Copies Rock

If you’ve been following my little blogging attempts for a while you’ll know that I have a great passion for old photos. Looking at them, talking about them, the people and places they show, and also displaying them. It’s my thing.

While a lot of people have kept negatives and slides from decades ago, and have the printed photo in an album or a picture frame, most would be hard pressed to find that particular negative or slide to have another print made, should their first print get lost or damaged in any way. And the vast majority of people do not even have any negatives or slides, either because they were thrown out eons ago or because their old photos are from a time where there weren’t any negatives. Or the photo they have hanging on the wall in their bedroom was done by a professional photographer, who didn’t hand out negatives or copies.

Displaying an original is not a good idea, because it definitely will get exposed to light (sunlight or artificial light) and very likely get exposed to dust, humidity, to the acids in non-archival frames, backings and matting, or get stuck to the glass of the frame, which happens more often than you might think.

Have a look around your home: if you have any photos displayed – and you should🙂 – are they the originals?

If they are, I suggest you tackle this task over your next free weekend, and have copies made, or make them yourself. Then you put the copy back up in its frame on the mantle piece and the original photo safely in an archival album. That way your original is not in any danger.

If it is already a copy, well done. Better check you still have that original, or the negative, or the slide, and if not, get a copy of that copy.

To get copies is so easy these days:

  • Use your copy/printer and simply print a copy of your photo. Naturally a copy on ordinary white copy paper won’t deliver a flash result, maybe you want to look into investing in some proper photo paper, it has come down in price a lot in recent years
  • Maybe you have a copy/printer + scanner. Scan your photo, save it on a thumb drive and go to your nearest photo print place. Prints cost next to nothing these days, and if it’s a good photo print place, they will be able to assist you if you have any questions.
  • If you have a fancy camera: put your photo on a flat white surface in a well lit room (no direct sunlight) and take a photo of your photo. You can then either upload on a computer or laptop or take your memory card directly to a photo print place. Or print it yourself if you have a decent printer and want to invest in photo paper.
  • Use your smartphone as you would the fancy camera.

Old photos in particular have odd sizes. Simply print bigger and use some fancy scissors to cut them out, like I did with the two shown in the picture.

Copies rock

Copies rock. I have a whole lot of them of original family photos like that, and I change them around all the time🙂

 

 


A Beautiful, Rare Thing

It is assumed but unfortunately not happening all that often and therefore a beautiful, rare thing: small business supporting each other.

Lovely Jen from Tupsy Turvy Designs is a small business and a fellow Made it seller. She took it upon herself to interview some of us about our businesses, why we’re doing what we’re doing and our future aspirations. She not only wrote about it in her blog but also promoted extensively in her social media. A generous and lovely thing to do.

So here I’m returning the love and invite you to visit her page, read about her journey, scroll through her blog posts, maybe sign up to her newsletter, and indulge in her creations in her Made it store.

Thank you Jen xx

 


Digital Ironing

It was very exciting when a client hired me to digitize a large part of her collection of her late mother’s fashion illustrations.

Fashion illustration was the main form of advertisement for fashion designers, clothing manufacturing companies and department stores. The designs were not only displaying the styles of their day but also a certain lifestyle.

The collection I worked with consists of fashion illustrations from the mid 1930s, fashion sketches on full double-sided magazine style spreads from the 1940s and 1950s, and lots and lots of smaller ‘practice’ works. Women’s faces and figures, hairstyles, hands, gloves, shoes, house dresses, evening gowns, aprons, underwear, handbags, beach scenes, scenes with children and babies, neatly sketched bottles advertising the benefits of face lotion and powder, ladies’ fashion patterns, advertising for ‘floral seer sucker frocks’ and ‘toddler straw bonnets’. Full page drawings enticing the women of the time to buy dresses in ‘linens, to take you through the summer in cool, crisp perfection’ and beautiful evening gowns which were ’emblazoned with the royal signature to put you in the mood for the festivities of coronation year’.

Did I mention I love my job? I spent many happy hours photographing the vast array of sheets of lose papers of all kinds with overall very little damage. Mostly, the sheets have yellowed with age and there’s always the odd specks and stains. And odd paper sizes. The most damage consisted of creases and folds and bent pages.

My brief was to digitize, not only for safekeeping and convenience of sharing the images with family abroad, but also to enable the client to use some of her late mother’s works to create anything from wallpaper to pillow covers to greeting cards.

For privacy reasons I cannot show you too much of this collection, but I have put together some links for you to have a peek at. They should give you a great idea of the beauty I had before my eyes that day🙂

Fashion illustration from the 1930s, the 1940s and the 1950s.

As I mentioned the most damage was creases and bent pages. I show you a few examples of what I mean:

DigitalIroning

DigitalIroning2

I call it digital ironing. It may seem like a quick fix and move on, but it’s not. And being me, there’s a lot of fine tuning and coming back to the same work several times because I may have overlooked something. And there’s always the danger to ‘overdo it’ in Photoshop, especially in this job, where the brief was to maintain the original character of the work, so I tried hard to get each image as close to what it would have looked like on the day it was created.

DigitalIroning3

But yes, creases = digital ironing, you get the picture😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sweeten the Deal

Children are my main subjects when it comes to portrait photography.

In my experience, very few children are totally keen and relaxed and eager in front of the camera. Ideally, their parents are in the adjacent room sitting on the couch very relaxed, flicking through my photo books and product displays, while I start my little routine, where I take the children into the studio and ask them to help me set up this and that and move a chair and turn on the studio lights.

But even so, most children can feel very ‘put on the spot’ in that situation. And I am supposed to, within minutes, make them totally love the situation, me and the camera. I do admit that I am struggling with this part of my job.

We may use the big mirror to check their hair and practice silly faces. I have some props, sometimes parents bring a book or a toy, but mostly their brief is to have the child smiling their happiest, most natural smile and looking fully into the camera.

I find that even the very shy, fearful or grumpy children do everything you ask them to, but they will not look at me or the camera and they certainly will not smile a natural happy smile. I have gotten some very odd looks by parents while I go through my repertoire of children’s songs or nursery rhymes where I appear to make silly mistakes with the words, I’m getting inexplicable hick-ups, speak in animal language and have even resorted to the fart-app. I know, I know.

Most children will eventually laugh, but they will not look at me or the camera, even if their life was to depend on it. I have tried lens buddies, frankly I’m not a fan, they may work really well with very small children but with the 3-5 year old-ish ones I’ve used them for: no such luck.

Eventually I realized I have to sweeten the deal. I’ve heard of photographers who use M&Ms as bribe, but I’m not sure I want to photoshop chocolate off teeth in post production, plus, these days a lot of children are allergic to chocolate.

Years ago I found an article and had made a note about it. Finally I have re-created this great idea. It’s pretty self explanatory: buy Pez dispensers, use scissors to cut a slither off their feet on either side, slide into flash hot-shoe of camera.

Because it’s such a small item (unlike most lens buddies), the children will have to focus to really see it. And Pez lollies are gluten and lactose free, therefore not an issue with food allergies. And no chocolate teeth, yay.

So there’s my 5 cents worth of wisdom when it comes to photographing children: sweeten the deal🙂

 

SweetenTheDeal


Not Like Van Gogh

Time again to say thank you to all and everyone who goes through the troubles of following the journey of az pictured, whether it be on the blog, Facebook, Instagram or with the Lens Cap Chronicle, my very own newsletter.

This journey would only be half as much fun if I had to make it alone. I may only be a small business, but I put my heart in soul into my work. Not like Vincent Van Gogh, who said ‘I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.’ At least I hope so😉

So here’s to you all and my thank you comes with a little visual treat, showing all the latest Instagram posts of mine, that have been featured on some of the collaboration fun sites that I follow.

If you want to check them out and get some creative juices flowing: @hiyapapayaphotoaday, @rainbow_wall, @tv_neatly, @shotwithlove, @seekthepositive, @365_today, @keepingwiththetimes, @its_my_week

IGThankYou


Free Your Photos

I know, I know, I keep saying it too often. But there you go, it’s my mantra. As soon as I have more than 200 photos on my phone I get twitchy and start sorting, deleting, backing-up and printing! Don’t even talk about my computer ….

revamp1

Yes, printing. It seems to get largely forgotten these days. And seriously, I have no idea why. So when I spotted this large collage frame for very little money, it was mine. Very little money is good, of course, but it also has its downsides (my framer probably rolls around on the floor just about now, in despair).

revamp3revamp5

Let’s list the good things: the price of course, the frame itself is quite sturdy, the glass is not glass but perspex, which makes the whole thing less dangerous and lighter, and the two bevel edged mats inside the frame are cut perfectly and neatly and look pretty. And a variety of sizes for photos are available. Noice.

The not so great things: a variety of sizes for photos are available (sometimes, having too much choice is not a good thing), the hooks in the back are hm a bit flimsy maybe, time will tell, there is only one piece of backing, which means the whole thing will warp, the photos will warp, even the little ones. And with so many photos, it will be a fiddly job to get them perfectly straight and have nothing sliding around.

But alas, this frame was meant to be a decoration item to display some of my photography in the rumpus/guest room/games room/waiting room just outside my studio, and as I intent to change photos regularly, it would do for now.

It took me quite a while to select photos that somehow work together and work nicely with the colour scheme of the room.

Once I had them printed I took my time to position them, stick them down with photo friendly glue and sticky tape. I inserted a second large piece of backing to really fill the back and make the whole thing tighter and prevent warping. And voila.

As I’m always trying to support small business, and handmade as such, and Mum’s in business especially, two pillow covers are from TWIG, and the mobile is from CocoCooie.

revamp4revamp6

Now this waiting area for siblings or parents while I’m busy doing a shoot in the adjacent room is very comfortable indeed 🙂

 

 


Setting the Angel free

Expanding my collection of dog silhouettes, I’ve added some marble dogs. A customer inquired whether I have any designs that are not ‘that colourful’ but rather monochrome. As I didn’t I felt it was high time to change that, especially since marble is one of those timeless classics that will never really be out of fashion when it comes to interior design. In fact, 2015 saw once more the rise of this elegant material not only as floor and wall covering but also as material for a multitude of decor items, from marble cubes to marble fruit, plant containers, clocks and even tea cups, and it is sure to be a trend to hang around for some time.

So, marble. I was doing some research, and there are about a gazillion different types of marble, which you can look up here, if you’re interested, however, for me, the only name that pops into my mind is Carrara marble. Carrara, Italy. The city Carrara is in Tuscany, a bit north of Florence, and, interestingly, it’s motto is Fortitudo mea in rota (Latin: “My strength is in the wheel”). I suppose it makes sense, considering that the wheel would have played a big role in the marble production for centuries.

I have never really owned any marble items, other than the black cube which you can see in the photos next to the marble dogs, and whilst I have been in Tuscany, I have never been to Carrara. However, I can claim some first-hand knowledge and photos, as my husband was there in 1989. Obviously, marble blocks are big, and the pictures, apart from the wiring and some machinery, remind me a lot of Asterix and Obelix comics🙂

Carrara

Clearly, it is quite a beautiful product. I’m probably reaching a bit far when I quote Michelangelo here: ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’ If nothing else I managed to weave this quote, which long has been a favourite, into a blog post of mine🙂

As always, my marble dogs are available in my Made It store.

 


Getting Ready for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is just a few weeks away.

As a Mum I don’t much care about this ‘Mother of all Days to celebrate Mums’, although I confess I did drop a hint or two. With soccer season in full swing I’m usually just glad if we have time to sit together for a nice lunch or afternoon coffee.

My own Mum is far away, and any gift is long in the mail, and a double gift it is, too, as her birthday is May 7th.

As a photographer, Mother’s Day has been on my mind for months. A few very organized clients have purchased Mini-Shoot Gift Vouchers and a fair few of my photography greeting cards will be given to Mums, too.

For the first time I’ve participated in a shopping guide, and what a fine shopping guide it is. Check it out: Mother’s Day with madeit.com.au. 21 pages of fabulous items and ideas, but page 3 is my favourite, just saying🙂

And of course, being the Mum of a furbaby counts too on Mother’s Day.

MothersDay

Let’s not forget Dad’s though. I seriously feel sorry for any father who has a birthday on Mother’s Day. That’s where this little beauty comes in.

MothersDay2

Above acrylic blocks and the dog silhouette print are available in my store. For session gift vouchers or photography cards please contact me directly.

 

 

 

 

 


A Lament Over Chocolate

Bunny1

The two (in my opinion) main chocolate feasts of the year, Easter and Christmas, coincide with the hotter months of the year. It’s a really bad combination, because who likes to eat melted chocolate?

For most Australians this is the norm, they grew up with it, they don’t know any different, for but for an European flower like myself, the switched seasons are still one of the harder aspects to overcome Down Under, even after all the years we’ve been here.

When the kids were little we lived in Canberra, where spring and autumn generally deliver a pleasant 20 degree temperature difference between day and night, and where winters do get well below 0 degrees. It made perfect sense that the Easter Bunny brought new warm house shoes and a new winter pajama every year. And the early morning Easter Egg Hunts were a pleasant, non-perspiring affair, and chocolates melted only once tightly gripped by small children’s hands, not during the 2 minutes ‘hiding’ in the grass or in this or that garden bed.

All different now, even though the kids are older now and the ‘hunt’ is done in a jiffy. Still, this Easter Sunday we turned on the air condition around lunch time, because the chocolate eggs were melting in their baskets.

Which gave me the idea of a shoot. And rise to the lament over chocolate. Because chocolate is not what it used to be. If you delve into this subject you will find many consumer sites that complain about changes in recipes, changes in production processes, changes in quality of well-known chocolates that have been around since their childhood, and are just now … different.

So for this shoot, in my head, I had this idea of a chocolate Easter Bunny melting, the chocolate dripping down, oozing, glossy, wonderful, delectable chocolate. Judging by how fast chocolate melts in children’s hands and in the sun, I thought this would be no problem whatsoever. I set up the studio, set up the chocolate Bunny, got the camera ready and started melting the chocolate with the help of a hair dryer.

The bunny started looking exactly how I’d imagined it: glossy and chocolately melty. And that was it. After that stage no more melting. Eventually the bunny just collapsed. I tried it several more times, different brands, different price range, I used some chocolate Santas that I had kept for this experiment … You see the result. The better brand chocolate didn’t even get glossy, but left a puddle of yuk at the bottom, lovely fatty yuk. Brrrr.

Bunny2

Bunny3

My scientist husband remarked that it was either the hair dryer or the fact that it was chocolate that had been melted previously to get into its shape that my experiment failed. He’s used to experiments failing, I’m not so much. So for now my enthusiasm is a little deflated, which doesn’t mean I’ll try a different approach some time in the future. Meh.

 

 


For the Love of Beer

Digital restorations of old photographs can be tricky. Some can be outright nightmarish. The more one zooms into the image, the more damage becomes visible. Somehow it becomes quite obsessive to fix ‘everything’ and I have had nights where I’ve been dreaming in pixels after a long session at the computer during the day.

In this beer advertising from the 1950s, the very pretty model with the very elegant hands holds this for today’s standards very unbeer-ish glass in the air, a bit like a chalice. It’s a fine piece of photography, but the 8×10″ print has suffered over time.

Resto

As always, my main goal is to get the digital restoration as close to what the image would have looked like on the day it was printed as possible. There’s a fine line in overdoing it.

In the original, the only things in sharp focus are the hands and the glass, the bottle was deliberately left slightly blurry, and the face of the model was totally out of focus. I did not change that, but made sure I worked very neatly on the hands and glass, which are the main focus.

In the close-ups you can see the damage, the scratches, all the little spots and specks, that needed to go.

Restob

And the fingerprint. It always makes my heart skip a beat, when I find fingerprints on photos. Yes, paper and inks back then were different, but please, please, please don’t ever handle photos, old or new, it doesn’t matter, unless you hands are clean and dry, and hold by the edges only. The white glove thing is a myth, I have attached a link to that here, if you’re interested in reading up on that.

And I have done some research on the beer, which is a fine brew from the Swan Brewery in Perth. You can purchase this very label for a reasonable amount on e-bay, if that takes your fancy.

Love the history part of old photos🙂

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 102 other followers