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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Little Big Shot Close Up Camera Lens

I recently bought an amazing little lens from an Artfire seller, David, called the Little Big Shot.
This is what arrived
I had told David which camera I have and the measurement of the lens area.   Two lenses are in the case but the smaller one fits best onto my camera.  It's very easy to set up, there are precise instructions via videos on David's blog.
The lens goes onto the camera using a piece of click lock tape (a bit like velcro but it snaps together rather than having hooks and loops).  You get a good sized piece so if you need to replace it you have plenty.
I watched the videos on the blog and went out to try it out.  The first attempt was a dismal failure. I couldn't get the camera to focus at all.  I've no idea what I did wrong, I thought I'd made the alterations to my camera settings that are recommended but in the process I must have done something wrong.
I was feeling very unwell at the time (regular readers or FB likers will know I had a wisdom tooth removed) so decided to put it all away for a while and try again another day.

In the meantime a friend took me to Southport flower show (see the earlier blog entry) where all my photos came out with a dreadful red cast.  I reset the white balance (don't remember setting it wrongly but I must have!) and my camera now functions normally again.

I duly watched the video with the operating instructions again.  David recommends using the 'P' setting on the camera which I'm familiar with from my previous Canon camera.  My Ricoh doesn't have this setting but on reading through the camera manual I found I can indeed change the ISO.  
so having got the settings right - it's really simple, right, so how did I manage to mess up the white balance and render the camera unable to focus???
My problem now was purely physical.  The camera needs to be held really steady, more so than in my usual macro mode, which is challenging for me.  I don't have a tripod and it isn't always practical to use one to get to what I want to photograph anyway.
My next set of photos were all blurred.
Third time lucky, I have some rather fuzzy and some reasonably in focus shots so I've decided to share them.
Red lobelia, not perfectly focused but I like it, the colour is amazing and shows better in the next photo
This was the best of the lobelia photos, all the rest were very blurred, but as I had to hold the camera quite high (they are really tall) I'm pleased I got this one.
The first of the alchemilla (ladies mantle) photos.  This is a very old scruffy leaf but the idea was to get the water droplets. I've had fairly good macro shots of alchemilla before but was hoping for something better.
Here I've got in closer using the zoom with the lens, a bit fuzzy though.
This is looking more like it but still not good enough, I'm still not holding the camera steadily enough to hold the point of focus as I click the shutter.

Finally this is the sort of shot I've been hoping for, getting the little hairs at the edge of the leaf and the reflections in the water droplets. 
Well 'they' say practice makes perfect, so I know I've a lot of practicing to do, but I will enjoy it and am confident I'll get better.  My wrists aren't going to get any stronger but I'll find ways to keep the camera steady and just keep clicking away until I get what I want.  Fortunately plants don't move much if it isn't too windy, getting insects etc will be more challenging as they don't tend to keep still and pose for the camera!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Southport Flower Show

Last weekend was the Southport Flower Show.  I've never been before, in fact I've never been to any of the flower shows, so I was delighted when a friend asked me if I'd like to go along with her.
We started out by looking at all the gardens that had been made, some were just amazing.  

The path to the cottage is made from potatoes!
I had a problem with the photos which all had a hideous red cast on them.  I spent some time on Photoshop trying to correct it but they still aren't as good as I'd like.  I later discovered that while playing with some of the camera settings earlier in the week I'd accidentally changed the white balance!
After looking round most of the gardens we went on to the various marquees to check out flower displays and lots of stands with amazing plants arranged.  There were plenty of plants for sale too and I could have spent a fortune and filled my garden three times over but I managed to resist the temptation, coming home with two plants and some bulbs for my alpine rock garden in a sink.  Some of the original plants have died and others have become rampant so I need to revitalise it.
I'm thinking next spring I will carefully remove all the plants and remake it completely.
We also found some amazing alpine displays using all sorts of containers.

Most of the time I was too enthralled by it all to take photos so this is all I have.  My friend plans to try to replicate some of these lovely mini gardens, they are certainly inspiring.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Polymer Clay Lizard Earrings

I bought a set of two little stamps recently, each has the same lizard but pointing in opposite directions.  I made my first pair of earrings with them and am sending this pair to the shop in Leeds which is taking some earrings and brooches in November.
I love them so much that if I could wear earrings I'd keep them!

I've decided to make more of this design.  I plan to do them in different colourways, with different beads, different wires etc, they are just too cute not to repeat!
They will cost £14 and will be put on sale in all my shops.  If you would like a pair let me know and we can discuss the colours you'd like.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Polymer Clay - Finished Work

Here are the two brooches and a ring, out of the oven and finished off.
This is my first attempt at a ring.  I've just bought some filigree metal ring blanks from treasuresinmeasures so I'll be making some more soon.

 These two brooches are probably going to a shop in Leeds in time for Christmas, they've asked me to send 6 brooches and 6 sets of earrings and I need to get them made before the end of September when I go to the USA.  
The buttons, 3 sets,  are available in my supplies shop AverilpamEtc on Folksy.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Polymer Clay - Into the Oven!

Here's a quick pic of my latest oven batch.  Three sets of matching buttons, 2 brooches and the top for a ring.  I found a tutorial for making a simple ring base using rubber cord, and as I've never made one before decided to have a try. I don't know if I'll ever make them to sell, but Polyform (they make Premo polymer clay) have monthly 'make it your own' contests and August's is big rings.  You can enter as often as you like so I may do some more.  Textures and metallic/mica finishes are my fascination at the moment so I'm indulging myself and I've ordered a couple of new texture sheets. 
The heart brooch needs some work, I put too much silver on it so the texture lost some definition but I can sand some of it off and bring out the black/purple base colours.  Sorry the photo isn't brilliant but I only took one quick photo before they went into the oven. Once the jewellery is finished I'll post some better photos.
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