Creating a Simple “Studio” for Photographing Your Crafts

So, my big announcement…I am finally going to open an Etsy store!

It’s been on my to-do list for a long time, and I think I’m ready to make the plunge! I think my small crafts and many un-used craft supplies have potential to sell better in a venue like Etsy, whereas I will continue to sell my antiques and larger pieces at the co-op. I have been doing some preparation in getting this baby up and running, the first being a small “studio” area to properly photograph my items!

While my photographic skills excel in photographing retinas, they are not quite as proficient in studio work. I have never had any interest in portraits or studio photography that require traditional lighting methods, studio lights and back drops, lighting ratios, etc, etc. One thing I do know is that natural light is ideal in photographing almost anything. I wanted to be able to use natural light to photograph my products, but also not have to wait until the sun comes out and the weather is bearable to be able to shoot. I do live in Western New York after all! My solution: artificial natural light.

These 7.5 watt bulbs from Lowes emanate “natural light”, or an artificial full spectrum of light. They measure at 5000K, which is comparable to noon daylight. I bought two bulbs and two of these clamping work lights:

…and set up a small area on a table in my basement. I have some white foam core boards to use as reflectors as needed. I am using a large crate bottom as my background, because you know I love that rustic look. Here is my basic set up:

And a picture snapped with hardly any adjusting of the lights. I think this is going to work just fine!

Not too shabby for a studio that took 10 minutes to set up and cost about $35.

Here it is with the lights on so you can see. I am using the slatted crates on either side, as they work well with the lights’ clamps. Also, I’d like to mention that I used my digital SLR camera for my photography; my trusty Nikon D80. It’s slightly outdated but works very well for the work I want/need to do. I would recommend an SLR over a point-and-shoot camera if you are able.

I’ll keep you posted on how it works and what tweaks I might make as I start in on this new adventure! In the mean time I have been working on lots of marble magnets of varying themes to sell on Etsy. I can’t wait to start photographing them.

Phew…I don’t know why I keep myself so damn busy these days. I figure it’s going to take at least a month or so to get the store “live” and running. I have lots of items to photograph and some other prepping to do. Anyone out there with their own Etsy store…do you have any advice for this rookie? Any tips/advice you have to offer would be appreciated!

Have a great week! πŸ™‚

Fall in WNY!

The view of the hills back home over the weekend was awesome. The Fall foliage is at it’s “peak” in Western New York. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!

While I was home, I also scored a few primitive pieces out of my step-grandfather’s barn, that I can’t wait to clean up a bit and get into my booth. To start, I thought this rickety old stool could be very cool with a little TLC!

This piece is an old mailbox with lots of little cubbies – perfect for displaying all kinds of little knickknacks! The holes are for poking your fingers through to lift your mail, so it’s easier to grab. I may have to slide in a little piece of wood or heavy card stock in the slots that I plan to display stuff, so they aren’t falling through the holes! I gotta clean it up a bit, but I am going to leave the worn, chipping paint as is! πŸ™‚

The other really cool piece is this antique seed bag mover. Love the rusty hardware! Would make a great garden piece!

So Sunday night I finished up the pumpkin patch for our “Pick a Pumpkin Out of the Patch Discount” at The Carriage Place! Can you tell I used “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” for my inspiration? LOL! I added the little tree for a scary factor. Picked it out of the weeds in the field behind my house!

We are going to fill up the pumpkins with slips of paper that indicate a prize, discount, free appraisal, etc. for customers at the co-op to “pick” on Halloween weekend!!! I can’t wait!

Hope everyone is having a great week so far. Can’t wait for my best friend Teeny to come down this weekend and do a little craftin’ with me. It’s always more fun to do that stuff with a friend. We are going to try out a few NEW projects that I’ve never attempted before. I’ll letcha know how they come out! πŸ˜‰

Later gators! πŸ™‚

Fine Tuning of the Marble Magnets With a Mini Photoshop Lesson!

So in the midst of all the hoopla getting the booth set up, I haven’t had time to work on a lot of craft projects. I have however, been slowly perfecting my marble magnet technique. I know there are 1000 tutorials online on how to make them, but I have found that your technique and materials can make all the difference between okay magnets and awesome ones! By awesome, I mean clean, clear, and durable.

Here is the latest set! I made them for my friend with pictures of her little girl, Melanie!

For custom sets like this one, I have found it’s easiest to print out the pictures at the size I need them, by bringing them into Photoshop for quick and easy size adjustment.Β  Start by opening up a new document sized at 8.5 x 11, with a resolution of 300 dpi.

Tip: Remember, if you are going to print an image, the ideal resolution is 300 dpi (dots per inch, or ppi, pixels per inch). Anything less than that, in terms of resolution, will come out pixellated and unclear. For web viewing only, (images for use on your blog, website, etc.) you can get away with 72 dpi.

Then, open up all the images you want to use for your magnets. Select the crop tool. Set your crop settings to 20 mm for the width and height, and the resolution. See the screen capture below. I use 20 mm because that’s the size of the marbles I am using…so obviously size according to your materials!

Crop all of your images and drag them onto your new document one by one. They should look like this:

You can see I did two of each. I selected them (one at a time) in the layer palette, right clicked to make a duplicate of that layer, and re-sized them a little smaller using edit > transform > scale. Sometimes 20 mm is slightly too big, depending on the content of the picture. I like having options. πŸ™‚

I suppose instead of all this, you could just eyeball it and use your magnet to test and see if the images are small enough. I am just slightly obsessive-compulsive andΒ  I’ll use any excuse to play around in Photoshop!

I used this technique with other images I found online. Here are a few sets that I plan to make!



Supplies to get if you plan on mass producing these things:

A 20 mm hole punch, found in the scrap booking section of the craft store. Saves a ton of time and makes a nice, clean cut.

A bulk order of clear, “cabochons”. They are flat backed, perfectly clear, acrylic little marbles. They come individually wrapped like this:

I hate that it’s such a waste of packaging…it’s not very “green.” BUT, it does mean your marbles are perfectly clean and clear and have virtually no defects. I would never go back to using the marbles from the craft store….they aren’t clear enough for my liking.

I bought mine in bulk here! The rest of the supplies/technique can be found in my old marble magnet tutorials; this post was just about tweaking them. πŸ™‚

I would love to see your magnets if you try these! Check out The Graphics Fairy for AWESOME, free vintage art, which would be great for this project!!!!

HAPPY ALMOST SPRING!!! Talk to ya’ll later! πŸ™‚


Truely From Trash to Treasure: A Vintage Suitcase With A Little Surprise Inside…

While I was home, I scored big time with this great vintage suitcase! My step-dad found it laying near a dumpster outside of his work, and it was obviously going to be thrown out. He’s a picker like me, and we pickers could never let a gem like this go to waste! He brought it home for me, and I instantly fell in love.Β  It is quite beat up, which adds to it’s charm and character. I love everything about it.

Even though it is old and worn, the handle and latches are quite sturdy. Things were a lot more well made back then.

The best part about this old suitcase is what we found inside…

This old photo shows a little boy carrying this very suitcase! I am assuming that is the same little boy in the picture on the right, by the round, chubby little face. Who would ever throw away such a treasure?? I feel like I would be doing that little boy a disservice to let his little suitcase go to the dump; it looked like one of his prized possessions.

I wonder who the boy is? Where was he going, and what was he carrying around in there? Perhaps that is his dad is sledding with him? I guess we’ll never know, but for now I will cherish this little suitcase and probably display it somewhere in my house, with the photos inside of course. There’s just something about that little boy and his suitcase that makes me smile.

A HUGE Thank You to WordPress and all my Fellow Bloggers!

I want to give a shout out to the great people at WordPress for “Freshly Pressing” my post about Ophthalmic Photography yesterday and say THANK YOU!!!! What an honor. I am new to this, and I went from 8 views on Tuesday to over 22oo views yesterday! Also thank you SOOO much to everyone who left a great comment on my post, and for all the support, encouragement, and kind words. What an great bunch of people there are in the blogging world…I had no idea.

I was fortunate enough to have my post featured in a few other blogs, as well as a “Freshly Pressed Focus” article written by the editor at WordPress! The links are below. Thanks to those who passed along the word!!!

Though the focus of my blog is my crafting, I will be sure to post an occasional update and showcase some more of my ophthalmic images. Our body is an incredible work of art, and these images are a small, interesting glimpse into that mystery world.

Once again, THANK YOU ALL for stopping by!!!!!!!

(For your viewing pleasure, a retinal image during a fluorescein angiogram with a membrane on the surface that is tugging at the blood vessels and causing swelling.)

Ophthalmic Photography

I get a lot of questions about what exactly I do, and a lot of confused looks when I introduce myself as an ophthalmic photographer.Β  I work in a unique and interesting field photographing the insides of people’s eyes, specifically the retina. The retina lines the back wall of the eye and is responsible for our detailed vision.Β  My imaging of the retina provides theΒ  doctors with crucial information that allows them to diagnose and treat retinal problems and diseases, such as macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, and much more. It is very satisfying to know I am directly helping the doctor and am an integral part of the patient care process. I get to use some incredible equipment. A digital camera that is essentially a giant microscope allows me to see even the finest detail of the retinal blood vessels.

Some people cringe when they see our images, but to me it is beautiful…it sorta becomes abstract art.

The image above is of a patient with a retinal vein occlusion. The vessel on the bottom (that is black) is blocked and thus there is a lack of normal blood flow out of the eye.

The above image is a rare syndrome diagnosed in a 16 year old boy who got into a bad car accident. It’s essentially inflammation due to impact. He lost almost all of the vision in this eye. Amazingly, he did heal up and regained most of his vision.

This photo won 3rd place at the Ophthalmic Photographer Society’s annual photo exhibit a few years ago. It’s a diabetic patient with severe damage to the blood vessels in the central vision area. It is inverted just for fun, but I swear that’s why it placed…it’s eye catching (no pun intended).

I actually JUST found out that the image above won honorable mention at the 2010 Ophthalmic Photography Society Photo exhibit! Yay! It is a small hemorrhage photographed with two different types of retinal imaging; a fundus photograph (orange) and an OCT, or Optical Coherence Tomography (b&w cross sectional scan) and I just loved the graphic look of that perfectly circular hemorrhage, right smack in the center of her vision. Luckily, this young girl also regained her vision as the hemorrhage resolved.

I am lucky to have such a interesting career that can really help people, not to mention the images are just SO COOL!