Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ranger U & Fall Seasonal Distress Ink Giveaway

I am so excited to actually type the words, "I am going to Ranger U."  I cannot believe I was accepted. I wasn't even going to apply but decided to last minute.  And I mean LAST minute... like the last day we had to email Tim our applications. We have a lot of stuff going on at home right now with the addition and me helping out with Matt's business but, boy, am I glad I did!  I've always wanted to go to Ranger U ever since I heard about it.  It's been on my crafty bucket list as well as attend CHA, which I have also been fortunate to check off.  I feel so honored and blessed to go and I cannot wait to share everything I learn with you all!

Anywho, I've been holding onto this extra set of seasonal Fall distress inks and waiting for the right time to give them away on the blog.  I had already purchased the set and my mom had kindly also purchased them for me because she knew of my absolute love of distress inks.  So...  here, they are up for grabs!  Brand new, never been opened and waiting to be all over your pretty manicures!

What do you have to do to enter???  Comment on my blog.  That's it.  No Faceyspacing or tweeting.  I like to keep it real simple around here.  You have until Sunday, March 31st to comment and I will randomly choose a winner and post it on Monday, April 1st. 

Good luck!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Doctor Who at the Renaissance Festival

When Matt and I first started dating we went to the Renaissance Festival every year.  Once the girls got a bit older we restarted the tradition.  We've always enjoyed going and grabbing a turkey leg, chocolate wenches (chocolate covered strawberries) and walking around and looking at all of the costumes and attractions.  Two years ago we went on St. Patrick's day weekend and thankfully Emma was going through a Tinkerbell phase and dressed in all green and her fairy wings and wand.  We lucked out and there was a Green costume Contest in the main pavilion.  Emma charmed over the judges and won the competition.  Halle has wanted to win a costume competition ever since and unfortunately last year we couldn't go on a contest weekend.  This year I didn't plan ahead to look at the calendar and we just picked a date.  I quickly scanned the website to see if we could get lucky and oh my, did we!  They were having a Doctor Who/Time Traveler costume contest.  As a HUGE fan of The Doctor, I couldn't resist and my brain quickly went into overdrive about what I could create in less than 24 hours and on a budget. I thought about dressing up one of them as a Doctor's and the other a companion, but that just wasn't sitting well with me for some reason.  Then BOOM, it hit me.  Dalek and TARDIS.  This would be fairly easy.

Here's how they turned out!

This was at the end of the Festival; Halle had her face painted as a Zebra. 

Both of the girls got up on stage and said the lines we rehearsed.  TARDIS Emma said, "I'm much bigger on the inside!"  And Dalek Halle said in her best robot voice, "Identify yourself. EXTERMINATE." Anyways Halle ended up winning third place the contest and we were all so happy.  Even big sister Emma was happy even though she didn't win.  Here's Halle with the other two winners from the contest.

Now let me tell you all something... If you want your kids treated like rock stars at the Renaissance Festival, dress them as a dalek and a TARDIS.  Seriously.  I'm not kidding at all here folks.  The girls were stopped every few minutes asking to have their pictures taken and getting high-fives.  Workers at the festival just loved them so much.  They got lots of free chocolate and I was called the coolest mom in the world.  One thing I found really funny was that most people assumed Matt was the Doctor fan.  He can't stand Doctor Who.  He just pretended he knew what people were talking about when they approached him.  If I started talking about it, they looked at me funny.  Hilarious.

Here are close-ups of each of the girls costumes and what I did:

 Dalek Halle's costume turned out so well and she felt like a princess which is always good.  I originally was going to tear up a pair of old red silk pj pants I had and re-sew them into a skirt.  The sewing machine and I got into a big fight and that's when I took this dress out of the closet. It was one of my flowers girl dresses from me and Matt's wedding.  I bought eight styrofoam balls, chopped them in half and spray painted them gold.  Make sure to get a spray paint made for foam.  And even though mine said, "foam safe," it didn't say styrofoam.  The paint ate some of the foam on the balls but no big deal.  (I also saw someone on line use the bottoms of large easter eggs! Genius!)  I stuck them on using some double-sided peel'n'stick fabric fuse found in the notions aisle of your craft store.  This stuff is AMAZING.  Only one ball fell off the entire festival and it easily re-stuck back on. OK, next I put a bunch of green floral tape strips onto a craft mat and spray painted that gold.  That's what I used for the criss-cross pattern on the top half of the dress.  The plunger arm was made out of a McDonalds Shamrock Shake cap I had and spray painted black and was fitted onto a cut piece of gold painted pvc pipe.  The mixer arm is well... a mixer attachment from my kitchen taped to a wooden dowel and I wrapped a piece of gold ribbon to it.  Her little ears/top of the head was made out of spray painting six 2 oz. disposable souffle cups (SOUFFLE! YAY!) and stacking them on top of each other with little fuzzy pompoms glued in between each layer.  I punched holes in either side of the bottom plastic cup and sewed them to a cloth headband. 

Emma's costume was just as easy as Halle's. This was an old blue dress that I had stained and unsuccessfully attempted to re-dye blue.  I bought a roll of blue ribbon at the craft store and a sheet of 8.5x11 adhesive backed felt. I used the fabric fuse to apply the ribbon in the grid on the dress and then put the white squares on top of that.  I used blue cardstock for the grid on the windows.  For the little hat on top I just cut a piece of white cardstock and folded into a tube shape. I used blue cardstock again for the grid and then cut a circular piece of felt for the bottom of the hat.  I hot glued a hair clip to it and voila!  TARDIS complete!

We had such a great time at the festival this year and I have to say it was in part to these little snazzy costumes.  I wish we could have the girls dress as them every year! 

Thanks for stopping by crafters! 

Oh by the way.... you might want to come back tomorrow because I have some kinda sorta big deal news...  and a giveaway of the Tim Holtz nature...

(Ok... I can't wait to share... I'm going to RANGER U!!!!  WOOHOO!) 

But still... come back tomorrow!!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tim Holtz Tattered Floral Challenge: Sara's Entry

Hello again and happy Friday!  I was so excited to join in on the Tim Holtz Tattered Floral Challenge! I haven't done a Tim challenge since the distress ink challenge where I created Darbie the Barbie. For some reason I was thinking I had another week until my friend, Barbara Kirk, reminded me on twitter that the due date was today!  Yikes!  (Thanks Barbara!)  So I got to work yesterday and was able to go pretty quickly!  Here's the final project! 

I had such a great time creating it, I thought I would make a little tutorial if ya'll wanted to have some fun, too! So, where do we start?  How about with some supplies!

I used a 6" Styrofoam wreath form, a chopstick, some distress inks and one re-inker, die-cut tissue wrap flowers using tattered floral die, die-cut copy paper flowers using tattered floral die, floral pin, Tim Holtz idea-ology Trimmings and a mini-mister. (I didn't end up using the brown flowers in the photo)

Before I move on I want to get into some specifics with the supplies to help y'all out.  The chopstick is for inserting the flowers into the wreath.  I prefer the chopstick because it has a smaller and larger end. The larger I use for the majority of my flowers but the smaller end is good for filling in smaller gaps and spaces.  You could totally use a wooden dowel or the end of a paint brush.

Using my Vagabond, I cut down 6 sheets of 12x12 tissue wrap into four inch squares to die-cut the flowers.  I chose to use copy paper because I needed something that had a "give" to it once I formed the flowers. Cardstock would be way too thick.  I used 12 sheets of 8.5x11 cut down to 4 inch squares.  And can I just say I love my Vagabond so much???  I was able to cut through 20 pieces of copy paper at a time! (I wouldn't recommend more than that.)  My die-cutting was done in no time.

Next I gently wrinkled and inked up all of my white flowers.  I was originally going to ink the tissue wrap flowers, but decided against it.  I also stuck to just the seasonal Spring distress inks color palette. I was going to add in some mowed lawn and picked raspberry but decided since it was a smaller wreath I didn't want too many colors making it look out of control and busy.   

Next I wrapped a flower around my chopstick and inserted it in to the Styrofoam base. Don't push your chopstick all the way to the bottom and through to the other side; just about a quarter inch or so down into the base.  

Keep going and alternating colors and tissue wrap as you work your way around.  This surprisingly goes pretty fast and it's fun. 

Ta-Da!  Done!  But wait... there's more...

We don't like these yucky Styrofoam sides showing!  Ewwwww....  cooties.

Fold and glue approximately ten flowers in half and then alternating colors and slightly overlapping the edges, hot glue them around the outer and inner edges of your wreath.  But hang on... we still aren't done.  

Get on out another sheet or two of copy paper and cut and ink up a few of the smaller flowers.  Using the rosette technique Tim taught in this video I made a few more small flowers.

I then hot glued these to the inner circle of the wreath.  I did have one booboo when making these and that was I forgot to twist back the petals to give them more "floweryness." (That's a word. I swear on a twinkie.)  So don't forget that part! It makes a big difference!

I then used some shaded lilac distress re-inker and a mini-mister to give color to some Tim Holtz trimmings.  I like to let it dry all bunched up as the color comes out with a cool tye-dye/ombre look.

When that dry, trim down a double-pronged floral pin (or just find a shorter one which I have never been able to do.) and push this through the ribbon and into the wreath. 

Last step!  Squirt some Distress Rock Candy stickles onto your craft mat.  Using a paint brush, apply some stickles to random petals around the wreath and the inner flowers.  This just gives it that extra *sparkle* that it needed!

Voila!  All done!  Let's look at that finished project again!

There you have it crafters!  This wreath was so much fun to make and you could do it using book paper, all tissue wrap, (brown paper bags look super cool!) and in any color palette your little creative heart desires!

Good luck to everyone that entered into Tim's tattered floral challenge!  There are some truly amazing and inspiring projects posted on his blog! I know Tim is going to have a hard time making a decision!  Happy Spring and happy creating! 

Tim Holtz Tattered Floral Challenge: Emma's Entry

When I got back from CHA this last time, Emma my oldest, wanted to watch all of the videos I took.  She instantly fell in love with all of the Tim Holtz videos I showed her.  She thought the techniques were, "so cool."  I gave her my copies of Tim's, "Compendium," and another older book of Tim's I had.  She carefully read through all of them and then she found Tim's app in the app store. (I reviewed Tim's app at Craft Test Dummies; check it out here!)  She started watching all of the videos and memorizing all of the product lists.  You might think that's crazy, but Emma has a memory that astounds everyone she meets.  For example, as I was working on my submission Halle, my youngest comes in and says, "What's that?"  Emma promptly responds, "That's tissue wrap, Halle.  It's Tim Holtz from his idea-ology."  I laughed out loud so hard!

Anyways!!!!  Even before I left for this last CHA Emma started her own little card shop that she sells to friends and family members.  When I mentioned the challenge last night to her she was upset I hadn't let her know earlier!  Luckily, we remembered she had just created a new, "Thank you," card for her store and had used the Tattered Floral die!  WooHoo! 

So here is Emma's official entry:

She used an embossing folder, some distress core'dinations and walnut stain distress ink.  (She's slowly collecting her own stash of Tim's supplies. Right now she's all about the distress markers.)

My crafty little kid impresses me so much; such a mini-me.  I love her so much!

I'll have my entry up in the next hour so stay tuned, crafters!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Under Construction: New Studio, Update Two

Hi all!  As some of you know we are adding a new studio for me on the back patio.  In this post I showed where the concrete pad was poured.  Well, it's been a couple weeks and here is the progress! 

 This is the entry way.  There will be double french doors here. The back wall on the wall directly in front of the doorway will be where the majority of my existing white shelving will go.

 Here's where the window will be.  Matt (the husband) is going to build me a corner desk here so I have plenty room to work (aka make a giant mess). 
  The outside of the house where the above window will be.  It will give me great light during the day.  We decided to go with a peaked roof because it would have looked way too much like an addition if we did a flat roof.  This took some extra time and money but overall Matt and I are happy with it.

Right now we are at a slight standstill because Matt just got swamped with work, which is a good thing, because that's what pays for the addition!  Hahaha!  Next we have to install the window and doors and drywall!  We are thinking about doing stained concrete inside because I'm petty rough on the floors in my current studio.  (I kinda destroyed them... oops.  How was I supposed to know pads on the bottom of my chair came out and exposed nails were digging into the wood?)  Yeah, that's one positive thing about my marriage is that I'm really really good at breaking things and he's really good at fixing them.

Well, I'm off to try and super speed through the Tim Holtz Tattered Floral Challenge!  Tomorrow is the deadline and I was thinking I had another week!  OOPS AGAIN!  Happy crafting, Friends!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Things Not to Do With Your Vagabond: Part Two

When I first got my Vagabond I instantly started to play with it and consequently ruined an elegant flourish die.  Well today I'm back at breaking things and thought I would share my experience with you all.

Spring Carnival Basket that Assisted in Die Demise

I have quite a few die-cutting machines and have collected a fair amount of the bases and acrylic "sandwich" plates you use.  I was in a hurry making and decorating a Spring Carnival basket for my daughter Emma's second grade class auction when I decided to use Tim Holtz' paper rosette die.  Like I said I was in a rush and just grabbed a bunch of platforms and sandwich plates off of my shelves.  I quickly found something that I thought would kinda work, but it was slightly too big.  I removed the top sandwich plate and ran it through... and voila!  I cut a FABULOUS paper rosette but my die had seperated from it's platic base and was completely curved like a banana!

So, moral of the story: Don't run a thinlet die through your Vagabond without a sandwich plate on top of it.  I'm not going to throw this die out quite yet though.  The foam/die side is still straight and I could probably just put that on the other side of a die I already have that's the same size, like my snowflake rosette die.

Have you made a boo-boo craft fail like this?  If so, please share! Mostly so I don't feel so badly about myself.

**Update : A friendly update from twitter friend and Ranger Certified Educator, May Flaum said that I should NOT put my rosette die on the other side of an existing die due to the fact it will make my thicknesses all wonky again.  Good to know!  Thanks May!  **

***Update Two: I originally had posted do not run a thinlet die through  your Vagabond "with" a sandwich plate on top.  Ummm... Silly Sara, that was supposed to be WITHOUT.  Sorry guys.  I promptly hit myself in the head really hard when I caught this***
Tim Holtz Products Still Make Me Smile

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Oz: The Great and Powerful" A Ranting Review by an Ozsessed Fan

Warning: This blog post contains major spoilers to "Oz: The Great and Powerful" and may likely be one of the longest blogs I've ever written

  Some of you that have followed my blog for a while or know me personally know that I have a crazy/weird obsession with all things, "The Wizard of Oz."  Now before we get started on the movie review lets get a few things cleared up.  I LOVE the 1939 "The Wizard of Oz," classic that has been deemed, "the most viewed movie of all time."  But I love it for different and separate reasons.  I love old movies and grew up watching black and whites with my dad.  Old Hollywood seemed so glamorous and magical.  And the 1939 "Oz" was simply a masterpiece and huge technological advance in movies for that era.  I also am a huge Judy Garland fan, but not just because of Oz.  I love "Andy Hardy," films, "Meet Me in St. Louis," "Summer Stock," and, "Easter Parade."  So with all of that said, my love for Oz originates with the series by L. Frank Baum.  I have read all of his Oz books, as well as the John R. Neill's and as many of the Ruth Plumly Thompson ones I can get my hands on.  Baum's creation of Oz was a fantastical wonderland; a Utopian society where people could age at their own will and learn things by taking magical pills from an over sized insect.  He envisioned people in Oz being able to "call" their friends on moving pictures screens and talk to them face to face and mass transportation on trains shaped like bullets.  I have a deep love for Baum's, "Oz" and know I always will.  I even have what I call my, "Ozzy fingers," where I can walk into a bookshop and instantly know where the Baum books are.  It's like a radar.  Oz-Dar.  
  I probably had really, probably, too high of hopes for this movie.  Last year, "The Witches of Oz," premiered on the big screen and then as a mini-series. It starred Christopher Floyd, Sean Astin and Billy Boyd.  It was stupid.  Let's just say that.  And then later this year, "Dorothy of Oz," is going to be making a premier which stars the voices of Lea Michele, Dan Akroyd, Kelsey Grammar and a host of other popular Show-Biz names.  Some might think this is a "Baum" Oz book but it isn't... well, not quite.  "Dorothy of Oz" was written by L. Frank Baum's great-grandson, Roger S. Baum.  I despise Roger S. Baum.  There, I said it.  I've met the man on numerous occasions and he doesn't have that "magic" or spark in him that I expected.  I first met him when I was a young teenager and was so excited to talk to him about my favorite characters from the series and he pretty much disregarded everything I said.  I don't even think he read his own great-grandfather's series.  His own book, "Dorothy of Oz," continues where the original, "Wonderful Wizard of Oz," left off.  Way to smack your Grandfather in the face by not recognizing any of his other works and thinking you could do it better.  Oh, and Sam Raimi directs this which instantly made me think it wouldn't suck.  I am a huge "Evil Dead," fan and love Raimi as a director.  I even looked forward to seeing "The Chin," aka Boomstick Bruce Campbell make his traditional cameo appearance as he does in every Raimi movie.
  Let's start with a few positives; the movie is visually stunning.  I saw it in regular 3D and IMax 3D and I say go for the gusto and do the IMax experience if you can.  The colors are rich and vibrant and it made me want to crawl inside the screen and live in the movie.  I was slightly disappointed that there wasn't a more Art Nouveau influence a la Royal Painter/Illustrator of Oz, John R. Neill, but oh well.  James Franco plays an excellent Wizard; he perfected the almost sleazy qualities of the Wizard without being too over the top.  Zach Braff also makes a brief performance on-screen and then voices, "Finley" the monkey.  I think Braff is dead-sexy so anything with him in it is a positive to me. 
  The new Oz movie is brought to us by Disney.  It is a completely new story, pre-Dorothy, of how the Wizard got to Oz.  I was really hoping that they were going to put a new twist on Oz, especially since they were touting that they were basing it on the "workSSSSSs" (stress the plural) of L. Frank Baum.  The 1939 classic was produced by MGM and they, now Turner Entertainment, own certain rights to some of the iconic elements that everyone easily recognizes.  It seems that Disney was just trying to make up for the fact that they didn't produce the 1939 movie and were trying to glaze over the fact they couldn't use certain elements.  They followed the plot line and setup so directly to the 1939 movie, it ended up being almost predictable.  Wizard is in black and white Kansas. Wizard is whisked away by Tornado.  Gets to Oz.  Makes friends who are suspiciously familiar to Kansas people.  Defeats Wicked Witch(es).  Hands out gifts to friends. The End.  Now I admit, they did set up nicely to the 1939 classic and I liked how they put a spin on the giant head in the throne room but where's the rest of it?  Where are the rest of the Oz characters?  Where is ANY correlation to the Baum works in this new movie?  Oh wait... there are two. TWO.  In the original "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" book, Dorothy and her friends come upon a small china country.  Hence, the porcelain doll that was a nice touch to the movie.  She was cute, c'mon.  And I caught one other Baum book reference; when Oz, the Wizard first gets to Munchkinland and meets Theodora (played by Mila Kunis), he gives us his full name, Oscar Zoroaster Phaddrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmanuel Ambroise Diggs. (OZPINHEAD, are the initials, showing that Baum really didn't like his main character.)  Anyways, this name is given in the fifth book, "Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz," as Oz does explain his full name to Dorothy.  But that's about it.  Where is more of the mystery and magic?  Baum himself was a Theosophist and studied Mme. Blavatzky, reincarnation and occasionally worked some of his beliefs into his story lines.  Raimi could have worked this into the movie as well, turning it a shade darker that the happy-dappy Oz we are used to.  The minor book references they did attempt were so skewed it actually pissed me off.  In the book series, the colors of Oz are very laid out and an integral part to the story.  The Winkies are yellow, the Quadlings are red, Gillikins are purple and Munchkins are blue.  Good witches wear white, hence that's why when Dorothy landed in Oz the munchkins thought she was a Sorceress to save them because she was wearing the blue and white gingham dress.  Back to our new movie; when Glinda (played by Michelle Williams) takes the Wizard to her castle she introduces the Wizard to the different people of Oz.  My jaw dropped when I saw the Quadlings were wearing Munchkin blue, and even "dorothy" gingham, at that!  The directors and writers took the time to paint the Witches' Winkie guards faces yellow, as they should have been, but they couldn't have taken the extra step to do the colors correctly for the other countries?  That's just laziness in my opinion.  Oh, and as far as I can remember, there's no such think as "Tinkers" in Oz.  That was completely, and stupidly, made up by movie writers.  Again, why not bring in classic Oz characters?  What are we here, Tinker fairies now from your children's movies?  Why make up something completely new when you have so much marvelous material to fall back on?
 One other thing that really bothered me was that Glinda and the other witches kept referring to the "Father" who was the King that was poisoned by Evanora (played by Rachel Wiesz).  This "Father" was never named... was this the, "Name that was not to be spoken?"  I was having Harry Potter flashbacks.  Why didn't they just use the name, "Pastoria," who was the original King of Oz in the book series?  Pastoria was killed and/or captured by the evil witch named Mombi.  That would have just been fine and dandy for them to use, but pourquois pas? Instead they just had this nameless, faceless character that everyone kept referring to leaving the audience wonder if there's going to be another prequel to this prequel.
  One other gripe I have is the casting.  Why, oh why did they cast Mila Kunis?  I very much like her in general as an actress but she could not quite hack it as a Witch in Oz.  And what was with all of those beauty shots they did with her and the camera?!?  Yes, I get it, she has big eyes that look like they're going to fall out of her head; she's gorgeous, but why must we have a close-up of her face every five seconds?  (Ok, I get they were trying to show us how beautiful she was before she turned wicked, but it was still too damn much).  Oh and then the massively binded and heaving breasts for when she does go from good to bad?  What was with that?  I think it was those D's that made this movie PG.  Ridiculous.  Oh and the fact they used AN APPLE to turn her naughty.  AN APPLE?!?!  Where are we now?  "Snow White?"  I get the whole, "green," thing but I would have much preferred a piece of broccoli than that stupid apple which they couldn't even manage to shoot right and it looked half-mangled and obviously not one, but two different apples.  Also, she says to the Wizard in the beginning of the movie he doesn't "know much about witches." Well obviously, why don't you tell us then?  She's so demure and naive, it's sickening.  She acts as if she's never met a man and so easily falls in love with the Wizard.  Often in Baum's, "Oz," the women are strong forces to be reckoned with and men are bumbling idiots and fools.  Evanora seemed like the only person with a plan.  Even Glinda was just sitting around and waiting for a man to come and fix everything.  Nice, huh?  And I will say, I really liked the way that Michelle William's delivered some of her lines, but again she just played this vapid little waif waiting to be rescued... by con artist and liar of a man.
Another question I had was where is the fourth witch?  You put three in there, you have the wicked sisters, but where's Glinda's other good sister?  Although she's never been in any of the mainstream "Oz" movies' before, it would have actually been a nice addition if there were two on two, in my opinion.
I will say, this movie is very family friendly, other than a few "dammits" muttered by the Wizard.  My oldest gets scared easily and she wasn't too frightened by this. I'd even venture to say it's less scary than the 1939 classic.
All in all, Disney never was going to live up to the hype and emotional bonds that people have with the MGM classic because movies were actually made for all ages back then.  1937 was the year, Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," came out and was the first ever full length animated classic but that was still geared for all ages.  "Oz" was no exception.  Now it's all demographics, pixar and product placements.  **Interesting fun fact, Adriana Caselotti who voiced Snow White in 1937 actually had a part in the 1939, "Oz."  When the Tin Man is singing, "If I Only Had a Heart," it's that clear-as-a-bell voice of Caselotti's singing, "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" Caselotti was paid $500 for that one line, which was much more than the Munchkin's and Flying Monkey's were paid for their entire work in the movie.**  In my mind, as well as many other's, there is no comparing 1939 Oz to any newly re-imagined Oz.  Just let that film be that film and don't go anywhere near it.  I guess my big beef, as I have continually stated, is that there is so much material out there for Oz why do we keep re-hashing what everyone has seen before?  Bring us something new.  Something fresh.  Show people a glass cat with a ruby for a heart, a girl made out of a patchwork quilt that rhymes, an evil shoemaker that steals a princess, a rainbow's daughter or a man with a pumpkin for his head.  "Oz: The Great and Powerful," wasn't horrible, but it didn't live up to what I thought it could have really been, a Masterpiece like the books it was "based" off of.                   

What were your thoughts on the movie? As a Baum truist, I know that everyone out there officially thinks I'm crazy now, but I'd love to hear what you think.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Taking Photos at CHA: iPhone vs. DSLR

Since I started working at Craft Tests Dummies I've had the absolute pleasure of attending three CHA's as a member of the media and press.  My job has primarily been to take photos of all the new products and videos of demos.  Taking photos at the show can prove a little difficult due to wonky lighting on the floor and then any added booth and decorative lighting.  Oh, not to mention there's usually about twenty other people trying to look at the same product you are trying to photograph.  And it's also imperative that members of the press and media stay out of buyer's and store owners way while they're ordering.  So, there's lots to think about!

The first two CHA's I strictly used my DSLR (Nikon D40x).  I made the mistake to only take my 35mm fixed lens the first day.  I thought this was a logical choice because it took the best photos in low light and had the best stabilization and less chances of noise and blur.  I quickly learned a lens that can zoom is a  must; especially when THE Donna Martin (aka The stubborn virgin on 90210, aka Tori Spelling) was premiering  her new line of assemblage jewelry and I couldn't get a good shot at all of her!  The next day I switched to my 18-55mm, which is your standard kit lens, but also carried my 35mm and 55-200mm just in case I had any celebrity sightings. I was fairly happy with my photos.  The colors were still weird in some because of the bijigitty lighting and all weren't perfectly in focus even though I tried to adjust the ISO and exposure. 

Here's a Heidi Swapp display I took at the first show (Winter 2012) :

The second show (Summer 2012) I brought my SB-600 giganto external flash with me.  I was hoping this would help with some of the lighting issues.  I packed all of my lenses to take with me but I mostly used the 18-55mm.  I didn't have a fancy phone yet, as I didn't at the last show.  This was kind of a pain when I was trying to tweet updates from the show floor.  I had my iPad at this point now, but those photos were just terrible.  I even purchased an eye-fi card that was *supposed* to automatically send photos from my DSLR to my iPad but this never worked for me.  

Here's a Heidi Swapp display where I used the external flash at this show: 

Finally!  This past Christmas before Winter 2013 CHA the husband bought me a brand new iPhone 5.  I was so excited!  The first day at CHA I took the DSLR and the iPhone.  Let me say, I quickly ditched the DSLR in my JoTotes camera bag and stuck to the iPhone.  I didn't realize how much of a hassle it was to get a photo with my DSLR compared to a quick snap of the iPhone.  Also, to tweet photos from on the floor to my twitter followers to see what I was seeing at that moment at the show was AMAZING.  Oh not to mention, as soon as I got back to my hotel room and needed to start writing my daily post for the website the photos were automatically uploaded to my PhotoStream on my computer.  No more SD cards!  And they also of course downloaded straight to my iPad.  (Now I'm just sounding like a spoiled brat!)  The quality isn't quite on par, but the ease of it is incomparable. I didn't even bother bringing my DSLR on the show floor the second day and left it in my suitcase in the press room to have "just in case." By the third day it was getting locked up in my hotel room safe.

So here's a photo of a Heidi Swapp display using the iPhone (unfortunately I didn't get a full-display photo this time):

Like I said the first day of the Winter CHA 2013 show was the only day I had my DSLR.  Here are some photos I took and comparisons with the iPhone.




The DSLR's photos are better in each example, in my opinion, but the iPhone 5 isn't far behind.  Even though the DSLR is better, I still can't justify carrying and risk losing or damaging my camera equipment anymore. 

Here are some pretty good shots I was able to get using the iPhone of different samples at the show:

 With super-fantastic online stores and blogs like photojojo that offer some pretty amazing phone accessories and even "phoneography" classes, I think the iPhone is definitely a formidable competitor when it comes to convention and trade show photography.  

(Just don't take your Christmas card photos with an iPhone.)