I no longer need shoe boxes for taking pictures!

I feel that photography is intertwined with knitblogging. Think of one of your favorite knitblogs, and imagine, what would it be like without pictures? Maybe it wouldn’t be worse, but it would be different. More generally, photography is intertwined with knitting – how would you feel about the newest Interweave Knits if all the patterns were described in words, for example?

The more I knit and blog, the more I learn about my camera and digital photography. Just a year ago, for example, I had no idea that macro mode exists, and that pictures meant for the internet don’t need to be at a resolution higher than 72 pixels/inch. Currently my three biggest photo dilemmas or obstacles are: light, since my apartment doesn’t have any except between the hours of 2 and 5:30 p.m., steady hands for crisp photos, and finding painless ways to set up my camera for use in timer mode.

There isn’t much I can do about light. I did get a new torchiere lamp in the spring, and sometimes I take photos outside. However, since most often I get the urge to blog and take photos around midnight, the outside option is eh… nearly nonexistent.

Steady hands are a necessity for crisp photos, since the shutter is open for a long time in macro mode (if any digital photo junkies are reading this and saying, no, she got that all wrong, please correct me). From work I’m quite good at steadying myself by anchoring my elbows or supporting one hand with the other, but I don’t have surgeons’ hands, that’s for sure.

The last problem/dilemma/obstacle for me is taking photos in timer mode. You see, I live alone – I have neither roommates nor a significant other. Friends come over once in a while, but taking pictures of me modeling my wears is not high on their list of fun things to do :). Plus, what if I want to take a picture at a random time when no one can come over, like 3 a.m. on a Wednesday :). Bottom line – I end up using timer mode to take pictures of myself. So, I typically stack about 6 shoe boxes on top of my knitting basket, put that on my coffee table, place the camera on top of this pyramid, prop up the camera’s rear end with 2 credit cards to get the right angle, and stand in front of my closet:

Ridiculous, right? How far does one go to get a decent blog photo? Now, this far:

Tada! I thought about getting a camera tripod for a really long time, but assumed they would be way out of my budget. Completely wrong! Tripods are really affordable, I got mine for $21! I wouldn’t say this is a blog investment, it’s more of a knitting investment. I am definitely interested in having high-quality photos of my knitting, and it so happens I often plop them on my blog. Of course, a tripod addresses two of my issues – lack of steady hands, and lack of places to set up my camera for timer mode – great! Look at my new toy in all its glory:

Oh yeah, no more piling shoe boxes on top of the coffee table!

And it goes down really low, for (you know it!) sock photos!

Hey, I see a grumpy knitter who thought she was setting the timer mode, but just ended up taking the picture then and there!

What kind of investments (if any) have you made to improve your photography of knitted items? A new camera? A new lens? Tripod?


22 thoughts on “I no longer need shoe boxes for taking pictures!

  1. Agnes

    I stack anything I can get … but recently I found that I can put the camera on the top of the refrigerator … which is really tall, and the height is a good one for capturing the upper body.

  2. Christie

    Shit! That was cheap! Sorry, still ‘shit’ting from your last post. I have no camera skills. I don’t even have my own digital camera. I guess I should buy one…that seems to be the first step, huh?

  3. LisaB

    I must admit that I bought my camera for blogging. See my husband already had a digital camera. But oh no, I wanted a cute little one that could fit into my purse in case a random picture taking opportunity happened. Plus I wanted a camera that was all mine and that I could learn to use. It has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. I now take a bazillion pictures of my knitting. (It seems as if I am snapping every few rows).

  4. paula

    No investments. Since I’m a Designer, I had all the stuff — all of the assorted gadgets — I just wasn’t really USING any of it until I started knitting and recording progress AND creating yarn porn became essential. 😉

  5. blossom

    actually, i’m hoping that one day my husband will take up photography so he can be the official photographer for my site. ha!

    actually, he has been wonderful as a photographer.

  6. Kim

    I got a mini tripod for free that I use for my knitting.. Ofcourse a big one would be nice too.. but for what I’m doing now my free mini one is pretty ok..

    Did you get 5lbs of screws with your tripod too? Lol.

  7. Lauren

    You mean Interweave has pictures? That show the knit object? I have a live-in significant other, but he’s so addicted to a certain online game that I take my pics with a self-timer too.

  8. Carolyn B.

    Okay, I’m just wondering what you used to take the photo of your camera on the shoeboxes … a mirror? Another camera? :o)

    This topic was an interesting side trail to your usual blog; I loved it! Re your question: My essential tools for knitblogging are my digital camera and computer access; that’s it. (Unless you count the paid version of Haloscan, which I used for comments until I went to Blogger, or my domain and website hosting, which I already had before I decided to plop my blog down on that site.)I was using my less-than-stellar cellphone camera at first but I got a digital camera in October as an anniversary present from my wonderful hubby who seems to listen to every muttered “I wish I had a…” comment.

    I haven’t used my old tripod for knitting shots yet; mine have all been small projects lately. (I’m going on a diet this month. In fact, starting tomorrow. So I’m only knitting stuff I’ll still be able to wear in a few months. By then, I hope some of my old stuff will be waaaaaay too big!)

    Re cameras: I enjoy my camera — a refurbished Kodak EasyShare — but it doesn’t focus very closely. I think about three feet away is its closest range. So I’m kind of tossing around the idea of my next purchase being a camera with a macro mode.

    Because I tend to forget to change camera settings (like resolution), I leave everything at high-resolution during shots and just change my photos to the 72-dpi for blogposts by changing the settings during editing in Hypersnap (a powerful, cheapie program) or PhotoShop (which I have an old version of). So far, it works for me.

    Good luck with all your photography work and your knitting — Carolyn B.

  9. Wendy

    Wow. HWWV has been wanting to buy me one of those. And I’m liking the look of the item.

    But I can’t take my eyes of your tidy bed. How in the world do you make it so nice and taut like that? Mine is a mess, covered with cat hair and yarn ends and Oy. I have to go now.

  10. Siri

    Ha! I just spoke with my Mom on the phone THIS morning and since she’s flying out on Tuesday, she asked if there was anything I would like her to bring. I asked, “Don’t you have a camera tripod sitting around the house somewhere? If you find it, and it fits in your luggage, could you bring that?” She found it immediately with a thick layer of dust on it, as it hadn’t been touched or used in several years.

    This will be much easier than sitting on the edge of the bathtub with towels and the camera strap under the camera on the bathroom counter, propping the camera on a stump or the picnic table, or the alternative of asking our 5 year old to take my knitting pictures of me. I like the pictures he takes and he loves using the camera, but I think I’ll get a better picture this way. (I’ve considered hanging the camera from a tree, but have never actually tried it. it. Probably wouldn’t work anyways.)

  11. Jaime

    I recently bought a larger expansion card for my DB’s camera (which I use for blog pictures). But it still had the ridiculous 16mb card it came with so it was always full before I could get a good picture. Now I can take many pictures of the same knitted item until my little heart is content 🙂

  12. Jackie

    Oh – how great for you…maybe I should indulge so I don’t have to drag the old painting ladder around anymore!

  13. Dani

    Love the picture of the camera with shoe boxes… that is so hilarious… and creative mind you 🙂 Glad you are making picture taking a bit easier now! I should get one of those too!

  14. Stephanie

    Cute towering pile of boxes! I think I need a tripod. I got a digital camera for Christmas – a Kodak – and it works pretty well. I notice that the close-up shots aren’t very clear, but I’m not yet sure if it’s the camera or the operator. Lately, I’ve been trying to take pictures in the morning or right when I get home to capture the natural light, which seems to help a lot. Pictures are a major source of frustration for me – I wish I was better.

  15. Jenn

    Well, since I am a photographer I can blame sudden purchases like that on both things but I can say it’s a “business expense”. Heehee. You’ll love the tripod! It’ll make things much easier.

  16. Purly Whites

    I actually wanted to have a knitting blog for quite a while, but I waited until I got a really good digital camera. I would have no bad photos on my blog! I also decided to get a tripod when I got my camera, and like you, was shocked at how cheap they are. It was an excellent investment. My current dilemma, aside from the same issues you have with lighting, is a nice backdrop. I love photos taken with hardwood floors as the background, but I have no hardwoods! I’m actually thinking of getting a straw beach mat or something out of bamboo, as it has the same warm tone as hardwoods.

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