Lighting a Secret Garden

My new Tabletop Studio has arrived and I set it up today. Other than an odd plastic smell emanating from them, the pieces were packed very well and easy to put together. The tents themselves look like square white laundry bags, the kind I bought for my daughter when she went off to college. My setup came with a 12″ and a 20″ cube. They both fold up flat and fit into a nifty carry bag. I’ll probably use both cubes since I’m photographing jewelry.


I didn’t get any of their graduated backgrounds yet so I used some brightly colored fabric I had. Even though the fabric matches the necklace, it’s probably too brightly colored for this purpose. I do love that green though! The light is nice and even and shows off the beads pretty well. I closed my aperture way down (f16) to get maximum depth of field and used a manual focus.


For comparison, I took a shot in full sun. It’s way too harsh with many shadows and the colors in the necklace are all bleached out. It does show the texture in the raku flower pendant that the Tabletop Studio shot did not. So, even though the sun shot has more dimensionality, it’s not good for the purpose intended here.


This is the same shot but I put a piece of printer paper between the sunshine and the necklace. Oh yes, I also turned the fabric over to see what the other side would look like. Actually, I like this shot a lot because it shows off the colors in the necklace and the texture in the pendant. Since I didn’t have the camera on the tripod, I couldn’t close down the aperture like I did with the Tabletop shot so it doesn’t have the same depth of field. I also used the auto focus mode for the 2 sun shots.

Open stock paper is on sale at A.C. Moore this week so I’ll go choose some different backgrounds and continue to experiment.

I’ve named my necklace “Secret Garden” because the pendant and the colors remind me of one of my most favorite childhood stories. I acquired the raku pendant during a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii 3 years ago. The braided necklace strands are peridot, pearl and square bronze-lined aqua glass beads. I created the clasp from 16-gauge copper wire. I also made a matching bracelet and earrings. Stay tuned for their photo shoots!

Saturday Morning Tea


I quietly sit with my Saturday morning cuppa and gaze out my window at the gorgeous colors bursting across the New England landscape. The rich autumn palette has inspired me to reach for a tea with a deeply colored leaf, a Japanese green called Gyokuro Kamakura, a precious gift from a colleague.

The Japanese word Gyokuro translates in English to “pearl dew” or “jewel dew” which in my mind conjures up images of a delicate sunrise over misty fields of tea bushes. Approximately 3 weeks before the leaves are ready for plucking, the bushes are covered with a dark cloth or straw. This covering results in the harvest of a darker green, silky leaf with a slightly higher caffeine content.


The aroma reminds me of freshly cut grass and the spring green liquor is richly vegetal with a tang which wakes up my tongue. The tea packet is created with beautifully textured and colored Japanese paper. I believe that the bottom symbol is the Japanese character for tea. If the spirit ever moved me to get a tattoo, this is what I would choose. I love Japanese kanji characters for their artful quality but especially for how they tell a story about a word or phrase.


What is your experience with Japanese tea?