Tuesday, September 30, 2014


From the time she could talk, Pip has been curating her own stage show. The protagonist changes upon her whim and the rest of us here at The Beetle Shack watch on with utter delight.

A lady beetle, bat man, fire man sam, tom, captain barnacles, queen elsa and the list goes on….

Monday, September 29, 2014

the craft corner : photographing golden hour

Chasing the light. It's something most photographers spend their time doing. When that great, vast sky shows us her glory, we give a little squeal of delight and grab the camera.

This edition of The Craft Corner comes courtesy of Em; she thought many of you would be interested to know a little more about shooting what is commonly referred to as golden hour, and asked me to share what I know. I'm no expert and have never read a single word about tips and tricks to use when shooting at this time of day. Everything I am sharing with you has been learnt purely through experience - trial and error, and plenty of practice - whether technically correct or otherwise.

If you missed my earlier post on Photography Tips back in April, you might want to have a read before carrying on here.

While not always true to its name, golden hour refers to the short period of time just after sunrise or just before sunset when the sun hangs low in the sky and the light is softer and more illuminated than any other time of day (though many only associate it with sunset, not sunrise). The duration of golden hour changes throughout the year, and is entirely dependent on the altitude and latitude of your location to the equator. Sometimes it really is an hour - sometimes more, sometimes less.

No matter what I'm shooting, my approach is always the same. I go in with little expectation or plan (occasionally more than others) and trust my judgement and feeling as to what I'll discover once I look through the viewfinder. The same goes for golden hour. I could shoot the sunrise in the same location, every day for a week, and come up with something different each time. While I can become more experienced in anticipating what to expect or what settings work well for my camera during that time of day, I can only see things during that short space of time and capture the way I feel it, in that moment.

The first thing to remember is that we want to let as much light into our sensor as possible. So if you're shooting manually, you want a wide aperture (meaning a low f stop). I like to shoot wide open most of the time, but sometimes the light is simply too bright to do so (more so during the middle of the day), so I need to stop down (meaning a higher f stop) until my camera can manage the desired exposure at the widest aperture possible.

I think shooting into the sun scares a lot of people; it can be so hit and miss. Sometimes I get a cracker, but there are plenty of times where it's all a blown out mess and makes a swift exit to the trash. I continue to experiment, trying to understand what works and what doesn't (I probably should read something.. but feel like I learn so much more by finding my own way that reading rules). Shooting into the sun usually means you need to overexpose your image to keep things looking true to what you're seeing through the viewfinder, and super overexpose if you are wanting your subject to be bathed in light with no concern for blowing out the background. This is entirely a personal choice. Here are some examples of the difference in exposure.

Of course, sometimes we want a different result than what we're seeing with our own eyes. Golden hour is the perfect time of day for capturing silhouettes. To carve out silhouettes in our images, we need to keep the background correctly exposed, not worrying about our subjects. Depending on the light, your subjects may appear perfectly blacked out, or you may still see a little bit of detail. If you prefer to see more detail, then sliding your shadows out while editing will do this for you easily. (This technique also works during the middle of the day when you are struggling to keep both your subject and the sky correctly exposed - focus your attention on the sky to keep clouds/trees/buildings correctly exposed - and then adjust your shadows while editing to bring in the detail in your subjects.)

Lens flare is another, more subtle approach to shooting into the sun. A flare can occur when a bright light is shining directly in an image (image 1 below), or shining into the lens but not in the image (image 2 below). Simply put, it's the pretty flickers of light you see sometimes that make things look all light and dreamy. It can be harder to achieve than you would anticipate, trying to catch just a tiny bit of light in the corner of an image - but only just enough, or the effect is lost. This one is all about practice, practice, practice - moving your feet and/or position of your camera to get those golden rays in just the right spot to cast just the right amount of flare. This is something I have always struggled with and have been practicing a lot lately.

Golden hour doesn't restrict you to ONLY shooting into the sun. While it's all sparkly and pretty, turning your back to the light and facing your subject who is bathed in light, can give you equally lovely images. Alternatively, keeping out of the direct line of the sun can give a warmth and darkness which contrasts beautifully against the lighter images.

Shooting into the light, while your subject covers most of it, can create superior clarity in the smallest of details. Move around your subject and experiment with how the light works for you, and against you. Never stand in the same place and make your subject move - your feet should be moving too.

While most people would know what you meant if you mentioned golden hour, far less would know what you meant if you mentioned blue hour. Blue hour precedes golden hour before sunrise, and follows it after sunset. Similarly with golden hour, its daily appearance is brief - while the sun hangs below the horizon, the residual light casts a noticeably blue hue across the sky. Personally, I much prefer blue to golden. Here's an example of the colour change at sunset just last week.

Perhaps because I prefer my images to be darker with more shade and depth, I love the stronger tones you can achieve during blue hour. Given residual light is not as strong, you will need to raise your ISO to compensate for the low light, and allow your camera a fast enough shutter speed to keep your clarity. Remember ISO is your friend, not your enemy. Yes, when you're pushing it to the higher levels, your images can become grainy (the level of which will depend on the low light capability of your camera) but for the majority, it can only help you - not hinder you. If you're shooting manually and leave your ISO unchanged on 100 no matter the time of day, then set yourself a little challenge to get to know your ISO better. To give you an idea, the first two images below were shot at ISO 800 (sunrise).

Don't take the term too literally. Shooting during golden hour doesn't mean your photos have to be golden! Your location and setting will determine the colour palette of your images. There is no right or wrong tone to your images when shooting golden hour.

Golden (and blue) hour happens twice everyday. Sometimes spectacularly, sometimes unnoticeably. Location and climate will determine this - and whether you will feel the need to grab your camera as the sun appears or disappears for the day. Having an enormous field of wildflowers at the end of your street to dance around in during golden hour would be perfect. But who the hell has that? Your location does not have to be picture perfect to make the most of that beautiful light.

If the thought of shooting into the sun has left you feeling uneasy in the past, I hope this (very!) loose guide to shooting golden (or blue) hour will give you the gentle nudge you need to have another try..

Thursday, September 25, 2014


If anything is sure to catch my eye, it's the intricate detail of a hand stitched flower. Embroidered embellishment is such a beautiful art - one that different cultures have developed in their unique way throughout history. 

The fundamental techniques and stitches used today are exactly the same as they were on the earliest surviving relics we've found from the past!  I'd love to try my hand at it one day.. 

Images sourced from Bohemian Traders Pinterest boards
Post by Nicole

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WEARING | Smart Casual

Wearing heels, as you do when you're a mother to 3 young children. In other news, I should really clean under my couch.

I've been loving my striped skirts for both day and evening wear. They're comfortable and look just as good with converse as they do with heels. I'm teaming mine with the perfect 100% cotton V neck singlet cut with consideration for the real woman's body (meaning it has a little bit of extra room around the tum). Throwing a slouchy cardi over the top for warmth and to keep it casual for an easy lunch with my ladies!

Slouchy Angora Cardigan in grey | size small ( ON SALE)
Basic Line Tank | small
Striped Skirt in navy | size S
Gypsy Weekender bag

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Life with young children is a big thing. It's fast and it's slow and it's boring. Lately, upon opening my eyes at the dawn of each new day, I've been met with exhaustion and a feeling of overwhelm. There is either nothing to do or too much to do all at once. No in-between.

It's the nature of being the sole parent during the daylight hours. It's the nature of being the primary disciplinarian day in, day out. It's the nature of being so deep down exhausted that your brain won't function.

The love I have for my children is so vast it's otherworldly. I literally ache for them and when I kiss their warm little foreheads at night, my breath is taken away and I get a pain in chest only remedied by long deep breath and a 'thank you Jesus'.

I'm grateful for them. They're the best thing I've ever made.

But truth be told, some days I don't parent them as well as I ought. Partly from lack of trying, partly from lack of ability. Mostly from sheer exhaustion.

I leave the TV on for too long, I snap responses as I unenthusiastically spread jam on wholemeal bread and I let my mind wander when they're telling me sweet stories.

It's been 6 years of stay at home parenting and I am fatigued with a capital F (off).

As a result we're making some changes here at The Beetle Shack to ensure that we spend our time well. To be certain that we're providing the best we possibly can for our kids.

Our days at home together are numbered. Zeph starts school next year and everything will change so we're dead set determined to make the most of the time we have.

More time together.

More time in the sun, less time in front of the telly. More home cooked meals, less take away. More ease, less stress.

More balance.

Spring is here, the sun is shining* and the whole world is ready to play.

I'm really interested to know, after how many years of solo stay at home parenting did you REALLY feel like you couldn't go on? Or is it just me?

 *totally got sunburnt while having a cafe coffee with a girlfriend yesterday. Yes, that's right I had a cafe coffee and delicious french toast. all time.  i know.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Tullia styles the Bohemian Traders Peasant Plaid Shirt

Look 1 | Jacket from Op-Shop; Boots from Paris Fle Flea-market in Portugal
Look 2 | Dress from Roxy
Look 3 | Pants from Kmart; Shoes from Target

Tull is one of those lovely individuals who makes you feel at home whenever you are with her.  She is an art teacher, and such an asset to her school - creating an array of extra-curricular programs for the kids; organising street art workshops with local artists; and giving over and above to everything! I had the privilege of running an illustration workshop in her classroom and saw first hand the students respect for Miss Price and their consequent love of the subject. This is Tulls style - if she believes something is worth her while - it's all in.

From Tull:

Your personal style

Relaxed. Classic layers are my thing - with fun vintage accessories for a bit of edge.

What you like about this piece

It's smart, colourful and timeless. (Also just quietly - it's the posher version of a flanno!)

Favourite places to shop

My local Second hand store.

Most important element in a garment


Favourite season


Something more important than fashion

Good company.

Post by Nicole

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Spring is the perfect time for walking in the forest.. The air is cool and the fragrance of freshly blooming eucalypt, banksia and lomandra is sweet to the senses. Not to mention the abundance of  tiny wildflowers littering the ground with fresh bursts of colour. The morning light leaves one breathless with it's hazy green gold beauty. Midday brings a long forgotten heat, and the shady canopy becomes all the more inviting for a well deserved afternoon nap. 

I've always loved trees, and all shades of green. I love seeing how people bring the forest into their homes too - be it wallpaper, table settings, indoor plants, botanical prints.. and find it inspires me all the more to wander outside.

On that note I will have to get onto planning my next adventure through the forest with a picnic basket and good company.

Images sourced from Bohemian Traders Pinterest boards
Post by Nicole

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Ahoy there! This week I've been wearing my Ahoy dresses in both red and navy. I like the red for casual and the navy for you know, like, dressy stuff… 'cus I do dressy stuff all the time. But really, you know those accessions where you don't want to wear jean shorts and a tee, but you don't want to wear a full on frock either? That's when the Ahoy comes in handy. It's Smart Casual to a T.

I've sized up in this dress as I'm generously proportioned around the hip area and I don't like things clinging. 


Shoes | Country Road | Madewell

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Dave took the morning off work, mum took the girls to her house and I took my first born baby boy's hand. Together Dave, Zeph and I walked up to the 'Big School' for kindergarten orientation. 

In just a few short months he will start school.

I can't quite believe the time is almost here. He's so ready, that independent boy of mine. 

I'm making a point of telling him all the wonderful things I know about him, just to make sure he knows them too.

You are kind
You are strong
You are playful
You are curious
You are intelligent 
You are sensitive
You are thoughtful 
You are caring
You are loving
You are enthusiastic 
You are a child of God
You are loved

Monday, September 15, 2014


 I love copper a lot! It is one of those materials like leather, that becomes more beautiful with age.. it develops a mottled green patina in places, while in other places the rich copper tones become deeper and more varied - it truly has a mind of it's own.  So when my husband and I began building our house we knew that copper would feature there somewhere..  

This coat / hat / bag rack DIY is my very first test run with the blow torch and copper pipe - practising my joins!  For those interested, I chose to silver stick solder with MAPGAS as it sounds easier and more durable than the soft solder. I didn't use flux this first time - hence the black discolouring - next project I will try it. 

If you are a little scared of the whole blow torch thing - your local hardware store will have pipe connectors that just click into place, or copper bond glue. Easy as.

What you need
  • timber (I've pinched a length of hardwood from my Mum's delapidated retaining wall!)
  • 3/4 inch copper pipe
  • copper joining pieces: 1x cap and 1x elbow for each hook (alternatively purchase pushfit connectors from your local hardware store OR copper bond glue if you don't want to solder)
  • pipe cutter
  • timber saw
  • drill and 3/4inch bit (or same diameter as chosen pipe)
  • sanding tools (for pipe cleaning and timber finishing)
  • heavy duty picture hanging hardware (choose depending of the weight of your timber and desired end use - keys are not so heavy but a full schoolbag is..)
  • timber finish (I left my timber raw, but it could look lovely waxed or oiled depending on your timber)

How to
  1. cut your timber to length depending on how many hooks you would like
  2. drill pipe sized holes through timber to fit the hook ends into (I spaced mine 80mm from edge of timber and 50mm from bottom edge) 
  3. sand timber until desired surface quality is established (I sanded my timber quite lightly to retain the silver patina of aged hardwood)
  4. cut your pipe to length - the horizontal pieces double the length of the verticals + the thickness of timber (I used a hacksaw and it was difficult to achieve straight cuts so I'd recommend a pipe cutter)
  5. sand copper pipe ends to clean thoroughly before soldering
  6. piece copper pipe together in hook formation and solder to join OR click connect copper pieces together OR glue in place
  7. while copper is cooling, attach hanging hardware to the back side of your timber piece
  8. fit assembled hooks into your pre-drilled holes - it should be quite a squeeze that will hold copper hooks in place (if copper is a bit loose simply apply glue to hook ends before inserting into timber piece)
  9. install wall hanging hardware near your front door
  10. hang your copper pipe rack and place your everyday necessities there - ready to go!

Post by Nicole