Hi all.  Over the last couple of weeks I have had to prepare some information to send off to some magazines about what we at AHQ are up to.  Now I try really hard to include a good range of pictures to illustrate what I am saying and I usually don’t include any pictures if my quilts because everybody knows I am involved.  I like to show as much as I can of what everyone else is doing.

The last magazine I was approached by wanted photos of at least 1MB in size.  I really struggled to find suitable pics.  Either the size was too small, or the lighting was too dark or the whole quilt was not shown to advantage.

Now don’t worry!   I am happy with the pictures I am getting for the sake of the blog.  I do not want you to go out and get a new camera or a professional photographer etc.  

If you are doing the best you can and don’t know what to do to change things and don’t have the time energy or whatever to change things that is absolutely fine.  I am happy with what you are sending me.

The purpose of this post is just to inform you. If, in the future, you would like me to consider your photos for other articles (assuming there will be more in the future) then you need to know what is required.

I thought I would put together some hints and tips for the average photographer out there (or maybe like me “the point and shoot” photographer”)  Some of the tips will be over the heads of those of you like me but I have included them as I also know there are some of you out there who will understand.

Firstly some requests from me.  Often when I received photos the files are really small.   I know some of you do that out of consideration for me but as much as i appreciate that it is not necessary. I do not seem to have trouble down loading pictures in larger formats. If you could send your pics to me around 1-2MB that would be great. I re-size every photo I get down to less than 100KB for publication on  the blog thanks to a tip from (The Lovely Warrant Officer’s Wife, Posie – see note below).  

Please try to make sure the quilt takes up most of the background, unless you are taking photos where the background is special and adds to the picture like these ones.

If possible. try for  good contrast between borders and back ground.  A dark quilt on a dark background does not work well. 

I know it is not always easy to get someone to hold your quilts up for you but you could try hanging then on a clothes line.

Finally sending pictures as an attachment, rather than embedded in an email are much easier and quicker for me to work with and anything that saves me time is much appreciated.

Now for suggestions and tips from others.  Of course I cut and pasted everyone’s suggestions into the blog without thinking to include their names to give them credit and now I just don’t have time to go searching back but you all know who you are so hopefully you will just accept my thanks here for taking the time to contribute.

I do know that the first lot of tips came from Deborah as I recognize her blog name.

My tips are put your camera on the maximum quality setting.
I hang my quilts from the pergola and try to take photos when the light is good but not directly shinning on the quilt. The two web posts show how

Firstly choose a dull-but bright day to photograph your quilt

Secondly hang quilt against wall outside but not in sun, clip a couple of weights if won’t lay flat
Use tripod to place camera on
Aim the camera at the centre of the quilt, making sure that all is in frame
Make adjustments to settings if using a more complicated camera
Take the photograph ideally two or three

There are lots of good blog articles on taking pictures of quilts and some can be found here, here and here

Anne was kind enough to forward my request for help with photos on to her son, Matt, who is a photographer.  He was lovely enough to draft not one, but two emails to me.  The first one you can read below in red.  It will be appreciated by the shutter bugs among us.  Though I am sure the first sentence is one which all of us will appreciate.

Then I explained that I needed some simpler info for people like me! and he was kind enough to re-draft.

Keep the camera as steady as possible and try to get natural light to help out (through a window etc) watch or any dark shadows for loss of detail or any extremely bright spots, again for loss of detail. Anything too washed out or over exposed won’t print.

Should you have anyone in the Canberra that struggles with taking images then I would be most happy to take photos for them and to send them to you. So please pass on my email address.
I kind of know my way around a camera =) haha

The same for anyone in Wollongong, given my Mother is up there and I try to get up there a fair bit. 

If you would like to take him up on his offer in Canberra or Wollongong just email me for Matt’s details.

And now here is his more technical email.

First off, as an Ex-Army Soldier, thank you for the effort you’re putting in.
There are a few factors that will come into consideration.
1. The type of camera you are using and how much control you have over the settings.
2. The quality of light available to you and
3. Whether you are using a flash or not.
I will expand on each point below and try to not confuse you with detail.
1. A camera will automatically compress the jpeg file based on what it thinks needs compressing, such as darks and lights. The type of camera dictates to some degree the size of the file it produces. The more control you have over the ISO (the cameras sensitivity to light), shutter speed and aperture (how much light is let in) the better the picture you will produce. A camera doesn’t always pick the best settings.
2. The quality of light is natural vs artificial (globes, flashes etc) Natural light is reasonably constant. When using lights in a room or a light from a flash the temperature will differ. For example a fluro light will throw off very white light that is almost blue, so the photo will look cold. A standard 60w globe will be relatively warm (yellow/orange) thus making your whites the same colour.
3. Using a flash on the camera requires 2 considerations. A. It will throw off nasty shadows and is very harsh and B. You have no control over the direction of light as it is on the camera.
So how do you achieve a good, sharp photo?
Use a tripod. This will remove any camera shake created by the person taking the photo. This will be more noticeable if the shutter speed is slow. The less light available the longer the shutter has to stay open to allow light to hit the sensor. The longer it is open the more noticeable any movement. This will also negate the requirement of a camera flash.
The faster the shutter speed the less light that will be let in.
If you have control of the aperture (which is also called F/stop) then open it up as far as it will go. The lower the number the wider open the lens becomes.
It is ideal to start with a larger than 1mb file and then edit it as required THEN resize down to 1mb. Generally most cameras produce a file larger than 1mb.

And as the title said – recently we got a chance to return a favour but I have only just found out.  I have heard about Aussie Soldiers being given Quilts of Valor in the past.  I don’t know what the circumstances were but it doesn’t matter to me.  I have just found out that we made it possible for the Aussies to present a WWQ (wounded warrior quilt) to an american marine who was injured whilst “saving our bacon” to quote the article.  You can (and should) read all about it here

Because of the backing used in this quilt, and the fact that we have only sent over about nine WWQs so far I am able to tell you that this quilt is one of the first ones we sent and it was pieced by Claire and quilted by Caroline and the backing was donated  as well.

Till next time……………….keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

NOTE.  if you don’t know who the Lovely Warrant Officer is then you need to go back to the beginning and check how we got started