Being able to take a decent photo of our wonderful creations is increasingly important in this digital age, but getting that photo can sometimes be challenging. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get that photo.
What sort of camera is needed? You don’t need an “All Singing, All Dancing” camera. The BEST camera for you is the one that you already have and are comfortable using. Some of my best photographs have been taken with my Samsung Galaxy A40 phone which is quite a few years old, and has a cracked screen!
What about Lighting? Natural light is your friend. A day that is a little cloudy can be better than a very bright sunny day as there will be fewer shadows to have to accommodate. Dappled light can look fabulous in real life, but those beautiful dappled areas are very distracting in a photo. I don’t have any special lighting equipment. I generally try to avoid using flash and avoid indoor lights, preferring instead to make use of as much bright, indirect light as I can manage. House lights can change the look of the colours of your fabrics, as can bright direct sunlight. If you have a room with some decent sized windows or patio doors you may find that you can get some good shots inside, but my house is a Victorian Terraced Railway Workers cottage – windows are in fairly short supply! If you are able to, you may wish to slow down the shutter speed a little to allow in more light to compensate for not using flash.
The photos below show the same piece at different stages of construction. The first photo is taken in my loft with the morning light filtering in through the velux behind me. At that time of day the sun is on the other side of the house but the light is still good. The quilt is hanging vertically on a design wall. The colour is good. The second photo was taken in full sun in my back yard. The quilt top is lying flat on the ground. The colour is bleached out by the harsh bright sun.
Curvy Flying Geese – 2020
Indoor Natural Light
Outdoor Full Sun
Prepare your quilt – Make sure you have taken off all hanging threads. Run a lint roller over the quilt to remove any bits of fluff, cat hair etc. Run an iron lightly over the quilt or allow it to hang for a few days if it has been folded for a while – those storage creases can really show up in a photo! Think about WHERE you will photograph your quilt and if you will need any props – a hanger, tape to stick it to a wall, a step ladder so that you can get up to the right height, someone to make sure the cat doesn’t sit on it the moment you lay it out!
Just look at those vertical creases in the quilt below. By the time you get to the bottom of the quilt, it is not hanging straight as the vertical creases are creating ripples. The photograph was taken outside on a slightly overcast afternoon. The colour is good.
Tumbling Triangles – 2021
Outdoor Natural Light
Where to photograph your quilt – Look around you and see what will make a good backdrop. Remember to think about natural light. Be creative
If you look at the next photo, it is an “OK” shot but it could still be improved. The quilt is almost parallel – it does veer in a bit towards the bottom. That slightly trapezoid shape is a bit of a pest. The background should be less interesting – a plain wall would be better. You want the edges of the quilt to be as close to the edge of image as possible, without cutting off the binding. The colour is good – it is representative of the actual quilt and there are no shadows falling across it.
Going Underground – 2021
Outdoor Natural Light – shady spot,
There may be somewhere local to you that would create a good backdrop.
I have a white wooden shed. I have screwed in some big cup hooks and suspend a clothes prop across between them. I can hang my quilts from that (See Tumbling Triangles above). Grab a tame Quilt Hanger (my tall son is perfect, if a little short on attention span for the job!) but make sure you crop out the feet and hands! If you have absolutely nowhere that will create a “clean” background then consider sticking a well-pressed sheet to the patterned wall, or use a roll of plain wallpaper. If you are going to use the floor, make sure that you can get high enough over the quilt to be able to get a straight image of the whole quilt.
Taking your photograph – Think about composition. It is good to have a picture of the whole quilt as a flat lay so be sure to get parallel to the quilt. If your camera has a grid showing in the viewfinder, use it. Square up the view of your quilt (tops and sides) against the grid so that you don’t end up with a trapezoid! Take a deep breath in, steady your body (maybe tuck your elbows in to your sides) and click!
The good news is that – like most things – the more we practice, the better we get at selecting the right opportunities, taking the pictures themselves and then editing them – but that’s a different set of skills.
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