Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week 2014: 3 - Experimental Photography & Image Handling #5KCBWDAY3

This was always going to be a challenging topic for me.  My blog is relatively young and I am still trying to come to grips with the camera, let alone the fancy image processing on the computer. My focus (pardon the pun) in this post is to reflect on my learning and share my discoveries.  I've realised that I have 3 major challenges to overcome.

A beginner's photograph (2007)
This doily pattern from Crochet Monthly (UK) #320 
is called "Bedazzled"
and it certainly was bedazzled by the camera flash.
Without the flash, the image was too dark.
The reflections from the velveteen cushion

probably didn't help either!
Challenge No. 1: Camera Experience (or not)

When I first began photographing my crochet, I had a very basic digital camera (Dolphin Powercam). The lens had a set focal length and if one didn't have the item at just the right distance, it would be very fuzzy. With an image resolution of 2 megapixels, it made good happy snaps but it was a bit "all or nothing" in its operation.

I can crop now! (2011)
"Thigh High Leg Warmers" in team colours.
(Go Crows!)
I was lucky enough to be gifted a small Canon Powershot by a friend which had many more features and higher image resolution
(7.1 megapixels). This meant I could enlarge and crop photos with better results. I think I know why it was called a 'Powershot' too - it used up a lot of power, chewing up batteries like no tomorrow!

My children have been enthusiastic about media in all its forms - we joke about having a couple of future media moguls in the family.  Their special interests are film-making and digital media (and I wish their knowledge and skills could rub off on me.)  They could not afford both a film and a still camera to meet their standards so they now jointly own one very sophisticated Nikon camera that will do both. I like to borrow it when they are not looking, shhh!

At the moment, I am settling for the automatic settings (point & click) with pleasing results but I wish I knew how to set up the camera to make use of all its features.  Where to find a particular function? How to change that setting?  I struggle with navigating the screens and buttons because a lot relies on memory - remembering what the little icons signify and understanding the memory/mode menu structures in order to find a function.  I don't get a lot of time to play regularly so the intermittent use combined with fatigue fog make it hard to learn the new digital cameras.
Up close and personal (2013)
The SLR allows me to hone in on particular details with precision.
This image shows the meeting point between 

simple and purl tricot stitches.

I used to do photography at school and I still have my old SLR. The vintage camera is too heavy for me to hold nowadays because of mixed connective tissue disease but its lens has superb clarity (sadly, the lens is not compatible with the fancy new camera).   I understand
f-stops, apertures and depth of field but just haven't got the hang of the new technology. Frustrating, but not impossible to overcome.

The Nikon camera is perfect for the close-up photography required for crochet.

Challenge No. 2: Computing Technology

One's learning about technology is directly related to the time spent using it; that's one of my problems.  The other is finding a time where I am fatigue free and able to concentrate. I don't have the budget for expensive image processing software so please let me know about any great free applications that you have found. What software do you use?

My starting point was the software already on board my computer. I use Microsoft Office Picture Manager to crop and compress photos to a size suitable for online sharing and sometimes use the colour enhancement tools.

There are some lovely effects to be found online such as photo frames and collages etc.  I especially like the latest Pigtails blog entry by Magda de Lange about a hexagon motif blanket where the photographs are framed in hexagonal and 6-pointed graphics.  I love the artistic expression and the cohesiveness these graphics add to the text and wish I knew how Magda did it!  I am now seeking applications that can do these fancy effects.
I learned to make a collage (2014)
The effect of layered photographs was created by Picasa.

Text added to photograph (2014)
using Windows Paint
Picasa seems to offer a lot of creative options but I find it difficult to navigate. My main confusion is its online sharing and links to Google+. In fact, I still find Google+ confusing.   I would love to hear from experienced users of either of these programs who can enlighten me.

Earlier this month, for my Access All Areas post ("Off My Trolley"), I used Windows Paint to illustrate my point with text. It was clumsy and time consuming. I don't like using it.  I am looking forward to discovering better and tidier ways to add text.

Eskimimimakes suggested two free programs that I had never heard of before:

  • Pixlr (online photo editor) 
  • I discovered Tilt Shift
    - a filter which mimics the
    effect in the photo
    'Up Close and Personal' (above)
  • BigHugeLabs ("do fun stuff with your photos")

(The three effects at the head of this page were created by Pixlr.)

The great thing about Knitting & Crochet Blog Week is that it has prompted me to ask my tech-savvy children for their ideas. Another two suggestions were:

  • GIMP (GNU image manipulation program)
  • Paint.NET (image and photo editing software) - aha! this is supposed to be a replacement for the original Windows Paint program mentioned above.

Gee, I had no idea!  So there you go, participate in K&CBW and learn new things. There's plenty there to keep us busy for a while.

Challenge No. 3: Creative Photography

When I first shared my crochet online, the pictures were plain, straightforward shots of the item. This has been a simple and quick solution for a long time.  To investigate skills specific to crochet, I purchased the useful book "The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos" by Heidi Adnum (Interweave 2011).

Tricks of the light
2013 heralded a new experimental attitude to my photos.
I had a lot of fun with New Year's sparklers and
working in low light conditions.
Strike a pose! (2012)
Photographing the Fab Four was most fun,
getting the dolls to pose: inspired by "Help" (above)
and trying to get an 'action shot' (below)
The red tinge to this picture is no special effect
but the reflected light from the red surroundings.

Since entering the blogosphere, I have admired the composition and colours of others' photographs.

Lately, I have been trying to add more interest to my own photos by adding complementary colours in the background or adding extra items that reveal a bit more about my personality.

Use of props (2014)
I love the way the yellow rose enhances the pink tones (above).
By including the patchwork bag, I can showcase the beautiful work of others
and give the dolls a bit of fun (below).

Complementary colours
I found the backdrop of delft blues against the yellow tones in the wood
to be a good foil for the colourful eggs in the foreground.
I love the depth of colour and the Dutch connection makes it more personal.

Upon reflection

I often feel like a complete newbie to blogging even after a year and a bit.  I've been around computers for a long time and studied photography in the past, but since becoming a parent, haven't been able to keep up with new developments.  It just hasn't been a priority until now.

This blogging task has caused me to reflect and realise that I have learnt something along the way, albeit with modest progress. Thank you to the clever, creative and colourful bloggers who share their ideas and images which inspire me to continue on my learning path...

and thank you for your support by reading this long post!

Favourite Posts from Day 3


  1. It's fascinating to see how your photography has progressed. Thank you for visiting my blog (I'm afraid it was absolutely posed!)

    1. Thank you for having a look and giving feedback. I love to know what you (and other readers) think. I have been reading your blog and you seem to be a very energetic and busy person. I especially like your "Looking Forward" post where you list 10 things to achieve in the next year - Items 3 and 5 are most appealing! I need to finish my own post about "Looking Forward, Looking Back" and hope to have it published this week to complete the 5th Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

  2. Interesting to read how your photography skills have evolved. I love the shot of the dolls in the bag - very cute, and fitting for the subject. I admire the time you have put into learning more and doing more with your pictures.

    1. I wish I had more time and energy to spend learning, and then I wish I could remember it long enough for the next time I need it! I don't know whether it is fatigue itself or medication or just being a parent who has to remember everyone else's things as well as my own, but my memory doesn't seem as sharp as it used to be.

  3. Sometimes it takes an event like Knitting & Crochet Blog Week to make one pause for reflection. I discovered that I actually am making progress along the learning curve even when I feel like I haven't. Also, one doesn't know what's been learnt until someone else comes along who wants to learn it! I must thank Mimi ( for the referral to Pixlr. Great advice!

  4. Another resource:
    Julie from Little Woollie ( is using Picmonkey ( to add text to photos for a sign. She laments that she should use it more often because it is a simple process. Picmonkey's feature list includes: photo editor, touch up, collage, design and photo effects. One can edit photos for free so I look forward to having fun with this. Thanks Julie, for the tip!