The first installment of Peter's great new series, helping us get the most out of photographing our work. Text and Photographs copyright Peter Dean.
colours and texture when photographing fabric is a nightmare - but it can be
There are two
problems. One is known as "White Balance", sometimes defined as "Colour
Temperature", the other is that some fabrics reflect different colours when
photographed from different angles.
However - if you
get the white balance right then 90% of your colour problems will go away.
So ... how to set
your camera for the correct colour temperature (white balance)..... most
recently manufactured digital (& some film) cameras have a "Menu" button.
If you press this, then scroll down the choices you will come to an item either
marked "White Balance" or "Colour Temp" or possibly just a list of lighting
conditions eg sunlight, cloud, incandescent, fluorescent, etc.
Set the camera to
the most appropriate.
Then place a piece
of plain white paper in the position you want to photograph your fabric - and
photograph the paper... fixing your flash to either "on" or "off" depending on
what will happen when you replace the paper with fabric.
If you have the
setting right - the paper will look white when you preview it.
Below are examples
of how it might look:
These are, of course, exaggerations - but they are actual photographs of a white piece
of paper taken on my camera using the extreme settings. In practice the difference is
unlikely to be so much... but you will be able to see it (see the two stars pictures later).
If you don't get "2" - reset your camera and try again.
Please note well. This must be done each time you photograph fabric - whether plain
or in patchwork. Daylight coming through your window will affect the colour
temperature - so it is different at different times of day. Similarly, outdoor
photography will have variations.
Also - please note - most of you will have your camera set to "Auto", if you are
confident enough, switch it to "Manual" and set the exposure yourself. When I do this
I switch the flash to "on", whatever the lighting conditions, because it is consistent
and enures enough light when the ambient conditions are darker
I don't have an easy answer to the problem that fabrics can reflect different colours
from different angles - when photographing for publication I cheat and make sure the
angle is always consistent.
Now let's look at a real situation that was published in your chat group recently:
Picture 1 was taken by Caz, 2 by me. The one by Caz shows a colour
distortion weighing towards the blue end of the spectrum probably caused by
daylight entering the room from the window and the camera not compensating for it.
When you try it do keep in mind that when you learned to drive you didn't have
enough hands and feet - because this time you need to remember things like "Did I use
flash last time?", "Has the sun come out/gone in?". But persevere because it can be
OK - you've done all that
AND - if it doesn't work perfectly - try correcting it. This is not as difficult as you
Most cameras come with a disk containing at least one photo manipulation
programme. Whilst it is impossible here to give detailed instructions - all of them will
ask you to load the file (photo) and have a (drop-down) menu called "image" or
"colour" or "adjust". Inside that menu will be features that enable you to adjust the
"colour balance", "brightness" and "contrast".
As an example Caz's star can be adjusted to be like these below merely by increasing
or decreasing the blue, viz:
- Has minimum blue, maximum yellow
- Has 20% more yellow than 1 the original
- Has maximum blue (just to show the range)
Have fun with them - but for today's example we just used colour balance.
To finish - there are lots of ways you can integrate your patchwork with these (photomanipulation)
programmes. One function I like particularly with bright colours is
to "invert" the colours (or convert to a negative image).
For example using Caz's star:
Try it for yourself. If you have problems, please email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I'm not registered with Popular Patchwork and don't want to flood Brendas PMs!
If I get several repeated questions I'll post an FAQ page.