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Dragon Lore - Perhaps the Gods Can Help

There is much I need to resolve about my knitting and my photographs.

Dragon_1

First the photos.  I struggle with lighting and exposure.

When I take my photos on cloudy or overcast days, they are flat and dull.  When I take them on sunny days they are too contrasty and overexposed.  I play with aperture, white balance and doctor them up in iPhoto.  (I know, I know, I have Photo Shop.  I just don't think my poor little laptop can be pushed any further.  The whole thing may crash if I try to load the program. Besides, the photos should be better right off the camera - not requiring major surgery!)  I just can't get that same amazing quality that I admire on other blogs - like Cara's, Jared's, or countless others.

Can anyone recommend any photo books, or blogs or websites, with good, easy for the lay person to understand information?  I've thought of taking a photo class, but fear I would have to sit through countless hours on composition (I've been through four years of art school), or worse, how to load photos onto a computer.  What I really want to know is how to manipulate light to make it work for, not against me.

The dragon above, according to DD#1, is Japanese.  She can tell from the number of toes, three.  He's a sea or river god.*  In eastern lore dragons also symbolize change.  That makes sense, since water often brings change, rebirth, cleansing, but water has a dark and dangerous side too.   I'll keep this dragon by my side as I knit.  I need his help, to change my wandering ways.

Celtic_knot

You see there was Demi.  At first she was so seductive.  But those twisted stitches, how they taunt me.  Then, cleaning through my WIPs I came across this lovely Celtic cable that I started last winter.  I put it aside in the spring when the weather got warm.  Now its calling me back for a quick fling.  But Demi deserves better, she is so beautiful.  Oh, my restless heart.

Dueling_projects

So what do you think?  Do I finish Demi, push through my mental games and finish her?  Or do I follow my wandering heart and and finish the Celtic cable?  I will follow your collective advise.

*See Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" .  You won't regret it.

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Comments

My first reaction is to take a break on Demi and pick up Celtic Cables again. First, it looks like you are further along on the Celtic Cables. Second, if you want to knit CD and are a little stalled on Demi, then obviously, knit the project that is calling to you, not the one bugging you! Demi will call to you again.

Remember its all about knit what you want when you want.

They both look amazing. I'd say take a wee break from Demi.....you know it will wait for you :)

Your last two photos are great. The first one is a bit lright but all I would do is darken it up on the computer...but I don't want you to load anything that will make your laptop combust so I am not sure what to say.

Maybe just eventually finding places in and out of the house that work depending on if it is bright out or overcast. I am always mucking with my photos on Zoombrowser before I upload them. My camera kinda sucks so everything can be very dark if I don't and you can't see detail so much. Oh the whoas of blogging :)

Don't sell yourself short. Your photos are amazing. Over and over I see peoples' comments on your posts about your fantastic photography. I use photoshop heavily for my photos. Maybe you can install it on one of the desktops and do your editing there?

As for Demi vs. Celtic, I have been dying to see the Celtic finished for the last year. BUT you should follow your heart. Knitting should never be about doing what you think you "should" do, unless you have a commitment such as a gift or finishing something for Amy SInger :) Knitting is supposed to be doing what you love and what makes you happy. So wander if you want to. It's always worked for me :)

I actually love the contrasts in the 1st pic and the way the blue "reflects" onto the urn.

I believe the people you've referenced are professional photographers. Equiptment plays a major role.

For what it's worth, I take my photos indoors in medium light without a flash. I then upload to my laptop and blog (I don't have time for touch ups). Also, that macro button thingy seems to help (set at close range).

Go with the Celtic Cables - the colors are beautiful.

As far as picture taking is concerned - gray days are you friend. The gray will make your colors pop. What I would suggest is a very thorough reading of your camera's manual. Can you change exposure manually? Can you boost the ISO if you need (this will give you more light)? (Although, know, that with digital, the higher the ISO the more noise you will introduce to the picture - may not make much of a difference for internet pictures, but if you were to print them it might. All depends on your camera.)

The best way to learn stuff is to take a million pictures. When you find ones that you like - go back and look at the exposure - what was it set to? What was the day like? You will learn what works and what doesn't work.

I don't have any sites to recommend per se, but there are a million out there. Google is your friend. ;-)

I know what to do...stuff them both in a basket, and knit another sock. ha ha ha

the top image is a difficult one for the camera to deal with, you have both light and dark in it so one of the subjects is bound to be out of balance....but all the other images are beautiful, you cable work it stunning and it makes my finger itch to get on with some. I have made a few cabled items in the past and a bit of the way in I long for something I can knit without thinking...I know, some more cabled socks lol....How about downloading Picasa2, it is a brilliant free programme and it is a doddle to use. Don't think it uses up too much space either, far less than Photoshop anyway. Its a photo organiser with a really good, quick image editing bit in it. If you google it, you can read about its capabilities too :^) Hope this helps...I do love my photography!

Oh I love Spirited Away!

I find that I simply need contrast to the colors I'm taking pictures of. I usually take about 3-4 pictures and just find the one I like the best and then play with it in Photoshop until I have the colors right.

I'd second keeping in mind that both Cara and Jared are pros. I feel like so many of us are caught up in a photography arms race on the blogs these days (witness the recent explosion of bloggers purchasing SLRs). Now on the one hand, that's to a good end--I'd so much rather read a blog with gorgeous pictures (which yours already is, btw!) than one without, but I also know that I make myself a bit crazy competing against an imaginary photographic standard that I'm probably not going to live up to with my (good, but not top-flight) equipment.

That said, what Cara said about ISOs is important; I took photography classes in HS and that's the one thing that really stuck with me. I try to be conscious of that--and also of remembering that no amount of tinkering is going to make up for poor lighting conditions. Sometimes I just don't have the time to wait for the perfect lighting, but I'm always happier when I do!

PS knit whichever sweater is calling to you! I'm still in timeout with Demi, but I know sh'll start yelling at me again soon.

I really love your photos! But at the same time, I hear ya! I really struggle with the same lighting issues. My apartment is on the north side of a building which makes it almost impossible, especially given the low angle of winter light up here in Maine. I don't really like my photos but given what I have to work with (the tiny apt with no bare walls to use as background doesn't help either), I've accepted that I'm not gonna have gorgeous photos :( Oh well.

Both your projects are so pretty!

Oh, one thing I forgot! If you don't already have one, get a tripod! It will let you take photos in less glaring light with better color and contrast.

What pattern is the blue one that isn't Demi? It's Beautiful! Is that a sweater? Did you make it up or is it published somewhere? I'd love to tackle that one!

Thanks!

I agree with the photograph discussion above: a) your photos are quite beautiful, though it is always great to strive for improvement; b) competition against professionals is bound to frustrate the hell out of you (and all of us!); c) hey, I never thought about fixing my photos with photoshop... but for me, taking photos, blogging, gets too time-consuming if I strive for perfection. And, of course, d) Demi vs celtic cables? Hmmm... I've got to go with Demi... I have such a fascination for the pattern, and there are so few in blogland to admire. And that blue!! YUM!

Your photos are some of the better ones out there aside from the pros you mentioned.

In the winter the sun coming in our windows is rather strong, but it does leave the photo with a particular look (you first photo made me think of the ones I take in my southeast facing living room in the mornings). My trick for toning down the sunlight? Sheers on the windows. It allows enough light through to make a good photo, but filters it enough to not create hot spots on most things :-) If it is really bright I'll tack up a white bed sheet to filter it a bit more.

I've been *slowly* reading John Hedgecoe's photography manual. His style includes lots of diagrams and examples which I find makes it easier to digest the technical info. He also has a new title that is specific to digital cameras. I've also been wanting to get Understanding Exposure. I've seen it highly recommended on many of the photography boards I view now and again. I haven't read it yet, but it is probably definitely worth checking the library for.

Celtic Cables. It will be finished in time for the first crocus. And looks wonderfully cozy.
A small reflective bounce board (foam core or white card board works nicely) can be useful on gray days. Either in white or silver. This would help you collect and redirect light on your focal point. It does mean schlepping one more thing, though it doesn't have to be large. 18" square would give you something to play with. Refracted light is a lot softer than direct and can fill an area without flooding it.

i smiled when i saw the spinning wheel in spirited away. hehe...
it just narrowly beats howl's moving castle. yes, i'd say it was the spinning wheel that did it.
my bf and i really enjoy hayao miyazaki's films. his two favorites are my neighbor totoro and princess mononoke.
when my bf and i went to japan last summer, we really wanted to go see studio ghibli. unfortunately, it was too far out of the way. bummer...but all the more reason to go back!
i think your girls would really enjoy a movie called kamikaze girls. the japanese title is shimotsuma monogatari. it's subtitled in english and suuuuper fun. :)

I really like your photos, I think it's just about practice (a good camera doesn't hurt either, I guess). I am doing a lot practicing and learning my camera (or my husband's camera, actually).

My vote is to have a fling. Finish the Celtic Cable and feel accomplished and refreshed before going back to Demi. That's just my $.02 though!

I'd say take a small break from demi to finish - then get right back to her!

for the photos - i struggle with the same thing! very frustrating!

I think that you think that your photos look worse than they actually are! Direct sunlight is tough, for any camera. I use Picasa to download my photos - it has an "I'm Feeling Lucky" button that auto-adjusts the contrast and colors, and I think it works much better than the equivalent button in iPhoto. It also has a very useful button that you can use to click on a neutral color in the photo - this allows you to easily remove a yellow or blue cast from the photos. Picasa is windows and linux only, unfortunately (I wish I had it for my mac!).

I adore the color of your Demi, but I understand one's need for a break from all those charts!

Go with your heart, knitting is about pleasure!

Be gentle on yourself. Cara is a professional photographer, and while j a r e d is a bit more veiled about his profession, he's clearly been at it a long time. I think both sweaters are beautiful!

I am learning more about photography from my new camera's manual, and from lots of practice shots. I am slightly intimidated by all of the buttons, functions, and lenses on the camera, but it is a process! Just like knitting ;) It gets better! That said, I think your photos are great!

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