Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Five years ago I wrote a post explaining how I photograph my models. Looking back on it now makes me cringe.

So dark 😦

It’s kind of amusing to read. My photos have changed a lot in five years so I think it’s time to revisit that old post.

First off, what hasn’t changed:
My cameras. I use a Canon Rebel T1i for 99% of my photos. (I’m considering upgrading to a newer model though :3) I rarely use my Powershot for models nowadays. Lately I’ve been using an iPhone for quick IG photos too.
I’ve improved with learning how my camera works, and I was shooting in RAW for better control of the image until my computer decided it no longer likes opening RAW files. (whhhhyyyyy???)

My basic backdrop is still a white piece of poster board, and Photoshop is still my go-to for editing, but I’m using the full version over Elements now.

The biggest change I’ve made is lighting.

I have struggled SO MUCH with lighting. For the longest time I was trying to make due with natural light or my desk lamp, neither of which were giving me very good results.

I ended up finding an Ottlite on clearance and decided to give it a try to see if it would help. It did! For a couple years this was my photo setup:

Combining the two lights, my camera’s settings and some minor tweaks in Photoshop helped me finally start getting photos I was happy with.

But it has it’s downsides. It’s not portable, the light can be very harsh, and my desk simply isn’t big enough for any other type of set up. I’ve had more interest in setting up arena and “outdoor” scenes, and natural lighting worked ok… but only if I could catch it at the right hour and Photoshop everything afterward.

Other problems included space for the setup, shiny backdrops, and having to rely too much on Photoshop.

I wish I still had the “before.” This photo is VERY edited and I don’t like it when I have to do that

This Enterprise Props shoot is what pushed me over the edge. The final images are ok, but they all had to be salvaged with heavy editing. My scene setup with the natural lighting is in an extremely tight space, and is too large for any table, so everything had to be set up on the floor. Taking photos required me to lay on my side (literally pressed against a wall, lol) and awkwardly prop the camera up. The whole thing was just frustrating and painful.

I had considered buying a light tent of some sort, as I know a lot of hobbyists use those for model photography. The problem I have with those is the size. Sure they would be perfect for collection photos or props or tack, but my backdrops are big, and finding a big enough tent (or making one) seemed like another hassle.

Instead, I did some searching on photography lighting, and ended up purchasing this set of softboxes on Amazon.

These lights changed EVERYTHING and made model photography so much easier for me. They’re huge, but they can be completely folded up for easy storage. I can adjust the angle and the height, keeping them low to the ground, or up higher for something on a table.

Here is a basic, white backdrop setup with the lights:

This room has a gas fireplace and YES the backdrop is taped to the front BUT it’s completely shut off. I’m not that stupid XD

And the settings I used for those curious:

I vary all the settings whenever I take pictures. What might work for one horse won’t with another, so it’s nice to have several different photos to go through.

Here’s the final image. All I did was resize it, add a subtle unsharp mask and my watermark.

I love being able to get brightly lit photos at any time of day, at any spot in the room, at any time of the year now.

That was really hard to do before. And because the light comes from above, reflective backdrops aren’t a big issue anymore either.

I do struggle with over and under exposure. A more neutral backdrop (such as grey or tan) would be better for photographing horses, but I’ve been using bright white for so long that it wouldn’t feel right to change it now. :/

I’m still learning. But upgrading my lights was an extremely good choice for me, as I use them often for blog and sales photos. Setting up scenes isn’t as frustrating as it used to be, and I’ve been enjoying it so much more.

I still have to set up and tear everything down whenever I take photos, which is annoying, but at least it doesn’t take over my desk anymore. Someday I’d like to have my own studio/office space with a spot for a more permanent photo setup. We’ll see what happens in another five years!

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Toward the end of April I drove out to the National Bison Range. I got some photos I liked and saw lots of animals, but I knew I wanted to go back once spring hit and the road completely opened up.

National Bison Range

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A few months ago I shut down my Etsy shop pretty much out of the blue. Truthfully, something came up which required my full attention, so dealing with my shop in addition to that would have caused a lot of stress.

To be honest, I was already feeling that stress before shutting it down. Sometime during the winter season I hit a wall, especially when it came to sales/orders. It got to the point where they were beginning to cause physical anxiety, which is bizarre because that’s never really happened before. I feel bad for even mentioning that. I am, and have always been, incredibly grateful for the interest in my work. ❤

Anyway, having an excuse to close it for a while instead of hemming and hawing and stressing even longer turned out to be a really good thing.

There were a number of different reasons behind the way I was feeling in general – it wasn't just hobby/sales/etc related stuff. I haven't been open about it here, instead trying to keep an upbeat or neutral tone in my posts. (Should I be? Or is it too much? I never know. :/)

Today, I'm still not 100% but I'm much, much better. It's normal for me to go through periods of depression and anxiety. This time was a bit different though. Usually being creative and focusing on my hobbies is a way to cope. It's extremely discouraging when it's contributing to it instead. 😦

Taking a break helped. I got some pieces done that I've been wanting to make, but never had time for. I even managed to take a few days off of work, which hasn't happened in a couple years, and that helped TONS too.
I went to the bison range to look for animals and was not disappointed…

National Bison Range - Bison

National Bison Range - Pronghorn Antelope

National Bison Range - Turtle Rock

National Bison Range - Bison

And I went up to Glacier National Park.

Glacier - Lake McDonald

Glacier - Lake McDonald

I have every intention of going back to both. (is there any interest in those kinds of posts? I know it’s my blog and I can post whatever I want but…?)
It kind of hit me just how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place, and I really don’t want to take it for granted. I forgive you, Montana, for the 6 months of winter. Please don’t burn to the ground again this summer, k?

Montana has finally decided that’s it’s Spring/Summer now, so everything is GREEN and it’s WARM and my mood has lifted considerably. Work’s better. I don’t feel quite as sad. I’ve been getting back in church nearly every weekend and that’s helping too.

Soooo… now what?

I’m not DONE with my Etsy shop. I have slowly been working on sales pieces, and managed to complete a batch of western pads which I’ve listed today:

I like making sales pieces, and I think that’s because there’s freedom in making them.

But I have also decided that I won’t be making things to order, or take on any custom orders for the time being. There’s a certain amount of fear behind that, and I am afraid that I’m going to disappoint or let people down. But the very idea of taking on any more is bringing that anxiety up again, and until I get that sorted -if I can get it sorted- I figure it’s best to put orders on the back burner for now. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself in regards to my shop… and there’s this other fear that if I can’t get x, y & z done by such and such time, or if I can’t dedicate so much time every day to work on stuff that I know people have been waiting for, I’ll be a total FAILURE. I know (I hope?) it’s all a lie but it’s still there bothering me.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say anymore, but for the last few weeks I’ve felt like I needed to say something. Also… if there are any artists/tack-makers/creatives that can relate, please leave a comment… I’ve allowed anonymous comments again. They were closed because of trolls. 😛

It seems like creativity and depression often go hand in hand and I’m not sure why that is. Or maybe I’m just weird, haha.

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