Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Breyer’s holiday catalog showed up over the weekend.

Aside from a beach towel and a new shirt, there isn’t much in there I haven’t seen online already. I did see potential for a lot of instant miniatures so I chopped it into pieces instead.

Here’s everything I got from it:

There were several images that could be used as wall art for a miniature tack room/barn office/etc, as well as a perfect miniature calendar.

The other pieces required a bit more effort to put together. The magazines were made by cutting around the front cover, leaving enough for the back as well. Once that was cut out, I used it as a template to cut spreads from other pictures, then assembled them with a glue stick.

I covered the backs with more images cut from the magazine.

I loved the print on the beach towel and decided to make a miniature folder from it. This was made from a long rectangle, with one edge folded up.

I covered the inside with a strip of blue that was on one of the pages, glued it in place, then cut off the excess:

I used a pin to punch a few holes in the side. I wish I had this in full size now. 😭

The tote bag was made by tracing the image onto a piece of cardstock. I added 1.5 cm to each end, traced the image a second time and added tabs on the bottom. I normally do this on a PC so it’s a bit sloppy.

Edges scored, folded and glued in place:

I gently folded the sides in, added a ribbon handle and the image:

The mini notebook was created by cutting out two rectangles, then gluing those to cardstock:

Once that was dry, I used one to cut several rectangles from scrap paper. These got stacked together so a top and side edge was flush, (if that makes sense…) and held together with clothespins.

To punch the holes I pushed a safety pin through the stack into an eraser:

I used a very thin beading wire to loop through all the holes. The green piece is an unfolded paperclip, which is helping keep the loops even.

Here’s the notebook finished, after being trimmed:

I’m sure more could be made from other pictures too, and not just with this catalog, but any you might get in the mail. (especially this time of year!) It’s all about training yourself to look at things differently. 🙂

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Five years ago I wrote a post explaining how I photograph my models. Looking back on it now makes me cringe.

So dark 😦

It’s kind of amusing to read. My photos have changed a lot in five years so I think it’s time to revisit that old post.

First off, what hasn’t changed:
My cameras. I use a Canon Rebel T1i for 99% of my photos. (I’m considering upgrading to a newer model though :3) I rarely use my Powershot for models nowadays. Lately I’ve been using an iPhone for quick IG photos too.
I’ve improved with learning how my camera works, and I was shooting in RAW for better control of the image until my computer decided it no longer likes opening RAW files. (whhhhyyyyy???)

My basic backdrop is still a white piece of poster board, and Photoshop is still my go-to for editing, but I’m using the full version over Elements now.

The biggest change I’ve made is lighting.

I have struggled SO MUCH with lighting. For the longest time I was trying to make due with natural light or my desk lamp, neither of which were giving me very good results.

I ended up finding an Ottlite on clearance and decided to give it a try to see if it would help. It did! For a couple years this was my photo setup:

Combining the two lights, my camera’s settings and some minor tweaks in Photoshop helped me finally start getting photos I was happy with.

But it has it’s downsides. It’s not portable, the light can be very harsh, and my desk simply isn’t big enough for any other type of set up. I’ve had more interest in setting up arena and “outdoor” scenes, and natural lighting worked ok… but only if I could catch it at the right hour and Photoshop everything afterward.

Other problems included space for the setup, shiny backdrops, and having to rely too much on Photoshop.

I wish I still had the “before.” This photo is VERY edited and I don’t like it when I have to do that

This Enterprise Props shoot is what pushed me over the edge. The final images are ok, but they all had to be salvaged with heavy editing. My scene setup with the natural lighting is in an extremely tight space, and is too large for any table, so everything had to be set up on the floor. Taking photos required me to lay on my side (literally pressed against a wall, lol) and awkwardly prop the camera up. The whole thing was just frustrating and painful.

I had considered buying a light tent of some sort, as I know a lot of hobbyists use those for model photography. The problem I have with those is the size. Sure they would be perfect for collection photos or props or tack, but my backdrops are big, and finding a big enough tent (or making one) seemed like another hassle.

Instead, I did some searching on photography lighting, and ended up purchasing this set of softboxes on Amazon.

These lights changed EVERYTHING and made model photography so much easier for me. They’re huge, but they can be completely folded up for easy storage. I can adjust the angle and the height, keeping them low to the ground, or up higher for something on a table.

Here is a basic, white backdrop setup with the lights:

This room has a gas fireplace and YES the backdrop is taped to the front BUT it’s completely shut off. I’m not that stupid XD

And the settings I used for those curious:

I vary all the settings whenever I take pictures. What might work for one horse won’t with another, so it’s nice to have several different photos to go through.

Here’s the final image. All I did was resize it, add a subtle unsharp mask and my watermark.

I love being able to get brightly lit photos at any time of day, at any spot in the room, at any time of the year now.

That was really hard to do before. And because the light comes from above, reflective backdrops aren’t a big issue anymore either.

I do struggle with over and under exposure. A more neutral backdrop (such as grey or tan) would be better for photographing horses, but I’ve been using bright white for so long that it wouldn’t feel right to change it now. :/

I’m still learning. But upgrading my lights was an extremely good choice for me, as I use them often for blog and sales photos. Setting up scenes isn’t as frustrating as it used to be, and I’ve been enjoying it so much more.

I still have to set up and tear everything down whenever I take photos, which is annoying, but at least it doesn’t take over my desk anymore. Someday I’d like to have my own studio/office space with a spot for a more permanent photo setup. We’ll see what happens in another five years!

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To finish the edges of a blanket or saddle pad, I use bias binding. This can be purchased pre-made at any fabric or craft store, in varying widths, folds and colors:

While it’s convenient to purchase, pre-made bias has it’s downsides. It can be expensive, especially if you’re using a lot of it. You are also limited when it comes to colors. I am a bit obsessive about things matching, and store bought bias simply doesn’t come in the same exact colors as my fabrics. Patterned bias exists, but again, you’re limited to what’s available.

So I learned how to make bias tape myself.

There are dozens of better tutorials online explaining how to do this but since I make my bias specifically for model horse tack, I thought I would share my process with you.

Here are the tools I use:

  • Fabric of choice
  • Large cutting mat – you’ll need one if you’re using a rotary blade
  • Rotary blade (sharp scissors work too but this thing is SO much faster and smoother!)
  • Ruler (mine is huge but a smaller one can work too)
  • Bias tape maker – these come in different widths and styles. I’ve used this one the most.

You’ll also need an iron and ironing board.

To put it simply, bias tape is made by cutting a diagonal strip from your fabric. Here’s a square piece of fabric to illustrate.

If you tug on both corners of your fabric, you’re going to feel it stretch better than if you tug on the top and bottom. This is where you’ll cut your strips from. The stretch helps the fabric go around curved edges easier.

Stretchy!

No stretch 😦

Start by taking one corner of your fabric, then fold it diagonally to meet the other side. You want a 45° angle here. Unless your fabric is a perfect square, it’s not going to fold in half exactly.

Pardon the carpet. I cut everything on the floor because I don’t have a table big enough to work on XD

Iron this fold down, then open up the piece again.

Cut along the fold line – you’ll have two fabric triangles to work with now. I tend to use whichever is larger first, as I can get a longer piece of tape from it.

Next, I’ll measure 1 inch from the edge and slice off a strip.

These strips are ready for sewing! I always cut more than what I need.

My method for sewing on bias has changed, so I no longer fold it. I was using double fold bias for nearly everything for a few years, and that was made with a metal bias tape maker. These come in different widths and are super handy for quickly making folded bias.

I get the 1 inch measurement from using this tool as it was required for the double fold. (each size is different- they do come with instructions!) To make the tape, feed one end through and anchor it down. (I pin it to the ironing board) Slide the tool along the strip, ironing down the fold as you go.

Fabric can (and will) behave differently sometimes – these two strips were made the same exact way but the blue pressed much more nicely. They can both be used this way though, so it’s not a problem.

If you don’t have a tape maker, you can still create the fold by hand. First, fold the entire piece in half and iron it down. Open this up, then fold in one edge to the center line and iron it down. Repeat for the other side.

So, now that your tape is cut, what do you do if it’s not long enough for your project?? I always try to use one piece of tape for the project I’m working on, but sometimes it’s necessary to join two pieces together. This can be a little confusing at first.

Start by laying one piece of bias down, with the good side facing up. Take your second piece and lay it on top (wrong side up) so the pieces are perpendicular to each other. (if your tape is folded open the folds up first)

See the square? You’re going to sew diagonally across this, from the top left corner to the bottom right.

If you’re not sure, pin the pieces together first, then open up the strip. This is what it should look like:

After sewing, cut off the excess, and press flat.

Now your tape’s ready to be sewn on!

“Make my blanket now please?”

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