Taking photographs of quilt can be very challenging. I used to photograph quilts in front of my garage door — outside. I had a board covered with black felt — but if the wind kicked up, the whole thing could fly away. The sun might be too bright and I would pray for a cloudy day. It might be raining. It was a difficult system to rely on.
And then someone on QuiltArt pointed me in the direction of Holly Knott’s webpage Shoot That Quilt! After that, I made a few purchases & set up everything inside. I ordered the special bulbs — a few photography stands — reflector lamps at Wal-Mart — and I found a tripod somewhere in a closet.
I still have the same basic setup. The tripod could stand to be replaced. It skews slightly to the left — but I haven’t worried about it much because I always make corrections in Photoshop.
My backdrop is usually black but I almost always have a black binding on my art quilts and occasionally someone will ask for a white backdrop so they can see the entire outline of the quilt.
For the proposal I’m working on today, I can’t make any adjustments in Photoshop. The camera has to do all of the heavy lifting and the original picture has to be as perfect as I can make it. (To adjust for the tripod, I had to hang the pieces slightly sideways which felt strange but I used the viewfinder to put it where it needed to be for the picture to be straight in the camera.)
I slowed my ISO to 80, set my exposure for daylight fluorescent lighting (otherwise I get a bluish cast that becomes most apparent in closeups), turned off my flash, upped the megapixels to 12.1, and set a 10 second timer. I lined up the quilt perfectly within the top & bottom of the camera field (with the tilt of the camera at 45 degrees), adjusted the lamps so that one hit the top area & one hit the bottom area, and took the picture. For closeups, I set the macro option on my camera and moved the lighting in closer.
I’ve outgrown my camera. This is painful for me to say. I’ve really enjoyed the point and shoot for several years — but I’ve reached the limit of what I can do with its manual settings. I’m currently reading Chasing the Light, and it only highlights what I all ready know — it’s time for a DSLR.
Cause for Celebration
Two of my quilts were just juried into the World of Beauty exhibit at International Quilt Festival: Houston — Bukonyan Elder and Just Call Me Jack. I’m hoping someone takes a picture of them hanging in the show for me. Festival runs November 3 – 6, 2011 and features the largest display of art quilts in the world (although it shows an equally impressive display of traditional quilts). The entire show is the size of eleven football fields. Mind boggling, isn’t it?