Thursday, November 29, 2012

Touches of Christmas

Since we're traveling to my home state of New Mexico for the holiday season, I'm adding only a few small Christmas touches to the house.  The big one being the boxwood wreath in our window.

That huge overstuffed chair on the left has been sitting in a neglected corner of the living room until I could get rid of it -- which I had been putting off.  But I had to do some rearranging to do a photoshoot of some recent stuff for our business.  (Photos coming soon.)  I think it will stay there for awhile.   We're in the market for a new sofa and I think we're going to bite the bullet and get a sectional.  In which case, both pieces of upholstery will go. 

So my bamboo chairs, which were sitting where the overstuffed chair is now got moved for this spare scene.
Sort of an ode to New Mexico.  Remember those tumbleweed looking pillows from Ikea years ago?  I still love them, but neglected to notice that the one on the right was turned sideways when I took the photo. :)  

My mom gave me these pretty yellow beeswax candles a few years ago for my vintage brass candle collection.   They're almost too pretty to burn!

And to my Nambe bowl, I added a few simple pine cones and a brass ornament that never got packed away last year.

Nope, still haven't painted the brick on the fireplace like I've been talking about doing for ages, but I did take down my fall mantel display. 

And I now have a few empty vessels which will soon be filled with greenery and maybe some berries.

That's going to do it for Christmas decorating this year.  I want to keep it simple and natural.  My goal is to keep the boxes of decorations and ornaments packed away since we only have a few short weeks to enjoy these decorations before we leave. 

And actually, before our plans changed and we decided to go home, I was going to do a simple Christmas anyway.  My aunt and uncle always do a beautiful natural tree strung only with tons of small, white Christmas lights.  They add no other decoration, and it is stunning.  My plan was to copy that idea this year, but it will have to wait for next! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Studio Sale

Claremont Finders Keepers (my business) is holding a studio sale this Saturday together with Lane from Urban Orchard Interiors.  We'll be showcasing our latest vintage, antique, refurbished, and upcycled items for the home.

Where:  2648 Stuart Street, Berkeley (SW corner of Stuart and College).  Look for the signs!

When:  Saturday, December 1st from 10am to 3pm.  

In the event of rain, the studio sale will be cancelled.  Fingers crossed it won't rain


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Photographing Rooms: The Thanksgiving Table

First, I want to thank you all for your words of support about the two recent cancer diagnoses in my family.  So many people left nice comments and I got a lot of private emails too.  Your kindness is so appreciated!

So, I've been collecting photos of pretty table settings on my Pinterest board 'Table Top'.  I like to save  pretty ideas about how to set a table.  But I was also saving them for this post which has been brewing in my mind for several months.  I wanted to time it for Thanksgiving since so many people put a lot of effort into their "tablescapes" and because the table is so highly photographed.

Although a lot of these photos are not Thanksiving themed, we can still learn a lot from them about how to take a photo of a pretty table.

Let's start with the long shot:

This shot works for a rectangular table.

The camera angle is at 90 degrees to the table top and is taken from slightly above the table.

Notice too that the centerpieces or decorative items are staggered down the middle so that they don't make a straight line.  This helps to keep the eye moving from side to side.

 This shot includes a picture of the food and is taken from a slightly higher angle, but notice how the entire table top fills the photo.  There is also very little negative space, and by that I mean very little of the actual table showing. 

Another way to get a photo of a table is the side shot.

The side shot is taken from near the corner of the table.  (Notice staggered, multiple centerpieces here too.)  This one takes in the entire table, including the chairs. 

Whereas this one focuses mostly on the table top.  Very little negative space (white tablecloth) shows.   The flowers in the foreground are where the photographer has focused the camera.

Same with this photo.  Very little negative space and the flowers are in focus.

Notice how close the photographer is to the table in this photo.  And how low the camera is too.

Another way to take a photo of a table top is to shoot a single place setting.

For this shot, I would actually sit down in the chair and take the photo from there.  Notice that the place setting fills the entire shot from left to right.

Same is true here, though the photographer holds the camera even lower and closer to the plate.

Or you can get a shot of the place setting by standing directly above it and looking down onto it.

Again, there is very little negative space, and certain elements are left partially out of the photo so that we only get a glimpse of them.

You can even leave a portion of the plate out of the photo. 

If you haven't been reading my series about photographing interiors, I should also mention that every one of these photos is taken with the lights and flash turned off.  But notice that in some photos, candles are lit.

Above is a point-and-shoot photo I took of my Thanksgiving table last year.  I hadn't yet studied how to photograph tables, but I remember that when I looked into the view finder, there was too much negative space -- the table looked empty in the photo, though it didn't in person.  So I basically styled the shot by adding the candy dish, bowl, pitcher, and decanter to fill up the photo.   I do wish I had held the camera vertically instead of horizontally to crop out all of the negative space to the left and right of the plate.  (And I wish I had ironed everything, but no one's perfect!)

If you want to take good photos of your Thanksgiving table (or any special occasion table setting) remember these tips:

  • Experiment with different angles:  Straight-on, from the corner, directly above
  • Get close to your shot -- it's ok to leave some of the elements partially out of the photo
  • If you find that a lot of your tablecloth or tabletop shows, don't be afraid to add or move things around to reduce negative space.  What looks good in a photo doesn't always translate to what looks great in person.   
  • Hold your camera both horizontally and vertically to take your photos.
  • Be sure to include some kind of natural element for texture and color.  It doesn't always have to be flowers.  Use a clipping from your fern, an apple or tangerine from the fruit bowl, a leaf or some twigs brought in outside, etc.  Scroll back up to see examples of natural elements used on the table.  It adds that special, perfect touch.

Hope those of you in the U.S. have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  And for the rest of the world, I hope you've gained a few extra tips for photographing your table. 

*All sources for these photos can be found on here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012



Hi All.  Just wanted to say hello and post this pretty picture.  Wouldn't you love to have a room like this dedicated solely to the art of arranging flowers and plant care?

I also want to explain why I haven't been around much.   Within the last two weeks, two members of my extended family have been diagnosed with very serious forms of cancer.  I haven't felt much like blogging.

What I have been up for is some mindless pinning.  Not sure when the mood will strike again to post, but until then, see you on Pinterest?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Antiques Faire Recap

We are back from a fantastic Alameda Point Antiques Faire this weekend, where we did twice as much business and even got a few custom orders!  Wendy and I shared a booth with Lane from Urban Orchard Interiors, and she had some gorgeous pieces to sell. 

 These vintage gold velvet slipper chairs were one of the first big sales of the day.  The fabric is original and the chairs were in very good condition for their age.  They're going into a men's clothing store which will open soon in San Francisco. 

We also sold another gold pair of chairs -- these tufted barrel backed chairs which both swivel and rock.  The folks who bought both sets of chairs really wanted them to have their original upholstery.  That was a surprise to us, even though the fabric in both cases was in good condition. 

Another early sale was this table inspired by bowling pins.  The top was refinished and the legs were painted, numbered, and distressed.  We had a ton of interest in the table, even after it sold.

Also sold was this recently transformed sweet secretary with grey paint on the exterior and and nice surprise of coral on the pull-out desk section. 

The ticking stripe whale pillows were very popular and sold quickly.  We're going to make a ton more of these and open them up as custom orders on Etsy.  Lane's navy and our citrine chevron pillows also sold, but we have a few of the coral pillows left.

Our big mirror also sold, along with Lane's beautiful black buffet and French grain sack pillows. 

And a few more photos of some of our smaller items. 

It was a fun day, and even though it is totally exhausting to get up at 3:30 am for the 4 am set-up and finish the day at 7:30 pm, we were saved by extra hour of sleep from the end of daylight savings.  And even though we unloaded and loaded a full sized Uhaul four times in one weekend, I'm not even sore!

Our little Claremont Finders Keepers Etsy store is pretty depleted after we had to take down listings of items that sold at the flea market.  So once again, we'll be working to build up our inventory.

 Thanks to everyone who came to visit and hope you all have had good Monday!