Sunday, August 2, 2015

Photographing Cards Tutorial

This is my tutorial for the One Crazy Stamper blog!  I'm going to share a few tips and ideas today on taking photos of your cards.  Let me start by saying that I am NOT an expert photographer!  Many of my cards take hours to produce; I take pride in my work and want to show it in the best possible way, so I've taken the time to learn a few tricks of the trade.  I'm going to talk about lighting, angles and editing. Funnily enough, the card I made today is one of the more difficult ones to photograph, I have an easel card to share, using Art Impressions Girlfriends - here is the finished photo:
And here it is flat, before setting it up:

I first want to show you my photography setup.  This is my craft table, I am lucky to have it sitting next to a large, north facing window - which is a perfect location for photography.

 Other than two Ott lights, I have no professional equipment.  I grab a storage cube from the shelf behind me and plunk it down on my table.  Then I grab a large piece of lightweight, flexible white cardstock that I bought at a stationary store ($1?) that becomes both my base and backdrop - you can see how I set it up against the cube.  Because this makes a seemless backdrop, there are no corners, edges or shadows behind my cards, just a plain white background.  I keep the lights always plugged in, sitting on the shelf behind me.  Because everything is close at hand, my photography set up is less than a minute - no fancy set up required.

Notice the angle that I have everything placed at?  I have my cards facing directly into the light coming in through the window.  NATURAL LIGHT IS YOUR FRIEND!  Find a spot in your home with a good supply of indirect light (direct sunlight is too harsh).  Use whatever you have at hand to set your card on (chair/table/dresser).  For me, the Ott lights provide an extra boost of "daylight" and mean less editing of my photos - and a lot of my shots are taken at night, so they provide my daylight.  If you have a good location with natural light, you may not need lights at all.  And yes, I wedge myself right up against the window to take my shots.  Your light source should be coming from behind you, shining directly onto your work.
Here are two things to avoid.  The shot on the left has the light in the room pointing behind the card, so the card is darker than the background.  If all you're working with is an overhead light in the room, it should be over and behind your head as you take photos, so that as much light as possible falls on the front of your card.  The shot on the right has a lamp shining on it from the left, leaving the right half of the card in shadow.  This is why I use two lights - one on each side as shown below. 

 I play with them and move them around so that no shadows or bright spots appear on the card, and the light is evenly distributed.  Next up: ANGLES

Take just a few extra seconds to position YOURSELF and your camera properly.  The shot on the left is an exaggerated example of the photographer being positioned too high over the card.  The shot on the right is simply snapped too quickly without a thought for position, resulting in a badly misshapen card.  Put yourself down at the same level as your card (trust me, my chin is on or below my craft table).  I look through my viewfinder to make sure that the edges of the card appear perfectly up and down.  Try resting against something to help steady yourself.  Make sure that you're not tilting the camera forwards or back.  I take at least a dozen shots of every card, since I can't always be steady or perfectly positioned.  The luxury of using digital cameras is the ability to take multiple photos in order to select a good one.

EDITING - After downloading my photos onto my computer and selecting the shots I will use, I edit them before putting them on my blog.  I have used Photoshop, Lightroom and Picasa, but prefer to use a free online site called Picmonkey.  I'm going to keep my editing tips brief to keep this post from getting too long!
Here is what I do after opening my photo:
1) Crop - Get rid of excess space around your photo, I leave a little bit to frame my card.
2) Exposure - I play with Brightness and Highlights to make my card as bright as possible.
3) Colour - I use Saturation to intensify colours when needed, and the temperature button allows you to warm up or cool down a photo.  Only minute adjustments are needed.  Sunny/snowy/cloudy days all have different effects on your photos so this is a great way to compensate for odd colour casts on your photos.
4) Click on the 2nd icon which is Effects - I usually add "Dark Edges" to my photos, to add a soft grey halo around the outside.
5) I use the butterfly icon to add my OCS watermark to my photos, or you can use the font icon to type your own watermark.
6) Finally, I resize my photos, making the largest side of my photo 800 pixels (this is adequate for a blog, make it 1200 or 1500 if you want a sharper resolution).
7) Now hit save, and this is how I reduce the size of my photos before saving them onto my desktop - it makes them a better size for uploading and emailing them to others.

Here are photos of my card, the first shot is how it came directly out of the camera, and finally you'll see my edited version as described above that I would post on my blog.  This is NOT a long process!  All of the steps above take me about 2 minutes per photo since I just repeat the same editing functions every time.  Between photography and editing - it adds about 10minutes to my prepping of a blog post, which I feel is well worth it.  I hope you've found a few tips here to help you put your best foot (or photo!) forward.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Birthday Front & Back

It's the first of August!  Which means a whole bunch of inspiration on the One Crazy Stamper blog.  I am sharing a fun birthday card using Art Impressions  Front & Back - Eat Itself Set (Sku #4567):
 This stamp set comes with a front upper body image and a full lower body image that is the rear view.  I coloured both images with Copic markers, cut them out and glued them together.  I assembled my card body, cut out a window opening, and positioned my birthday girl peeking out of it.  Here's the view from the inside:

 Be sure to check out what inspiration the rest of the Design Team has to share with you over on the OCS blog!  Products found in the OCS store:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Create a Card Set challenge

Hello Ai challenge fans!!  When I heard that we were making card sets for this week's challenge, I immediately thought of the Windows to the World collection of Art Impressions stamps, and came up with the idea of doing one for each season - so here are winter, spring, summer & fall:
This is Lighthouse Window (Sku #M3175) and Christmas Village Window (Sku # M3184)
Here are Antiques Window (Sku #M4587) and Gazebo Window (Sku #M3174)
Whenever I make a set of cards as a gift, I like to make a little coordinating holder, so I made this fun little file folder that holds all four cards & their envelopes:
 I started with a  10 1/2" x 6"piece of kraft cardstock, scoring it 4 1/2" in from each side; and I cut a curvy shape off each upper corner.  The base piece is 7" x 2 1/2", scored 2" up from the bottom, with 1/2" flaps scored to fold and glue it together:
 Here it is decorated and ready to assemble (oh, and the best part is that all it takes is one piece of  8 1/2 x 11" cardstock and some scraps to decorate it:

So get crafting and show us your card sets!   You can link up your creation over on the Art Impressions blog.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Easter in July!

I am posting on the Art Impressions blog today!
It just doesn't seem fair that Christmas gets all the focus in July... so I'm sharing a little Easter love with you today.  Bunny & Egg (Sku #4596) is one of the images now available at AC Moore stores:
 I've added one of the Ai sentiments: Just For You (Sku #F3143) available through the Art Impressions website, and a few sequins to sparkle things up a bit.  Happy stamping!
Copics used: E55, E53, E51, E50, G46, G43, G40, R24, R22, R20, B01, B00, B000, Y23

Thursday, July 23, 2015

In With the New Challenge

Today I'm sharing my card for the current challenge over on the Art Impressions blog, which is "In With the New" - we want to see a creation with your newest stamp!  So I am using one of the images from the newest Ai stamp set that is available at Michaels "Wine Diva" (SC0677):
 Isn't she divine?  I coloured her up with Copic markers, and paper pieced her comfy chair.  I added a tiny sparkle to her hand to make it look like she's wearing a huge diamond, and I added some clear Wink of Stella to her outfit to give it a little glimmer.  Then I zigzagged around the circle with some black thread and added the sentiment: At our age we're going to need glasses... LOTS AND LOTS OF THEM!
 On the inside, I added another one of the sentiments that comes in the set:
 So dig into your latest stash of purchases, and pull out your newest stamp to make a little something for our challenge - and be sure to check out what the rest of the Design Team is sharing with us over on the Ai blog

Copics used: Skin tones - E13, E11, E00, E000, R20
Pinks - RV19, RV17, RV14, RV13
Reds - R59, R37, R35, R32, R30
Blues - B02, B01, B00
Hair - Y21, E50

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Toadaly Cool

I am posting on the Art Impressions blog today!
A few months ago, I did a card using the little crab from the Frog & Crab Mini Set (Sku #4406)... and I had an idea for how I could use the little frog that comes in the set, which I have finally made come to life!
 I wanted to make a bunch of the little guys, and have it look like they were hopping onto a lily pad... so I hand cut an oval shape with a notch cut into it - and by putting some green paper on the inside of the card, the negative die cut became my lily pad (I know, some of my cards can be a bit of a stretch!!).  It's a little easier to see what I was going for when the card is shut:
 I love that when you open up the card, a couple of the frogs are peeking in, too.
 To make assembling my card even easier - I've used the Frog & Crab Mini Dies (Sku #4539) to cut out all of the little pieces.  Check out all of the Mini Front & Backs in the Art Impressions store - you can find them all here!  Happy stamping everyone!
Copics used: YG05, YG03, YG01, YG67, YG63, YG61, E51, E50


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