Shadow Box Tutorial


I have a tendency to save lots of memorabilia from any trip I take. Usually I use most of it in a scrapbook, but I wanted to try something a little different. I have always wanted to make a shadow box of a trip or special memory.

On my last trip to New York City this past May to see the musical Newsies on Broadway, I took a panoramic photograph of Central Park and the city skyline behind it. I decided to use this trip and photo as my inspiration for my first shadow box!


First you want to gather up a bunch of things related to the trip or memory for you box and decide on what size shadow box to purchase. Since my photograph was 5″x15″ I decided on a shadow box that was roughly 11″x19″ (not to mention it was on clearance!) After gathering up all my memorabilia and photos from the trip I edited it down to the things I most wanted to include and a few scrap booking embellishments to add a little decoration.


To start off I made a background out of some newspaper clippings to go along with the musical we were there to see. Then I glued my panoramic photo onto some scrapbook card stock to protect it. Photos can be ruined by acid in many products and therefore should only be touching acid-free items. Almost all items made for scrapbooking that you find at craft stores are acid-free and will be labeled so on the packages.


After placing my main image in the box I then arranged all my other items throughout the box, changing it around a few times before deciding on a layout. I wanted it to reflect my specific trip and not just NYC, so I stayed away from elements like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building and focused on the Broadway show Newsies. To save room and add interest I cut some of the images, so more of the panoramic could show through the background.


You don’t want the box to become far too busy to look at, but you also want to add plenty of memories and decorative elements. Its a balancing act, so take your time and play with all your options before making final decisions. I ended up editing out things like the Broadway tickets because they were large and had fine print so it would be hard to tell what they even were hanging on a wall. The metro card however,  added a nice graphic element while being very easy to decipher.


Once I decided on a layout I took some flat thumb tacks and secured everything down. many of my thumb tacks are hidden behind items to keep it more clean looking. I came to the conclusion that the key to a successful shadow box is to have plenty to choose from between memorabilia, photos, & embellishments, as well as taking plenty of time to edit it down. Many items I was sure I wanted to include ended up not being included at all because they were either taking away from my theme, were the wrong size, or made it far too busy.


When you are finished, hang it up on the wall or give it away as a gift! Making a shadow box of a wedding, birthday party, or in memory of a loved one would make awesome gifts!


Please comment any of your own ideas!





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Christmas Light Photos

In the spirit of Christmas and seeing everyone taking pictures of all their Christmas decorations they are so proud of this time of year I thought I would do my first Photo Tutorial on taking pictures of Christmas lights.

Christmas lights can be a little tricky to get to look nice in a photo.  You finally finish decorating and you are so proud of how it looks that you want to capture it forever or share it with everyone. Nothing is more disappointing then taking a bunch of photos of your fine holiday accomplishment only to find that none of them even come close to what you envisioned showing off to your friends. I am going to explain my way through 4 common, undesired,  outcomes of Christmas light photos.


Fix: Your shutter speed is too fast. Slowing it down will make the lights show up better. If you are using a point & shoot (not an SLR) camera, what you want to do is use the “night” or “fireworks” setting. However, with any camera you need to be careful to make sure it is on a tripod on set on a table or you are going to get a blurry version of what you are looking for.


Fix: Your shutter speed is too slow or your f-stop is too low. First try speeding up your shutter speed. (faster = less light is recorded on the image) Another thing you can try is to closing your f-stop some. A low number is allowing a lot of light to record, set it to a higher number and it will allow less light to record on the image. As with all of these suggestions, when taking these type of light pictures, always use a tripod or set the camera on something stable like a table.


Fix: Turn off all lights except the ones you want in the picture. If you want the tree lights to show up well, turn off the overhead lights. In the above picture, the color temperature (yes light has different colors & temperatures, perhaps I explain in another blog?) of the different lights in the room are fighting and the overhead lights are winning over the tree lights. If your camera has white balance settings, try using the “tungsten” or “incandescent” settings.  Remember to keep your camera steady with a tripod or table!


Fix: This is the easiest photo to fix and yet one of the most common types of Christmas light photos. If you have read thus far, I hope you know the answer to this one! Try using a tripod or table to steady the camera. Anything around you can work as a tripod, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Try a pile of books, a chair, or steadying the camera against a wall. The shutter speed is slow enough that the slightest movement, which often we can’t even feel or see, the camera does feel and you get a picture like the one above.


Hopefully with a little practice and patience you can get the very look you envision for your holiday photos!


Please comment, share, & enjoy!



Welcome to my blog!

My goal is to post ideas, crafts I am working on, designs I create,  and photography images & projects on a semi-regular basis. Between my love of photography and my constant desire to find and try new crafts and ideas, I have an endless amount of information and thoughts I plan to share.

Please comment, share and enjoy!