Photography Help

You will want to present your work to the judges in the best possible way.  Many current smart phones, iPads and tablets have decent cameras that you can use to photograph your work, provided you follow some tips which will make the photograph represent your work  well and look more professional.  If you have a good DSLR camera, by all means, use it.  The discussion below is by no means exhaustive. Hopefully it will provide you with information you can use to improve your submission photographs.

Resolution, lighting and focus are some of the important keys to creating good photographs.

Resolution

In general the more megapixels a camera has, the better the resolution.  However, the more megapixels, generally, the larger the file and large files are difficult to send.  Most camera, tablet, and iPad cameras have sufficient megapixels to take good photographs provided that the lighting and focus are good.

Lighting

When taking your photographs, be especially aware of the lighting.  The best way to light the subject is to shoot outdoors on a ‘hazy bright’ day.  This helps eliminate shadows. Ambient light indoors can suffer from insufficient amount of light. To improve lighting above ambient, there are reasonably priced ‘ring lights’ specifically designed for taking photographs with smartphones. Always be aware of your windows and never shoot into the light.  It is best to position the light so that is falling onto what you are photographing.  When working with artificial light, it is best to set up a 3-light set up and use light bulbs that mimic natural light as much as possible.  Have your most intense light (main) fall onto the subject from a position behind you and slightly to one side.  The second light (fill) should be a softer, less powerful light positioned to fall on the subject from the opposite side of the main light. This helps eliminate shadows. The third softer light (rim) is positioned above and slightly behind the subject to restore delineation lost because of the other two lights.  The following video link provides more information: Three Point Lighting Basics for Photography and Video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBGuQZo0g94.

Focus

The focus needs to be sharp in order to assure clarity of your photographs.  Most of todays’ cameras autofocus but the camera must be held absolutely still. That can be accomplished by using a tripod or stable platform that will hold the camera steady while the picture is taken.  There are several commercially available tripods or tripod adapters for smart phones/tablets/iPads. 

 

The tips below will help produce a better photograph no matter the camera you use.

  • Do not use a flash, use natural light whenever possible. If you use artificial light, use a 3-light set up with light that mimics natural sunlight as much as possible.
  • Use a tripod or some stable platform for the ‘camera’.  Any movement will reduce the clarity of your photograph, which is especially critical for textiles.
  • For flat textiles, focus on the center of the piece, making sure that the plane of your lens is level to the plane of your piece.  If not level, the proportions of the piece will be distorted.
  • For three-dimensional works, you still want to be sure that the angle at which you take the photo does not distort the proportions of your work.
  • Do not use a wide-angle lens.  This will distort the proportions of your work.
  • Be aware of shadows.  Try to eliminate them as much as possible.
  • Use solid color non-shiny backgrounds.  White or off-white is probably most appropriate, but some work may show better on a darker background, like black or navy blue.

Beyond taking the picture, there are many photo editing applications.  Adobe Photoshop and Elements is probably the most well-known, but many devices come with editing tools for adjusting brightness, contrast, color and cropping of the picture.  At a minimum, adjust the brightness and contrast of your picture to better reflect the actual piece.  Crop the picture to remove unnecessary background.

For more information, google ‘photographing textiles’ to find many websites and blogs on the subject.

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