The Quilt Photography Workshop

Hello friends, this post is about something that is very dear to my heart...photography! I am always taking pictures - of my son, new fabric and my projects. In this post I wanted to discuss my camera, what type of scene I like to set and some simple steps for brightening up your photos. Beth over at Plum and June is hosting an awesome monthly link up: The Quilt Photography Workshop!

Plum and June

tule3

The photos I took for this post are of some beautiful new fabric I just purchased. Arizona Sky Tule Fat Quarter Bundle by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery Fabrics. I do not typically lean towards these colors but they are gorgeous, and I used to live in Arizona so I felt like it was destiny!

Camera Information: 

My camera of choice is a Nikon D600. I always shoot RAW files in Aperture Priority mode, with the ISO set as low as possible to reduce the amount of "noise" in the photo. For the best photos I try to only take pictures in natural lighting, luckily we have some great windows in our place, but if not outdoor pics are always great!

My go-to lens is the super-sharp Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G. This is very versatile for jumping between fabric/quilt shots and random portraits of my son Grey.

The f/1.4 aperture gives you a lot of creative control (and beautiful bokeh - the blurry background). To brighten up my pictures I usually import into Photoshop, Lightroom or PicMonkey and do minor curve adjustments.

The scene:

tule1

I tend to lean towards a more simple & modern approach when it comes to photo staging. To keep my photos somewhat cohesive my old standbys are

  • Taking pictures on our wood floor, great for closeups and also full quilt shots.
  • Pictures of quilts on my white rocker, draped over the back or using the seat as a nice white backdrop. The curved back makes a seamless white background perfect for smaller items. That is the white background used in these photos. Chairs are excellent props for blankets and pillows and I always think it is nice to use the same chair in all of your photos.
  • Brick walls - I take many photos in front of our fireplace and of quilts outside by the garage. Brickwalls are awesome and can pretty much be found anywhere! Yay for free backdrops :)
  • Grass - sometimes just laying out a quilt in the grass is the perfect scene. I used to live in Phoenix and all we had was dirt, so you may have to improvise.

How to Brighten up your photos:

I used to just import my photos into Photoshop and adjust the curve to create a brighter picture but not everyone has access to this program. Starting just a few weeks ago I switched over to PicMonkey's website and discovered I could do the exact same thing plus add some fun enhancements like banners and watermarks.

To brighten up a picture that might be just a bit too dark due to your lighting situation here is a quick fix using their software. They have a free version and also a $33 per year version that has a few extras.

tule6

This picture didn't need a lot of help, just needed to be brightened up a bit and I wanted to add my logo as a watermark at the bottom. Here is the adjusted photo below along with how to adjust lighting // adding logo.

tule2

There we go! A little brighter, colors pop a little more and my logo is on the bottom right. In Picmonkey I went to Basic Edits first.

Basic Edits: Exposure - changed Highlights to 63 and changed Shadows to 20. Play around with the Highlights and Shadows until you create the brightness you desire.

To add logo:

Once you have your image cropped and adjusted the last thing I add is my logo. On the left side click on the Overlays tab

Overlays: At the top click on the "Your Own" tab and upload your logo image. It will appear in the middle of your picture. Resize if needed and position on your page. I like to place mine on the bottom right of my picture. Slide the fade to 50% to create a nice watermark image and click save.

tule5

I also have tons more pictures over on my Flickr page, some of the latest ones are early photos before I learned the magic of Photoshop...but I think its nice to see some of the differences. Be sure to check out Beth's post on this subject over at Plum and June Blog and see links to all of the participating bloggers. So much valuable info out there!

Thank you so much for stopping by!

-Nicole