diy{tape vase}…and camera back focus

When I said these would be simple FAST projects I wasn’t kidding! I don’t drink my coffee black, I girlie it up with cream & syrups. The syrups always come in great bottles…perfect for bud vases. Here is a quick craft for keeping glass out of the trash and cutely displayed instead! I am almost embarrassed to actually post this because it is so simple, but hey this one is for the moms that have about 4 minutes to craft…

Step 1:
Get your bottle

Step 2: Clean your bottle

Step 3: Wrap several layers of masking tape around it, trim tape with an exacto knife

Step 4: Add a band of scrapbooking paper, use double sided tape on one end to hold it together

Step 5: Add another layer of tape to keep the paper secure

Step 6: Add some cute ribbon trim. I used a paper trim and held it in place with double sided tape

Step 7: Add a thinner piece of trim and tie in a knot

Step 8: Find some pretty flowers

And you have one cutely re-purposed syrup bottle…and one that matches my blog background (thanks again  Katie Daisy)



I have been asked A LOT about how I get pictures with me in them, in focus and using the self timer. Well it is all about my focus button. The default focus button on your camera is your shutter button. This means you press it half way down to focus and all the way down to take the picture. Having one button serve two functions can be annoying at times. Have you ever tried to focus on something but your camera goes back and forth and just won’t focus where you want AND take the picture? One solution to this is to change the focus button on your camera. I can’t tell you have to do this for all your cameras, but you should be able to do a Google Search to find directions. In camera terms in it involves changing your “AF” button. On most of the canon models you can find it in your Menu under Custom Functions. I believe it is Custom Function 4. It should say “Shutter/AE lock button”. I use option 3 “AE/AF, no AE lock”

I will say there are differing opinions on using back button focus. I love it and will never go back. It does take a little while to get used to it. Try it out, do some Google Searches and you can find all kinds of discussion boards about the pros and cons…and better descriptions of all the AE/AF options. This only works on manual modes. If you are an automatic shooter it won’t work.

Here is a play by play on how it works. The back focus button only works when you are in the manual shooting modes (Av, Tv, M, P, S, A). Here is what my camera did on fully automatic when I tried to focus on the area of the table I would be standing. It wanted to focus on my son’s hand moving in front of the camera…and the picture is DARK.

This shot is using manual settings, the back button focus and the self timer.

In order to get in self timer shots, I set up the picture and focus on an object that is the same distance from the camera as I will be.

Once I have everything set up, I use the self timer again and I step into the picture. Depending on my aperture setting, I am careful not to change the distance I am from the camera compared to the object I focused on.

Another great aspect of back button focusing is your camera doesn’t jump around when you try to focus. I can still focus on exactly what I want using automatic lens focus (with manual camera settings). It can be so annoying when your focus and shutter are the same button!

In this picture, the camera is set on automatic mode. I was trying to focus on my son, but the camera kept jumping to focus on the crayons in the back.

Here I used the back button focus to capture the crayons without the annoying lens jumping. Using the back button focus is kind of like using MF on your lens…only it is AF on your lens with more control.

And here I focused on Big Brother.

Don’t forget the Lemon Poppy Shoppe (where I got the ribbon for this craft) and Expressions Vinyl giveaways are still going on (enter on Monday & Tuesday’s posts)

So there you go..a simple diy and back button focusing. Today I changed your lives. 🙂


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  • Casa e Cose - …but Crafts like that is perfect for someone like me who does not have any patience what so ever! thanks!
    And the photo thing explination even better. We have a CANON and we never seem to get it right. Will try with your advice.


  • Lisa - Thanks for the info on focusing and using the self-timer…Although, as I don’t have your brilliant photography knowledge, I’m fearful of tampering with my camera’s settings…However, for the less technically inclined, I have found that setting the camera to the ‘landscape’ (the one that looks like a little mountain), which focus everything in both the foreground and background, often works well when using the self-timer.

  • giozi - I love the today DIY and your pics.
    I must to buy these tapes too… ha ha ha. In fact now I have some in my Etzy favorites.
    When I see your pics I think that I need a Reflex very soon, is vital to me now, ha ha ha if I want to be better I need it, and I only can practise in manual mode. Whit a compact I can’t.
    Thanks for your tips again 😉

  • Julie - I agree with Helena. Sometimes I only have a few minutes to be creative! Something simple like this makes it easy for me to get my crafty fix and not feel like I neglected the things that make the house run or my kiddos. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • karen davis - WOAH back button focusing…. LOVE it! Trying it out tomorrow… thank you thank you thank you!

  • Lisa Johnson - Hooray for 4 minute crafts! I love this!

  • Mandy - I’ve known about back button focus but always been nervous to try it (what if someone else needs to use my camera) – – but your pictures are convincing me to make the change – thanks for all the tips!

  • Rachel C - Super cute vase! Don’t be ashamed to post the 4 minute craft projets. Those are my favorite!

  • Joy Andrews - I wish I could come to one of your pix clinics-but I can try and learn via blogging-Thanks for your time!

  • Maike - OMG you really did change my life with this super camera tip! thanks love it already

  • Melissa - For the last year, I have thought that my camera didn’t have back button focus and I was jealous of everyone that did. Turns out I do have it! Thanks so much!!!

  • erin - thanks so much for the focus tips. i sort of knew about this, but now i will take the time to work on it. during our recent vacation af was giving me so much trouble!

    this may be my first comment here, but i have been reading for quite some time. love all of your crafty ideas, photography, and humor. keep it coming!

  • Katie - The craft is great, but I’m super psyched about the photo tip!! I hate having to try to focus with the shutter button only to find that the camera wants to focus on everything but what I want to the focus to be. So excited to try the back focus button!!

  • Samantha - Seriously, Ashley. You did just totally change my {photography} life today! I always hate using my timer {I have a Canon 20d too} with me in the photo because the focus is NEVER where I want it. Ahh-mazing. I never knew that was possible!!

  • the inadvertent farmer - Lol…at first glance I thought that was an alcohol bottle. I figured since I was redoing a Corona bucket today that it only seemed fitting your were doing something similar!

    Now I see that it is a syrup bottle…which turned at darling! Kim

  • Jenna - That a great idea! I need something for my bathroom to add some color and this is the perfect thing. I am thinking of making three and putting them in an old thin crate. Thanks for the idea!!!

  • Jen - I switched to back button focus a year ago and agree, it rocks! Keep the DIY projects coming. They are great 🙂

  • Laura - Thanks for the photo tip! I’m such a visual learner so seeing the examples along with the tutorial is awesome! I can’t wait to give this a try!

  • Yolanda - I switched to back button focusing a few weeks ago and I love it 290%. Love the simply dressed up bottles. And your tutorial on Design Aglow today was sublime. You are one creative force. A font of inspiration.

  • Stefanie - Kids!!! Get ready! We’ll be takin’ some pics tonight! 🙂

  • allison - This simple DIY is just what I needed for today! I’ll take a study break this afternoon, and pick some flowers on my way home. I am loving these quick projects 🙂

  • Deidre - I found you today through the Design Aglow blog and wanted to thank you for the focusing tutorial. I have been struggling with focus for quite a while (forever as a matter of fact). I tried this out today, and it works like a dream! I was afraid it would feel weird or would be hard to get used to, but I actually find it to be much easier! Thank you, thank you! Also, I love the button lettering on onesies. I am definitely going to try this with newborn/baby clients! I will be reading your blog from now on!

  • julie - dude. where is the masking tape from. i needs it.
    also, I changed to back button focusing about a month ago and it weirded me out at first, but now I loves it. Loves. It is fun telling the camera who is the boss.

  • nori - THANK YOU for that tutorial on focusing with the timer. i can’t say that i totally get it… but it’s not you, it’s me. i’m a total beginner- i’m still learning f stops, aperture, etc… it’s all greek to me. :o) that combined with the fact that i’m beat = confused girl. i’ll come back to it tomorrow when i’m well rested and i’m sure it’ll make more sense then. again… THANK YOU so much for sharing that! i can’t wait to absorb it and test it out.

  • Jennifer - This is SO pretty!

  • Karen - I love the simple DIY projects- they are perfect for those of us who can only craft while the kiddos are napping. Love the giveaways this week!

  • Colleen - Love this diy project. So super cute! Where did you get your washi tape?

  • Tammy Kay - I’m super duper excited that you shared this. I’m trying really hard to understand the manual mode. I’m really hoping that you will put together an online workshop because if you do I will be the first to sign up!
    THanks for the tutorial, yay!

  • Kerrie - Wow.. I love your crafts!! And the Canon tip — I think it might just change me! 🙂

  • Sarah - Where did you get the pastel colored masking tape? All I can find is the blue paint tape. Help! I want to make one of these. 🙂 Keep the easy-peasy, super fast crafts coming.

  • Ari Morris - I’m going to have to try that for sure! thanks for all the tips, you are fantastic, Ashley!

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  • Cynthia - THANK YOU for your thorough explanation of this!!! I’ve been hearing so much about “Back Button” focus, but not fully understanding the benefit, but now I do. 🙂

    Love your sight!!!!!!

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