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Feb 24, 2012

Sewing Blog Photography



And now, to unveil the secret of yesterday's mystery box!

Friends, I have purchased a new camera -- or rather, a new-to-me camera, because this camera dates from the photographic Dark Ages of 2005.  It's a Canon Digital Rebel XT 8 MP (that's megapixels) and I purchased it on eBay for about $200.



That's low for a camera like this (with lens included), but it was missing a few basics (lens cover, battery recharger) you can pick up cheap online.  I do most of my research on Amazon, and this camera received -- and continues to receive -- great reviews from owners.  Needless to say, the sky's the limit when it comes to camera equipment.

Here's a test shot of Michael in his funky new eyeglass frames, focused manually (click pics to see larger).



The dogs.



The coat.



The candlesticks.



Having had it less than a day, I think what I notice most is the depth of field as well as a richness my other cameras lack(ed) -- this despite using the rather low-end Canon zoom lens the camera came with originally and which many owners upgrade almost immediately. 

I'd been thinking about getting a DSLR (that's short for Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera for a long time.  Till now, every camera I've owned has been a point-and-shoot, my most recent being a Canon S90, which I love (though Michael finds it slow).  I've had it for roughly two years and I will continue to use it.  It's extremely lightweight and fits into a jacket pocket.

Before the S90 I used a Canon SD1000 that had many fewer features -- which some may prefer -- and is a great buy today if you're in the market for a starter digital camera (less than $100).  The more I've read about megapixels, the more I've come to realize that for my purposes -- posting photos online -- you don't need more than 5-6 megapixels, if that.  The quality of the lens and the skill of the photographer are much more important.

What is nice about having more megapixels is that you can crop a photo to, say, 1/3 the original size and still retain a sharp image.  My new Canon Digital Rebel XT has 8 mp, the S90 has 10 mp, and the SD1000, 7.1.  Camera companies tout ever-higher megapixel numbers primarily to sell more cameras.  Remember: the more megapixels per photo, the more room each image takes up on your computer.  This can add up very rapidly.





Both the S90 and the SD1000 can take video; the Digital Rebel XT cannot.

I appreciate good photography, though I know relatively little about it.  When it comes to blogs, I will admit that I'm sometimes very impressed -- and intimidated -- by the high quality of the photography (Casey comes to mind) and this has definitely inspired me to up my game.

Photography isn't everyone's strong point, obviously, and learning how to take a good picture can take time.  It's easy to fall into the habit of snapping all your sewing photos against the same bedroom wall.  We nosy readers want to see your whole house!

I won't do extensive photo editing.  My photos go through my old iPhoto program (Version 6.0.6) that came with my laptop five years ago.  I can't stand the new iPhoto on my new iMac -- I think it's Version 10; I find it overly complex.  Most of the photo editing I do is cropping and minor color correction -- nothing fancy -- and I don't want to spend a lot of time doing it.  I post photos nearly every day and I need something fast with a minimum of steps. 

Whenever possible, I use natural light, though artificial light can be effective too, especially in sequins.





My old Canon SD1000 had a wonderful Macro setting for close, close, close-ups that I think is superior to the one on my S90, actually.   If you've never used your camera's Macro setting, give it a try -- it's fun!







Anyway, being a very visual person, I love to see lots of photos on blogs and sometimes lose patience if there's too much text without an image.  I grew up on pop-up books.

A brief description of my process: I take a shot -- I never use the flash, btw; it's turned off -- download it into iPhoto, and do whatever editing is necessary, if any.  I then open Picasa for Mac on my computer, and from there, upload the photo into my online Picasa file (I generally start a new file for every new project).   You can explore my public files here.

This takes about a minute and the reason I use Picasa is that it allows me to upload directly into Picasa online.  (Before I had a Mac, I used Picasa for everything -- editing and uploading.)  Now that I have cable Internet, the uploading is super-fast and I'm more inclined to upload larger files (you choose the size of the file when you're in upload mode).

From my online Picasa file, I can embed images into my blog, using the smaller of the two medium sizes (400 px) offered.  I do it so often that it's second nature and very, very fast.

In closing, readers, how about you?  If you have a sewing blog, do you post a lot of photos?  Do you find the process of taking the shot, downloading it, editing it, uploading to a host website, etc., very time-consuming? 

Do you use a point-and-shoot or a DSLR camera?  Anything you particularly like or don't like about your camera or the photo editing software you use?

I hope this post was helpful.  If you have any photography-related questions just ask -- Casey.  Seriously, if I can answer them, I will.

Have a great day, everybody, and happy shooting!

35 comments:

  1. That photo of Cathy on the escalator is FANTASTIC! I want those legs.

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  2. Color me jealous! I want to buy a low-end DSLR and learn how to use it, but I have other things that require my money first, so it'll be a while before I can start saving up. I can't believe you scored that camera for so cheap! Even if you spring for an expensive lens, you're still way ahead of money camera buyers, price-wise. That is awesome!

    Right now I'm using a cheap point-and-shoot - and it's pretty obvious. I do what I can to get the pictures to be at least clear & balanced - no flash, some basic photo editing, etc - although my macro function doesn't really work (told you it was a cheap point-and-shoot. Argh!) I am interested to hear about your experience with a DSLR, and what you pick up/learn along the way.

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  3. Nice! DSLRs are the way to go! I love my Nikon d90. You will have loads of fun learning to use your new tool!. As for Macro photography, get a specialty macro lens- the results will blow your mind!

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  4. I have a Canon Eos Rebel T3i and I love it. I've definitely noticed a difference in picture quality and depth of field shots.

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  5. I also just upgraded late last year from a Canon Digital Rebel (the first model from years ago) to a Canon T3i. Love love love. I loved the old one, but the new one is even better.

    I use Photoshop Elements (which I also just upgraded from 8 to 10). I also upload to Picasa. I also find it time consuming, but worth the effort.

    I have no one to take photos of me, so I use a tripod and timer.

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  6. Ah yes along with sewing I've been in love with digital cameras for years. I started with a kodak, then moved up to the Olympus and then the Olympus 500 series DSLR. Because I wanted a bigger viewfinder, I eventually got a Nikon 300S. On this blog post I did, I compared the camera's with corresponding photos http://kuby2u.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/a-tale-of-two-cameras/

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    1. Thanks. I also highly recommend dpreview.com. They probably have a board that deals with your specific camera model. I learned so much about photography in general as well as my camera from that site.

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  7. I have a Canon Rebel and I really adore it, but I have to say, part of getting good photos is having a photographer who wants to take good photos, which might seem kind of DUH but actually has been a real problem for me. I don't have a tripod, and most people are, sadly, crappy photographers! So I love the photos I can take on my camera, but I have yet to find one person who consistently takes great photos of me in my creations. So I do use photo editing, which I find really time consuming, and I do it on Picnik, because I don't have photoshop. Still, I love TAKING photos with my Rebel, the quality is so much better!

    strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com

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    1. I, too, have a Canon Rebel, but I can identify with you Leah re: most people being crappy photographers! My husband is always around, but is usually less than enthusiastic and not very good at choosing the moment, so I'm always standing awkwardly with my mouth open :) Which *sigh* means more photo editing time...

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  8. Yay new camera!
    I also have an older digital SLR, and it works fine for most of what I want to do. My one piece of advice is to pick up a 35mm or 50mm f1.8 or f1.4 lens. These allow you to take pictures in lower light without a flash, and they take gorgeous photos in any light. :)

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    1. I agree with Wendy. I have this lens (http://www.amazon.com/Canon-50mm-1-8-Camera-Lens/dp/B00007E7JU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330114561&sr=8-1)
      and I love it, it is manual focus, but that hasn't been an issue for me. It is my most used lens. There is also this one (http://www.amazon.com/Canon-Standard-Medium-Telephoto-Cameras/dp/B00009XVCZ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1330114561&sr=8-5), but it is quite a bit more expensive. You might be able to find a used one cheaper.

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  9. I must admit that I have no patience for pictures. I'd rather be sewing than spending 3 hours with my point-and-shoot and tripod and getting 100 ugly pictures, and then spending a few more sad hours trying to pick up the less ugly ones.

    Plus the "pretty artsy pictures" get on my nerves. I'm a sewing geek, I want to know how X did this, from which patterns, with which alterations, I want close-ups, I want details ! I don't want to only see a PYT awkwardly dancing in the corn field in her new dress with an artistically blurred background and over-editing. Gimme sewing info instead!
    (Yes, I'm a grumpy old thing :) )

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    1. Note to self: Keep Cathy out of the cornfields. ;)

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    2. Cathy can do no wrong :)
      She's a in a league of her own !

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  10. I use my iPhone for all my photos. I cant afford a DSLR, though I want one. Ive used SLRs and I love them, but I shoot for reference, not for style. I think thats the difference in a lot of my images. I want to capture the message, not the image. Does that make sense?

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  11. Congratulations on your new camera! I have the S90 and while I like it quite a lot, I miss the depth of field that you get in a DSLR, also the speed of the SlR can't be beat. I concur, get yourself a fast lens.

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  12. Peter, you always have the best discussion topics--I've been thinking about this a lot. I actually studied photography and love SLRs, but can't currently afford a DSLR, though I borrow my mother's occasionally and it is SO much better. I use a Canon S90 with a tripod and self-timer, and edit them quickly for lighting/cropping in iPhoto. I love the macro focus function for snapping construction details.

    I love all the artistic shots people post on sewing blogs (provided you can actually see the details), and I don't mind cornfield dancing at all! Nothing frustrates me more than looking up a pattern on PatternReview and finding only blurry, poorly-lit photos taken in bathroom mirrors which make it impossible to tell anything about the items, even whether they fit or not.

    I want to clearly see the construction, the lines, the color, the style. Also: a tripod only costs $8-$15, which is less than many of us spend on fabric for a project.

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  13. So true about tripods. Mine came free with an old video camera and couldn't be cheaper but it works.

    I'm not opposed to the occasional cornfield romp myself, especially when dressed in an old feedbag.

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  14. Getting a tripod completely changed the quality of my photos (for the better!). I agree with having a hard time getting someone else to take you photos. Take em' yourself! I'm also not opposed to the occasional cornfield dance photos, feedbag or not. Provided there are some shots of the technical aspects as well.

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  15. How exciting; a new/old camera! The quality of my blog pics did get better with the purchase of a dslr. I have a tripod but since i take pics of food i need a free arm to really get the 'above plate' kids of shots i sometimes want.

    I do use a photo editing suite simply because taking pics inside a very old home that has small windows, thus limited natural light can be difficult; and sometimes really has a less than appealing effect on food. Outside shots need very little colour enhancement though :)

    I'm a bit of a hit/miss type blog photographer, but i'm okay with that :)

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  16. I'm soooo jealous. The photos from the Canon DSLR's really do have a richness about them. Wonderful and have fun.

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  17. I like Michael..more photos! Also, the angle of the coat shot puts me in mind of a storm trooper from Starwars...Darth Vader...it inspires some level of fear and awe. Were you going for that?

    Love the blog and your sense of humor.

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  18. Much like you Peter, I appreciate a darn good photo but I'm still in training. I have a Cannon DSLR and its great but because you know you can always do better, I think thats what takes the time! If you haven't checked her out already, Esther is a young fashion student and takes amazing photos for her blog....http://esther-fromthesticks.blogspot.com/...and by the way just to let you know, I nominated you for the Sunshine Award today. For you are indeed a constant ray whenever I read your posts! http://ooobop.com/2012/02/25/two-awards-in-one-week/x

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    1. Thanks for both the nomination and for turning me on to Esther!

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  19. You will love having a DSLR! I have been a scrapbooker and amateur photographer since the late 90's and upgraded to a Nikon D50 in 2005. It's great to have the shooting capabilities that a DSLR brings - esp. in low light or action situations. And you are absolutely right about the macro - tons of fun.

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  20. Very cool! I'm trying to "up my game" too, but so far that means more creative settings and poses, I can't do much about my sh*tty camera at the moment...

    Looking forward to your new photo work. :)

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  21. I have been using Canon DSLR's for a while now. I upgraded from a canon Rebel (film) camera to the Rebel XTi because I could keep using my lenses. Over the years, I have upgraded my camera and lenses. I love my 60D!

    One piece of advice that has simplified my photography in oddly or poorly-lighted situations... Try one of the lenses with the image stabilizer. It helps with camera shake when it's not practical to haul a tripod around.

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  22. My big issue with photos for my blog is that sites that host only let you load so many for free, like flickr only gives you 200 free photo slots. Being a poor recent college graduate I don't necessarily have the money to spend on an already expensive hobby (sewing). I've been using facebook, but really, the quality of the final image is crap.

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    1. Lisette, I pay $5/yr for Picasa -- that buys me 20 (TWENTY!) gigabytes of storage that I doubt I'll ever be close to using. Five dollars is what -- a tall coffee and a muffin at Starbucks?

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  23. Great. I tried to bid on a 35 mm camera last year on Ebay. I couldn't believe that it actually had reviews on Amazon. I guess there are camera junkies out there. It had different lenses with it. Of course I lost the bid like I always do LOL. Congrats on your camera. Sounds like a lot of fun. I have a point and shoot and sometimes the pics look great and other times they look just OK.

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  24. I have this buttonhole attachment- recently inherited from my mother. I was excited because she taught me to sew, and I knew this attachment and how to use it. Unfortunately, my sister didn't include the bottom plate and I just don't know what to do. My machine is a 1953 singer- the machine is just like the one she used and taught me on. So it isn't like the fancy machines and I've been doing my button holes by hand. where would I ever find just the bottom plate? poor me...

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    1. Email me (peterlappinnyc at gmail dot com) and I might be able to help, Pixie.

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