{PHOTO} Step Back - Take a Minute (or Two Years) - Then Finish

Have you ever worked on something and no matter what you do, it just doesn't look right? In fact, the more you keep trying, the worse it looks? This photo was like that for me. To be honest, I took this photo almost two years ago and made several attempts to crop it, tone it, do whatever I could to make it right - and yet not change it so severely from what I originally captured I would consider the new pic results "cheating" - and nothing seemed "right". So, I opened it again today - who knows why - and decided to have at it.

This was taken while standing in the lobby of a hotel in Huntsville, Alabama while the sun was setting. I was walking to the lobby to get one of their free cookies (YUM!) and stopped in my tracks at this beautiful color coming through the glass doors. 

Enough chatter - here's the shot. I would love to hear everyone's feedback.


Thanks so much for your participation in the giveaway. There was a FANTASTIC response from everyone on Facebook, Twitter, and here on the blog. So, now the good stuff. And the winner is. . . . . . . 
She let me know her favorite photo is Beach Cabana:

Yay for Lisa! She will have her choice of ANY photo in my shop as an 8x10 OR a set of 10 Photo Greeting Cards, with any photo of her choice on the cards.

Again, I appreciate everyone's responses and feedback. It was great to hear which pictures of mine you liked the most. We had such a great response that I promise to hold another contest soon.

{PHOTO JOURNEY} Around My Home Town

I was recently issued a challenge by my husband. Prior to his going out of town, he told me while he was gone I needed to go out and just take pictures. He wanted me off of the internet, away from editing "older" stuff, and just out there taking pictures. I honestly thought "What can I take pictures of in my area without being cliche"? I really didn't know. So, the other day I made sure my camera was charged and I just set out to wherever my car would take me (within a certain radius - of course). I dealt with many different light levels as I started out around 5:30 PM and ended close to the end of sunset. I had a blast doing it and have felt incredibly refreshed since. Plus, it helped me to get more familiar with the current camera I am using, as I am borrowing one from my mom since mine is broken. Well, I hope you enjoy & I would love to hear which ones are your favorites!

BTW - I can already here his "I told you so" in my head. . . . .

{GIVEAWAY} CLOSED: Aspiring Images by Rachel Giveaway!

You could win a free 8 x 1of anphoto in my Etsy shop or a Set of 10 Greeting Cards (with any photo you want from my shop - no mix and match of photos).

Giveaway begins September 09 & ends at midnight on September 17 EST.

Many Ways To Enter:

1 entry - Visit Aspiring Images by Rachel on Etsy, come back to this blog and comment on your favorite photo (may do this daily)

1 entry- Follow Aspiring Images on Facebook & leave a comment on your favorite photo (may do this daily).

1 entry- Follow Aspiring Images by Rachel on Twitter & direct message me letting me know you're a new follower.

1 entry- Follow my blog Aspiring Images by Rachel & leave a comment here letting me know you're a new follower. Feel free to leave your "link love" (blog/twitter/facebook/etsy shop) in the comments!

1 entry- Spread the word about the giveaway on your Twitter using this tweet (may do this daily - each share equals 1 entry). NEW tweets preferred vs Retweet's: Giveaway! @AspiringImages Win a FREE 8x10 Photo or Photo Greeting Card Set of your choice! http://tinyurl.com/34uvfqy #GIVEAWAY #Etsy

1 entry - Spread the word about the giveaway on Facebook by sharing this link (may do this daily - each share equals 1 entry): http://aspiringimagesbyrachel.blogspot.com/2010/09/aspiring-images-by-rachel-giveaway.html

***I will announce the winner here on the blog on September 18 - so check back!***

{WISH LIST WEDNESDAY} #4 I Couldn't Resist. . . .

I can't believe it's Wednesday already? I love long weekends (Monday was Labor Day here in America), so Wednesday just rushed right at me. Here's my top faves for this week and I did it again - it's not just ten but instead ELEVEN goodies for everyone to see. I just couldn't resist.

Tree Heart Autumn Sunshine Photo Art Ring by Nomadic Notebook Photography

What a great way to feature photography and personalize it in such a manner that you can take your art wherever you go. This would be a great conversation piece when worn out and also give you a chance to look at something gorgeous, no matter where you are in your day.

I love how this is photographed and the necklace itself is really pretty. I love the deep red with the black of the chain. Necklaces with keys on them is a pretty popular trend right now, so to do the reverse and wear the lock instead of the key is a wonderful take on the trend.

Silver Skeleton Key Heart Locket by Priscilla's Jewelry

Want a key for that lock? Look no further. This is is gorgeously done and if you take a look at her listing, you also can see the heart in the necklace opens up as a locket!

Embossed Note Card Autumn Harvest Collection by Sugar & Spice Ink

Greetings from Autumn! Know anyone else who loves the Fall season? Send this along to warm their hearts and remind them the best time is just around the corner.

Orange Blossom Flirty Olive Oil Soap by Dancing Mooney

Unfortunately, my skin has changed a lot in recent years and I went from being prone to oiliness to super super dry (even somehow in the FL humidity - AARGH!), so I am always keeping an eye out for wonderful handmade soap. This is made without any of the usual chemicals the soaps in grocery stores have plus a wonderful scent to appeal. The olive oil in it would do wonders for my skin!

Candy Apple Lip Balm by Bubble Tub Soaps

Going back to the dry skin thing, with the sunshine in FL my lips are always dry as well. Again, this product does not contain all the usual drying ingredients like normal store-bought lip balm and is actually GOOD for your lips. What a concept, right? And, it's apple. You know you wanna try it!

Personalized River Rock Forest Stones by Fern Blossom Studio

Not only can you keep this beautiful red leaf for years to come but you can also have this stone personalized with a name, date, etc. I love this on its own without the personalization but it would be such a beautiful gift. It is part of a series, so you should check the others out as well.

Fire Ring Swarovski Crystal by Leela Bijou

We don't get much of a Fall season here in Florida, so I think sometimes I try and make up for that with my favorite color combo being red, orange, and yellow. This ring more than satisfies the red need but the photo of it with the orange beads is divine.

Reusable Swiffer Cloths Set by Sassmowth Designs

Being "green" is a recent subject that has become near and dear to my heart. I am still very much a newbie, so when I find things like this that seem so amazingly obviously simple, it's a great day!

Kitchen Dishcloths by Cocoa Beans

I saw these on the front page of Etsy and the colors are what drew me in. How rewarding was it to then read the description and find that these crochet dishcloths are great for scrubbing dishes, machine washable, AND dryable. Looking for green kitchen options? This is a great idea!

Just in case anyone who sees you needs to be reminded, this necklace says it all.

Looking back at the list, I apparently leaned pretty heavy towards red & fall colors. It's probably all of the gorgeous Fall-themed treasuries being featured on Etsy lately.

Enjoy your Wednesday!!

{TUTORIAL} Taking Product Shots - 1st Attempt

As I wander around the online selling world, I always see these beautifully done product photos and it made me think - how do I do that? Despite being a photographer, it still was a concept that eluded me because I am so used to setting up my lighting for people, places, and many times letting nature do the hard work! So, here I was trying to photograph the items myself with as minimal as possible post-processing being done but everything still came out. . . . . . ICK. I mean, they're not horrible but they're not very good either. I have awesome products - I need awesome photos!! For example:

Can you spy the wall gunk? Whoops. Plus the entire shot has a yellow tinge & the shadow is weird.

Moved the items away from the wall gunk but the wall color is just not working. Plus, you can see the line between the wall and the platform I have the cards on.

The best shot - still not great, though.

Somehow I meandered across this link (probably found it on Google search) that pretty much had the answer to all of my questions (it's a bit long - may want to jump to it at the end of this):

HOW TO – Take great photos of your projects – The Adafruit Photo Tutorial by Johngineer

Don't let it overwhelm you if you're not the super technical type. It provides great information about how to make the pictures of your products SHINE and depending on how super-gadgety you are it shows the steps to build the permanent cyclorama. I, being the random and usually haphazard personality that I am, did this on a SUPER SIMPLIFIED scale. I had greeting cards made & decided it was time to take photos of them in the manner they deserved. I didn't have a lot of time, so I went with the super simplified version. KISS method anyone?

I went to my mom's house with some supplies (camera, cards, & white poster board) and took over her office/storage room. I knew my dad had some lights with clamps in the garage, so I commandeered those for my own use. I had no idea what bulbs they had or what would work - so I just experimented. He had one light with a metal hood while the other was white. The bulbs inside were white and clear. So, I took a wild guess and figured the white hood with the clear bulb would work - I was wrong. Everything was super yellow. Anyhow, I digress.

First thing I did was find something to clip the light to - back of a rocking chair worked for me. Then, I created a platform with a stack of stuff - whatever I could find - that was high enough for the light. I then taped the white poster board to the wall & then to the stack of stuff, allowing it to curve nicely from the wall down to the platform.

Then, I created another stack of stuff in between the chair and the poster board to set the camera on. Yeah, I know if I had just had more patience and did this at my own work station at home this "multiple stacks of stuff" thing would have been greatly reduced, but I made do with what I had. Once the platform for the camera was the right height, I took the pictures with my hands going through the rocking chair slats. Again, not the easy route but it worked.

As I said before, the white hood on the lamp with the clear bulb had very yellow tinge to it, so I traded it for the metal hood with the clear bulb. Much better!

Results? With some cropping and a small bit of post-processing (cooled the tone down), this is what I got:

It's not quite perfect and I still have yet to build this at my normal workstation, but I hope you realize it does not take a technical genius to get the product photos you need. I plan on using different colored poster board next time as I feel the white board and white cards blend too much. Will keep you posted on the results.

Maybe some of you have your own tips/tricks? Let me know.

I hope this helps!

{WISH LIST WEDNESDAY} #3 Dahling, I Want It ALL. . . .

Here's my round up of the top TEN* awesome items I have found this week.

This reminds me so much of where I grew up. It has the "hand of God" on the end, meant to ward off the evil eye, the bearer of bad luck. It's not only beautiful but also serves a helpful purpose.

Ginger Lemon Massage Bar (Soap) by Dennis Anderson

Multi-purpose = Awesome. A soap that also massages? Yes, please! Sign me up. His shop also features some room sprays I am very interested in trying. In all honesty, there's lots of goodiesin this shop that I want to try.

Small White Pitcher by Melanie Caskey

Melanie is very talented with the pottery she makes. I love the coloring she chooses as it lends to a very natural tone and almost aged as well. This pitcher really struck me in its simplicity (no handle!) and style.

Coffee Cozzee Romance Bustier Corset by Melissa Hewitt

What a great way to be green, not burn your fingerprints off, and still enjoy your cuppa Joe. I love this because it is red and black(YES!) but she has plenty of other styles and material to choose from.

Art Print Letterpress Ellie's World by Sweet Harvey LLC

Uh, can't we all relate?!?

Hot Pink Multi Cowl/Collar/Scarflette by Arriving in Style

This looks so incredibly soft and I just want to touch it so badly. Even better, having something like this to keep your neck warm, yet reduce the bulk of a full length scarf, is a great idea. There are other photos in the link that display multiple ways to wear it. Yay for versatility!
Cinnamon Fingerless Gloves by Ebruk

How about some wonderfully warm gloves to go with the scarflette? I know I live in FL and it's insane to think winter, but I still love these and would use them in a snow-man's heart beat.

Can you believe this is handmade?!? The two tone material is just gorgeous and I absolutely adore the pleating. Anyone wearing this would just feel like such a princess. Isn't that what we always want to feel like, right ladies?

Aaahhhhhhh! Cutie patootie monster finger puppets!! Come on - they're scary yet melt your heart cute. You know you love their monster selves. I know any kid would love these guys.

Design Your Own Pouch/Make Up Bag, etc by Tootsweet

You know you've gone to the store looking for EXACTLY the right make up bag and just not finding the right one, so you end up settling. How about having the chance to design it yourself? Do I hear a "Yes, please"? Then check these out.

*And a BONUS! (because apparently I miscounted but just couldn't leave this out)
Organic Soy Baby Wash Cloths 5 Pack by Sweet Memories Quilts

Machine washable, handmade, 100% organic cotton and soy, and terry on one side while smooth on the other. All of these things add up to practical, responsible, safe, and just so darn wonderful. It doesn't just have to be for baby - because maybe you have sensitive skin like me - so pamper yourself as well with such a soft wonderful wash cloth.


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