Behind the Scenes of "Silver and Gold..."

In the comments of my "Silver and gold... on ev'ry Christmas Tree" post, Donna Hague Wendt wondered if I could "describe exactly how [I] made the photos and annotations of [my] Xmas ornaments," and I thought my reply to her would make a great new post for all of my 2 readers...OK, 3 readers. :-)

The project was a lot simpler than it might appear, and I was rather surprised myself with how well some of the finished photographs turned out.

Building the Makeshift Studio

Using a hole puncher, I made a small hole in a piece of smooth construction paper, like the kind pictured on the left. I first used green, but the effect wasn't quite what I had in mind. I switched colors, and I'm now convinced, for the sake of our ornaments all Christmas trees should be black. Next, I had to find a good, well-lit spot to take the pictures.

To compensate for the crappy lighting in this house, we've installed florescent light fixtures in some really odd places, including under the shelf that sits on brackets above the buffet in our dining room, and it was there, in the wall, between the light and the buffet, that I found the nail. I hung the construction paper from the nail, turned on the light and - voilĂ ! - a makeshift studio!

After that, it was only a matter of taking the photos.

The nail pulled double-duty as a place to hang the ornaments, and with my digital camera set to macro, I zoomed in as close to each as I could.

Click to enlarge

The as yet unpolished result is like the photo you see above, which features, by the way, the most recent addition to our collection from Aunt Elsie.

Creating the Finished Product

Over the years, I've invested good money in a variety of software packages, but nowadays, I find myself turning more and more to free software like Picasa 2 for simple photo projects. For this project, I chose Shutterfly Studio.

Shutterfly Studio's collage feature is one of the best in any market. It offers a number of different canvas styles, layouts and sizes, and the only limit I see to the kinds of collages a person can create is his own imagination.

Click to enlarge

Step-by-step directions for creating a collage are available at Shutterfly Studio Central, so I'll refrain from going into that much detail here. Suffice it to say that this is the software I used to make the image above and all the ornament images in the "Silver and Gold..." entry, but I would also add that similar results might be possible with any collage enabled software.

And One More Thing, or Two

With some slight adjustments to the makeshift studio (e.g., lay paper flat), I think this would also be an attractive way to document and showcase heirloom jewelry and silver, coins and just about anything else you can think of.

But whatever you create, I hope you'll share the end result with us. :-)


    Well aren't you the clever one Lee! I love your idea and it has me wondering... why didn't I think of that?

    In terms of ornaments, I prefer to photograph all of mine au natural (on a lit Christmas tree). But I have lots of jewelry that I've tried to photograph with very unimpressive results. I'm going to have to try again using your method. It sounds like a great idea. Thanks for sharing it!

    I wish I'd thought of this before I tried to photograph my watches! Thanks for the tip about Shutterfly too! Since I'm happy with the company that I get prints from I hadn't thought about checking out other companies for their software.

    Hi Lee! I just wanted to let you know that you’ve added another reader and subscriber to your list. I finally figured out how to use my Google Reader and I’m pleased to tell you I will be back for every new post. (You actually might have two new subscribers because I clicked on the RSS feed button and well it just kinda disappeared and ah, heaven only knows where that subscription went.)

    When I read your Resolution/goals posting (especially the 2007 one about the 2005 folders that had disappeared) I thought, that woman has to be my long lost twin! But alas, seeing this post I realize that you are extremely creative and not at all technology challenged, so I can’t be your twin - unless, of course, I’m the slow technologically impaired twin. In any case, I’ll be back for all your posts.

    Terry Snyder

    Lee, Thanks for the "step by step" instructions. You've just disproved the old adage that an old dog can't learn a new trick. Neat technique and one I'll use for a variety of photo projects. THANKS.
    Terry Thornton

    Great idea and, here's another practical use for this:

    If you are documenting jewelry, use it as part of your household inventory for insurance purposes. Print them out and keep them in a fireproof safe or an off-site safety deposit box.

    Everyone has a household inventory, right?