Author Archives: rachelpiper

My favourite way of learning is …

through experimentation!

When I was made redundant I decided that I would dedicate as much time to learning as I possibly could. I’ve attended residential courses and I’m working through my cartooning diploma, but nothing gives me greater satisfaction than starting off with a blank piece of paper or a blank screen and seeing where my imagination takes me. It’s like turning the end of a kaleidoscope, not knowing what the outcome will be, even though it’s your hands that are doing the work.

Today I started with the outline of a tree, which I took into Photoshop. I contemplated how I could best create the bark, and then the answer came to me: with bark of course! I skimmed through my photographs until I found the perfect image, and then I ‘filled’ the tree. Next I created all the leaves from one original. The outline was drawn, but the inside came from a  photograph. I made the birds from images of feathers, including those of a peacock, and I placed them on the tree. I think it works!

Experimenting is so much fun and is definitely my preferred learning style! You should try it more often. :)

Apple Tree Template.dgn

Posted in Uncategorised

Peacock Butterflies!

Just sharing a bit of Photoshop fun. I’ve been making butterflies out of the peacock feathers I photographed at the zoo today!



Posted in Uncategorised

I Love Photoshop!

I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever spend time in a photographic darkroom again. I think I would get too impatient with the chemicals and the dishes, and of course, the thermometer! I would love the smells, though, probably because they bring reminders! Eau de Fixer (that was the best smell!), although David hated it, and the bath full of washing prints!

I love Photoshop just as much; I started using it over twenty years ago as part of my degree – version 3! You could only go back one step with the undo button. I started in the darkroom over forty five years ago (I was a mere child!).

Today I’ve been experimenting with hydrangea skeletons, although I can’t look at this image for long!


Posted in Uncategorised

My Creative Mind

I’ve just posted the following in LinkedIn in the hope of attracting interest in my work; I hope it’s appropriate!

My creative mind can be my best friend and my worst enemy! Mentally, it has landed me in a lot of trouble (see the About page of my website), but I also see it as a gift. I have learn to utilise my vivid imagination and combine it with my love of photography, art and nature in order to create original images. As someone who has battled with mental illness, I strongly believe in the concept of action before motivation, so I would say embrace your creativity at all times! We are all capable of far more than we could ever imagine.

I have the most fun when I’m discovering new creative processes through experimentation, particularly when this involves combining more than one medium and a range of software. I don’t tend to record what I do (perhaps I should!), so I have lots of recipes that are a secret, even from me! This Christmas I chose to bring photography, drawing, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop together to see how well they would get on, and they made perfect companions (in my opinion of course). For the second year running I created a storybook for my grandchildren, where they played the central characters. 

If you would like to see the images from the book please visit:

I have also created a slideshow depicting some of my most original work, which I hope you enjoy:

I’m not really sure where I’m headed after my temporary contract at Ashridge finishes this month (which is fine), but if anyone knows of a card manufacturer, children’s book publisher or of any arty people who would be interested in my photographs, designs or children’s story ideas could you please tell them about me. Meanwhile I’ve started a new project: I’m going to write a children’s book about animals made from household recycled objects!

elephantfinal tortoisev2

Thank you for listening!

Posted in Uncategorised

More from BirdPoty

All my entries for Bird Photographer of the Year have been submitted; it took about three days to sort through them and take new ones. I think these are my favourites: one is of a murmuration of starlings in the creative category, where you can use Photoshop, and the other is of a rain drop on a feather.


Posted in Uncategorised

Happy New Year

My last morning of 2015 was spent photographing a robin in Tring; it was a very friendly robin that didn’t mind me taking photos one bit! I love these close encounters. We went to a party in the evening; I haven’t been out on New Year’s Eve for years! It was good to spend time with family and to meet new people, all of whom were lovely.

I’ve never entered Bird Photographer of the Year before, so I went to Tring in the hope of finding lots of birds to photograph; it didn’t work out that way so I’ve spent ages going through my archives, and I’m happy with what I’ve found. I’m hoping that I’ll win a category in one of the big competition in 2016; you have to hope and dream!

I’m back at Ashridge for another month, then who knows what will come my way.

Happy New Year everyone!


Posted in Uncategorised

Boxing Day

I hope you had a lovely Christmas; I certainly enjoyed spending the day with my perfect granddaughters. I didn’t even have to cook the dinner!

Unfortunately this year’s book didn’t quite work out as the printing company transposed the pages on one of them. I only checked one as I thought it was completely automated! Never mind, I’ve produced a page of the illustrations, which I hope you enjoy:

Today David and I visited the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in London; it’s one of my favourite places. I haven’t been on any photographic expeditions for a while, so it was lovely to be out and about in the fresh air. The otters were certainly enjoying their Boxing Day!



Posted in Uncategorised

Happy Christmas!


Posted in Uncategorised


Recently I wrote a piece on redundancy in LinkeIn. I was quite taken aback by the number of viewings and positive comments. so I thought I’d post it here as well.

In the summer I was made redundant from Ashridge Business School along with a number of my colleagues; the 30 day consultation process was soul destroying at times and I felt very sad on the day I left. New roles had been created, but I chose not to apply. Sometimes we have to embrace change and go in search of new opportunities. I am a photographer at heart (I have been since I developed and printed my first film at the age of eleven or twelve), so I was ready to harness my creativity in new ways and spend more time following my heart.

Just over a month ago I was asked if I would return for a while to help with the transitions that are taking place. I said ‘yes’. It’s strange being back, and I have found myself asking what makes a job yours. Is it the work? Is it the place? Is it the people? The place is the same, the work is similar and some of my colleagues have remained there, but something inside me has changed in the four months since I was made redundant.

Redundancy is hard, particularly if (like me) you work in a place you love, but if you are going through it I would urge you to see the positives and set yourself new goals and challenges, so that when you look back you can say ‘that was the right thing to happen’. I know this can’t be the case for everyone, but there is life after redundancy. Although I’ll stay for as long as I’m wanted, I think this is who I really am:

Posted in Uncategorised

Hospice Donation

My craft fair at Ashridge was more successful, but I’ve decided to call it a day (maybe just the occasional one). I took all my Berkhamsted photos (some framed) to the Hospice of St Francis and they were very happy with the donation. I don’t like preparing photographs and I’m not very good at selling my own work face to face, so I’m going to try some of my other ideas. Whatever I do I don’t want it to spoil my passion for photography. I finally submitted my online tax return last night. I can’t say never again because I won’t get a choice, but at least I’ve got more of an idea now!

Posted in Uncategorised