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Where in the World – Backstories About the Images – The Tidal Pool

January 21st, 2017 No comments

Today I’ll continue the journey “behind the scenes” – the backstories about our imagery – with a trip to one of the places at which I worked quite often back in New Hampshire: a large tidal pool on the Atlantic coast.

Back in 2010 I started what became a multi-year project, capturing daybreak/sunrise imagery at the coast. I selected this location because it wasn’t too far from my house, and picked mornings because there weren’t any good sunset compositions relatively nearby.

In theory, this seemed like a spot which could pay big dividends.

Then again, spectacular color is served up only sparingly in coastal New Hampshire. Because it’s situated so far north, the ocean there never gets very warm – even in the middle of the summer. This impacts cloud production over the water. No clouds = no color.

Consequently, I wasn’t cranking out images! It wasn’t unusual for weeks to go by without a picture having been made. (Still, since I nearly always had the shoreline to myself with only the lobster boats out on the water for company, even if I didn’t walk away with an image it was always a nice way to begin the day.)

One summer, I slogged through a few weeks with nothing to show for my effort. Then in mid-August, the skies served up two stunning displays in three days – the second of which is the subject of today’s post:

Daybreak along the New Hampshire coast

Daybreak along the New Hampshire coast

I’ve spent more mornings than I can count at this tidal pool. When the tide is low, the air is still, and there is color in the sky, you can make some special photographs here. The water level is obviously variable, so you never know from day to day what kind of composition you’re going to be able to make – but the challenge is part of what attracted me to that spot.

On this morning, it was dead calm and so humid it felt like you could wring the water out of the air. The mosquitoes were hungry and happy when I showed up! I found my composition but was frustrated by a sky that was “blah.” There were very few clouds and it was looking like this was going to be an exercise in futility. After hanging around for nearly an hour with nothing happening, I was about ready to put my camera away.

Then a car pulled up. This was unusual; I almost never ran into anyone else in all the years I worked on this project.

The driver jumped out, grabbed his camera, and scrambled over the rocks. He told me he’d come up from Lowell, MA – which means he’d driven a good hour – and very nearly didn’t make it in time. Now that I had some (rare) company, I changed my mind and decided to hang around a while longer. I went back to the composition I’d originally been working with, and could not believe what I began to see. High clouds were moving in quickly; where there had been nothing but clear skies for the previous hour, lovely pastels started to paint the sky as sunrise neared.

Snap, snap, snap….then nearly as quickly as it arrived, the color disappeared. The sun cleared the horizon, it was hazy, and the magic was over.

This image ended up being one of my favorites from the five years I spent working over at the coast at daybreak. And to think: I almost bailed out on that morning.

I’ve used this photograph in a couple of product designs for The Christian Gift, one of which is a service appreciation plaque. It seems tailor made for the theme Your Faithful Service is a Reflection of God’s Love. 

personalized service appreciation plaque

I’ll be back next week with another “behind the scenes” story.

 

Where In The World – Backstories About the Images

January 14th, 2017 No comments

A customer asked me the other day about the imagery featured on our service appreciation plaques. While many of the product descriptions mention where the photos were made, he was interested in learning more about when, where and how the image on the plaque he was purchasing came to be.

When he discovered that I’m the landscape photographer who makes those images, he said, “I think that’s a series for your blog. Kind of like ‘the rest of the story,’ right?”

Maybe so!

I’ve been photographing landscapes for quite a while: the camera was a fixture in my hand well before The Christian Gift came to be. (And though landscapes – both natural and manmade – are what I shoot most often, I do capture other types of subject matter.) Photography and The Christian Gift have become somewhat intertwined since many of the products in the store feature my images. So we’ll start a little adventure with today’s post, as I begin a series in which I’ll share some “back stories” you might find interesting.

First up: glass!

Stained Glass by Rebecca Metschke Photography

Obviously, this is not a landscape.

Aside from the fact that I love stained glass windows, it’s also wonderful subject matter for The Christian Gift. So when I discovered a Museum of Stained Glass in Chicago (I’m originally from the Chicago area), I put it on the list of places I needed to visit with my camera.

Opened in 2000 at Navy Pier, it’s the first museum of its kind in the United States. (Side note: this seemed to me to be an “unexpected” spot for such a thing. The Pier is definitely heavily visited, but not exactly the venue which comes to mind when thinking about a home for lovely stained glass.)

I was bit skeptical prior to my first visit, but pleasantly surprised immediately upon entering. This place was really special. (Oh – and admission was free. And because the museum is inside – many of the attractions at Navy Pier are outdoors – it was air conditioned. On a hot and humid July day, this was another bonus!) There were 143 windows in all, representing a wide range of styles, time periods, subject matter, and the work of many different artists including Louis Tiffany. Some dated back as far as 150 years.

I liked the place so much the first time, I went again on a subsequent visit back home.

The window you see above caught my eye; it’s quite different from many of the others on display. No colored glass! It was quite stunning. Though I photographed dozens of windows that day, there was something special about this one.

Once I got back to the studio and began processing my images, I thought this window could be a great foundation for one of The Christian Gift’s service appreciation plaques. The challenge with these plaques is to come up with either a Scripture verse or some sort of reference which ties everything together.  I wasn’t having any luck finding anything from Scripture which fit, but kept kicking it around in my head. Finally, I ended up with this: “You are a window through which the Lord’s light shines.”

I used the image twice: it was rotated and enlarged to anchor the background.

Here’s the finished product:

You Are a Window - Personalized Service Appreciation Plaque

You Are a Window – Personalized Service Appreciation Plaque

The story of the glass museum doesn’t end there, however. There is a sad footnote; at the end of 2014, it closed. The space once occupied by exquisite stained glass works of art will be converted to retail and/or food vendors….because there are never enough places to buy chotchkies or soft pretzels. (She said sarcastically.)

There are no plans to display the entire collection again at a single venue; some of the pieces are being scattered about the city, installed who-knows-where, while others remain in crates.

It’s quite a loss.

Turns out, my assessment of Navy Pier being a somewhat unconventional location for a museum such as this may have been accurate. While visitors did come specifically to see the glass, far more – including, apparently, the city – could not have cared less.

And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.

What’s Special About The Christian Gift’s Images – and Our Workmanship?

November 24th, 2015 No comments

Purple Mountain Majesty – Last Light Warms the Tetons

If you’ve perused our store at all, you’ve noticed that landscape photographs are the basis for many of our designs. You also may have seen a reference to the fact that our wall art is exclusive to The Christian Gift. You won’t find these anywhere else.

How is that?

Each of the images you see comes from my camera. I’m a photographer and have been shooting landscapes (among other things) for many years. I also have a background in graphic design. Put two and two together and you come up with the foundation for much of the artwork you see here at The Christian Gift.

This online boutique is the only place you’ll find these pieces.

(If you’d like to view more of my landscape images, you can see them here. By the way, if you see anything there you’d like us to feature in the store drop me a line! )

Not only are the designs original, but we pride ourselves in providing our customers with superior workmanship as well. We use only premium quality materials – from the inks and paper to the mounting tape and matboard. These museum quality mats will not turn yellow with the passage of time; bevel cuts will remain as crisp and white. Also because they’re 100% cotton rag, there are no acids in the matboard to bleed onto the artwork and damage it.

Speaking of the artwork, we use Epson Ultrachrome inks to print ours. This ink produces exceptional color fidelity and is designed to retain its vibrancy. (As with any piece of art, you’ll want to avoid hanging it in direct sunlight.)

If you choose the “framed and finished” option for your artwork, the back of the piece is sealed with a dust cover and bumpons are added to protect your wall. That’s the same kind of finishing job you’d expect from a custom frame shop.

When you purchase a piece of art from us, it’s created especially for you. Nothing is mass produced. The process begins in the digital darkroom, then proceeds to our own in-house framing shop. We cut our own mats. We finish each piece right here. We personally package each item for shipping.

So when we say you’re buying something unique from The Christian Gift – we really mean it!

Personalized Christian Gifts – What is Museum Quality, and Why Does it Matter?

February 3rd, 2014 No comments

When reading the product information about our personalized plaques, you’ve probably noticed the phrase “premium museum-quality materials.” That’s what we use to create all of our wall art.

What does museum quality mean – and why does it matter?

First: museum quality. (Another term you might see is archival quality.) This refers to the grade of our inks, papers, tape and matboard.

In the case of the matboard, museum quality means this is a premium product with a pure white 100% cotton rag core and backing paper. All components are buffered, 100% acid-free, and 100% lignin free.

Acid free – that makes sense, right? But lignin? Just as important. Lignin is a natural bonding material that holds paper fibers together. But lignin is naturally acidic; as it deteriorates, it gives off acid. Therefore, if your acid-free paper contains lignin, the paper will still become acidic over time – causing the paper to deteriorate. Yellowing newsprint is an extreme example of this kind of deterioration. While it happens more slowly with artwork and matboard, those things will turn yellow, too, if there is acid present.

You can see how important it is that acid be removed from the equation.

And it’s not just the matboard that matters.

The paper your artwork is printed on must be acid-free as well. It wouldn’t matter much if we were to use 100% acid and lignin free matboard, only to have acid from the artwork bleed into the matboard and contaminate it.

The same goes for the tape used mount the artwork, and the inks used to print it in the first place.

At The Christian Gift, each one of those components is premium archival quality.

They cost more, but they’re more than worth it, because each component is fade and bleed resistant.

Your personalized plaque will look as good years from now as it does on the day you present it to the recipient. (As with any piece of art, all he or she needs to do is avoid hanging it in direct sunlight.)

The artwork will be retain its vibrant color, and the matboard will remain bright white – even around the bevel edges.

This is a gift you can be proud of. 

Personalized Service Appreciation Plaque – Personalized Christian Gifts