DIY Beadboard Picture Frames

DIY Beadboard Picture Frames

DIY Beadboard Picture Frames

Last month Matt showed you all how to build a decorative shelf with crown molding for our half bath. The shelf is perfect for the space and I love it. Unfortunately something felt like it was missing from the shelf. After some thought I decided that our shelf needed picture frames! Beadboard picture frames to be exact.

DIY Beadboard Picture Frames

Today I am going to show you how to DIY your own beadboard picture frames! [Read more...]

DIY Photography Light Studio Set Up

clothespin_clipped_side

Can I just tell you that I have a bone to pick with Mother Nature lately. She seems to sense when I’m just finishing up a DIY project that really needs to be photographed. Case in point, last week I wanted to photograph my “You Rule Valentines“, but we had 4 days of gloomy weather! 1,2,3,4! I shook my fist at the heavens and told that Mother that I wasn’t going to wait any longer. Then I took matters into my own hands…so there!

I built a little table top light studio, and now come rain or sleet or shine, I have control of my photography lighting!

Want to make your own? It’s super easy. Here’s how… [Read more...]

Photography Tips – Better Composition and Lighting Tips

colorful_bag

I know y’all have your favorite blogs. If you think about one of them now, can you tell me what it is you love about the blog? Okay, maybe the subject matter or the writing. But, how does the site look? Is the design appealing? How about the photos? I know I am personally drawn to blogs that have beautiful images. One of my favorite blogs to read is Centsational Girl. Her photos are true candy for the eyes!

Sea Inspired Living Room by Centsational Girl

Tutorial for Anthropology Inspired Table Cloth – Centsational Girl

See what I mean? Kate’s photos are simply beautiful!

She had a post a while ago offering some tips for better photography and how she uses Picasa to edit her photos. After reading that post I really began to push myself to create more attractive photos.

In the spirit of paying it forward, I want to share with you a few secrets for taking better photographs for your blog or just for yourself.

A good picture starts with a good composition. Here are some examples of photos I took and how I made them better:

Two bottles on a pretty coffee table. {cue the crickets}

The above image is suffering from a busy background (the pillows, chairs, and railing) that is competing for attention with the bottles. Plus, there are multiple straight horizontal lines crossing the photo. Horizontal lines are not very interesting. Take a look:

Now, let me show you interesting:

Much better, wouldn’t you agree? Do you see all the angled visual lines?

Here is what I did:

  1. I staggered the bottles to give them more visual interest and to create a diagonal line between the bottles.
  2. Next, I moved my camera around so I was shooting diagonally across the table. See the back edge of the table, now that is an appealing visual line.
  3. Finally, I moved the bottles into a beam of light which gave them more drama, and darkened the background so it wasn’t competing for attention.

Okay, let’s try another one. Here is another example of a “ho-hum” photo. I can just hear Rodin sighing at this unexciting photo.

As a rule of thumb you should try to never let your horizon line be in the middle of the photo. Try to use the rule of thirds and have it be at 1/3 or 2/3 vertically on the photo. And you want to avoid putting your main object centered into the middle of the picture.

Mr. Rodin was a fabulous sculptor. I “think” his Thinker deserves better! How do you like this?

Look at all the triangle shapes that are created when I brought my subject in closer:

  1. To create more drama, I got up closer to the sculpture and filled the frame with the subject.
  2. I put Mr. Thinker off center in the frame, not smack dab in the middle. By doing this it broke up the symmetry in the photo.
  3. Once again, look at the nice diagonal line running up the man’s back and on his thigh. Diagonals force the viewers eye to move around the photo.

Let’s look at an indoor photo now. Here is a photo of a star light. Excuse me as I yawn. Bored to tears here.

The star is centered almost perfectly up and down and side to side. This make for a perfectly blah photo.

But, look what happens in the next photo.

Suddenly there is excitement. The diagonal lines and triangular negative spaces really make your eyes move around and draw attention to the details in the star.

You too can create drama in your photos.

  1. Change the perspective. (Climb up on a chair, get down low, or swing around to the side.)
  2. Fill the frame with the subject.
  3. Focus on creating diagonal lines when looking through your viewfinder.

Here is another photo I took on my porch. Okay, not too bad. The plant is off center. The railings form a slight diagonal.

But, look what happens when I tilt the camera to a vertical presentation.

  1. Suddenly the focus is on the plant and the light bouncing off the leaves.
  2. The treehouse is no longer competing for attention in the background .
  3. And, I’ve filled the frame with the plant.
  4. Can you see the different diagonals? Hint: basket handle and pedestal

Always think about how your photo will look in a horizontal or vertical presentation.

Let’s talk about lighting. Your goal is to use natural light as much as possible. Avoid photographing at night, indoors (away from windows) or using a flash. If you are a blogger, sometimes you finish a project at midnight and can’t wait to photograph it. Below, you can see my sad little puppy bookend. The colors are flat and the whole picture lacks any contrast or excitement.

If you have no choice and absolutely have to photograph is less than optimal conditions, read this post to learn how to deal with poor lighting situations.

Otherwise, wait and take that photo in the morning. You can thank me later.

Look at the natural light bathing the puppy and books. Suddenly the light plays on the still life and creates moody highlights and shadows. Now that puppy looks a lot happier.

Okay, this tip goes out to all you lucky ducks that own an SLR (single lens reflex) camera. Do you know how to set the light source in your camera? If you don’t, your photos may end up like this:

Hey, who smurfed my gift bag? Time to look in your manual and take that baby off the auto setting. In the Canon Rebel (and most SLR cameras), you can choose the lighting source like this:

With all these choices, I choose the one most appropriate to my light source. Sometimes I have to try one or another one to see which gives me the best color representation.

By programming the correct light source as shade in my camera menu, the photo suddenly loses its bluish cast and displays the correct colorful richness of the gift bag.

I hope some of these tips help you.

Here are some photography blogs that will help improve your photography skills:

My3Boybarians –  In addition to many tutorials and tips, Darcy has put together a months worth of lessons in: 31 days to better photographs. In addition, she occasionally hosts a Twitter photo chat. Follow her on Twitter for more information.

i heart photos – Amy & Angie may love faces, but they share the love by posting tutorials and tips to help improve portraiture photography (and more.)

And Susan from Between Naps on the Porch has a great list of free photo editing sites.

Now get snapping and send me some photos you are proud of! I’d love to see them.

If you liked this post, you will surely love some photography secrets for shooting indoor photos.

secrets to shooting photography indoors

Best of Pretty Handy Girl 2011

It’s the end of the year and I know y’all have been busy. So, I thought I’d give you the cliff notes version of Pretty Handy Girl in 2011.

Gift Bucket Liner from Goodwill Pants

How to Paint a Dandelion Wall Mural

Fork Photo and Note Holder

Spring Paper and Button Flowers

How to Paint Doors the Professional Way

 

How to Paint Like a Pro Series:

 

Build Your Own Ladder Display Shelves

Photography Secrets for Shooting Indoors

 

Toilet Repairs Series:

 

Dream Big Butterfly Window

Backlit Cut Out Bookcase

Rustic Wine Crate

How to Replace an Ugly Hollywood Strip Light

Board and Batter Tutorial

How to Make a Branch Towel Bar

Light Bulb Comparison

How to Install Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Ombré Paint Chip Lampshade

 

Cabinet Door Revamped to Chalkboard Message Board

Kitchen Cabinet Turned into Shoe Storage Bench

 

Dollar Tree Placemat Garden Flag

 

Beveled Glass Light Fixture Ornaments

DIY Matchbox Car Race Track

 

And Finally, A Whole Slew of Power Tool Tutorials:

Compound Miter Saw

Jig Saw

Finish Nailer and Compressor

Cordless Drill

Circular Saw

Table Saw

Band Saw

I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited for 2012! I hope you’ll stick around for some more DIY tutorials and empowerment!

Did you have a favorite post of mine this year that I forgot to mention? Do tell! Chosing from almost 200 posts makes for some tough decisions.

End of Summer Slideshow from Ocean Isle Beach

sunrise_clouds

There is a little sliver of an island located just off the coast of North Carolina. It is only accessible by one bridge, and is a mere 3.4 square miles in size. I adoringly think of this island as our little slice of heaven.

Every year as the beginning of school looms, we make an annual trip to Ocean Isle Beach to close out the summer. If you are the party animal type, and want to compete with the shenanigans of Snooki and the Situation, this is NOT the beach for you. Ocean Isle has a strict no house parties policy. And is a sleepy family-friendly beach.

Ocean Isle Beach has the unique geographic situation of facing south.

Because of this early risers are treated to stunning sunrises.

While the lazy sleepers can catch the colorful sunsets.

Facing south also has an effect on the waves. They are usually much calmer as they meander onto shore from the south, instead of directly from the east. But, the surfers don’t seem to mind.

Another thing I like about Ocean Isle Beach is that you can bring your dog along. Dogs are allowed before 9am and after 6pm during peak season.

I don’t know if Buddy has ever seen the ocean. He was very inquisitive and chased a crab until it disappeared into the waves. Buddy didn’t want ANYTHING to do with the water!

I think he’s a land lubber!

One week at Ocean Isle is enough to wash your cares away. I hope you enjoy the rest of this pictorial tour of Ocean Isle Beach, NC.







If you are in the area, be sure to stop by Ocean Isle Inn and ask for Tracy. He’s a great guy with some cool history nuggets about Ocean Isle. Tell him I sent you ;0).


The evening that we walked to the pier was truly beautiful. The clouds were pink and purple and blue After the sun set, as I sat by the water a mother and her children walked by. I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of their silhouettes against the golden waves. I love this picture!

But, I love this picture even more because all the wonderful things in my life are here. All four of my boys!

That’s it. I gotta run now. I hope everyone in Hurricane Irene’s path stays safe tonight and tomorrow.

Better Composition – Improving Your Photographs

My friend Kristi has dedicated June to “Spreading the Bloggy Love”.  She asked several (FABULOUS) bloggers to “give back” by writing a post sharing their best blogging tips. You aren’t going to want to miss a day, because she has some big names sharing their tips and secrets.

I decided to write a post about better composition in photographs. To me, good photos are one of the most important things that contribute to a great blog. If you don’t have good eye candy, your readers will look elsewhere.

So head on over to Creative Kristi’s blog today to learn how to turn your so-so photos into…

…{{BAM}} fantastic images!

What are you looking at? Head on over to Kristi’s NOW! And don’t forget to thank her for putting together such a fantastic series.

Photography Secrets for Shooting in Your Home

light_bounce_reflection

I’m not sure what I ever did to annoy Mother Nature, but it seems to me that every time I finish a project and need to photograph it, the weather turns ugly. Case in point: my cake stand was completed the day the tornadoes ripped through North Carolina.

3" of water flooding our front walk after the tornado.

But, rather than be deterred by some nasty weather, I decided to use a few tricks I learned from some professional photographers I’ve worked with over the years. And, from a few photography blogs like:

iHeartFaces.com and EverydayElementsOnline.com and My3Boybarians.

One trick I learned was how to bounce the light back onto the subject. To light the underside of the cake stand, I set a mirror next to the cake stand and angled it to reflect the light onto the bottom of the stand. I was careful not to let a strong highlight hit on the stand from the reflection.

Next I used a foam core board propped up against a chair. I positioned the board back and forth until I saw the light brightening the cake stand and dessert.

With just those two changes I was able to change my cake stand photo from this:

to this! Va va vooom!

Another trick I use while shooting some of my tutorials is to use two pieces of foam core to get a professional looking white background.

Sometimes if I’m feeling very perfectionist, I’ll use Photoshop to edit my photos. To erase the seam, I selected a color that is midway between the foreground and background foam core.

Then, I used the airbrush tool to paint out the seams that stand out.

Sometimes I really want to photograph a still life in an environment. Take my spray-painted bottles for example:

Whoa, that is one dark and dreary photo. Once again, I had finished the project and the clouds rolled in. So, here is how I dealt with fickle Mother Nature.

I put the bottles in the window to capture as much natural light as I could. Then, I backed away from my subjects and zoomed in with my lens. Next, I used a flash (egads, not a flash!) Yes, I used a flash, but I have the ability to change the flash exposure in my camera so it wouldn’t wash out the subject. And because I was far back from the vases, the flash wasn’t as harsh.

And here is the resulting photo!

I wouldn’t say it is perfect by any standards, but the photos look much more appealing. Don’t you think?

(At the time that I took the above photos, I didn’t have this great flash gadget. However, recently I ordered a Light Scoop and I love how it bounces the flash off the ceiling instead of the object. This is an inexpensive alternative to buying an external flash.)

To head off the inevitable camera question: I currently use a Canon T1i Rebel (SLR). However, I before I bought the Rebel I used a simple point and shoot camera and made some edits in Photoshop to compensate for the cheaper camera.

First I select Auto Tone and if I’m happy with the changes PS made, I move on to the Auto Contrast.

To make the colors more vivid, I play with the Vibrancy and Saturation Settings:

Finally, to give the details that crisp focus look, I add the Sharpen filter:

There are oodles of other fixes that Photoshop can perform on your photos, but these are the ones I use the most.

Do you have any photography tips or tricks? I’d love to hear them.

My friend Megan (Honey We’re Home) has a great post all about using your SLR! Check it out HERE.

Fork Photo Holder Base

PhotoHolderFull

Hey ho, what do you know?! I know that there is an exciting tutorial waiting for you over at my friend Gina’s who writes The Shabby Chic Cottage! Wanna see?

Here it is!

Fork Photo Holder

Fork Photo Holder

I am guest posting over there today. I hope you enjoy the tutorial.

I did want to share with you how to make an alternate base for that Fork Photo Holder. So, if you will give me a few minutes, I’ll show you how to do that.

Materials:
Fork (.25 each from Goodwill)
Wooden base from craft store (cost me .69 each)
Beads, corks, or other items to thread onto the base of your wire (corks were free, beads I had on hand)
Scrapbook paper
Mod Podge
Multi-Purpose Utility Wire 16 Gauge ($7.99 for a huge roll of it, I only used a few inches per project)
Wire cutters
Needle-nosed pliers
E-6000 glue
Felt
Drill with 1/16″ drill bit

 

Instructions:

Start by sanding any rough edges off your wooden base. Then prime and paint them.

Measure and mark the center of your wooden base.

Using your 1/16″ drill bit, drill through your base (be sure to put a piece of scrap wood underneath to avoid drilling into your table, etc.)

Lay a piece of scrapbook paper on top of the base and use your finger to score around the edges of the base.

Cut out the shape scored on the scrapbook paper.

Using mod podge, brush one coat onto the top of the wooden base. Lay your scrapbook paper cutout onto the base and follow up with another coat of the mod podge to seal the paper to the base.

Assemble your fork onto the wire as shown HERE.

Thread on your beads for the base. (Alternatively, you can use a wine cork or a solid end bead and drill a hole through them.)

Then dip the end of your wire into the E-6000.

And insert it into the base. Some of the glue should squeeze out of the base. You can use the excess glue to adhere the beads to the base. (Yes, you should wear gloves when working with E-6000 glue. Do as I say, not as I do!)

Protect your table with newspaper, craft paper, or wax paper while the glue dries.

Using a sliver of soap, draw around the base of your photo holder onto the felt.

Cut the felt slightly smaller than the traced shape.

Use a little E-6000 to glue the felt to the bottom of the base. Let it dry on wax paper (I use old cereal bags because they were free and I like to recycle.)

And you are done!

I raided my neighbor’s recycling bin for that beautiful cobalt blue wine bottle. It works well as a base too! Don’t you think it would be a cute place to hold “Today’s Specials” at a restaurant? Or a reminder note. Or just a beloved photo.

What would you use one of my fork photo holders for?

PHGFancySign

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Yesterday Raleigh, North Carolina received a surprise visitor, SNOW! We get snow occasionally, but what was forecasted as a slight dusting turn into this:

BlueSkyWhiteTree.jpg
1Window.jpg

FrontDoor.jpg

SnowBlackSky1.jpg

BirdOrb.jpg

SnowBlackSky2.jpg

2LightsinWindow.jpg

RedMapleLeaves.jpg

All photos taken with my Canon Rebel T1i.

Thank you to all the bloggers I polled who highly recommended the camera. 

It really does an amazing job making stunning photos.
HouseFiltered.jpg

Mother nature did such a nice job highlighting our home for the holidays.
(Photoshop filters and feathered selection applied)