Monday, February 08, 2010

I'm up for a Bobby? What?

I got a message a few days ago on Ravelry thanking me for my info on how to take better photos and wishing me luck for the awards.  Awards?  What awards?  Turns out I've been nominated for a Bobby Award on Ravelry for "most educational post/thread".


The post was a response to a thread on how to take better pictures of your knitting and I thought why not reproduce it here for any of you not on Ravelry who may have been wondering about my photos.  So here it is:

posted about 1 year ago (Sunday, July 6), edited about 1 year ago
reply to Gidgeflibbit's post #27
I am a researcher by trade (actually I was a researcher, now I’m just a mom with knitting design aspirations ;0) but I did take a certificate in photography from the Adult Ed faculty of a local university (Concordia in Montreal) for fun as a hobby and found it not only super cool (this was in the days of film cameras and actual darkrooms with red lights and lots of chemicals…you know, like sooo 5 years ago!) but it has served me so much over the years. Most important thing I’ve learned: it’s not the camera, it’s you bay-bee!

98% of the pictures on my blog and here on Ravelry are from a very reasonably priced Canon Powershot point and shoot digital camera that I bought 4 years ago.
Here’s my modus operandi for knitting picture taking:
{1} As many have noted before, natural light is a must. Flash does terrible things to knitting and people. Don’t do it!
{2} Neutral background is best. I take most of my knitting photos on top of my son’s white dresser.
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{3} Before you snap, take a moment to carefully look at your ‘pose’ through the viewfinder (or LCD screen) and remove any distracting elements in the background. I like to remove everything but the knitting (since we all know everything else is completely irrelevant anyway, LOL!) If you can’t remove a distracting element, angle your camera in such a way that you don’t see it anymore.
{4} Check your angle! Sometimes it’s nice to have a low angle on your knitting especially with close-up shots of your handiwork for a nice artsy shot.
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But for each project, I try to also have a no frills shot which I take by standing up on a chair so I’m high above my project (which is usually laid out on my son’s dresser) and try to hold the camera as parallel as possible to my knitting project so that it is not distorted at all.
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It helps if you have a straight line as a point of reference: just keep playing with the camera’s angle until the straight line in your photo is also perfectly straight (see how the lines in the ribs below are parallel to the edges of the photo…)
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{5} If your camera has a “macro” setting which on most camera is represented by a little flower icon - use it ALL THE TIME for still shots of your knitting…even if you aren’t close. That’s how you get cool effects like sharp focus on parts of your knitting and nice blurry backgrounds (especially prominent if you are at a low angle so that parts of your knitting are closer and others are further away from the lens as it’s the distance from the lens that causes some stuff to be in focus and others to be further).
I also use the macro for further away shots to stabilise the lens and avoid motion blurr, especially when the light isn’t great but I don’t want to use the flash. When you set your camera on macro and then hit the button to snap your picture, you’ll notice that it sometimes takes the lens a few extra seconds to get it’s focus and that it automatically takes the shot when it does get focus. This way, the camera won’t be ‘shaken’ with the pressure of your finger on the shutter at the very moment it takes the shot so your chances of avoiding camera shake with the macro are actually pretty good even in low light situations… Of course, the macro is fantastic for it’s intended purpose as well which is taking really close-up shots.
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{6} For really nice saturated colours and great sharp contrasts, check your camera’s manual to see if you can set the “White Balance” or “Colour balance”. Most cameras have this feature. On my camera, if I go in the menu where I can set “black and white”, “sepia”, etc… there is also an option for “vivid” which I always select as the default. This makes the colours truly pop while being true to themselves. If you don’t have this option, see if you have a setting for “shade” which basically gives you the same result.
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Finally, check out http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech.htm for lots of fantastic (really, really fantastic) tutorials and how to’s for great photos. You have t scroll down a bit to check out all the articles on every photography topic you can think of. This guy’s really great at explaining how to get the most from your camera in a real straight forward way.
Hope this helps ;0)


I'm so excited!  I don't know who nominated me but I'm thrilled that someone felt it helpful enough to nominate.  So thank you whoever you are!!
p.s. - my Ravelry username is annypurls for anyone who might be interested in friending me there ;0)

p.p.s. - don't know what Ravelry is?  Check it out at www.ravelry.com

14 comments:

  1. Congrats on your nomination! I have the same white dresser (Ikea, right?) but have never thought of taking photos of my knitting on it. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  2. Thanks for all the wonderful photo tips! I'm on Ravelry but don't spend enough time to read everything I'd like to-usually finding patterns and trying to knit them as fast as possible!! I'll have to go check out the "Bobby Awards" now. Congrats on that and the wonderful playmat too!

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  3. Anonymous6:27 PM

    i've always been inspired to take more/better pictures of my own knits since visiting your blog and seeing your own shots. i've just gone over to ravelry to add you to my friends list (dreamvoyageur). see ya there!
    christine m. east of toronto

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  4. Thanks for the great tips! I'm not a great fotographer, but I'll certainly try out your suggestions. Who knows? Congratulations for the nomination and good luck!

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  5. Congrats on your nomination! That is a very helpful set of guidelines that you posted. I just discovered that our glass dining room table is a good surface for knitting photos. The light can come from underneath as well, which looks nice, especially on lace.

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  6. what an awesome, awesome run down! thanks so very much

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  7. Sandee5:16 PM

    I voted for ya! Good luck!

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  12. Congrats on your nomination! That is a very helpful set of guidelines that you posted. I just discovered that our glass dining room table is a good surface for knitting photos. The light can come from underneath as well, which looks nice, especially on lace.

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    ReplyDelete