Sometimes it IS the equipment

I've been struggling with photographing my lampwork, that is, when I could make myself TRY to photograph it with our Kodak point-and-shoot digital camera. No matter what I did, I ended up frustrated. It was almost impossible to get decently focused pictures even using the macro setting; getting enough light was a herculean task; finding a background that didn't look simply awful, well… It all made me put off photographing if there was anything else at all to do.

I thought it was just me being inept. So Andrea came over to give me a photography tutorial. It helped, but not enough. We were able to improve the lighting and the backgrounds, but the focus still wouldn't behave.

Finally, I realized that maybe it wasn't just me. Maybe it really WAS the equipment. Maybe it was time to upgrade to a DSLR — something that DH has been coveting for years, but neither of us could justify the cost…until it became a business issue.? So I started my usual thorough research.

One of my first thoughts was "could I, should I reuse my old SLR lenses from my film camera?" As it turns out, if I was willing to live with manual focus (um, YEAH, NOT a problem), the answer was "ABSOLUTELY." My regular lens is nothing too special, but my macro zoom lens, a Vivitar Series I 70-210mm Komine, turns out to be something of a cult item today. Since it's a Pentax mount lens (I had a Pentax ME Super), I ignored the omnipresent Canons and Nikons and settled on the Pentax K200D after verifying that today's Pentax bodies do indeed play nice with legacy lenses. Then the question was where to buy it — there are a LOT of disreputable camera equipment sellers out there.? All my research pointed to B&H Photography, so I placed my order Saturday night (the store is apparently owned by Hasidic Jews, so not only is the storefront not open on Saturday, they won't even accept web orders on the Sabbath!).

The camera arrived last night. I unpacked it, set it up, swiped the old SD memory card from the Kodak, and started experimenting. It was immediately clear I had some learnin' to do!

Today after Thanksgiving dinner, Andrea and I went in the studio and decided to get it working. It took some experimenting with both lenses, finagling to get the tripod at the right distance with the lens, and getting a stepstool so vertically-challenged me could stand on it to see through the viewfinder looking down at an angle at the beads, but…

OH ?? MY??? GOD.

I could actually FOCUS on the beads. The shots were clear.? The two-second timer feature kept me from jiggling the camera, even on the tripod, as I took the picture. The lighting could still use some improvement, but that's easy, and until I can do it GIMP will adjust for it just fine.

I think I'm going to be able to stop procrastinating on the photography. I think I'll be able to get things photographed for sale in a reasonably timely fashion. I've already revised my 1000 Markets shop and resubmitted it for approval, complete with new photos.

Here's just a couple of examples of what we did tonight:

Autumn Leaf Pendant Red Heart Pendant


Red Tear Drop Pendant


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  1. Your pictures look fabulous! I recently bought a Nikon D60 DSLR and I love it! Sometimes it really is the equipment 😉

    • doodlewolfdude on November 28, 2008 at 3:21 am

    wow absolutly beautiful shots however you may want to do some messing with the different white balancing settings to make the colors really pop

    • Julia on November 28, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for the compliment, Jen — it really means something coming from an artist like you :-).

    That will come with time, John! We were just trying to get some basic shots down pat and do a minimum of color correction to get in the ballpark. Once I can get the lighting setup down, then I can really start playing with settings and adjustments.

    • Robin on November 29, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Wow! Nice pictures.

    If you want a light tent there is a super easy diy pvc contraption described here. It made a big difference in my bead photos.

    • Jesse on March 7, 2009 at 8:00 am

    I am still with my G3 from Canon. Might be time to upgrade, huh 😉

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