Thursday, September 29, 2011

My photos are getting better!

Good news, everyone!  (Picture that in Professor Farnsworth's voice for maximum awesomeness.)  I'm starting to figure out this whole "product photography" thing.  I've now replaced all of the most problematic photos in my Artfire store with new and improved ones.

My tripod rocks my freaking world, btw...I can't believe I went without one for so long.  It's only about $30 and it makes everything so much easier!  

Two other things that made a major difference in my photos: lamps with lightbulbs approximately the same colour as sunlight (the bulbs I'm using are fluorescents with a colour temperature of 4100k; 5000 or 5500 would be even better, but this is all they had at the store) and the "Color Cast" feature in Photoshop Elements.

I'd seen the Color Cast feature before, but didn't really understand what it did.  Then I was reading about light bulbs and how the wrong one could give photos an overly yellow cast, and the purpose of Color Cast suddenly clicked for me.  For those of you who don't know, if you go to Enhance-->Adjust Color-->Color Cast, your cursor turns into an eyedropper shape; if you then click on a part of your picture that's supposed to be black, white, or gray, the computer will sense any colour that shouldn't be there, and remove it from the picture.  This feature is approximately ten thousand times better and easier than trying to colour-correct a photograph me on this one. :P

Mind you, now that I'm using lightbulbs that give off almost completely white light, the Color Cast feature doesn't need to change my pictures very much - sometimes it doesn't change a picture at all.  It's definitely true what they say: setting up your pictures properly from the getgo means you don't need to edit them as much afterward, and that means less work in the long run.

p.s.: When I retook my Artfire photos, I also took pictures of a bunch more paintings that haven't been listed yet.  I'll be adding them soon!  In the meantime you'll have to content yourself with the 40+ amazing handmade items currently, for instance, this 3-D wall-mountable bacon.

Bacon for your wall - 5 pieces
Click here to see the full listing!
...And don't forget that you can enter the coupon code SHESAIDPOPBLOG at checkout to save 15% on your first purchase!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Caturday: Cat Lesson #1.

I cared for several friends' kitties before getting one of my own (actually, the catsitting helped me realize I was ready for one of my own!).  My cat experiences have taught me many things, both about cats and about myself.  And today I figured, why not share these pearls of wisdom on my blog?  This post is labeled #1 because it's the first in the series, but the memories themselves are in no particular order.  I'm just posting whatever comes to mind.

So anyway.  Birch taught me that I can't stand it when my lips and nostrils are wet.  How did a cat teach me this?  Because I never noticed my compulsive habit of drying off my mouth and nose first thing out of the shower...until I started living with a fluffy cat who likes to sleep on towels.

Hey, I never said these lessons would be useful.  I only said that they happened. :D


Diva cat original painting - turquoise - 4x6 inchesCan't get enough kitties?  Check out the cat paintings in my Artfire store!  You'll get 15% off your first purchase when you enter the code SHESAIDPOPBLOG at checkout!  (Offer expires December 31, 2011.)

More adventures in product photography

I've decided to temporarily stop adding new products to my Artfire store until I get a better grip on this whole photography thing.

Here is a typical photograph from my store:

I thought it was okay, but I've been told that it's kind of gauche to have an actual "background" in a product photo - especially one with a seam where the "floor" meets the wall.  Also, research tells me that my previous lighting method of waiting until a sunny day and then supplementing the sun with a lamp on the other side is...not optimal.  Neither is holding the camera in my hands.

Off to retail-land, then, to invest in some lamps, a tripod, and a sheet of white bristol board to serve as a backdrop.

My photos are better now: clearer, more striking, and much, much easier to colour-correct because each photo is lit with the same amount of lamplight instead of varying amounts and positions of sun (although the two lamps each give off a slightly different colour of light, which is totally not cool.  I bought a pair of identical bulbs for them today, which should fix the issue).

Here's my current dilemma, though: some site I stumbled across on Google said that the best way to illuminate an object for photos is to have one light above and slightly to the front of the object.  So I did that:

It looks nice when the painting is turned slightly to one side, as in the above example, but for head-on shots there's a huge glare off the varnish that detracts from the detail of the painting.  This awesome tutorial says that when taking a head-on photo of a glossy surface, it's best to place two lights in front of the painting: one to each side (and in front of) the painting, at a 45 degree angle to it.  I did this, and it helped reduce the glare from the varnish a lot.  But it also made the painting appear much brighter (almost a whole different colour!) than the other kind of lighting does:

...Interestingly, both of these newfangled, carefully-lit pictures make the painting look a different colour than it looks in the current store photos.  I know that part of good product photography is to show the colours of the product as accurately as possible (duh), but when something looks completely different depending on the type of light or even just the position of the light, then what the hell does "accurate" even mean?  (For what it's worth, I think the top-most pic - and all of the photos currently in my store - are closest to what the paintings look like in person.  And my "in person" means "a combo of overhead light and sunlight".)

To try to make my shots more consistent, I guess I'll have to play around with my lights until I find a configuration that'll work for all my product shots - or change the lighting constantly depending on the angle of the painting.  And then if the colours still don't look the way I think they should, I'll tweak them in Photoshop until they do.

Any photographers who may be reading this are totally welcome to offer advice in the comments, by the way.  (Hint, hint.) :D


Waffle with butter and syrup - life-size painting
My Artfire store has paintings and sculptures to suit many tastes!  Enter the code SHESAIDPOPBLOG at checkout and receive 15% off your first order!  (Offer expires December 31, 2011.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This woman is my new hero!

This talk by Jenny Lawson is absolutely wonderful.  It goes in a different direction than you might expect, so make sure you keep watching until at least the four minute mark, even if it's not catching your interest at first.


Ice cream cone original painting kawaiiMy Artfire Store has paintings that will make your walls happy! :)  Enter the coupon code SHESAIDPOPBLOG at checkout to save 15% on your first purchase (offer expires December 31).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Caturday: I Wouldn't Call Him HIGHLY Functional...

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Asperger Syndrom recently and a few of the symptoms seemed...familiar.

Like, for instance, accidentally infringing on other people's boundaries because one is inefficient at picking up on social cues...

...And focusing extremely intensely on a limited and specific range of interests...

...and being physically uncoordinated.

So...yeah.  I think Birch may have some sort of autism cattism spectrum disorder.

...I'm kidding, obviously - I'm not sure cat brains are complex enough to even have something like Asperger's.  But it amuses me how easy it is to "diagnose" Birch with various things...I bet if I analyzed his behaviour enough I could find evidence of all kinds of mental issues, from clinical depression to sociopathy.  Maybe I'll do a series of Caturday posts like that - a new condition every week.  What do you think?


Have you checked out my Artfire store yet? There are many hilarious paintings of cartoon kitties, and if you enter the coupon code SHESAIDPOPBLOG you'll get 15% off your first purchase!  (Offer expires December 31, 2011)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Photography for Total Amateurs

Remember those few posts where I posted pics of paintings and they were blurry and I was like, "Why can't I take a good picture lately?!"

Turns out I should've been using the "macro" setting on my camera (the button with the picture of a flower on it) for every single picture . I always knew that macro mode is for closeups, mind you - I just didn't realize how camera manufacturers define "closeup".  The Boy says that in this case, "closeup" means "a metre away or less."  Personally I think that a metre away is not all that close unless you're photographing a mountain or building, but whatever, now I know.

Apparently, this is a "closeup".

Another problem I have is that the act of depressing the shutter button actually jiggles the camera, giving the resulting picture motion blur.  The other day while taking product photos I noticed that it helps a bit to turn the camera sideways - it tricks my brain into thinking that I'm squeezing the button in rather than pushing it down, if that makes any sense.  And The Boy suggested I set the camera to a 2-second delay so the camera would take the pic after I pressed the button, which is also an excellent idea.

Seems like it helped to slowly breathe in while pressing the button, too.  And of course to have eaten well before these photo sessions because when I'm hungry or having a sugar-crash, I tend to get the shakes.

So the real question was never "why do my photos suck lately?" but rather, "how did I ever manage to get half-decent photos at all?!"

Anyway, if you're an artist or craftsperson trying to take photos of your work, maybe some of these tips will help you, too.


Please visit She Said Pop on Artfire! If you enter the coupon code SHESAIDPOPBLOG at checkout, you'll get 15% off your first purchase. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oh cool!

Check out this out!  Artfire offers a widget that displays random items from my store on a blog or website!  And it shows different items every time you refresh the page!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Please consider this a formal invite to the GRAND OPENING of my brand new Artfire store!!!!!  Click here to visit:

And because I love my blog audience ("blogdience"?), I'm giving you guys a coupon for 15% off your first purchase!  Just enter the code SHESAIDPOPBLOG at checkout to redeem your discount.  Feel free to share this discount code with other people, too: it will work once per person and is good 'til the end of the year. :)

As of this writing, I've posted 41 items for sale in the store, ranging in price from $21-$97 USD - and I'll be steadily adding more.  For just $69 USD, for instance, you could be the proud owner of this 4"x4" painting of delicious unagi sushi!
For just $24 USD, you could buy your favourite cat person this hilarious 4"x6" painting:

Indeed, if you're a cat person, food enthusiast, or nerd, you'll probably love a whole lot of what I'm selling.  So what are you waiting for?  Go see!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Insomnia and DVDs.

I have really wonky sleep patterns.  I've already mentioned that sometimes I can't get to sleep because I'm worrying about stuff, but there's another issue, too: I don't recognize the sensation of sleepiness until it's so extreme that I'm pretty much incapacitated.  I only know it's time for bed when my perception of the world gets a bit...surreal.
It's not time yet.

NOW it's time.
Until that point, I'm up and doing stuff.

Right now you're probably asking yourself, "Self, if Meredith doesn't know when she's tired, how does she know that she doesn't know she's tired?"  Well, here's the deal: I'll often put on a DVD when I want to go to sleep - it gives my brain something to focus on besides pointless, obsessive worrying.  One of my favourite movies for this purpose (and also in general) is Ghost World.  I'll put on Ghost World thinking "I'm totally wired right now, but it's getting late...maybe this will put me in a mellower mood and I'll be able to sleep eventually."  On many different occasions, I've ended up passing out right around the time Enid tells her father, "Look at me.  I'm not even listening to a word you're saying."  That scene is seven minutes into the movie.

Anyhoo, as someone who frequently depends on DVDs in order to fall asleep, I am rather opinionated about how the menus work.  There are three basic things that I think every DVD should have.

1) DVDs of TV shows should always, always have a "play all" function.  The first two seasons of Futurama don't have this, which is a huge and glaring oversight.  One episode of Futurama gives me exactly enough time to doze off for five minutes and then wake up again, cranky and disoriented, right after the closing credits.

Then I have to rummage for the remote and select the next episode, and the whole cycle begins anew.  I have seriously spent entire nights sleeping in 22-minute increments because of this.

2) DVDs of TV shows should always have a "play all from here" function.  I invented this idea myself: it means that if you select a certain episode and click that button, it'll play that episode plus all the episodes after it.  That way, if I do a "play all" on Monday but fall asleep at the beginning of the second episode, on Tuesday I can effortlessly play the DVD from that point onward.  No more manually skipping ahead!

3) No DVD menu should ever, ever have music or dialog that loops.  I may crave the sound of a DVD when I'm falling asleep or lightly asleep, but once I hit the REM stage, I want quiet.  Sleeping to the repetitive noise of a DVD menu is a sure way for me to wake up feeling irritable and unrested.  If a DVD simply has to have some kind of fancy audio decoration on the menu, for Pete's sake make it a piece of dialog or music that plays once.

Yeah, I know I could avoid #3 by using the "sleep" button on my TV remote.  The problem is that I don't always fall asleep within 20 minutes of putting on a DVD.  Sometimes it takes me an hour or more to drift the "sleep" function kicks in either when I'm still actually watching, or during that delicate post-doze period where silence will wake me up.  I can't win.

Does anyone else depend on DVDs to help them sleep?  Which ones work best for you?  Let me know in the comments!


If you're new here, please check out the paintings in my online gallery and "like" me on Facebook.  Thanks!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Caturday: Furry Friend With Benefits

Sometimes, I'll be telling someone a mushy story about Birch and they'll snark, "You know he only loves you because you feed him, right?" Then they'll stand there waiting for my world to collapse under the weight of my disillusionment and grief.

But all I can think when someone does that is, "...And your point is...?"

Yeah, Birch probably does love me just because I feed him.  But what do you think I love him for?  Is it his rapier wit?  Perhaps it's because of his tireless fundraising for breast cancer research and his stint in the Peace Corps.  Or wait, I know, it's all the times we stayed up all night talking because he was just so fascinating and brilliant that I didn't want the conversation to end!

"Aw, sweetheart, you keep dozing off...seriously, get off the couch and go to bed.  We can discuss my theories on existentialism some other time."

I'm being facetious, of course.  Sure, Birchy's little peanut brain lacks the capacity for deep and spiritual love...but I'm not in love with him in a deep and spiritual way, either.  He has no depth or spirituality.  He's a cat.  Rather, our love for each other is the animal kind: we get along well and we're each getting what we need, and that's enough.  What started out as a business arrangement - trading companionship and physical affection for food and shelter - was so fulfilling that we became attached to each other. 

Goddamn, I look dapper.  I need to 'shop my face onto dudes more often.

In conclusion: my cynical friends have underestimated me.  I already know my cat is just using me; I'm also just using him.  So far, it's working out just fine.

Friday, September 2, 2011

New painting: a sexy, suave, swingin' Godzilla.

I felt like painting a giant lizard-monster bein' all smooth and sexy like Hugh Heffner.  I don't know why.

I particularly like the lush magenta wallpaper in the background.  While I was working on this painting, The Boy came in, did the critical head-tilt stare for a while, and finally said "the red robe really clashes with the colour of the wall."  And I was like "Good!  That's what I was going for."  I think the painting needs to have an element of sensory overload in order to convey the extreme sensuality of our lizard friend, here.  Decadence!  Lavishness!  Excess!

The other thing I love is that the image wraps around all four sides of the canvas.  Many of my paintings do, mind you, but I think this one in particular came out extra-specially cool.

I dunno, I just think there's something hilarious about peeking under the canvas and seeing those skinny little legs there.

And yeah, I made the smoke from his pipe heart-shaped on purpose.  This lizard-beast may be out to seduce you, but he doesn't just want another notch on his belt - something tells me he's a real romantic at heart.  When you get right down to it, this is a portrait of a gigantic misunderstood lizard-monster looking for love.  I hope you like it!

If you're new here, please check out the paintings in my online gallery and "like" me on Facebook.  Thanks!