31 October 2013

Heritage Scrapbooking: Need Help Fixing Poorly Cut Photos

It's confession time. Many scrapbookers cringe when they see their first layouts. But honestly, I think I have most people beat. Not only did I not use awesome Creative Memory tools (I am being sarcastic), I free handed my cuts and nearly 10 years worth of photos.

Scrapbooking to cringe about
Someone got a little scissor happy.
So, I'm trying to salvage my photos by lessening the impact of my scissor happy ways. There is no way to re-cut the above photo into an eye appealing shape. So, I'm going to attempt to make the effort look more intentional. Or at least, I want to cringe less.

Adding a dark background.


My first step was to place the photo on a dark brown background. Then I used my eraser tool to soften the harsh contrast of the photo and the mat. We're headed the right direction. But, I'm stuck as to what to do next. I would really like the photo edges to blend more into the background. I'm thinking I need some sort of mask, but I am stumped.

What's in my head isn't coming out into the photos. So, dear readers, what PhotoShop Element techniques would you use?

Take home lesson for any future heritage projects: Don't cut your photos without digitally preserving them first.


27 October 2013

Interment Cards: Edward Barton

I have a large collection of interment cards from the Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. I will share these as I find time and energy to so do...

Edward Barton Interment Card
Interment Card for Edward Barton, buried in the
Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio.
Edward Barton
Interment on Belle Barton Lot
Lot 291 Sec 89
Born 22 Feb 1852 in Meigs Co, Ohio
Died 9 Jul 1929 in Columbus, Ohio
Parents: William & Sarah (Lowry) Barton)
Interment: 11 Jul 1929

25 October 2013

Photo Friday: Homecoming Mum

Last week, I showcased a high school mum that I have stored for many years. Few people like to share their failures, but if my mistakes can help someone else, I am glad to help. This week, I want to share my second attempt. You decide if it was better.

Photographing High School memorabilia
f/3.5, exp 1 sec, bias +1.3, ISO 100 , Spot Focus Metering
For this set up, I used a closet door that was beside a large bedroom window. For the most part the door is white, but it does have a bit of a flaw in it. I might have to do some PhotoShop magic on that. Maybe not, We'll see.

There are shadows on the right side of the mum, but they aren't as dark as in the previous set up. I placed my camera on a tripod in the portrait orientation. I will crop in closer when I prepare this photo for use in my scrapbook. However, I wanted to show you where this photo was taken. Now, it's time to capture the details.

Homecoming Mum
f/3.5, exp 1 sec, bias +1.3, ISO 100 , Spot Focus Metering
With the mum hanging down, the natural shadows appeared more realistic to me. I was also able to be in a better angle to capture the details included on this mum. The only draw back, was that I was unable to spread the ribbons out as much as last week's posts. But, you can still see that my name and my date's name were on the mum.

Photo Shoot 1
Photo Shoot 2




So, what do you think? Which photo shoot was better?

23 October 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Did Ethel Townsend Lie?

Vernie Sanborn Schlared Ethel Townsend Daniels
Photo of Vernie Sanborn Schlared and her Aunt
Ethel Townsend Daniels
Surely we should not call out our ancestors. Yet, I wonder if my 2nd great aunt Ethel May Townsend lied about being married twice.

I was playing around on my family tree on the Townsend family line. My Townsends are descendants of William James Townsend born about 1842 in Franklin County, Ohio. His wife is named Mary Clabaugh. She was the daughter of Thomas Clabaugh and Polly Nash and was born 5 September 1846 in potentially Fairfield, Ohio.

Ethel May was the tenth, and last child, of William and Mary Townsend. She was born in 10 Nov 1887 in Marion, Franklin County, Ohio. Her father was blinded from a surgery to open his swollen eyes when he became sick during his service in the Civil War. He was a blind farmer through the remainder of his life.

After her father's death when she was two, her mother struggled to make ends meet by doing laundry and other jobs. Her mother never remarried but did eventually obtain a widow's pensions that I will share over the coming months. I can scarcely begin to imagine how these facts impacted Ethel as she grew up. Her mother died 27 August 1916.

I believe that Ethel married R Edwin Anthony on 15 May 1916 by Pastor J E Albrecht. Who Pastor Albrecht is or what his church was, I do not know. (In actuality, I don't know how to figure this out.) Edwin is the son of James Anthony and Louisa Davis and was born 29 August 1892 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. I conclude that this evidence pertains to Ethel Townsend based upon the birth date and parent's names she provided on this marriage certificate. Additionally, it's interesting that this marriage took place 3 months before Ethel's mother died.

Marriage record for R Edwin Anthony and Ethel May Townsend
Family Search, "Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958" database, (http:/www.familysearch.org) :
Entry for Edwin Anthony, 15 May 1916 (accessed 9 February 2011)

It doesn't seem that this couple was married for very long, but I do not have access to a divorce record database at this time to search for a divorce between 1916 - 1919 in Franklin County, Ohio. I don't know when R Edwin Anthony died or if he remarried. So, it's possible that Ethel was a widow. These items are on my To Do list.

However, I found another marriage for Ethel May Townsend that took place three years later. Actually, I found this one first. Family memories said that Aunt Ethel Daniels did such and such. And this was remembered by her great niece-in-law Louise Long Brown. Thankfully Louise's memory was accurate and Ethel did marry Edward Daniels, according to this marriage record.

Marriage of Edward Daniels and Ethel Townsend
Family Search, "Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958" database, (http:/www.familysearch.org) :
Entry for Edward Daniels, 26 May 1919 (accessed 9 February 2011)

Ethel married Edward W Daniels on 26 May 1919 and was married by what looks like Rev T. O. Reed. He refers to himself as a minister. (I wonder if that's a clue to where they might have married and how to investigate the matter.) Edward is the son of W W Daniles and Alice J Jones. He was born 10 August 1889 in LeRoy, Ohio. Ethel's information is the same on this record for her parents and birth date. The birth location has changed to Valley Crossing, Ohio. I'm not exactly sure where Valley Crossing is at this time. I wonder if that is a more specific name in Franklin County. So, based on the birth date and parent information and the family memory of Ethel's married name of Daniel, I have concluded this is her marriage record.

In any case, notice that on this second marriage record Ethel said she was not previously married. Initially I was going to stop my research here. However, I was doing a research on Family Search where you enter in the parent's names and no children's names. I only found a few pertinent entries that lined up with the research that I had already done. Yet this additional marriage record appeared for Ethel Townsend.

So, did Ethel lie? Did she tell the truth because according to her faith the marriage was dissolved and didn't count? Did the marriage not actually follow proper procedures and it didn't 'count'? Or did she have such a bad experience, given she married a short time later, that she didn't want to claim the previous marriage?

I am concluding that she did in fact marry Mr. Anthony prior to marrying Mr. Daniels. My jury is still out on whether she fibbed or not.

An Amazing Opportunity to Teach

My husband and I were invited to teach 7 classes between the two of us at the Family History Conference held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on October 19, 2013. The conference was well attended and a great experience for the both of us.

Devon Lee teaching a class on Collaborative Genealogy

I taught four classes: Collaborative Genealogy, Photographing Artifacts, Photographing Cemeteries, and Heritage Scrapbooking. I loved noticing the patterns of who attended my classes. The Collaborative class attracted the intermediate and advanced genealogists, as one would expect it to. Also, a beginning family history class was taught once and only during this hour. Yet I know that beginners aren't ready to know how to collaborate, but they soon will. Hopefully I'll see them the next time I teach such a class.



William James Townsend Gravestone
William James Townsend, Find A Grave Memorial# 98018586
Photo by : Chad Graham

What's great, is while teaching collaboration, collaboration happened. I shared a this gravestone about the things I learned from a civil war grandfather's stone. A class member pointed out that a religious stone was inscribed on my stone and pointed me in further directions to research. I hadn't thought about that yet. Collaboration works, that's all I have to say.

Andy Lee teaching Genetics and Genealogy
My hubby taught three classes, all in the morning which gave him time to get home for the Texas A&M game that afternoon. (Johnny Football did great, even if our team ran out of time). His first class was Interviewing Tips and Techniques. It was a comparatively small class and he wasn't able to share everything he prepared. Nevertheless, the class was well received.

The genetics class was well attended

His next class was Genetics and Genealogy. Now this was his largest class by far. So many people are curious about DNA testing for family history. After a brief science lesson about what DNA is, he then compared the companies that do genetic testing and helped dispel myths about what the test results can say and what they can not. Andy received a ton of positive feedback about this class. In fact, one compliment came from someone we know well who doesn't hand out compliments easily. That's powerful.

Also, I think scheduling this class after the Beginning Genealogy Class was great. There were a lot of beginning and seasoned genealogists in his class. Great job on the scheduling.

Andy Lee teaching how to write your family history
Writing Your Family History was his final class. This class was also well attended. I think because a) because it's a great topic and b) it was slotted after Beginning Family History and Beginning Roots Magic. This allowed something more for beginners to family history to attend that is a natural progression. Great planning by the scheduling committee. After this class, hubby went home and I stayed to teach my classes in this room. I also was available to hear all the wonderful comments people shared about his teaching styles and the content of his classes. Great job honey. We make a great team.


In the afternoon, the attendance always drops off for the conference. I don't know why? Perhaps because it's a long day? In any case, my classes were attended by only a few persons but they really wanted to learn the topics I had to share. I received so many light-bulbs eyes, head nods, and such as I shared my information. Just what I needed as a teacher. Hooray!


Photograph the Stuff of Your Lives
Photograph the Stuff of Your Lives


My photographing artifacts class was geared toward amateur photographers. However, I realized some people had point-n-shoot cameras. I might consider what someone could do with such a camera for future classes as I geared my class for a mid-grade camera. Though I personally don't think point-n-shoot cameras are great, that might be all someone has. My focus was sharing that people don't need to jump to a dSLR until they are ready. Hmmm.... something to think about before I share this again. All in all, the class seemed well received.

Take cemetery photographs that invoke memories

The photographing cemetery class was well attended for an afternoon class. And we had fun interacting with each other. I feel confident that attendees will spend a little more time planning their photographs before taking a shot when they visit a cemetery. It's one thing to snap a photo to document a stone. It's another to create a beautiful photograph that floods a person with memories. I realized some of the slides in this presentation need to be reworked but, over all the feedback I received indicated that the class went well.

Oh! And thank you to my readers who submitted bloopers for this class. (By the way, I mentioned ya'll in my Collaborative Genealogy class as well!)

What goes into a heritage scrapbook?


My heritage scrapbooking class was fun. I shared my recommendations on what to put into a heritage scrapbook. I think this kept everyone one the same level whether they were beginners or advanced scrapbookers or whether they would use paper or digital mediums. We also discussed some case studies. I felt bad picking on some wonderful designers' work, but it was a prime example of seeing something through another person's eyes and noticing how to do something better. For instance, making sure your writing is readable. (for 'old people' eyes, like myself. Yikes!)

One person shared how they work for HeritageMakers.com. I provide this link because they have some family history centered templates. It would be a great tool for those new to digital scrapbooking and don't have the time to learn how to use a scrapbooking program. I had actually confused them with another 'digital scrapbook' company that basically makes photo albums rather than scrapbooks. You know... white and black pages, photos, and captions. Very little room for a story (which is second in importance to photos). Thankfully, they were not anything like this other company. So, I would recommend this service.


Over all, this year's conference was a great experience. The committee made some improvements in signage that was very welcome. Having a marketing background, I know the importance of telling people what to expect (spot on by making the information available online this year!) and getting them to where they want to go (they added large room signs with arrows). In the morning some very pretty young women greeted our guests and directed them to the registration tables. Also a great benefit to the conference.

All in all, a job well done. I would love to participate again next year. In the meantime, I am preparing a beginning family history class for the Hiawatha Public Library to be taught Monday, Jan. 6 at 7 pm.

19 October 2013

The case of two Caroline Puseckers (part 2)

Caroline kept knocking at my door trying to tell me that I need to investigate her further. So, I finally paid attention.  I was still confused and had Caroline (1844) with a potential birth date of 1837 linked to Karl Pusecker and his wife Johanna Macke. I loved the little love story of neighbors and fellow immigrants marrying on this side of the pond. But was that the case?



After re-examing the marriage record, I realized that Caroline 1844's birth date was not provided. All I have is that a Louis Mack married a Caroline Pusecker in 1868.

I had happened to be in Ohio and obtained a copy of Karl Pusecker's will. (Heinrich Mack and Joseph Geisler didn't have any, darn it). In the will, a daughter named Caroline was listed. But she was married to a John Eitermann. What? She's supposed to be married to Heinrich Mack. Time to do some more research.

Jordan Dodd, Liahona Research. Ohio, Marriages, 1803-1900 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001.


Ancestry.com showed an index entry for Caroline Pusecker marrying a John Eitermann on 18 Oct 1859 in Franklin County, Ohio. This would explain why Karl's 23 year-old daughter was not living with him at the time of the 1860 US Census. And, if you follow Caroline and John Eitermann through the Census records, you find that they were and had five children at the time of the 1870 US Census, two years after Caroline Pusecker (1844) married Heinrich Mack. John and Caroline Eitermann were living in Prairie, Franklin County, Ohio while Heinrich and Caroline Pusecker were living in Norwich, Franklin, Ohio. Yep. I have two Caroline Puseckers, from Germany on my hands.

Family Search, "Ohio Death, 1908-1957" database, (http:/www.familysearch.org) :
Entry for Carolina W Mack, died 2 September 1917 Source Film: 1984107, Reference No: fn 58003

Now... much of this would have been clear very quickly had I stopped to review Caroline Pusecker Mack's death record. Her father is listed as Wm Puesecker and Charlotta Strunkenberg (a Strunkenberg family was also living on a farm near the Macks, Geislers, and Puseckers in 1860). And, Caroline Pusecker born in 1844 also had the middle name of Wilhelmine. No doubt, in tribute to her father Wm Pusecker. Additionally, the 1900 US Census had a migration date for Caroline of 1867, not 1854.

I think it's safe to say I learned a few lessons from the case of two Carolines.
  1. Retrace the research.
  2. Assume new information, especially those that aren't well documented, are full of certain inferences. 
  3. Pending the discovery of more facts, some of the entries have to be regarded as speculative rather then as gospel.  
  4. Just because someone did the research, doesn't mean they did it right.

This diagram is not correct when it connects Caroline Pusecker, wife of Heinrich Mack,
to her parents Carl Friderich Pusecker and wife Johanna Macke. The author confuses
two very different Caroline Puseckers. (The creator was probably misguided at the onset).



Apparently on Ancestry.com, some people thought I was crazy for connecting Caroline Pusecker (1837) to Heinrich Mack when this one should be connected to Johann G Eiterman. And I should have Caroline Pusecker (1844) to an entirely different set of parents. They conflicting information should have served as huge red flags.

Thankfully the will threw down the major red flag that turned things around for me. I wish someone on Ancestry.com would have told me I was crazy sooner. However, I have learned many valuable lessons and I plan to keep watching for the red flags as I investigate new lines.

Now... to untangle the trees on FamilySearch Family Tree.

18 October 2013

Photo Friday: Homecoming Mums Shoot Gone Wrong

Okay, so the grammar for the title leaves something to be desired. The point was to show that this post will be about a photo shoot that did not go well. We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. So, I'm going to celebrate being an amateur photographer and share with you a photography session that did not do my artifact justice.

f/3.5, exp 1/20 sec, bias +0.3, ISO 400 , Spot Focus Metering
f/8, exp 0.8 sec, bias +0.7, ISO 100 , Spot Focus Metering
f/8, exp 0.8 sec, bias +0.7, ISO 100 , Spot Focus Metering

The set up used a seamless backdrop as floor covering. I used natural lighting from the left side. I attempted to use a reflector on the right side, but a high school homecoming mum can be rather long (especially since I'm above average height for a female). So, the right side has a shadow problem.

As I mentioned last week, my Muslim fabric continues to become further and further wrinkled and it's nigh impossible to keep smooth. I thought it wouldn't be a problem. In actuality, it was.

Additionally, since this object is so long, I had to stand on a table on the right side of the mum and then shoot down on the object. I do not think this really helped capture the object well.

I did learn one thing. In this next photo, I was trying to focus in on the details of the mum. I wanted to feature my name and my date's name. I remembered having the best time at a homecoming event with Brannan. He was younger than me. We were friends before the dance and stayed friends after. Going with a friend date rather than a 'date date' was truly the best homecoming experience. Sorry dates from prior years. It really was more fun and less stress.


f/3.5, exp 1/3 sec, bias +0.3, ISO 100 , Spot Focus Metering

After the first attempt, I didn't like how the ribbons were arranged. So, I fussed with them just like a make-up artist would do with a model for a 'professional' magazine shoot. I kept fussing and photographing until I could see the ribbons better. This last attempt was better. But the deficiencies created by the wrinkles, the shadows on the right, and perhaps how/where I was attempting to photograph this mum, I did not like the results overall.

f/3.5, exp 1/4 sec, bias +0.3, ISO 100 , Spot Focus Metering
 Sometimes, things do not work. I learned that a wrinkled background does not work. So I seriously need to think this through. Next week, I will show my second attempt with this object.


12 October 2013

The case of two Caroline Puseckers (Part 1)

Caroline Pusecker Mack with three
of her children:

 One would think that a name like Caroline Pusecker would not turn up a tangled web, but it has. And she's only a 3rd great-grand aunt. However, her story is connected to the Pusecker family that immigrated with my Mack ancestors, and yet it is not.

In September of 2011, I was looking at the family tree that a relative sent me. The family trees showed a relationship between fellow immigrants Heinrich Andreas Mack (1811-1868) and Karl Friedrich Pusecker (1808-1866).

Karl Friedrich had three wives. He had three sons with an unknown spouse. He had a step-daughter named Rosa Hoffmann. What I couldn't understand was where a daughter Caroline fit in.

Here is the tree at that time this all began:


Karl Pusecker and unknown spouse:
  1. Karl 'Charles' Pusecker' (28 Nov 1835 - 20 Jan 1915)
  2. Wilhelm Pusecker (abt 1838 - ?)
  3. Ludewich Pusecker (20 Dec 1844 - 14 May 1905)

Karl Pusecker with Magdalena Ackerman (1800 - 1879)
  • married 22 Jan 1857 in Franklin County, Ohio
  • no known children born to this couple

Karl Pusecker with Elizabeth ? (1828 - 1913)
  • Elizabeth had a child prior to this marriage named Rosina Hoffman
  • the couple was married 30 Sept 1879, 6 months after wife #2 died

Then there was Caroline. Supposedly she was the second child of Karl and his first wife.  If that's the case, her birth date should be around 1836 or 1837. However, The Caroline listed in this record had a birth date of 16 Aug 1844 and death date of 2 Sept 1917.  The birth and death dates were supposedly from her death record. (I hadn't investigated this yet.). And Caroline, born in 1844, married Heinrich Ludwig Mack (son of Karl's neighbor in 1856) in Franklin County, Ohio on 15 Dec 1868.

Without checking the sources, I proceeded to look for records from this point forward. I found a first name for Karl's wife as Johanna. My cousin then had these conclusions to share.
 Because of discontinuities in the record, certain inferences have to be made.  Let us assume that Johanna Pusecker did not survive the journey. Karl Pusecker, a widower, married a new wife over here.  Magdalena Ackerman became stepmother to the three boys.  Magdalena died in 1879.  In 1880, widower Karl married a widow with a daughter named Rosa.
My guess is that Heinrich Mack and Karl Pusecker were brothers-in-law, Heinrich's wife Christina having been born Pusecker.  Maybe Johanna Pusecker was born Mack, don't know.  But that would make Caroline Mack and Ludewich Pusecker first cousins.
Alright, so I'm still not seeing where Caroline, the daughter, fits into this scenario. But she's included on family trees and I have to figure this out.

Anne Lange arrival on Nov 1854; Baltimore, Maryland. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1820-1891. Microfilm Publication M255. RG 36. 50 rolls. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

I discovered a passenger list for the shows the Puseckers (starting #322) and the Macks (starting # 328) arriving in Baltimore in November 1854. It indicates that Johanna did make the trip.

Franklin County Chapter of The Ohio Genealogical Society, compiled,
Franklin County, Ohio Cemeteries: Vol I - XI
1980-1987, 1997), VII:79, Johanna Macke.


Soon, I discovered a Cemetery Index and then a tombstone entry for Karl's first wife, a woman named Johanna Macke. I can't remember how I figured out the connection, but I made it. Soon, a research trip in Gillersheim, Germany paid off and showed me this assumption was correct. So, Johanna's death date was 9 March 1856 in Franklin County, Ohio.

Family Search, "Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1974" database, (http:/www.familysearch.org) :
Entry for Carl Pusecker, 15 January 1857 (accessed 12 December 2011)
 
The following year Johanna's widowed husband Karl would marry Magdalena Ackerman, according to marriage records found in Franklin County, Ohio. And in the 1860 US Census... Karl, Magdalena and three boys were int he Pusecker family home. Their home was beside Heinrich Mack and a Joseph Geiszler (who had married Heinrich's daughter Caroline).

So, neighbor Heinrich Mack has a son (Heinrich Ludwig) that married a Caroline Puesecker. Was she born in 1837 (as stated on the passenger manifest) or in 1844 (according to unverified death records)?  My cousin pointed out that although Caroline would have been 10, not 17 (according to ship manifest); that the ship records were prone to errors and shouldn't be relied on too heavily. Yet the manifest record included several previously unknown children for Heinrich Mack and all of his children's ages are withing a +/- 1 variance. As well as the Puseckers. Would a ship manifest really be 7 years off? Is it hard to tell if a young girl is 17 or 10?

Man the red flag was flying, but I wasn't sure how the issues should be solved. The only thing I was certain of was that Caroline, daughter of Karl, having a birth date of 1837. But it still hadn't dawned on me that Caroline born 1844 was an entirely different person.

To be continued...

11 October 2013

Photo Friday: License to be an Amateur

f/3.5, exp 1/6 sec, ISO 80,
Center Weight Average Metering
I'm struggling a little bit with the set up I have. I like the light box that I have. It works really well. I like the concept of my seamless back drop stand, but I'm thinking that I purchased the wrong material. Muslin becomes wrinkly no matter how much I store it in the space I have. I could probably roll it on mounted contraption attached to the ceiling. However, I don't have the space for that in the location I like to photograph. So, that option is out. Right now, I'm investigating alternatives. I'll keep you posted.

As I've said, I'm having trouble keeping my photos wrinkle free in the background. Sometimes, this is distracting, and sometimes the wrinkled background is okay. The question is... when are the photos I'm taking good enough?

I am amateur photographer. So, I feel like celebrating the fact that:

a) I took a photo of an object and
 b) that the photo isn't blurry.

I still have a lot more artifacts to share with you. And the backgrounds will be wrinkly. I wonder... has that bothered you? Does it bother my family members? Or do most people look beyond the less than crisp background and focus on the object? Do they just want to know the memory?

Sure a professional photographer will probably look at my photos and say... amateur. And the perfectionist side of me says... "yeah, I know" in a dejected voice. But... today, I'm going to give myself license to be what I am. An amateur.

I'm not trying to take photos that will ever appear in museums, photography shows, or product catalogs. I am trying to capture and preserve the family treasures. I give myself praise for what I've done. I acknowledge that I am among the few that are willing to document objects with photography. And since I am a "jack of all trades, and master of none" genealogist, the photos I share are good enough. And, my efforts are definitely better than the 'point-n-shoot' crowd.

And I am also recognizing that I am inspiring people to photograph their own objects. Get the things out of the attics, closets, storage units. Photograph these objects and share the memories before the objects are gone, and the memories associated with it.

So... to my readers who enjoy my Photo Friday posts, I hope you will give yourself license to be an amateur. Sometimes you will have professional quality photos. And sometimes you'll have amateur quality photos. Aren't amateur quality photos better than none at all? And to my more professional skill photog friends, I love the support, advice, and encouragement you share with me.

 Now.. on to more photo sharing.

04 October 2013

Photo Friday: Creations Challenge

Are the children starting to bring home a ton of art projects? Did your relative have a talent for making things? This month, I thought we could focus on creations that our family makes.

f/4, exp 1/8, bias +0.7, ISO 100
Center Weight Average metering

As a youngin' my husband made these ceramic mugs. I thought they looked cool to photograph, but not necessarily to have around the house. Perhaps as the kids create more and more intersting clay objects, I might feature these beauties along side them. As in scrapbooking and photography, collections often have more meaning than single items.

My best advice with sculptures is to take photos from different angles. Also, move the objects around often. You will probably shoot 20+ pictures until you find the right one I think I took 50 pictures of these two objects alone!

Use a light box for smaller objects with filtered lamp light. I've found that when the room I set up in is filled with shadows or even dark, then the objects look even crisper with my camera. I also do a custom white balance adjustment before placing objects in the light box. Finally, I make sure I'm shooting in macro mode. This is the setup that has generated the best results for my ceramic creations of my family.

Have a great month photographing the creations in your family's life.

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