November 2, 2011

For the Record - Photographing My Quilts

I photographed my marvelous bog quilt, in the hour or so between the sky clouding over and the winds and rain beginning.  I get the best results by photographing outdoors in natural light.  That means, I have to wait for the right weather conditions to materialize, and then be ready to drop everything else and head outdoors.  I need:

1. a day that's overcast, so the lighting is diffuse (minimizing the texturing of the quilting so the design of the quilt shows well)

2. calm air (or no more than a very light breeze, for which I wait with camera ready to click until the quilt sighs itself back, flat and still, between puffs of breeze)

3. no precipitation (though I have photographed in very light snow flurries)

4. preferably, temperatures above freezing (for obvious reasons)

All this needs to happen in the couple of hours on either side of noon, so the light is brightest and clearest.

All in all, it's worth the wait.  I get the truest color reproduction.  I like the softer effect of the natural lighting.  I can easily get as far away from the quilt as I need to.  All this without investing in tons of photography equipment.

The major piece of equipment I use is our wooden fence.  In fact, when we bought the house, the fence was one of the major selling points!  I have a large piece of black denim that I pin, with quilters' pins, to the fence as a backdrop.  Then, I pin the quilt to that.  The nice thing about denim is I can choose to use the lighter, reverse side if I ever need to.  Happily, whatever wrinkles it has acquired generally don't show up in the photos.

I pin the denim to the fence just by pinning straight into the wood.  I pin the quilt to the denim by pinning horizontally into the back of the quilt.  Lots of pins!

And the result:

For the first time ever, I had an encounter with the wildlife while photographing.  A cheeky squirrel was scrabbling at the fence behind the quilt.  I spoke sternly, and heard the little critter scampering away through the fall leaves.  A few moments later, the squirrel was up in the maple tree scolding me.  I guess the quilt and I were blocking the preferred squirrel roadway.  Well, as traffic jams go, it was over pretty quickly.

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