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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quilt Photography- or, I Am Not a Shutterbug

Beth at Plum and June is hosting a monthly quilt photography link party to help raise the level of blog photography for those of us who struggle with it.  I have to admit, I am not a shutterbug.  Although I want my blog photos to be nice and clear, and have good color, I don't fuss with the artistic side of things.  So, this is definitely a stretch for me.

I'm taking advantage of this brand new bundle of fabric that I just picked up yesterday for this shoot.  To keep things real, I'm going to share my photos unedited (they are uploaded at their original size, but displayed on X-Large), and let you know what I like and don't like about them.  Then I'll edit a couple of my favorites to see the difference.



This is my favorite of all of the pictures I took.  I pretty much LOVE everything about this picture, with the roses in the background slightly blurred, the stack of fabric slightly cut out of the frame and slightly crooked, and the warm feeling of the photo in general.  I took this in my backyard.  The sun is shining brightly, but the fabric itself is in a shadow, and the light is just right I think.

Ok y'all, I started with my favorite, so it's all downhill from here, haha!


This one was taken in the same spot, but on a white sheet, and no natural background.  I think somehow the white backdrop cools the colors off, and takes away from it.  That seems weird because you would think that white would show the fabric best, but in this case, it doesn't.


I actually don't think this one is bad, if you can ignore that the bottom two fabrics are completely obscured by the grass!  The green sets the colors off nicely, and I like natural elements in my pics.  I can't really decide whether or not I like the fabric stack leaning.  Maybe it makes it more interesting, or maybe it's just annoying.

Now for the inside photos!


This one was taken in my dining room, which has lots of natural light in the afternoon.  My table is dark cherry, so the sheet makes a better backdrop.  This one could use some cropping at the top.


Another one in the dining room on the white sheet.  I don't really think I like the shadows that were created in this picture, although the fabric does jump right out.

So, here's the thing- I actually don't mind editing my pictures, and since I exclusively use my iPhone, I don't really think there will ever be a time when I won't need to edit at all.  Here's the trick I've found to using my phone-  When I email my photo to myself, the phone gives several size options to make the email file smaller.  I always email the photo at "Actual Size" which is the biggest.  This gives me a HUGE (like 2500 pixels) photo to start with, and keeps the quality good.

I use picmonkey to edit, and although it does annoy me that I can only upload one pic at a time, I like the features it has and it's easy to use, so I'm okay with it.  Every single photo on my blog is cropped, resized (to 600 pixels wide), and sharpened slightly.  If I need to, I'll also add light to my photo.

Here are the two outside photos edited-




Both were resized to 600 pixels, cropped very slightly, and sharpened.  To me, the difference is monumental.

My two favorite inside photos-



With the inside photos, I still cropped, resized, and sharpened, but I also had to do a little bit of color adjustment.  The white sheet and indoor lighting were cooling off the warm colors too much, and the colors didn't look "true."  I increased the exposure, decreased the contrast to soften the shadows, and then saturated the color a little bit.  They're okay, but the outside photos are much better.

I want good photographs on my blog so I always take outside photos if at all possible, but I won't delay posting on a project if I can't get outside pictures.  On the rare occasion when the weather is bad, or if I'm trying to get a post out at night for a particular reason, I just do what I can and hope that my writing and my projects speak for themselves.  

You should hop over and check out some of the great photography posts at Plum and June's Quilt Photography Workshop.  And since this fabric stack is brand new this week, I'm also linking up to Sunday Stash which is being hosted by Heidi at Fabric Mutt this week!

26 comments:

  1. I love the outdoor photos as well. I think because of the warmth of the fabric colors, the contrast of the cooler green colors really helps to showcase them. Natural lighting doesn't hurt of course! :)

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  2. The roses and fabric complement each other nicely, that's my fave pic too. Natural light is my favorite also.

    Nini~

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  3. I love the outside photos. The one with the roses in the background is really beautiful. Oh and I love that fabric bundle. :-)

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  4. Really great post, Kelly. Thanks for sharing your tips on lightening, sharpening and adjusting the colour and size of the photos! One thing I am certain of.... I need to start playing around with some of those options.

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  5. Thanks for sharing. I've found outside light to be one of the most challenging settings with my new lense. It could be that I'm not willing to get up early to take advantage of the perfect light.

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  6. I love the first picture!!
    I really need some tips myself :)

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  7. I should do next month's theme. Even though my blog mostly consists of cell phone photos and quick edits (hey, I'm busy - can't sew, blog, work and picture!), I'm actually adept at photos and lighting. I could probably post something useful! For example, the problem you're responding to in the pictures with the white background is an issue with the white balance. White is very difficult color to capture with digital cameras, it really confuses the crap out of them. Can you see how it is really blue-ish and the hue tints the rest of the picture too? I *think* the iphone has an exposure adjustment option that could help with that.

    Another thing you might be responding to and don't even know it - the inside pictures are messier than the outside pictures. Just ironing out the wrinkles in the sheet and straightening up the stack would have made a big difference. Another trick is to change the crop. The picture of the fabrics in a circle has them cropped out on the right and left, but not the top and bottom. What about trying a tight square crop showing none of the white? Yes - crazy, but worth a try. :)

    Please don't kill me. I'm really trying to be helpful and not obnoxious. :D

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  8. I'm still on the fence with joining this link party. I think I'm going to sit back and see what everyone else learns to see what I can soak up! Great insight and I'm amazed to discover that all of your photos are taken on your iPhone! I use a point & shoot canon but I have oodles of camera options at my fingertips (my husband is a photographer) but I'm just lazy and not motivated. Shameless, I know but someday I'll get the interest. Maybe...

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  9. I am still for natural pics. I didn't realize that we are all supposed to pretend to be pros! I have always loved your blog...and that is why I follow you!! Just be you.

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  10. Definitely agree with you! If the weather is not promising, I just do with what I have because if I postpone taking photo, I will postpone my blog post and I do not have that luxury because my blog writing time is usually fixed.

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  11. Kelly your post is very interesting. The differences you show are noticeable. I shot photos with my iPhone and I try to do my best but I am completely wrong because they are always inside as I live downtown at the 6th floor and unfortunately very often at night with electric lights.

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  12. Awesome. Since you use pic monkey like I do, do you have standard things you do to your pictures with measurements? Do you run any of the actions?

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  13. You got some great pics! I really like that top one too.

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  14. This is great - I'm enjoying trying to learn a little more about photography so this helps :-)

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  15. it's great that you use your phone and make the best of it! I never knew. =) the editing really did make a difference. sad for me, who will NOT edit. lol. i'm especially amazed out how well your 2nd indoor photo looks after the edit - beautiful. you did a great job sharing the details to help out those in a similar situation as you. I noticed a phone the other day that was boasting higher megabites than my first digital camera - crazy! phones can do a ton these days.

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  16. Wow! The editing really changes pictures I thought were good to start with. I've never tried picmonkey, but maybe I should give it a go. Thanks for this post.

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  17. YEs, this is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your before and after pics and your tips! I know my blog photos are poor and I don't take the time to spruce them up because I don't know how. Will make an effort and improve!

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  18. Outdoor pictures are always better but "ain't nobody got time for that"...every time. :) Nice stash

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  19. You cannot take a bad photo of beautiful fabric. I loved all these gorgeous photos!

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  20. Thanks for posting this! I think I need to try the "sharpen" thing. I take pics with a point and shoot Canon - it's not a bad camera - has lots of adjustments I can do, but I don't know how to use all those settings. I usually edit with the software in my laptop - resize and sometimes auto adjust the color. Never tried the "sharpen" feature, but maybe I should. We live on a heavily wooded lot, so the house is dark inside. I am usually doing the blog thing at night anyway - so no outdoor pics. I would like to know how to take better photos. Maybe I will pop over to Plum and June. I just always feel intimidated by those people with those expensive, fancy cameras. I would love to find someone to help me do better with the camera I have.

    I love your first pic the best, too.

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  21. Oooh thanks for the "sharpen" tip. I purposefully did no editing on my photo post, but I agree, it made a difference in your two favorite shots. I agree with you, I like the one with the blurry roses in the back the best. (Your roses--I love when they show up in a quilt photo!) I think that you take quite good photos, in general--thank you for sharing your process photographing this stack.

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  22. I think photo editing is probably way more important than I make it! But I have a hard time sewing and blogging and taking care of little kids as it is! Editing seems like an extra step that I don't have time for :( This of course is making me rethink...

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  23. Kelly, I absolutely love this stack! What a great mix of colors. Orange and purple have really grown on me this year. Thanks for linking up to Sunday Stash!

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  24. Loved your post and I had no idea sharpen made such a difference. Wow!

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  25. I love the fabrics in the grass, the oranges stand out so well on the green grass background. Thank you for the tips!

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  26. This photography thing is so trying! I'm just glad to get photos posted at this point. I love the variety of locations and lighting that you tried. I have a few apps on my iphone to help edit, Picmonkey sounds like something I should check out. Heading over to Plum and June to get more help!

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