Tuesday, September 16, 2014

spinzilla blog tour: photo tips here

Welcome Spinzilla blog tourists! I'm here with a little pep talk and some tips for photographing yarn for the Spinzilla Photo Contest.
 Kirsten Kapur  assembled this lovely basket of yarn.
Spinzilla is a global event where teams and individuals challenge each other to see who can spin the most yarn during Spinning and Weaving Week October 6 - 12.  Team registration closes in six days. They still need 300 team spinners to reach full team status of 1,400 spinners! Click here to register today.
You have SIX DAYS to get on board and join in the monster week of spinning, to support the Needle Arts Mentoring Program.
At the end of the week spinners will submit their yardage along with a photo of their yarn to get credit for their yardage.  The photo is to document what you have spun, but Spinzilla has also announced a photo contest where you could win up to $100 in fiber.

I'm going to reference the photo above, with surefire tips to make your photos fabulous. You are photographing handspun yarn, a lovely subject, so you are already ahead of the game, right?  There are mountains of info about improving photography online*, these are just some quick and easy things you can try,  regardless of what kind of camera you own, and where you live.

1) Turn off that flash. Never. Never. Never use a direct flash on yarn. There is always a better way. If nothing else, in a low light situation, steady your camera on a tripod or  on a table , and hold your breath while you release that shutter. Make many exposures. You'll get some that are sharp. I promise.Pixels are free**, so keep trying.

2) Find some nice open shade-like the north side of a building, or on a covered patio or  an overcast day, or create some shade yourself using a white piece of cloth or umbrella or tent or even a white board to block the direct light. (Colored materials will cast the color onto your yarn. Don't want to do that!)
getting close also works for travel photos, like this porch in Maine
3) Get close! I know you are proud of your yarn and want to show it from ten paces away, but getting close will make us want to touch it.  Try shooting it from a few feet away and then keep shooting , getting closer and closer and closer (no worries, pixels are free, there's no such thing as wasting the shots).

4) Use some geometry to please us. We humans like circles--a complete circular shape is lovely as a graphic element in a photo. It is why looking down on that basket of yarn is making me happy. Try putting your yarn in a basket, or on a shallow plate (try to find one that's not shiny, reflections aren't an asset), or a tray, in a bowl...play around with using shapes to frame your yarn.
Not as Good as the top photo: dead center, handle not on diagonal, direct light on scrarf distracts
 5) Another compositional tip: try composing using assymmetry instead of plunking your yarn dead-center bulleye in the frame. There's the popular  Rule of Thirds you hear thrown around in online photo forums (it helps, try it), and I like to use diagonals to lead the eye around the image. Again, shoot your yarn how you might normally, and then keep moving around the subject, tilting you camera--those pixels are free, after all--and see if you don't come up with a nice dynamic photo.
Circles also effective at Kai Ranch and an angora kid.

Good luck! Get signed up and spin spin spin.
* I'd be  slacking off if I didn't mention my  Photography webinar for knitters/fiber artists, on the Interweave website (on sale right now, too)
 **No matter where I teach my mantra is Pixels are Free. Seriously, why skimp on the exposures when you are right there?


margene said...

Excellent advice! I'm going to try my hand at taking a better photo of yarn this week!

Kirsten said...

Great post, excellent resource for those of us aspiring to take better photos of our yarn/fiber. Thank you!

Vicki Knitorious said...

Love that big round kid frame!!

Anonymous said...

Very helpful. Thank You!

Beverly said...

Pixels are free=my photography mantra, thanks to you!

twinsetellen said...

As Vicki says, that kid photo is so good. I never get tired looking at it.

Anonymous said...

It's really fun to see how you apply some of the things you taught us at Fiber College to other photos, Gale. By far the most helpful advice you've given me, though, is "Pixels are free!!" That's one of the best things about digital photography. I think I need to embroider it on a new camera strap or something.

Also, thanks for the info about Spinzilla. I think I may try that after all.

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