Magic Camera Monday: June 27, 2011

Pupples & Posies Flower Detail_2

Flower and inner button border detail from Puppies & Posies quilt.

I took this week’s photographs in my studio. Shooting outside is a LOT EASIER than shooting inside. Natural light is your camera’s BFF. In fact, shooting outside is fairly effortless. Shooting inside—however—is far from effortless. This is why I am focusing on getting better at it.

Puppies & Posies flower details (multiple)

Flower details and curved edge of Puppies & Posies quilt.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed the process of shooting in my studio. For the most part, I am happy with the photographs. They are still a long way from where I want them to be, but they are still worth showing.

The original photographs were a little dark and slightly yellow. I thought I adjusted the white balance and exposure correctly, but it seems that I was wrong.

This slight error meant that I had to spend a quite a bit of time color correcting the images before I could post them. I don’t mind color correcting, but I don’t want to have to do it to this extent in the future.

Paducah Fabric Stack_1

A look at some of the fabric I purchased during my Paducah adventure.

I like this shot, but wish that the perspective was a little more dramatic. I find the layering of color and pattern interesting. If I decide to shoot the stack again, I think I’ll remove the grayish fabric in the middle and let the others battle it out for your attention.

Paducah Fabric Stack_2

Another look at the Paducah fabric.

I like this photo better than the previous one. I feel much more emotionally engaged with it. The fabrics are exactly the same. The only difference is the slight change in camera angle. I find this fascinating. This small shift completely changes my emotional response.

I still like the previous image, but the second photo really speaks to me. For some reason, it makes me want to touch the fabric more. I urge you to compare the two images and gauge your response.

Listen to your instincts. Your reaction could be completely different than mine. There is no right or wrong answer in this situation. I can say technically, that one photo is better than the other, but that doesn’t negate the emotional response.

Color Pins On Purple Pin Cushion

Color pins on magnetic pin cushion.

I think this photo came out okay, but it needs work. This shot really suffered because of the lighting issues I mentioned earlier. The composition is almost there, but I’m not ecstatic about it.

I think I need a stronger macro lens or a slightly different angle. I would love to shoot this photo again with a super duper (technical term) macro lens. That way the pins would feel more like stainless steel beams. I wish I would have paid a little more attention to the pin angles while I was shooting. If I had adjusted a couple of them, I think the photograph would have been stronger.

Next time I think I’ll put the pin cushion on a more saturated color background. The additional color will do a lot to bring your attention to the pins. I think this lack of contrast is part of what is wrong with this shot. The white background and the pins are too similar in color and value, so there is minimal drama or tension in the shot. The photo is interesting, but it lacks the drama I was hoping to create.

Stack Of Lame Fat Quarters

Stack of lamé fat quarters acquired during my Paducah experience.

This shot is very simple, but I still like it. It has a nice rhythm and the range of color makes it interesting. It is angular, but still has movement because of the print on the fabric. This is the first quilters lamé that I’ve seen that looks hand-dyed—so I had to buy it.

Challenge Quilt Thread_1

Challenge quilt thread.

Here are a couple of photos featuring the thread I’m using on a challenge quilt. This project should have been completed months ago, but it’s still not finished. It’s a work in progress.

Seriously . . . It’s not a UFO . . . It’s a work in progress. I PROMISE!!

Challenge Quilt Thread_2

More challenge quilt thread.

To make sure this project stays on my radar, I set the container of thread in a place that forces me to look at it every time I go in and out of my studio. The thread acts as a constant reminder (commonly known as guilt) that I need to finish this project and not let it linger.

White Pins In Wool Pin Cushion

White glass-head silk pins in wool pin cushion.

These are my favorite pins and they are sticking out of my favorite pin cushion. I think the subject matter in this photo has a lot of potential, but I need to work harder at capturing its beauty. The contrast between the cushion and the pins is wonderful. I’ll definitely shoot this again.

Funky Flowers Detail_1

Detail from Funky Flowers quilt.

The composition (above) isn’t perfect, but I love how the quilting lines force your eye to move across the image.

Funky Flowers Detail_2

Additional detail from Funky Flowers quilt.

This composition is a little stronger than in the previous photo, but I should have pulled back more, or shifted my camera angle down slightly. A touch of red somewhere in the bottom third of the image would help your eye travel around the photograph and balance the composition.

Well, that’s it for this Magic Camera Monday installment. I hope you enjoyed the show.

Please let me know your thoughts. I love hearing from you.


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18 Responses to “Magic Camera Monday: June 27, 2011”

  1. Margo Says:

    Thanks Tom! I can’t remember the last time I scrolled up and down a blog as often as I did this one! Love the white pins in the wool pincushion shot!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Margo, That’s wonderful to hear. I thought everyone would enjoy these shots because of the subject matter. Thanks for confirming it.

      Once I learn how to overcome my lighting issues, I’m going to enjoy the process even more.

      I have a ton of stuff scattered around my studio that will be perfect subject matter for future Magic Camera Mondays, so stay tuned.

  2. Jim Gatling Says:

    These photos are absolutely beautiful. Love the color. You brightened my day! Thanks for posting.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi there, You brighten my day too. Loved the blue quilt on your blog. The color-way is SO different from your usual palate, but it still looked like you.

      Congratulations on completing your 33rd scrap quilt this year!

  3. Barbara Says:

    Great shots Tom! Question…what photo editing program do you use? I have three and don’t like using any of them. I am hoping you have the “magic” answer. After all it is “magic camera monday”. Your thought process in critiquing your photos sounds so similar to the auditioning process when selecting fabrics for a quilt…art is art, I guess. Keep taking these fun quilting photos. I really enjoyed these.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Barbara, Thanks for the compliment. I use Photoshop for editing my photos. I’ve used it for may years and love what it can do.

      Sorry, there is no magic software. Like many things, you have to continue to use the software to get comfortable with it. Once you understand what menu or tool to go to address your photo issue, the process is of color correcting is much easier.

      I use a very limited number of tools to correct my photos. I would prefer to take better photos. Then there is little need for color correcting.

      If you want to learn how to use your software or any software for that matter, I recommend going to Lynda has the best online tutorials out there. Besides providing great tutorials, it’s a cheap why to learn software. I can’t say enough about how good their tutorials are.

      One last thing. There is an open source (free) image editing software named Gimp. I’ve heard great things about it, but haven’t actually used it. Who knows, it may be the magic software you are looking for. 🙂

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Barbara, I meant to comment on your note about critiquing photos.

      Yes, the same rules/guides/principals apply in selecting fabrics for quilts, choosing clothing and accessories, and selecting room decor and color combinations. The principles are the same. If something works well visually, there is a reason.

      Understanding and using these rules/guides/principles provides a creative person the tools to solve design dilemmas.

      Thanks for bringing this topic up. Maybe I’ll do a post on it.

  4. Penny ODell Says:

    A friend and I had a painting shop for several years. We had to learn to shoot photos for our web site. I am so not a photographer, but three things that helped the most were a background (in our case, fabric) that was more neutral. That helped the color of the subject pop more. Also, the camera (and the eye) wasn’t fighting the high contrast of colorful object vs. white background. Try using some of your wonderful fabric as a background for your pincushion shots (a matte finish works best).

    The next thing that helped was a tripod. For some of the shots that you really had to work to get close, you cannot beat a tripod. We got ours on eBay for practically nothing.

    The next thing for indoor shots is a set of lights (also on eBay). This really helps with those weird, can’t get rid of them, shadows. It also makes all the difference in having to color correct so much.

    These tips were developed from tons of truly awful photos.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Penny, Thanks for the advise. I’ll try incorporating some of your suggestions into my future photographic experiments. I have a couple of tripods and a variety of lights, so we’ll see what happens.

      I’m trying to make these shots easy to capture, so anything that helps me do that is a welcome addition to the studio.

      Thanks again.

  5. Lynn Kelly Says:

    This covered 100X more than I ever think about when shooting a photo! WOW! Now I have to ‘think’ then too? Definitely lots of food for future thinking! ha

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Oh Lynn, you are too funny. No, you don’t have to think that much when you shoot each photo. It’s better to just shoot more photos. The more photos you take, the better you will get.

      I try to shoot over a very short period of time, so I don’t contemplate or stress over too much. I shot around 100 shots to get to the 11 I showed.

      Understanding what is wrong with the shots will help me take better ones in the future. Learning to compose a shot is key to making a great photograph. Taking a picture (snapshot) is easy. Taking a photograph is a little more complicated.

      Good photography takes thought and effort. I’m trying to develop the skills to make it look effortless.

  6. jayardi Says:

    • • • An interesting array of photos today. I especially like the thread. ; ) Any idea when the quilt will be done? I wanna see, please!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there, I liked the tread too. Nope, no idea. I’m upset with my quilting machine at the moment, so it’s easy to avoid the project until guilt forces me to complete it.

      I’m at the half-way point in the quilting. I’m pleased with what I’ve done so far, but I got tired to spending three hours to take out 10 minutes worth of stitching.

      I planned to do a post on the issues I’ve had with completing it—both emotionally and mechanically. I think everyone will be able to relate to my experience, so stay tuned.

  7. Nikki Says:

    speaking of “works in progress” – did you ever finish the quilt with the big bird on it? I have been waiting over a year to see this finished quilt. Last I heard – it was on the frame. Pleeease show it to us – and I love the pictures!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Nikki, Nope, still incomplete and still on the frame. I looked at it after I read you comment last night. I’ve been waiting for it to be finished too, but it’s still sitting/hanging there.

      I’ve had a lot of issues with it, bu I promise I’ll show pictures of it soon.

  8. Jackie Says:

    Hi Tom, Hope all is well with you. This new endeavor you’ve taken on is pretty interesting. You have a way with words that really pulls a person into the subject. It makes you want to come inside and kick up one’s feet and enjoy the entertainment. You are special! I will never look at thread in the same light (no pun intended) I never really gave it much thought after I found the right color for my project that was the extent of “thread” for me. However, now I will read into the story of, it’s Color, its texture, its movement, it’s reflection in the light and of course the ties it binds. We need to get together for coffee, miss you and talk to you soon.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Jackie, Thank you for your very sweet and thoughtful note. I can’t begin to tell you how much it meant to me.

      I agree, we should get together. I have a really BIG HUG all wrapped up and ready to deliver to you.

      Thanks for making my day.

      Let’s set a date. Email me and let’s see when we can get together. I’d love to spend some time with you over coffee.

      Again, THANK YOU for the lovely post. It made my eyes leak when I read it.

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