Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts

October 9, 2012

Photography Practice

I'm still working on gaining my foothold over my photos.  Sometimes they are great, other times - meh.  Do I forget what I'm doing?  Maybe!  One thing I do know - practice makes perfect.

Adjusting to the northern light was been a challenge over the year.  I do have these great big windows lining my living room wall and take photos with natural daylight.  One thing that I find challenging is too much light creates dark shadows and makes my camera wonky.  Yep, technical term there. 

My solution?  A piece of paper.  Mmm-hmm, that's it.  You can see the dramatic results above that the paper tent creates.  I'll sometimes use a piece of vellum, but I didn't have one yesterday and a good ol' sheet of printer paper worked like a charm.  

Fancy - I know!  I may break down and work on a more professional set up later this year - when winter and dull gray days are here.  For now, I still like the natural light best and will work with what I have. 

Here is another example. Another thing I have been playing with and I don't know if it works or not but I'm pretending that it does - for a few of my photos, I pull the camera back a little and then zoom in.  It's been softening up my backgrounds and creating more depth of field.  I'm liking it. 

February 11, 2011

Create Super Easy Photo Collages

It took me a few days of playing at the Picnik website before I noticed this goodie in my picnic basket!

The collage tab is on the home page. (Don't ask me how I didn't notice it for days!)

The good folks at Picnik have a great tutorial to walk you through the steps. You can see on the bottom of the screen are your photos, you can easily add more.  To create the collage it is as simple as picking your template and dragging the photos to add them to the boxes.

After you create you collage, you'll notice some adjustments you can make - one of them being my beloved round corners.  You can also change the background color here too.

Okay, now just so we are clear - I'm not responsible for time wasted playing with this new toy!

Use this feature for easy tutorials like the one I did on the Art Bead Scene.  Jazz up your blog posts or newsletters.  The collages can even be used in your printed material.  Save them on the high quality setting.

February 6, 2011

Picnik Photo Tutorial Part 2

First, if you missed the Rounded Photo Corners tutorial, check that out for some basic instructions on using Picnik. 

Today I'm going to show you a few more tricks for adding some life and interest to your photos. 

After you upload your photo to Picnik and resize it, head to the 'Create' tab.  Click on  'Effects' on the top tab and on the left hand-side of the screen you'll find some fun filters to try on your images.  Each one does something different - play around to see what filter will give the desired effect. If you don't like a filter, simply discard the changes before saving.

The Original Photo

Lomo-ish filter with rounded corners

1960's and Lomo-ish with rounded corners
You can combine filters for unique effects.  You might want to jot down what effects you use on a photo so you can duplicate the same style on other photos.

Gritty with rounded corners

Cinemascope without the letterbox and rounded corners

Same photo as above with the Cross Processed filter added.

Each filter has a different feel and tells a different story.  Altered photos can help you tell a better story on your blog.  In the 'gritty' photo I could see that paired up with a story about dealing with creativity doldrums during a long cold winter, where the '1960's/Lomo-ish' photo could accompany a blog post about nostalgia and creativity.
Do you Picnik?  What are some of your favorite tricks?

February 3, 2011

Create Super Easy Rounded Photo Corners

I've been working away on redesigning my website.  It was looking a little dated and I knew with just a bit of photo magic I could really make the pages pop and hopefully inspire shoppers.  This is the homepage with nice rounded photo corners for the main categories.

On the Bead Shop page instead of a long list of beads to scroll through, I separated the beads into categories for easier shopping.  I love this page with the photos all jazzed up.  It sure makes a big difference.  I even rounded the edges of my banner to create a consistent look.  A few other tweaks included updating the banner on my blog too and changing the background colors on my website so that it matches with the blog.  Going for consistency with my visual elements here.

You can create rounded photo corners in 5 super easy steps with no expensive software required.  Head on over to to make with the photo fabulousness.

Step 1. Upload your photo.

Step 2. Your photo will be transported to the editing tab.  Here you can resize your photo to suit your needs.

*For blog or Etsy photos go with 600 pixels wide.  I wanted a smaller catalog image and went with 300 pixels.  

Step 3. Click on the Create tab.

Step 4. On the top of the website, click on "frames".  On the left-hand side you'll see the "Rounded Edges" function, click that.  You can adjust how large you'd like those corners. Hit the 'apply' button when you are done.

Step 5. Click the "Save & Share" tab.  Save the image to your computer. 

You can also share it on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and more - depending on what you were using the photo for.

All roundy-mcdaisy.  How easy is that?  Go give it a try, you'll soon be fancyin' up all your photos!

November 15, 2010

Photo Redux

Morning all, thanks for popping by.  I've been recovering - from a computer crash and some health issues, not a good combo. But I'm back.  Working again like a little mad elf before the holiday rush.  Since most of what's been going on has been catching up and production work, I thought I'd share some before and after photos with you and some photo tips. 

The before shot - too dark.  The composition needed work - too much metal in the foreground took the focus away from the earrings.

The updated photo - better lighting and cropped closer to the subject.  I like the little addition of the sprig from a bush out of my front yard.  This pair of earrings sold the day after I changed the photo. 

Wowzers - way too dark and did nothing to flatter the earrings.  Bleah, bleah, bleah.

Now there is the stuff - love the lighting - nice diffused sunlight.  You can see the sparkle of those crystals and the flowers (from MissFickleMedia) much better.  Hmm, same composition as the photo of the other pair of earrings - that must have been working for me that day.  With the new Etsy photo dimensions of 500 pixels wide, horizontal pictures seem to work better for the first photo.

I photograph with diffused daylight next to a window. I have white sheer curtains to filter out harsh shadows. Another trick I have been doing to improve the lighting is holding a piece of vellum above the jewelry while I'm photographing it, the light reflects off the paper and seems to help the camera adjust better to the lighting.  (I'm not a techie camera person, I'm sure there is a reason for that little bit of magic.)

I use the window seat in my studio and stack up some books so that my photography area isn't at a back-breaking angle.  A trusty tripod is a must for good photos.  Simple backgrounds and props add some interest, they relate to my nature-inspired brand and hopefully they don't distract from my items.  And where would I be without photoshop to crop my images, sharpen them and adjust the brightness if needed. 

My favorite background for my photos is an old piece of slightly rusted metal that Jess found.  Other things I've used for backgrounds include scrapbook paper, old books opened and closed - love old linen covered books - embossed ones are even better.  A painted canvas with white crackle paint has been fun but works best as a background for small objects/beads. 

If you want to improve your photos - this is a must see!

What is your favorite background for your product photographs?

September 28, 2010

Photo Redo

So I whipped up some headpins over the weekend and photographed them. I was happy with the photos and listed them in my shop. And then I looked at my shop and realized that the photos were dull and not eye-catching at all. Blah. I quickly realized I didn't have enough light. So this afternoon I pulled out the camera and tried again. You can see the first photos on the left and the updated ones on the right. I took these photos in the same area with the same camera settings, the only difference? I took the better photos during the middle of the day and the other ones too late in the afternoon. It can make all the difference. Do some experiments during different times of the day and see if you can find better natural lighting.

So how important is that first photo in your Etsy shop? Which one would grab your attention and deserve a click through? Which ones are more likely to end up in a treasury or on the first page? Let the photos work for you!

And now for some props! Here you can see the original photo in the lower right-hand corner. The raven was okay as is, but I didn't feel the photograph captured this little guy clearly or with enough personality. With a few strategic props this listing is much more of an eye-grabber than before.

I also wanted to give this little guy more attention because I went crazy making them last week and have about a dozen more than usual in stock. So they are on sale in my Etsy shop, yep you can save a whole buck. And with that dollar you could buy yourself a little chocolate treat and celebrate Halloween 4 weeks early. Yep, that sounds like a plan!

August 21, 2010


Okay, no bodily function stories will be shared in this post - but I am sharing maybe a little too much information. But I thought it might benefit someone, so of course I have to share!
Uh, the camera Heather? Yes, this is a post about cameras - I know you were scared right?

I bought my first digital camera about 7 years ago and paid over $600 dollars for it. It was an amazing beauty, I loved that thing. But it didn't last and would cost over $200 to fix. I was upset, put off by how much money I had spent and expected that thing to last a lifetime, really I did. So in a fit of cheap, which I have often, I headed to the local pawn shop and picked up a handy little point and shoot variety for under $100. It worked like a charm and was my best bud for almost 3 years.

That little guy didn't survive my trip to Michigan. I don't know what happened, but it was on it's last leg before I left - running through batteries too quickly and looking like a wreck after a few years of abuse from me. (Note to self - be nicer to your new camera!)

So when I got back from vacation, I decided to try my luck and see what was at the pawn shop again. Now before you imagine some gritty place from a Law & Order episode - the pawn shop is decent, it's a big chain store and they have several in town. I've bought a microwave from there that has lasted 7 years!

So I went it and lucked out with the the Sony Cyber-shot that you see above. The camera looks brand new, had everything you need with it - battery, charger, memory card, cables, etc. For a few dollars more I was able to get 6 months of buyers protection. And the best part? I paid way less that 1/2 price for this find.

So if your budget is an issue and you need a new camera - don't be afraid to check out your local pawn shop - you might just find a treasure. (I don't know how it is for smaller cities, but here in SA pawn shops are required to check with the police for serial numbers of reported stolen items. It made me feel better to know that!) And a tip for shopping for used cameras - do your research - know the going retail prices of camera, know what kind of camera you are looking for, how many mega pixels you want, etc.

The test run!

Ohhh - I opened my etsy shop - I wimped out and couldn't stand to see it closed. Remember only limited editions are now there - everything else is available on my website.

November 7, 2007

the photo jackpot

I've been going to the online critiques that the etsy lab has every Friday. They pick two shops and go through what's working and how to make them better. I've learned something every time I've sat in on one and thought I'd share some of the photo tips with you.


Last year's photo of my snowmen pendants, background is way too busy and I used lamps for the lighting.

In natural light, but need to have the photo lighter and the background was too washed out. One of the problems of this photo is the light is coming from the back.

So what's my secret now? 1. Natural light, I set up right next to the window sill and 2. Contrasting background for extra pop! I've been photographing most of my items on white paper, but found my camera's color balance works better if I use a background with some color.

I've been using books, which is the green background here.

scrapbook paper in a dark grey

and a rusted sheet of metal.

Another thing to consider when choosing your backgrounds and props is what kind of theme works best for your product. I felt like things that looked ancient, like items from an old library, worked very well with the natural colors and textures of my clay.

Here are two videos on taking better photos.
Photographing Your Items from the Etsy Labs
Photo Tips from Gemmafactrix

Natural light is the key! I will never take pictures with a lamp again, there is just no comparison for me. I also spend much less time fixing up the light and colors in Photogshop. Since I've been using natural lighting for my photos my work has been featured on the front page of Etsy twice, so I must be doing something right!

August 21, 2007

More Photo Tips

Practice makes perfect when it comes to improving your photography.

These images were taken by Beverly Herman, aka my mom. These are the before and afters.

All of these pictures were taken with the same camera. She had thought her camera was out-of-date and not able to take adequate photos for her website and etsy shop. She has a Kodak Easy Share LS753 with 5 mega pixels that she has had for about 5 years.

What did she do different?

1. She used the macro lens feature on her camera.

2. She used a desk OTT-lite that has a true color spectrum bulb. (I need one!)

3. She took her photos on her desk on a sheet of white paper.

4. She used the level option on her Photoshop program to adjust the light levels on her image. See Lori Greenberg's article on photographing beads and jewelry for detailed instructions.

She has been working to update her etsy shop with her new photos and I can't even begin to tell you what an amazing difference her new pictures make!

The bracelet on the top features my Branch Cuff Bead in teal and happens to be one of the classes she is teaching on the Bead Cruise.