Sunday, March 21, 2010

Answers to Questions Asked

Often, I when I post, my lovely readers send me emails, or have questions about things that I've blogged about. I try my best to answer timely, to varying degrees of success. 

This post is here to help alleviate some of the mystery of what goes around here. ;) 

About the blog: 

Are you self-taught in web design? 
Pretty much. I read a book on HTML and web design for a project back in high school, and since I use it a little at work, it just kind of stuck. I'm no expert though, and I freely google things when I need help. 

How did you get the new blog to be so customized? 
I altered my basic Blogger Minima template using information I found on this site: Tips for New Bloggers

Do you have a basic account or a premium one that you pay for? 
This blog is a basic free Blogger account from Google. I have considered switching to Typepad, but since that costs money, I probably won't move until I run out of space on this account.

Do you have a recommendation for where to start/pointers for us newbies?
I started out by looking at a lot of other peoples' blogs, to find out what I did and didn't like about blogs. I decided on the things I wanted to share (a creative manifesto, if you will) and once I had decided what I wanted to share and what I wanted the blog to look like, I just went for it. 

Blogger is a great place to start out as a new blogger because you can get a free account, and it is a very customizable service. There are plenty of classes and articles out there that talk about how to get started. Diane from CraftyPod also has several terrific (and free) podcasts that talk about blogging.

My blog has certainly evolved over the last three years, as I have... and I really like the documentation aspect that it provides. 

I think my number one tip for new bloggers would be to not stress about it. It should be fun. And try not to feel guilty (though you probably will) if you don't post as frequently as you want to. I figure that if I spent all my time online, I wouldn't have very much to blog about later. And if it comes down to updating the blog (or checking email etc) and spending time in the "real world," the real world usually wins out.  

Can you provide any resources for information on making a blog banner like yours?
My current banner is made up of a mosaic of some of my favorite photos, inspired by the mosaic maker at Big Huge Labs. On the current one, I actually made my own template in Photoshop and used clipping masks to get everything lined up right. The fonts are from Dafont.

I use Photoshop CS3 now, but when I started out, I used Photoshop 7 (which I got from a used bookstore). If you don't have the bucks for a big program like Photoshop, I've heard that Photoshop Elements is a good alternative. For those that need something totally free, I've heard that Piknic is great. 

About creating in general: 

Is it okay to "copy" you?
Yes, for all my non-commercial stuff, as long as you provide credit. Also, if you do use one of my designs, send me an email and let me know! I love to see the stuff that people have made. :)

Can I share something you made on my own blog?
Sure, no problem! And again, please let me know (in case I need to pull it for pub or something) and just provide me credit and a link back to this blog. 

What inspires you?
Lots of things... Blogs (love my google reader), podcasts like Paperclipping, friends, family, my photos, colors, patterns.. living life. One of the things that I love about my hobbies is that they have really opened my eyes to looking at the world in a new way. When I go out now, I'm constantly amazed by the inspiration and beauty that is all around me. And the hunger to photograph it all, that's very inspiring too.

About cameras and photography

What new DSLR camera did you get (March 2010)?
The bigger ones are just more camera than I need right now. Also, not really digging the idea of shooting HD video with my DSLR. And the price was quite nice.

I haven't done a lot of shooting with it yet, as I wanted to study up on the camera manual first, but I'm really looking forward to playing with it. 

What model of Opteka lens did you get? 
Most recently, I purchased the Opteka 10x Macro lens. It screws right on top of the kit lens and is very very interesting to play with. For less than $30, I am glad I got this to play with before I decided to plonk down the cash for a full on macro lens. Again, as a hobbyist, I'm not sure I need a full macro lens. 

So far, I'm enjoying it a lot. I love the dark vignetting it does around the edges. 

Previous to this, I had gotten an Opteka Fisheye lens converter. I love taking photos with this lens attachment. 

With those macro photos, is that just your lens or do you edit your photos?
Usually I edit my photos a little, to fix the lighting or up the saturation, but for these ones, no editing other than making the file smaller for the blog.

What point and shoot model do you use? 
Most of the photos on this blog were taken with my trusty Canon Powershot SD1100 ELPH. Before that I used a Canon Powershot A530. I love the SD1100 camera. It is such an easy to use workhorse. 

Unfortunately, due to much abuse from me (frequently dropping it, in the purse and pocket without a case, putting it on the ground and knocking it over...), I've had to replace it as well (thanks tax return!). When the faceplate finally started to come off, and the ISO settings seemed perma-busted, I decided to pick up the very newest Powershot, the SD1300IS ELPH model

The new features on this one almost have me convinced it was worth the upgrade, but the difference in menu style is a little irritating. It does noticeably function better in low light, which is a very good thing indeed.

Do you have any tips for using a point and shoot camera?
Really read the camera manual. Carry it with you everywhere you go. Take tons of pictures, just to get the hang of it. Play with angles, lighting, settings, image sizes... Just play!

Digital is so cheap, you can always delete the things you don't want to keep. I probably delete about 20 photos for every one I keep. And you see how many photos I share on the blog anyway!

Those TTV photos look pretty cool! Can you share some more info about them?
I have done a couple of posts on this. This one has the most info.
I highly recommend cruising the discussion groups on Flickr. As always, please email me with any questions :)

How many cameras do you have?
Well, I um... a lot. As of March 2010, I have over 50, all different models. All but three work, and I use them all on a rotating basis. The ones I use most frequently are the Powershot, the Rebel and my SX-70 Polaroid. The rest are variations on the following categories: Polaroid packfilm cameras, Polaroid 600 film cameras, lomo cameras, 35 mm cameras, and TLR cameras. I also have two 110 spycams, a couple of disposable cameras and an 8MM film camera too. 

Your blog has a lot of photos!  Do you share all the photos you take?
No, just my favorites, or the ones I find relevant to my post topics. Due to the many many cameras I have, I think it would be a full time job to share them all. My scanner is broken, so that is contributing to the problem as well. I am also seriously behind on updating my Flickr. I'm not stressing about "being behind," but I'm working on getting more in a format I can share. 

I recently backed up all my digital photos to DVD and I reckon I take about two DVDs worth of photos a year. Maybe more this year though. 

Do you do much "post-processing" in Photoshop? If so, do you have any resources?
I do sometimes with the Powershot photos, mostly to reduce the file size for sharing on the web. I often punch up the saturation on my photos, as I really like that look. I rarely edit the shots from the Rebel except for the size though. Those photos just flat out turn out nice as is, which is why I love my big clunky DSLR.  

When I do edit, I use Photoshop actions frequently, as it saves a lot of time. My favorite ones are from The Pioneer Woman and Deviant Art. I've also made some of my own. ;) 

How do you organize your photos?
My digital photos are organized into folders by Year then Month. I upload my photos to my laptop fairly frequently, so the individual uploads are in folders organized by the month they were taken. Because I upload so frequently, the individual "events" often have their own folders. I usually purge ugly, blurry and duplicate photos at the time I save them to my laptop. 

Printed photos are in a vintage metal toolbox that I can easily grab when scrapping. A lot of my polaroids are on my inspiration wire, and the rest are in the box. I'm working on getting them into an album all their own. Negatives are stored in a box in my closet. 

Can you still buy Polaroid film?
Why yes, yes you can. I've been using up my little hoard of 600 film (kept carefully in the fridge) but you can still actually buy film via The Impossible Project. It's pricier than it used to be, but what isn't these days?

I use Fuji Packfilm for my cameras that require the peel-apart type of film.

About things I've made: 

What products did you use in the "This is why"minibook?

The cover is a clear acrylic cover from D. Reeves Design house (out of business). You could use a clear overlay or transparency for a similar look.

The inside pages are just pieces of patterned paper that I trimmed to 4.5x6.5 inches (the same size as the cover). I used a 1/4 inch corner rounder to round the edges of the pages.
I also inked all the edges with Antique Linen Distress Ink.

The patterned papers were from kits from Cocoa Daisy and Studio Calico. The specific brands were: K & Company, Basic Grey, Studio Calico, Love Elsie, Scenic Route and American Crafts.The transparencies were from Hambly and Color Conspiracy.
The back cover was a piece of chipboard that I just cut down and trimmed to be the same size as the acrylic cover. I covered the back with cork paper. I used a 1/2 size hole punch for the holes.. The book rings are 1.5 inches and by 7 Gypsies.

The woodgrain rubon on the front is by Hambly Studios. The white foam letter stickers are American Crafts. I think the font is Rockabye. The other letters were 1/4 inch Chartpak stickers. I used labels from Fontwerks, Studio Calico and journaling stickers from 7 Gypsies. The pearl bling I got from Michaels.

All the border punches were EK Success or Martha Stewart Crafts.

Wow, you made a lot of ATCs. What's up with that?
Back in 2007 when I first started scrapping and blogging I decided I needed a project to help me figure out this whole art hobby. 

First, I spent a lot of time at the 
Scrap In Style community making online crafty friends, and I made a bunch of ATCs. Mostly they were inspired by Elise's Daily Card concept. I only got through six months worth of card... but there were some other hardcore artists who went for even longer. 

It was an amazing experience for me, and I'm really glad I did it. Looking back now, I'm simply amazed at the time and commitment I put into that project. I'd like to do something similar again someday, and I'd absolutely recommend it to someone just starting out or who wanted to focus on techniques or documentation.

About my classes/tutorials: 

I really like all the details you put into your tutorials. Is there a place where I can find all of them?
Why, yes. Most of my free tutorials are archived on a separate blog I made just for that purpose. Please feel free to let me know if you have any requests for future tutorials.

So what is the deal with this Bits & Pieces class that you were talking about on the blog?

Basically, the class focuses on taking a snapshot of the bits + pieces of your life right now. The things, places,and people that you love and are grateful for.

The end result is a mini-book, though there are other inspirational tools and ideas along the way. It is a very flexible and self-paced class. The class is based on 18 lessons and includes journaling prompts, photo templates, downloads for custom word art, tutorials on how to make the book (which has over 58 interior pages) as well as how to make custom envelope clasps, hand cut titles, misting masks and much much more. There is a private blog with a Flickr group. 

To give you an idea of the detail I put into this, there are over a thousand photos shared on the blog, so you really get the step by step details of all the projects. 

When I decided to launch the class I did an intro FAQ here. 

For the class, I created physical kits and add ons (which I am planning to re-list in Etsy soon), but you can easily just sign up for the class access only. 

I am planning on relaunching the class (with a few new tweaks) sometime in late March/early April.

Do you have any other classes/workshops in the works?
Yup. I have several ideas that I want to get out there... but I just need the time to get them manifested. ;)

About me:

What brand of shoes are those?
Those are my beloved Dansko Marcelle Mary Janes. These shoes are amazing. They are super comfy and durable. I got them on supersale at Nordstrom back in 2007. Other than needing to have some of the stitching fixed on the strap (at a shocking cost of $5) , these shoes have gone walking in Europe, hiking up a mountain, across treacherous beach terrain, as well tromping about my normal urban landscape with no sign of quitting anytime soon.

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If you have any question you'd like to ask, please feel free to leave in these comments or shoot me an email. You can also click on the "contact me" button up there on the blog's top right corner. Have a great day.


themathchick said...

Thanks for the FAQ post, Christina! You've answered questions that I've asked, and also questions that I didn't know I had :) As always, you're a total inspiration - thank you for sharing your talents with us!

Melissa Mann said...

Thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions, Christina! Wonderful post!

amy lapi said...

you are so fantastic. what a great post. :)

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