Monday, April 18, 2005

Question from Reader: Taking the Best Shot

Dear Dee,
I stumbled upon your blog and then found your picturetrail website. I love all your crochet work. Can you tell me what camera you use and what you do for lighting? I want to take pictures of my crochet work and like the way you photograph yours.
Sincerely, Lisa

Hi Lisa,
Thank you for the compliment on my work. I have on "extended loan" from my father a Kodak EasyShare DX7630 digital camera. I've had it in my possession for a few weeks now and am really enjoying all the features. It's got 6.1 megapixel, and easy to select options (for choosing what type of photo you're taking). I like the way it feels in my hand, the weight of it, and it's ease of use.  I love it so much, I don't think I'll be returning it to my father any time soon! LOL (BTW: this camera is on sale this week at
Staples ... they're including a free 256mb secure digital memory card, and they're taking $50 off the camera.)

For backgrounds I usually use various colors of fabric. I like fabric rather than paper because the fabric can be folded and draped in ways that will flatter the piece you're looking to photograph. Plus, afterwards, it can be folded and stored whereas paper risks being creased and damaged. The fabric I use depends upon the project, but mostly I'm careful that it doesn't have a reflective quality to it.

For lighting, I try to use natural lighting whenever possible. This means, since my kitchen faces south (and I live in the north) I get a lot of fantastic sunlight on my kitchen table. If I need filler light, I have a clip-on lamp with a GE Reveal bulb ... and I'll toy around with the flash options on the camera.  The goal is to reduce shadows but not to wash out the texture of the crochet work.

As an example, let's look to this picture on the right. I took black fabric and draped it in front of my refrigerator. I had my son stand in two positions with the hat worn either red side out or the yellow side out. I used my clip on light to create lighting and snapped away. Then I used Microsoft's simple "Paint" program to mesh the two photos together and add the text. That was a fun photo to take!

As for the photos themselves, I try to follow what's known as the "rule of thirds." What this means is that when I'm looking through the lens, I make a mental note to divide the picture into 9 squares. Then I look at how my eye bounces around the subject. If my eye keeps coming back to the subject and not wander off to the edge (and fail to return), then it's a good shot. This website will help explain the rule of thirds:

Finally, I try taking pictures from different angles rather than straight on. This helps to give the subject more dimension or interest ... take the photo to the left as an example. Here I took Pam's afghan and "wrinkled" it up a bit, placed the hook and the yarn in the shot and thought to myself, "well, if I wanted to go and reach over to pick that hook up, what would be a good vantage point to see that?" So, keeping the natural lighting in the back (there were two large windows nearby), I moved around until I saw the shot and took it. 

Now lets look at the image to the right.  Again, I used natural lighting. The chair was placed under a window with natural light streaming in. I knelt on the floor and took the shot because here it's a baby blanket, on a child's chair, and I thought to myself, "If I were a child walking into the room, what would the blanket look like?"

I hope this helps with your photography, and hey, when you're ready to show off your crochet work, let me know! I'd love to check it out! ... and thanks again for writing in! :)


Anonymous said...

Excellent advice, Dee!  As for backgrounds and fabrics, always best to try different colors of fabric as well before taking the shot.  A person doesn't want one that will blend in with the piece but one that makes it stand out.  You probably knew this but I didn't see it specifically addressed.  Cute pic of your son too!  For a moment there, I thought I was looking at a couple of DOLLS, not a live human being!!!  Sheila

Anonymous said...

Wow Dee,

Awesome information.  I am going to take this information and tuck it away when ever I use my camera.  I really appreciate the information you are sharing.  As for the camera... AWESOME! It's the same camera that we bought my parents and they love it.  My son has taken lots of pictures with it and I love the results.  Thank you so much for the information on how to take awesome pictures.