Sunday, July 20, 2008

photo frustration

I've just spent the best part of two days shooting and reshooting four of my most recent pieces and I don't know if I'm losing my mind or my overworked and aging little digital camera is losing more than just a step. I hate that I'm feeling animosity towards the pieces as if they cared. This was taken on the design wall in my studio Getting good digital images of textiles is a struggle on a good day but throw anything shiny like metallic thread or paint or damask fabric into the mix and be prepared for hair pulling, crude cursing and lots of sweat.
This one was taken out on the deck with the sun overhead. Part of my problem is not being able to decide if I want the digital image of the work to highlight the basic elements of the design - the shapes, colors, lines and energy of each piece, to speak first and loudest, or do I want the textures of the fabric and the textures created by the stitching to have an equal voice. These decisions come with little or no thought during the design and creation of each piece but conveying these decisions through the digital image is maddening. As if I could afford one, I spent a lot of time rooting about on the web looking for local professional photographers in the metro ATL area and found a disappointing clutch of wedding shooters hell bent on selling that fuzzy dream image which is probably all that most folks remember of their weddings without expensive pictures to remind them. What do other fiber artists do with this problem?


Karen Newman Fridy said...

I like the outside shot the best...I think showing the texture of the quilting is a definite plus. You don't need a professional photographer - I think you did quite well! Thanks for bringing this to light ;-) gives me something to think about in my own work.

Anonymous said...

always go for the texture plus the design elements - otherwise, make and shoot flat work, grin.

overhead light is good, side light is good.

how many pixels does your camera have? when I upgraded my camera it made s significant difference. (from a 4 mp to 7, I get very clear images now, well worth the investment.)

Dale Anne Potter said...

The one taken outside looks FABULOUS to me. I am one of those artists who can't afford a professional photographer so learning to do my own has been a learning curve.

Johnni Schell said...

the texture of quilting is like the brushstrokes of painting - also extremely hard to capture in photos. I have been going thru my old issues of Artist's magazine - I will keep an eye out for comments/info on photographing artwork to capture those brushstrokes. My preference - the photo with texture.

Anonymous said...

Hi D

In my humble opinion, as I have just started entering shows, is the full shot should showcase the graphic appeal. Color, composition and design etc.

The detail shot u show reflective paints, materials, texture etc.

I live in Florida so like either an early or late afternoon shoot.

sunny Fl

Fulvia said...

You are so frustrated you may be missing a tad of perspective--the shot taken out-of-doors is, by far IMO, the best representation of your work. Thank you for sharing your work.

PaMdora said...

I prefer the textured one much more, the stitching adds so much to the image. BTW these photos took forever to download and I'm on highspeed dsl.

Linda Teddlie Minton said...

Hi Deb, there's no question that the second (outdoors) photo is much more representative of your work, as it shows the textural quality of your stitching and embellishment without sacrificing the design elements. An even better shot might be made if the sun were lower in the sky, casting a softer light and a few more shadows. (I understand the theory, but that doesn't mean I can always execute it!)
It's a lovely piece, and a nice job of photographing.

annecopeland said...

Hi Deborah, I think this is a problem that a lot of fiberartists have. I have seen more jpgs with no texture showing than I have WITH the texture showing and we are talking about years and years of exhibit photos.

I think a key is to keep taking photos in different lighting and do whatever adjustment you can to bring up the texture. More photos is a good principle; they don't cost anything else and it gives you more to select from. I always just delete the ones that are not working for me as I go through them so that by the time I get some that DO work, I have just a few left to deal with. Out of those I go back and find the best ones again, and then after I have perhaps 1 - 2 left, I will delete all the others so it doesn't continue to use up a lot of space on the computer.

Actually, this "bracketing" of shots isn't anything new; we were doing it with the old cameras too because you didn't have the option to go back and rephotograph readily. You might have to wait for a week or more to get your film back. Peace and many blessings, Annie

arlee said...

Definitely the texture one or why are you doing this art form??? That's you!It's a wonderful capture and i feel like i can touch it!
Digital is quite a learning curve, but oh so immediate and satisfying.

cfent said...

unquestionable. (imho) texture wins.

Anonymous said...

Daylight shot is the winner. Took no time for your blog to download on my cable. Just keep doing what you're doing. You know when it's right. Textiles are textured and when you can see that in the photo - it's right!

Karoda said...

deb, at this point i'm only echoing what has been stated before me...the 2nd image is much more interesting.

your dilemna is mine also...but i'm thinking it would be cool for a good art photographer to give workshops to quilters at retreats and at quilt shows.

Ann Morrell said...

Hi there Lady,

I think that the one outside is a better one as I can see more of the work...I usually take photos outside in the early morning or late afternoon....I also loved your new dyed pieces that you havent ironed yet. I just got a great new camera...wish I lived closer I would let you try it out.

Carole said...

Coming in late and it has been said, the one taken outside
by far!!
I am intrigued with this because I asked about 'photography', a broad subject to be sure, butI am learning something from your frustration. It is hard to KNOW, I find, and because it is my work I see it, good picture or not.
Thank you for taking the time and the risk of exposure [no pun intended! We can all learn something here.

Jill Smith said...

Deb, l have been looking at your pictures and then went away then back again and the top one is fine and the shapes show up and don't push others out.
I sometimes look to much and can't see the wood for the tree's and l think thats whats happened to you, top one is great,

Anonymous said...

The issue is that all these changes (from one shot to the other) are happening before our eyes as we view a textile in person. Sometimes, just taking a half step to the side, forward, or backward, changes how the piece looks. This is the magic of textiles. That magic is even bigger with a piece that features textures, metallics, etc. Clearly, a camera cannot capture what the human eye can see -- even if it's a moving image.

I was trying to photograph a black and white quilt earlier this year and had problem -- light settings for the light areas left the dark areas with no color detail.Etc.

I agree with anonymous's approach: use a color-correct shot for the overall image and capture the texture in the closeup. Ideally, one can submit an assortment of photos when entering a quilt show but often they only allow one or two shots.

All that said, I think the outdoor shot makes it explicit that this is a textured textile piece.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, David Walker, jurist for the FAVA Artist as Quiltmaker Show talked about photo quality at the show opening and commented that if you employ a professional photographer to check his work for quality as there are many "pros" out there that are not very good. He recommended 300 dpi images for the possibility of them being sent for publicity photos for the shows, white or grey backgrounds instead of black, overall shot should show the overall composition and color, closeup would highlight detail and texture.
Hope that helps, I always shoot mine outside in full daylight, a feat in mid winter in northern Ohio!
Mary Ann

Caron at Michigan Quilts said...

Adding my vote for the outside photo. Love how it shows the texture given by the quilting. It looks brighter as well.

Wish I could get a good photo of my newest quilt, "Over the Celtic Rainbow." I have the same struggles you do!

Morna Crites-Moore said...

I agree with the majority here. The second shot is preferable, by far. As others have said, why work with fiber and then consider showing just the elements that could be shown in a flat painting? I also like the drape that shows in the outdoor shot.

Very curious to know what you used as a backdrop in the outdoor shot. White photo paper background? Or did you manipulate with Photoshop to get the nice look of just the quilt?

Jackie said...

I havethe same problems because I use velvet and it never comes over as that seductive surface. Pinks are a particular problem..I use bluey pinks but they always look orange. I've recently taken to sidelong shots of things but obviously that won't do if its for gallery submission or for sale. I don't have an answer...just sympathy.

Kelly M. said...

Deb -- very late on this posting but found you via Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth. I do shibori silks and other fiber art as well as paintings ( and have found some good tips over the years: best to shoot outside in an overcast lighting (no direct sun or shadows) -- I find a cloudy day with ambient light best. Make sure your camera is set for high definition and 300 dpi. When posting images to the web, you need to increase saturation and contrast -- not to fudge your shots but because the light from monitors wash out the colors if not strong enough. Beautiful work and lovely yarns!

Kelly Marszycki