The perspectives we are afforded glimpses of by Cat Cliffe (@bodneyboo) are often forested and foggy or glistening with a fresh coat of dew, but above all, they are always beautiful. The imagery she captures and creates is colored with the cleanest of palettes and many times exceptionally gritty while always staying true to the original photograph. Her gorgeous photography combined with her skilled use of Mextures grabbed ahold of our attention some time ago and has kept us there. We chatted with Cat recently about photography, Mextures, and even Polo and put it all together for you folks to enjoy. Read along!
Well hi there. I'm Cat and I live pretty much bang in the middle of England - just about as far as physically possible to be from the coast here in the UK. I'm actually a big lover of being near the sea and, despite settling here for work, I have enjoyed living on the south coast previously. I lead a pretty hectic life, working full-time in publishing, spending time with my four-year-old daughter, and making sure I get out and about as much as possible. Luckily everything just works together - as a family we all love to get out for walks and wild camping weekends away and the work generates the odd trip abroad with me being lucky enough to have travelled to the US and Australia during the past 12 months. I like change and variety and am always keen to try new things. The latest hobbies to fill the spare time I don't have are pack rafting and horse riding - I've just taken up polo which is probably my mid-life crisis equivalent to a sports car!
What was it that first attracted you to photography?
I've had a passing interest for as long as I can remember. With printed records of me pointing and shooting to capture the moment (badly) from early school trips. Traveling around East Africa in my late teens and coming back to explain what animals the dots in my photos were was probably the point of inspiration on to bigger and better things.
A colleague and friend in my first job after graduation was a keen photographer who set me on my way. He helped me to decide upon and buy my first SLR, a Canon EOS 10, and provided me with his guide to photography to help me understand the basics. Then followed a self taught journey of experimentation.
A Canon 60d came along as the replacement model about 5 years ago - purchased primarily to get good shots of my daughter as she became the focal point of our lives, literally. However, as she started to move around more as a toddler, carrying a big camera became less than ideal and the phone camera got used more and more and the DSLR less and less.
Although I made a choice to go down the science and maths route in my later school/university days, I've always enjoyed being creative. Be it through my own sketches and creations or visiting a gallery. Sharing my work is however something I hadn't even considered doing before joining Instagram around 18 months ago. I soon discovered Instagram was about more than just selfies and a new outlet for creativity was opened for me with inspiration from others and feedback on my own efforts spurring me on.
At this point in your photography and Instagram work, what is it that keeps you taking pictures?
Primarily I take pictures because I simply enjoy taking pictures! Having my phone always at the ready to take photos makes me look more closely at everything around me. I feel that I appreciate all that is around me more when I am thinking about taking a photo so that's got to be a good thing. I love that my Instagram gallery has become a great photographic diary and with me posting an image every other day or so it's a nice complete record for me to look back on. In addition I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing what I can create from a photo. The editing process is a great creative outlet for me so trying to get that shot that will be a lot of fun to edit encourages me to take more photos. And, of course, I continue to be amazed and inspired to keep taking photos by all the talented people that I have connected with on Instagram.
Speaking of your editing process, what does that typically look like?
Well, my editing process is, I think, quite simple really. I pretty much exclusively use Mextures, with just the occasional use of another app to straighten an image as I'm a bit prone to the odd wonky horizon in my photography! I also sometimes like to see how the VSCO Cam preset filters change the feel of an image.
I have built up quite a library of my own Mextures formulas and generally go to these first to get a general look for an edit. I will then always add and remove layers to fit the image so no two posts in my Instagram gallery have the same edit. Perhaps explaining why my gallery isn't quite as consistent as some!
If I get a shot that I am particularly pleased with I will often get it straight in to Mextures to see what effect I can get with some of my saved formulas there and then. A few tweaks to layers and then I may post straight away so my editing process can be quite quick. Other images though can take me quite a long time to edit with a few revisits to get to what I want.
I have a few favourite layers that I keep going back to, for example - Window Shopping in Grit and Grain, Seattle in Light Leaks, Franklin in Emulsions, and Papyrus, Binding and Frozen in Grunge.
Do you feel like Mextures offers anything unique to your editing process?
For me I can't rate enough the unique ability to create and share formulas. A great way to steer you in the direction of a new style of edit. Mextures allows me to constantly evolve in my editing process. The huge number of layers available and the variations on these that can be created using the different blending modes and adjustments really does seem to provide infinite possibilities. The Mextures community is also hugely supportive and inspiring. The sharing of work created using Mextures via the news section in the app and the website is also great for getting an understanding of how others work and getting tips for things to try.
Would you mind sharing a few of your formulas with the Mextures crowd?
Here you go:
The Sky - HIISHCB
Adding a bit more moodiness to a pretty moody day with some texture for this one.
Avenue - FYHJETY
Darkening things up and enhancing golden tones on a misty morning
Bridge - AFSTKMT
More mistiness, this time with more muted tones.
Summer gloom - VYNIJBY
Bringing out the details and adding some texture for this one.
Solo - GXKGJDF
Making those beautiful autumn colours just a little bit richer.
What has been your favorite photograph to capture so far and what makes it your favorite?
My favourite photo is always changing. I have a favourite and then I get a new shot that I like even more! I quite like this one at the moment.
I'm a big fan of barbed wire shots as you can probably tell from my Instagram gallery. Getting a shallow depth of field can be a challenge with an iPhone but this shot just worked and I was very pleased with how it turned out. I also resisted the urge to go for a darker edit and instead went for a light airy feel - just wish I had saved the Mextures formula!
Who are the people that have most inspired your photography and creative process?
Can I say everyone? Honestly, I get so much inspiration from all those that I am in contact with on Instagram. If I have to name a few, these guys are amazing:
@minemuze - Nicole's gallery really is just wow.
@to_hi - gorgeous macros with such wonderful use of colour.
@kateessmith - how I love Katie's edits and captions!
Don’t miss out on viewing more of Cat’s excellent work here!