Tuesday, 24 March 2009

New Products, Treasuries, Sales

Things have livened up here a bit with sales of some cards, a print and queries about big prints which is all splendid!

I've also been working on some new products, first I decided to make some digital collage sheets from my own photographs. I already have some in Inter Alia from scanned papers etc but I thought that there might be interest in having some squares and ACEO sized pieces of Eyeshoot for use in collage, scrapbooking, jewellery etc. So I've done two sheets of squares so far which have had a few looks so far but no sales:

Numbers and Letters $3.50

Then I decided to carry on with the print your own idea and decided to offer print your own stationery sets which would arrive by PDF to your inbox which of course would get rid of those irritating postal costs and transatlantic waiting times. Hurrah for instant gratification! My first one is with the ever popular Ministry of Silly Walks graffiti image and it's taken me more than a whole morning to design, there was masses to do considering that I already had a perfect card template already. I had to add crop marks and instructions, consider the fact that not everyone's printer can print full bleed then I remembered that all my lovely American customers don't use A4 paper which is the standard here, so I had to remake the lot to fit on US Letter paper. Then make PDFs of them all, then photograph, make up samples, list them etc.....Now I have this set as a base, I can make different flavoured sets much quicker and the beauty of emailed products is that once an order comes through, the work's already been done and I can send the files off via email instantly. Happy bank account and happy customer. I think I'll also offer sets of cards too, the same as the ones I make and post. I have all the artwork for those already, so it shouldn't take too long to tweak and just add some instructions.

As well as all this, there are a couple of Treasury appearances too.

More and More
by Chicalessia

It's a beautiful collection of items with my Essaouira Fishing Boats being the only photograph which is unusual as there always seems to be plenty of photos in the Treasuries which choose me. I adore this fabulous handbag from Mixko who has a shop brim full of goodies

And this lovely calm green one

Relax.... Breathe....Take a Cyber Stroll
by Skoshisbits

Which as a contrast is all photography!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Two Great British Treasuries!

It's been a bit quiet on the Treasury front lately, but we seem to be back on track again today - which is nice! I've had a bit more activity on the sales too which is fantastic. A print, my first ever print sale from iCraft.ca which is about time since I've been there for a whole year enjoying their generous free membership option. I had a load of stuff in the shop there, but soon got bored of it and just forgot about it until I had a transaction email from PayPal on Sunday which was a very pleasant surprise. I could tell it wasn't an Etsy invoice immediately but it didn't say anywhere on it where the sale was from which was a bit odd, so I checked my various online retail outlets and found it was from the now very nice looking iCraft.ca. As my free year has expired, my shop's looking a little sad with just five items which is what you get for nothing. I don't think I'll sign up for another year based on the action or lack of so far. I did a little research around the other photography shops there, and the sales are non existent and most of the shops seem to have reverted to the free five item option. Shame really. Anyway, the print is on it's way to Germany to a (hopefully) happy customer. I've also sold a batch of Soviet posters to Australia and I'm waiting for an eCheque to clear - I must buy a few postage tubes for these posters as they sell fairly well and it's a real to make big flat rigid envelopes and I'm sure that they actually weigh more than a real tube. The cheque won't clear until next week anyway, so I've a little time. Then there was an enquiry about a 'big' print from Eyeshoot, so I'll need to find out what my prospective customer wants and get cracking on that too. I really hope this is new phase.....

Anyway, back to the Treasuries. First a lovely autumny greeny outdoorsy one:

A Walk in the Woods!

Paisly's from the UK and it's always nice to be featured by a fellow Brit, I should have guessed really with the collection of mossy greens she's picked! One of my oldest and best friends lived in Boston in Lincs and I'm sorry to say that I never got around to visiting her as it's just soooo far away from Manchester!

Here's one of her fun pieces of jewellery - this is such a great idea, who want to risk loosing their sandwich and it won't go crispy around the edges in this great container!

And a great black and red collection with a fun name:

A Sunburnt Penguin

Ffflower's shop is great fun, it's full of fabulous fabric flowers (which I guess is where the name came from!), she's also from the Wirral which is just up the road from me and I'm going to be there tomorrow in Liverpool to photograph a friend in rehearsal for his one man play with songs about Paul Robeson. No doubt we'll go to the and my own favourite for taking photos, New Brighton, a nicely seedy seaside resort once famously photographed my Martin Parr. Small world really. Here's an example of her flowers:

Off to see Persepolis tonight at the the local film club run by friends with a little help from us. Looking forward very much.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Old Stuff!

I've had a bag of fantastic old advertising labels knocking around for a while tempting me. I finally decided to list them in my rather abandoned shop Inter Alia as respite from the hundreds of wedding pictures which I'm dutifully ploughing through. It is possible to do too much of one thing however necessary!

The labels were given to Peter by a friend of his who is a great collector and has shelves and shelves of neatly boxes ephemera which I find endlessly fascinating. These ones came from various empty warehouses Manchester in the rag-trade area in the 80's just when the buildings were starting to be emptied and cleaned out to be turned in to flats, shops etc....

The labels are most interesting and feature some pretty exotic scenes many with the logo of the Spruce Company, I've no idea what this company did, the images don't really give any clues, but some do refer to fabric and many have arabic writing and exotic looking characters! I reckon they date from the '30s to the '50s.

I'm hoping to sell the originals and will also make digital sheets of them all as I think that they'll be great in scrapbooking projects and made into magnets, book covers etc too.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Counting down to the wedding.....

...but to take my mind off of it for a while, here's a pretty Treasury with some great items.

I Dreamed I Crossed a Bridge
by Grace Art and Antiques

Kim's got some great finds in her shop ranging from pretty crochet to galvanized buckets - it's well worth a browse!

I was successful in my purchasing of a new head for my tripod, more expensive than I'd wanted, but it should give me years of long exposures! I'm all ready for the shoot at the church before and after and the hotel, it's not raining or particularly dull yet, so we might just be lucky.

Friday, 13 March 2009


No, not mine.

I'm shooting a wedding this weekend. Someone in my Monday yoga class passed my details on to friends who were looking for a photographer for a low key do. I said yes, way back in September and have been quietly panicking about it ever since! The big day's tomorrow and the rehearsal at the church was this evening. The rehearsal went well for me (for the happy couple and family as well), it's quite a dark church, but as I was there tonight between 5.30 and 6.30 and tomorrow it will be two hours earlier, it certainly shouldn't be any darker than it was today unless the weather is particularly foul. Which I seriously hope it won't be. I'm not allowed down the aisle at all, but can lurk at the back and shoot as much as I like, my long lens is perfect and the wide is great too. So that's all good and the shots tonight were much brighter than I was expecting with them all shot at 200 iso, so I have relaxed a bit. I'll be getting there at 3.00 to shoot the church looking lovely and empty, then there's the choir. Most of the guests are arriving by coach which could make for some good shots but there's only about 40 in total. After the church they're off to a smart hotel where I'll shoot a bit including a fake cake cutting and some groups - I was hoping to use the lovely garden, but it will be getting late, but you never know, there's might be some good lighting outside. There's a nice stair feature I was hoping to use for the group.....we'll have to wait and see. I'll shoot the dining room, some champagne drinking and when they sit down to eat, I'll be off.

On Sunday there's an afternoon cocktail party in the garden and they want me to do low key, non posed hand held stuff. So that's nice and straightforward, I'll enjoy that bit!

I'm going to check out some new tripod heads at Calumet tomorrow morning as my old Manfrotto one is really cumbersome and slow to use. I deserve to have a nice easy tripod head and they don't seem too expensive.

I can relax about it now and enjoy my evening!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


It looks like I'm the first person to find my way to this fab Treasury. I've always had a soft spot for the seaside and beaches and try to get to them as often as possible. Our nearest bits of seaside are gloriously tacky seaside resorts which suit my photography style perfectly! My print featured here is more whimsical than my usual style, but the paw-prints were so perfect in the wet sand on a cold Anglesey autumn day that there's no way I could resist!

by Luna Love

Do have a look at the curator's shop, she's got some great beaded jewellery there. I especially like this piece as I've always had a very soft spot for turquoise which hasn't been messed around with too much!

From the Treasury I really love this ring by Higher Chakra Creation , it's a beautiful bit of beach combing combined with jewellery making skill!

Monday, 9 March 2009

New Paper, New Print

I've been trying out a sample pack of paper which I bought a while ago and have been ignoring up until today. It's made by Calumet and it's their Brilliant Museum range which was recommended to my by a 'real' photographer friend who uses it for his gallery shows and rates it very highly. There are four types, two gloss and two matte. The gloss ones are very un-shiny like most smooth gloss papers, both finishes have a very subtle texture which I rather like. I've used up my two sheets of the White Satin Matte and for the second one got the right effect. I had to install the custom profiles and print my usual PDFs exported out of Lightroom rather than from InDesigh as I usually do. It worked a treat and the detail was all there just as I wanted. It was a very interesting experiment. I find the calibration and ICC profile side of this business very confusing so was pleased that I managed to get what I want. The paper is 100% cotton rag of the highest quality and prints made on it in combination with my Vivera Inks, really should last forever. If I get any bites for my first print which is the poppy one below I may invest in a box....

Two Treasuries

Two lovely Treasuries today which is always a good thing on a Monday morning!
Here are a couple of Treasuries found using Craftopolis' Treasure Hunt tool.

Enchanting Finesse from POE
by Tredlight Photographs

The POE Treasuries are always lovely and this is a great collection looking forward to summer! This one is featuring POE members with ten sales or less, which is a very nice gesture! It's nice to see one of my Eyeshoot Squared pictures having an outing, I've been rather neglecting that shop and am now considering absorbing them back into Eyeshoot as the experiment certainly hasn't been a success......

by Juliaa

This is a gorgeous selection of items, I love the calm peacefulness of it, it's very atmospheric.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Handy Tool.....

I found my way to this Treasury with a new Etsy tool which I saw mentioned in the forums, it's called Craftopolis and does the wonderful job of telling you which Treasuries your work is featured in at any one time, and it even tells you if you're an alternate choice. How handy will that be? It's been made by Studio Marlene, so a big thank you to Marlene (if that's her name! for all the work)

by Helisengezer

Anyway, here's the appropriately named Treasury which Craftopolis led me to on Sunday evening. It's by Helisengezer who makes some really nice quirky bags in a variety of sizes and styles, here's one which I particularly like:

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Spring is in the Air - Promotion in my shop

All A4 prints reduced in price to a splendid $29.99

How can you resist?

Lanterns and Star $29.99

Weekend Treasuries

Lantern Quilt

Honey Tree's a member of the Photographer's of Etsy Team and this glorious collection is full of pictures by our members! If you're a photographer and not a member yet, you should join as it's a lovely group of talented people ane the blogs a great read too.

Chair with Orange is out and about again, still getting lots of view and hearts. Still no sales. I read a very interesting post about how one seller went against the perceived Etsy wisdom and has well over 400 sales now. One of the things which was mentioned was pricing with a .99 as against a round number. She'd been advised not to use the .99 as it was too Ebayish, so duly changed all her prices and sales dropped. She changed back to the .99 and sales picked up again. I'm considering trying this and reducing my prices to $29.99 from the $35 which means I loose £3.50 per print and possibly including the postage for a single print, but I'm not sure about that yet. I don't want to reduce my margin too much, that would rather defeat the point of selling stuff!

Molten Sugar
By ARE Jewellery

This selection is a great contrast to the one above, I do have a soft spot for these soft colour coordinated Treasuries and I love it when one of my items is combined with an eclectic range of other items. I tend to make my Treasuires of pretty much all photography but you certainly get a rich effect from being more inclusive. Perhaps I'll go this way for my next one.....

The Curator is a Jeweller from the Leicestershie, I love finding other UK based shop keepers, there are a few of us out there! Here's one of her pieces which really caught my eye, I like the idea of cuffs.....

Thursday, 5 March 2009


Here's a fabulously multicoloured Treasury - I suppose the name is a bit of a give away.

by Huismus

My print's already got a load of view and three extra hearts so far today which can't be bad. I'm desperate to sell something, I've been wondering why my sales have dropped off totally. I did lower some prices but it's not surprisingly made no difference.....

Anyway, enough of my moaning! There's a really lovely selection of goodies here with a taste of spring to them, I think this little brooch by Fleur Fatale is really sweet

A Touch of Spring Fushia Flower Pin $13

Tuesday, 3 March 2009




I'm still scanning away but am in pain from the significant amount of dust removal I'm having to do due to the filthy state of the inside of the scanner glass.

I think this is the best so far, I'm really surprised how much of a 3D effect has come through.



Scanned Dead Freisas.
Dead Fresias

I was flicking through a magazine recently and saw a feature of the most beautiful images which had been made on a scanner. I stupidly didn't get the photographer's name and I've been Googling like mad today and haven't come up with him/her.

I thought I'd have a go at scanning some 3D stuff but of course it wasn't as simple as I'd expected and I certainly wasn't helped by the fact that the inside of the scanners glass is absolutely filthy so every image was splattered with dots, dashes, splodges and scratches. I'm pretty good at getting rid of superfluous stuff in Lightroom, but there was just so much that I had an experiment in Photoshop and found a fantastic Filter which did just what I wanted (so long as you don't look at the fine detail around some of the edges too closely!) I'm really pleased with the contrast and the quality of the black here. I thought that this technique could lead to a nice new line of prints but I'm rather mean with my more-expensive-than-oil ink so I thought that it might be a good idea to make the background white to eliminate the buckets of black ink that these images with a black background would use but my Photoshop skills just aren't up to the job. I messed around for a while with the Magic Brush Tool and Colour Replacement option but they were all useless and there was no way on earth that I was going to click my away around all this ribbon with a pen tool (not forgetting that I'd actually need to teach myself to use it first!). So I thought I'd try to make a white background at the time of the scan. Didn't work. I made a little structure with tins of tomatoes holding up an A4 light box which I thought had to work. It sort of worked, the background of the scan was certainly pale, but you could see the horizontal banding produced by the light box light (like you get if you photograph the TV screen). I tried to get rid of it in Photoshop, but again, my sad lack of skills let me down and I'm sorry to say that at this point I sulked and gave up.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Waiting for a Bite on the Philosopher's Path

I finally got around to having my Holga film processed - better late than never I suppose.

I shot this lovely picture in Kyoto in Japan on the The Philosopher's Path. The path is about one kilometer long, following a narrow tree lined canal stretching from Ginkakuji (The Silver Pavilion) and ends near Nanzenji Temple. The path gets its name from Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan's most famous philosophers, who was said to practice meditation while walking this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Whole Chicken baked in Aluminium Foil - Murgh Musallam

It's been a bit of a while since a food post what with all those Treauries on Etsy taking up my blogging time!

So here's another slice of my culinary life.

Yesterday we took advantage of the Marks and Spencers food offer whereby for a measly £10 you can have a meal for two. For those of you who don't know about the National Treasure which is M&S they have stupidly expensive food halls in their shops packed full of tempting delights and I very rarely shop there as I find the prices to be a joke compared with my normal food shops. On the rare occasions on which we succumb we spend an unreasonable fortune on their 'real' food as against their ready meals which made them so famous way back in the 80s. So to get a good meal for two for such a low price is not to be missed. From a rather limited selection we chose the Oakham chicken, vegetables to roast (I had them with a foil baked salmon fillet while I was in on my own last night), a bottle of Cotes du Rhone and a lemon tart. Amazing value really.

The chicken was destined to be devoured on Sunday and as we had delicious roast chicken at mum's on Friday night and didn't fancy it again so soon so I turned to my collection of cook books and finally alighted on Madhur Jaffrey. Her recipes always work wonderfully and cooking Indian at home is always a treat as I love the ritual of finding the spices, lining them up, crushing, roasting and pureeing along with the grating or pounding of the inevitable ginger, garlic and chilli. Even better if there's something in the long ingredients list which I don't have in my well stocked larder as it means a trip to Rusholme to one of my favourite Indian food shops to buy whatever ingredient I need along with fragrant bunches of parsley, mint and coriander which will last well into the week wether they're needed for that day's cooking or not. A generous chopping of mint, parsley and coriander never fails to perk up any dish however dull and mundane. And I really resent buying my herbs from the supermarket - it diminishes the pleasure in the chopping when I think how much I've been ripped of for the tiny, mean plastic bags of slightly sad herbs.

Here's the recipe - if the ingredients list looks terrifingly long, it's not really as the two sections do have some repettion and most of these things should be in your larder anyway if you like to dabble in spices.

Whole Chicken baked in Aluminium Foil Murgh Musallam
by Madhur Jaffrey From Illustrated Indian Cookery

For the marinade:
2.5 cm cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
6 Tbs. natural yoghurt
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 and 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
You will also need:
One 1.5 kg chicken
225g onions
4 cloves garlic peeled
4 cm cube fresh ginger,peeled and coarsely chopped.
25g blanched, slivered almonds (I didn't use these as I just don't like cooking with almonds)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbs paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbs vegetable oil (I used a fraction of this amount, probably less than half)
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garam masala (I used a whole spice mix which I whizz up in our coffee grinder, it tastes much better than the dust you buy in packets)

Make the marinade:
Put the ginger, garlic and 3 tbs of yoghurt into the container of a food processor or blender. Blend, pushing down at the edges until you have a paste.
Add the turmeric, salt, cayenne and black pepper. Blend for a second to mix. Empty into a bowl. (Do not wash out the food processor or blender yet) Add the remaining 3 tbs. of the yoghurt to the marinade and beat in with a fork.
Skin the entire chicken with the exception of the wing tips. Skin the neck.
Put the chicken breast up, in a large bowl or on a platter and put the giblets and neck near it. Rub the chicken, inside and out with the marinade. Set aside unrefrigerated for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, put the onions, garlic, ginger and almonds in the blender or processor. Blend, pushing down with a spatula occasionally until you have a paste. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, cayenne and salt. Blend again to mix.
Put the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the paste. Fry stirring for 8 - 9 minutes. Add the lemon juice, black pepper and garam masala. mix. Turn off the heat and let this cool.
Pre heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
When the chicken has marinate for 2 hours, spread out a large sheet of aluminium foil, large enough to enclose the chicken. Put the chicken, breast up, in the centre of the foil and put the giblets near it. Rub the chicken inside and out with the fried spice mix. Bring the ends of the foil towards the centre to form a tight packet. All the 'seams' should be 5 cm (2 inches) above the floor of the packet.
Put the wrapped chicken on a baking tray and bake for one and a half hours or until chicken is tender.
It's a nice easy recipe with no tricky bits, but you need to get your hands dirty and if you're squeamish about chicken skin you probably won't be too happy as you do need to get down and dirty with your bird to get all the skin off. A mini chopper is fine for the quantities for both chopping operations and it's nice not to have to clean it out halfway through the recipe. The smell as the paste is frying (in the significantly reduced quantity of oil) is divine and it smells good enough to eat by the spoonful once it's cooled down. My willing helper and partner in eating kindly offered to do the second rub, so I managed a photo of this. I had intended to photograph the whole process, but as usual forgot the first bit and then it all proved a bit too messy to have my camera involved, so the pictures here are a bit random really. Perhaps next time I'll be a bit more organized!
I served the chicken with brown basmati rice which I cooked with a big onion and a good quantity of garlic in chicken stock and some steamed greens.
That was seriously yummy - soft, tender and fragrant. The meat just fell from the bones once the steaming silver package had been carefully opened. It wasn't the best quality chicken in the world, but it was delicious. Where you had a forkfull of the spice paste it was a beautiful mouthful of spicy sweetness. I've never cooked a whole bird in a tin foil package before as I've always been worried about it being a bit limp and sad, but coated in this quantity of flavour, you really can't go wrong. I'll definitely make this dish again.
I didn't say that it was the prettiest dish in the world as these photos prove!
The blended marinade and my cup of tea
The chicken after two hours marinading.
All wrapped up and ready to cook.
Out of the oven and well worth the wait!