the lip colour and finished off the dress with a red ribbon to tie the colour elements together.

I darkened and desaturated the background and increased the overall contrast, then sharpened. At this point I flattened the image and started a new Photoshop document as my computer was starting to groan under the load!


I ran Florabella Luxe actions Pandora and London, reduced them both to 50% and removed the contrast and vignette layers so I just had the colour toning.

I wanted to create more separation from the background (oh for a faster lens!) so I duplicated the layer and ran a gaussian blur filter, masking out the subject. I then added two rust textures (set to multiply and hard light at low percentages) and two cloud layers set to soft light at 30-50%. For all the textures I masked out the skin areas. I then added a vignette and reduced the overall opacity to 80% before a little Levels adjustment to bring up the highlights.

Overall I’m happy with the result. Am I heavy handed on the textures? Sure, but I like that in the context of the swamp and I feel like I fulfilled my own brief for what I wanted this image to be.

kim-boyce-0713 067-sooc kim-boyce-0713 067-edit-3-lr

Shot at f5, ISO 100, 1/80 at 55mm.

Photography and styling: me!
Model: Kim Boyce
Makeup: Kayla Lapworth
Behind the scenes shooter and assistant: Pauline Mandry.



Swamp Queen 1

Swamp Queen – The Shoot

After making Driftwood, I knew I wanted to shoot in the swamp again, preferably with a model and someone to give me a hand. I figured if I was going to do it again, I wanted to do it properly. I put quite a bit of effort into the pre-production, making a dress from a mosquito net and some old curtains and creating a headpiece from feathers, grass and an old hair comb. I spent a good hour or two weaving a nest from grass clippings and leaves, which we did use on set, but didn’t end up in any of the final images!

Swamp Queen - BTS 2
It’s amazing what you can do with a mozzie net, some curtains, elastic and safety pins!

Swamp Queen - BTS 3 
Pinning the hairpiece in.

After a couple of aborted attempts, I finally managed to get the shoot organised and we set off in the pre-dawn light of Saturday morning. We picked up some large coffees from the local servo, then convoyed down the road to the swamp. There was heavy fog as we came down the road, and we trudged across the muddy field (filled with hundreds of sparkling spider webs) hoping the swamp would be foggy too. Alas it was not and as soon as the sun came up the light was really harsh, so it was far from the moody lighting conditions I had in mind.

Knowing how muddy the location was, I’d brought along some old car mats in the hope this would help to stop us sinking into the mud, but really they just sank too. As the shoot went on we got used to it and by the end we were walking confidently from spot to spot, with the exception of one area where both Pauline and I discovered a mud hole that almost reached the top of our gumboots.

Swamp Queen - BTS 1
t helps to have a sense of humour when working in a muddy swamp. Putting out the car mats.

Swamp Queen - BTS 4
Time to venture into the water.

Swamp Queen - BTS 5
Pauline helping out with a little additional pinning. Note the cute little peace symbols on her gumboots. :)

We tried throwing the dress to get some movement in the shot but it quickly became too wet and muddy so I abandoned the idea and moved on. My planned location had Kim in shade in the foreground but the background was too bright for the mood I was trying to create. Ultimately the best shots are those facing away from the swamp, losing the mass of trees in the distance but much better light and more in line with what I wanted.

Swamp Queen - BTS 6
My poor little nest. Just couldn’t get a composition where it looked right.

Swamp Queen - BTS 7 
Keeping the tripod even in the mud proved to be a bit of a challenge.

Smelly and dirty as it was, we had a lot of fun on this shoot. Kayla did a great job on the makeup and I’d happily work with both Kim and Pauline again.

The images you see here are the shots Pauline took on the day (and one I snuck of her!). Click on the images for a larger view.

Swamp Queen - BTS 8
Deciding whether to go further out. 

Swamp Queen - BTS 9 
Arranging the dress. I’ve washed it twice and still can’t get all the debris out!

Keep an eye out for a future post where I cover some of the post-production work that went into the final shots.

Photography and styling: me!
Model: Kim Boyce
Makeup: Kayla Lapworth
Behind the scenes and assistant: Pauline Mandry




365 – I made it!

Today is the last day of my 365 project. It has been a challenging and at times frustrating experience but overall I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience that I know make me a better photographer than I was a year ago. Finding inspiration on a daily basis proved the hardest part, particularly towards the end where the quality varies wildly as I throw myself into major shoots, then scramble to catch up on in-between days. There’s some shots I love and many I hate but I took a shot every day (with a couple of slips where I caught up the next day) and as an overall body of work I am happy with it as a record of my year. So thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the year and those who have worked with me. You are all an intrinsic part of  this project and I would not have completed it without you. So here’s my top 20 from the year (and look out for a 52 project in the coming year…maybe!).

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Dreaming in the bath

Shooting self-portraits vs models

I often feel really uncomfortable posting pictures of myself online, particularly those that are more stories than portraits or family photos per se. I worry that friends will think I’m vain and everyone will realise just how much I’ve warped, cloned and flat out repainted the images. Often the image is not meant to be a literal interpretation of me so much as a character that I’m creating. I don’t even see it as myself when I’m editing, just a face, a figure, a dress.

There are pros and cons to creating self-portraits, as I’ve discovered along the way. Feeling like an idiot (even when shooting at home) is the paramount con for me and increasingly the wrong body shape and saggy face. Corsets are fast becoming my best friends! Difficulty with focus, camera position, overshooting, shot timing, all these things make shooting selfies frustrating at times. And there’s always that embarrassing moment when you get sprung prancing around in a public place in not much more than your underwear and a curtain!

However the good news is you always have a model available at a moment’s notice, you know her dress size and she’s not going to cancel at the last minute (unless you want to!). She’ll pose just the way you want without having to tell her and she’ll follow you into swamps, lakes and creeks. She’ll climb trees, rummage through abandoned buildings and generally go anywhere you are game enough to go.

I get very self-conscious when directing models and often miss a shot because I’m too shy to ask them to do something. However it’s always a joy to work with a beautiful face and the benefits of being behind the camera are well worth the time taken to plan and set up the shoot. Many of the models I’ve worked with so far have been really open to ideas and are happy to get a little uncomfortable for the sake of a good shot. I’ll usually put a lot more thought into a shoot with a model and arrange a makeup artist, hairdresser and assistants if I can. Things I would never indulge in if I was shooting myself, but can make a big difference to the overall success of the shoot.

So the next time you are out and find a great location but think “this would look great with someone standing just there” consider shooting yourself (um, with a camera, selfies really aren’t that bad!). Or jump onto Model Mayhem and hook up with a local model, MUA and stylist. Either way, just keep making stories. :)