Re-light my fire

The next chapter in my ever-evolving life story is unfolding… the quest to find out what’s in store for me after quitting life as a photographer at sea is on…! And so far, it hasn’t turned out quite as I expected. But that’s half the fun of life, isn’t it! It’s anything but boring…

Read the next chapter in my life story; why I quit my job, what impact the events of a year ago have had on my photography journey and what excites me about this next phase here: Chapter 4: Re-light my fire.

If you want to know more about how I came to be a cruise ship photographer in the first place, check out Chapters 2 & 3 in the About Me section.

Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!


I stumbled across this photo from a holiday to Borneo back in 2013. With my newfound editing know-how, I used Lightroom to boost it a little and give it some more ‘oomph’.

The original straight-out-of-the-camera image is below:

I know which one I prefer, but how about you?

That moment when…

That moment when… you see one of your photographs in commercial use for the first time!

The image in question, taken on holiday in Borneo in 2013

I was doing a Google search for ‘Caroline Grubb’, looking to see if my new Caroline Grubb Photography website (unofficially launched yesterday but still very much a work-in-progress) had been found by the Google bots yet and if it would come up in a Google search.

Finding that it hadn’t come up in the search, I moved on to search for ‘images of Caroline Grubb’ out of curiosity to see what information the World Wide Web might have on me.

It was then that, in a moment of great surprise and delight, I found that my image of an hibiscus flower – taken on holiday in Borneo in 2013 and published on my Flickr site – had been chosen as the headline image for an article about voting for Malaysia as Asia’s leading destination by, a website for ‘the woman traveller in Asia’.

The feeling was followed with pride and relief that the site had credited me with the photo (sadly the photo credit link doesn’t work).

Although the article was written back in 2017, this is the first time I’ve knowingly had a photograph of mine published. A small but important landmark for me. Hooray!

Brush it away

Today I stumbled across an article on Shutterstock offering a free set of 20 ‘Grunge’ brushes for Photoshop and suggestions for how to use them for creative effect. Having never used brushes like this before, I downloaded them, loaded them up into Photoshop and had great fun playing around!

This blog post showcases some of my new creations as a result of these experiments, and talks through what I learned about Photoshop as I went along.

Here’s the first graphic I created:

Go easy on yourself.  Whatever you do today, let it be enough.
“Go easy on yourself. Whatever you do today, let it be enough.”
Text borrowed from #PeacefulMindPeacefulLife on Twitter

In this graphic I chose a radial Solid Colour layer for the background, with brush effect on top of that layer, using blending options (“Soft Light” or “Overlay”, I can’t remember which) to soften the brushes and blend the colours with the background.

Then I experimented with drop shadows around the text to lift it off the page.

Happy with that but eager to experiment further with the brushes, I picked another inspirational quote from a catalogue of quotes I’ve collected…

"Mourn the end of an era, but honour the start of a new one.  For in this new era lie the lands of hopes and dreams, growth and new beginnings."
“Mourn the end of an era, but honour the start of a new one. For in this new era lie the lands of hopes and dreams, growth and new beginnings.”
Text courtesy of #TheStreamOfHumanConsciousness on Twitter

In this graphic I started with a tan background, as the Shutterstock article suggested. Applying the same brush multiple times with different colours, then using different blending options for the brush layer, gave me this papyrus-effect for the background.

I thought this script-style font complemented the text and the background. Adding an Outer Glow effect around the text helped to separate it slightly from the background and make it more legible.

Moving on from plain backgrounds, next I selected a photograph of Hadrian’s Wall that I had taken back in January and created this:

"Photography is putting one's eye and one's heart on the same axis." - Henri Cartier Bresson
“Photography is putting one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis .”
– Henri Cartier Bresson

Using the photograph as a background, I applied one of my new “Grunge” brushes to give a ‘vintage’ sort of effect, then on top of that I added a quote I had seen online.

With my creative juices now flowing, I clicked on to another Shutterstock article which gives away 20 free celebration and bokeh backgrounds.

My first thought when I saw the background images in this set was “I can add snow”! So I dragged out one of my pictures from earlier this year that I’ve been thinking would make a good Christmas card and added a snow effect on top. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the original versus the snow effect one?


Lechlade in Winter

With added snow effect (and removal of the telephone wire):

Lechlade in Snow

Finally, I combined the brushes with a confetti background and created this graphic:

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
Text courtesy of Cole’s Classroom

As per the instructions in the article, I used a Clipping Mask to put confetti behind the text. I’ve never quite understood Clipping Masks, but it worked a treat in this situation!

This type of digital art & graphic design marks a departure from the ‘pure’ photography I’ve focused on up until now, but I must say I enjoyed the exercise! So there you have it. From photographer to graphic designer??

Morning Prayer

St John the Baptist Church, Inglesham – February 2019

I decided it’s time to get better acquainted with the area around where I now live, so I took my camera out for a walk on this crisp sunny winter’s afternoon and stumbled upon a hidden treasure.

St John’s the Baptist is an 11th century church in Inglesham, which is no longer used for religious services but is still consecrated and open to the general public.  Although a little tatty in places, it had oodles of charm and I felt like I was stepping back in time when I walked through the door.

The boxed-in pews, each with a small door to enter each compartment, reminded me of a similar design in an old stave church I visited in Norway last year. Even down to the ‘back row’ which was not enclosed with it’s own doors… I wonder if, like it’s twin sister in Norway, this row was reserved for the ‘unclean’ (women who were pregnant or had recently given birth).

I bet this organ has provided auditory accompaniment to many a hymn in its time.

Following a period of heavy snow, a recent bout of mild weather has allowed the snowdrops to lay their carpet around the church.

Timeless peace

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, UK taken in January 2019

I took this picture as a memory of where and when we scattered my best friend Anya’s ashes.  She had always wanted to return to the north of England to live, and Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast was one of her favourite spots.  So it was with great joy that we found this peaceful spot on the beach at low tide and with a glorious sunset to scatter her ashes in the sea. I hope you like your forever home my darling. 

Sunday trading

I spied this chap in a flea market in Cadiz on a very hot Sunday morning. It was around noon and most of the city was still asleep after a carnival the night before, but the tourists were out and about hunting for a bargain.

Vanishing point

Lisbon is a port I have visited regularly during my 2.5 years at sea. On my arrival this time I was surprised to see the new cruise terminal & environs fully operational and the whole area transformed from the building site that has been there throughout my many & frequent visits to this Portuguese city from the sea. And then I realised it had been 6 months since my last visit! How time flies.

Walk with me on my journey of photographic exploration