Vivez Bien * Live Well

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Photography - the dark side

One thing that has become very apparent to me since I started blogging is how much skill is required to take a really good photograph. After posting photos from the web often taken by professionals, my own photos seem so inadequate in comparison! That's why I tend to use them less and less. Yes, we have tools such as Photoshop and Picnik, that can improve our photo's but I'm talking about that perfect composition and the quality of the light that some photographers capture so well. Taking photo's of light and sunny interiors is easier, but trying to take photo's of interiors with a darker, more moody atmosphere is very difficult. I have learned that a flash is a no-no! But if I don't use a flash, they often appear so dark, you can't really see anything. When I use various computer tools to change the exposure, I tend to lose the moody sort of atmosphere that I was trying to capture. I know that professionals use various artificial lighting sources to create the mood, but I have seen some of the excellent photography by you bloggers who aren't professional photographers. I need to know your secrets. Not your deep dark secrets, just your secrets about taking deep, dark photographs!

The photo's below illustrate the type of mood and atmosphere that I am trying to capture. Notice the quality of the light in these pictures, and how the light and shadow in these images creates a soulful sort of atmosphere.

Via tumblr

via Arcobelano

Source unknown

Via Here and Abroad

Via Flanelle et Prune

Via The New Victorian Ruralist

Via Happy Scout

Via My French Country Home

Via Simple Everyday Glamour

Via Violet Bella's World

So, my wonderful and talented readers and blog friends, some photography tips are badly needed by me. Can you help?

Till next time

Sharon x

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Long Lunch

I'm planning to have some of my closest friends over for lunch. I just can't decide if I should set the table under the trees in our garden....

Via here

or out in the fields......

Via here

or on the beach? What do you think?

Via here

Perhaps it would be nicer on the terrace with a pair of beautiful chandeliers overhead....

Via here

or perhaps indoors with a gorgeous Aubusson underfoot....

Via here

 Under the vines could be nice as well....

Via here

I think I will keep the table setting very simple....

Via here

So as not to compete with the beautiful view....

Via here

I hope I'm going to have enough room for everyone....

via here
I think our lunch will last right through to the evening. I wonder if my husband will help me clean up the mess?

Via here

If you would you like to come to my lunch, let me know. I'm sure I can squeeze you in!

Till next time

 Sharon x

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bounty from the garden

We had some friends over for a casual meal on the weekend. I wanted to keep the table setting fresh and simple. Green and white seemed the way to go, especially as I have these art deco wine glasses with green stems that I love to use, mostly because they fit so beautifully into my dishwasher and I am lazy about washing by hand!

My small cauliflower crop was ready for harvesting so I decided to make a cauliflower soup to start. I did a stir fry for the main course accompanied by a salad with ingredients from my garden.

A basket of freshly washed rocket. I am not normally a fan of orange and yellow roses, but these were bought for me by my sweet husband, so I love them!

This is my little kitchen garden when I first planted it....

...and just a few weeks later. It is such a rewarding past time and I get such a thrill from using my own freshly picked produce.

Who new a bean plant could be so pretty?

You might  think it strange to place a kitchen garden right next to the pool, but it is the sunniest part of my garden. I walk past it everyday to get in and out of my house so I am constantly tending to it. I previously had one at the back of my house but it got a bit neglected when life got busy.  I have also realised how attractive herb and veggie plants can be and because they are seasonal, the garden is constantly changing, which keeps it interesting for visitors.

The bird bath engulfed by basil.

The view of my kitchen garden from my patio.

These photos were taken on a sunny day. Today, however, it is pouring with rain.  My middle son is away on a school tour, my twins are playing at a friend's house and my oldest is quietly reading a book. It is so unusually peaceful at home this afternoon. I am sitting on the sofa with a blanket, my laptop, a cup of coffee, listening to some beautiful music, while compiling this post and enjoying the rain. And the main thing is my veggies are getting a good watering!


Till next time

Sharon x

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fabulous Fabrics

There is a Cape Town based company called African Sketchbook that has a very innovative approach to fabric design that I thought you might enjoy hearing about.

This is their approach...

" Imagine that instead of choosing fabrics to fit your design, you were able to use fabrics born from the design itself.

In Cape Town there is a place where fabric is considered the focal point of décor and where stories are revealed with each new fabric design and production."   (

In 2003 a fabric designer and a consumer marketer came together and recognised the enduring value of custom design created by hand. Since then they have developed a team of highly skilled painters who do everything by hand. 

But what sets them apart is not simply their hand work, but their entire approach to fabric design. Each fabric design job starts with two things: a story and a colour palette, two building blocks of great design.

One of their projects was the Cape Grace hotel which is based in the Waterfront which is a very popular tourist destination for travellers from all over the world. They use the fabrics to feature various aspects of South Africa's history and attractions  from landscape to fauna and flora to architecture.


Another project they have worked on is the Hotel Chateau Sallandrouze – a luxury retreat deep in the French countryside, resting in the historical village of Aubusson, surrounded by the green hills and bubbling rivers of the Limousin, in the heart of France. This former home of a legendary tapestry family has now been transformed into a beautiful boutique hotel. During the renovation, they came across original ownership documents, providing wonderful inspiration to create fabric that tells the chateau’s rich history.


I hope you enjoyed this little story about some wonderful South African talent and innovation.

Till next time

Sharon x