Friday, October 23, 2009

Adventures in Photography and Tropical Fruit

I am not a photographer.  However, as a determined DIY kind of gal with a very
small budget, I decided to build a light box and improve my picture taking skills.  After week of reading tutorials in blog after blog, I decided to see what I could scrape together and get it done.

On hand I had: 3/16” foamboard (32"x40"), 3 clamp lamps with reflectors, and packing tape.  I needed: 25 watt Ott Lites and a white drapery sheer panel.  Each of the latter items were $5, so now I am out $20 total.  Not bad.

Since the foamboard is 32" tall, I cut it in half to make 2 - 16"x40" pieces.  I then cut down to 16" squares.  So, the overall dimension of 16" square for each panel was based simply on the material.  Although, the size turned out to work out pretty well.

Next, I measured 2" in from the edges and cut windows out of each square. 

Foamboard cutting tip: Don’t try to cut through all at once. Using straight edge, first score, and then follow with 2 or 3 more over-cuts. Always use a fresh sharp blade. I love my Olfa heavy duty snap blade, easy to use and sturdy. The safety blade disposal case is a worthwhile investment if you do a lot of cutting.

After windows are cut out, trim drapery fabric and sandwich between 2 layers of foamboard. You probably don’t need 2 layers of foamboard really, but I tend to overbuild everything. Plus, it keeps the fabric edges secure and neat.

Weigh down the panels with heavy books. Let dry for a few hours at least so the panels set nice and flat. I like to use Aileen’s Tacky Glue for fast grab and strong hold.

This is the tricky part.  Build the box by taping together the inner edges with packing tape.  I wanted the box to be collapsible so I left the back panel loose and slip it in when the box is in use.  If you don't care about saving space, you could just tape on the back panel too. 

Finished box now folds neatly for easy storage.

Photo time.  I used a scrap piece of 4 ply museum board as a backdrop, but any white paper would do.  I wanted to try some interesting props, and tropical fruit seemed to fit with my colors.  The pineapple was very cooperative!  It stood sturdy and didn't complain a bit while I draped it with jewelry.  Now, the same cannot be said for the mango and papaya.  They wouldn't stay still and the chains kept slipping off.  Besides, photographing dressed up fruit started to feel a little too food porn, so I searched for alternate props.

It was time to bust out my "new" book Trees and Flowers of the Hawaiian Islands. This gorgeous book features hand tinted prints from 1944, and is definitely my best thrift store find in a long time.

After comparing the pendants against various props, the print background won hands down. 

As for the actual photography technique, well, trial and error is what ended up working for me.   My camera is a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H10.  Nothing fancy, but it allows me to play with settings.  Macro (the little flower icon) is on, iso set to 200 and EV set to +1.  I need to read up a little more to understand what the settings mean, but it turned out pretty well in spite of my previous point-and-shoot experience.

Next comes the Photoshop fun.  The images need to be cropped square for optimal viewing on Etsy.  I use the crop tool while holding down the shift key for a perfect square.  After cropping, I resized the image to 150 dpi and 1000 pixels square.  Some of the images still came out a little dark, so I played with the brightness and contrast.  There are many other ways to adjust the image in Photoshop, but I haven't figured them out yet.

Go to the pull down menu and pick: Image, Adjustments, Brightness/Contrast.  Make sure the preview box is selected.  Now, just push the little slides around until the image looks good.  Once the images have been uploaded with your listing, you can always go back and adjust if necessary, depending on how your image looks on Etsy.  It is always good to keep a copy of the original image before adjustment just in case.  Always keep in mind that color is very tricky.  The same image will not look the same on any 2 computer monitors.  You can drive yourself crazy trying to achieve "perfect" color.  Accept that it will never happen.

Now I am ready to create a listing and upload photos to Etsy.  Whew!  That was a lot of work, but well worth the effort.  I hope you found my little adventure helpful!  See the final results:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Talkin' Story with Kona's House

Thank you to Kona's House for the recent interview on their blog.  It is fun to explore the creative process because sometimes I'm really not sure why I create stuff.  Check it out.  I am looking forward to reading future artists featured at Kona's House!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Featured on Hapa|Hale!

Many, many thanks to for the recent feature.  hapa|hale is a beautifully written blog about all things Hawaii with a modern twist.  I am honored to featured among other very talented designers with a love for the Islands!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Transferable Skills

My poor drafting board had been sorely neglected. Between AutoCad for work, and quite frankly, not much work in Architecture lately, my drafting board has been collecting dust.

Fast forward to cutting out coin purses and coasters..."Gee, I wish I could just cut like I was drafting"...Aha moment! So that's what the rotary cutter is for! Works like a charm.

OK, so Mayline purist are probably thinking "You should never use a parallel edge to cut"...well, that went out the window years ago with model making. You learn to work around the little nicks in the edge anyway.

So here we are, lining up the pattern with the horizontal edge. The rotary cutter slices through beautifully.

Next, take your large triangle. 45 degree works great since it can help to lay out squares.

Start sewing! The perfectly aligned edges make for happy sewing.

I can't claim this little pouch however, learned how to make it from the best zippered pouch tutorial ever:

Thanks twelve22!

Anyway, here is what the finished product looks like. Listed to Etsy this afternoon.[]=tags&includes[]=title

Time to print more fabric!