Antique Technique

Thursday morning I went to the antique district up the road from our neighborhood to seek out some new end tables for our bedroom. I know I mentioned the new carpet we are getting this summer already, but while clearing out the house to prepare for that we decided we also needed to get a big dresser for our bedroom (we’ve been using the same old hand-me-down furniture ever since we got married because neither one of us care much for decorating and generally don’t take it into consideration). We have a lovely new dresser coming Monday, but we didn’t like the idea of pairing it with the same old cheap, crummy end tables we had on either side of our bed; we also didn’t much care for  the idea of paying over $300 per table for new ones, like the furniture showroom where we ordered the dresser wanted us to do. I mentioned to the salesman, in fact, that I was going to hit up  antique stores for tables and he sniffed at me, “You’ll have to go to Salvation Army to find a decent end table for under $200.” Well, folks, allow me to share with you a quick picture of my non-Salvation Army end tables I found for a whopping $50 each:

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I think the showroom had almost the exact same table for $300. These are not antiques, but were found in an antique store nonetheless. I actually like that they are new because they aren’t rickety as hell like a lot of the antique ones were. Moving on.

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I stood there quite awhile trying to get the flag to mirror the sign. Got it eventually.

When I headed out Thursday morning to table-hunt, I threw my Canon SL1 with the 40mm lens attached into my purse with the intention to shoot some street stuff while I was out and about. I’ve been reading about the 40mm lens, and walkabout photography in general, and I decided to follow some of the advice I’ve received: I had a fixed shutter speed and ISO setting on the camera before heading out (although I did lower the ISO when shooting outside then bump it up a little when heading into a store), and I made a conscious decision to approach the focal length differently by trying to appreciate its simplicity. And, I shot in monochrome so I wouldn’t be worried about color. Never having shot in monochrome before, I didn’t realize that when I pulled the RAW files up on my computer they WOULD be in color – yeah, that’s how novice I still am at certain things. I went ahead and converted some of them back into monochrome anyway because the color was, in fact, not that great with the light already blasting everything out by 11:00 AM.

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Good advice

I took about 150 pictures, but most of them, quite honestly, bore me. I am not much of a street photographer, so this is probably always going to happen when I take these sorts of photos, Plus, I’ve shot this antique district several times before and over the years it hasn’t changed much, so it doesn’t really inspire me (it’s only a few blocks, and once you’ve taken a photo of the old buildings and Coca-Cola ads painted on the cracked brick walls, well, there’s not much else to shoot). Add in that I was on a specific shopping mission, and the photography came in pretty low on  my list of priorities for the day. Still, I had fun shooting the photos I did take, and the SL1 was a dream to deal with – so light I could easily shoot while holding the thing with one hand, and once I accepted the fairly boring perspective of the 40mm I enjoyed the experience. It’s a great little camera, and with that pancake lens on it in particular it’s a breeze to carry around. My only complaint is that the focal points are barely visible; on my 7D the points are bright red and clear and I can easily see where I am focused through the viewfinder, but on the SL1 I cannot see them at all because the red is so faint it disappears into the scene I’m trying to focus on. It’s a minor quibble, but it is irritating, and I’m wondering if there’s a way visually to brighten the focal points so I can see them better. I’ll have to check into that. What can I say – I’m an autofocus kinda gal.

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Antique garden shop

This next shot is a good example of how random, spontaneous scenes get the better of me when doing street-type photography. The photo is of a small doll’s kitchen set I found sitting on the floor of one of the antique shops I visited; there was a lot of junk sitting around it, but none of it was very well-placed to show the scale of the kitchenette. I probably should have moved things around to set up a better shot, but I just didn’t for whatever reason. I tend to feel rushed in these situations, especially when shooting inside a store where I am always concerned someone might not like what I am doing, and I rarely stop to frame things well much less actually set up a shot. So, I ended up with a shot of this amazing doll kitchen, but nothing to really indicate that it’s tiny:

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Another problem I often run up against in situations like this is framing; this would have been much better if I’d gotten the shot head-on rather than being off to the side, but again, that would have involved moving a lot of stuff around because, even though you can’t tell, there was junk everywhere that would have gotten in the way from any other angle. Anyway, I still liked how sad and decrepit this little mini kitchen looked, so I decided to mess with it and try to make it more interesting. First step was to run it through Snapseed to give it more color and detail:

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Then I decided to try and make the wall behind the set look more dingy and old; I used a texture layer in Paint Shop Pro to do that:

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Then I decided the texture of the carpet was distracting, so I used Photoshop to smooth it out:

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Then I added some vignetting for a little extra visual interest:

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Buuuuut I decided I still wasn’t done. Now, I may have overdone it here, but I pulled the photo into Pixlr and gave it a go. Here’s the final result:

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Thank G-d for Pixlr, seriously. I have a few more shots I may process and share later, but that’s it for now. Have a great Friday everyone!

8 thoughts on “Antique Technique

  1. I have seen people share photographs on Flickr of complicated looking rooms, down to the tiniest detail, only to find out they are all miniature furniture — some of it really ornate.
    Renovation must be in the air because we are moving a few things around and building stuff too, although ours was all started by the ceiling bursting and needing to disguise the places where the paint no longer matches, lol.
    Personally, I have always liked shopping in vintage stores — we have a lot of them in LA — because the prices are always better and I like traditional styles. Estates really do give away treasures from time to time.
    Nice tables. Love the caption about not leaving children, presumably on those shelves 😉 ?

    • Yes, I follow one of those guys – they build the whole set then photograph it. it’s pretty amazing. I hadn’t been to these antique stores in several years, so I”d forgotten the great deals you can get in them. I am greatly pleased with these tables!

  2. I try to stay away from antique stores, since I am one, it makes me nervous that I may get purchased.
    Love the garden shop photo.
    If you had not said that I was looking an a miniature, I would not have known. Love what you did with each picture and the explanation of the software used.
    Looks like a fun day. Oh yeah, the night stands are lovely.

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