Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Photographing Knitting - Lesson 1

I'm sure most of you will agree that one of the most enjoyable aspects of reading knitblogs are the photographs.

I wanted to share some ideas about photographing knitwear and yarns with the rest of you, in light of my recent purchase of the best lens ever (BLE).

First I'm going to talk about some gear. Then I'm going to talk about some photography concepts.


Here's what you need to take perfect pictures of your knitting:

1. A digital SLR with manual mode.

2. A lens with an f-stop of 1.4.

Now, you can spend $2000 on this kind of set-up, or you can spend $400. I bought my Nikon Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens, the BLE, for $100 on Ebay. I use it with my Nikon D80, which you can get for about $600 used. The D40 or older digital SLR models work fine, too. You only need to have a manual mode.

The most important thing to keep in mind when photographing anything is LIGHT. Natural light is best. Light from a flash is most tricky to get right.

The 1.4 aperture on my BLE lets in a TON of light, so that you can take great pictures even when the light is low, and you rarely need a flash.

Before we go on to lesson 2, you need to learn about the relationship between (2) aperture and shutterspeed, and (2) aperture and depth of field.

Read about aperture here.

Read about depth of field here.

In summary: the larger the aperture opening in a lens, the more light enters the camera AND the shallower the depth of field becomes. Professional photographers use shallow depth of field to make their subjects "pop" from the background in a photograph.

For example, here's a photo of my son, Adrian:

Using a 1.4 aperture, his face is the only thing in focus--the bed, the pillows, the pile of laundry behind him, his cute bare bottom--it all fades. Which means that you don't have to have a fabulous studio backdrop to take great photos.

Here's another example. This is a photo of some of my hand-spun:

The sexy backdrop? My floor.

One more example--Jordynn, modeling her (free!) pattern, the Greywacke Cowl:

This one was taken on my front porch. That's my neighbor's yellow garage in the background. It is amazing how much the background doesn't matter when you have a shallow depth of field.

Next time, we'll talk about photographing knit garments.

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