Photography: Lighting

I have to admit that I’ve had very little time this week to think about this week’s SOS: Photography post.  I was so motivated last week when I posted about smiling for the camera, but then life got in the way this week.  So, this tip came together quickly through a conversation with my husband last night.

When trying to think of tips that should be easy to follow when taking blog photos, no matter what kind of camera you’re posing in front of, what came to mind first was lighting.  If I had my camera books handy (they’re still packed in boxes in the basement!), I’d quote from them, but since I don’t, I’ll have to paraphrase. Basically, you want to take photos in indirect light with any flash that may be built into your camera turned off.

Strong light will make for harsh shadows.

Sew Well - Photography and Lighting Tips

I was really excited about taking photos in the desert when we were at a wedding last summer, but my husband and I quickly realized that there was no where to hide from the mid-day sun.  And, there was no time to come back later to take advantage of dusk when the sun would be lower and not as harsh since we were due to be dancing and eating at the wedding reception then.  You can see how shadowy my face is here, and I will even admit to lightening my face in Photoshop so that it wasn’t even darker and more shadowy.

Speaking of dusk, dawn and dusk are easy ways to get nice photos with indirect sunlight.  The magic golden hour!

Sew Well - Photography and Lighting Tips

In the photo above my husband and I were taking advantage of the setting sun at dusk. A little prep in the morning meant we could run out as soon as we got home from work that day to catch the setting sun.  You could easily do the same with the tripod.  Just try different angles with respect to the location of the sun to find the nicest light.  Often, as long as there’s enough light still hitting your face, it’s best when the light is coming from somewhere behind you.  No squinting and a soft glow = win, win!

UPDATE:  I just read a post by Jenny of Cashmerette that suggests you orient your face towards the sun during the golden hour.  She believes it shows off the garment the best, and I think she may be on to something there that I hadn’t thought about!

http://sew-well.com/2013/04/18/drape-drape-3-no-3-review-and-giveaway/

You can even get fancy and catch a sun flare!  Though, here we’d let the sun get a little too low, which is why the light isn’t quite as soft as in the photo with my golden Archer.

My guess is that the very popular style blogger, Wendy of Wendy’s Lookbook, takes most of her photos at dawn since the lighting is always perfect, but there are rarely people around despite being out and about on city streets.  If you can motivate and get yourself ready by the time the sun comes up, you’ll likely have your favorite photos spots all to yourself. Bonus, you won’t have a day’s worth of wrinkles in your clothes, either!

Sew Well - Photography and Lighting Tips

Indirect light can also come from odd places, like here at the base of this sculpture.  Since digital photos are free, don’t be afraid to try something crazy out like standing on a lighted grate near a giant orange wall!

If you prefer taking your photos indoors, try to set up your camera near a window that’s getting a lot of light from outside.

Sew Well - Photography and Lighting Tips

Here the window was just off to the left, and the wall behind me was catching the late day sun from the northwest.  All my Stitcher’s Guild Sewing with a Plan photos were taken against that same wall, and I bet the clear photos were a big part in how I secured second place in that year’s SWAP.

Sew Well - Photography and Lighting Tips

That said, I also think that was some of my most successful sewing to date. What a fun challenge that was! I hope to find time to push myself like that again sometime soon.

Also, note that the shadows behind me are a bit sharper in the SWAP photos than in the one where I’m wearing the Drape Drape dress.  That’s because I’m standing closer to the wall in the SWAP photos.  Since those SWAP photos, I’ve learned I like standing a few feet in front of the background wall if I can help it so that the shadows behind me are a bit more muted.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on lighting in blog photography.  I’m sure there’s a lot more for all of us to learn, so please share away!

MMMMonday: May 1st through 5th

This May I’m joining Zoe at ‘So, Zo…’ in a challenge to wear something handmade every day for thirty-one days. This post marks the first update of my progress.

MMM13Day1

May 1, 2013

What: The Gray-and-Teal Floral Pendrell and the Original Jalie Jeans

Where: To work. Then to the hardware store. My husband and I are moving to Seattle at the end of the month, and I wanted to get started on the little repairs that need to be made before we leave our current apartment. I know we have almost an entire month, but I don’t like to leave things to the last minute! The outfit finished off the night over at a neighbor’s house for our weekly watching of Game of Thrones.

~~~

MMM13Day2

May 2, 2013

What: The Black-on-Black Pants

Where: To work. Then back to the hardware store. Then to another neighbor’s house for another show. We’re watching the first seasons of Downton Abbey. I know how what all of the fuss was about!

~~~

MMM13Day3

May 3, 2013

What: The Linen Knit Renfrew

Where: To work. Then to the hardware store yet again. Then to yet another neighbor’s house. It feels like I’m on repeat! No television this night though. We sat around sharing fun stories and drinking home-brewed beers. This particular neighbor always has six of his own beers on tap. He could make up his own Me-Made May with different beer combinations every day! For the Friday theme of ‘water’, I walked over to my neighborhood duck pond.

~~~

MMM13Day4

May 4, 2013

What: The Linen Knit Side Drape Dress

Where: Around the house. It was a day of chores… with some time to stop and smell the roses in the garden.

~~~

MMM13Day5

May 5, 2013

What: The Good-Enough-for-a-First-Try Running Skirt

Where: On a morning run with friends.

~~~

Reflections on the week:

  • The simple sleeveless Pendrell with its princess seams, the easy-to-wear knit Renfrew, and the classic Jalie jeans are always my go-to patterns. If my closet were filled with these and cardigans, I could be one content lady.
  • I’m not so sure the Black-on-Black pants make the cut. The pattern fits well, but the wool is a disaster. I made the mistake of putting them through the wash. They got jumbled up with my other clothes, and I wasn’t the wiser until it was too late. Felt city. Scratchy felt city.
  • I quite enjoy wearing the drape drape tank dress, but I really should take another stab at the neck line. Dare I unpick?
  • I want to try to make another running skirt now that I have a serger.

Sewing with a Plan: The 2012 Collage

This winter and spring I’m joining a bunch of other talented seamsters in the Stitcher’s Guild’s Sewing with a Plan 2012 challenge. We’re all making eleven garments from tried-and-true patterns. Unfortunately, I don’t have any. My goal is to discover several TNTs over the course of the challenge through proper fitting, and this post continues the discussion.

The Stitcher’s Guild Sewing with a Plan challenge is actually a contest. Garment photos are submitted, votes are cast, and winners are chosen. Because I think the Minoru is the focus here, I’ve named my SWAP the “Mix-and-Match Minoru”. (In the beginning I called it “Fading into Blue” since it was mostly neutrals with a bit of bright blue.)

All of the entries are up here. I encourage you to check out the other talented seamsters who completed this year’s SWAP. They’re inspiring! And, if you’re a member of the Stitcher’s Guild, you can even participate in the voting.

MMMMonday: May 1st through 7th

This May I’m joining Zoe at ‘So, Zo…’ in a challenge to wear something handmade every day for thirty-one days. This post marks the first update of my progress.

May 1, 2012

What: A self-silk-screened shirt: the wizard from the game Gauntlet in brown on a yellow T shirt

Where: To work. I woke up a little intimidated about MMM’12, and I gravitated towards a favorite self-screened T shirt to ease myself into the challenge.

~~~

May 2, 2012

What:  The Straight-Legged Betty Jeans

Where:  To work then out to dinner with some very special friends who were in town (one of whom sews and had not only made her entire outfit but also gone to the Gaultier exhibit that afternoon).

~~~

May 3, 2012

What:  The Secret Garden Pleated Skirt

Where:  To work.  A long day at work. Always a good reason to throw on a happy skirt.

~~~

May 4, 2012

What:  The Stripey Renfrew

Where:  To work and to sewing class.  In honor of Friday’s food theme, I had my husband take my photo while we were making a homemade pizza.  Mmm…  MMM!

~~~

May 5, 2012

What:  A self-silk-screened shirt:  the female warrior from the game Gauntlet in green on a light blue T shirt

Where:  To see The Avengers with friends.  I put together my best super hero outfit for the occasion.

~~~

May 6, 2012

What:  The Good-Enough-for-a-First-Try Running Skirt

Where:  On a morning run with a good friend, then to cheer on her fiancé at a 5k race.  He won!

~~~

What:  The Gray-and-Teal Floral Pendrell

Where:  To a regular day at work.

Sewing with a Plan: The Final Tally

This winter and spring I’m joining a bunch of other talented seamsters in the Stitcher’s Guild’s Sewing with a Plan 2012 challenge. We’re all making eleven garments from tried-and-true patterns.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any. My goal is to discover several TNTs over the course of the challenge through proper fitting, and this post marks its completion.

This month everything finally came together for the Stitcher’s Guild‘s Sewing with a Plan 2012 challenge.  I was able to complete eleven garments that all fit into the SWAP’s requirements.  But, I wouldn’t say I exactly met all of the goals of the SWAP.  Many of the patterns I used are not going to become the “tried-and-true”, or TNT, patterns the SWAP intended for those participating to perfect.  But, I’m proud to have finished eleven garments in the allotted time frame.  And, I think getting distracted with other Sew-Alongs and changing a few things here and there were good for my growth as a seamstress anyway.

Here is my final SWAP 2012 tally…

  • Button-Down Shirt w/Collar
  • Blouse or shirt (collar is optional)

1.  Sewaholic Pendrell in a gray and teal floral – completed.

2.  Paco Peralta Draped Top in gray silk – completed (and featured on Peralta’s own blog here).

  • T-Shirt

3.  Sewaholic Renfrew cowl neck in ivory cotton knit – completed.

4.  Sewaholic Renfrew V neck in linen knit – completed.

  • Vest
  • Overshirt
  • Dress

5.  BurdaStyle 5/2011 Bustier Dress with Draped Detail in teal shantung with dragon print cotton lining – completed (full pictures posted in tomorrow’s Tuesdays with Gertie!).

6. McCall’s 5308 in vintage wool – completed.

  • Jeans

7.  Jalie 2908 in dark blue denim – completed.

8.  Jalie 2908 as skinnies in dark blue denim – completed, but yet to be posted.

  • Trousers

9.  McCall’s M5249 in ivory silk – completed.

  • Shorts or Capri Pants
  • Skirt

10.  Colette Patterns Beignet in ivory gabardine – completed.

  • Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)

11.  Sewaholic Minoru jacket in “Paint Me a ?” cotton with a gold Bemberg lining – completed.

  • Coat  (suit or sport coat)
  • Overcoat or Raincoat
  • Bathing Suit & Coverup

So, that makes two blouses, two t-shirts, two dresses, two pairs of jeans, one pair of trousers, one skirt, and one jacket.  A good range of garments, all of which have been and will be worn.  Since the Minoru jacket was the inspiration for the color scheme, the range of colors is broad, but I think they all work together.  Everything could be worn with the jacket, though the two dresses are not really the right style.

As far as TNT patterns, I’d say the Renfrew top and Jalie 2908 jeans definitely fall into that category.  I already have my next pair of jeans cut out and ready to be stitched.  (Watch out!  They’re orange!)  And, I picked up several knits at the FabMo event that are destined to become Renfrews.

What a crazy adventure these past few months have been.  The SWAP really tested my sewing skills, pushed me to think about fit, encouraged me to make a wide range of garments that I can wear day in and day out, and kept me excited about sewing.  Thank you Stitcher’s Guild.  You might be seeing me for another SWAP next year, but no promises.

Sewing with a Plan: March Progress

This winter I’m joining a bunch of other talented seamsters in the Stitcher’s Guild’s Sewing with a Plan 2012 challenge. We’re all making eleven garments from tried-and-true patterns.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any. My goal is to discover several TNTs over the course of the challenge through proper fitting, and here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

This month my progress for the Stitcher’s Guild‘s Sewing with a Plan 2012 challenge was pretty minor.  I only added one complete garment, my Mad Men-inspired dress, which wasn’t even supposed to be a part of the plan!  And, yet again, I still haven’t contributed much over in the forum part of this challenge.  I keep hoping I’ll find my voice over there, but at this rate it’s not going to happen during this challenge.

Here is the current state of my SWAP as I head into the final weeks…

  • Button-Down Shirt w/Collar
  • Blouse or shirt (collar is optional)

1.  Sewaholic Pendrell in a gray and teal floral – completed.

2.  Paco Peralta Draped Top in gray silk – The shoulder and neck seams have been sewn. One attempt has been made to make a nice V point at the front, but it didn’t drape well, so I ripped the stitches out and haven’t made the time to try again.

  • T-Shirt

3.  Sewaholic Renfrew cowl neck in ivory cotton knit – completed.

4.  Sewaholic Renfrew V neck in linen knit – completed.

  • Vest
  • Overshirt
  • Dress

5.  BurdaStyle 5/2011 Bustier Dress with Draped Detail in teal shantung with dragon print cotton lining – coming together quite nicely!

6. McCall’s 5308 in vintage wool – completed.

  • Jeans

7.  Jalie 2908 in dark blue denim – completed.

8.  Jalie 2908 as skinnies in dark blue denim – cut out but not a stitch sewn.

  • Trousers

9.  Vogue V8156 in gray wool.

  • Shorts or Capri Pants
  • Skirt

10.  Colette Patterns Beignet in ivory gabardine – completed.

  • Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)

11.  Sewaholic Minoru jacket in “Paint Me a ?” cotton with a gold Bemberg lining – completed.

  • Coat  (suit or sport coat)
  • Overcoat or Raincoat
  • Bathing Suit & Coverup

While I’ve made great progress having completed seven garments and gotten three other garments in some stage of being made, I just don’t see how I’m going to be able to finish this challenge by the deadline.  I have two big work deadlines between now and then, which definitely take priority on my time.  Plus, I don’t seem to be capable of rushing my sewing.  So, I’m going to keep plugging away a little bit at a time when I have time, and maybe things will work out.  But, regardless, I’ve had a lot of fun trying out new patterns, making efforts to find tried-and-true patterns that work for me (and others that were just too much fun to pass up this season – I’m looking at you, dresses), and creating a substantial handmade wardrobe.  And, no matter if I finish by the end of the official SWAP or sometime later in the year, everything on my list will be made eventually.  No matter how these next few weeks go, I’d say this challenge has been a success for me!

Sewing with a Plan: February Progress

This winter I’m joining a bunch of other talented seamsters in the Stitcher’s Guild’s Sewing with a Plan 2012 challenge. We’re all making eleven garments from tried-and-true patterns.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any. My goal is to discover several TNTs over the course of the challenge through proper fitting, and here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

This month my progress slowed down a bit for the Stitcher’s Guild‘s Sewing with a Plan 2012 challenge.  I’ve added two more complete garment, the jeans, which I posted on Monday, and the Minoru jacket, which I’ve yet to post.  Lastly, I still haven’t contributed much over in the forum part of this challenge, but, again, maybe by April I’ll have found my voice over there.

Here is the current state of my SWAP as I head into March…

  • Button-Down Shirt w/Collar
  • Blouse or shirt (collar is optional)

1.  Sewaholic Pendrell in a gray and teal floral – completed.

2.  Paco Peralta Draped Top in gray silk – currently in the muslin phase, though the unbelievable four-ply silk from FineFabrics.com has already been prewashed in cold and line dried.

  • T-Shirt

3.  Sewaholic Renfrew cowl neck in ivory cotton knit – completed.

4.  Sewaholic Renfrew V neck in linen knit – completed.

  • Vest
  • Overshirt
  • Dress

5.  BurdaStyle 5/2011 Bustier Dress with Draped Detail in teal shantung with dragon print cotton lining – currently working on the bodice.

  • Jeans

6.  Jalie 2908 in dark blue denim – completed.

7.  Jalie 2908 as skinnies in dark blue denim.

  • Trousers

8.  Vogue V8156 in gray wool.

  • Shorts or Capri Pants
  • Skirt

9.  Colette Patterns Beignet in ivory gabardine – completed.

  • Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)

10.  Sewaholic Minoru jacket in “Paint Me a ?” cotton with a gold Bemberg lining – completed, but not yet posted.

11.  Vogue V8435 in teal linen knit.

  • Coat  (suit or sport coat)
  • Overcoat or Raincoat
  • Bathing Suit & Coverup

I hope to finish three items in March to keep on pace for a complete SWAP by the end of April. The bombshell dress won’t be finished until the very end of the SWAP at the current one-video-a-week rate.  But, I like taking this Craftsy course at this pace.  Each week feels like a mini accomplishment.  In fact, I plan to continue this series with the Starlet Jacket once the bombshell dress is complete, essentially at the end of April.  Anyone else interested in joining me?  Back to the SWAP, I think the silk cowl and linen wrap jacket will be next, leaving the two pairs of pants for the end.  I better get sewing!