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In the Frame: Part 2 of Heidi Adnum’s Perspective on Photographing Quilts

In my last post, you’ll recall See How We Sew hosted a stop on Heidi Adnum’s blog tour for The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos from Interweave Press. We’re still on topic with today’s edition:  we’re taking a gander at Heidi’s suggestions for flat-shot quilt photography. She’s got so many good ideas that I’ve opted to give you the highlights here and provide a PDF version of her extended answer for those who want details. Click here.

Flat shot on wall by Heather Moore. Click the photo to visit her Etsy site.

While good lighting is always the #1 requirement for successful quilt photography, there are a few other essentials Heidi suggests for shooting whole quilts. Ultimately, the challenge is to capture the full size of the quilt and the totality its pattern/design as well.  That means flattening the quilt against a surface like a floor, table, or wall.

Heidi’s Tips:

  1. Select a background bigger than the quilt. Backgrounds that are too small look messy and contain distracting details.

  2.  Aim the camera directly at the quilt’s center to mitigate perspective and distortion challenges. (Here’s your clue that you’ve missed the center point with your focus:  your quilt’s edges will be tapered or rounded.)

  3.  Consider investing in a mid-range professional tripod that combines a vertical column with one that will rotate and lock horizontally at 180 degrees. Tripods make it easier to photograph quilts straight on when spread on a floor or another flat surface.

  4.  Investigate using wider-angle lenses—generally 50mm and below—to achieve a broader field of view. You’ll get a little distortion, but you can minimize that by increasing the area of your background by an additional foot or so and cropping excess background in photo editing.

The bottom line is that it’s easier to photograph large quilts on the wall than on the floor, but the biggest challenge with that strategy is affixing the quilt to the wall and keeping it flat.  Heidi suggests using double-stick tape, especially exhibition tape with low- and high-tack sides. You’ll find more insights into craft photography in her wonderful book and in the interview excerpt linked above.

Professional flat shot of "Harajuku Feathered Star" by Laura Nownes. Click the image to visit her original post on the theme fabric and star design. Visit Laura's Etsy site for all her patterns.

For those in need of especially high-quality quilt photographs, there are professional resources available. As quilt makers who design patterns for purchase, Christie, Laura, and I occasionally turn to C&T Publishing when we need to photograph our larger quilts.

Professional flat shot of "Zen Roses" by Jennifer Rounds. Sorry no pattern, but I'll gladly teach you my dimensional applique process!

Professional flat shot of "Block Party" by Christie Batterman. Click the photo to see Christie's Artichoke Collection patterns.

About that Interweave giveaway and the winners of the valentine’s challenge . . . Carmen has won a copy of Heidi Adnum’s The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos. Congratulations! And many thanks to our visiting author and Interweave for the book and the blog-tour visit.

Hearty congrats to Kim Butterworth for best interpretation of theme with “Heart-FELT Valentine,” Sandra Bruce for “XOXO,” and Michelle Rockwood for “Hearts Full of Love.” Each will win handmade heart earrings which I photographed by using Heidi’s nifty idea for a light box explained on page 56 of her book. Click Gallery to visit our Heartfelt Special Exhibit (FYI: closes 2/29/12) and click any image to start the slideshow. Till next time, Happy Quilting!

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