Monday, July 27, 2009

Playing with the camera. Again.

Well, I'm nothing if not willing to learn and improve. :)

While doing a little cleaning last week, I had an epiphany of sorts. I found this lovely little chachka at Winners a little while back, and thought it would be a great way to display keep my jewelry off the counter in the bathroom. While dusting it, I thought how lovely it would look as a display unit. As luck would have it, I'd just come back from the dollar store with a few bags of river rocks that were slotted for flower arrangements.
I set everything up on the living room floor, and decided I liked it quite a bit. However, it needed more rocks! So, a second trip to the dollar store was planned, and 9 bags later, voilà:

I just love how the stones make the beads pop out.

So I played around some more with some of my old pieces that were kicking around. I like how the photos turned out, and have a few more ideas I'd like to try out. Like misting the rocks before laying the pieces down. That might look pretty nice too.

Come to think of it, I'm thinking I should put a few of these collars up on my Etsy site, seeing as collars are 'in' right now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

While on Vacation

It dawned on me that I have yet to share some photos of my sojourn at Dad's place during the first week of July. It was an interesting, and very wet week. ;) We didn't get to spend a whole lot of time outside, as it was unseasonably cold, and, well... WET! However, the time we DID get to spend outside was spent wisely: I beaded! :D

But first, I wanted to share with you my daily morning view. This is what my Dad gets to see every single morning. The Gatineau River softly flowing by, and the lovely blue mountains as a backdrop. Pretty impressive, non?

Well, as I said, I did manage to get a bit of work done. Quite a few finished crocheted pieces, and even a few pairs of earrings. I even managed to finish a prototype for a new bead embroidered pendant, but it wasn't quite up to my standards, so it's still 'in the works', ;)

Here's a little production line for some earrings I've been working on. This is how I like to set myself up when I know I'll have a large number of pieces to make in the same design. It makes it easier for me to keep track of what's finished, what's yet to be finished, and, well, it just appeals to my OCD self... ;)My Papa, my occasional companion during my mini beading marathons. He makes a mean cup of coffee!

Another occasional companion. This little guy must have been have thought the bowl was the Indy 500, cause I swear, he went around it at LEAST 500 times. Round, and round, and round, really entertaining actually...

My other companion, Cracker, whom we renamed Rosie, since Mimi didn't think Cracker was a suitable name for a lovely feline lady. Rosie is a feral cat who recently adopted my dad. A lovely lady, she's really good at keeping the rodent population down. She was quite gentle too, and took a liking to me after I decided to help her with her grooming. Poor girl was shedding enough for three cats, so, armed with a fine-tooth comb, and copious amounts of patience (on both our parts), and about 90 minutes, I believe we did manage to make a whole other cat from all the hairballs I pulled off of her. Rosie and I became inseparable after that. ;)
(No, really, Dad said he'd never seen her quite so smitten, as she followed me everywhere)

When I needed a break from the beads, I just looked down the hill, and enjoyed the view of the river. Sometimes a boat goes by, filled with a few lazy fishermen, other times, it'll be loons, or herons, or gulls. Never a dull moment.

One of Rosie's favorite perches. She just weaves her way up the posts, and lays in wait, until something else catches her attention.

Ah yes, everything is bigger in Quebec, even the flies!
No, at the risk of raising panic, this was just a cicada. See that little tongue thingie sticking in my finger? Yeah, those things sting. Real bad... And yeah, I sent it flying when I felt that... LOL!

Well, that's it for tonight folks. I did manage to take hundreds (I kid you not) of photos during my trip, but I think I'll save some for later.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A few snapshots...

I was at a networking meeting recently, and while everyone oohed and aahed at my photographs displayed on my portable digital frame, my closest seated networking mate (we'll name her 'B') looked at the photos in question and started with:

B: "What kind of lighting do you use for your photographs?"
Me: "I actually invested in a lightbox and a few lamps, so that I could photograph my pieces at their best. Why do you ask?"
B: "Well, I'm noticing here that the photographs are quite dark, and you've got quite a lot of unsightly sharp shadows" (points to this photo)

Now, granted, I am NOT a professional photographer, but after being told by a lot people that my photos were indeed good and 'professional looking', I immediately felt self-conscious and thought to myself "well, she's been in X business for X amount of years, perhaps she knows what she's talking about..."

So, the conversation ensues:
B: "You should really consider getting a really good photographer to do your photos. Someone who has the proper tools to really show your pieces at their best value. These sort of just look like snapshots."
Me: (as I run through my head all the time and effort I actually put in photographing my pieces) "Well, it's known that beads are one of the toughest subjects to photograph. Can you recommend anyone in the Niagara region?"
B: "Oh no, you'd have to go see a good photographer in Toronto."
Me: "I see."

I didn't know what else to say, so I just sat there quietly, until I could find another conversation around the table to jump into. I wasn't trying to be rude, I just honestly didn't know how to reply to her. Meanwhile, my brain is jumping all over the place... "Are my photos that bad?", "Do my photos make me look unprofessional?", "And aren't there any *good* photographers in Niagara?"... And then my ears perked up, as I heard the person who currently had my frame in hand say "oh, this is absolutely gorgeous. Jewels! How much is THIS piece?"

Me: "It's $200"
Her: "Ooh, I can afford that! I'm going to get it for myself!"
Me: "Awesome! I'll make sure to set it aside for you!" *beaming smile*

So, there I was, sitting on the fence. On the one hand, thinking that, ok, maybe my photography needs improving. On the other, thinking that, clearly, it couldn't be that bad if someone was ready to purchase a $200 piece just from seeing it on a 3.5" portable digital screen. Right?

*** Side note: I LOVE my little digital screen. Especially as a jewelery designer. I've always encountered people asking if they could see a sample of my work. Now I can just whip out my little frame and show them a few pieces at the touch of a finger. The frame itself will hold 48 photos in its internal memory, but countless photos if you put them on a memory card.***

Therefore, the goal of this post is to garner your opinions, dear readers. I can be quite thin skinned and sensitive when it comes to my creativity and creations. Photography included. I do put a lot of effort into photographing my jewelry, coming up with the right setting and composition; sometimes taking over 12 shots of one item in order to get just the right one. I then spend hours in Photoshop editing, cropping, brightening, sharpening, resizing and so on. Yes, there's a LOT involved in creating the right shot.

Berry Pearl Cubes, dangle earrings

This was indeed a 'snapshot'. A self-portrait of sorts, just aim and shoot.
An effort to try and show how the earrings look worn.

Embelished Peacock pearl blossom

Quadra Bead pendant.
(this one seems a bit dark, but I'm not certain it isn't just because of the beads' colors or my computer screen. I am certainly pleased at the detailing...)

Red Dagger Totem earrings.

Latest Hoop-Là bangle and earring sets.

I recognize that not all computer screens are not created equal. I myself am currently making due with an old 'tube' screen, as our beautiful LCD flat screen has gone and died on us. I usually try to look at my photos from multiple screens to see if I've done a good job at relaying the true colors of the pieces (usually turns out good). So, what I'd like to ask you now is to give me an honest and true critique. Anything and everything you think I need to do to improve, whether displaying, cropping, staging, I want it it all! It will be greatly appreciated, and hopefully, this exercise will help me grow in the right direction.

Now go on and give it to me. I just finished zipping my thick skin suit on. I'm ready!



Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Great Journal Exchange

Think of it as one of those "Pay It Forward" kind of deals. While I was busily Tweeting this morning, I discovered that one of my followers has the same affliction I do: Chronic Journal Collecting.
This led me to believe that there might be many more journal collectors out there. I can't even tell you how many untouched journals I've got sitting in my bookshelf. And, of course, I've EVERY intention of writing in every single one of them. But let's be honest here, I'd have to live a few lifetimes in order to fill them all. (I'm not kidding, I've got quite the collection of untouched journals...)

So, here's my plan. I'd like to see if I can get a few folks in on this, and have a great journal exchange. Everyone and anyone who has way too many journals is invited to join. And trust me, I know exactly how difficult this will be for some of you, but think of it this way, you'll be getting a brand new journal in return! Won't that put a smile on your face? :) See? I've already got one!

The rules are:
1. Every person entered must send a journal.
2. The journal should be of a size one can write in (none of those tiny mini ones!)
2-B. Only unused journals, trust, I don't want anyone to know what goes on in my head when I write in my journals... LOL!
3. Names will be drawn randomly out of a hat. #1 will send to #2, #2 to #3, and so on...
4. You have until August 1st, 2009 to enter.
5. Leave your name and email in the comments section so that I can contact you with any and all information. (please, do NOT leave your mailing address in the comments!)

Now. Let's see how many folks come out and play!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Well, I'm back. It's taken me a few days of R&R to recuperate from my 'vacation', but I think I'm back on track with the 'home life'. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting my parents, but I gotta say, it's been nice spending the weekend getting back into the swing of things at home. Hubby was a DOLL, and decided to stay home and spend these last two days with us, as we puttered, de-cluttered, and cleaned around the house. With a bit of gardening and weeding thrown in for good measure of course. ;)

And while hubby was busy oohing and aahing over the brand new fishing toys I got him at the Float Paddle & Fly, I was uploading what seemed like 8000 photographs onto my hard drive. Of course, Blogger being Blogger (a totally temperamental shite... 'scuse my, wait, that's not French...), I couldn't even share them with you here until today.

Being at Dad's was so quiet, being in the middle of nowhere, with practically absolutely nothing to do, that I did manage to get quite a bit of beadwork done. Mom's is different, seeing as she's in the city, and we have so many things to do and see. I did get some work done though, and in the interim, also got to finish this necklace I'd brough - with the express intent of FINISHING it - which I'd started, oh, what, 6 months ago? Turns out I HAD to finish it, since Mom fell irrevocably in love with it, and just HAD to have it! My only chagrin? The ensuing argument over payement. I didn't want to take Mom's money, I don't like to sell my pieces to Mom, seeing as she gave birth to me and all... But she circumnavigated that argument by going to her hubby, and asking HIM to buy it for her. And then they wouldn't even accept my offer of the "Friends & Family" discount. Honestly, I don't understand why my Friends and Family don't WANT the discount. A dear friend actually told me that my discount (%50 off) was too high, that it should be closer to, like, %10. What? What kind of discount it THAT???

Anyway, I digress... I thought I'd show Mom off wearing her brand new pearl necklace that she absolutely LURVES! I even threw in a pair of matching earrings, so that she'd have a lovely ensemble.

My pretty Mama with her new jewels!
I was afraid the piece might be too large for her, but it turns out that the scale was perfect for her petite 4'10" frame.

Peyote bail and tube on a Mabé pearl pendant, with Nepal stitch embellishements twining up like vines on one side of the pearl rope.

The other side was left plain (hah! like pearls are plain!), but was embellished with a fall of branched fringe at the back to enhance the silver clasp, and act as a slight counter weight to the pendant.

And here is Maman at Moca Loca, where we all enjoyed a little sweet treat and some absolutely sinfully sweet mochachinos. Topped with Whipped Cream, natch. ;)

We all enjoyed our visit at the caffé. I especially liked the décor, and was quite impressed with the floor. Or rather, how they'd installed their hardwood flooring. I'm thinking this will look good in my bead store, when I finally open one. ;) All around there were tiny little wares displayed for purchase. My favorites were the small stained glass pieces that hung in ever window. I was tempted to get one for myself, but was afraid it wouldn't travel well all the way back to Niagara. Here are a few of my favorites:

Flowers, flowers, flowers.
I so loved the vibrant colors in this piece.

And this one was just neat. I'm not particularly into abstract, but this one spoke to me. I liked the colors, and for some reason, could see many things in there. Which wa probably the artist's intent, non? ;)

Well, I know it was a long time coming, but this is it for today. I've got a meeting with one of my sellers today, and I've got some personal grooming to catch up on. ( I am SO not meeting up with a gorgeous spa owner in my chipped, left-over-from-my-vacation-toe-nail polish!)

I hope you all have a wonderful relaxing day. Think of me, while I'm busy trying to conduct business as I simultaneously try to keep my Little Highness entertained.

Love & Light