Goodbye Cain


Cain in better days, before he broke his leg. 

In the end, I couldn't stop his long slow slide downhill. He passed overnight. 

Goodbye fella. Run free and strong. 


The beauty shot

Who are you calling AWOL?

Oh, that would be me.

Sorry.

I don't know how everybody else keeps blogging through thick and thin and holidays too.

I aspire.

That's all I can say.

Let me just say that I have put the time to good use.

We had family visit over the break. My eldest brother brought me his newly-replaced truck. All the way from California. Another brother flew out to LA from his place down south to help drive the truck back to the midwest.

Lucky me.

Sometimes it still pays to be the baby sister.

And luck didn't stop with a truck.

I'd completely misplaced the knowledge that eldest brother, as a professional LA movie biz lighting technician, could help me take photographs for my probably-eventually-sometime-to-be Etsy shop.

Duh.

He spent the better part of two days helping me figure out the best way to do it given my existing setup, which was pretty much nothing but windows and natural light.

Let me also say, he HATED my little Nikon D5100. Absolutely hated it. Without the manual (oh please, why would I have the manual readily accessible?), it was hard for him to gain good enough control over the settings, so he spent a lot of time working on simple things like getting the exposure right. Annoying to him, but it did make me feel a little better. I thought it was just me.

Anyway.

At least the big picture finally clicked. I get it now. I understand why I was getting great shots sometimes and lousy ones other times, even though I thought I was doing the same thing.  There are still a lot of kinks to work out. And obviously a lot of shots to take, but here are some of our efforts. Most of these were taken by big brother.

I should also say, I'm not planning on selling yarn, but that's mostly what I had on hand.

Starting with the easier fibers.

The whites pretty much shoot themselves. I can mess them up, but not as quickly as I can mess up the darker fiber shots.

This is an artsy shot of lopi from Emily the Icelandic. Lopi is yarn that has the tog (long outer coat) and thel (fine undercoat) of the Icelandic fleece mixed together. Icelandic has a lot more luster than I expected. This yarn was eeeeeasy to spin. Very fun to work with. The photo was taken in front of a window with lots of indirect sunlight. 


Here's a rustic shot of the same yarn. Shot outside on an overcast afternoon. 





















These are washed Bluefaced Leicester lamb locks shot under natural, indirect light against the sliding glass door in the kitchen with the pasture in the background. The door faces east. This was taken late morning I think. (This is not from one of my lambs. It's from an older sister of theirs.)





















These are the same Bluefaced Leicester locks shot with the same backdrop (the glass door with the pasture in the distance), but now the morning sun was coming up directly behind the locks. It's lovely and dramatic, but the locks are not that golden in real life. No, it's true, in real life the locks don't actually glow. ;)


It was a little bit harder to shoot silver than it was the white. This is a single ply lightweight yarn from the silver parts of Clementine's lamb fleece. Again, this shot is a dramatic, artsy shot, but the next one captures the color better. The first was shot in front of the glass door with the sun directly behind it. The silver Lincoln doesn't glow the way the white BFL did, but it's still a nice shot.  The more accurate second photo was actually taken with brother's iPhone, at night, under the kitchen lights.
















Next up are Johnny Blue's lamb curls. It was considerably harder to get a decent picture of these than either of the previous two samples. When the shot had pretty light (the sun coming through the glass door), the color was all wrong. These look a sort of dark blonde.



In fact, they are medium to dark gray, with brown tips, as here, with indirect light.

















They are lovely, long, and super soft, and probably a bit too frizzy to make for a good product shot. Now that I think about it, I can't remember having seen too many photographs of gray fiber that really wowed me. And I look at lots and lots of fiber photos. (Obsessed much? Yeah, maybe a little.)

Anyway, gray is hard.

Brown is also hard. 

Here are three shots of the same alpaca skein. (Fiber from a friend, not one of my guys.) In real life it's a beautiful brown with red undertones and lots of luster. None of these shots capture that. We...well, brother worked and worked on this one and couldn't get the exposure quite right with my Nikon. The first two were outside under cloudy skies and both are badly over-exposed and look nothing like the real thing. The third one comes closer but still lacks the spark of the real deal. 

                                                               

 
This next pic was from one of the last sets of shots he took before he went back to LA. By this time, he'd gone to the hardware store and gotten me a couple of daylight floods to use indoors. 

Yowza. :)

That's the real deal.


























And then there was black.

Yes, we spent ninety percent of our time working on photographing yarn from the Black Welsh.

Oy. I'll never get those hours back. ;)

But, I must back up a minute.  When I went to pick up the Black Welsh flock in June, the previous owner actually dug a couple of fleeces from the spring shearing out of his barn. I don't know who they're from, but they're nice. They have very dense, very black, though somewhat short, locks with reddish tips. Exotic looking. So I washed some up with the intention of listing it on Etsy.

Once clean though, I discovered dander in the locks and decided I should comb some to make sure the dander will come out.

It does thankfully. Quite easily.

Of course, once combed up, I had to give it a spin.

Right?

Just to see.

Right?

And that's how I ended up with a hundred yards of single ply Black Welsh yarn. It's super lustery, and a tiny bit coarse. I think it would make a lovely sweater.

Ironically, as our pictures got progressively better, I can see the flaws in my spinning more and more clearly. In this case, the yarn's somewhat overspun. That's from me, pretty novice spinner, working with a shorter staple than my skills can really support. Some day. I'm sure other spinners out there could do better. A nice soft twist would be lovely.

Anyway, I won't bore any of you, or me, further with all the terrible, terrible shots we took of the Black Welsh. Big brother never gave up though and in the end, he got these. You can just barely see the hint of red flecks in the first one. That's pretty accurate. And that's Clementine's silver yarn in the second picture. I like them both.
























And so ended my spontaneous, whirlwind adventure in professional tabletop photography. Hopefully, I can hang on to some of the things I learned.

And finally, back to the barn -- a picture just for fun -- Johnny Blue and his harem of goat ladies -- in easy black and white.















Little buddy


Last time I updated on Jethro, the littlest Black Welsh ram, he was still hanging out with mama. But, the Black Welsh ewes, including Jezebel, have moved on and left this year's lambs to fend for themselves.

Jethro has found the next best thing.



Yep, Abel -- just another Black Welsh ewe, but bigger.

What? He's not Welsh?