In focus

You know how there are knitting blogs whose appeal lies largely in their incredible photos? Crisp, textural close-ups, rich colours, general inviting awesomeness that makes you stare and stare at the screen…
And you know how this has never been that sort of blog. Much to my disgust, it’s been sort of the opposite. I rarely post an action shot without grumbling apologies for the quality.

It’s been a source of great frustration to me. I don’t expect to be able to produce pictures like Jared Flood’s, but it would be nice to just have decent pics, y’know? And it seems reasonable to think I should be able to deliver that, so the fact that I never have, well, I was getting quite the chip on my shoulder, let’s just say that.
First I blamed my ignorance. But Armin showed me his Canon DSLR and explained things like aperture priority (so that’s how they get those cool focus effects – heretofore known as sexy depth of field action!), and I even managed to get one good shot out of it. But that appeared to be a fluke because I never managed it again, and anyway every single time I picked up the camera, all the buttons and things had to be explained all over again, and just Drove.Me.Crazy.
So I blamed my equipment (too complicated). I decided I needed a simple but powerful camera of my very own, and asked on Ravelry, and someone recommended the nifty little Canon Powershot A590. She showed me her own shots, and they looked the business, and it was cheap, so I got it. And lo… I totally failed to get any good knitting shots with that thing, ever.
So I blamed the light. We have a north-facing house and it is really impossible to get decent natural light in here. We do have a little “tabletop studio” (white tent plus daylight lamps), which Armin uses to take pretty product shots, but if I had to set all that up just to show off my projects? Well, you know the answer to that, because that’s what happened: nothing. I do not have time or energy for such fuss.
I did make an effort, I really did. I bought a Useful Book and read up on Powershots and how to use ’em; I kept trying to learn to do more knob twiddling and experimenting and get better results. And I did my best to find good light. But it just wasn’t happening.
So I blamed me. I finally came to the conclusion that I’m just Not a Photographer. It’s like sewing. I’d love to be able to sew, in theory; I admire what other people can do with their sewing machines. Sewing is both useful (much more so than knitting) and creative. And I have a good sewing machine myself (very elderly, but still good) and I have a brain and there’s absolutely no sensible reason why I can’t put the two together with a bit of determination and get good results. But I HATE sewing. No good ever comes of it. I think sewing machines simply hate me, and that’s just how it is. Apparently, I decided, cameras are the same.
And then something happened. Elfling broke my little camera. Repairing it would have cost £££, so I decided to spend an extra £30 and get a snazzier, refurbished model. I opted for another Powershot (I do rather like them), but one with a powerful zoom, and other nifty features. Having by now entirely given up on my photographic abilities, I really didn’t expect to get anything particularly special, but couldn’t resist a shiny toy, y’know?
Turns out… I appear to have gotten lucky. This sexy beast (Canon SX120, if you’re wondering) has no trouble at all getting intimate with yarn in a mood lighting scenario. This test shot? In my bedroom, which is dark at the best of times, with the blinds half shut. I did lighten it ever so slightly in iPhoto, but look at that clarity!
So I’m suddenly full of optimism. I know, I know, it means nothing till I develop some kind of consistency. And I’m never going to be giving Brooklyn Tweed a run for his perfectly blocked, perfectly framed merino lace. As it were. But it is just possible that this blog will start to include a few more pretty pictures, and a bit less whining. Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, would be a fine thing indeed.

2 thoughts on “In focus

  1. Getting good knitting shots is terribly satisfying, I must say.
    And – not to heap coals or anything, but the north-facing flat is probably a good thing. Northern light is clear and non-glare-y. Yes, it can be dim, but it doesn’t give troublesome hot spots.
    Congrats. A good camera is a glorious thing.

  2. Trust me: the light in this house is not good in any way, shape or form. Non-glare-y, ok, but… well, honestly, there is no light. Don’t take my word for it, my shutterbug husband would say the same thing. Even he struggles and usually fails to get decent shots indoors without his lamps.

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