Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Turning over a new leaf!

To all of my amazing followers:

I've started a new blog after some time off. Please follow me there! I will continue to post about knitting, but will also post about my art work, crafting, and adventures in my life!

THANK YOU to everyone for all of your support! 

With Love,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Product Photography 101

Recently I have been asked by a few people about product photography. So I thought it would be a great idea (with some inspiration from my friend Carole Ann) to create a very simple tutorial for everyone to follow. Trust me when I say ANYONE can do this!

First thing is taking the actual image. Rule #1! GET CREATIVE with your surroundings! As nice as something on a white backdrop might look *sometimes, it's important to get creative! Use props, take images of your product on something that has a lot of texture to it, such as wood, or even on a bookshelf with some old books. This creates a little more stimulation for the eye.

Here is an example:
As you can see, the first one is a little boring. Although it may show off the product very well, it doesn't stimulate the eye enough to want to take a closer look. Where as the image on the right creates more of an interest. And there are two reasons for this. (1) texture and (2) color. Now you want to keep in mind that your background SHOULD NOT blend in with your product too much. Here's a bad example:
Although there is still a little bit of texture to the background, it isn't enough to do anything for the eye. Also, the black blends too much with the card, even though a portion of the outside of the card is gold. Now...if we put this card on a bookshelf with some old books that are different colors, watch what happens...
Much more interesting right?!

Now, you took your picture with some sort of interesting backdrop. Well I hate to tell ya folks, but it doesn't end here. It can if you want it to, but to bring it to the next level, you are going to have to do some post-editing in photoshop. No matter what camera you have, your pictures will not be PHENOMENAL unless you add some extra OOMF into it!

But photoshop is where the fun is! Here, I will show you a few simple steps to give your photo a little pop to it. The first step is cropping your images. You need to make sure you follow the rule of thirds. Not sure what this is? Just have a look.
Thank you so much to Ronin Studios Photography for the tutorial on rules of third. You should always try to place your subject somewhere where those lines cross. This can be done simply by cropping your image. The newest version of PhotoShop (CS5), has the rules of third built into their cropping tool.

Now I'm going to show you how to do this to your image:
Before & After

Once your image is cropped in PS, go to image>adjust>auto contrast. I don't suggest doing auto tone or auto color unless you know how to adjust it after doing so. Sometimes auto tone or auto color can really throw your image down the pooper. 

Now as you can see in the first image, the key is slightly blurry. You can fix this! Now I'm not saying you can take a picture of a running child and make him look like his standing still. However, you can certainly fix a situation like this! To do so, go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharpen mask 

Once you click this a window will open up that looks like this:
I set mine to Amount 88, Radius 4.4, and Threshold 0. You can adjust this to what looks best for you, but this usually works for most pictures. If you can't tell the difference, don't worry. It takes a while for your eye to recognize the difference. Especially if you've never done this before.

Now that you're image is slightly sharper, it's time to create what's called a LENS VIGNETTE. As you can see in the after photograph, the edges are darkened slightly. This essentially puts a spotlight onto your subject.

Select your lasso tool from your tool menu.
Select the area around your subject

I filled in the area that needs to be selected so you can see you have to select the SURROUNDING area.

With the area now selected, go to Edit > Copy > Edit > Paste. A new layer will show up in your layers menu. With this new layer, change it to Multiply and lower the opacity slightly (you can lower this again after you blur the layer) (see image)

Once this layer has made made to a multiply layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
I normally do not turn the radius all the way up, because then you might have the darker area "bleed" into your subject. Since this tutorial is for beginners, this isn't good.

Click OK! If you feel that there are dark areas of your subject now, you can just use the erase tool and erase whatever area you think is dark.

Now go to Layers > Flatten Image. And guess what! You're all done! HURRAH! This may take a while to get used to, but once you do, you'll be able to do this with your eyes closed. I do this to ALL of my photographs. And seeing as how I take a ton of photographs, you can imagine that it really doesn't take that long to do.

I hope everyone found this tutorial useful. I'd love to hear some feedback. If this is successful, then I will make some more fun tutorials. Like how to give your photograph a vintage feel to it, or how to create rounded edges (which is big now in the etsy world).

Now go take some gorgeous photographs! And if anyone has ANY questions, don't hesitate to ask. With over 4 years of PS experience under my belt, there's nothing I can't figure out for you!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's like falling in love all over again.

Recently I have found myself surrounded by some incredibly talented and creative people. It's a refreshing start to the new year, and has inspired me to create and expand my "talents". Last Wednesday my good friend Carole Ann from Connect the Dots invited me to go to a meeting with her. And I had the honor to experience the Hive Archive  which is a non-profit, feminist arts organization with a mission to promote gender equality by dismantling obstacles that limit women and girls in reaching their full potential. Being a self-proclaimed feminist my whole life, I was thrilled when I heard about this! We were able to discuss issues such as financial topics, media access (building websites etc), and we also discussed what we did in 2010 to move our businesses forward.  I could have made a list a mile long! Not only did I completely build my photography business from the ground up, but I also opened my creative side up. I started experimenting more with different forms of art. Knitting, painting, drawing. And everyday I seem to think of something new that I want to try!

Needless to say the creative juices are flowing now more than ever! And it's quite a freeing feeling. It's like falling in love all over again. I am falling in love with my art work, with the drive to create, and I'm even trying to "Get out" there more with my art. I met a very cool girl Adj Marshall who creates custom jewelry pieces from silverware and scrap metal (along with making some pretty awesome dresses out of ties...yes...ties!). I met up with her yesterday to give her some old skeleton keys that have been sitting around my house for decades, and she told me all about AS220 and their art workshops. I'm not at all new to AS200, having a few "hipster" friends that practically live there. But I've never experienced their workshops before. And after hearing about their photography workshops, I am quite intrigued. Needless to say I will be contacting someone...anyone...this week about these workshops! It would be wonderful if I could volunteer my services there. 

So what have I been doing with all this creative energy?! Well...I've opened an Etsy shop! GASP! Intimidating, but very exciting. As of right now I only have some vintage goodies on there, but I just finished my first knitted project that will be going on there very, very soon! It's a great winter project as well, seeing as how the photography business is slow during this season. Along with opening an Etsy shop, and knitting my fingers to the bone, I have discovered the art of paper cutting! And I have to say I am officially addicted! 

I will be putting these sexy pieces of paper up on Etsy as well! I never knew I had the ability to do this type of art, and was pretty excited when I finished my first piece (top image). We will see what happens with this!

And now as promised, here is an image of the scarf I made my mom for Christmas.
I got the pattern for this scarf from the book "Closely Knit"
She loves this scarf and it's just what she needed to go with her "fancy church coat". 

Now for some UFO'S (unfinished objects)
Here's the start of a pair of socks. I've never knit two-at-a-time before, but its INCREDIBLY easy, and makes knitting socks go by so fast! I would highly suggest the book "2 at a time socks" by Melissa Morgan-Oaks. Her explanation of how to knit two at a time is very easy to understand. Trust me, if I can do it anyone can!

Here's yet another UFO! My first sweater! I'm knitting from the top down, which only seems to make sense to me. I know some people don't knit sweaters this way, but it seems to work for me...Plus I can adjust the length as I go. As of right now I have the upper chest done, and once the torso is finished I will go back and knit the sleeves, and knit a ribbed collar.

As you can tell I've been very busy! I'd love to hear what you have been up to. Make anything recently? Any new years resolutions? Anything you MUST create this year? (Mine is to finish this sweater, and possibly make 2 or 3 more).

Hope everyone is doing well!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Over!

My goodness it has been so long since my last post!! Now that the Holidays are over (thank goodness), and the mad rush from clients to get prints for Christmas is all done (yay!) I can now sit peacefully in front of my computer and update my blog. Something that I haven't been able to do in what seems like ages! And today is an exceptionally nice day to update seeing as how I am stuck in my house from the blizzard that is blowing through New England right now!

Last we spoke it was the end of the Fall Season. And what a beautiful fall it was!!! I miss it very much, but winter has been good to me so far. But really now, Autumn went by way too fast! Here's a few photographs from the end of my autumn :)
Although Fall went by very fast winter seems to be doing the same. I think it's because I've been so busy. I wish I could say that I've been knitting my little fingers off, day in and day out, 24/7, but that simply is not the case. November and December both were filled with client bookings, and all of December was also crammed with print orders (due to Christmas). Which meant I've been more busy than normal. Luckily I got to take a few days off near Thanksgiving (and got a lot of knitting done during it)! It was nice to have a few days off...even though it simply was not enough time to regain mental sanity. But this Thanksgiving was one of the best I've had! This was Miles's first Thanksgiving with my family, and it was also his first Birthday with my family. His Birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year. So it was twice the celebration! And it was so wonderful to have everyone around up at the farm!! I made Miles a Birthday Pie...because he doesn't like Birthday cake. I also made my famous magic bars and peppermint bark.
 My peppermint bark and my moms famous peanut butter cookies!
 The boys relaxing before the big thanksgiving feast! Miles and Mr.Fisk the cat (Left) And my brother-in-law Jeff (Right)
 So much good food!!!! Miles Blowing out the candles to his birthday pie, and my nephew Nolan took a picture with his bug chocolates...which he wanted "him and I" to make, but I ended up making it all by myself!

Thanksgiving was so great and it was wonderful to have Miles around for it! Last year we spent it up in NH which was nice, but I get home-sick VERY easily, especially for Holidays. So I was incredibly happy when Miles agreed to spend Thanksgiving at my house, even though I told him he could go to NH and spend it with his family.
But like everything else Thanksgiving was there and gone in a flash, and it was back to work for me! My Christmas knitting list was getting shorter by the day!! Finally it ended up being:
Tiffany (my sister)
Jeff (my brother-in-law)
Well...I almost did it! But I'm sad to report that I failed at my task! I guess I under-estimated how busy I would be with my photography work. BUT, I still managed to get 3 1/2 of the gifts finished! My Moms, Tiffs, Jeffs and Miles's. I will have to post pictures of them later, but I wasn't able to get pictures of everyone with their gifts.
Needless to say gifts completed or not I still had an AMAZING Christmas! Two days before Christmas my mom and I spent at least 12 hours in the kitchen baking cookies! It was so much fun and a lot of hard work but we made some ridiculously tasty treats!
 Kuma and Mister Fisk spent the day in the kitchen with my Mom and I while we were baking cookies for Christmas.
 Sugar Cookies!
Peppermint cookies! DELICIOUS! Our Christmas tree was beautiful and overflowing with gifts!
  Top Left: My Mushroom Meringues
 I also made some "Mushroom" meringues. They were super easy to make and turned out to be a big hit at Christmas dinner!

Christmas eve was essentially Christmas for my family. My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew all came up to spend the day with us, and Miles too when he got out of work! This year my parents made a little ice skating rink in the back yard, and we all went out and skated on it! I didn't have skates but I still thought it would be fun to go out and slide around...that is before I fell and almost broke my a$%!!! 
 After we were done skating we cleaned up and went to Christmas Eve Mass. Then came home and had a GIANT dinner which consisted of lobster, fish and chips, bake stuffed shrimp, and wine! Then we all got to open gifts!

Stockings hanging up above the fireplace!

One this I inherited from my mother is her obsessive compulsive, over-indulging, boarder-line hoarding behavior to decorating for Christmas. Every Christmas season it looks like Santa came to our house early and threw up all over our living room! And because I was raised this way, I decorate EVERYTHING and ANYTHING! Poor Miles! Our house will be clad with Santa Claus heads, snowman, and reindeer. And a fake Christmas tree with more ornaments than we will know what to do with! And it will probably stay up for at least 2 weeks after Christmas! Even now I find myself sitting here listening to Christmas music while I type this all out!
Just a few of our decorations!!!

Now that it's all said and done Christmas was great! I will be finishing the rest of the gifts soon, and once those are all done I will be starting on new projects! Giving myself this task has really expanded my knitting techniques. I tried new things I've never done before. I feel much more advanced now than I did and the start of all this! And I don't feel afraid to tackle new patterns and projects! Plus my wonderful fiance bought me a magic loop and a knit-two-at-a-time sock book! SO EXCITED! Thank you honey!!!
I did manage to capture a few shots of my sisters scarf.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and beautiful holiday season filled with laughter and love! And may this New Year bring you good fortune!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let's add some pressure to the cooker!

I have suddenly felt an overwhelming feeling that I have taken on an impossible task! With only 3 of my knitting gifts barely half done, I'm wondering if I can actually do it. Needless to say my christmas list has gotten shorter. Now it only includes my immediate family and my fiance! Unfortunately I won't be able to upload any pictures until after Christmas of certain gifts! My fiance and sister check my blog (maybe less frequently then I'm told...but I won't risk it!)
For now I will ask for some positive words of encouragement! Please?! Hopefully I will be able to upload some pictures of my mothers gift soon! She doesn't check my blog!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Striped Mittens Pattern

Striped Mittens

As promised here is the pattern to my striped mittens :) It's not perfect so bare with me!

(By the way, I blindly picked the size of my needles. The yarn is a cashmere blend. Main color is the Blue, Contrasting color is the Red)

Size 3&4 DPNs

Size XS. SUPER XS!!!! I am teeny tiny and there are even a little tight on me!

Arm and Wrist:
On size 3 DPNs, CO 36 st. with MC. Divide between 3 needles. Join.
Cast on more than 36st if you have larger hands.
K2, P2 repeat to end of round an PM.
Continue K2, P2 ribbing for about 3/4in - 1 in

Switch to size 4 DPN. Join CC.
Knit one round even.
At beginning of next round do a jogless join. **This creates continuos stripes.
Not sure how to do a jogless join? Jogless Join. In simple text: pick up the stitch below the first stitch and knit it together with the first stitch. It's pretty simple to do!
Repeat the jogless join on the second round of each stripe, every time you switch your colors.**

After these two rows, switch to MC and K two rows even, continuing with the jogless join.

*Row 5: K1, K2tog, Knit to 3 stitches before end of round, ssk, k1
row 6-8: K, continuing with stripes*
*Repeat these 4 rows five more times (24st).

Knit 10 rows even

Thumb Gusset
Row 1: K around to last 4 st. (place marker) P1, KFB, M1, K1, (place marker) P1
Rows 2-3: K even
*Row 4: K to first purl st. P1, KFB, Knit to 2 stitches before final purl st. KFB, K1, P1
Rows 5-6: Knit even
Repeat from * 4 more times, until you have 14 st between the two purl stitches. The marker helps you keep track of where your first and last purl stitches are.

Next row: Knit to 1st purl stitch, P1, place 14 stitches onto waste yarn. Cast on 6 stitches using the backward loop method, P1 (28 st)

Knit even in stripe pattern until the top of the mitten reaches just below your knuckles when you try it on. For me this was 10 rows. End on a row of CC.

Place thumb stitches on 2 DNP. With a 3rd DPN, pick up the 6 stitches you made between the thumb and hand. Continuing in stripe pattern (starting in the middle of the thumb stitches), knit until 1 stitche remains on DPN. Knit this stitch together with the first picked up stitch on the next needle. This is important because in prevents a hole from forming. K4 picked up stitches. K the last picked up stitch together with the next thumb stitch. K to end.

Continue knitting in pattern for 9 more rows ending in CC. Switch to smaller needles and K2, P2. Continue for a little less that 3/4". Bind off loosely.

Mitt 2: Repeat this pattern but  work on the THUMB GUSSET on the first four stitches of the row instead of the last four.

The only thing I would have done differently to this pattern is I would have decreased in the thumb. My fingers are pretty thin so the thumb part fits loosely around my thumb and I would rather have it fit snug. That's just how I would like it though!!

Have fun with this!! I would love to see final projects from anyone who uses this pattern!! If you have any questions at all on it or need any help (or want to make any corrections with it), feel free to contact me!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yarn winders, Umbrella swifts, and Lenny

This past weekend was so much fun!! I did so much! Miles got a job (FINALLY!) so he will be moving back to Rhode Island as of November 1st. Let's just say I'm incredibly happy about that!! Though there may still be a lot of obstacles we have to overcome, at least now we will be able to overcome them together!

Sunday I had a great engagement session with a bride whose wedding I will be shooting on October 30th. It will be a masquerade wedding and I am incredibly excited about that! It will be a great addition to my portfolio. Plus I love fun weddings! My wedding will be very fun. We plan on having the ceremony be less than 10 minutes (I've never met anyone who actually ENJOYS sitting through a 45 minute ceremony at a church), and there will be lots of alcohol for everyone! Here's a preview from my session from Sunday

Although I wasn't feeling completely up to par, the shoot was pretty successful and went by very quickly. Those two boys on the end were so much fun and I got some great pictures of them! By the time the session was over I was tired and had a pretty bad migraine though. So once Miles and I got home I just wanted to stay in and cuddle. Which worked out great! We made lots of good food and carved a pumpkin together! I believe this is our second pumpkin carving as a couple! Miles wanted to take me to a bar at 12 a.m Sunday night for my Birthday which was Monday. Seeing as how I was turning 21 (legal in the states to drink), he wanted to buy me my first drink. Now don't get my wrong, I love my glass of wine, but I'm not a bar goer. Or a heavy drinker. I objected against the idea and we stayed in and cleaned up pumpkin guts at 12 am! How romantic!! But I have to say, I wouldn't have changed a single thing. I got some great creative energy out through pumpkin carving, and I got to spend it with my love!
We watched horror movies the whole time!!

We named our pumpkin Lenny. Not sure why, but it just looked like a Lenny to me! I originally wanted to name it George, but Lenny fit better!!

As I said before, Monday was my birthday. And I have to say, there are certain times that Miles REALLY impresses me. You know when a guy really goes the extra 10 (or 20) miles! That's what Miles did for my birthday. About 2 months ago I told him I wanted an umbrella swift and Yarn ball winder. It was just something I brought up in casual conversation while I was going on some rant about knitting and how much I enjoy it. Well...this wonderful man remembered it! He actually stored it somewhere deep down in his memory bank until my birthday! And he bought them for my birthday gift! Really now! What guy does that?!

I was so happy and excited that I had to try it out right away!!!! I was completely shocked that Miles actually bought me these two items :) Other things I got for my birthday was a great knitting pattern book and craft book from my sister, and a portfolio to add pictures into. My whole family was there for my birthday and we had a yummy family dinner! Then went on a spooky walk to my neighbors house to look at their halloween decorations (my nephew didn't even get scared!).

It really was a wonderful time! Now to get down to business! What I'm really here for! I know awhile ago I mentioned that I finished my mittens. Well now it's time for PICTURES!! yay!

I am really happy with the color combination!

Perfect for an engagement ring don't you think?

I took these bad boys on a test run to my nephews hockey practice. They were incredibly warm. And even though my fingers were completely exposed they stayed warm because the palm of my hand was so toasty! I PROMISE I will upload the pattern to these within the next couple days! I have it written down in my notebook which is currently missing in action! 

So what's the best birthday gift you've ever received?