Sunday, March 11, 2012

Question From Reader: zooming in

Dee - I teach nurse practitioners how to stitch patients, and it looks like you use a magnifying camera to demonstrate in your classes so participants can see close-up of what you are doing. Just curious if you could share how/what you use to do this. Thanks for your time. Denise

Hi Denise,
Thank you for noticing my photography.  I've been enjoying taking photos of various subjects since I was a youngster; but for me, it didn't really come into focus (pardon the pun) until I took a class on photography while attending college.

While I do recommed taking a class or two, and/or reading various how-to books, I will gladly spill the beans on how I make my images "magnified."

Step 1: Know the subject matter.

In this photo from my knit blog, I wanted the needles to be the main focus, not the actual stitches. Every digital camera I've owned, including my newest (a Lumix G2 made by Panasonic), lets me "pre-focus" before taking the actual picture.  And, since it IS a digital age, taking a bunch of shots from different view points (all while pre-focusing) doesn't hurt.  The images you don't use can always be deleted.

Step 2: Use that macro option!

Every digital camera I've ever owned has a macro option; some better than others.  The macro lets you take a picture from just barely a foot away from the subject matter, to mere inches away.  Since every camera has different limitations, knowing them is important.  Most of us don't need to macro (or zoom) in on every little detail.  If you can use the macro option from a foot away, then do it.  Don't forget to pre-focus on your subject!

In the image above of the "Knot Just Grannies Ring" (new pattern available on Ravelry), I used the macro option on my camera, and I put the pre-focus on the stitch work.  This makes my subject "pop" -- drawing your eye to it.

Step 3: Have good lighting

How the light hits your subject is important.  With crochet (or knit stitches) the light can either work with you -- or against you.  Sometimes the shadows will help define the stitches, other times it will make the stitches hard to "read."  Experimenting with light to get the right shot is worth the time invested.  Natural lighting (from the sun) is recommended, but not at high noon (too harsh!).

Step 4: Know your subjects surroundings

When I take pictures I look at what is around and behind my subject.  I don't want things like dirty dishes distracting from my subject.  With the image of the granny square ring above, I wanted my background to help tell a story of "elegance & creativity." So, in this case, the beads are "part of the story" I want my photograph to tell.  In the first photograph of the knitting needles, I took the picture on my laptop to help tell the story that "I'm working to learn more about this." 
Same knot shot from earlier, only cropped.
If by chance you did take a great shot and the dirty dishes ARE in the background, then photo editing will become your next best friend.  Sometimes you can crop the dirty dishes out, which in this case you can use something like Microsoft's Paint program that comes with PCs (I'm not sure what Apple offers).  Other times, when cropping won't work, and you want those dirty dishes to disappear,  then you need to invest in a photo editing program, like Paint Shop Pro.
I am by no means a professional photographer, but by taking classes, reading how-to books, and by practicing, I've learned what I like. 

If you're interested, here's a blog post I wrote back in 2005 on my photography skills/recommendations:

I hope this helps.


Sherri said...

hi Dee, wow I always lern from you and your blog. Hey you mentioned that there was some kind of convention on crochet coming in September to Reno Nevada can you send me the info or where I can find it? Are you going to be there? Blessings, Sherri said...

Hi Sherri, The CGOA's Fall/Regional (not sure if that's what they're still calling it) ChainLink conference will be in Reno, NV. The main conference will be in the Summer, held in NH. Information about the CGOA can be found here:, which will lead to more information here:

No, I will not be attending either conference this year. Have a great time if you go! :)