Friday, May 30, 2014

SDN15 earrings and picture-taking woes

I posted earlier today on my Creative Pursuits Facebook page that I was going to be knee-deep in Super Duos and 15/0 seed beads while I take process shots for a new tutorial.  I had some distractions - phone calls and visits from a few contractors to give us estimates for running gas piping throughout the house (we're purely electric/oil and want to change that) - but I did get a lot done.

Remember the spiky, "Dino-spine" bracelet I blogged about a lot (the final bracelet can be seen here) and the pendant to match?  Those are going to be part of my "SDN15" suite of designs.  That sounds fancy, doesn't it?  The more I play with the base triangles, the more ideas I come up with.  I'm writing an "SDN15 Basics" tutorial, and all the other designs will assume that you know the terminology and how to make the parts of the triangle.

But before I can make the tutorial, I need to take those pictures I talked about.  I mentioned recently (in my last Hera's Seduction earrings post) that I've been moving away from using my purple bead mat and onto white or gray backgrounds to save cyan ink.  The problem with the white backgrounds is that they're not white, no matter how I try.

Here's the first step of the SDN15 instructions:

That's on a white piece of paper with two Ott lights shining down on it.  I have the white balance option checked, and I have the exposure bumped up to +1.0, but it's still gray.  I'm not happy with it.  I started a discussion on my personal Facebook wall about it, and unfortunately there was nothing anyone could suggest that I could do.  I have a Sony Cyber-shot (I reviewed it here), and I can't change the aperture or shutter speed settings (that I know of).  I modified the picture in Photoshop by fiddling with the exposure slider, but that made everything a bit too washed out, not just the background.

After doing some searching online, I found a discussion that mentioned light boxes (which haven't worked, either) and fancy camera settings that I don't have.  The other thing they mentioned was Levels.  I tried it in the "Quick" mode and didn't like it.  I tried it in the "Guided" mode and found a white eyedropper.  Ooh, what does that do?  I clicked it and clicked the background of my picture, and...

Huh.  It looks a lot whiter in my graphics program and in my Word document than it does on the screen here.  There must be some converting going on that I don't have control over.  You'll have to take my word for it, I guess.  It looks a lot better.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of steps to get from a gray background to a white one, including all the saving and "yes, I really want to replace the picture" clicking going on.  Using the Ctrl+L shortcut saves a little bit of time, but not much.

However, it's a lot easier than my eternal struggle to get a white background from the camera alone.  I give up.

Sometimes, though, I get lucky.  Using my new simple rack that Steve made for me so I could take better pictures of earrings, I took some pictures of the earrings I made that will go in the "SDN15 Basics" tutorial.  Here's the best one of the bunch:

That's a little grayer than in my graphics program, too.  Oh, well.  It should be clear enough for you to see the earrings.  I've been taking earring pictures by positioning the rack with the light pointed right at it, and I duck down to put the camera right under the lamp.  It's not ideal, but it's getting the job done.  I don't know of another way to get a head-on shot.  Yes, I could use a tripod, but the camera would still be wedged in under the lamp.

Enough about the pictures.  What do you think of the earrings?  Oh - have I mentioned what "SDN15" means?  "Super Duos 'n 15/0s."  Kim from Knot Just Beads came up with that, and it's brilliant.  I frequently have problems coming up with names that others haven't already come up with.

While I was taking pictures today I lined up two of the triangles in a different way, and I think I may have yet another design brewing in my head!  The possibilities are endless.

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