Sunday, December 30, 2007

Five Simple Steps to Better Product Photography

1) In order to ensure your images are sharp, make sure you know how to focus your camera. Digital cameras with auto focus are often difficult to focus precisely, especially when shooting small objects. Read your owner's manual and be sure you understand how your camera's auto focus operates. Most digital cameras are designed to easily focus on large objects but have difficulty on small subjects. It is often useful to put your camera in spot focus mode. Spot focus will give you more control over what part of a scene the camera is actually focusing on.
2) Use a tripod, even the slightest movement while taking a picture will cause motion blur. The closer you get to an object the more obvious the motion blur becomes. Even an inexpensive tripod will make a big difference in the sharpness of your images. For really sharp images it makes sense to invest in a good, sturdy tripod. If your camera has a remote shutter release then use it, if not then use the camera's built-in timer to minimize camera shake.
3) To get the largest area of your subject in focus put your camera in aperture priority mode and set the aperture to the highest number possible. The closer you get to your subject the more important this becomes.
4) Use soft lighting. Your camera's built-in flash will rarely give good results for product photography. For soft lighting either shoot outside on an overcast day or use a light tent like the EZcube®, or use a soft box.
5) Use image editing software. Even inexpensive software like Photoshop Elements™ can make your product photography much easier. It may seem like it's faster to use an image exactly as it was shot. But in reality, it is difficult to shoot an image precisely how you would like it to appear in it's final form. Image editing software allows you to crop an image, adjust it's exposure, sharpen the image and then resize it, often in less than 60 seconds.
The biggest difference between an amateur's product snapshot and a professional's product image are sharpness and lighting. Steps 1,2, and 3, will improve the sharpness of your images while Step 4 will improve your lighting. A minute spent editing an image will improve it further. Because these few steps seem so basic, it's tempting to ignore them. However, if you take the time to follow them, you will see a huge improvement in the quality of your images.


Thank-you EZcube®, for letting my steal your tips.


Photo Tips from EZ Cube

I have set up EZ Cube and am playing with it I hope this is my LAST photographic equipment purchase. (that is of course unless I must have the under-lighting table) It seems to be working. I have tweaked my style a bit. I removed all the cool rocks as I felt they were distracting and not enough contrast. I have gone all white. But it is to white? I may try adding one special rock or other natural item and see how it goes. I did use a branch of the Contorted Filbert bush to hang my earrings from. I grew the plant myself...OK I killed it and saved the branches..not meaning to of course(kill it that is). I fear my green thumb is similar to my photo skills.

Here are some tips from EZ Cube of exposure:

~Avoiding dark images when shooting against light backgrounds~
Cameras tend to underexpose images when capturing subjects with white or very light backgrounds. The easiest way to prevent dark, underexposed images is to use exposure compensation.
Most digital cameras have fairly easy-to-access exposure compensation controls (labeled as "EV" for Exposure Value). If your images are too dark, try adjusting the exposure compensation. A setting of +1 is a good place to start. If you end up setting the EV too high, the image will appear "washed out". Simply go back step or two until the exposure looks right.
View the different EV settings below. This demonstrates how changing a camera's exposure compensation setting can avoid exposure problems. In this example shot against a white background, the standard setting of 0 is too dark. An EV setting of +1.3 seems best for this shot.
For more photo tips and to see the EZCube visit http://www.ezcube.com/.
EV -1
EV 0
EV +1
EV +1.3
EV +1.6

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Latest Dainty Charms


Hand wire wrapped Carnelian briolette, "laugh often" stamped word charm and a miniature key charm all on an oxidized sterling cable necklace. Chain length 19", Carnelian pendant 1" including bail. Toggle closure.
Hand wire wrapped Carnelian briolette all oxidized sterling silver. French ear wires. Total length 1".
Hessonite Garnet Faceted Briolette wire wrapped with sterling silver then oxidized. On delicate sterling silver earwires. Total length a bit over 1-1/4". Hessonite Garnet Faceted Briolette wire wrapped with sterling silver then oxidized. On a delicate sterling silver ball chain. 18" chain length, 1" pendant drop including bail.




Hand wire wrapped Blue Chalcedony briolette, "live fully" stamped word charm and a miniature bee charm all on an oxidized sterling cable necklace. Chain length 19", Chalcedony pendant a bit under 1" including bail. Toggle closure.
Hand wire wrapped Blue Chalcedony briolette with oxidized sterling silver. French ear wires. Total length a bit under 1".

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Color of the Year Earrings


In honor of the choosen color of the year I have created these earrings:

Greek Washer and Stamped Silver Earrings - Blues

2-1/2" long. Comprised of Oval disks of silver disks that are slightly dapped and textured. Linked with charms and Mykonos Island Greek ceramic beads in wonderful colors(8mm). French wires. $32


They are available on my website.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pantone Selects Color of the Year for 2008

Pantone Selects Color of the Year for 2008:PANTONE® 18-3943 BLUE IRIS A Multifaceted Hue Reflecting the Complexity of the World that Surrounds Us

CARLSTADT, N.J., Dec. 10, 2007 - Pantone, Inc., the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, selected PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris, a beautifully balanced blue-purple, as the color of the year for 2008. Combining the stable and calming aspects of blue with the mystical and spiritual qualities of purple, Blue Iris satisfies the need for reassurance in a complex world, while adding a hint of mystery and excitement.
"From a color forecasting perspective, we have chosen PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris as the color of the year, as it best represents color direction in 2008 for fashion, cosmetics and home products," explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. "As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic. Look for it artfully combined with deeper plums, red-browns, yellow-greens, grapes and grays."

From the Mining Journal, Marquette, MI

My Father was in the Local Newspaper....

From the Mining Journal

Need is great for charities By KIM HOYUM, Journal Staff Writer
POSTED: December 19, 2007
"Need is great for charities"

Volunteers Pierre Geoffrion, far left, and Jerry Gerou put together a weekly food package at St. Vincent de Paul’s food pantry. (Journal photo by Kim Hoyum)

MARQUETTE — Local charities are seeing an upswing in requests for help this season, as high utility bills and food costs send more residents looking for assistance.Uncertainties in state and federal funding for charitable organizations are compounding the problem, and Michigan’s economic plight means more people are falling short on necessities, workers at several local charities said.“Helping people with utilities and rent has just been tremendous,” said Ron Provost, who works in the Marquette St. Vincent de Paul’s financial aid office.“We’re seeing a lot of utility situations that I’m afraid are going to be repetitive,” said Capt. Donna Rose of the Marquette Salvation Army.“People are seeking lots of help,” said Maureen Sorbet, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Human Services.It’s a refrain that’s becoming more commonly heard from charities and state organizations around this time of year, as winter heating bills push some families closer to the edge.But they’re saying this year is even worse than usual because the long-term economic trends in the state and in the Upper Peninsula are headed downhill, and there just may not be enough help to go around.At St. Vincent’s, the money that’s available for emergency help with bills or food comes from donations from Marquette County parishes and income from St. Vincent’s stores.People have to have an eviction or shutoff notice before they can receive assistance, though, and St. Vincent’s usually can’t pay large rent bills, so they coordinate help with other local charities, Provost said.The food pantry in Marquette feeds between 500 and 600 families each month and one in Gwinn feeds between 300 and 350 families, Provost said. That adds up to a $15,000 grocery bill for the charity each month.“My eyes have really been opened — I don’t think a lot of people in Marquette know how bad it is,” he said.Provost attributed much of the increase in need to higher unemployment and lower-paying jobs for those who have them. In addition, St. Vincent’s is experiencing more of an overflow from the Michigan Department of Human Services.“I think part of that’s the situation with the state — DHS just doesn’t have the money to help these people, and they’ve had to refer them to us,” Provost said.Sorbet said her department has money available but there are more applicants overall, so they are referring more applicants who aren’t eligible under state rules to organizations like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent’s.“We are taking requests for emergency assistance, but there’s such a big need out there,” Sorbet said.She added the downturn in the state economy plus an early winter means heat assistance in particular is in high demand.“Heat is one of the primary needs right now,” Sorbet said, adding while DHS had to stop taking applications for heating help twice last year, it is able to take them now.The Salvation Army’s assistance programs are funded partly with state money, but also with private donations, Rose said. Depending on the funding source, there may be restrictions on some assistance, such as one-time help or requiring a shutoff notice, she said.But it’s tough to fill all the requests when they don’t know how long the state money will last, Rose said.“The funny thing about state funding is you never know when they’re going to cut it off, which is what everyone is experiencing,” she said.And while it’s the giving season, she said these issues won’t be going away in the new year when winter settles in deeper.“People get into the giving mode right now because it’s Christmas, but in January or February we are going to need support as well,” Rose said.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Photographing Jewelry...more

I got my photo set up and have been playing. I decided to get the EZ-Cube (http://store.tabletopstudio-store.com/). I think I may have FINALLY found something that is going to work out for me. I also invested in a tripod. I just could not get clear shots without it. Also instead of the granite rocks I use as the backdrop I switched to an all white background. I think that it is less distracting. I may have to get another light though...not sure. I am asking experts for advise on the shots that I did took tonight. I don't know if I can just lighten the pics in Paint Shop Pro or add another light to my set up. I did lighten the picture that you will see below but really feel it needs to be lighten more. the beautiful stones just do not glow like they should. Lighting aside I can already tell the shots are clearer. I also had to adjust the exposure compensation on my camera and open up the aperture all the way using manual setting. I also use manual focus. I am not sure I mentioned that I use a Canon Rebel XT (that I love).
Original Shot:

















Improved:

This necklace is Apatite in 2 colors. The disc shaped beads are ancient Roman glass. I love the colors..its a new favorite of course.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Photographing your Jewelry or other items for the Web

I have always been an amateur photographer. Buying new equipment hoping it would help. Only to discover once again....IT IS NOT the equipment...but sadly the photographer. But I think I finally got the set-up correct. Here are some of my first test shots to show you how lighting can affect your digital pictures. This is the same pair of earrings on the same background. All I did was change the lighting. I did not change the settings on my camera. One may have been a flash, one fluorescent lights, one I may have added an Ott light.

At that time I must use my new favorite word: Annoying!!
You see having 3 children and another website that keeps my busy I have spare minutes to work on my love, the Jewelry. So it is a time thing. I just don't have time to figure all this out. But instead of making another pair of earring that I am DIEING to do I have to read about photography. I guess it is all a matter of white balance on your camera and good lighting but not to harsh. I finally after many years of waiting bought a new digital camera, a Canon Rebel XT. I love it by the way. I have messed around a bit with the settings. More of that in another post.
Back to lighting....Connie Fox has some very good tips on a set up to help get good lighting without glare:
http://www.jatayu.com/Education/StudioTour/ST-DigitalPhoto.htm
In a coming post I will take a picture of my set up. It is very similar to Connie's idea but I do not use a bucket. She also has some VERY good insight in to photographing your Jewelry. I do have some professional photo lights from past foray's in to photography and they have plastic shields on them that are suppose to diffuse the light. But it was not enough with all that bling I am shooting. So I got a kind of photo box/tent kind of thing. In fact I borrowed one from a friend to make sure it would work before I once again purchased more photo equipment. I did vow to STOP buying equipment! The box/tent thing seems to work so I am investing in my own. I am getting reasonable good pictures now. Here is a better picture of the earrings above:

I am now going to try to take picture of my Jewelry on a white background. I am not to sure that the backgrounds I am using are distracting. My setup currently uses granite and other rocks as the backdrop.
Thank-you Rosemary. Our trunk show was a festive rousing success.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Trunk Show Today

Today is our Holiday Trunk show in historic down town Carson City, NV. The official Tree Lighting is also tonight at the capitol.
At
La-Tea-Da Tea Shoppe
on Telegraph Square
Thursday Dec 6th
4pm until 9pm
This is a not to be missed Exclusive showing of local Artisans:
“Its About The Box”
Victorian inspired whimsy's - Hand crafted treasure/gift boxes that will melt your heart..
“Teka and Zoe”
Exquisite One of a Kind Artisan made Jewelry of sterling silver and semi-precious gemstones.
We will gift wrap your purchases at no cost.
Refreshments will be served to temp your taste buds while you shop.
La-Tea-Da promises to have in their special Christmas Tea selections.
Rosemary is having a Harpist play to get you in the Holiday Spirit.
La-Tea-Da Tea Shoppe phone 883-8461

Friday, November 23, 2007

Style Feeder

Have you heard of Style Feeder? I have played around with it. Is it usefull to you?
Taken from Style Feeder site:
About StyleFeeder
Once there was a boy who liked to make software. When he was nineteen he fell in love with a girl who was supposed to be teaching him French. She was French, in fact, and she liked to cook exotic food and wear beautiful things and he spent several years chasing her around the world.
But he got her, and he married her two days before her tourist visa ran out and now they live in a house in Watertown, Massachusetts, and she has declared that buying decent lighting in the US is really, really hard.
Call them Bea and Phil. Call them us, who made this site for ourselves and now for you.
In the winter of 2005, Phil noticed that Bea was spending a lot of time emailing to her friends things she had found online. Bea didn’t know what Phil knew, that although email is good for many things, it’s a private and inefficient way to share links.
And Bea finds a lot. And Phil thought it would be nice if Bea and her friends could share things online, and maybe a hundred other people could watch.
So StyleFeeder is Phil’s answer to Bea’s obsession: some things are so damn cool that the world has to know.

Fall Color Forcast


Complex and exotic describe the intriguingly unusual and inviting color palette for fall ’07. The traditional neutral shades expected for autumn have been replaced this season with rich, nuanced hues, offering more opportunity for creativity with interesting and unexpected color combinations.





Here are a pair of Earrings that fit that color Palette.
My first using Gold Filled. They are1-1/4" total length. Clustered stones in green/gold colors: Vesuvianite, Grossular Garnet, Swarovski crystal and Peridot. All hanging from gold filled french ear wires. You can find them on my website.





Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Latest Etsy Treasury

I lucked out again. I logged on to Etsy with only 3 minutes until the Treasury opened. So here it is:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Moonlight in Paris Necklace

This Necklace got started when I took a class this summer from Tracey Smith at the Tacoma Bead Show on Framing Pics. I already had the charm of the Eiffel tower and of course I love France (am dieing to go). So then my mind starting putting the story together. Here is the center piece charm (front). The second picture is the reverse side, it is stamped copper:

Then the story took on a life of its own as I pounded, sawed and stamped.
Je T'Aime word charm:


Eiffel tower charm- He gave her a Rose and Pearls:


Another framed charm of the lovers and soul mates:


The "Cafe" word charm and wonderful little coffee bean bead to commemorate their times sipping coffee along the Seine:



Mon Ami word Charm:


The moon charm for the long walks in the moonlight:


The kiss off "Letter" and a "Why" charm stamped on a sterling heart.
Was it him or was it her?



Friday, November 9, 2007

Winter White...still

So now I had to try the winter white with the Vintaj brass:
I love it, luv it, luv it!!

I am in a Winter White kind of mood

I was spurred on by my friend Mimi...she said you should do some winter white....I said "really??..not to sure about that.."
I Now I am in a winter white kind of mood...I can't stop.
I found this wonderful white Turquoise. I then paired it with Howlite, Pearl, Greek ceramic washers beads, Naga Shell, Moonstone and Fossilized Coral.
Here are the earrings:

Bracelet:

Have you heard of Mintd?

I have discovered a another cool site for artist's to sell their wares and for people that appreciated handcrafted items.
Check out my Mintd store: Teka and Zoe

Another Etsy Treasury I nabbed

Here is a picture of my current Treasury on Etsy. It expires Nov 5th 1:37 am:
I scrolled thru the sellers list for sellers with around the same number of items for sale as myself (around 100) and what ever Avatar caught my eye I picked an item from their store. You can say a lot in that little box.

My First Etsy Treasury

Here is my first Etsy Treasury:

About me...

The designer and owner of Teka and Zoe is Michelle Mahler.  Michelle is a busy mom and 3 (all under 3 years).  Her creative background started when she was very young designing clothes for herself and her dolls.  She got her BS in Textiles and Clothing is 1983.  One month later she move to LA looking for that pot of gold...To become the latest Calvin Kline.  She designed Jewelry, Sweatshirts and T's selling them throughout the Los Angeles area, all the while working a "corporate job" as a buyer.   


Years later she became the Product Develop Manager for Franklin Heirloom Dolls, traveling throughout the Far East.  All the while designing and selling her own miniature dolls and fashions all over the US and England.  She was renowned for the incredible china painted eyes  The dolls eyes to the right are only 4mm wide.  The Franklin Mint decided to close down the Los Angeles design studio, Michelle stayed with the Franklin Mint for another year designing dolls from home and working with the design studio in Taiwan as the liaison.   Along with this she also started to design dolls for the Reeves International (Breyer Horses- yes little cowboys and girls). 


For her own dolls her "Buyer" instincts were to always find the best price on the fine fabrics and trims she uses.  This led to finding wholesale suppliers and buying in larger quantities.  With all the loads of wonderful trims and fine fabrics it only made sense to start to sell little bits at shows along with her dolls.  Share the wealth with other miniaturists and doll artist's.   (to the left a pair of Regency period dolls- under 6" tall)


At the same time Michelle and Jeff decided to make the long needed change to get out of LA.  They decided to move to Gardnerville, NV.  Gardnerville is at the foot of the Sierra's in Northern Nevada, 20 minutes from Lake Tahoe.   This big moved coincided with the exciting change to step out of the "Corporate" life and for Michelle to go out on her own.  Thus Doll Artist's Workshop ( minidolls.com) was expanded to a full time career, a complete on-line store selling all things fine to doll artist, miniaturists, quilters and the like.   


In 2004 the BIG CHANGE!  After 17 years of marriage Michelle and Jeff took the plunge and had kids.  Zachary, Nicolas and Natalie are  here enriching their lives.    This coincided with doll making burnout.  Working with porcelain was just not fun anymore.   One day a minidolls.com customer sent Michelle a link....she was looking for a certain ribbon for a necklace she was making.  The link was to jewelry artist Heidi Hale.   Michelle had dabbled in jewelry making, taking a class in Lampworking...of course she loves wearing jewelry!    But she thought "All that bead stringing, not to sure I am into that".   But something about Heidi's website just blew her away, it clicked - Ok, I get it it not just bead stringing!  She just felt compelled, starting by researching stones, buying a few books, taking a few classes, BUYING TO MANY BEADS!!   "Some days I just have to cut and pound on some sterling or twist some wire"  It is over...she is obsessed. 


We hope you enjoy her obsession.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

What I do...

Currently I own 2 web based business:


Teka and Zoe which can be found at: http://tekaandzoe.com/ Which can be defined as an Eclectic mix of Interesting & Inspired Handcrafted Jewelry using Unusual Beads & Stones.  Made from Sterling, Fine Silver or Brass.


I also have misc items for sale on my Etsy site: tekaandzoe.etsy.com


And


Doll Artist's Workshop can be found at: http://www.minidolls.com/home.shtml 

My products include: Imported Cottons - including: Liberty of London, Swiss Batiste and Swiss Micro Check cottons, Mini Herringbones and Plaids. Silks- Including: China Silk, Silk Velvet, Charmeuse, Thai Silk, Silk Broadcloth, Silk Chiffon, Silk Tulle, Brocades.  Other items include: Trims & Braids, Silk Ribbon, Hannah Ribbon, Vintage Ribbon, Hat Making Straw, Imported Cotton Lace, Doll Making Supplies, Doll Jewelry, Ribbon, Tiny Buttons and Buckles, KAO Bunka, Feathers, Chenille, Silk Thread, French Silk Trims, tiny Silk Ribbon Roses, Viscose Doll Hair, Doll-size curling Iron, Patterns, Doll Making Instruction Books, Doll Millinery Supplies, Swarovski Rhinestones, No-Hole beads, 1/2 Pearls, Patterns and so much more.


 

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