Because I think this kind of thing is fascinating, I’m going to share with you how I put together this new Banner Photo for my Craft Talk posts.

Moana Craft Talk 2

I like it. It’s personalized, nobody has this photo but me, and it’s pretty much what my writing space normally looks like, except a bit cleaner and better lit. So, here’s how I did it.

First of all, I decided that I needed a background photo specifically for this series of posts. Something that just shouted, “Let’s go write!” The light outside looked pretty good, so I went around grabbing the things that I needed. First up, my trusty notebooks.

BehindtheScenes notebooks

Then, my gorgeous green cast iron teapot that my husband bought for me a couple of Christmases ago. When I saw it, I cried. I love green, and it has birds on it, and cherry blossoms, and it keeps my tea warm. My hubs is the best.

BehindtheScenes teapot

Then, because at this point I figured we had a green theme going, I grabbed my maidenhair fern, which has graciously stayed alive in spite of my infrequent waterings. Good fern.

BehindtheScenes fern

Of course, I don’t want to exclude anyone who uses a keyboard for writing instead of a pen, so I had to grab my laptop. Honestly – I write both ways. I’m always turning to my keyboard when I need to get something done a bit sooner than a hundred years from now.

BehindtheScenes laptop

And for good measure, one of my sister-in-law’s pottery pieces that I use as a penholder. A precious vessel for precious tools.

BehindtheScenes pen cup

I piled all that up on my dining room table, which is right next to a north-facing window. Because it faces north, I never get direct sunlight, which makes things too contrasty, and highlights get blown out, and just general difficulties. Light is good, but not too much. Also, the surface of the table itself is nice for the kind of top-down photo I wanted.

When I looked down at all these fun props, I realized that I was getting too many shadows. I ran upstairs for my reflector, but wasn’t fast enough.

BehindtheScenes reflector

The toddler found the things. Pens on the floor. I got there before anything breakable went down, thankfully.

I had also realized that, if I was going to have a teapot, I needed a cup of tea. Otherwise, the teapot was just going to look ridiculous. Like I’d just put it there without any consideration for what it was. Like it was just decoration. We couldn’t have that.

I gathered up the props, moved them to the kitchen counter, and then made two different kinds of tea. I like having options.

BehindtheScenes tea

By the time the tea finished brewing and I’d picked a cup that looked the most like tea, the toddler had moved on to something more interesting. I got the props back on the table, propped up the reflector dish like so –

BehindtheScenes setup

-and arranged.

I took a few photos, peeped at the back of my camera, moved some stuff around, and took a few more. I repeated this process several times, until I felt satisfied that I had, at the very least, taken lots of photographs of my notebooks and things spread across the table. Well done. Cheerio, chap.

At this point, I took a little break to drink the tea and make my starving children some Mac and Cheese for lunch. They are always starving. Also, I think they might both turn into bowls of Mac and Cheese one day. I multi-tasked really well at this point, because while I was making lunch, the photos were uploading to my computer. Because I’m organized like that.

Lunch done, I checked out the photos. I thought they were pretty. Some looked better than others. I picked three and sent them to my sister. She unhelpfully eliminated the one I already knew I didn’t like. I went with the top-down photo because it was what I was going for in the first place. Plus, I liked the way the fern peaked in between the computer and my notebooks. It was kind of cute.

Then I hopped from Lightroom to Photoshop, where I started messing around with the tools until I was able to get that shaded band around the outside of the photo like a frame. I added words, a shaded box behind them, and then I sat back and was pleased with my work.

Moana Craft Talk 2

By the time I decide to do another Craft Talk post, I will have probably decided that this graphic is substandard and I need to take a new one. But that’s okay, because honestly, I like doing it. I like looking at my blog, seeing a need, and then making something that fills that need from scratch, learning new skills along the way.

PS: If you haven’t yet, go check out my discussion of the skills a writer can learn from the movie Moana, Part 1 and Part 2. Let me know if you find this series helpful, or if there’s anything you’d like to see in it.




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