Friday, 28 March 2008

Etsy-versary Competition

Well, I did promise a post about my Etsy-versary coming up on 30th March so here it is! I know lots of Etsians do giveaways or discounts for their anniversary but I wanted to do things a little different. I've also just noticed that this will be my 30th post so in honour of the 30 link between the two - I'm going to run a little competition here and offer a choice of prints or notecards from my Etsy shop to a value of $30 :)

The winner will not be restricted to those images showing in my shop - a quick visit to one of my stock portfolios (I think Lucky Oliver has the largest portfolio) will give a much wider choice or if you'd like one of the watercolours that I've featured in my earlier blog posts - that will be OK too.
Just have a guess what this close-up is a photo of and leave a comment. All the correct commenters will go in a hat/bowl and I will pull a name out. I will contact you to find out what you would like and get your address and we sort everything out from there - oh happy days!

Competition closes Midnight GMT Monday 31st March - this is 5 hours ahead of Etsy time so 7pm Etsy time but I'm not sure about the rest of the world!! :)

Thursday, 27 March 2008

New Poll on Photography

I just read a thread about polls over on Etsy and as I've been thinking about it anyway (I do a lot of thinking about things!), I decided to have a go. I found one on Blogflux but couldn't get it to work so came back to a basic blogger one.

I'd love to know what you think - I'm still developing as a photographer and haven't really settled in any one particular genre or style yet. I love photographing animals but opportunities are a bit limited in my area and with my work schedule. I'm also not an early morning person so the thought of getting up and being on the road before dawn is totally alien to me. If I could go on another safari in Kenya, I would be soooo happy - we had amazing luck with our last trip and I got some super shots. I've got more experience now though and better equipment so I would love the chance to do it again.Please leave a vote - it's just a click and will give me some ideas as to which direction to take my shop. As I've mentioned before, the hardest part for me, is deciding which image to list!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Late Night Post and Run!

Well, it's ten minutes to bedtime and I've finally caught up on most of my tasks for the day. Last on my list was to blog about my 1st Etsy anniversary but I'll do that tomorrow evening - I want to do a bit more thinking on that one first.

So what can I waffle about for ten minutes and get the formatting straight as well? Maybe you'd like to see some of my portrait work? If you've not visited my Vox blog (and if you're like me, you probably haven't!) you won't have seen these. I went on a few photoshoot weekends organised by some of the London iStockers and one by iStock itself in Barcelona (oh wow, what a city!). Loads of photographers, loads of models and proper makeup artists and stylists and some pretty nifty locations too. I absolutely love this Blue Boy and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. The photoshopping into a blue toned image was a bit of a fluke but it worked so well, I kept it!This mono print was gorgeous in colour. It was originally a vertical shot with her beautiful dark hair against vibrant green bamboo hedge but I needed a mono shot for one of my camera club competitions so I converted it. Hubby happened to glance over and suggested a really tight crop and extending the black background and hey presto - one competition winning monochrome image :)

Anyway, that's my ten minutes up, my bed is calling. More waffling tomorrow I promise :-p

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Sales & Marketing

I've been a bit busy this last week or two, reading various posts over on the Etsy forums about ways of advertising/marketing your Etsy shop. I've made a list as long as my arm of all the suggestions and various websites that are out there in internet land but so many of them are community/social sites - I just don't have the time to build relationships everywhere that might help get the word out!
So what to do? Well, I've been concentrating on blog related stuff initially - I already blog and have wondered before how to find out blogs of interest to me and how to get the word out about mine. I also knew nothing about RSS feeds. Well, that orange icon that you see everywhere these days - if you're using internet explorer, just click on the icon and it lets you subscribe to a feed. You'll find your feeds under the favourites but on their own tab. If it's in bold, there's a new post to read. No more hunting down a long list to see if someone has updated - Yay!

If you haven't visited for a while, you'll notice various widgets and clickable thingies in my side bar. I've found statcounter for a visitor count and that was the easiest I think.

Next came blogcatalog which seems to be a directory type site where you can not only list your own blog but also choose categories, then you can go looking through the directory within your category and hey presto - lots of blogs with similar interests to read. If you start adding friends and joining neighbourhoods, your blog rating goes up so eventually you end up nearer the top of the category listing and more people find you. I seem to be having a few hits from there in just 10 days so something is working :)

Then I decided to add Technorati to my list of sites to learn about. Haven't really got to grips with that one yet but it's the one most people say you should have. I've only been on there about 4 days so haven't investigated it too much yet.
Also from the Etsy forums is Stumbleupon - basically download a toolbar then wherever you go on the internet, if you like a site, click on the thumbs up icon. You can also use it to randomly surf the net - choose some categories that you like and it will randomly bring up sites within those categories. So how can we use Stumbleupon to market? Well, if we all thumbs up each others shops, when a non-etsy person goes stumbling, it increase the chances of our shops being one of the random sites.

My favourite so far though is Feedburner - you sign up (yep, another one!!) then'burn your feed' - just follow their instructions, it's not too difficult at all. So why is it my favourite? - because one of the things that feedburner does is to give you feedback on how many people out there in internet-land have subscribed to your feed - yes, I have readers :) I'm not talking to myself after all!

So what sort of photo could I add to this post to
a) break it up a bit and
b) make it pretty! LOL
Had to be some of my stock photos - PC innards for the techie bit, coffee and biscuits 'cos I've usually got a mug of coffee next to me at the keyboard and mini eggs 'cos it's Easter :) Hope you're having a good one with lots of choccy.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Tagged - V2

Yep I got tagged again - Sarah over at BlueBoyGifts / TheBalmShoppe has kindly tagged me and has been waiting for my 7 facts very patiently! I'm useless at this sort of thing - I don't think I'm particularly unusual or have strange hobbies and I've had a very normal upbringing with few major upheavals. But anyway, here's the rules

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Fact 1 - I cry very easily. I have been known to cry at a part of a 30 second advert on TV. I cried when Baloo died in The Jungle Book (OK, I know he didn't now, but at the time I didn't know) and I was 37 when I watched it for the first time.

Fact 2 - I'm a fence sitter - I can see two sides to most stories and can see loads of options when trying to decide on something. This makes decision making very difficult. When we redesigned our garden (all 30x15 feet of it) I had about 20 different plans in my head and had to leave it to hubby to pick his best bits. That's also part of my problem over at Etsy - I just don't know what photos to list!

Fact 3 - I'm a dabbler - six months into a new hobby I just sort of stop doing it and never go back. I've done cross stitch, knitting and ceramics - bought the equipment and still have loads of bits sitting in boxes in the attic. Photography has been the exception - 5 years down the line and I'm still as hooked as ever.

Fact 4 - I'd love to be more adventurous but as I get older, I'm getting way too sensible. I have parascended off a mountain top and I've abseiled down a 7 storey building (for charity) and I love scuba diving but I never made a parachute jump. Unfortunately, I don't think my back would let me now. I fell down stairs 10 years ago and still occasionally suffer with whiplash type pains and sciatica.

Fact 5 - My best selling photos on stock are mushrooms! Yep, a punnet of lowly button mushrooms in various setups are my biggest moneyspinners. They probably cost me 70p ($1.40) and so far they've earned me in excess of £50 ($100) albeit across 6 stock sites. Wish I could luck out like that a bit more often eh?

Fact 6 - I don't watch movies very often and I hate watching a movie more than once or twice. It's the same with books - I just remember the story too well and can't let myself just enjoy it :(
Fact 7 - This has taken me nearly one and a half hours to write 'cos I'm struggling! :) (yes, and #7 is a bit of a cheat but I'm hungry!!)
Now I know I'm supposed to tag 7 more peeps but I'm pretty new at this blogging lark and I don't really know many peeps yet except the Uk Etsy gals and they've all been tagged so if you read this and fancy doing 7 facts about yourself - go ahead and consider yourself tagged! :) Drop me a comment here and I'll come read your facts, I promise.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Tulip Mania

I've been tagged but as I was tagged a little while ago - I'm taking some time to think about 7 different random facts that may be interesting as opposed to just facts - if you see what I mean! So, what's that got to do with Tulips - well nothing really except both have come from comments on my blog - Yeeee Haaa (insert little happy dance icon here!) I got comments :)

Tulips - Mrs Kwitty left a comment so I wandered over to her blog to have a nosey about and she's blogged about the Cottage Style Street Teams' Tulip challenge. Now I'm not a member of the Cottage Style team but I do have some tulips so I thought I'd share some with you too.

This pink and cream one is a weed - in that it sprouted in a large pot of bright yellow tulips - obviously a wayward bulb from another bag got in there somehow. I was so pleased with this one, I entered it to a national competition. Didn't get anywhere but it was worth a try.

The deep purple/pink one came from a cheap bunch from the garage (gas station to my US friends). I needed something to shoot for a friends birthday card and she loves purple. It's heavily cropped because it had opened fully and was on the verge of dropping petals so there are gaps between the petals at the edges of the photo which I found distracting. The end result is one of my only square photos - I just don't seem to be able to 'do' square formats. I'm working on some panoramics at the moment and having trouble with them too - I'm obviously a rectangular sort of person :)

Monday, 17 March 2008

Hotbed of Talent

Where is this hotbed, I hear you ask - well Etsy Photographers of course! I started putting together a list for a treasury but I never seem to be around at the right time so I thought I'd pop a few here for your delectation and delight :) Today we have just a few gorgeous Monochrome Landscapes - I'd love all of these on my walls but hubby objects when there are more photos than wallspace!

I've also had a play with widening my blog writing space - I just feel that with a photo left or right aligned, it can be difficult to read down the side and it messes with my head so I hope you find this easier on your eyes. Bit of a late night post and dash, I'm afraid but I'm finding there aren't enough hours in the day for everything I have to do, let alone everything I want to do. Ho hum :)

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Camera Club

This week was our last competition of the year so I wanted to make sure I had 2 mono prints and 2 colour prints. Unfortunately after the woozy winter I've had, I'm reduced to hunting through my back catalogue so at 6.30pm on Friday, I was still printing and mounting them when my printer decided to quit half way through the second colour print :(
I was pleased with the 2 mono prints - I went for a scenic silhouette of London and a funny one of my niece. Got a second and a third place so that was OK - I may have won the trophy for mono this year - I think I was 2 points ahead of Tom at the last competition and he only beat me by half a point this time :)
I didn't do so well with my colour print this week. I know it probably sounds big headed and maybe I shouldn't even say it but I usually get at least one place in both sections. This week there were some cracking shots and mine just didn't have the 'Oomph' that they did. I still like it and it looks lovely as a notecard but obviously not a good choice for competition!
Oh well, I'll learn to keep my types of photography seperate one day. This is partly my problem with my attempts to sell prints - I know what sells as stock and I've been OK with competition stuff but what makes good stock/competition doesn't necessarily mean good for someone's living room wall.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Photographing the Night Sky

Last Friday evening we had a chap called Nik Szymanek come to our camera club to talk to us about photographing the night sky and I have to say it was absolutely enthralling. The images that Nik captures are so far beyond anything I would have imagined possible with some fairly basic equipment - although I have to say, I don't think his version of basic and mine are anywhere near each other! Have a look at some of his gallery images on his website at I don't have permission to show them here but I'm sure he won't mind a link :)

I've only ever tried photographing the moon once or twice before. Like many newbie 'togs, I assumed long exposure was necessary because of the darkness - WRONG! The moon is actually quite bright so a shutter speed of say 1/125th or 1/250 at f8 is perfectly adequate as long as you spot meter from it.
The other thing that people forget is just how fast the moon is actually moving - if you use a long exposure, not only is it likely to be a burned out blob in the middle of your picture, it will also be out of focus 'cos the moon and earth are moving. This was one of 3 shots I took just after reading a thread somewhere about it!
Once the nights warm up a bit (quite a bit actually) I'm going to have another go with some of the things that Nik mentioned. One possibility is a star trails image where you have the long exposure but because the stars are moving and your tripod is fixed, you get small streaks of light. I need to try and find somewhere fairly local but with as little light pollution as possible. Or I suppose I could try it when I'm on holiday in the middle of nowhere!

Friday, 7 March 2008

Just a Quickie - part 2!

Following on from my post a few days ago regarding Dianes' watercolours - I've finally found some time to process a few. Here's a couple to give you a taster of what's likely to be coming to my Etsy shop soon.

Over on the right there is a link to some of my stock portfolios - if you can't see something in my shop you fancy - have a look in my stock and let me know - I can always list something for you. I find it very difficult to choose what to list because everybody has different tastes. My stock is a much wider selection - safari animals, flowers and some landscapes as well as portraits, white background objects and other miscellaneous captures although I'm still trying to work out what sells over there as well! LOL

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Wednesday - Downhill to the weekend now!

Well it's been an interesting week at work so far. The guy I've been covering for since September came back to work in February but it was easy to see his heart wasn't in it anymore so they've come to an amicable agreement and let him retire early. This means my temp contract just got extended (probaly another 2 months) while they find a replacement and get them trained up.

It's a nice office - great people and fairly easy going but instead of the 10-20 miles a week I'm used to, I'm now doing 200+ and I've come to the conclusion that it's the driving that has probably contributed to my winter blues/tiredness/general malaise. So I've OK'd it with the boss and I'm taking an extra day for the weekend and having a moochy day on Friday :)

I have some ideas for a completely new product line for my shop over on Etsy - still photography related but it's in development at the moment - having some production problems as I've had to learn a whole new skill. Sounds mysterious doesn't it? Good - come back soon and I'll post it here as I launch :)

I also keep meaning to get some stuff listed on Pinkdoodle and maybe try Dawanda too but I think I may wait a while and concentrate on Etsy. I've not been very good at or consistent with promoting/marketing Arty Allsorts so blogging regularly and exploring the possibilities of the blogosphere is my current task.

No really appropriate photos for todays' topic so just added some pretties for colour :)

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Look what I bought for my Mum :)

I love dichroic glass and when I showed some from Etsy to my Mum, she quite liked it too. So when Mothers' Day rolled around this year, I headed straight to the Etsy search and looked for a UK Dichroic Glass pendant and this is what I found - Gisellery based in Devon.

Is this the most beautiful piece of dichroic glass - maybe not but my Mum certainly thought so :) She's been wearing it since breakfast this morning and even went to change her top so it would 'go' better!
I know she gets fed up with me talking about Etsy all the time. I haven't quite managed to get her internet savvy enough yet to search for herself but when she sees some of the other pendants in Giselle's shop, I'm sure she will will grab her credit card and ask me to talk her through it!
I've put a few on my favourites list too and showed hubby every piece and ooh'd and aah'd so much, he actually asked me if he should leave the room! LOL

Here's a couple more that I really like and almost chose for Mum but didn't in the end. Go have a look for yourself - such a selection of colours, I'm sure there's something for everyone.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

ACEO's - I'm going to try again :)

Some days I have so many ideas in my head, it's ready to explode but I have great dificulty actually starting/doing any of them because I just can't decide which ones to progress with! The other problem I have is hubby - I love him to bits but after 20 years of my 'bright' ideas and whimsies, he has a kinda 'oh oh, here's comes another fad' sort of look.

When I first joined Etsy, I came across ACEO's so I tried some in my shop but not much happened. I think it's because they were photographic rather than 'real' art but now I'm wondering! There's a huge thread running in the Etsy forum at the moment and from some of the input from collectors, they're not so much against photos but as collectors, they are looking for originals or limited editions and most photographic ACEO's don't really fit that condition.

So I've had my thinking cap on for a couple of days now and came up with another 'bright' idea. If I play with one of my photos in photoshop until I'm happy, then print it and don't save it - it will be unique :-)
Bit like this one - I've somehow managed to delete the 'worked' file on my hard drive so all I have is one sheet of ACEO sized prints already printed and no files to reprint from - accidentally limited but hey, it's a start!