Thursday, October 17, 2013

Taking Photos Of Quilts Part 2

Last week, I told you how I solved the problem of getting all of my quilt photos in focus. Now, I’ll tell you how I solved the problem of getting my camera to read the correct colors of my quilts. For some of my quilts, the camera didn’t seem to have any problem at all. The colors in the photo matched perfectly the colors of the quilt. But, for some reason, the camera has a problem reading teals and other blues.
     To counteract that, I always used to set the camera into its “program” mode instead of auto mode. And then I set the white balance by aiming the lens at a white surface like a white piece of paper or the white design wall and setting the white balance. Then I took the photo. The photo came out ok, but not great. The other thing I did to counteract the problem was to try to adjust the color after I took the photo using Photoshop Elements. Sometimes, I could get the photo to get very close to the actual colors of the quilt. But every now and then, I just could not get it right. It was very frustrating. Taking the photo outside when the sun was out, but not in the direct sunlight worked the best, but that meant that I had to wait for a good weather day and I had to have a spot with no shadows that would fall on the quilt. 

     Then I found this link Shoot That Quilt! from Holly Knott (By the way, she also designs websites) and it made a world of a difference!  The key is to use the lights that she recommends.  The lights are inexpensive. They are so much like daylight and so economical that I installed one in a lamp on my craft table and one in an overhead light hanging from a ceiling fan in my studio. The only problem I have with the set up in the description from the link, is that the clamps on the reflectors that I bought had a tendency to slip off of the 2x4’s and one fell onto the floor and broke one of the lights. So to solve that, I tied a strip of fabric to the reflector and put a push-pin for extra security. Here is a photo that shows how I secure the light to the 2x4.
Secured with fabric and push-pin into 2x4

So now I can take photos no matter what the weather is outside. I set up the lights (side by side) just as Holly describes in her article in the link. When they aren't being used, I keep the lights (screwed into the reflectors attached to the fabric strips) stored in a drawer. And I keep the 2x4 stands against a wall in the studio.  It is very quick to set them up and get the camera on the tripod. I can get it all ready to shoot in about 15 minutes.
     Here is a photo of an art quilt I made called “Water Cycles” that I had a great deal of trouble getting accurate colors on the photo until I used these lights. It has a lot of teal and other blues in it. (I don't know why that particular hue is so difficult to photograph on my quilts.) When I used the lights Holly Knott recommended, the photo was perfect without any adjustments.


Water Cycles Art Quilt


     The other thing I discovered about lighting is that for quilts that have a sheen, foil, or have a glossy fabric, it helps to move the lights as far back as possible to reduce glare.
     I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can see other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you visited.

9 comments:

  1. Quite a job to get a good photo!

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    1. Once I've learned how, now it only takes about 15 minutes to get it all set up to take a photo. I think I'll make another post with a short summary of how to set it all up so that it sounds easier. Because it really is not bad.

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  2. Very helpful information, thanks for sharing!

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    1. I hope I can make it easy and less daunting for others.

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  3. thanks for the great information and the link. taking good photos is always a challenge and helpful tips are always appreciated. looking forward to the next installment.

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  4. Okay, now that you are ready to shoot, I'll be right over and you can take photos of all my quilts. They almost always have teal. Really a great two posts. I need remedial help in photos, and a new camera. And tripod. And more lights.
    LeeAnna Paylor
    ps, I'm doing really well letting my work go this time, heh, heh thanks for your comments Regina

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    1. I still don't have fun taking photos of the quilts, but it doesn't take long now. I got the tripod for a Christmas present and, as I wrote, the lights are inexpensive (cheaper than some at Lowe's or Home Depot). To make it worth the shipping cost, I ordered a bunch and use them in other places in the house, too, where I need a bright, clean light. You're welcome to come over to exchange artworks, but you'll have to take your own photos (smile).

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  5. I just recently discovered that link as well Regina. So good of you to post it here!

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