Monday, February 25, 2019

What is it?

To stretch myself both creatively and technically this year, I am doing a 52 week photography challenge in a group on Facebook. Each week, there is a new assignment with themes like composition, storytelling, and inspiration. This week's challenge was Composition: Leading Lines.

Normally I like to shoot outdoors, but weeks of rain have left us with a soggy mess. Instead, I decided to look inside my house for inspiration. Below are two of the photos I shot for this week's challenge. The photo on the left is the one I submitted to the group, as the composition better met the challenge criteria. I also posted this photo on my personal Facebook page along with the one on the right. I gave no explanation in either case as to where the pictures came from. Needless to say, I got quite a few questions (from both the group and my friends) as to what the heck they were.

So what are they?

The object in the first photo came from my china cabinet. It is the inside of a leaded crystal vase. To get the shot, I placed the vase on top of my sofa facing out toward our backyard - this helped to reflect some color and light back into the clear glass. Also, that sucker is really heavy - way too hard to hold while taking the shot! I did some addition filtering on the resulting image to bump up the color and the contrast to better define the "leading lines".

The object in the second photo came from my fireplace mantle. It is the inside of a mercury glass pumpkin. To get the shot, I tilted the pumpkin on its side in front of a mica shade floor lamp, so that the brightest part of the light aligned center with the stem on top and the opening on the bottom. Other than a slight cropping adjustment, there was no additional filtering done for this shot. Although the ribbed sections of the pumpkin were not as prominent as I had hoped, I still like the overall effect.

Think you need a high end camera and a macro lens to get shots like these?

Wrong! Since my camera bag was in the bedroom, along with my sleeping husband, I decided not to disturb him and instead used my iPhone 7 to take some test shots. When the test pictures came out so well, I decided to use them for the finals.

When taking photos like these, don't be afraid to experiment. I tried to shoot the vertical staves on the back of my dining room chairs, the inside of the extender wand from my vacuum cleaner, and the spindles on the head of the brass bed in our guest room. Unfortunately, those did not turn out as well as the shots above.

Have an unusual macro shot you'd like to share? Feel free to add them in the comments below!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A Second Life for an Old School Lunch Pail

When my in-laws moved to Florida a few years ago, we helped them downsize their belongings. During that process, I found this old school lunch pail from the 1940s that had belonged to my father-in-law, Allen. I knew I wanted to make something out of it, so I brought it home and set it aside for a future project.

As you can see, it was quite beat up. Much of the paint was peeling off and the exposed metal was rusty in spots. The old leather handle had pretty much disintegrated when I tried to pick it up. So I decided to strip it down to the bare metal and rebuild from there.

I like to use CitriStrip for jobs like this, because it does not have that harsh chemical smell. It can however burn your skin, so be sure to wear rubber gloves. Once I removed all the paint, I cleaned it up with mineral spirits and steel wool, being careful to remove any remaining stripper residue.

I then covered up the hardware with Frog Tape and sprayed on a couple coats of grey primer to seal and protect the metal. Using some very fine steel wool, I carefully sanded down any rough spots in prep for the finish coats.

I then sprayed the entire surface, both inside and out, with a couple coats of white, lightly sanding any rough spots in between coats. After carefully taping along the inside edges and stuffing it with newspaper to protect the interior, I sprayed the exterior with a couple coats of a satin turquoise-blue. To finish it off, I replaced the old leather handle with some bright green ribbon.

I think it works really well as storage for snack plates, napkins, and plastic flatware on the bar cart. Just in time for happy hour! Cheers!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Candle Mold Vase

I think everyone has family stuff that they can't bear to throw out, and yet have no idea what to do with it when they get it. Such is the case with my Great-Grandma Thorp's candle mold that I inherited several years ago when my sister Lynn downsized and moved to Florida. I was much too busy to figure out what to do with it at the time, so I put it in a box and threw it in the attic.

When my husband Jamie started a project last Spring, we had to move a bunch of boxes out of the attic. When the time came to move everything back in, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to do some purging. It was then that I came across the candle mold for a second time.  

Hesitant to kick the can down the road again, I gathered some baby's breath from my studio, and voila, instant dried flower arrangement.

With friends coming to visit, I decided to put the arrangement on the nightstand in the guest room. I think Great-Grandma would have loved it!