Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Right Tools

I'm convinced that having the correct tools for a job pretty much always makes a difference. A job that might have been difficult at best suddenly becomes not only easier, but potentially joyful. But I'm also slow to upgrade, even when the job I'm trying to do is pretty important to me. It's not just that I resist spending the money (though that's often the case, and that's a whole other discussion), but frequently, even when a task feels overwhelmingly difficult, it simply doesn't even occur to me that there might be something that would make it easier. Or that maybe I'm not just naturally terrible at whatever I'm trying to do.

For several years now, I've been meaning to get my jewelry up in an etsy shop. But the picture taking has sort of been killing me--I started out trying to get good shots of my tiny, shiny, glassy, silvery pieces with a little Canon Powershot thingy, and it did not go well. At all. A friend loaned me his Nikon digital thingy (as you can see, "thingy" is clearly a technical photography term--I apologize if my professional jargon is intimidating to you). The Nikon digital thingy was taking less than great shots, and since the camera was Big and Important Looking with many functions and features, I assumed I was just having serious operator error issues. (Frankly, the operator error issues remain uncontested.)

A kind new friend came over one day to try to figure out how I could get some better shots of my stuff with the Nikon, and she definitely helped me. (And she's still owed a necklace of little bronze leaves as a thank you! Yikes!) We figured out how to change the white balance on the camera, and that was helpful, and she showed me a few other tricks, and by the end of our hour together I had enough confidence to take some jewelry outside and squeeeeeeze a few halfway decent pictures out of the camera. I found Picnik for editing purposes, which also helped, and there was no denying the pictures were way better than I'd been getting prior to that day.

But. They still left a lot to be desired. And I've generally felt a low-level, background interference sort of discouragement and anxiety about the whole thing--like I was going to have to gain an enormous new artistic skill in order to sell my jewelry. A skill I'd very much like to have, but you know, I don't want to have to drop everything to become a photographer just so I can throw some stuff up on etsy.

Then tonight, my lovely sweetie gave me an astounding early birthday (Chanukah, New Year's, Valentine's, President's Day...) gift--a Canon EOS Rebel T2i (for those of you who are
not intimidated by jargon and camera geekery). Mind you, I still have utterly no clue what I'm doing, but somehow this thingy feels more intuitive than the thingies I'd been using, and in addition, I'm quickly developing a suspicion that you actually can't take a terrible picture with it.

I give you two pictures of my jewelry--taken at night, indoors, under a mixture of compact fluorescent and daylight tube-type fluorescent lights. No editing to speak of. (Except to shrink these babies down, because the camera? It's an 18 megapixel monster of clarity. Even on the lowest quality setting these pictures are ginormous.)

It may be that something of my excitement will be lost on you if you didn't get to see the abysmal and then slightly less than abysmal results I was getting from the other cameras I was using. I realize the shots below aren't brilliant photography or anything, but you're gonna need to trust me, the difference is sort of jaw dropping already. I can't wait to see what I'll be able to do in daylight when I actually know how to work the darn thing.

Silver clay moon and tree pendant imprinted with a photopolymer plate

Silver clay twig with fused glass cabochon and bronze wire


  1. Ooooooo! Beautiful photos. And perfect for etsy.

    Are you going to host another jewelry boutique thingy?

    I can really relate to both camera frustration and but-I-don't-want-to-learn-a-new-skill frustration (my nemesis is The Gimp, a photoshop-type programs).

  2. Need. more. picturesofjewelry on HAMAMA, please. xox

  3. Wow, pretty awesome difference, I have to say. The moon and tree pendant really looks like itself. Happy pre-birthday! What a cool husband you've got, there... xox

  4. Thanks guys! It really is an astonishing piece of machinery. And so, so light in weight. And yeah, the sweetie is pretty okay--and not just because he got me a cool birthday present. ;-)

    (Lis, what this blog needs is a link to my etsy shop, with pics. Of course, that means I actually need to set up the etsy shop... Working on it!)

    (You two are going to model jewelry for me so that my etsy customers can see what the pieces look like being worn by beautiful women, yes?)

    (And yes, Suzanne! The sale thingy is on the agenda. Now if I were only on top of making some more jewelry to sell at said thingy...)

  5. The woman who bought your necklace at last year's RB auction wears it all the time... and every time I see her I say "I love that necklace! My friend Amy made it, donchaknow," and then she replies, "Yes! I love it too!"

  6. Yes, I love it when stuff that I had blown up in my mind as extra-daunting turns out to be pretty simple -- whether it's because of the right tool, or just because. I had an experience of that the other day with consulting online knitting videos. o internet!

  7. oh, photographing for etsy was absolutely full of fear and frustration for me for a long time. I was so discouraged that every time I tried, I would go into it with a bad attitude which produced even worse results. Luckily, I can scan my drawings too, so I was able to get some pics up more easily than I would have if I made jewelry.

    I think it takes lots of patience, and letting yourself suck. My photos are still not always tip top amazing, but I've gotten a lot better just from trying and trying again. Hang in there! The most gratifying thing is seeing yourself improve--and who says all of your pictures have to be fantastic when you're just starting out?? Everyone's on a learning curve. That said, these pictures here are really good! I commend you for staying in the game!

    P.S.: thanks for your comments over on my blog and for leading me to your blog!

  8. Hi Nicole! I completely agree it's not necessary to be a stellar photographer when one is just starting--and that, in fact, is what this "half-assed" business is all about, isn't it? Not getting bogged down by perfectionism. And it's so true that it's super rewarding to see your own skills improving--I actually love taking pictures just for its own sake, so I'm looking forward to knowing more.

    But *that* being said, I strongly advise against trying to get good pictures of anything small and shiny-like with a Powershot or even a more serious digital camera...that happens to be many years old. ;-)

    (And I've seen your etsy shop [which I would link to here, if I could get the $#*$#*& connection I'm using to cooperate--but everyone should go look at Nicole's lovely artwork by following her link above], and your pictures do everything they need to do! I love your alphabet series particularly.)

  9. Ggaaaaagghgh!
    The saving the world card set? I could eat it.