Tourmaline .

Miniature Diorama Photographer

Color your World: Black

Welcome back to this weekly Crayola color based blog challenge!

This week, the color is Black.

  • Between now and next Tuesday share a post inspired by the color on your own blog or social media. A poem, flash fiction, photo, drawing, whatever you’d like!
  • Link back to this post and include your post link in a comment below so that I can share your link next week.
  • Tag your blog post ‘coloryourworld’ so others can find your post in their WordPress Reader.

Check out the CYW home page with links to all weekly challenges as they post.

Read more

Miniature Photography from David Levinthal’s Diorama

As you may well know, my sister and I went to the opening of the David Levinthal exhibit at the Smithsonian in DC.

A very cool feature of that exhibit, is that one of David Levinthal’s dioramas is on display. To my understanding, Levinthal commissions custom pieces for him to then assemble to the needs of the photographs he envisions. While behind glass, and with only a 50mm lens at my disposal, I managed to capture a few interesting shots of the piece and I wanted to share those with you here.

These pieces are roughly 1:32 scale, meaning the adult figures are about 2 1/4″ (5.72 cm) tall and very intricately detailed.

Now Offering Photography of your Miniature Spaces!

I’ve been telling miniature stories for 11 years. Now let me tell yours.

You’ve poured yourself into your miniature world, your model train set, your dollhouse. Let me help you document it to share with your family, friends, clubs, and generations to come.

I will come to your home for a 1 – 3 hour photography session. You tell me the story behind your miniature set up, so that I can accurately capture the narrative, or simply leave me to photograph all the little details I find. Your choice.

While you will likely receive many more photos, each hour guarantees a minimum of 15 images digitally delivered to you within 1 week. You will receive low res digital images to share on social media, or print on your own as 4×6 prints. You will also receive a private gallery link to pay per print if you desire larger size images to display on your wall, etc.

I am currently only offering these sessions in Jacksonville and the surrounding area with Saturday and Sunday appointments only. If you live further out contact me anyway and we will see what we can work out.

Learn more here, and find other services I offer here.

If you have a miniature world that needs documented, contact me today!

Color your World: Bittersweet

Welcome back to this weekly Crayola color based blog challenge!

This week, the color is Bittersweet.

  • Between now and next Tuesday share a post inspired by the color on your own blog or social media. A poem, flash fiction, photo, drawing, whatever you’d like!
  • Link back to this post and include your post link in a comment below so that I can share your link next week.
  • Tag your blog post ‘coloryourworld’ so others can find your post in their WordPress Reader.

Check out the CYW home page with links to all weekly challenges as they post.

Read more

Pint-Sized Portraits

A Short Introduction

Toy photography, while in itself a form of fabricated or tableau photography, has a way of spanning across all genres of the medium. This is one of the many many things I love about toy photos. Through toys we can tell stories, document places, record our travels, explore tiny details, the list goes on. To highlight the magic of toy photos and all the things they can come to represent I thought I’d create some posts of different photo genres and where toys fit within them.  

In a sense I’ve talked about architecture and product photography on the toy photographers blog before, but today I’m here to make a case for portraits.

Portraiture

Portrait: a pictorial representation of a person usually showing the face 

– Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Artistic representations of people began with cave paintings and have been a part of all cultures since. Quite simply they are representations of people. Toy figures themselves are representations of the same, and thus so are our photographs of them. 

Learn more about the history of artistic portraits here.

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”

– Paul Caponigro

Plastic Faces

A human face can tell us a lot about the person, through their expression, wrinkles, sunspots, makeup, etc. A toy face is a bit different. Typically expressionless are bound to one emotion, we have to find ways to tell the figure’s story for them through posing, lighting and other props. While toys come in many varieties, using human like figures in your photos can truly help your audience relate – through these plastic, inanimate objects the viewers can see themselves.

And thus, we give toy figures a voice by making portraits of them. 

Do you ever take portrait-like images of your toy figures? Do you take portraits of real people? What do you like about portraiture? Tell me about it and leave a link to a photo in a comment below.

Making a Blurb Art Book

As many of you know by now I just self published an art book. This isn’t my first go round as I had to get books printed for multiple college photo projects, and used the same platform for felan. I made books for my Italy Souvenirs series, my senior project, the Toy Photographers 2017 yearbook, and a fourth that I can’t quite remember. However, this is the first I’ve produced for my work in my professional life, and I’d like to think it has more substance to it.

I received a couple questions as to how I produced the book, so I I hope this post will give those of you curious your answers, but I’d also like to use the opportunity to explain my thoughts and concept behind what I included, and what I did not.

Choosing a Publishing Platform

First, as you’ve seen in the title, I used blurb.com for this task. Blurb allows for print on demand publishing which was a must for me. I’ve always wound up using Blurb, whether for my photo books or for my art magazine I produced for 2 years. In each of these instances I tried to find print and cost saving alternatives which largely led to Amazon and Lulu. However, Amazon doesn’t allow for the same quality when it comes to printing high resolution photos on appropriate paper, and Lulu ships to much fewer countries. I believe there were further reasons as well, but I won’t focus too hard on this for the purposes of this post.

I will say, if you intend to publish a text-based book, I would most certainly recommend Amazon CreateSpace instead of Blurb. However, if a self-published art book if what you’re aiming for, Blurb is the way to go.

Working with Blurb

Blurb has a couple different book layout tools you can download to guarantee that your book will fit their standard book sizes. You can either download their software, or a plugin for Adobe InDesign. I did the latter. With either option, once downloading you select your book options – size, paper, cover type, page number (this can be an estimate and updated later), and then get to work.

In my case, I first made sure I had all my photos saved as high resolution (300 dpi), properly sized jpegs (based on how large they’d be printed in the book). I then went into InDesign and created a basic layout that I knew I was going to use for most pages as my master page template, I also added page numbers here. I then selected all pages and allowed for the master page template to be overwritten, so that I’d have each of my image slots available, but I could remove or resize them as necessary.

Making my Specific Book

I wanted the book to be able to be read of sorts either forward or backward. I knew I wanted to make transitional coming and leaving images, with a suitcase for this, but needed each to read as just that – coming or leaving, so that they’d work in either direction whether from Monochrome to Polychrome or vice versa.

In this same vein, I placed a title page at the beginning and end of the book, each followed by an artist info page. The one on the Polychrome side however (the traditional back of the book) has scanned, hand written text, outlining my writing of my artist name and signature. Both artist info pages have hand written @ symbols. Next comes the respective series info pages. Open the book from the Monochrome side, and 3 pages in you’ll get info on the Monochrome series and a background of to-scale Monochrome photo props. Open the Polychrome side and you’ll get info on the Polychrome series and a background of to-scale Polychrome photo props.

Next there are images of the full dollhouses used in each portion of the series. The dollhouse images have their width printed below, and the page numbers on which each dollhouse room (in the series images later in the book) is picture is printed on that corresponding room.

After are behind the scenes collages with images of accessories and written planning pages. And following are contact sheets/further table of contents. Each image of the series, is represented as a thumbnail, ordered by date it was created, with the page number location of it’s larger version listed below each thumbnail.

Then begins the series images. Start from the Monochrome side and you will page through 50 Monochrome images, all horizontal, then 2 leaving/arriving images, these sets being the only vertical in the series, then a spiral of both 15 Polychrome and 15 Monochrome images, followed by another 2 leaving/arriving images. The Monochrome images along side the Polychrome images, serve to show what the grey figure is missing. She reflects on what could be her at her home, a place she is more comfortable than she is in this Polychrome house. To reflect this, the Monochrome images in this section are smaller and offset in compartison to the Polychrome images.

Now Back to Blurb

If you’re using the InDesign plug in, after finalizing your book pages, click back into Blurb Book Creator and create a cover template.

For mine, I placed an image of the Monochrome house on the front cover and the Polychrome house on the back and their subsequent titles. ‘Monochrome’ is writtin in a serif font in medium grey, and ‘Polychrome’ is written in a sans-serif font in a pink/green gradient (both a multicolored take and the colors of the watermelon tourmaline gemstone, my artist namesake).

Then, while you should be able to upload directly from Blurb Book Creator, in my numerous times using this plug in, I’ve never been able to get that feature to work. Instead, I save my 2 files as high resolution, print ready PDFs and upload to Blurb that way.

So Where Do you Go From Here?

I know this might not all be insanely helpful for you with your book. If you’re familiar with InDesign and have a decent sense of book layouts you’re good to go. If not, I recommend downloading Blurb BookWright, Blurb’s book creation software. It’s relatively straight forward to use and there are a lot of helpful resources to guide you along the way.

Let me know if you’d like a walk-through of this software down the line, and I’ll see what I can do.

Also, if you’d like a copy of my book Monochrome|Polychrome, you can get one here. Check the banner at the top of Blurb’s page as there are often coupon codes.

What I Learned at My First WordCamp

June 29 & 30 I attended my first ever WordCamp. If you’re not familiar with the concept, WordCamps are WordPress based conferences that happen all over the world. They include talks by many knowledgable people in the field from web security, design, hosting, community building, etc. The particular one I attended was in Jacksonville, FL.

First and foremost, I learned that WordPress is a huge supportive community of tech and creative geeks. Maybe I already knew this, but being around just WordPress enthusiasts really re-enforces it. I feel like I made some legitimate connections with some super smart, kind people, and that’s truly the main thing I wanted to get out of going.

Check out some of the cool people I met at these links:

I also learned some valuable information regarding updating and better using my WordPress site, and each course got my creative juices flowing, whether on or off topic. I have a pretty decent list of future blog posts I want to write.

So let me take you through my Saturday and Sunday, of which I largely attended the ‘user’ based topics.

Saturday, June, 29

  • 8:30 Keynote: Business, WordPress & Ethics, Christie Chirinos
  • 9:30 WordPress 101 Workshop, Sheila Oliver
  • 11:30 The Host with the Most: How to Find the Right Website Hosting Company, Ian Smith
  • 12:15 Lunch, Three Forks Catering
  • 12:30 Lightning Talks
    • Network Like you Mean It, even if you don’t, Elizabeth Pampalone
    • How to Configure Email so it Makes it to the Client, Aaron Reimann
    • What’s a Wapuu, James Tryon
  • 1:30 How I Increased my Blog Traffic by 75% in One Year Without Advertising, Alex Sanfilippo
  • 2:30 Creating Content Plans: developing and executing blog campaigns, Rob Taylor
  • 3:30 WordPress Full Time Year 2: Finding your Niche, Wesley Lewis
    • I had to cut out after this session, but there was one more block followed by popsicles, that I missed out on

Sunday, June, 30

  • 7:30 Coffee & Connections
  • 8:00 How Almost Dying Saved my Life and Made me Better at my Job, Scott Mann
  • 9:00 How an Attacker Sees your Website – A View through the Eyes of the Hacker, Steve Schwartz
  • 10:00 Color and WordPress, Young McQueen
  • 11:00 The Unpredictable Value of Community, Cate DeRosia
  • 12:00 Building and Growing an Online Community, Aisha Adams
  • 12:45 Closing Remarks & Prizes
    • I sadly didn’t win anything, but I did get plenty of cool freebies from the sponsors
  • 1:30 After Party, Wicked Barley Brewing Company

What did I learn?

WordPress

WordPress based sites are 33% of the internet!

Privacy & Security

The new GDPR EU regulations effect all of us regardless of the country we’re blogging within. If you have a wordpress.com site, add the ‘cookies’ widget. If you’re on wordpress.org, in your settings there will be a privacy tab, go there, publish the privacy page, and something that references it in your sidebar, etc.

Definitely a week point of mine, but make sure your passwords are un-hackable. Random strings of numbers and letters are best. I still haven’t figured out how best to set and remember those though. Along with that, it’s smart to get a VPN. VPNs make public networks private, concealing your information. VPNs hide your IP address, which is truly all a hacker needs to get access to all your cookies. You may think, as I have, that no one would want to hack your little site, but it’s not your little site they want. They gain access to a bunch of tiny pieces of the internet so that they are able to use that bandwidth to access larger pieces. The speaker recommended ExpressVPN.

Regularly scan for viruses on your computer. Here, the speaker recommended Comodo rather than the traditional Norton and McAfee that tend to bog down computing power.

Possibly less WordPress oriented, but I also learned that RFIDs that we all worry about with our credit cards, can also clone work badges and hotel keys, giving not so nice people access to the tech you have in your hotel or office. There are even RFIDs that can gain access from 3-6 feet away. All the more reason for RFID blocking wallets I suppose.

Settings

Have you ever gone through all your WordPress settings. I have, but it’s definitely been years since I’ve looked through them. Click into them through your sidebar and read through everything. Add a site tagline – this can effect your SEO. Make sure you have the notifications you want turned on. Check your timezone, etc. etc.

Media Files

Speaking of SEO, which we did a lot, the alt text on your media files effects it as well. Make sure you have descriptive info in the alt text box of each image you upload so Google can find and index them. This is certainly something I do not do, and I have hundreds, if not thousands of image uploads. Instead of going back and editing everything, I’ve made it a goal going forward.

Keywords, etc.

When you update a page or post with a better URL slug, keywords, or really just new wording etc. Google will eventually update the link in search results, however, if you’d like it to update on Google search more quickly, link your site to Google Webmaster. Once logged in and clicked through to Google Search Console, click URL Inspection, enter the URL you wish to re-index, then click ‘request indexing.’ This will make your link appear in search results much quicker.

The most common pages on the internet are 1800 words. Interpret that info as you wish.

It’s smart to look for holes in your niche topic and write on them. What is something people search for, but aren’t finding the answer for? Now, for finding those searches, look at the search results in your wordpress.com stats. What are people coming to your page and not finding? Check out Uber Suggest, type in your blog URL and check out the keyword list. Search these keywords on Google and scroll to the bottom of the page to see what other questions, of a similar topic, people search for. Search these keywords on Pinterest too. Use the results you find as inspiration for blog posts. Now, use Uber Suggest to pull up keyword searches for websites similar to, or in competition with yours, and learn from those results as well. Incorporate these keywords in your blog titles, content and tags where applicable.

When including links in your posts, make sure they’re relevant. Don’t overlink and keep your readers focused on the topic at hand.

Look for opportunities, within your niche, to share your opinion. Use your voice.

Oh, and fix your broken links. Google doesn’t like those. Check if you have some here.

Staying Organized

If you’re struggling keeping up with all your social media posts, look into services like Hootsuite, Tailwind, Buffer, etc. You can get free and paid plans to schedule posts far in advance. While I don’t use these currently, I’ve tried both Buffer and Hootsuite. They really do keep you organized.

Also, of course, you can schedule your blog posts on WordPress, directly through the post editor. Definitely better to do this, than to publish a bunch all at once.

Find your own WordPress Community

Scroll all the way down on your dashboard and you’ll find WordPress announcements, even upcoming WordCamps near you!

Theres a local group here that meets monthly. I’ve been hesitant to attend, but I think finding like-minded communities is so important, and WordCamp taught me just how much I still have to learn, even 7 years into the platform.

Color your World: Beaver

Welcome back to this weekly Crayola color based blog challenge!

This week, the color is Beaver.

  • Between now and next Tuesday share a post inspired by the color on your own blog or social media. A poem, flash fiction, photo, drawing, whatever you’d like!
  • Link back to this post and include your post link in a comment below so that I can share your link next week.
  • Tag your blog post ‘coloryourworld’ so others can find your post in their WordPress Reader.

Check out the CYW home page with links to all weekly challenges as they post.

Read more