The art quilt is a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Photographing your quilt

Good Monday morning.
 Wow, the weather lately has been absolutely gorgeous and usually I am trying to get everyone motivated to get in their studios and create, create, create.  But, with weather like this it's hard to stay indoors.  So, grab your sketch book and camera and go out for a walk.  Something is bound to capture your attention.  Then, once you have your masterpiece completed, you will have to photograph your quilt for documentation purposes.  Even if you don't plan on entering a show, it's fun to keep your own photo album/journal to refer to later.
Of course, to get the absolute best quality photo you can hire a professional whose job it is to photograph quilts.  But, for your own purposes, it's fairly easy to take your own photos.  Here's a step by step of the technique I use.  All you need is a decent quality digital camera, a tripod, and a design wall.  (cell phone can take a nice picture but are not the best choice for photographing your quilt).  If you don't have a design wall, go to your home improvement store (like Lowe's) and buy one or two 6 x 8 foam insulation panels.  Cover them with a sheet or batting and stand them up against a wall for your photography session.  Then when you are not using them, you can store them in your garage or under a bed, etc.
1.  Using very small sequin or other type of straight pins, pin your quilt to your design wall.  I use a level to be sure I hang it straight.  Then pin around the edges (enough to keep the quilt from bowing out and be flat on the wall), placing the pins in a discreet spot so they do not show in your photo.
2.  Measure your quilt on the diagonal from corner to corner in both directions and where the lines intersect should be the exact center of your quilt.  Mark that spot. Put a small hand held mirror at the center spot.  I have one with a handle and hang it from a string so that the mirror is in the exact enter.  You should then be able to adjust the height and side to side of your camera position so you can see the camera lens in the mirror.  Don't have a small mirror?  A second alternative would be to pin a small square of fabric or paper to it so that you can see it through your camera lens.
3.  Set up your tripod so you can see the whole quilt in the frame and then zoom in all the way in so that you only have the small square or mirror in the center of the picture.  You probably will need to move your camera up or down and left or right to get it centered.
4.  Now, don't move the tripod!  Zoom out until you have the whole quilt in the camera frame once again and the remove the scrape of fabric/paper or mirror.
5.  Next comes the lighting.  Do not take the photos in direct sunlight as this can wash out the detail in the quilt or cast shadows across its surface.  I use my ott lights, setting one on each side of the quilt and back a little bit so that the surface is evenly illuminated.
6.  Now you are ready to take the photo. Take the photo in the highest possible resolution of your digital camera.   You can set the  camera timer to take the photo if you are a little heavy handed and worried about moving the camera on the tripod. Take several photos and leave a little of the background showing around the quilt.  You can crop it later to remove most of it but if you are submitting to shows, they usually want all the edges to show.   After you have the full view, zoom in and take some detail shots.
7.  Check your photos before you take everything down, but by using this method you should be able to get a good quality photo of your quilt that is in focus and not distorted.

That's it.........easy peasy.  No hands, feet, shadows or finger tips showing, and it will be centered and in focus!

So now I want to leave you with a reminder about the AQConnections  exhibit which opens this week at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center in Cary, NC.

And, as always, if you have any information to let others know about, just e-mail me and I'll be glad to get it out there.

Next week I'll be in Houston for Quilt Market and Festival.  I'll be working at the SAQA Booth on Thursday from 1-3 so if your are there, please stop by and introduce yourself to me.  I would love to meet you!  SAQA also has several events planned. Thursday evening from 5-7 is a get together so I hope to see you there!  I'll miss posting next week but when I get back I'll have plenty to tell you and pictures to share about the International Quilt Festival in Houston!  Here's a few more falll ispiration pictures.  Enjoy!

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