THE ARTISTIC LIFE – Living the creative life in everything we do

Posts tagged ‘photographer’

Weekly Photo #14

It’s been a great week, and here’s my weekly photo number 14. This is once again taken at my workplace (yes, I think I spend too much time here). There are some lovely trees here on base and the beauty really comes out on lovely Spring days. Taken with my iPhone and minor editing done in PS Express.


A Traveller’s Review of Think Tank Retrospective 10 Camera Bag

I had the opportunity to travel to central Florida for a long weekend. This was my first time using my new Think Tank Retrospective 10 Camera Bag (Pinestone color). I thought I’d give my opinion of this bag in a review, from the perspective of a vacationing travel photographer. This is a wonderful bag that travels well and can satisfy the needs of the serious amateur, as well as the professional.

The Good:

  • I love the Pinestone color. Why should all camera bags be black and scream “I hold thousands of dollars worth of equipment! Steal me!”?? This gray pinestone color gives the bag the inconspicuous look of a more casual messenger bag. Will it prevent your camera from being stolen while out on the streets? That remains to be seen (I hope not!). But it doesn’t stand out as a camera bag in a crowd. It gets big bonus points from me for that.
  • The materials are very sturdy and high quality. I feel like this bag could fall off the roof of a building and get run over by a car, yet still remain in great condtion. The material is very thick, the strap is very sturdy and slip-proof, and the configurable dividers are also well made. I have not used the zipper long enough to know if it stands the test of time, but I will guess that it would.
  • I like that it comes with a rain cover. Yes, the cover does take up some valuable space in the bag. But if you don’t think you’ll need it (if the weather forecast looks clear or you’ll be inside), this cover can be taken out and left at home or your hotel. I did not have a reason to actually use the cover, but I’ll assume that it does aid in protecting your camera from the elements if used properly.
  • It holds quite a lot. For me, it safely holds my 5D Mark II with an attached 24-105 lens. It also held a zoom lens and a prime lens. In addition, it held the battery charger and numerous memory cards. Since I was flying, I also used the 2 outside pockets (one zippered) for a small book, my cellphone, flight intinerary/boarding passes, and earbuds. I even stuffed a small pair of shoes in it that didn’t fit in my overnight bag!
  • It was small enough to count as a personal item on my flights. Onboard I carried an overnight bag as my carry-on item and this camera bag as my personal item. It stowed underneath the airplane seat quite nicely.
  • There is ample padding in and around this bag. I was not worried about damage to my equipment, as long as the items were in the bag.
  • The bag was fairly comfortable to wear across my shoulder. I feel that if travelling to a foreign area known for pickpocketers, it is safer to carry the bag in front where I can see it and use my arm to protect it, rather than on my back (I don’t have eyes in the back of my head)

The Not-So-Good:

  • When the bag arrived in the mail, it was larger and bulkier than I had envisioned. Although it holds a lot, it is a little more cumbersome than I wanted. I like a bag that is as mobile and trouble-free as I am when traveling. I have a fairly small female frame and this was a bit too awkward for my size. My back started to hurt a little after carrying this for an afternoon. For others, this might be the perfect size, but for me it was just a bit too big.
  • Some may not like that there’s only Velcro holding the main compartment of the bag together. If the Velcro silencers are used, there’s really nothing but gravity keeping the bag closed. I myself didn’t have a problem with this, as I like easy quick access to the equipment, but I could see how others may not care for this aspect.

This is a wonderful high-quality bag, but is a little bigger than what I wanted. The solution? I’m going to trade in the Retrospective 10 for the smaller Retrospective 5! I’ll definitely stick with Think Tank, though! Upon my suggestion, my husband even purchased a Think Tank laptop bag for his travels and he loves it!

10 Tips For Photographing Your Oil Paintings

10 tips for photographing your artwork:

I recently had an issue with a photograph of one of my paintings. The photograph was originally taken and uploaded in 2006 – 5 years ago – and it was too blurry and unable to produce a poster size high quality print. This reminded me of how much about photography I have learned in the last few years. I also can’t help but wonder if 5 years from now, I will look back and be surprised with how much I’ve learned in these 5 years. It is certainly a continual learning process. Here are 10 tips that I’ve learned about photographing artwork (particularly oil paintings):

1. Photographing artwork out on a deck or porch, generally provides the best overall natural light, unless you have heavy woods or trees that cause irregular shadows.

2. A generally cloudy or hazy day is actually better for photographing artwork on your porch or deck – it causes less glare and shadows than bright sunshine and the resulting shadows.

3. Direct lights/lamps on the artwork almost never work for me. They always seem to add shine and glare on the oil paints, which can misleadingly show up as a white area on the painting, even if it is actually a dark colored area of the artwork.

4. It may take some trial and error at the exact positioning of the artwork, to reduce glare off of oil paints (especially if you tend to paint with a lot of medium or have already varnished the painting). You also need to make sure there are no shadows affecting the surface of the painting.

5. Unless you are trying to show what kind of frame you’ve used, try to photograph the artwork without its frame. Photographs for show entries, print reproductions, etc, just need the artwork itself, not the frame used on the original. Also, the inclusion of a frame, even if cropped out of the final picture, will probably produce a shadow on the painting itself. It can take some time to properly remove (dodge) these shadows using Photoshop. Additionally, the accuracy of the photograph from the original will be reduced.

6. In my experience, no matter how hard you try, your photograph of a 2 dimensional artwork will never be completely squared to the photo. In the near future, I plan to write a post showing the step-by-step process I use in Photoshop to make the artwork look square in my photographs.

7. Do not use flash – once again, there will be problems with glare and incorrect coloring in the photograph.

8. Always use a tripod. The issue I had with that photo taken in 2006 was probably because of not using a tripod and the photo will be too blurry.

9. To reduce camera shake even further, use the camera’s self-timer or use a remote switch (either wired or wireless) to reduce the slight shake caused by pressing the shutter button.

10. Use a camera setting that has multiple focal points, such as Landscape or A-DEP settings, or adjust the F-stop to a higher number. You want the whole painting to be in focus, not just a portion of the painting.

How I Made a Homemade Photo Box

Studio setup for homemade photobox for microstock photography

My studio setup for homemade photobox for microstock photography

I recently posted about taking photographs for microstock photography using my new homemade photo box. Here is how I made mine, using only materials that I had on hand:

How I Made my Photo Box:

1. I found a fairly large box, roughly 14x18x16. This box can be different sizes, but you don’t want it too small. A roughly square shape is desirable too.

2. I located a roll of rice paper and duct tape. Other materials can be used, such as white tissue paper, light white fabric, etc. I had rice paper sitting in my closet, so that’s what I used. Of course, masking tape can be used instead of duct tape.

3. With the box opening facing me, using an Xacto knife I cut an opening into the left side, right side, and top, leaving about a 2 inch frame around each opening. I was not very particular with measurements – I did this freehand.

4. I cut rice paper large enough to cover the 3 openings.

5. I used duct tape to secure the rice paper over each opening.

6. I cut the cardboard pieces off of the box top (which is the front opening of the photobox), except for the bottom piece.

7. I cut a long piece of rice paper and taped this to the back inside of the photobox. This is used as the white background for photographed objects within the photobox. This piece of rice paper can always be replaced if it develops any wrinkles, stains, or other imperfections, as you will not want to remove these imperfections with Photoshop every time.

8. I am experimenting with various desk/portable lamp combinations. You will need a combination of lights angled from the top and side(s) of the photobox to achieve the lighting that you want.

9. I’ve also learned the trick of placing a square of clear glass (I used a piece of glass from an old picture frame that I wasn’t currently using) on the white rice paper backdrop (the part that extends to the bottom of the photobox). This adds that subtle reflection that is popular in some stock photography. Of course, the addition of this glass is optional, depending on the look you are trying to achieve.

Looking for the perfect camera bag

As a photographer and an avid traveller, I’m always on the hunt for a comfortable, inconspicuous, secure, lightweight, convenient, and rainproof camera bag. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Well, this bag, the Retro5, is being discussed on my favorite photography blog, Digital Photography School, at This bag looks like it could be a winner, particularly for my trip to Argentina and Chile in the Fall. If anyone has any experience with this product or family of products, feel free to comment or contact me!

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to The Artistic Life blog!

As an artist, photographer, web designer, and graphic designer, I am always trying to be creative in various ways, using different outlets. Even when I’m not working on an art project, creativity enriches my daily life, by getting me to try new hobbies and be curious about many different fields, seemingly unrelated to art, but still related in some way deep down. I’ve never believed that art and design are luxury items that can be separated from the rest of life…they are part of living and closely related to science, math, music, philosophy, culture, history, religion…you can’t have these without art. Anything produced must have a design. It may be a poor design, but a design nonetheless.

I’ve heard many people say that they aren’t creative…I don’t think that’s true! Anyone can be creative and probably already are creative in ways they don’t realize. One doesn’t have to paint a masterpiece to be creative. Many people experiment with a new recipe, sew a dress for their child, problem-solve an issue in their lives, invent a new game to keep the kids entertained….there are countless ways to be creative in daily life and this should be recognized!

In this blog, I hope to touch various topics related to art, creativity, photography, design, cooking, travel, or new hobbies…or whatever creative outlet seems to be taking shape in my life at the moment.

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