Tourmaline .

Miniature Diorama Photographer

Posts from the ‘Updates’ category

My Life these Past Few Months

I haven’t written a blog in who knows how long. I haven’t visited other people’s blogs, in large, for that same amount of time. I haven’t made many new toy photos, that I would consider finished work, in about that same amount of time too.

But right now, I really want to write a blog post. I told myself not to apologize on here anymore, and so I’m not, but I will give you an update on what I’ve been up to, and why I am so terribly bad at keeping up with my own blog challenge. Read more

2017, a timeline

2017 has almost come to an end. One of the quickest years of my life, but then I say that every year…

January

  • I turned 26, officially transitioning into the last year of my ‘mid 20s.’
  • I created my series Monochopis.

February

March

April

  • Year 2 of Color your World wrapped with a total of 112 participants and numerous creative entries. Make sure to sign up for year 3!
  • I was featured on PopShop Live.
  • I created a facebook group for toy photographers in Florida & the East Coast. This is something I need to focus on building further in 2018.
  • Instagram had an ominous shadow ban, that has again cropped up since. But it seems like we all made it through just fine.
  • I concluded my ‘Why Miniatures?‘ blog series.
  • Numi Organic Tea graciously sent me lots of tea to make photos with.
  • I delved into Lego photography with the Booster Bricks box (shared with me by an internet friend).

May

June

July

  • I left my Office Manager position to become the Lead Studio Photographer at a tech start up. I can now say I am a full-time professional photographer. And subsequently went to Chicago (for training) for the first time.
  • I created a series using only dollar store supplies.
  • My work was shown in a group toy photo show in Lyon, France.

August

  • I was commissioned to create English & Swahili versions of a book cover – more on that later.
  • I was AntoNova Galleries’ first ever featured artist and was later in their Grand Opening, Black & White and Geometric group shows.

September

October

November

  • The One Word Photo Challenge hit it’s 200th weekly theme.
  • I began posting weekly to YouTube – my main social media endeavor at the current moment.
  • My image was chosen as the cover for Issue 13 of Elsewhere magazine.
  • I stopped writing for Toy Photographers and broke off from most social media to further focus on my creative process. There should be an ebb and flow of this, with me returning to all of the above at some point in the future.
  • I tried out Instagram promotions first hand.

December

  • December is 2/3 of the way over and I have little to put here as of now. I’ve filmed parts of 4 or 5 more videos for youtube, and I’m waiting on bits and pieces to finish those. I have numerous photos I intend to create and little energy to do it all, so I’m taking it slow, one step at a time. Family is coming in for Christmas, a lot of cleaning and gift wrapping to do before then. Overall, it’s been a good year. A year of transition, and one where you’ve seen significantly less and less of me, but I’m still here working away.

 

How was your year and what are your holiday plans?

 

‘Til next time,

Tourmaline .

An Update & Reflection 2017

Hi everyone,

This update has been on the back burner for some time, but I need to get a few quick notes out into the interweb particles.

2017 has been a year of artistic reflection for me.

First, and most noticeably I imagine, I changed the name of which I go by artistically. Originally, since I started posting my art online around 2012 or so, I went by my full first, middle and last name. This was done in that my name is severely common. Google ‘Jennifer Wells’ and you’ll find painters, authors, professors, actors, etc. etc. The only thing I felt that set my name apart was the ‘h’ in my middle name ‘Nichole.’ So the full 3 names became my artist name. And, while I’m just fine with my name in my day to day life, I didn’t feel like it suited my art or my artistic vision. I started considering ‘Tourmaline’ as a replacement a couple of years ago. ‘Semi precious, in a wide variety of colors.’ I liked the sound. It was a gem in a huge range of colors, yet only semi precious, not elitist maybe? That, and honestly it sounds like it could be a name, even with nickname possibilities.

While I’ve focused heavily on fog the last year or 2, my work as of late has been more bright and in your face. A trend I see myself continuing to explore. This again seemed to support the colorful aspect of the new name. Then, no matter how artistically gibberish this sounds I added the space and the period at the end of ‘Tourmaline’ i.e. ‘Tourmaline .’ This is a further distinction from the gem, and other companies and profiles with this name. It’s also a pause on the finality. I am Tourmaline . for now, ever evolving.

It was just last year that I discovered a huge community of toy photographers on instagram. Through that I was able to become a part of Exclu Collective and Toy Photographers – 2 publications that I’ve very much enjoyed working with. I also began participating in the daily hashtag competitions hosted by various instagram accounts in the community. It opened my eyes and showed me that in my art I could be a part of something. But, at the same time, as far as instagram is concerned, it made me feel more secluded than ever. Sure I’m creating 2D photographs out of 3D miniature scenes, but I’m not really part of a fandom. My images may occasionally represent nostalgia, but not for shows or movies from my childhood, more the feeling as a whole. Those in the toy photography community on instagram are creating beautiful things, but I sometimes have trouble calling myself a toy photographer, because I don’t quite relate to their ideas for why they make what they do.

With that, and various life events, I’ve pulled back from social media a bit. I’m sure those of you here have noticed with how active I’ve been with the blog challenges and such. For the most part I schedule daily posts, but I’ll be completely honest, that they don’t hold as much of me within them as the blog has for quite some time.

I suppose you could call it burn out, what with posting to instagram, google +, and wordpress daily, posting to Toy Photographers weekly, and still trying to maintain the creation of loads of new photos (that I’m happy with), my day job, etc.

I’ve had my qualms with the elite mentality of much of the fine art side of the world too, and have been submitting to less and less open calls. And am instead considering how to make my mark independently or upon careful selection of publications and galleries. I haven’t come to a conclusion on any of that yet.

All that to say, I’ve shifted my focus a bit. I’ve always been a very hands on creator, and my focus and passion remains in miniature diorama photography. I can’t say that my overall social media presence will increase anytime soon, but instead I have recently begun posting to youtube. I’m not used to filming the process of creating, but I’m learning and am pretty happy with what I’ve posted so far. The videos are allowing me an opportunity to try out and comment on cute, fun DIYs that I’ve been lusting after for quite some time. Hands on, messy and in the moment, I hope these videos will get your creative juices flowing and allow you to get to know me more personally over time. At the end of each video is a few miniature photos I made from the contents of the video. In that way I can still show off my main passion, and encourage myself to get creative in mini set ups.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcAGAzTbXWmgFV9rPMgQpAQ

Follow along if you’d like and comment what you’d like to see. It’s really just getting started, so go easy on me :P If videos aren’t your thing, no worries. I’m still here with WW, OWPC, CYW and daily photos. Or, check me out on instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/tourmalinenow/

Thanks for your continued support in my artistic ventures, no matter how crappy of a blog follower I’ve been in return.

<3 Tourmaline .

Re…

Rethinking, restructuring…

I’ve been in a transitional period with my art. Truly figuring out what I want to create and why and how I want to be perceived as an artist. Because of this you will have seen differences in the look of my site and blog and how active I’ve been on social media, commenting, etc. This is still in flux and will continue to change, but because of it I hope to be able to share some even better art and stories with you. In the mean time, I thank you for your patience.

-Tourmaline aka JNW aka Jennifer Nichole Wells

Reorganizing

Hi everyone,

I’m working on reorganizing things around here to improve the experience for you and me.

As of now, the plan is to continue to host all my current challenges – One Word Photo Challenge, Weekly Weather, Color your World and JNW’s Halloween Challenge. The only difference is that the prompt posts will look a little different.

 

I’ll post about challenges once a week on Sundays. The post will include a listing of that week’s upcoming themes for all challenges currently going on on this blog, the badge and my image for each and contribution instructions. Just comment on the weekly challenge post with a link to your contribution, no matter what challenge you’re joining in on.

You can of course always follow along with the upcoming topics at the links above.

I certainly hope this isn’t too confusing and that it will actually help you plan ahead.


Along with challenges posted on Sundays I’ll have more content for you too! The blog will look a little something like this:

Daily: New photos

Sundays: Blog Challenge Announcement

Mondays: My Mini Monday including miniature diys, toy photography behind the scenes, and miscellaneous other miniature musings

Tuesdays – Saturdays: Misc. articles, musing and image series


I think this will all be much more clear once the first challenge post appears. For consistency, the first new formatted challenge post will be up tomorrow, then going forward will be shared on Sundays.

Thanks for understanding.

-Jennifer

 

Instagram in the Era of the Shadow Ban

Raise your hand if you’re on instagram.

Have you heard the rumors about the ominous shadow ban?

If not, while instagram has simply only admitted there’s a hashtag glitch, it seems that they are purposefully hiding content from showing up in certain tags. This appears to be an effort to stop spamming and increase ad revenue.

This ban is then termed with the word ‘shadow’ because instagram doesn’t notify you that it’s hiding your content. Your images will show up to you in any tag you’ve placed them in. Your followers will also see your images. But to any non followers your content does not exist.

Why would your images get banned?

  1. Your account is linked to 3rd part apps that post, like or comment for you. Or you’ve paid for followers.
  2. The hashtags you post to have been reported for inappropriate content.
  3. Your posts have been reported multiple times.
  4. You have a business account and aren’t paying for ads.
  5. You post a ton of images a day.

Are your images banned?

  • Go to Instagram and copy the share URL for one of your images.
  • Go to this site and enter in that URL.

The site linked here checks through all your listed hashtags on your image to see if that image is showing up in those hashtag listings. It will then tell you where your image is seen and where it’s been banned.

If you enter your Instagram user name it will only check your most recently posted image. I recommend checking the URLs of a handful of your images instead.

If you’re banned, what can you do?

First note that there is no way or use in reporting this to instagram. They have not admitted that they are banning people only that there is an unsolved glitch. Instead, take steps to attempt to keep your images from being banned in the first place.

  1. Unlink any 3rd party apps.
  2. Switch back to a personal account if yours is set as business – some users have reported this decreasing their traffic for a couple days, but it should be back to normal after.
  3. Take a 48 hour instagram break – this supposedly resets your account.
  4. Check through all your hashtags. If the images posted in one look fishy, stop using that hashtag.
  5. Slow down on posting if you often post more than a few times a day.

These aren’t official fixes, just ones people have found work for them. Change what you’re willing to change and monitor how those changes effect your account.

What I’ve done since discovering my ban

My second account @felanzine does not have any images that come up as banned when using the above link. However my engagement has been way down recently. I switched this account back to ‘personal’ and within 12 hours my engagement was back up. I also noticed through this account that while instagram’s official per post hashtag limit is 30, I can now not use more than 22.

My primary account @jennifernicholewells does have many images banned, as you saw in the screenshots above. I don’t use any 3rd party apps at the moment and in checking through my hashtags everything looks normal. I’ve also only been posting 1 to 2 times per day. I’ve switched this account back to personal. I also noticed in the banned posts, the hashtags I used in my main caption were fine, but the one’s I used in a follow up comment, my images were banned from. So now I’ve paired down what hashtags I will be posting to, and I’m only posting those hashtags in the actual caption of the image. So far this method is working.


Check out the above link and let me know if you’ve been shadow banned and what you’re doing to combat it.

39th Annual Jacksonville Rail Fair

Just under a month ago I attended my 5th Jacksonville Rail Fair. It’s a tradition that I then blog about the experience, so here goes.

My goal as I attend each year, is to get some good pieces that I feel can be used in multiple images, and to get those pieces at a much lower price than I could get them online or in a hobby shop. I think I can say that we were quite successful this year.

My boyfriend has attended with me the past few years and between the two of us we can view each booth and eyeball the good stuff pretty quickly these days. It certainly helps that I’m not truly a train modeler and therefore often want the stuff others don’t.


Shots from the show:

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Poking an alligator

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Me in miniature :P

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Sharknado


And here’s what I got!

  • N Scale Warehouse – $5
  • N Scale Train Repair Building – $5
  • HO Scale Themed Restaurant – $5
  • HO Scale Freight Station – $2
  • HO Scale Fence – $6
  • HO/O Scale Lake – $4
  • Lichen – $0
  • 16 Pine Trees – $3
  • O Scale Military Set – 1 vehicle, 2 soldiers – $5
  • HO Scale Tower – $3

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The night after the train show I created some new images with my new props! I’m happy to be expanding my Headlights series.

See what I got in previous years here:

Upcoming Florida/Georgia train shows:

  • 59th Florida Rail Fair, Volusia County Fairgrounds, April 8, 2017 9:00 – 4:00
  • Big Bend Model Railroad Association 26th Annual Tallahassee Model Railroad Show & Sale, June 24, 2017 9:00 – 4:00
  • 53rd Atlanta Model Train Show Infinite Energy Forum, August 26, 2017 9:00 – 4:00
  • 40th Annual Jacksonville Rail Fair, February 10, 2018 9:00 – 5:00

Find one in your state here.


Is there an annual train show/rail fair in your area? Have you ever been? Let me know in a comment below.

If you’re interested in learning more about the world of miniatures, subscribe to my new newsletter – My Mini Monthly – here.

2016

2016 has come to an end, and as I’ve done for the past could of years, I’d like to share with you my personal favorite images I’ve created this past year.

Thank you to each of you for supporting me along the way.

January

Underwater Stairs

"I've heard rumors about the "Keepers of the Deep". I've wondered about them for quite some time. I believe they are the link between many of our stories. Their myth within our team is seldom spoken of. But here is what I gathered over the years. We are not meant to roam the depths of the ocean. And when a diver loses his life in the deep, it doesn't stay that way. They are cursed to forever roam the oceans. And when they find the living, in an envious rage, they will bring you back to the depths from which they came." - COADSD

background skelly

Headlights: Walk

February

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March

cop car - color

stop light color

flowers & bones

Elephant

April

keep

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xray 2

May

Stairs in the Woods

June

fence 1

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UFO House

UFO person

July

Apothecary-ish

Apothecary-ish

August

The Garden Maze

sand storm

September

SR-71

chemical-spill-iphone

graveyard-fog-color

 

October

forest-fountain

Hitmonlee

dog-man

 

November

Attempting Normal

Springtrap

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three

December

k2so1

by-the-numbers

hazmat-ab-build

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