Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Notes to Self: Stumble Photography

Well, you know I make artisan jewellery. And you understand I like instant gratification. I want my first attempt at a new technique to be perfect. And I want my photographs to be clean, clear and detailed. At the first go. Am I being unreasonable? I don't think so. (Caveat: my 2 sisters and I are very 'high maintenance')

I guess part of it is the age in which I was raised. It wasn't that long after the Depression and the end of World War II when I was born. Waste was frowned upon. We were far 'greener' than today. We learned to make do with less and to use our imaginations to find new ways of doing things. This led to hoarding : I have a lovely collection of cardboard boxes for which I haven't found a use ~~ yet. And I have a great collection of plastic buttons. As Mummie would say, 'I haven't finished with them yet.'
I thank God for the inventor of the digital camera. Please let him into heaven just because of his invention. Gone are the days of the Brownie, the SureShot, the SLRs. We no longer have to wait for our pictures to be developed. I can take as many pictures as I want, I can edit them myself. And I can post them on my websites and in my blogs.

But even this convenience, while it goes a long way to satisfying me, doesn't quite fit the bill. I want to be able to take a picture only once and, with a bit of tweeking, have a wonderful picture. I don't want to spend all this time experimenting. Whoever tells you they have a camera that does everything for you doesn't get it: there's a lot of work after the shutter is pressed.

But, I think I've hit upon something: the backdrop and a display rack that is working the best is a small Inukshuk (an Eskimo signpost). Her name is Judy; a nod to dressmakers' mannequins, or judies. My Judy looks like a surfer, doesn't she!?
Judy stands 5in tall (13cm) and can hold my glass bead artisan jewellery: earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. I've not tried to display any brooches on her, yet. But I've made a couple of amulet bags done in the tubular peyote technique and they stand up well with Judy.
I played around with pretty glasses as my backdrop but I just could not get them to look pretty in a picture: a case of 'you look better in person than you do in the movies.' Even my absolutely gorgeous lead crystal sherry glass in the shape of Scotland's thistle looked dowdy. I wanted a glass to go with my blog name: Glass 0 Beads. It just didn't work out.
I've begun taking photographs of my artisan jewellery straight on instead of from above. I tried to lay things flat but the pictures looked flat, too. I tried on an angle, 45 degrees above: that didn't work either. When I tried straight on, no angles, I had the most success. Now I can use that success as a springboard from which to experiment.

The editing software I am using is Picasa2 from Google: it's free. I like free. It is easy to use and allows for some great experiments. The first thing I learned how to do is cancel, or undo, some of my experiments. Learning that allowed me to try all kinds of things. I knew I could get rid of the unsuccessful photos of my glass bead artisan jewellery and that took a lot of tension out of my experiments.
Now I have to spend some time getting new photos of all of my artisan jewellery. I hate having to redo things. But at least I won't be experimenting with the retakes. I'll do what I know works.
Anyway, I am much happier now that I can take pictures, edit them, and post them on Lampwork and Beads and Glass 0 Beads. Give me a bit of time to see the fruits of my labours.
I am a happy camper again.
Up to my eyeballs in beads ~~Helene ~~Glass0Beads


  1. Your pictures look great. I'm still struggling with mine. Some come out half decently and others don't show the pattern at all. And I sure don't have a Judie.

  2. I LOVE this amulet bag! Your work is amazing, the details blow my mind. Your images are great but yes, agreed, taking pics all day takes time. I struggle too - so I'll join the club. :) I read once about putting jewelry into a white bowl for pics. I'm using one and it's okay, but I think I'm going to look for some articles on how to shoot jewelry. Have a great night! Your blog looks great.