Me Ra Koh Photography Workshop in DC ~ Indoor Natural Light

Last year, a friend of mine told me about a photography workshop that changed her life.  That kind of statement makes you stop and think for minute.  After listening and seeing her face light up when she talked about the Me Ra Koh Confidence workshop she attended I thought I'd like attend.  

I recently returned from my Me Ra Koh Confidence Workshop in Washington, D.C. with some new found confidence, much improved photography skills and a sense of awe at the power of photography.  

My goal at the workshop was to improve my photography for family photos, my jewelry business and blog.  Many of the participants attended to gain confidence to start a photography business.  There was a lot of talent in that workshop and I am excited to follow Me Ra and my classmates' careers.  Me Ra is a contributor to the new Nate Berkus Show on NBC.  You can learn from her as well! 

The first day, we had an opportunity to work with mom and baby models indoors and in poor light.  Nothing like a challenge out of the box.  Look at this cute baby and beautiful mom I had the opportunity to work with.  He was so social and active.   My skills were better matched to a sleepy newborn, but I would not have learned as much.  He loved all the attention and women cooing at him when they took his photos.   

Our assignment in Manual Mode was to use natural light from the windows.  No flash.  As a new photographer, I had to concentrate really hard and juggle the concepts of ISO, shutter speed and aperture.  This little guy was so active that most of my photos were blurred until I found the correct balance of these three settings.  

Here are some of my favorite photos from the shoot. 

Baby model.  3 mo.  Look at all of his hair.
Our photography models sharing a tender moment.
Mesmerized by the light.
A moment of calm for this very social, happy baby.
A very low f-stop (f/1.4) blurred the hand in front.
Soft natural light.
I learned this day about how to use ISO and my photos improved.
Mom and baby taking a break and reconnecting.
Me Ra Koh Confidence Workshop in DC 2010


Fort Washington, Maryland ~ Part 1

I have to divert from jewelry for a minute and put on my tour guide hat to share a fun activity I recently enjoyed with my out-of-town family.  Have a free weekend and need a family outing close to Washington, D.C.?  Head to Fort Washington, Maryland to see Fort Washington built in 1809.  You will see cannons, views of D.C, a light house, learn some unknown American history and have open areas to run around and picnic.

Fort Washington is the fort you see across the Potomac when you drive on the George Washington Parkway.   From I95/495 take exit 3 (local lanes) and follow Indian Head Highway South MD210.  Go 4 miles and turn right on Fort Washington Road. The cost is only $5 per car.  

If you have time, ask the Park Ranger for the Junior Park Ranger activity book.   Together you and your kids can find answers to their age related questions and turn the book back in to the ranger for a badge.  My family recently did this same activity at Fort McHenry near Baltimore Inner Harbor and my 5 year old enjoyed working with her dad to answer the questions, get sworn in as a Junior Ranger and earn a badge.

While Fort Washington is being heavily renovated  you can still  have a great time and enjoy many unrestricted areas.  Kids will enjoy the sense of mystery and exploration.

Fort Washington
A lot of areas to explore.  
Many cannons.
This huge  24-lb cannon shares the view with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the Washington Monument. 
Mount Vernon is across the Potomac River.
The park has many places to explore under the walls of the fort.


Precious Metal Clay ~ Making a chain

PMC Pendant

I made the chain by hammering sterling silver, drilling holes at each end and attaching the jump rings.  The chain links are textured and oxidized.  The pendant was fired with a handheld torch for 7 minutes.  The pendant is thick and heavy giving the necklace a nice weight.  Heavy enough to not slide off center and light enough to wear everyday.  

Flower on Opposite Side

I've been doing some research about jewelry photography and read a tip from a jewelry show judge that you should never include the clasp in your photo.  Not sure I agree.  Maybe this is best for publication.  As a customer, I want to see what I am buying and as a seller, I'd like all the details to be up front for a customer.  

My goal is to enter my PMC jewelry into some competitions and book projects.   My next pieces will be layered and three dimensional. 

These photos are a bit darker than I'd like.  I had time in the morning to take photos and did not want to run around the house to find the right spot of sun.  My natural light photography should improve soon.  This weekend I'm headed to a photography class in Washington, D.C.   I expect to learn many things that will help with my business. I'll post more detail about my class on Wednesday.  

Flower PMC Pendant
Two holes for jump rings

This necklace is a teaser, because I am keeping it for myself.  Sorry!  I will make another someday.  In the meantime I'm ready to make some noise and hammer my silver.  Everybody is at school and work so I'm free to experiment. 

My steel block and yard sale hammer.
1 inch sterling silver  read for shaping


Rock Balancing ~ Impress your friends...watch your toes

Rock balancing.
A garden of balanced rocks.
Rock balancing by Wayne, not aliens.
Wayne had the special touch.  

Next summer, I will have new beach hobby in addition to searching for heart shaped rocks.  Rock balancing.  My mother and Wayne said they learned it from some local men in Mexico who balanced rocks to entertain tourists and earn tips.  We did our balancing in the evening after cocktail time and I found it to be a bit challenging.  It took me a very long time to balance one shoe sized rock. 

I am very happy that I had my camera.  The rocks at sunset were beautiful and a fun keepsake from our trip.  Wish I could fit the heart shaped one in my luggage.  Maybe my mother will add it to her heart garden she is starting for the grandkids.  Hint.

All the best!



First Day of School

What do you call it when both of your children go to school all day for the first time?

Unemployed? No, not really. 
Empty nester?  No, that is when they go to college.
Confused? Maybe.  I'm a work in progress.
Happy?  Yes.  They're happy, I'm happy.
Invigorated?  Yes.  Time for jewelry and proper workouts.

I cannot put to words they joy I have to see my kids go to school together, with bright smiles on their faces, and ready to learn.

My daughter was so excited to get her hands on the school clothes we purchased over the summer which I would not let her wear until school started.  She wanted to wear a thick sweater dress and black go-go boots.   I suggested the sundress and she agreed.  The boots were another story.  We battled.   As a parent we have to pick our battles.   We both stood firm.  I was afraid for her to start her day in tears, but she accepted my many arguments (pleading) and wore a better choice of shoe for the first day. 

Her teacher let parents walk their kids into the class.  I loved to see how excited and anxious she was to be there and get on with the big day.  She found her seat, organized her desk, met a new friend (with glasses) and then gave me a look to let me know it was my time to leave.  I ignored her cue.  She had to tell me to leave.   

My son, was off like a rocket to his class with a backhanded wave "Bye, mom."  He tried not to make eye contact with me, however, when I caught his eyes with mine they silently told me "please don't kiss me in the hall."  He was on to me.   Darn, I should have snuck one on the top of his head during the walk to school.  

The second day, he  rode his bike.   No more holding my hand as he skipped to school.  That's okay, really.  It's good to grow-up.

Just the face a parent wants to see!
A happy face after walking out of school on the day of Kindergarten.

My kids.
First day of school 2010-2011
A good outfit.
I tried to get one last photo before they went into school.
They are so irritated with me.
This photo is too funny not to share.
I walked her to the class and lingered.   We were allowed in on the first day.
"Okay, mom, you can leave now."


Garden Buddy ~ Mr. Carrot and Corks

From my mother's kitchen. 
Mr. Carrot.
Cute buns and tail. 
Mr. Carrot with swagger. 

The sun was hitting this beautiful antique jar with my mother's wine bottle cork collection and I grabbed my camera.  Each cork makes me wonder who she shared the bottle with and for what occasion.   If corks could talk. 

I rescued this cartoon like carrot for a day, at least, from the chopping block and dinner salad.   He is from my mothers garden.   I don't garden, but after seeing this cutie pie, I may plant some carrots next year.   

Happy Friday!



Simple and Pretty ~ Silver ~

Butterfly and poetry.
Precious Metal Clay.

Long charm holder.
Precious Metal Clay.
Oxidized sterling silver.
Purple Czech crystals. 

One of the funnest parts about creating jewelry is the actual crafting including pounding silver with multiple hammers on a steel block, melting silver until it balls up and firing silver clay to a bright orange glow with a hand held torch.  All therapeutic. Once I was making a collection of hammered silver necklaces and my neighbor walked by and heard all the pounding.  Later she told me she thought I was getting my kitchen remodeled (I wish!)  My kids often yell, "mom, you are too loud!"

The jewelry in these three photos are the products of what I love to do with silver.  With manipulation it transforms into something pretty to wear.  Sometimes I have a plan, but often I create as I pound, bend, and melt. 

This summer I purchased a real jewelers tool (real, as in real necessary) called a flexshaft after I nearly took off a finger with a handheld rotary tool.  Have I used it yet?  No. Waiting for a day to myself to bring out the big guns.  The kids will be in school soon enough.  The flexshaft is powered by a foot pedal, like a swing machine, and looks a lot like the machine the ladies use when you get your nails done.  My flexshaft came with a how-to DVD and beginners kit of attachments. 

I found my rotary tool kit at Costco.  It was a helpful beginners tool. One year, I held it up to my husband and said this is all I want for Christmas.  He said, "really?"  I assume he could not believe his luck.  For years I handed him the little blue Tiffany catalog and said "all I want for Christmas (birthday, Valentines Day, anniversary and Mother's Day) can be found here, and I circled my favorites."

On my blog I will also explore jewelry photography.  Jewelry photography has been a challenge for me.  As you can see I played with a brick and marble round.  This weathered marble is my favorite.  I dug it out of the garden this week and washed it off.  I've been hauling it around for 10 years.  Antiquing one day near Middleburg, Virginia, my mother saw two marble rounds and said that I should buy them because they may be useful someday.   Thanks, mom!  Both the marble and brick give the photo a nice texture and keep the jewelry from washing out.  My photographs on white turns the jewelry dull or washed out and the black shows every single piece of lint. 

Funny story:  My kids got to meet their teachers today and see their classrooms.  I put on a simple skirt and my daughters exclaimed "mom, you have not dressed up since your twenties! Let me get you some high heels!"  No thanks, flip flops will do.  

I will post my favorite tools someday and keep posting about jewelry photography as I learn more.

Have a good one!