Monday, April 29, 2013

You Have to Walk Before you Run a.k.a. Learn Your Camera and Settings

by:  Karra of Islay Corners 
As many of you know I sell home decor art photos on Etsy.  I participate in many groups on Etsy, one of which is the Etsy Treasury Team (the ETTEAM).  The ETTEAM is one of the longest running treasury teams on Etsy.
What is a Treasury?  A treasury is a curated list of items sold on Etsy based on a theme such as color, occasion, or event.  The ETTEAM creates treasuries as a method of promoting items to sellers and shoppers alike.
The ETTEAM has asked me to write a few blog posts about photographing for Etsy because pictures sell your products!  Below is the first of the series, enjoy!
Well, I can’t take nice photos because my camera isn’t fancy, I only have a point and shoot…oh boy, I hear this a lot. I’m not technically savvy, I hear this a lot too.
I’m here to tell you, it’s not the camera but the operator that is the real value when it comes to photography.  You can have a $3000 DSLR camera body with $2000 lens attached and still take a lousy picture.  And you can take a great shot with a cheap point and shoot.
A little knowledge can be very powerful.  Take the time to learn about your camera.  You can’t just pick up a camera and suddenly you are Herb Ritz…although it would be nice right?
The trick is to know what you can do with what you’ve got.  Photographers call it ‘rocking what you’ve got’ because the best camera you’ve got is the one that you have with you at the time.  If you can get it mostly right in camera, you can cut your post processing time (PP) by a lot.
My first photography teacher tells a story about how he has a picture framed in his studio that he took with a low megapixel camera back in the early days of digital photography.  He gets loads of compliments on it and people are amazed that it was with such a simple camera by today’s standards.  See, you’ve got to ‘Rock what you’ve got!’
Before we delve too far into things, I will ask you if you have done the first thing every photography instructor has asked me -- have you read your manual?
I will confess, I hate reading the manual but you would be shocked how many light bulbs go off when you do!  You have to walk before you run.  You have to learn about your camera by reading the manual.  You will thank yourself later.
I know it’s a simple thing but it’s amazing how useful it can be when you want to take something more than a quick snapshot of your family.  Mind you, you should read it anyways because you will then be able to take better pictures of your family!
And while I’m talking about family photos, preserve those moments and print them out!  Digital images get lost way too easily!  If you opt to capture moments with your smartphone, print them out!  There are many options for easy printing from smartphones!  Stepping off my soapbox now…
If you have misplaced your manual, go to your manufacturer’s web site and search using your camera’s name, they usually have manuals in PDF form.
I can you say, “Great, I’ve downloaded the PDF but I don’t have a printer?”…Many e-readers/tablets/phones now have PDF reader software so you do not have to print it out.
Nope, there is really no reason not to read the manual now!
So after you have located your camera’s manual, what’s the next step?  READ IT!
If need be due to time constraints, try to focus on these areas at the bare minimum:
* how to your focus mode
* how to does your camera tell you the image is in focus
* how to set focus points
* how to set white balance
* how to use P mode (better yet learn to use Av/Tv or M if these are options)
* how to set aspect ratio
* how to set metering mode
* how to transfer files from your camera from your camera to your computer
* how to use your flash or turn it off
In a nutshell, sit down and read a chapter a day/evening and practice until you have read it cover to cover and then do it again until you have your settings down.  If you are more so a visual learner, try searching or for how-to videos on your camera in addition to reading the manual.
When you started creating whatever product you sell on Etsy, you had to learn how to do that right?  Well, the same goes for photography.
Sit with your camera and take test shots using what you’ve learned.  It’s free these days, you don’t have to pay for film.  Grab your product and start shooting it while you learn.
Here are some things to practice while you are learning:
* Shoot zoomed in/out
* Practice focusing while zoomed in/out (you may find that you need to zoom less and crop for a tighter shot later in PP)
* Practice taking a close up (also called a macro shot) without zooming
* See what happens when you use flash and when you don’t
* Try shooting by a window or open door
* See what happens when you change position
Don’t limit yourself to your products – it’s spring (despite what the forecast says), go photograph something outside!  Photograph something in the shade, photograph it in direct sunlight, photograph on a cloudy day, just go out and photograph something!  It’s all practice!
Have fun!  Stay tuned for future posts about photography!
Karra from

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Try Creating a Color Palette by Kathy of Bay Moon Design

Thank you Kathy of Bay Moon Design on Etsy for sharing this lovely and informative article with Etsy Treasury Team Blog readers! Reprinted from her April 13th Blog article. Great information for anyone who is interested in combining colors (I think that must be just about everyone.) Enjoy!

Try Creating a Color Palette

"Walk in the Meadows at Argenteuil" by Claude Monet

"Walk in the Meadows at Argenteuil" by Claude Monet is a wonderful inspiration for April's Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge, since most of us are coming out of a dreary winter to a glorious spring.   I am in the habit of following Brandi Hussey's color palette which creates for this challenge. I waited until Brandi posted this one before I started my entry to this months challenge.

What I love so much about this particular painting is that it so perfectly mimics spring where I live in Key Largo, Florida. The orange geiger (Cordia sebestena) is the most well-known, with showy, deep orange flowers that contrast nicely against the tree's coarse green leaves.
I think it the most beautiful of Florida native trees.  Actually, no one knows for sure if the geiger is a Florida native or if it was introduced long ago from Cuba or elsewhere.  It was named in the 1830's by John James Audubon after John Geiger (a harbor pilot who salvaged sunken treasure off the coast of Key West) with whom Audubon stayed and painted. There is even a Geiger Key which is a small island.

As I pulled color inspiration for my challenge piece, I decided I had to use the  yellowish green that dominates the picture, different shades of green, and peach.  These colors say spring to me.  I found those colors in a beautiful ceramic by Marsha Neal Studio.

Roseate Spoonbill  by Audubon--image from

I did some research on creating a color palette because I find this is extremely helpful to me.   I wanted to see what the color palette for the Aububon picture Roseate Spoonbill is so I 

used a free tool on the web called Pictulous to create the color palette below.

Another great article on the topic of color palettes is found on the Art Bead Scene blog at Art Bead Scene Blog: Studio Saturday - Color Palette Inspiration
Heather Powers did a fantastic show of how she created a color palette for her new bead collection which I am crazy about!  I hope you will give creating a color palette a try if you haven't already.  I think it is a really helpful tool.