Grabbing life by the………….. :)

I can’t even begin to explain how excited and nervous I feel at the moment.

In three weeks’ time my husband and I are going on a long awaited trip for five weeks to Ireland, Wales, the UK and Scotland.

I say long awaited because it’s always been my dream to explore these places and it was supposed to happen back in February but due to a house move and our elderly dog who had a bad time dealing with the move and arthritis flare we put it off until October.

And now…’s nearly time to go!

Oh my God.

I am just thrilled thinking of all the amazing, beautiful, historic, magical scenes that await us.

We haven’t even been able to PLAN this trip because every time we start there just seems to be an abundance of amazing things to see… we’re just winging it.

We only have two nights booked.  One in Sydney, the night before we leave and one when we arrive in Dublin.  The rest of the trip will be “wherever the wind blows” kind of thing.

I feel nervous because we’re leaving the kids- ahem, well they are really adults now, at home to fend for themselves, and the dog….well he’s still alive and kicking but recently had another bad arthritis flare.  He’s all good now, and hopefully stays that way.  (Please, please!)

I feel nervous because oh my….it’s such a LONG flight over there and although I’ve become MUCH better with flying, well…it still makes me nervous and the idea of being trapped in a plane for all that time is something I really am not looking forward to.

But getting there….arriving….the beginning of our adventures- the things I am anticipating we’ll see and do?  Oh wow.  I am just over the moon thinking about it.

Obviously this is right up my alley – all of the fantasy elements I will be able to bring to my photo manipulations.

I am SO lucky to have this opportunity.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to do as much travel as I have been able to these last few years and it’s all due to my husband’s hard work and sacrifice he’s made with his job – having to travel extensively himself for work.  We’re doing this all on points and will probably still be able to do another trip later on the same way.  He really wants to explore Europe.  Hey, I’m happy…. as long as I have a camera I’ll go wherever!

I believe in the value of life experiences.

Life is too short to be wasted on being afraid, of putting things off until “the right time”.

The future is such an unknown.  You’ve just got to grab life by the balls and ….hang on, lol!

More creepiness with “Puppet girl”.

Yesterday Shai and I had another scary photo session.  Lord knows what the neighbours think when they see us in action in the backyard.

I’m calling this “Puppet girl”..

This is the original image – bearing in mind I had no idea what I was going to create, I just told Shai to “Do some weird poses”.

Puppet shai  BEFORE

After seeing that one I decided that she looked a bit like a broken puppet so I set to work creating a manipulation.

I soon found that I didn’t like the angle of her right arm so I chopped it off and got another photo where the arm was more in view and angled it to the position I wanted.

I created “strings” or ropes from existing wires (lights hanging) in the background image – (incidentally from Pixabay – no attribution required) and made it look as though they were hanging down to points on her arms.  There left the problem though….The wires/strings would need to look as though they were tied on to her arms.

So I came up with this…I stole my husbands sock…stuffed it with cushion stuffing, shoved it in the sleeve of the dress and hung it from the clothesline and photographed it.  (I told you the neighbours must think we’re weird.)

It worked!

Here is the “fake strung up sock arm”  .

Rope sleeve

Many adjustments were made to make this look like it was part of the sleeve/s.

I also decided I wanted her dress to be longer – so I manipulated that….and I just wanted the tips of her toes showing as though she is balancing almost on her toes – so I hacked her feet off and just made the toes barely visible there under the hem of the dress.

And then finally, the finished result!

Puppet girl  Sm  PNG

If you’re interested and want to see more of mine and Shai’s work, come visit us on

Starting fresh – Photo’s of an abandoned criminally insane asylum.

It’s been a while since I blogged here.

I’ve decided to revamp this blog as in recent times I have become completely absorbed in all things creative, especially photography, so I suspect that this will evolve into a much more photography based blog.

I’ve changed the name from Ramblings by Desertrose to Twisted Gypsy as I feel much more twisted gypsy like these days, and it IS the name of two of mine and my daughters (Shai) facebook pages.  – Twisted Gypsy designs and TwistedGypsy Creative Photography, which I do want to promote.

Of course, no doubt I will still ramble a little though.

Our 16 year old son took myself and my husband out for a little drive recently.  He’s been learning to drive and has been hassling my husband to let him have a go with the 4 wheel drive, which of course has terrified my other half but reluctantly ( and with some prompting by me) he allowed my son to take us on a little trip to the site of an old abandoned criminally insane psychiatric unit.

I’ve known this place was there for years but was unable to locate it, till now.  Of course, I was willing to undergo some nerve wracking dirt road driving by a learner in order to get the goods…..Nice juicy CREEPY photos!

He did surprisingly well though…. And it quickly became evident that it wasn’t the first time he’s been behind the wheel out there on those roads. Hmm.

This old insane asylum, or what’s left of it, because it has been vandalised a fair bit and well, trashed really by the dirt bike riders and whoever else frequents the place –  I’m sure there is much unsavoury activity that takes place there as it IS right in the middle of nowhere in the bush.

It used to be known as ward 21 and as far as I know, because there isn’t much information out there about it, it used to house some of the most deranged murderers and hardened criminals in Australia.

It closed in the early nineties and the patients were sent to Long bay Jail.

I expected the same dark, oppressive vibe that the still operating part of the hospital has, which is set few kilometres away, but to my surprise it didn’t have that feeling to it. Sure, it was creepy, as creepy as any abandoned falling into ruins site is, but I found it strangely empty of any “bad energy”, and I’m usually pretty sensitive to weird feelings that places give off.

Maybe I was just too preoccupied taking photo’s and trying to not fall into any holes.

Here are some images from the days shoot….and lastly a composite image I created titled “Banshee”, featuring Shai as the model.

Outside buildings sm PNGWall entry sm PNG 2Wet room sm PNGPool 2 sm PNGBathroom sm PNGBanshee sm

Ghosts : I am both a skeptic and a believer.

Last night Shai (my now 19 year old daughter) and I sat and had a long discussion for the first time about our experiences which occurred for a period of nearly two and a half years in the previous house we lived in.
Some of you may have read of a few of the experiences in my blog over the years.
I want to summarise them all in what I hope is a cohesive documentation of the events.

The house we live in now is completely devoid of any feeling or vibe or residual energy- whatever you may call it, and for the past three months absolutely nothing out of the ordinary has occurred.
This was not the case in the house we moved from.

The house was not at all ‘spooky’ in any way whatsoever.
It was a nice modern bright airy house that overlooked a beautiful lake in suburbia.

We had been living there for only a few weeks when the first strange incident occurred, and in the presence of a friend of mine.
After a day out we returned home when a small tennis ball “appeared” on the carpet in front of the kitchen sink.
One minute it had not been there and the next minute – there it was.
Nobody else was home.
It was not our ball, or my friends, or the previous tenants. Neither of my dogs played with balls and this one was small – one I would never have chosen to buy myself as it would be a choking hazard for them.
It looked brand new.
It was a mystery, but nothing sinister, just a bit…odd.

From that moment on things began to happen.

We heard footsteps- heavy boots walking on the wooden floors.
Doors would slam.
Bumps, bangs. Loud bangs like the noise a bird makes when it slams into a window….and yet there were never any stunned birds.
Crashes like a chair or barstool falling over on the wooden floor…but when we looked nothing would be amiss.

One night I woke in fright to the sensation of having been poked really hard in the arm.
An insistent poke intended to wake me up. The feeling lingered on my arm minutes after I sat up in bed expecting to see someone there.
Nobody was there.
Another time after falling asleep on the couch I woke to feel someone kicking the side of the couch really hard.
My daughter began telling me she felt as though someone was watching her in her bedroom.

A feeling came over the house. Both my daughter and I could sense it.
I can’t even describe it. A presence.

My mother came to stay overnight for the first (and only time.)
We didn’t dare mention a thing to her. Not a word. Not even a hint of what had been going on.
The next morning she complained and asked who it was that was clomping around the kitchen in the middle of the night.
“Sounded like someone in big heavy boots!” she said.
It was none of us and she knew it. She never paid another visit and told us “something is not right in that house.”

After a year of living there one of our dogs, only six years old, inexplicably went totally blind. Overnight.
She lived for a year like that but then began having seizures and we had to have her put down.

One day my daughter who was home alone walked into the kitchen and saw our cat lying on the wooden floor being “spun in circles by invisible hands”. The cat was distressed and meowing….My daughter couldn’t believe her eyes.
I couldn’t believe my daughter.

My eldest daughter came to house sit when we went on holiday and the cat suddenly began behaving strangely.
One night he was sitting on the end of her bed staring at her “with big round saucer eyes” she said….when he suddenly opened up his jaws really wide and showed all he teeth and then lunged at her.
(That gave me goosebumps writing it.)
For months he began acting completely out of his usual placid nature and actually began attacking us.
Chasing and biting us.
We even took him to the vet but they could find no physical reason for his odd behaviour.

One day a strange overpowering dead smell began emanating from the lounge room (I always felt a heaviness in that room in particular)
It was like the smell of something rotting.
We checked the roof cavity, under the house, every possible place a dead rat or possum could be but found nothing.
It was awful!
It lasted for about three or four days and then suddenly went away as quickly as it had come.

One evening my husband and I were sitting in bed when all of a sudden the ceiling fan above the bed began spinning. Slow circles, once, twice, three times and then it simply stopped still, as if a hand had stopped it’s motion dead.
“Did you see that!” I exclaimed.
My husband is a non believer.
“It was just a breeze.” he insisted.
Every single door and window was closed.

One night my daughter came in to me in a state…the first time I’d seen her truly terrified.
She described how as she lay in bed trying to fall asleep ,her laptop on her desk which was shut down, turned off, the lid closed, began to make a really loud noise as though the fan was on overdrive.
Simultaneously a large green orb floated above the desk and the green light it radiated lit up the entire room and had someone been standing outside she said, they would have seen the light streaming from the window.

Another time I had left my daughter downstairs in the garage to duck upstairs to get something when she came running back into the house shaken.
What she’d seen she said was like “special effects from a movie happening in real life”
A heat gun that had been sitting on the bench suddenly rose up 30 cm or more off the surface, hovered in the air for a few moments before dropping from the air back onto the bench top.

This scared me more than anything previously because it seemed to be escalating.
If an object could be picked up and dropped what else could be moved…or thrown?

We called somebody in to do a house cleansing.
I was skeptical but I couldn’t think what else to do.

Miraculously for quite some time things seemed to be calm.
The house felt “lighter”.

Shortly before we moved out things began happening again.

We saw phantom cats. Dark shapes of cats anyway.
Heard them too. Jumping off benches and thudding to the floor.
A friend heard something one time too. It wasn’t just us.

The final experience I had which is one I will never forget was when I saw a girl in a grey hoodie. A girl as real as you and I, walk up the front stairs, confidently, as though she was completely used to doing so – into the house. I heard and saw the screen door open and close… She came into the house and then simply… disappeared.
I searched the whole house. There was nobody there.

On the very last day I was there when I’d finished cleaning downstairs, I was alone and turned to the empty room and said “Well….goodbye house… we’re leaving you now.” and from upstairs a door slammed HARD.

I look back at these events and cannot believe they actually happened.
I find it hard to believe other peoples “ghost stories” because I am a skeptic.
There HAS to be a rational explanation and I always try to look for it first.
But in the light of all that happened over those two and a half years, I am a believer.
Never in my life have I known anything like it.
I cannot explain it, except to say that there appeared to be something not of this world, not of our understanding OF this world happening to us during that period of time.

Before and after – Photo manipulation.

This has been a challenge but I wanted to try something different to push myself creatively.
I found an image on Pixabay (commercial free images that are donated by photographers) and went to work on creating a magical Hobbit Village.
I didn’t want any people in the picture…just wanted the scene to make viewers (hopefully) imagine those that dwell here and the lives they would lead in a place such as this.
It was so much fun to create, but time consuming finding all the right elements. Luckily I had some photo’s I had taken of church doors but most of the elements I had to find through Pixabay.

Have I achieved the magical mood I set out to create?

BEFORE – The image that inspired this…
rock-235417  small

After – Where my mind took me.

A world of make believe small  smaller

Musings on creativity.

I don’t know what other people do with the hurt that they have stored up inside.
I suppose some people are just able to “let it go”. They say they do anyway but part of me can’t quite believe this.
Maybe they are just better at digging holes and burying it and deep down there is a whole seething cemetery of hurt.
I can’t help think that one day….it’s going to blow- “And the dead shall walk the earth!” kind of thing, will happen.

What I have always done is to channel whatever emotions I am feeling into something creative. It’s just my way of coping and sorting through things.
It is an escape and escape is something us Pisceans in particular are very good at. We have to be or else we’d go mad or turn to alcohol or drugs for “escape”.

Over the years I’ve become a pretty good escape artist.
I’ve explored music and songwriting, tried my hand at many different crafts. Got into videography for a while which was fun…Tried painting, but failed miserably. They say cooking too is “creative” but oh God, I SUCK at that!
I can draw, a little, but nothing like my daughter who really is amazingly skilled.
I can write, and I think I would be a decent writer, if only I could find the discipline to finish things.
Then the photography bug bit, and even though I have in no way mastered it, in turn it (and my daughter) has led me into this new form of digital art – photo manipulation.

I recently asked a question on a site about this subject. “Why is it that many people seem to look down their noses at photo manipulation?” They view it as cheating somehow and because photoshop has been given such a bad rap because of the modeling industry etc.
Then it hit home the other day after reading something that photoshop was actually designed FOR creativity means!

Just like everything, the TOOLS change and what happens is that the insufferable creatives – the people who no matter what are driven to CREATE – do, by whatever means.

It explains why so many creative people, who by nature are terrible with LOGIC – usually, and wince at technology and fumble around with the most basic of modern day applications, are somehow able to adapt their dominant right brains and utilise these fancy fandangle complicated tools of today!

So many photographers, as I am discovering are VERY creative people and usually have other hobbies and passions in the artistic vein as well as their love for taking photo’s. Interesting, because the camera itself is technology.

It boggles the mind really.
What ELSE, in our future will there be that will leave, as an example, photoshop, behind in the dust?

Creative people will always find a way, no matter what is invented, to master and manipulate it in a way that allows them artistic freedom.
Just as primitive man snapped a twig and drew in the sand, the artists in the future will be utilising things WAY beyond our imagination to express their feelings and ideas.
How wonderful is that!

Ultimately art colours the world.
Creative people are often the IDEAS people.
Everything around us took creativity and vision TO invent.
Someone even has to come up with the creative ideas for what is printed on toilet paper. Remember that next time you’re sitting there…

I DO wish though that they would employ more CREATIVE people to come up with street names.

I will end this post with two of my latest pieces. Yes, I have a “thing” for hair over the face at the moment.
I’m sure I’ll get over it soon.

“The lost place”

LOST final  small

“Moving on”

Moving on edited small

Image stealing – DON’T do it!

Today a lovely private message to my blog has prompted me to write a blog post about a certain topic – image stealing.

See, recently I have been sharing some of my photographs to Pixabay and Morguefile, which if you don’t know are sites where you can get legitimately free for use, both for personal and commercial purposes, images. Quite a few of my photo manipulations have background images I have taken from these sites, so I wanted to in turn donate some of my own.

The photographers who donate there do not ask for attribution either – which includes me.
I also have some images on Pinterest – which are not exactly “free” but I guess can be shared around for interest sakes.

So this person who contacted me, and didn’t know I am a contributer there, was concerned because she did some detective work and traced one of my pictures on Pixabay back to my blog and thought perhaps someone might have stolen it and put it up there, and felt I should be aware.
I find this lovely and I really appreciate that someone thought to do that. All is good though because it was an image I donated myself! :)

I want to talk about image stealing though because it is something that is happening ALL the time on the internet.
It’s wrong, plain and simply it’s just wrong.
To be honest though BEFORE I ever began to get into photography and in my early days of blogging I might have thoughtlessly plucked a few images myself from google. (I think I amended that) to use in blog posts.

SO many people do it and they don’t think anything of it…..but, using anyones image for ANYTHING, including a harmless little blog post is really ultimately not the right thing to do.

For a start it’s just rude to take something without permission.
As a photographer now myself some images have taken quite a bit of effort to get.
We do crazy things in the quest for the perfect pic sometimes….trekking up and down mountains…stumbling over logs, fighting the weather, getting harassed by flies and mozzies and…..well….it takes EFFORT to get these pics at times.

Not only that, camera equipment is expensive! It costs money for fuel to get to locations, models cost money, costumes…props….travel expenses to exotic countries etc etc… And our time!
So when you pluck an image from google… “Ooh I’ll take that – click!”….well, you’re not just taking that image, you are taking all these other things too – and offering no credit to the person doing all the hard work!

So, please don’t.
Instead go to places like Pixabay and Morguefile where photographers are giving you permission to take their images, for free, no strings attached.

I belong to a facebook photography site and just the other day someone posted that they accidentally discovered that someone had stolen an image of theirs – of their nephew mind you, which is even worse, and had put some words on the image and were SELLING that image online – as their OWN!
That is just the ultimate of all wrongs- to try and make money from stealing someone else’s photography!
Mind you, I’m sure it goes on a lot out there.

The only way to make it less likely – (for people to make any money anyway) is to only ever put your photo’s up in a small size so that no one can print it out in any way that is going to be decent.
Watermarks are a waste of time as they can be removed so unless you want to completely spoil your beautiful photograph by splashing a HUGE watermark over the entire image…well, it’s pretty pointless either way.

So anyway…here’s the thing.
It – this message to my blog clearly demonstrated to me that the risks involved in image stealing are not worth it. People like the one who contacted ME, might dob YOU in for pinching images. There ARE honest people out there! There is also a reverse image search that can trace an image back to its original owner.

So, the moral to the story is just DON’T especially when you can do the right thing and get images that have been actually donated as free for use.