Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Photography Is Working

Once I cracked the nut of photographing red and white cloth, the rest of the garments were a piece of cake.

I've written before about the little photo studio that I built myself. I'm using the 8' fair-weather booth that I made from canvas and lumber as a photo space. It holds the backdrop taut, and gives me a frame to hang the booth walls that I use to diffuse and bounce the light from my one remote flash unit.

This one unit provides three "sources" of light. (...and remember that the light bulb doesn't add any real light to the scene. It's extremely dim compared to the flash, but helps me adjust the reflectors for individual garments.)

1. It shines directly onto a translucent wall panel. This panel becomes a full-height light box giving a diffuse primary light source and preventing the flash from shining directly on the subject.
2. It shines through the opening and hits a full-height reflector, filling in the lefthand side and acting like a secondary diffuse light source.
3. It also bounces from a round reflector on the floor and to the right of the "model". This fills in the shadows in the folds and fringe on the bottom of the garments.

There are a couple other tricks that help, too. See the canvas to the right of the #1? It keeps light from shining directly onto the backdrop. This keeps the garment as the clear focus of the shot and evens out the lighting on the backdrop. Notice that there is white canvas on the ceiling, floor, and all of the walls except the camera slit? This helps ensure that the light in the scene has a chance to bounce around and even out. It's part of what gives that "velvety smooth" feeling to the scene.

And the last trick I employ comes from my photo editing software. I add a very subtle gamma vignette to further darken the background and keep the visual attention on the garments. Here's the final result...

Is there anything I've missed? Do you have any ideas on how to further improve my photography? Please leave a comment and let me know!


Alice said...

Looks like you've got the process nailed! The results speak for themselves. Beautiful photos (of beautiful work).

Interesting about raw - My resident photographer's been after me for months to switch to raw for my weaving photos, and when I finally got around to it, the improvement was astonishing. Who would have thought jpg trashed so much information?

Janet said...

Wonderful photos--they really show off your beautiful work.

Since you asked, I find a couple of things that distract from the ruanas. The white top of the form pops out before I see the ruana. Also, there are a couple of wrinkles in the backdrop near the bottom right of the photos.

Thanks for sharing your journey. Best wishes for a successful 2012.

Blossom Merz said...

Thanks for the feedback!

Alice, it's not the jpeg format, per se, that trashes the images. It's the inability to control the camera's conversion from raw to jpeg. Left on its own, the camera doesn't seem to think that red is important enough to store with any granularity.

Janet, thanks for the critical eye! I was wondering about that white dress form. I'll cover it with grey cloth ASAP. And those wrinkles, too. I just can't seem to get rid of them. And this is another reason to use a mottled backdrop: it won't show when I use a combination of clone stamping and smudging to get rid of those wrinkles.

...and thanks for following my blog. It's nice to know I'm not just keeping a fancy journal for myself. :)