Sunday, October 12, 2014

lighting makes a difference

In my last post about taking photographs I talked a little bit about lighting, using a tripod and that it's important it is to photograph your quilt standing directly in front of it.  I also mentioned that you don't need a really expensive fancy camera to take a good photograph of your quilt and in this post I'm going to show you an actual example...

But first I want to show you where I photograph and how I light my quilts.  Unfortunately I don't have any room in my studio for a design wall and I don't have any walls in my house that are good for photographing my quilts against.  But I do have a large finished basement with a nice big wall that's perfect for using for photographs so I had my husband cover the wall with some foam board from the hardware store:

I covered the foam board with some canvas fabric to cover the bolts and the seams and then covered that with some white cotton stretched over the surface.

This gives me a nice neutral background to shoot against.   You can see in the next photo that I've got my quilt pinned against the background and I've set up my photo lights to light the surface of the quilt.  I'm using photo lights because there is no natural light at all in my basement.  These lights are very inexpensive (less than $50 for the pair of table top ones but I use the larger stand ones like the ones here) and they make a huge difference in the quality of my photos.  I also have a set with an umbrella diffuser that do a nice job lighting objects with diffused light.

 My camera is on the tripod and I'm ready to shoot...

and the resulting photograph:

Not a bad photo but can you see the shadowing along the left and right edges?    That was easily fixed by adjusting the position of the lights and pulling them further away from the surface of the quilt.  The new photo:

Much better!  no shadows and the picture is nice and clear and the colors bright and vivid.  The right lighting is so important.  Take a look at this next photo.  I turned the photo lights off and took this with just the overhead lights in the room on:

Yikes!   The colors are dull and flat and it's really not a good representation of what the quilt actually looks like in person.

I took all of the photos above with my Canon Rebel t2i camera which is a great camera but it's an expensive investment that I know not everybody can or wants to make.  So the question remains can you take a good jury ready shot of a quilt without an expensive camera?  You certainly can!  Take a look at this next photo:

 I took this with my inexpensive Canon Powershot camera (a great camera for traveling with by the way) which goes to show that with a tripod and good lighting that you don't need an expensive camera to take a good photo of your quilts.


  1. great info! What do you set your Canon to? I have one also and I know there's a way to take higher res photos?

    1. I take all my images with my Rebel in the raw setting with no flash. I very rarely take a photo using the .jpg options. Then I import them and use the Canon Digital Professional software that came with the camera to do any editing and then export the images to .jpg format in either 72 dpi or 300 dpi format depending on what I'm going to do with them.

      For the powershot camera, it doesn't give me any options to change the size of the image that it takes. Some of the new powershot cameras do but mine is an older one.

  2. Thanks for sharing that was good information.

  3. I checked out on Amazon the Cowboy Studio site and also the Limo Studio set. Reviews seem pretty good for the Limo Studio set. Have you had experience with the Limo studio set? Cowboy Photography comments were not too happy. I like to be able to raise the stands up to the full height 86" but this is all new to me and appreciate your input. Also what type tripod do you use? My photos have been pretty sad so this is the way to go. Thanks for the info.

  4. What would have happened if you adjusted the white balance in the camera for the shot without spotlights. Might have been less yellow, or produced a truer color.

    1. it might have but the room would have still been too dark I think to produce as nice an image with the lights and my point and shoot camera doesn't give me the option to make those adjustments.

  5. I have a Nikon Coolpic L110 point & Shoot (I do want that Rebel!) and I use the lights one on a tripod and one clamped to something and it makes a huge difference. But if I adjust the lighting in Photoshop, even with a simple photo filter it helps a lot. I don't have the space to be able to get back too far, but I'm going to try to move back a little and see if I can avoid the edge shadows. Wen, if I set my res at 300 I'm good to go.