Photo Tips

The main aim of this project is to illustrate clearly all the stitch patterns from the Treasuries. If the photos are bad, the whole point is lost. In addition to the tips below, you may want to check out these excellent tutorials:

  • Magic would be faster, by Caro of Split Yarn. Basic information on how to set up for taking photos of knitting, supplies needed and advice on getting the best result from your photo shoot.
  • How to take detailed photos of your knitting, on wikiknitting. Seriously, check this one out! The instructions are clear and broken into sections, including one on making a lightbox – great if you can’t get natural light at the angle you want it.

Tips: How to take quality photos of your work.


Natural versus artificial:
Try to use natural light wherever possible. See how much this swatch changes when the photo is taken in an artificially lit bedroom versus outdoors (or on a windowsill), in the sunlight.

(photo of swatch indooors) (photo of swatch outdoors)

Angle of light hitting the swatch:
Important for all swatches, but in particular for highly textured patterns like cables.

Try to angle the way the light is hitting the swatch, creating shadows and highlights to make the texture POP!  Don’t tilt the swatch itself!
In real terms, if you are trying to use natural light as recommended, try taking your photos late afternoon or early morning when the sun is at a lower angle in the sky. Avoid taking photos at noon, or when the sun is overhead, as this can give an effect similar to the ‘wash-out’ of a camera flash that is too bright.

Camera Modes

If you don’t normally play with zoom, macro or white balance settings it’d be well worth digging out your camera manual/user guide and checking what it can do!

Use optical zoom only  (where the lens of your camera adjusts).

Avoid digital zooming, in fact (if you can) switch it off in your camera setup menu . Digital zoom is just a kind of guesswork where the “computer” in the camera takes the photo and “zooms in”. It doesn’t really zoom in, it guesses what extra information to add and creates poor quality results.

Refer to your camera manual, or take a look at this article on the subject.

If you find that you’re bringing the camera lens quite close to your swatch, try turning on the macro mode. Take photos with it on and again with it off to compare. Choose the best ones :)
The wikiknitting article goes into more detail.

White Balance:
If you’re going to shoot indoors, read your camera’s manual and adjust the white balance. The white balance counteracts “colored” lighting. Think about the last time you took photos in a gymnasium – the photo probably looked ugly and really, really yellow. Adjusting the white balance will make the photo look more “correct.” It’ll keep the colors at their prime and avoid a “dull” look. Many cameras have white balance settings for sunlight, cloudy sun, tungsten, flourescent and more.

(white balanced incorrectly ) (white balanced correctly)

Pointing the camera at the swatch

  • Take the photo with the cast on edge at the bottom. 
  • Point the camera directly at the swatch, without angling either the camera or the swatch. 
    Avoid taking the photo at an extreme angle, or upside down or sideways – this will skew the stitches and distort the swatch. 
  • Try to frame the photo so that you only see the swatch.  If you get a bunch of background to top and sides of the swatch, use the crop feature in your chosen image editing software to cut out all the extraneous stuff.
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