Getting the correct exposure when working in Auto (more accurate color representation)
For those of you photographing yarn, all of the same applies from the previous tutorials except your getting more of a product shot and it’s more important to pay direct attention to what you are placing your yarn on. Lots of people use white light boxes. I don’t so I don’t have much to say about them except I think they are great. If you don’t want to go that route a pretty stone boulder, or wooden step can be a nice backdrop for your yarn. Avoid distracting things like mesh iron tables, flat plastic plain green table tops (the out door variety) or glass (reflects light badly sometimes). Try photographing your yarn on several surfaces and see what turns out best when you get back to the computer. If you are photographing a dark yarn you may need to place it on a medium toned surface so the yarn color does not photograph too darkly. Avoid a sheet, its wrinkles will show up. If you insist though, iron it out very well and find a bright spot in the corner of your kitchen so you can smooth the sheet out perfectly on your table. A wrinkly background is always very distracting. Maybe try the back of wrapping paper, most of us have some stashed in our closet someplace. The best would be some poster board from a local big box store or even better, a crafts supplies store.
A reminder for those working in Auto, to HOLD DOWN THE POP-UP FLASH on your fancy DSLR so the flash doesn’t go off, the camera will automatically adjust the settings to work without the flash, but if you don’t do this it will be very lazy and use the flash which almost always makes for a flat picture. For point-and-shoot camera’s turn the flash auto mode to OFF. Some may even have a no-flash-but-still-auto setting but I don’t know your camera. Holding it down works on most DSLR cameras.
Natural Light Outside
If you are taking photos outside, the absolute worst time to take pictures is mid-day. Instead you should be taking photos just after sunrise or 1-2 hours before sun-set. Overcast days do make it easier to photograph mid-day but you can’t always count on that.
I know, I owe you guys a NYC part 3, I am so slow. I finished the two projects I was working on for publication and I am so happy to be done with those! Now I am swatching and sketching for the book whenever the kids let me. Last night I caught up on a bunch of Petite Purls work, and I wanted to share with you our latest free pattern (designed and knit by the wonderful Thomas Wermuth, Allegra’s dad!) which I was very happy to photograph.
I recommend you at least read this part of the tutorial to get your brain thinking, Part 3 will still totally apply to you if you are using your DSLR in Auto mode, or if you are using a point and shoot camera. Let me get this stuff out of the way here before getting into the meaty beats about how to use light most effectively.
DSLR Camera Modes (Auto vs Manual etc)
Lets take a moment to talk about using a semi-pro or pro camera like the Nikon D80/90. When I first got my fancy camera nearly 3 years ago, I was using it in Auto mode, and sometimes when I am very tired I still do. The scary truth is I’ve used my camera in Auto for many of my published photos, and they not only turned out well, but really amazing sometimes. I felt when I first started using the camera, that it was far more important for me to focus on my use of natural light, composition and styling then it was to stress about how in the world to have the photo come out properly exposed. Proper exposure is a beast, it’s confusing and intimidating. At-least it was to me. All those numbers on all those dials. I had just had a baby, I was sleep deprived, lets just keep it simple shall we? Maybe this helps you not be so intimated by those “pro” cameras, truth is due to technology they are not very scary at all.
This is part one in a series of post about how to improve your photography skills. The target audience would be knitters who spend a lot of time knitting beautiful things and want to have a beautiful photo capturing all that hard work, as well as knitwear designers (new or established) who want to take their own photography for their published patterns.