Sunday, January 25, 2009

A narrow slice of light

As I've said before, I struggle with how to take pictures of hand woven fabric. I want them for my own records, of course, but I also need good photos to put on the shop website, on the photo frame we have on the counter in the shop, for marketing and advertising, on my blog, etc. etc. It's tricky to get a picture that shows off an item well, shows off the woven structure, shows off the particular features of the item you want to showcase, etc. etc.

Last time I mentioned photography, Peg pointed me to David Taylar Daniel's blog and I've since spent a lot of time enjoying his posts and inspecting his beautiful pictures for clues. I absolutely love this one from this post, and am very intrigued by this one from this post, too.1 I particularly like the way the second one looks like he's just dangled the scarf from a height and dropped it into a pile.

Of course, one of the things that make David's pictures so beautiful is the lighting and one of my biggest problems with photography is that my house has very little light - a sad fact that has meant the death of many houseplants since we moved here. There are only two windows that get much light: the bedroom and the office, neither of which is suited for taking pictures. My dining room window gets a fair bit of indirect light for a narrow slice of the day, so that's where and when I take most pictures.

Another site that gave me some great tips about how to set things up is this one, one of Caro's many great tutorials over on splityarn. Her setup is pretty much exactly what I've been using lately, except that mine's on the seat of the chair to get it up closer to the window instead of down on the floor.

I finished the flannel binding on the first baby blanket last night and today I wanted to take some pictures. I missed the narrow slice of light but I went ahead anyway and this time, after doing the usual shots with the blanket arranged in the usual way, I tried David's drop-into-a-puddle trick.

Here's the entire puddle from the front...

...and from the side.

The front one shows off the binding well but doesn't do much for me otherwise. The side one is a bit more interesting but it's too busy and there's too much other stuff cluttering up the frame.

Next I pulled in really tight from the side and got a picture I'm really happy with:

The colours aren't very accurate because of the lack of light but I really like the narrow focal depth and the way the fabric curves. Of course, it doesn't show off the flannel binding, nor show the entire piece so it's not really a good product shot but I think it'll work well in other places. I still need to play with it in Photoshop a bit to see if I can correct the colours but even as it is I quite like it. I forsee more puddles in my future!

The ones I took before the puddle attempt show off the binding better. Here's a close up...

...and a draped-over-the-chair shot:

I'd be very curious to know which shot(s) other people prefer, so I added a poll to the sidebar over there on the right.2. You can pick more than one if you like a couple of them. Please vote!

NB: To really see the photos well, you've got to click on the picture and see it in its own window at full size. They lose some quality when they get squashed into the frame on the blog page. The puddle close up, for instance, looks blurry on my monitor when I look at it inside the blog, but when I click it into its own window it looks quite sharp.

1. Holy cow! Sorry for the many links but there doesn't appear to be way to link directly to the pictures I mean inside their respective posts and I didn't want to put David's images on my own blog, nor give them to you completely out of context.

Of course, it's going to sit there long after this post has scrolled to the bottom and I haven't figured out a way to put a link back to the post from the poll gadget. Meh, what can you do?

Update: The poll has closed! Puddle side and Binding close up got one vote each (16%), Puddle close up got two (33%), and Draped over chair got four (66%).

True confessions time: I considered only relaying the percentages so that it would look like heaps and heaps of people voted, but of course it is quality rather than quantity that counts. HFD is like the Vinyl Cafe: We may not be big, but we're small!

Thanks to everyone who voted!

1 comment:

Dave Daniels said...

There are so many different ways to take photos, it seems endless. My setup is similar to Caro, I use white foam core on the floor. I have no sunlight, so I DO use the flash. One of the important things is the finishing/post processing software. That makes all the difference.
Experiment and have fun!