Close-up of Nature

Last Christmas, my lovely boyfriend, Nic, bought me a miniature set of lens’ for my phone. I immediately fell in love with them (and him a bit more) as they were so adorable and easy to use. Due to the macro lens included, I also swiftly fell in love with close-up photography of flowers all over again.

The first time I fell in love with it I was about 14, when I got my first camera that had a macro feature. I enjoyed discovering a pattern that you didn’t know was there, until you got quite up close and personal with a daisy. It’s my LGG4 I love now, for it’s manual camera mode. Having access to a manual focus setting makes the world of difference when taking these types of photos, especially on a mobile.

So without further ado, here’s some of my recent photos! Some are using the lens, some aren’t, I’ve added captions so you can see which is which! If you like them, be sure to check out my daily photography blog, as you might also like that too.

Thanks for reading,


Level Up: After Effects CC – Flat Animation

And now for something slightly different. ‘Level Up’ is a new series to this blog where I write about what skills I’m currently learning or improving. There’s a range of things this can include, but as you may already know, I’m a digital designer, so predominately this will revolve around graphic, video and animation work for email and web.

AE_Screen2I’ve seen the term ‘material design’ popping up more and more over the last half a year, though it’s not always glaringly obvious what it actually is. I have ‘cooed’ over many beautiful flat design animations shown as examples, but had not found much else until I discovered Google had released this comprehensive mini website explaining what it was all about. I quickly realised what it was all about was a hell of a lot more complicated than I originally expected, so I decided to take a couple steps backwards first.

Last week I was meant to attend a Adobe After Effects (AE) beginners course in Cardiff, which subsequently got moved to a different date. As I was already geared up for it, and clients were being conveniently quiet at work, I decided the delayed course shouldn’t stop me from making a start, so I began looking up tutorials.

I decided upon this video and made a prompt start. After a couple hours of tinkering and getting my head around why anyone would think graphs would ever be a good idea in a design program, I had created this! –


I was unashamedly proud how this turned out, and I was soon loving AE’s graphs and everything they stood for. Whilst I was basking in my new love of abstract animation, I realised it wasn’t much use for any email or web design work we had coming up.

I made the decision to use a combination of my newly found knowledge and cockiness to go rogue, and try my hand at creating some animations of building data graphs without the use of further tutorials.


I’m pleased at the progress I’ve made this week in AE – from zero to hero a bit more than zero. I’m quite quick at picking up programs from a couple of tutorials, but even I can see there’s so much more to uncover within Adobe After Effects, and this is only the mere beginning to what’s possible. However for now, this is all I had time for within my lunchtimes and downtime at work last week, and the rest of my free time is otherwise engaged due to my evenings and weekends being committed to moving preparations and frolicking in Wales.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this interesting, or at least entertaining. I’m always eager to hear any feedback on my blog or just general chit chat, so Tweet me if you fancy on @stephhh.

As a bonus, here’s something pretty I put together after getting bored of staring at graphs for so long…