December 10, 2013

What Takes Too Much Time

Here's the continuation post for my Dear Lizzy Tags Mini-Album (with so many pictures to share I don't want to cram them all into one post for fear of photo overload). I design these tags to work on two levels : individually as either a photo tag or a caption tag, and in pairs like mini double-page layouts. Making this mini-album brings a better understanding of the challenges faced by designers of two-page spreads and deepens my admiration for what they do. That vertical dividing line is such an interesting design element, being both a point of separation and also a point of focus that I might explore it further by creating some more tags after I come back from Bali.

With time on my hands I've been thinking a bit about why I scrapbook and why I blog about my projects. Since the memory keeping and story telling aspects are not important to me, I'm really pursuing this hobby as a creative outlet. Experimenting with design ideas and working out solutions to design challenges fuel my drive to scrap. The creative journey, where I seek the answers to questions of what works, why it works and how it can work better, excites me.


So I take my time exploring the inspiration for projects. An hour in a museum in front of Rothko's large canvases and I am hypnotised by the enigmatic power and emotional energy emanating from his colour blocks. Years later I recover contact with this experience through the creation of Zouk Out, subconsciously trying to capture that calibrated, and yet abstract, beauty with a colour blocked layout. It is at once exhilarating and humbling to attempt to understand how Rothko uses colour to channel emotional attachment.   


I also enjoy taking time with the projects themselves. Since scrapping a layout is akin to a voyage of discovery for me, it would be self defeating to want to rush through the task. The real issue is not whether I'm being innovative (conventional wisdom states that nothing is new, that everything has been done before, so it's probably been done, and done better by someone before me) but rather if it's a new experience for me. Fifteen minutes fiddling with the amount of separation the key elements on these tag require from the center divide seem entirely well invested to me.

So it's not the time spent thinking about what to scrap and not the time spent scrapping that bothers me. What bugs me is the effort it takes to photograph my projects and to get them into a presentable state for my blog. Having a DSLR is no guarantee of capturing a good visual record of my creations, not if I'm not maximising it's capabilities and certainly much more time consuming if, in my ignorance, I'm making mistakes as I shoot which require post-editing corrections.

An example is white backgrounds which prove problematic for me. The camera's metering system consistently underexpose my shots. Even with exposure compensation I can't seem to achieve a clean white backdrop, so short of blowing out the highlights in post-editing, I make do with a slight grey tinge in the background. Switching to a darker wood grain in the background  has eliminated the problem for now but I am still keen to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

I shoot outdoors in natural light, typically on an overcast day when the light is flat and diffused. From a comfort point of view it means I'm not out under a hot tropical sun. From a photographic perspective I don't have to deal with shadows being cast by dimensional embellishments. What I do have to contend with however is that all my photos have a blue cast to them due to the overwhelming presence of skylight. I've been fixing this colour cast problem in post editing, tweaking the colour temperature adjustment and colour levels. But what I really need to do is to get the colour more 'right' at the capture stage.

All this has convinced me that now, four months after getting my DSLR, it's time to take the plunge and arrange for some private photography lessons. It'll likely cost as much as my camera but to streamline my workflow and get the most out of my equipment it's really time to bring in some professional help. Wish me luck in finding the right instructor.

Supplies : Dear Lizzy Polka Dot Party (Fantastic Favor, Warm Welcome,  Luminous Lights, Savvy Skirt, Dimensional Accents, Large Tags, Die -Cut Shapes), Dear Lizzy 5th & Frolic (Simplicity Circle, 6x6 Paper Pad), Dear Lizzy Lucky Charm (This & That, Flags & Label Sticker, Charm Bits),  Amy Tangerine Yes Please (Share, Cardstock Shapes), Amy Tangerine Ready Set Go 6x6 Paper Pad,  Studio Calico (Sundrifter Die-Cuts, Atlantic Vellum Die-Cuts, Snippets Punctuation Wood Veneer), Pebbles (Lakeside Bouquet, Seen & Noted Journalling Card Pad), Crate Paper The Pier Slide Frames, Pink Paislee Hey Kid Red Rover, Alison Kreft Recorded Right Now, Heidi Swapp Mixed Company Ephemera,  Basic Grey Carte Postale Capture Snippets, Teresa Collins Welcome Home Die Cut, Maya Road Transparent Ledger & Ticket, Wycinanka Film Strip Chipboard,  baker's twine, cardstock 


Lizzy Hill said...

Gorgeous mini page tags....really enjoyed reading WHY you scrap & what frustrates you.....have you tried shooting indoors? I know that also can be problematic.....personally, your photos always looks so crisp & clear I can't see a problem...but YOU know they could be better, I guess! And go you, taking time to get the perfect placement of images...unlike me who slaps them down then goes 'ooops, that doesn't look so good - aaah well, what can I slap over the top now??'!!!!!!!!!!! LOL:):):)

Ros Crawford said...

Beautiful tags!! I love the uniqueness of these and you photos

Miriam Prantner said...

Really enjoying seeing this album and hearing more about your creative process/philosophy. I do love that while you scrap to preserve memories, it is really true art for you as well - working out design.