I am happy to say that the new patterns are up on the site and completely ‘completed.’ While they were finished yesterday, I wound up spending some more time re-taking photos and working on fine tuning things of that nature. While everything looked pretty good yesterday morning, I knew that I could do better on the presentation photos and we had a beautifully bright day so the lighting was optimal for re-shooting the pictures. To me it wasn’t much of a decision.
Many times when I show what I am up to here on the blog, I take the pictures while it is still dark or near darkness. While they are for the most part acceptable to get my point across, using the artificial light we have in the kitchen tends to give a yellowish cast to everything. I am able to correct most of this with Photoshop, but for the final pictures I still rather prefer natural light, as the colors look truer and less washed out.
I do have an Ott Light True Color light, which helps quite a bit, but it can be a bit harsh depending on what I am shooting. We also have built a nice light box which works quite well for smaller things like Keith’s pens and ornaments. It gives a controlled environment and allows for consistency in the photographs.
I have used all these options with a great deal of success. But depending on what I want to photograph, I need to decide the best way to go about taking the picture. The new camera that I have is quite a bit better in taking quality pictures in not so optimal settings I am finding. My biggest issue there is re-learning how to set things for the situation at hand, and I am still becoming comfortable with that. It is getting better though, and overall I am pleased with the overall improvements of the camera over my previous model.
So yesterday I spent most of the day working on the pictures and getting things ready to upload to the site. Keith is the self-appointed “site-master” (thank goodness!) as he has far more technical knowledge than I do and his organization skills far exceed mine. His favorite word is ‘consistency’ and he continually strives to have everything on the site consistent. While I am no slouch in that department, I approach the site stuff much as I would an old fashioned game of horse shoes – close is good enough for me. It isn’t that I don’t want it to be right, but there are so many things on my plate at a given moment, I have to weigh what requires the most attention and tend to that first. But that is when I most appreciate having a good partner. He enjoys fine tuning the website and I believe that a great deal of the success we have had with it is attributed to his hard work. He turns my ‘close enoughs’ into ‘dead ringers ’ and makes it better all around.
Having someone around with such a high standard of things also helps to raise my own standard. It is very difficult (for me it is, anyway) to not give a full and 100% effort when the person next to you obviously is. Between the two of us, we have this positive domino effect of raising the bar for each other continually. There is a good, healthy competition between us that drives each of us to push just a little bit harder. In this case, everybody wins because not only is our own personal level of work raised a bit, but it offers better products, services and presentation for our customers in the process. It is very good for our company and our overall attitude.
While I was doing my thing, Keith was in the process of re-naming and replacing many of the older pictures on the site. I started the site over ten years ago, and I must admit that I had little knowledge of what I was doing. I knew nothing then about files sizes and all the internal factors that made a website run efficiently and work properly. Some of my pictures that I had there were huge files. Others were close to thumb nails. Some products had several versions of them uploaded to the server, leaving many excess ‘dead’ files to clutter things up. Behind the scenes, it was quite a mess.
Keith noticed this and began cleaning house on the back of the site. He found that in order to get a good Google ranking, certain things behind the scenes are considered, such as file names, keywords and types of files that are on your site. Even having things like the word “approximately” too many times (as in when giving measurements of a product) could skew your rating one way or another. Things like this never crossed my mind. So Keith has dedicated himself to going through all the product folders and sorting and resizing and renaming all the files which is a monumental task. He works on it a couple of hours a day between his normal work and while you may not see it on the front of the site, it certainly helps with the organization behind the scenes. We believe it has helped with our ratings too, as we have been edging up on Google and other search engines. Again, it is time well spent.
So with that all said, we have reached another plateau. I am ready to gear up to begin drawing again and move on to the next project. I have many directions that I wish to go in, and that alone seems to slow me down. After yesterdays’ discussion of time management, I talked with some about the value of creating lists to get organized and accomplished. What I didn’t talk about were situations when the list was long and full and there were many directions in which to head. I find that this sometimes overwhelms me and I wind up accomplishing little or nothing, as I can’t make up my mind as to what to do first.
When this happens, I need to take my own advice and just pick one idea and run with it. It is much like jumping into a swimming pool when you know the water isn’t quite as warm as you would like. By slowly submerging yourself, you tend to only make the torture last longer. By just jumping in all at once, within seconds you are over the anxiety and in a good place and not thinking about it anymore.
So that’s the plan for today. I will pick my subject and begin to draw again. I can’t really tell you what I am going to choose, because at this very moment I am not sure myself. I will look at the list and just pick something and go with it and see what it brings. You will have to come back tomorrow to see what I choose.
Have a happy Friday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"