Photo Shop and photo editing Feed

Digital Skills - A Necessity for Success

Digital skills with your camera and a working knowledge of Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) is a "no excuses" necessity for today's artists and makers.  Quality photographic images are a must for every artist and maker. There is a lot of information  to help you on the Internet. At the same time, the Internet offers tremendous opportunity for visibility. It seems to me there is no room for excuses either way.

Amercan Craft Article about Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin a sculpture of pencils about the impact of standardized testing on education.Even if you have your work professionally photographed, there are always occasions when shooting your own photos is still a necessity.

For example, the recent article in American Craft came about (at least in part) because I photographed my work while fabrication was in progress.  

LYNDA picture120x60-lynda2Every year, I spend a week to 10 days at the end of the year, learning new digital skills and working on my web site. I practice new skills in Photoshop, Dreamweaver and SEO using Lynda.com. You can try Lynda.com video tutorials with a 7 day free trial.  You can also watch video tutorials on Flickr, Google+ and more.

Another web site with lots of free online digital tutorials is CambridgeColor.com. You will find links to information about:

  • How Your Camera Works
  • Qualities of Digital Photos
  • Camera Types & Accessories
  • Digital Camera Sensor Cleaning: Tools & Techniques
  • How to Make Archival Digital Photo Backups
  • How to Protect Online Photos: Copying, Watermarks & Copyrights;
  • Image Resizing
  • Sharpening & Detail
  •   and a ton more......

Stay tuned... as I start my annual digital learning marathon for the next two weeks, I will offer quick tips that readers of ASK Harriete can use to improve their images and web site.

Start the new year with renewed visibility. 

Harriete

The assembly of the pencil sculpture Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin by Harriete Estel Berman
April28-29blueSTARgr
Prepare for Success: A Crash Course for Developing Your Business Skills can be designed to meet your needs.

Submit your questions in advance.

Bring images of your work. Let's look at your web site.

Is your work consistent with your professional goals?


Brush Out Glare in Photoshop to Improve Photographic Images - by Philip Cohen

Photographing shiny or reflective objects and paintings often results in glare and highlights that may wash out detail or color. This is a frequent problem for metals, ceramics and glass, even paintings with glossy paint.

The previous post on ASK Harriete
used Photoshop's Mask tool and the Brush tool to remove glare. If you didn't know how to use these tools (like me), this post will help you learn a new Photoshop skill.

In today's post, professional photographer Philip Cohen will show us how to use Photoshop to remedy this problem. I have added many details for step by step instructions after practicing the skill for myself. 


ality photo of art and craft

Image 1.
In the photographic image above a square plate by Malcolm Nicoll shows a glare spot regardless of where Philip Cohen places the light.

Look closely at the glare in the lower left corner. While the glass plate looks shiny, this is not a good photo!

ality photo of art and craft

Image 2.
The first step in eliminating the excessive glare problem is shooting two images; first one image with the light in one location, and the second image after moving the light to get the spot of glare in a different location.

Since you want both of these images to match perfectly, do not move the camera or the object/artwork being photographed.  Move only the light.
         
Plate_Demo_C-1 Plate_Demo_C-2 Side by Side Comparison of Images 1. and 2.

Notice that the spot of glare changes location from lower left to upper right.
    

Now that you have two identical images with the glare in different locations:
OPEN Photoshop

ality photo of art and craft

CLICK on Window Menu

OPEN the LAYERS Palette

ality photo of art and craft


OPEN both images in Photoshop.

COPY Image 2. (SELECT>All; EDIT> Copy)

ality photo of art and craft


CLICK  on Image 1.
Paste Image 2.
(EDIT> Paste)

This will automatically create a new layer.

Both images are layered in one image in Photoshop.

ality photo of art and craft


Select both layers
by holding the SHIFT button down and clicking on both layers in the Layer Palette.

Align both images in the Edit Menu
EDIT MENU>CLICK on Auto-Align Layers. (If you have an old Photoshop like me, Auto-Align doesn't exist. This is why it is so important to make sure that both of your images are identical except for the glare spot. I understand that Photoshop Elements is a lot less expensive and the updated version has Auto_Align.)  

 

ality photo of art and craft


Layerscu

Both Images are layered. Click in the Layers Palette on the top layer.

 

 

 

 

 

Click the Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. (You can see this in the above image. The Mask icon looks like a square with a circle in the center.)

Before I started this tutorial I had never used a Mask in Photoshop. (That shows you that I am still learning.) Since I was very confused, I found a great free tutorial about using a Mask in Layers. 

Perhaps the most important tip is to "replace the word "mask" in your mind with "transparency", because that's exactly what a layer mask does. It allows you to control a layer's level of transparency. That's it!

Learning how to use a Mask is a super trick.  Before learning about Masks, I used the eraser tool. Now I realize that the Eraser tool is more primitive, less exact and fraught with problems. Using Masks is much better. I recommend you learn about Masks from PhotoshopEssentials.com or  Lynda.com (try the 7-day free trial).

With the top layer highlighted:

BRUSHCLICK ON THE BRUSH TOOL.

 

 

 

 


ForegroundBACKGROUND Practice with the brush.

The black foreground square (left) allows you to delete the top layer.     

 

 

ForegroundwhiteFLIPPING BETWEEN WHITE AND BLACK SQUARE, foreground &  background changes the brush.

 The White square allows you to restore the layer.

Once you experiment you will see the differences.      

You can also use the Opacity option with the brush for a subtle control.
Photoshop tutorial for quality photo of art and craftde
Keep brushing until it’s perfect. (You can un-brush by switching the brush color to white.)  

 
Plate_Demo_C-6
Voila!! No glare!

Thank you Philip Cohen for sharing your professional expertise.

I am glad that I learned how to do this. Learning this new Photoshop skill will help me improve my photos. Learning new skills like this is great brain exercise too!

This new skill with Layers and using a Mask requires practice. I spent more that an hour fooling around with the images in this post. Learning Photoshop or Photoshop Elements is a skill for success for all artists and makers.

Thank you to Philip Cohen and  Malcolm Nicoll for allowing ASK Harriete to use these images. If you would like to submit your images for review, please contact ASK Harriete.


Eliminate Glare in Photographic Images with Digital Magic - A Photographic Tutorial by Philip Cohen

Philip Cohen, my photographer (for the past 23 years), has prepared a tutorial for photographing objects with highly reflective surfaces. Reflective surfaces often have a problem because the lighting source is reflected back as a white highlight which obscures color and details.  Shooting glass objects is particularly problematic for exactly this reason.

Plate_Demo_A_1
Image. 1
In this photograph of a plate by Malcolm Nicoll, a glare spot appears regardless of where the photographer places the source light. 

Plate Demo_A_2
Image 2.
So  a clever photographer shoots two images -- one with the reflected light in one position, then moving the light to get the highlight in a different location in the second photo.

Plate_Demo_A_1 Plate Demo_A_2Image 1 and Image 2
Side by side comparison of the two photos. Notice how the highlight is in a different location.

When using this technique, do not move the camera or the object.

Move ONLY the lights.



Plate_Demo_A_3
Image 3.
This is a close up view of the reflected highlight.

In Photoshop, both shots can be merged as layers. Then mask the top image so that a good area from the bottom layer fills in the glare spot.

Plate_Demo_A_4
Image 4.
Use Photoshop to make digital magic. This technique was simply not available in the film era.

Plate_Demo_A_5
Image 5.

Close-up view as the highlight disappears.

Plate_Demo_A_6
Image 6.
The perfect photographic image. No highlights obscure the details or colors. This technique could work for any highly reflective surface.

Thank you Philip Cohen for providing this step by step example for eliminating glare in photographic images with using Photoshop. This is the 3rd tutorial on ASK Harriete by Philip Cohen.

Previous photographic tutorials by Philip Cohen on ASK Harriete:

Lighting Shiny Surfaces for Quality Photographic Images” by Philip Cohen

Photographing Your Artwork? Bounce Cards Add Light and Fill in Deep Shadows

Contact: Philip Cohen to ask about quality photographic images of your art or craft.

Special thanks to Malcolm Nicoll who allowed his work to be featured in this post on ASK Harriete. 


How to Build a Better Drop Shadow in Photoshop - A Step-by-Step Powerpoint and Handout

The recent Professional Development Seminar during the SNAG Conference offered an informative program titled "Photography in Flux." One of the pressing issues in art and craft photo is the growing popularity of the stark white background, often with a stylized shadow near the work.

ChristopherConrad1 As part of the Professional Development Seminar, Photographer Christopher Conrad prepared a Step-by-Step HANDOUT and PowerPoint for "How to Build a Better Drop Shadow" in Photoshop. Now both of these are available on line for you to download and practice.

Strawberrycomparison


Step by step photoshop tutorial by Christopher Conrad for the Professional Development Seminar Both the PowerPoint and the Handout are step-by-step color images of this process in Photoshop. There is no complicated text, but beautiful didactic images so that you can do this yourself to improve the photographic images of your work with a soft and subtle shadow.

Step by step photoshop tutorial by Christopher Conrad for the Professional Development Seminar Find the Handout from the Professional Development Seminar How to Build a Better Drop Shadow - A Photoshop Tutorial by Christopher Conrad from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar on my website. It will also be posted on the SNAG web site soon.

Below is the Step-by-Step Photoshop Tutorial as a PowerPointHow to Build a Better Shadow - A Photoshop Tutorial by Christopher Conrad

The issues surrounding the white background for art and craft photography was discussed extensively on ASK Harriete several months ago. You can find the posts about shadows below. Your comments are welcome either on this post or the previous posts. Your experience and opinions can help other artists.

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:
 
Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


Monitor Madness - Going Nuts in a Nut Shell

Recently I spent hours and hours trying to figure out if my computer monitor was giving me an accurate color image.  I am going nuts!!!.

Nutshell copy

This is the problem in a nut shell.  Every single computer and computer monitor show images differently.  I am not kidding!!!!!!!! and it is driving me NUTS! 

Pencil installation about the impact of standardized testing on education by Harriete Estel BermanaI want the mages of my art and craft to be presented accurately with the right colors, brightness, contrast and saturation. Doesn't everybody?

Reality -- Your audience will be looking at your artwork through a different filter than yours.  Their particular combination of computer and monitor will likely show your images somewhat differently.

I've also found that most calibration web sites focus on matching your monitor to the printed image coming from your printer. The tutorials assume you want to print your images.  I rarely print my images. Most of my audience will be viewing my images on their desktop monitors, laptops, tablets, or phone.

More problems .....
If it is so easy for anyone's computer and monitor to be set slightly "off" when color correcting images of art and craft, then the images posted to websites may be off as well.

Books and magazine covers
Books and Magazines
Photo Credit: Emiko Oye

What about when you submit images to a book, exhibition, show or magazine? How do you know that you created the best quality images on your computer? How will your images look on the jurors' monitor? No wonder book publishers insist that artists DO NOT Photoshop their images!!!!!

MonitorsetupAt this point the only absolute answer is to buy high priced equipment beyond most of our budgets.  In the meantime, you should check to see if your monitor is giving you a full range of whites, blacks and appropriately saturated colors.

I found a few web sites that help to evaluate monitors.  You may be able to fine tune some adjustments.  At a minimum, these evaluations will alert you that your monitor may not be showing all there is to see.  In addition, it seems that the computer graphics card and the type of monitor have a lot to do with how your images look.

Test your computer by looking at this sample PDF from monitorsetup.com. It has a very easy to evaluate gray scale from black to white.  Try to adjust your monitor to give you the best appearance.  [Don't use the picture here on ASK Harriete, go to the site.]

MonitorWhiteCalCheckReady for a slightly finer evaluation? Try going to Imaging-Resource.com. They have two charts, one in a white scale image and one in black (below.)

Here is another site with detailed instructions for adjusting your computer and monitor.

This whole issue started because I thought my monitor was getting dim....monitors do age you know. How could I create great images if my monitor isn't correct? If I create images that look great only on my monitor, and don't look the same on other people's computers, what then?!!!!

MonitorBlackCalCheck Well guess what!!!!!?  BAD NEWS, there is no normal. I have discovered that every monitor is different. I mean really different!!!!!!!

LCD-MonitorHB  

Here is the rest of the story.  To replace my old monitor, my husband bought a new LED wide monitor....we were so excited. He purchased the monitor with the most adjustment buttons so I could fine tune the image. The LED's are brighter and save a lot of energy.  The wide monitor would allow me to have lots of windows open, and we could even download a movie to view on the larger screen.

BAD NEWS! The factory settings on the monitor are all artificially intense. The "scenic" mode and "theater" mode both super saturate the colors. The other options were only slightly better. With hours invested in fine tuning the adjustments, it got better but remained unsatisfactory. Something was very wrong with the colors. The white and black scales shown above were not showing the appropriate gradations.

Whole lot of cords After hours of adjusting and experimenting we hook up my old monitor to his laptop. Well his laptop and the old monitor together work quite well, even better than on my computer, but each presented a slightly different image. It became obvious that each combination of computer and monitor produced a different image. 

To end this story, we put the monitor back in the box and I returned it. My next computer I bought the best quality graphics card available.

This should not be the end of the story for you.   Using the evaluation websites above, adjust your monitor as well as you can and create the best images you can.  Then check your images or web site on other computers, mobile phones, and tablet devices.  At least you will be aware of any undesirable shifts and perhaps go back and adjust accordingly.

Harriete

Computer image came from Flickr portfolio of MR-Hands.

Your Facebook PROFILE Has New Options for Your Cover Photos

Harriete Estel Berman in the studio 2010 Three are several options for your Facebook profile that use the series of photos at the top of your profile page.


You can put one photo at the top of your page in the five images at the top. 

FacebookFbannerstrip
Another option below is:
One photo for both your profile picture and the five photos in a continuous series across the top.
Facebookpicscatter

Great idea, but it works much better if you think about the format and what will actually show up.  Some practice is required to make it look good with one large image on the side....and a few small photos to the right.

 

FacebookPROFILEmaker.faceUsing a large straight forward profile works really well, but there are other options that can be equally effective.  Sharp focus and great depth of field are essential  to make the images more interesting.

Here are examples of the three profile options with the demo images (from the studio) that I used when experimenting on my Facebook page. Once you figure it out, it is easy to try different images until you find a set that fits.


 Facebook picscatter PicScatter was also easy to use and my favorite. With the proper photo it could look really great. There is a little adjustment for the five side images.  I really like that you could flip the photo horizontally and make the image bigger or smaller.

 

Facebook fbanner Fbanner, the third option, allows you to add text to your images and change the color of the background if your image doesn't use up the entire space. It also offered stock images to use if you didn't have your own. However, I think most artists and makers would want to use their own protrait or images of their work.Fbanner was the least satisfying option of the three if you wanted to use your own images because it didn't include your main profile image.

 

Facebook-Harriete-estel-bermanDo you want one single photo for Facebook. The dimensions are 850px x 315px.  Read this post with a Guide to Image Sizes for Social Media with banner sizes for many popular social networks.


Give this a try.

Take a picture with this format in mind and experiment.  I used three different images from a recent photo shoot in the studio as my "tests", but after becoming more practiced, I got better at making each photo work in this format.

Give your art work and personality more visibility on your Facebook profile.

Find me on Facebook and be my friend to see my profile!


Nudity, Nipples or TMI in Your Photos

X ratedTRUE CONFESSION: I am NOT trying to sell a new car, TV, or any other consumer product with the allure of sex. But is this tactic from consumer advertising as effective in the art and craft community?

Recently during the photo series on ASK Harriete the subject of nudity, nipples, or TMI ("too much information") in photos of jewelry, clothing and small objects was raised by a number of readers.

Andy Cooperman commented about the juror's dilemna when judging photography submissions. "While jurying exhibitions, I have invariably come across images in which the work (usually a neckpiece) is featured frontally on a nude (usually female) model. "

Curtis ARIMA plant sculpture with breastsPLANT
   "Propagation/Production"
  Sterling Silver, Copper, 18k
   © Curtis Arima

He continues, "While this offers certain benefits, it is most often a turnoff to me as a juror because I feel that there is a manipulative aspect to the image. Am I responding to the work or to the body? Am I responding as a man or as a juror? The work had better be VERY good for me to get past this feeling and accept it. No one wants to feel that they are being manipulated."

 

Curtis ARIMA man NECKLACEsbellybutton
"Spiculum Necklaces"
and "ball and chain necklace"
Sterling silver, and 18k gold
© Curtis Ariman

Nude SEX selling JEWELRY.NAKED Brigitte Martin from Crafthaus added: "Andy's point regarding the choice of model and how much skin is revealed to manipulate a buyer or jury is spot on. I would not put certain 'tactics' above some artists. In a world loaded with information, why not add a little something to be noticed.... I am sure it is done on purpose. "

 



She adds: "Can I as an artist use this to my advantage?
Should I be employing this technique at all?  Is it ethical and under which circumstances does this work?  Most importantly, when and where does it not work? Oh boy, what a can of worms."

I agree with both Brigitte and Andy. From my perspective, the nude in a photograph of jewelry, clothing or three dimensional objects is problematic for lots of reasons.

Curtis ARIMA NECKLACE WITH V NECKLINE

"Spiculum Necklace"
Sterling silver, 18k
© Curtis Arima

Considering the difficulty of getting a great shot with the model that does NOT distract from your art or craft, is it better to focus on the work with less of the body, nudity, or nipples?  At what point is the model distracting or enhancing?

What do you think?

Is this TMI?

Thank you to Curtis Arima who has allowed images of his work to be used in this post on ASK Harriete.
Find more of Curtis Arima's work at his web site or visit his studio at: the SawTooth Building, 2547 8th Street Studio 30B, Berkeley,CA 94710.


Side by Side Comparison - Levels for Photoshop Magic in Your Photos

In two  previous posts a series of side-by-side images included a photo of Bruce Metcalf's necklace.

Did you notice the difference in the model's skin color?

BruceMetcalfnecklaceBruceMetcalfnecklace.fulllighter
Original Photo                       Adjusted with Levels
"Lucia's Poppy Necklace" 2010   © Bruce Metcalf.
Mixed mediums, wood, paint. Model: Natala Covert.

The original (left) photo had a kind of dull cast to the photo giving the skin a greenish cast. I adjusted the photo using LEVELS in PhotoShop making the model's skin tone and necklace a speck more radiant. LEVELS for PhotoShop "magic" can really make a noticeable improvement.  Levels is a way in Photoshop (and other photo editing software) to improve the brightness in a photography.  A 30 second  "fix" with Levels improves the images significantly.

Here is my simple PhotoShop Tutorial for using Levels:

Open PhotoShop
 
FILE:
(find your image)
    OPEN your image: Levelsstep1

 

 

 

 

 
LevelsADJUSTMENTClick: IMAGE in the top menu bar. Look at the drop down menu.

CLICK: Adjustments 
in the drop down menu.

LEVELSbruce metcalfAnother drop down menu.

Click: Levels

You will see a graph with black fill.

There should be a little white trianglular slider on the right side of the graph. A larger image below with a red square highlights the area that I am talking about.

LEVELSbruce metcalfred


Levelsbrucemetcalfimage On Bruce Metcalf's original photo the graph has an empty space on the right (i.e. the black fill in the graph does not extend all the way to the right edge). Do you see how the black fill on the right and the little white trianglular slider on the right edge don't line up?

 LevelsGRAPHbRUCEMETCALFThe TRICK:

GRAB that little  white trianglular slider with your mouse. Move it to the left so the trianglular slider lines up with the right edge of the black fill.

The red square highlights the white triangular slider. 
LevelsGRAPHbRUCEMETCALF redmoved
NOTICE how the photo lightens up.

There you go. Levels magic!!!!!!!

TRY IT YOURSELF. I have an older version of PhotoShop. Your version may be slightly different. Experiment. Learn to use Levels for PhotoShop magic!

LEVELSmovedWORD OF CAUTION: Just as every photo looks different, every photo will have a different graph in Levels.

If you look at Levels for a photo, and the black trianglular slider on  the left, and the white trianglular slider on the right are lined up with the beginning and end of the graphic black fill,  DON'T MOVE THE TRIANGLES.

If the little trianglular sliders move INTO the graphic black fill area (moving past the edge) you will loose information. This is why book publishers do not want you to adjust levels for print images. Book and magazine publishers don't want amateur PhotoShop skills ruining the photo.

If you have an image that looks a little dreary or dark, open Levels and look at the image.

BruceMetcalfnecklace BruceMetcalfnecklace.fulllighter
Original Photo                       Adjusted with Levels

What do you think?

BruceMetcalfnecklace BruceMetcalfnecklaceonly
Original Photo                       Adjusted with Levels &
                                          Cropped.
"Lucia's Poppy Necklace" 2010   © Bruce Metcalf.

Mixed mediums, wood, paint. Model: Natala Covert.

Thank you to Bruce Metcalf for allowing ASK Harriete to experiment with his images and use them as an example for the last two weeks of posts.

If you missed the posts about the images they were titled: 

Side by Side Comparison - Do You Want to See the Whites of Their Eyes When Photographing the Model?   and

Side by Side Comparison - The Whites of The Model's Eyes? Issues and Answers

Harriete

P.S. I kept  my tutorial super simple...but there are many tutorials available on line.

Get more from your software.

  I love Lynda.com and use it all the time to learn new digital skills. If you go to a digital conference or Apple conference they often have a display booth that gives out a short term free trial. Youtube has a number of Lynda,con tutorials to look at for no charge.

Here is a more technical tutorial online.

Here is an Adobe instructions for Levels.


Photo Styling - "Reality" or Getting Real - an Authentic Opinion

Hotbutton We've been discussing photos for almost two months, there is so much to consider. Your photos are the MOST IMPORTANT tool in the artist's or makers tool box.

Fantastic72  

 

Your photos are like Superheros traveling at the speed of light, working 24 hours a day, shrinking and expanding at the touch of a button. The folks at Search Engine People sum up this discussion about images perfectly:

The old adage is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But you do it anyway, so it’s useless to pretend that others don’t, as well. Content may be King, but Appearance is the horse it rides in on, be it a magnificent steed or a gimpy nag.

One of the hot button topics is photo styling which was be discussed at the 2011 Professional Development Seminar in Seattle.  Photo styling as in the stylistic appearance of the photos for your work.

Authenticity The question we are all asking is, "What attributes make an effective photo in documenting art or craft?"  My observation is that there is a shift in the marketplace toward the concept of somehow "capturing authenticity."

Advertising and marketing increasingly strives toward "real" and "just like me".  Even when models are used, the models are presented with a less formal appearance, almost moving to ordinariness. Advertising is suggesting a more "authentic" context or "back story", instead of glamor or seduction.

Teacup Sculpture by Harriete Estel Berman as a commentary about our consumer society. But let's not be fooled. The models, however "real" in their appearance are still models. They have just spent hours in hair and make-up, their photos are taken by professional photographers with 10 assistants to make sure that the "authentic" look doesn't look fake. But this "real and authentic" look is still fabricated, and the photos are still airbrushed.

Authenticity Hoax, How We Get Lost Finding OurselvesI am still amazed that television has successfully coined the phrase "reality show" to describe completely synthetic scenarios populated by selectively skewed "ordinary" people who are thrown into bogus competitions. Or what about commercials that LOOK like they are REAL testimonials? Is a "behind the scenes" Victoria Secret Fashion Show really real?

Buyology Art and craft photography is trending right along side this current style in marketing. To quote Martin Lindstrom from the book, Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. "What we're beginning to witness in the advertising world today is a fascinating marriage between the world of the airbrushed supermodel and the world of the ordinary consumer -- a blurry union between perfect and not so perfect."

Counter Culture As the selling of "authenticity" grows, the marketing of art and craft will continue to evolve.  However, I am concerned by an overemphasis on enhancing reality with artificial authenticity.  

The handmade object remains as authentic as it gets. Art and craft doesn't need to dumb down our work or reduce the quality of our images to enhance reality. We are still selling the one thing that can't be mass produced, the touch of the hand, the quality and craftsmanship from personal care and attention by artists and makers that really do care along with fabulous ideas.

What do you think? Do makers need to enhance authenticity or style reality in the photography of their very real work?  How do you photograph and sell the authenticity of your work? 

Links for these books are affiliate links abd provided for your convenience. Clicking on the book title, or image may provide revenue to support this blog. Your local library may also have these books.  


Side by Side Comparison - Do You Want to See the Whites of Their Eyes When Using a Model?

When using a live model instead of a mannequin there are so many issues to consider. Today we will look at side by side comparisons of photos from Bruce Metcalf and my own work.

Metcalf had a discussion brewing about this image on his Facebook page. He has graciously allowed me to show the original photo and a modified version for this discussion on ASK Harriete.

Now, pretend that you are a juror and you have 5 to 10 seconds to make a decision to accept or reject.  Go with your gut reaction and make an immediate decision.

Here are the photos. Below are the questions:

Bruce Metcalf necklace Bruce Metcalf necklaceonly
Original Photo     V.1      Version 2 Cropped w/Photoshop
"Lucia's Poppy Necklace" 2010   © Bruce Metcalf.
Mixed mediums, wood, paint. Model: Natala Covert.

A second set of photos illustrates a similar issue. This time the model is looking straight at you. Same necklace, different models, different poses.

Recycledcollar800 RecycledmILKNECKLACE
Option A                                  Option B
Recycle Necklace © 2010   Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit:(left) Liz Hickok         (right)emiko oye 

Which photo do you like best?

Which photo better presents the necklace?

Do you like seeing the model's face or eyes? Or is too much of the model distracting?

Do the model's face and hair add important information about the necklace or is it a distraction?

Do you think the skin color is better in the Metcalf Original Photo or in Version 2?

Are there other questions that you would like to ask?

Please give your comments and opinions. 

No answers  from ASK Harriete, today.  I don't want to bias your opinion. I will aggregate a consensus in the next post.  Please leave your opinion in the comments below or on Facebook, or email me directly.

Levels Plus, I am going to include a short Photoshop lesson soon about using Levels for photo "magic."

Discussion of the model issues will continue on Thursday when a range of opinions will be expressed.

DISCLAIMER: Obviously, the photographic images illustrating Bruce Metcalf's "Lucia's Poppy Necklace" are not the same size because I cropped a vertical shot, cutting off the model's face right above the lips. The original rectangular image is now a more square format.

I compensated a little by making the Version 2 image a little wider. If I had the original image, I could have played with the proportions a little better, but it does bring up an important point. Square images often appear more pleasing on the Internet whereas just a few years ago, a square image would have been very unusual.


Photo Magic or "POOF" Photo Disaster - The Hand as a Prop in the Photographic Image

Hands are particularly challenging in a photo. This is because our brains are engineered to stare at hands. Thus we can't help looking at the hands in the photo before anything else. Another problem is that most people's hands tend to look a little awkward. Bad combination! For these reasons, hands are particularly challenging in a photo.

HANDS of Harriete Estel Berman with Jeweler'sTattoos.
My very calloused and scarred hands with
"Jeweler's tattoos" (those little trophies
from drilling into your own fingers).

The hands of artists and makers can be very unattractive. Calloused, cut, worn, scared, muscular, and down right unsightly makers' hands literally ruin the whole photo. "Poof" photo disaster.  My first suggestion for "photo magic" is that artist's should avoid using their own hands in a photo shoot.

Recycled Glass Bead Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman When photographing jewelry or clothing to be worn on the hand or arm,  decide whether the benefits of a model's hand outweigh the distractions.  In this case, the hand is a prop.  Its purpose is to highlight key elements of the work.

To achieve "photo magic" make sure the hands look attractive. This requires long graceful fingers and clean, perfectly manicured fingernails.

 Recycled straight  Bracelet by Harriete Estel BermanDuring the photo shoot, pay close attention to the model's hand positions. If the model's hands aren't working naturally, either position the hands exactly as you want them, or try a position such that the hands don't show.

Professional Guidelines Brochure Model Release Contract.If you can avoid including hands in the photo it is much easier to get  successful photo magic. For an example, two photos in the new Professional Guidelines brochure (left) have taken this approach.

In the far left image of Jesse Mathes' necklace, the hands are hidden behind the model's back. This gives the body a sculptural form with no distraction.

Marj-schick-collar In the  photo of Marjorie Schick body sculpture (left) the model's hands are also hidden. Just imagine what this photo would look like with the model's hands showing.  Hopefully you realize how distracting hands can be.

 

 

Photo shoot by Harriete EStel Berman  and Emiko Oye Even with beautiful hands, it might be one out of 50 shots with varying light and positions to get just the right photographic image.

Ask for some honest critique to see if the hand is drawing attention away from the work or contributing to the focus of the photo and comprehension of artist's intent.

The next post will describe a few MISTAKES and SOLUTIONS with photographs of hands. Either you will have Photo Magic or "POOF" photo disaster! It's all in the hands.

Harriete

If you would like a copy of the new Professional Guidelines Brochure. Contact me through my blog, web site or Facebook.

Recycle plastic jewelry work by Harrite Estel Beman. Photo Credit: emiko oye.

Photo of my hands: Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander


Professional Guidelines improve your images!

Sunday I posted opportunities to submit your images for three different books. Check it out if you missed the post. I didn't want to wait until Tuesday because of the pending deadline for submitting images.

BentClocks06 "Oh No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!," you say.
"My images aren't ready!!!!!!!!!"
"My new work isn't finished!!!!!!!!!!!"

That is just the point! Success is always just around the corner, but only if you are prepared with photographs. You can't wait until the opportunity is upon you to make something you've been thinking about for years. Don't wait for an invitation to complete that important project. Then get your photos done.  Chance favors the prepared!

Alysso Endo PHOTO shoot of aqua bracelet behind the camera
Photo shoot in progress. Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

The Professional Guidelines has several documents that will help you on your path to success with  four topics to improve your application:

TOP TEN TIPS for Getting into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine. 

Working with Digital Images Effectively

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

Model Release Contract


All information is FREE.

Click on this link Download PGHANDOUT2010 for a one page PDF including all 19 topics in the Professional Guidelines.

Stay tuned for the next post about using a model to photograph your jewelry, clothing or art to wear.


New Opportunities to Submit Your Photos - Follow This to Improve Your Chances of Success

There are opportunities to submit your work to upcoming books -- right now, but first below are some tips and links to help improve your chances. 

Consider reading the previous posts on ASK Harriete about photographic backgrounds.  The series isn't finished but I didn't want to wait any longer to let you know about these opportunities to use your fabulous photos!
Professional-Guidelines-Larger-Image
NEXT, MORE TIPS can be found in the Professional Guidelines which include three specific topics to improve your application:

TOP TEN TIPS for Getting into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine. 

Working with Digital Images Effectively

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

And finally, when submitting for a publication, this is NOT the time to experiment with unusual colored or textured backgrounds.  To avoid getting a "NOT ACCEPTED" notice, stick with the conventional white, black or graduated backgrounds. These "tried and true" standards reliably produce more "acceptable" images for a wide range of situations.

Now, here are BOOKS SEEKING ENTRIES.
(Click on the links provided for more information.)

1) Humor in Craft ,Schiffer Publishing ,curated by Brigitte Martin

2) 500 Rings ,Lark Books, curated by Bruce Metcalf

3) The Bead and Wire Jewellery Designer’s Bible, Download Information Pack (BDEA) UK by Renata Graham Note: The deadline is very tight, January 31st, so send samples of your work ASAP if you are interested! Preferably only new work. The information is not clear about what size photos so I recommend 4" x 6" x 300 dpi.



Update:
Humor in Craft was published and has won multiple book publishing awards. If you are interested in craft objects from sculpture to jewelry I highly recommend this book for hours, days and weeks of entertainment and interesting observations.

HumorINCraft

The Bead and Wire Jewellery Designer’s Bible, by Renata Graham

In summer 2011 quarto Publishing will be delivering this forthcoming title world wide, and we are currently looking for a wide selection of bead jewellery and beadwork to feature throughout the book.

Each featured artist will be credited in full and receive a complimentary copy.

Please see attached for further details.

Note the deadline is very tight, 31st Jan, so send me samples of your work asap if you are interested! Preferably only new work.

Watermarks on photos - Not Good, The Bad and The UGLY

Marie Kazalia abstract plaid1lrg
      Abstract Plaid #1
     © 2010 Marie Kazalia
     Artist Oil, Alkyd Paints on Canvas

What do you think of digital watermarks and such? I cringe when I see them.
Maria Kazalia

Maria,

This is a good point to bring up during this photography series on ASK Harriete.  When you say digital watermarks, I want to focus on the watermarks on images of art or craft Manpainting-- not about the digital watermarks on STOCK PHOTOS intended to drive purchase of the photo (like the left image). 

I wrote about watermarks once before, but I wanted to bring this up again and be very clear. Putting a watermark, icon, signature on top of, over, near, or in the corner of photographic images of art or craft is a huge mistake. Don't do it.

Watermark When I see a watermark on a photo, I refuse to try to look through it or past it.  The photo is ruined.  Instead, I move on.  And I believe most people react similarly.

That's my opinion.  Now here is a more rational consideration. 

The greatest value of posting images online is to get more visibility. All of the many possible venues (whether on Facebook, Crafthaus, Flickr, or your own website) help to expose your images to a larger audience.  The Internet is based on the exchange of ideas and images, yours included!  Based on the concept of the Long tail, the Internet is a fabulous opportunity to enable a widely dispersed audience to find, appreciate, and share your work.

Goof Off Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman
Goof Off/Goof Up Flower Pin
 © 2011 Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, screws.

A watermark on a photographic image discourages any blog, web site, writer, or online marketplace from copying and sharing your images. Watermarks disfigure the images. It is akin to putting the images in a virtual closet with the door shut!

 

HAND PICK  Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman
Hand Pick Flower Pin
© 2011Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, screw,

If the purpose for a watermark on your photos is to  "protect" them from being stolen or copied, then the Internet is the wrong place for your images.  This is the wrong approach to protect your work.

 

 

There are many more effective options for protecting your work:

  • Create a unique unmistakable signature style; 
  • Develop a technique that is not used by other artists or makers;
  • Pursue recognizable subject matter that establishes your reputation;
  • Pursue unique content issues;
  • Continue developing your techniques and style so that impostors are always behind you.
  • Create a strong identity for your name and your work (then impostors will be seen as just that, impostors). If a person wants to buy a Zac Posen dress, they will buy Zac Posen. If a person wants a Harriete Estel Berman, they will buy a Harriete Estel Berman. Copycats are "also rans."

Other options for protecting your work are: 

  • Post smaller images (e.g. 200px x 200px x 72dpi). This is not recommended, but it is a better alternative than a watermark on your images. 
  • Use FLASH for your images. FLASH images are more difficult to copy. This is not recommended either. Flash can not be rendered by most phones, or I-PAD type technology. Thus your web site is not viewable online by the new mobile technologies. (A future post will provide more information on this issue.)

OK you got it! Watermarks on photos are OUT!

Fantastic  Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled materials.
  Fantastic Flower Pin
  © 2011Harriete Estel Berman
  Recycled tin cans, screw,

QUALITY PHOTOS are your secret to success.~ Your photographic images can travel at the speed of light, work 24 hours a day, shrink to the size of a stamp, and expand to super viewing size.  

 

 

Another point of view on watermarks in a post titled "Should You Watermark Art You Are Posting Online" by Jason Horejs.


Related Post to the watermark issue is when museums post your images on their website, use your images for catalogs, calendars or loaning your artwork to other institutions. In theses examples they would not want a watermarked image. Read about how they handle copyright and images in the post Copyright and a Non-Exclusive License.

 

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Breaking the "Rules" with Style AND Perfection - Photos that work!

Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


Breaking the "Rules" with Style AND Perfection - Photos that work!

Recently, post after post on ASK Harriete has talked about the attributes of quality photographs to help artists and makers develop more effective photos to represent their work.  The "rules, standards, or conventions" are there because they reliably produce acceptably images for a wide range of situations.  Well, there are also exceptions!  I recently ran across a photograph that breaks some major rules, and it's fantastic!

The photo and artwork to the right below is from Krystal Speck.

KrystalSpeck
Work by Krystal Speck at Chicago's
One of a Kind Show

Why does this image work so well? How can this artist break such fundamental rules so successfully? The answer is that it perfectly combines both personal style and accuracy.

  • The exposure of the photograph is perfect.
  • Focus is precise,
  • Colors clear.
  • The ceramic has a slight reflection to indicate a smooth surface but it doesn't wash out the work,
  • The standard graduated background balances the applied graphics,
  • The irreverent flower drawings parallel and reinforce details within the photo,
  • Overall, a very personal style that is memorable but doesn't obscure the work.

Rickson on Crafthaus commented about this photo saying, "I love the image as it shows the whole creative process from inspiration, to drawings to finished product." The graphics are not extraneous.  They add meaning in her photos because they offer insight into the decorative elements in her work.

KrystalSpeckwebsiteNow taking a look at the website for Krystal Speck, the graphics in her photos also match the web site styling perfectly. Krystal Speck establishes an identity with each photo that she carries forward into her web site. A recurring graphic (left above) is the header for every page.  A consistent header or style on every page of a web site helps develop a clear identity within the web site.

Krystal also has the more standard photos to represent her work (right below). Again the photo quality is superb. The graphics on these ceramic items match the web site graphics. This complete approach to every detail of her work and web site defines a very high level of professionalism.    KrystalSpeck2

Yet, some conventions remain reliable.  The standard graduated background photos demonstrate that she is ready with her jury submission photos.

[The one criticism that I would raise about her web site is that there is no information about the work. Even when you click on the images, there is no descriptive text. I hope she adds this information soon.]

In the meantime, I hope this exceptional example offers insight into how breaking the photographic rules with style and perfection can really set you apart from the crowd.

Harriete

The 2011  Professional Development Seminar in Seattle with three noted photographers, and editors Marthe Le Van, Lark Books, and Suzanne Ramljak, Metalsmith Magazine discussed trends in photographing craft objects. Listen to their commentary in a series of SlideShare presentations.
Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

A white background in a photographic image has some very practical advantages. The pure white background (#000000) works very well to embed the photo across a variety of other media such as text documents, line sheets, combining images in print or creating a cohesive presentation on a web site. Here are examples in the illustrations below:

White IRREGULAR text The white background in a photo image allows text to move around the image eliminating the grid format. Using In Design or Illustrator the text can be placed around the image in an interesting format. It allows a little more creativity and interest in the layout of the page as in the example to the left from Departures Magazine.

With this idea, you can create great Artist Statements. To see an example of one of my Artist Statements with a embedded images, here is a PDF version to download.  Download Historicalteapotscoffeepots.
Historicalteapotscoffeepots_Page_1 Historicalteapotscoffeepots_Page_2

Line-Sheet-05 On a similar level, the white background allows artists and makers to create attractive line sheets with a clean professional layout. (Learn more about a line sheet in a future post, but essentially this is a list of your "line" or the production items that you sell.)

The white photographic background also provides a consistent look in groups of photos on web sites, juried applications, and on the printed page.

An example of a beautiful web site with images on white backgrounds is photographer Steven Brian Samuels.  A diverse group of works blends well into a cohesive, dramatic and up to date presentation.

51ccD8DhZXL._SL160_
Adorn © 2008
Book by Amanda Mansell
Artist:
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The white background has been used very effectively in the jewelry book Adorn. If you enjoy looking through a  beautiful book, this is perhaps one of my favorites in part because of the immaculate white background layout.

AdornP151
Adorn © 2008
Book by Amanda Mansell

Page 151
Artwork by Harriete Estel Berman

All of the jewelry in the book is on a white background. It makes the images (from a wide variety of makers) look incredibly cohesive. There is NO patchwork of the photographic background grid since all the backgrounds are removed.

In this book, I know all the work didn't arrive at the author or publisher with white backgrounds. Many of the images were cut from their photographic backgrounds (including mine) to create this very attractive layout.

ADORNP85
Adorn © 2008
Book by Amanda Mansell

Page 85  Red Orbit Necklace (left)
by Harriete Estel Berman, (right) by
Dougehum Lee titled Draw

The amount of effort involved to cut out the images must have been really challenging. Can you imagine cutting out all those fine lines in my work?  RedID_7_600 I've included my original photo (below) just so you can see the comparison. I think they did a fabulous job on the shadows. They don't look fake.

I can see real advantages to the white background. What do you think?

Adorn136Adorn137
Adorn © 2008 by Amanda Mansell Page 136-137. Left: Kiroki Iwata, Wishes of leaves & Expression of Plants. Left Center Andrea Wagner, House with a White Picket Fence. Center Top Right:Castello Hansen, Untitled. Far Right: Lucy Sarneel, Untitled. Right Center Bottom: Lesley Strickland, Metal.


Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos::
Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

When showing a group of photos, be sure the backgrounds are consistent. Practically speaking, if the backgrounds and/or photographic style changes from photo to photo on your web site or portfolio (or even in a juried application), it does NOT look good.

Anthrocabinetcur I recently studied a variety of web sites a few weeks ago for example photos.

For this post, let's look at the Anthropologie "Cabinet of Curiosities page (shown to the left) since they have a wide range of small scale 3 dimensional items. In the first example, the photographic images have an eclectic, stylized appearance, but notice that every photo has the the same background of bleached, faded wood. The web site works to pull the photos together as a group with identical backgrounds.

Anthrolanding While the landing page for each category may be eclectic or have a stylized background, move to any other page of inventory on the Anthropologie web site and you will see that every item is photographed on the same background. While not a solid color, it has a very Anthropurse muted, soft pattern. The background does not distract from the work. Each item is isolated.  None of the photos confuse the customer with earrings hanging off of teacups, necklaces draped over plates, or pendants pinned on wrinkled fabric.

Each and every photo conforms to the general style of the web site and clearly portrays the work.  The photo portfolio creates a clear identity for the business with a consistent style.

Artists and craftspeople can learn a lot from major retailer web sites and their professional merchandising schemes.  Keep backgrounds and the style of photography consistent. Applications for shows, submissions to juried opportunities, or even the appearance of a web site or online marketing should look like one cohesive identity with clear emphasis on the work.

Cratefireplace Go to any retail web site, from Tiffany to Crate and Barrel.  While they may have initial landing pages with multiple items offering mood, "warmth" or connection with their customer, when it comes to showing the merchandise, they don't confuse the customer.

CrateRusticBotanicalScreenLLF7  

 

Each item is shown without additional mood or clutter. Clarity about what they are "selling" is a top priority.

The same principle should apply for artists and makers. Mood, "warmth" and connection with your customer should be separated from representation of the item.

I am not saying that you must adopt the retailers' style completely. What I am asking is ....... Have you separated your merchandising from the photographic representation of your work? Do your backgrounds present a cohesive body of work?

Stay tuned to see more backgrounds issues!  Are there ways to break the rules of the graduated background with style and perfection?

Harriete

anthropologie

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Over the last few weeks we have discussed art and craft photography and some of the tried and tested variables. The current arguments consider the impact of the "standard" graduated background or going for a bolder statement in the photograph with non-standard backgrounds.

PurplePURPLEbackground Today's post discusses backgrounds with texture or pattern. To avoid offending any particular artist or maker by selecting their photo for critique, I searched for example images of colored backgrounds with texture and pattern in high end magazines.

This purple background with a contrasting reflection of "leatherette texture" came from a recent Departures magazine. Obviously the photographer and jewelry manufacturer thought this was a great photo that effectively showcases the pendant.

The photo is excellent. The pendant is properly exposed without strong highlights to wash out the color. There is just a hint of glimmer to let you know the enamel and metal is shiny and smooth. A little darkness below the pendant gives it a strong foundation. It does not float but clearly lays on the fabric.

Now consider the purple colored background with a textured appearance. This textured background is no different than using felt, wrinkled fabric, stones, leaves, or wood. The background is something the photographer choose carefully to complement the pendant. But will the viewing audience like or dislike it?

The background material certainly adds a significant element to the photo.  The viewer is driven to consider the background in addition to the the work. Is it a distraction? Is this a fabulous photo,  or too much personality detracting from the work?  When your photos include a patterned or textured background, will people judge your background before the work when they have 2 seconds to look at the image?

Redclutter background The next photo uses a brilliant red background with a thematic element that echos the diamond pendant. In this case, it is a Cartier flower pendent with similar flowers in the red background. The general parallel would be photo backgrounds consisting of water scenes, moss, stones, grainy wood, or leaves -- any background that adds information. Is this added information an enhancement or a distraction? You may like it, others may not.  Regardless, the background is now part of the like or dislike assessment.

A thematic background may be well done, but is it appropriate to art and craft photography. Step back and ask yourself: Is the background essential to the presentation of the work AND TO AUDIENCE?   What is this photo going to look like during a juried review or on a web site with 20 other photos?  

Examine the red photo more carefully.  One may wonder what an expensive diamond pendant has to do with tropical orchids besides the form.  As a marketing device, perhaps it is trying to sell a lifestyle in which the work is promoted as a signature accessory.  Or like car commercials that show us the lifestyle of "wind in the hair" or driving fast like a "professional driver on a closed course."  "Do not attempt at home."  Maybe the lifestyle sells better than the work. The addition of the word and brand name Cartier to the photo is a "marketing device" that I think artists and makers should avoid. 

 Artists and makers have been trying all varieties of colors, patterns and textures to add warmth, style, or other desirable dimensions to their photos.  In whatever form, it adds information to the photo.  Is it a distraction? What message does the background say about the work?  Does the background help sell the work? Will your background be judged instead of the work? Does a background pigeonhole your work into a specific context? Is that where you want to be?


Does the background become overly dramatic, maybe even looking more like a  fashion magazine ad than a serious piece of art jewelry? Is there a prejudice toward colored backgrounds because the colored background is not serious enough? Is the colored background colorful or disconnected to the more serious conceptual content behind this art jewelry?

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....


Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Some comments during this series of "Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos" prompted me to add comparisons of photos with colored backgrounds.

B&wID_72B&wID_blue72GreyB&W.72
The use of colored backgrounds in photography of art or craft is not simply a "black and white" issue.  There are too many considerations. 

For this post, I will only use photos of my work to illustrate solid colored backgrounds (so no one else feels like a guinea pig in this public critique).  Feel free to respond however you want about my examples.

[Note: A couple of future posts will discuss backgrounds with texture or other extra content.  Stay tuned.] 

The photos immediately below are from a pre-digital era. Yes, the left photo was actually photographed on a yellow background paper at my request by my photographer Philip Cohen. The photos were taken in 1990 -- before digital manipulation could easily replace a background with a different color.

Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Metalsmith_YellowBkgrdnotitleSmallPieces
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images) Photo Credit for both images: Philip Cohen.

Cover of 1990 Summer issue of Metalsmith Magazine with a yellow photographic background.
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces
of Time

©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman
vintage steel doll houses
1990 Cover photo for Metalsmith
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

The yellow background photograph was used for the cover of a summer issue of Metalsmith Magazine in the early 1990's.  It was my idea to photograph on yellow and a very scary idea. A bright yellow background breaks completely with the established standard of gray-to-graduated backgrounds, then and now.  I used the yellow background that one time and have never used it again in 20 years.

SmallPiecesgraybk At the same time, I had the same sculpture  photographed on the more standard gray background. Thank goodness! The gray photo has been used over and over in many shows, books and magazines. 

I felt then and still feel that the yellow background really makes the work POP! But let's get really honest! -- the vast majority of the art and craft community do not view work on bright yellow backgrounds as serious work.  The general consensus seems to be that a brightly colored background is perceived as decorative, overly dramatic or superficial.  Or am I mistaken? What do you think?

A key consideration is your audience. The yellow cover of a summer issue of a magazine might work one time, but it definitely doesn't fit my audience every time.  A stimulating image to one group may be too much for another group.

Here is another example of colored backgrounds. The same necklace is in every photo. The background is not Photoshoped, each is an original photo.   

B&wID_72B&wID_blue72GreyB&W.72
Black and White Identity Bead Necklace © 2006
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

This comparison is striking. The necklace and the reflection are eye catching.  Every photo is lit perfectly.  If you could submit one photo of this necklace, which photo would you use? What happens when your career depends on the decision? 

Here is my appraisal of each photo.

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman is photographed on a neutral light gray background.The subdued gray of this photo is well within a standard photographic background and a fabulous photo, but lacking the drama of the black and colored options. Do you think this is as good a photo as the black background or blue?

I've never used the graduated light gray background because I thought it was boring.  Indeed, one of the previous comments suggested that white, gray, or graduated black backgrounds are boring.

B&wID_blue72 The turquoise blue background is a really dramatic image. The blue is a contrasting color to the orange spacer beads. The combination of the necklace, reflection, and striking background make the entire image very attractive.

I've submitted the brilliant blue background photo to several books and shows but it has never been accepted.  The blue background seems to break too many unofficial rules.

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman is a commentary about our consumer society.The only photo that has been accepted by either a publisher, Internet article, or show has been the necklace on the black background.

This photo seems to capture a high level of drama within the image yet focuses attention on the work. 

The goal of your photograph is to have the viewer focus on your art or craft work, not on the image itself.   Which background enhances the viewer's perception of the work without stealing the spotlight?  Does the background become overly dramatic? Is there a prejudice against colorful backgrounds as not serious enough?

How do you interpret the issues presented here? 

 Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

The book images and links are from Amazon as affiliate links. 

The world of photography is changing rapidly.  Is your photography up to date? Is it an effective tool?
 
• Are you being judged by the style of your images?
• How much post production is acceptable and who should do the work?
• Current trends in background and composition.
• The model or the pedestal?
• and much more……

These issues were discussed at the Professional Development Seminar titled, Photography in Flux. There are five SlideShare presentations with the recorded audio online for free. Watch them all and listen to the podcast of the lunch discussion. 

PHOTOGRAPHER CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED BELOW.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]lmi.net


Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Andychix.3 In this extended series of side by side photo comparisons we have discussed the white and the graduated background. The black background is the polar opposite of the white background. Just to clarify here, I am referring to the digital #000000 black, or total black. It has many of the same problems as white, few benefits and is even more problematic for capturing a great image of art and craft.

There are some makers who regularly photograph their work on a solid black background holding the opinion that the black background highlights light colored or silver work.

Andychix.tender_man.adj
Chicken Ring  ©2009 Andy Cooperman
This photo is not a solid black back-
ground, but uses the reflection not
give the work a foundation.
Photo Credit: Andy Cooperman

On solid black backgrounds, the work may be lost, or fade into the background. The dark edge of the work becomes hard  to see, if not impossible. Capturing the edge with precise lighting is essential.  Another problem, especially if the work is silver, is that the reflections in the work are dark or black.  Thus the photo ends up extremely dark overall.  

This issue is more acute on the Internet
where the images are often smaller and with less information. The dark or black background all too often loses the nuance of the printed images and becomes a dark hole. The artwork ends up looking like it is being sucked into the background.

B&wID_72
Black and White Identity Necklace
© 2006 Harriete Estel Berman
Post Consumer recycled tin cans,
vintage plastic, polymer, electrical cord,
magnetic catch.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

If you want a dark background, there are two options that may help. The graduated dark background. or black with reflections/shadows under the work (left images).  With proper lighting you can still get light on the work with shadows/reflections to give a solid footing to the work.  Assuming the work is properly lit, the image will look much better.

Side by Side Comparison (cropped for exact comparison of two photos.) NOTE: I noticed in Photoshop that the right photo with reflection is a little lighter/brighter in some areas, yet, the handle is a little too dark. This is the way I received it from the artist so I didn't change this exposure. (The post continues below...)

Andychix.2b Andychix.tender_man.2a

MAD websiteThe black to very dark background is sometimes considered neutral, arty, or sophisticated. The Museum of Art and Design has a large portion of their collection photographed on black (as in the image to the left). The images are then placed on a black web site background. The edge of the black background photo disappears into the background of the site. Unfortunately, it makes the entire site seem rather dark and dreary.

Harriete Estel Berman's bracelet on the MAD web site. Some of the work on the Museum of Art and Design web site is photographed on the solid dark gray background.  This isn't much of an improvement.  I know because of an image of my bracelet (above right). For some reason the photograph of the work is dark and muddy.

YelRUFFLEASKHBLYelRUFFLEASKHNEUTRALYelRUFFLEASKHwhi
I created all the images above in Photoshop transitioning the background from solid black #000000 to solid white #FFFFFF. While the center photo is not the traditional graduated background, it is considerably softer in appearance that either absolute white or black.

Any opinions about your preference?

What do you think? Do you have a comment or insight to add to this discussion? If you don't agree with me, please share with me your SOLID BLACK background images along with a comparable shot in a graduated or lighter background. I'd love to compare the images side by side.

Additional discussion about the black background can be heard in a lecture by three photographers during the 2011 SNAG Professional Development Seminar titled "Photography in Flux". Scroll down for the lecture Photography in Flux (Photographers Opinions).

Scroll down further on the PDS page for the Podcast of the lunch discussion. Really interesting discussion.

Next post is about colored backgrounds.

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

 41OiZd-LhGL._SL160_As we reflect on the past, present and future of craft, I recommend the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. This is practically required reading if you're wondering what is the current direction and the economic picture of craft. In particular, the comments about the economy of craft over the past 150 years are insightful. This tome is not easy reading....nor something to balance on the treadmill. Carrying the book is more like a weightlifting activity, so pace yourself for months of interesting insight.

This link to the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft is an affiliate link. Purchasing this book may provide this blog with a few pennies.


Side by Side Photos - The Graduated Background: Stunning or Stupefying?

Test5Meyers by Doug Yaple with a graduated background The graduated background has been around for quite a while as a standard professional quality photograph for three dimensional work (over the past 30 years).  At one time, the graduated background was the demarcation of the professional photographer since the appearance was only possible through careful lighting. This is no longer the case as paper printed with a graduated appearance has made the graduated background within the grasp of less experienced photographers.

Test 3 Andy Cooperman ring with graduated background and clear shadown by Doug Yaple The graduated background can be light to dark, or rotated, dark to light.   With careful lighting of the artwork, it is relatively easy to create a light shadow so that the work is firmly grounded. With careful placement on a graduated background, the work stands out from the background, avoiding the problems of totally white or black backgrounds (where the work sometimes dissolves into the background). The graduated background can be manipulated effectively to give 3-dimensional work a solid foundation highlighting the work.

At this point the graduated light to dark background has become an industry standard for art/craft  photography. Looking through recently published books and magazines reveals graduated backgrounds in all its variations, page after page. This can be both good and bad.

The good side is that the graduated background is considered neutral, easily assigned to the background and ignored adding little or no commentary to the artwork. We have become accustomed to its appearance and for this reason it is perceived of as "neutral."

The opposite point of view is that the graduated gray background may be considered boring, old-school, or even out of date by some groups. This seems to be especially true for the D.I.Y. community that appears to prefer projecting a new identity outside of the mainstream. Rejecting the orthodox or standard graduated background for colored or eclectic backgrounds is an attempt to give the photographs energy and pizazz.  

Scansquares
   Scan from the book Manufractured
  (Clockwise from top left) Kathryn Spence
   Paper Towels 2003; Sonya Clark
   Twenty-One 1998; Laura Splan Prozac,
    Thorazine, Zoloft 2003; William Sistek
    Bubbleware #1 2007
  

Groups of photographs with graduated backgrounds are another issue.  Good or bad, the delineated square or rectangle of the photos create a grid of images (see image to the right). If the backgrounds are not identical, the grid appearance may looked mismatched. 

Scan3background from American Craft Magazine.
Page from recent American Craft
Magazine, Page 060 Dec/Jan 11
Images of clay and fiber work by
Hannie Goldewicht
Photo Credit: Douglas Kirkland

Scancutout
Page 99 from the book Manufractured
All images cut out from the graduated
background of their photos by the graphic
designer Gregory Hom of fishbowl design.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

 

 

 

The graduated background also looks much better when all images have a similar background. In the image to the left, the works look like a cohesive body of work by one artist. A definite plus! You don't want the background of your photos to compete with the artwork or look like a crayola box of colors. 

 

 

A downside to the graduated background is that much more editing skill and time may be required to remove the background from the photo to isolate just the object on the page (right.)

 

 

 

 

An important factor that may dictate use of a graduated background for photos is the background color of your web site. I've noticed that graduated backgrounds look better on web sites with darker colored backgrounds. The photo backgrounds appear to complement the style of the page.

We still have more to discuss about  photographic backgrounds. What about the black background favored by many? Does it make your work "pop", or is it a black hole that sucks in light? The issues about photographic backgrounds are varied and complex.  But I hope to raise awareness of what works well and what detracts from your artwork.

Stay tuned for the next post.
Harriete

 
Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

Example photos in the series  Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos are repeated below for easy reference.

Image 1 a.                         Image1 b. 
SleeperhoneyDougSleeperhoneystevieb
 The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 2009  Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven Brian Samuels.
 

Image 2 a.                             Image 2 b. 
Doug.podaskharrieteStevieBaskHpod
 The brooch in the above photos is “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven  Brian Samuels.

Image 3 a.                         Image 3 b.  
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887
Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall  Sterling silver, silk ribbon. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 4 a.                          Image 4 b. 
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 5 a.                         Image 5 b. 
Test5MeyersTest6Meyers
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers.©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 6 a.                           
Image 6 b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octangonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image) Photo Credit: Philip Cohen. 
Oreo "Unlock the Magic" © 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image) Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels.

  
Image 7 a.                         Image 7 b. 
oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN BEADSnCOHEN

Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #2 (left image) by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Steven  Brian Samuels.
Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #1 (right image)by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

 Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Metalsmith_YellowBkgrdnotitleSmallPieces
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images) Photo Credit for both images: Philip Cohen.

 PHOTOGRAPHER CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED BELOW. Click on their names to go to their web site.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]lmi.net

Steven Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693
email: steven [at] stevenbriansamuels.com

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.
email: dyaple [at] comcast.net 

 


Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Sleeperhoneystevieb The white background in the photographic image is the "new" look. When discussing a white background, we are talking about pure white...absolute white....#FFFFFF in HTML or Photoshop. You can see this in the left photo and below in photos 1b., 2b., and 6b.

We are NOT talking about a graduated white, with foamcore "white," or "almost" white as shown (to the right below and below in 3b and 4a). Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867

White photographic backgrounds are a stylistic influence from Europe and facilitated by the availability of photo editing technology like Photoshop and FotoFuze. (If you haven't looked at a FotoFuze online demo, you should!)

The super white photographic background with the "fake" shadow starts with pure white photographic background  during the photo shoot but is facilitated with photo editing software. It is almost impossible to get a pure white any other way. The tool, i.e. the technology, has become a style.  

One advantage of the white background is that it is really easy to remove the art or craft object from the background for print. Thus the layout for postcards, books or magazines can depart from a grid format with a smaller investment of time or skill.

Another factor is that white is the default background for many social networking sites like Facebook (the largest photo sharing site on the Internet), Flickr, Etsy, and other online marketplaces.  They make the photos look attractive. There is little or no demarcation between the edge of the photo and the site.  White background images generally look good to great on these sites.

In contrast, white background shots do not look so good on web sites with dark backgrounds.  My web site is a spectrum of greenish, grey backgrounds. I consciously did not want a white background web site.  And I must admit that pure white background photos do NOT look that great on my web site.  See examples of three types of backgrounds - with a graduated, light, and white photographic backgrounds on this page. 

SleeperhoneysteviebOn the negative side,  I don't think white backgrounds show all work to the best advantage.  Some work just doesn't look that great on pure white with high contrast between the work and background.

For example, the dark wood in Andy Cooperman's jewelry (left) doesn't look as attractive on a stark white background. The grain of the wood becoming a focal point demanding more attention than desired by the maker. (See photos 1b. and 2b. below.)

A major concern with white background shots is that the shadows and reflections on the background look fake.  Some people who like the white background also like the artificial shadow. This "artificial" appearance is part of the new and trendy style.

oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN White backgrounds can also make the work look like it is floating thus the necessity of the shadow to prevent the white or light area of the work from being lost or melting into the background (such as in the photo to the right and 7a. below). Notice that the white cord of the necklace gets lost in the background. 

What do you think about white background shots?

Photos pertinent to this discussion are shown below.

Harriete

Image 1 a.                         Image1 b. 
SleeperhoneyDougSleeperhoneystevieb
 The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 2009  Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven Brian Samuels.
 

Image 2 a.                             Image 2 b. 
Doug.podaskharrieteStevieBaskHpod
The brooch in the above photos is “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven  Brian Samuels.

Image 3 a.                         Image 3 b.  
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887
Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall  Sterling silver, silk ribbon. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 4 a.                          Image 4 b. 
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 5 a.                         Image 5 b. 
Test5MeyersTest6Meyers
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers.©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 6 a.                            Image 6 b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octangonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image) Photo Credit: Philip Cohen. 
Oreo "Unlock the Magic" © 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image) Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels.

Image 7 a.                         Image 7 b.
oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN BEADSnCOHEN

Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #2 (left image) by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Steven  Brian Samuels.
Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #1 (right image)by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

This is another post, is the series titled:
Photographic Comparisons Side by Side

Previous posts include:

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

PHOTOGRAPHER CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED BELOW. Click on their names to go to their web site.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]lmi.net

Steven Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693
email: steven [at] stevenbriansamuels.com

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.
email: dyaple [at] comcast.net 

 


Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images? Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos

Patc hwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time by Harriete Estel Berman
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces
of Time

©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman
vintage steel doll houses
Dark background example
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

The previous post, The Photographers Revealed! Photograph Comparisons Side by Side showcased a series of images as a comparison of different back- grounds.  ASK Harriete will evaluate these comparisons from several directions.  Two consensus opinions have already stood out: first, one type of background is not effective in every situation, and second, YES, you are being judged by the style of the photographic images!

Cover of 1990 Summer issue of Metalsmith Magazine with a yellow photographic background.
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces
of Time

©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman

vintage steel doll houses
1990 Cover photo for Metalsmith Mag.
Photo Credit:
Philip Cohen.

Image backgrounds are becoming a stylistic issue (or "trend", if you want to call it that).  In fact, the choice of backgrounds for a photographic image may even be placing your work into a "category" of the art or craft world.  This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think there is ample evidence.

Octagonal Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled tin cans.
Octagonal Bracelet
Harriete Estel Berman © 2001
Recycled tin cans
Graduated background with reflection
Photo Credit:
Philip Cohen. 



 


Multiple observations were formed
while I was studying  the previous post , comments by readers, and in discussion with Brigitte Martin and Andy Cooperman (as we prepare the
Professional Development Seminar).   Now there are too many remarks for one post.

Oreo Cookie Unlock the Magic bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled tin cans.
Oreo "Unlock the Magic
 ©1989 Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, 10k gold,brass
Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels

 

 

My plan is to discuss the pros and cons for each type of background:

- White
- Graduated
- Black
- Colored

Each photographic background will be discussed, one per post, over the next four posts.  If you have a comment, write your comments below or email  me directly as the posts continue.  

Harriete

This is the third post, is the series titled:
Photographic Comparisons Side by Side

Previous posts include: The Photographers Revealed.

  


The photographers are revealed! Photograph comparisons side by side

Today's post reveals the photographers in side by side comparisons of photos of identical content with different backgrounds.

Here are some issues to consider:

Does one background really fit all work?

Does the color of the background contribute to the emotion or vocabulary of the work?

Does one background work for all situations such as online marketplaces, social networking, jury review for shows, books and magazines? What about your web site?

In a side by side comparison of two images by two different photographers, how much original content does the photographer add? Are we seeing creativity from the photographer or skill? Who do you think owns the copyright of the image?

What about the reflection of the work? The shadow? Do these add a foundation for the work? Or are they a distraction?

Are we becoming influenced by what can be done in PhotoShop?  Has PhotoShop as a tool, become a style?

What other issues come to your mind when you look at these images? You're welcome to comment about the photos so that your opinion can be included in the future posts.

On Thursday's post, comments and discussion will begin on the topic.

Disclaimer: The images in this post may have been cropped or re-sized in an attempt to make the objects in the photos a similar size for side by side comparison.  The merit or demerit for leaving more or less background space around the object will be discussed in another post as a separate issue.

Image 1 a.                         Image1 b. 
SleeperhoneyDougSleeperhoneystevieb
The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 200 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven Brian Samuels.
 

Image 2 a.                             Image 2 b. 
Doug.podaskharrieteStevieBaskHpod
The brooch in the above photos is “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven  Brian Samuels.

Image 3 a.                         Image 3 b.  
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887
Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall  Sterling silver, silk ribbon. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 4 a.                          Image 4 b. 
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 5 a.                         Image 5 b. 
Test5MeyersTest6Meyers
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers.©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


The next photos compare similar items on different backgrounds.
Image 6 a.                           
Image 6 b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octangonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image)
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen. 
Oreo "Unlock the Magic" © 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image) Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels.

In the images below, the two necklaces are not the same but very similar.  "Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace 1 and 2" © by Harriete Estel Berman .  I did my best to make the images the same size, but obviously, the photographers chose different angles for capturing this necklace. Which approach do you like better? Does the shadow or reflection work more effectively?
Image 7 a.                         Image 7 b.
oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN BEADSnCOHEN

Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #2 (left image) by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Steven  Brian Samuels.
Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #1 (right image)by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

As a result of a comment following the previous post about the use of "colored backgrounds" in photographic images, I have added the images below. The photos below are predigital.Yes, the left photo was actually photographed on a yellow background.

Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Metalsmith_YellowBkgrdnotitleSmallPieces
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images) Photo Credit for both images: Philip Cohen.

In the third post in this series on Thursday,  I will discuss the difference in backgrounds, angles, lighting. Does the color of the background contribute to the emotion or vocabulary of the work?

The world of photography is changing rapidly.  Is your photography up to date? Is it an effective tool?
 
• Are you being judged by the style of your images?
• How much post production is acceptable and who should do the work?
• Current trends in background and composition.
• The model or the pedestal?
• and much more……

These issues and more will be discussed at the Professional Development Seminar titled, Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.

DATE:           May 28, 2011
TIME:         9:00 AM to 12:00 noon
                 (followed by brown bag lunch discussion)
LOCATION: The Westin Hotel,
                 1900 5th Ave,
                 Seattle, WA.

Free with SNAG Conference registration or $40 at the door (for the PDS only).

More information can be found on the SNAG web site.

PHOTOGRAPHER CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED BELOW. Click on their names to go to their web site.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]lmi.net

Steven  Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693
email: steven [at] stevenbriansamuels.com

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.
email: dyaple [at] comcast.net 

 


Compare and contrast photography styles. Be the judge and jury.

The issues surrounding professional photographic images has become increasingly more complex and diverse in recent years. From the accelerating evolution of digital images to the ethics of image manipulation, the world of photography is changing rapidly. 

In the last few months, I have been discussing these issues extensively with Andy Cooperman and Brigitte Martin as we plan the Professional Development Seminar.

In the spirit of exploration and experimentation, this post will compare examples of jewelry on white and graduated grey-to-dark backgrounds. The photographs are side by side. Some pairs of images are by the same photographer. Other pairs are by two different photographers.

I will show you the images without commentary or photo credit to avoid any bias in your evaluation of the images.  Please add your comments below.

In the next post (on Tuesday) the photographers will be revealed along with questions for further consideration.  

On Thursday's post one week from today, commentary on the images  will be discussed. You're welcome to comment about the photos for a whole week so that your opinion can be included in the final post.

Disclaimer: The images in this post may have been cropped or re-sized in an attempt to make the objects in the photos a similar size for side by side comparison.  The merit or demerit of leaving more background space around the object will be discussed in another post as a separate issue.

Here is the first pair:

Image 1a.                        Image 1b.
SleeperhoneyDougSleeperhoneystevieb
 The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 200 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain.
 

Image 2a.                        Image 2b.
Doug.podaskharrieteStevieBaskHpod
 Brooch in the above photos is  “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain.

Image 3a.                        Image 3b.
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall Sterling silver, silk ribbon

Image 4a.                        Image 4b.
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber


Image 5a.                        Image 5b.
Test5MyersTest6Myers
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers ©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral.


The next photos compare similar but not identical jewelry on different backgrounds.

Image 6a.                                Image 6b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octagonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image)
Oreo "Unlock the Magic
© 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image)

In the images below, this is not the same but very similar necklace "Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace" © by Harriete Estel Berman .  I did my best to make the images the same size, but obviously, each of the photographers chose different angles for capturing this necklace. Which approach do you like better?

Image 7a.                        Image 7b.
oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN BEADSnCOHEN

As a result of a comment about the use of "colored backgrounds" in photographic images I have added the images below. 

Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Metalsmith_YellowBkgrdnotitleSmallPieces
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images)

In the next post, Tuesday (next week), I will reveal the photographers' names for the images (along with links to their web sites).

In the third post in this series on Thursday, I will discuss comments from the readers including the differences in backgrounds, angles, and lighting. There are many issues potentially to consider in these comparisons.

These issues and more will be discussed at the Professional Development Seminar titled: Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.

DATE:           May 28, 2011
TIME:         9:00 to 12:00
                 (followed by brown bag lunch discussion)
LOCATION: The Westin Hotel,
                 1900 5th Ave,
                 Seattle, WA.

Free with Conference registration or $40 at the door (for the PDS only).

More information can be found on the SNAG web site.

Harriete

 


Who Owns the Photographic Image? Comments and opinions with no clear answer.

The previous post titled Who Owns the Photographic Image sparked many comments, including well researched and logical arguments, but so far there is no definitive answer. Check out the comments on the previous post. There were so many comments from Facebook, Crafthaus, Orchid/Ganoskin, I saved them all. If you want a copy, send me an email request.

Harriete.blurry If you would like to express another opinion, please leave it in the comments below this post.  In the mean time, I'm going to summarize some of the comments and my impressions. 

What bothered me most about this issue is the confusion.  Apparently it would be helpful to have a simple contract or letter of agreement for artists and makers needing to hire photographers to photograph the artwork.  The contract is NOT intended to involve monetary compensation for the use of the images, but instead (as stated in a previous post) to support sharing images of our work for critical writing and lectures.

Gryoscope The purpose of the contract (or letter of agreement) is to clearly establish that the photos of the work may be published without requiring subsequent permission from the photographer.

Andy Cooperman digests the diversity of opinions in his comment on ASK Harriete, "Yes, there is logic on both sides of the conversation. But what we are after, I think (speaking for the Professional Development Seminar Committee) is a definitive answer. Barring any negotiated contractual agreement between the artist or original maker of the work and the photographer who has been retained (hired) to document that work as closely as they can to its appearance in the real world, who owns the rights to the image? Who is the default owner of the rights? There must be an answer...."

Two Roses astutely points out on Crafthaus that the image of the artwork "is potentially as valuable, and perhaps more valuable than the work of art being photographed." "The emergence of on-line exhibitions will continue to place greater emphasis (and value) on the image of a piece rather than the piece itself.""

PCohenWith bounce Cards There is no doubt that superior photography of art or craft involves great skill from the photographer.  However, the goal of the engagement between artist and photographer is to capture a faithful rendering of the artist's or maker's work. Most photographers do not consider that this type of photography reflects the artistic photographer inside them. It is their "day job."

In the past, when an artist hired a photographer there seemed to be an implicit understanding that the artist could use the photo in anyway they needed to promote their work. The original payment for the photos included permission for all future publication either in print or online. Photo Credit is a professional courtesy and obligation by all parties in both print and on line, but this isn't part of the question.

Marthe Le Van, editor at Lark Books and future speaker for the Professional Development Seminar says,"new platforms for content and its distribution are being developed at such a rapid pace (ie: rights for an electronic edition, a digital download). 'Real' answers are short lived. Laws are changed, language is changed, and everyone involved has to live with a continually evolving legal landscape. It is most frustrating that there is no definitive, set-in-stone agreement that one can 'know' beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don’t think frequent changes stem from paranoia, but rather a rapidly changing field."

I agree that drafting an agreement between artist and photographer could be a way to clear up a lot of the misunderstanding about who owns the image or who has permission to do what. Of course, as stated above, it would have to be frequently revised.

What we are looking for here is a very simple, non-confrontational contract for artists and photographers to use. Steven Brian Samuels states in a comment on the previous post: "To me, this discussion just highlights the need for an open dialog between artists and photographers. It also stresses the importance of the relationship artists and photographers must have with one another. Artists and photographers can even work hand in hand promoting each others talents."

Michael Eastman on Orchid/Ganoskin said in a comment,"It really depends on what kind of agreement you have with the photographer . Some photographers will negotiate the rights and demand that they retain the copyright of the photograph they made. Some don't care....  so it is a gray area when it's not discussed."

Stephen Walker comment on Orchid/Ganskin seems most relevant to our discussion. 
   “...a US Federal Court ruling that museums do not own the copyright to images simply  because they own the originals. If the image is public domain because of antiquity or any other reason photographs, copies or reproductions of the art is not protected by copyright because the museum is not the author of the creative content, which is where  copyright originates.”
 
In my experience when museums own my work,  they still write to ask me to allow them permission to distribute the image of my work in print, online etc. This is even after I have either given them images of my artwork or they hire a photographer to photograph the work. I am looking for more information about this.

In the meantime...Does anyone have an example contract or letter of agreement with their clients or photographers?

Harriete


Learning Digital Skills - What's the best way?

 HBerman_fossilPurpleTan_flowerW
 Fossil Purple April Flower Brooch  with peach, purple, and ocher   © 2010
 Post consumer recycled tin cans.  Posted in honor of Earth Day.
 Artist: Harriete Estel Berman                   Photo Credit: Emiko Oye 


Lots of people ask me how I learned to work on my own web site.  My answer: I (like most everyone) have to learn by doing.  And, yes, it was frustrating at first (for several weeks). But each frustration was overcome and the bits of knowledge began to coalesce into skills and gratification. 

Bnr_120x60-lynda-border To get started, a friend or mentor may be best for some people to learn the basics.  I prefer to just jump into the frying pan and started by learning how to use Dreamweaver using Lynda.com as my virtual tutor. All of the lynda.com lessons are video tutorials divided into manageable bits most two to five minutes in length. Lynda.com let me learn at my own pace at any time of day or night which was very practical in my chaotic schedule. The online instructions could be repeated over and over with no frustration on the instructor's part or I could jump ahead to a new topic or search for solutions to a particular issue.   

It has worked so well for me that I have also learned PhotoShop, Illustrator, even Flickr and Twitter with Lynda.com. 

lynda.comI like it and continue to use it personally.  For full disclosure, I signed up to be an affiliate with Lynda.com.  But I would recommend this regardless because it is the best method I know of to show you how to increase your software skills. If you are like me, reading instructions from a book to learn how to use software is really difficult (for me almost impossible).

Lynda.com is now offering a free 24-hour trial membership. I recommend you take advantage of this offer. Each one of the images below will take you to Lynda.com. Give it a try for free and test it for yourself.Illustrator tutorials

InDesign tutorials

ThreepinBERMAID72GRAdded Benefits   Learning these software skills adds benefits beyond just your web site. My newly learned Illustrator skills enabled me to learn how to format documents for a laser cutter when I was experimenting at the TECH Shop. I also jumped over to the Corel Draw tutorials because this software was used to run the laser cutter. On the right, you can see several pins made on the laser cutter from recycled game boards for the Pin Swap at the SNAG Conference. 

Photoshop or Photoshop Elements is essential for editing your photos. The online photo editing applications may be good enough for your family photos, but they don't offer enough tools for professional quality images of your art or craft. You need the flexibility and tools that Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) offer to fix your photos.

Get the skills you need as a professional artist with Lynda.com on your home computer. No commute. No driving, no parking, no appointment necessary.

Harriete

HBerman_fossilPurpleTanBACK_flowerW
 (Back View) Fossil Purple April Flower Brooch  with peach, purple,
 © 2010      Post consumer recycled tin cans in honor of Earth Day.
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman                   Photo Credit: Emiko Oye 


Photo Editing: Learning to use PhotoShop!

Photoshop Many of my recent posts have talked about the importance of learning how to use photo editing software like PhotoShop or PhotoShop Elements.  Knowing how to modify, touch up and re-size your digital images can be a highly effective tool for every artist and crafts person.  Gaining skills in PhotoShop means you can edit your images AND produce your own marketing materials such as postcards and announcements.  This expands the possibilities to promote your work and enables you to take control of your marketing efforts.

PhotoshopTOOLS The Professional Guidelines topic Working with Digital Images Effectively offers some guidance but it is not a tutorial.  To learn how to edit photos and images, you need to take some lessons from a graphic design expert or take a class at your local community college or adult education classes.  One more alternative is online tutorials.  I will briefly discuss the merits of each option below.

Learning from an Expert    Taking lessons from a graphics expert might be a reasonable option.  If you have a friend who is an expert in PhotoShop, you could offer to trade some work or pay them for on-going lessons. 

Take a Class    Taking a class at your local community college has great merit.  Tuition is inexpensive and class schedules are usually very convenient.  You are also making a commitment to improve your skills.  One additional advantage to taking a class is that you may be able to buy the PhotoShop software at the student price. This is a significant savings and well worth taking the class.

Online Tutorials    There are numerous online tutorials that you can easily find with a dedicated search effort.  Online tutorials are often very inexpensive and you can learn at your own pace.  However, when you have a question, the lack of human interaction can sometimes be frustrating.  

LogoLYNDA My favorite online tutorial is Lynda.com which accommodates several tutorial options.  I like the yearly subscription because it provides access to tutorials for many different software applications such as Illustrator, InDesign, PowerPoint and Photoshop Elements. I even found tutorials for Flickr and Twitter (just to name a few of the many programs available) and learned some nifty tricks in the process.  I learned DreamWeaver through Lynda.com online tutorials and manage my own web site as a result.Dreamweaver There are over 650 different tutorial topics!

If you don't want the software subscription, you can purchase a CD tutorial for each software application. I am a BIG FAN of Lynda.com! The videos are really easy to follow and use.  Most artists are visual learners so it makes a lot of sense to watch a video for each skill and then practice it on your own.  Learning these skills from a book just doesn't work for me. Go to Lynda.com and look for some of the sample videos the site allows you to test for FREE.

There are also free software applications on the Web for editing your photos, but these are very basic and the features are intended for editing family photos. To create the superior quality images needed for your artistic success, you should strive for higher level skills, effects, and capabilities.

500HANDMADEbooks Beyond the Basics    Be sure to learn beyond the basic features.  Keep in mind that amateurish photo editing is a professional "no no."  No book nor magazine will accept your photos if poorly (or inappropriately) modified.

Having the ability to edit professional quality photographic images can save you a lot of money and significantly expand your promotional opportunities.

Harriete
www.harriete-estel-berman.info