Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Background Ideas (Shoestring Studio)

If you need a background for your macro and close-up shots of small things, you can make your own. Create them in programs like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop pro, and similar graphics programs. Design them to fit a standard-sized sheet of paper. Add colors, brush strokes, filters, whatever you like, in the colors you like. Print them out on matte finish paper (the less shine, the better) and store them in archival quality vinyl sleeves. Put them in a notebook for safe keeping.

You can also take pictures to be used as backgrounds - a brick or stone wall, pebbles on a beach, feathery grasses growing in a field, trees, tree bark, rocks, water, aged wood siding, whatever - use your imagination. Print them to fill the page. If you like, you can apply some Gaussian blur to them before printing to give the illusion of shallow depth of field.

Another source for backgrounds can be found on digital scrapbooking sites. Many of those are offered as freebies (for personal use). Crop or resize them to fit to your photo paper and print them out.

The following 3 images were photographed using backgrounds from my original printed collection.

This image was taken with a mirror under the flower and a black foam sheet standing up behind it, so that the part of the mirror that is in the picture reflected only the black foam (and the flower). Natural light was used.

The background for this image is a sheet of cork tile.

"The camera is my tool.
Through it I give reason to everything around me."
~ Andre Kertesz ~

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My "Shoestring Studio"

I promised to share a few of my 'probably not-so-secret' secrets for creating my little 'studio on a shoestring' for taking close-ups and macros. It will take a few days to do this, so I'll concentrate on one thing at a time and see where it goes. If anyone has any little tips of their own they'd like to share, please feel free to post them in the comment section.

I buy colorful foam sheets and felt sheets approximately 9" x 12". They come in a wide variety of colors and are very inexpensive. You can find them in the crafts department. The advantage of the foam is that it is slightly rigid and can be easily leaned against something behind the object you're photographing. If the object is really tiny, you can curve the foam and use it as both a platform and a background. It is also smooth in texture. The felt is really nice if you want just a little bit of texture.



Here are a few examples of images taken with these backgrounds:

(Hot Chocolate - felt sheet)

(Rocking Horse - foam sheet)

(Bear - 2 foam sheets - one under, one behind)

(Shell - foam sheet)

By the way...

"...I have the world's largest collection of sea shells.
I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world.
Maybe you've seen some of it..."
~ Steven Wright ~

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pets (Not Mine)

It's hard to decide which images to post on any given day. I have so many I want to put here. Photos are made to be shared. Today I decided to show a few images I took of other people's pets. The first image is of Sammy. She came to stay with us for a week in June while her family was on vacation. In September she died of an unknown cause. Her family came home and found her on the floor. No warning. It was heartbreaking. She was not an old dog. Today's images are in memory of Sammy. (That's nail polish on her toenail, in case you are wondering.)

This is Truffles. She wasn't about to let go of that bone! She's a Mi-Ki, a new breed of dog. She belongs to a neighbor who raises Mi-Kis. If you are interested in having a Mi-Ki as part of your family, leave a comment and I will put you in touch with the breeder.

This is Fat Cat. He earned his name. Isn't he beautiful?

This is Sam. He isn't allowed to ride in the front seat unless he wears a seat belt, which he happily does so he can be close to his owner. You will see more pictures of Sam. He belongs to a family member and he comes to visit occasionally. Sadie loves him.

That's all for today. I didn't list the cameras used to take these images as they are older, already edited images, and I didn't save the EXIF data with the files. If someone is really interested, I will look up the original image to find the information. I have several ideas for my blog. I love to make close-up and macro images and am planning to put some information here, for anyone interested, that will explain how I set up some of my shots, what things I buy for props, etc. Believe me, I've set up my little close-up studio on a shoestring - except for the camera equipment. That's another story. We won't talk about that. *SMILE* Have a great day!

"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. "
~ Anne Frank ~

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Little Humor

I saw this praying mantis on the hood of a car in a car lot one day and had to grab a shot. He has a nice smile, don't you think so? You should carry your camera with you at all times!

( Olympus C2100-UZ with Olympus B Macro lens)

At the car show- a picture within a picture.

(Canon 30D)

Almonds are good for you. Have a bowl! These ones have a smoky seasoning on them. Good!

(Canon 30D with 100mm f2.8 USM Macro)

"Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night
and stealing Oreo cookies."
~ Diane Arbus ~

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gourds + Images from Fuji FinePix F30

I love the shapes and colors of this assortment of gourds.

(Sony DHC H2)

I bought a little Fuji FinePix F30 pocket camera because of its reputation for low noise at higher resolutions. I'm glad I got it - it hasn't disappointed me. I love it for black and white images. It, as well as the Sony H2, goes with me everywhere. I found a small camera bag that has space for both cameras, plus an outside compartment where I can carry personal items. Goodbye purse.

These images were taken on my desk with a 60 watt bulb on a shelf 2 feet away being the only available light. No flash was used.

(Fuji FinePix F30 - ISO 400)

(Fuji FinePix F30 - ISO 1600!)

The F30 is great for color images too. This one was taken under the same conditions as the last 2 images. I did boost the saturation in this image a little, although there is a setting in the camera that would have done the same thing when the picture was taken. (I use either Adobe Photoshop or Elements for image editing.)

(Fuji FinePix F30 - ISO 800)

"If there is a good thing about photography, it is that it can be easily enjoyed."
~ Snowdon ~

Friday, October 26, 2007


(Canon DSLR 30D and 85mm f1.8 USM)

I'm not a professional photographer, but I became interested in photography in a big way when I got my first digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 900S. I could experiment with taking pictures to my heart's content and not worry about ruining or running out of film! Several digital cameras and a couple DSLRs are in my bag of tools now.

What you'll see here are images created In My Own Backyard, so to speak. Each of us is surrounded by beauty wherever we are - we have only to open our eyes, learn to see what the camera sees and find interesting ways of capturing all that beauty. Recently, a new pup came to live with us. Ahhhh, a new and fun subject to photograph! All of her pictures will be put in a digital scrapbook and some will make it to this blog.

Since we are experiencing a pretty autumn season here in the Midwest in the USA, it is fitting that my first image depicts some of that beauty.

Here is Sadie. How could we resist this sweet little girl? Isn't she the cutest little dog? She's a cross between a toy fox terrier and a beagle.

(Sony DSC H2)

One of her ornery looks - she keeps the house filled with laughter. If it's true that laughter extends one's life-expectancy, then we extended ours by 20 years when we brought this little character home with us:

(Canon 30D with 100mm f 2.8 USM Macro)

And here she is today at approximately 20 weeks of age. After seeing this look I decided I'd better look around the house to see if she'd done something bad. No, she hadn't, so I think she just wanted a hug. She's so cute when she gets one of these expressions that we pick her up and hug her. Hmmmm, who's doing the training around here?

(Canon 30D with 85mm f1.8 USM)

"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."
~ Dorothea Lange ~