A pretty darn good photography setup for embroidery

Final setup. Four aluminum work lamps, tissue paper diffusers, two tripods, digital camera, felt backdrop and a roll of tape.

Final setup. Four aluminum work lamps, tissue paper diffusers, two tripods, digital camera, felt backdrop and a roll of tape.

This week has been spent improving the embroidery photography setup. Hopefully others will find this helpful in photographing their own stuff.

Light was added. Lots of light. Four  work lamps may be attached to bicycles (there are a number of bicycles available) and then pointed as needed. The light coming off the bulb is also important, as some bulbs are more blue and some are more yellow. Here we are using a combination of Cree LED 40 and 60 watt equivalent daylight bulbs.

Tissue paper (left over from birthday presents) diffusers held on with rubber bands soften the light and spread it out a bit, so shadows are less harsh. The LED bulbs, not hot when running, allowed this to be used safely. The lamps are still unplugged when not being used. We had no issues with hot spots on the paper.

Figuring out the lighting and need for a better backdrop by using a vinyl squirrel head.

Figuring out the lighting and need for a better backdrop by using a vinyl squirrel head.

A neutral, uncluttered backdrop was devised to highlight flat embroideries, which is helpful unless you are trying to make your needlepointed critters look alive, which may cause you to put them in a tree. 3D needlepoint caterpillar in tree good, 2D cross stitch of caterpillar in tree not good.

A seriously stable tripod was centered over the piece with lights to either side. Another tripod was used for lights. Bicycles and pieces of wood also are available to mount the work lamps on.

The camera was set for a short focal length and a mid-range aperture and automatic focusing.  A technique called bracketing helped determine the specific f-stop, film speed and exposure by making a solid guess on what’s good and then shoot a few above and a few below on each of the images. Gives you a slew of photos, but hey, it’s digital.

Post processing was accomplished using Pixlr and the “adjust color” option in Preview on a MacBook.

Also I had a professional photographer help me set it up. That was definitely the best part. Especially since it involved a lot of BBQ and gin and tonics and a trip to the beach. All photoshoots are improved by BBQ and gin and tonics and a trip to the beach.

This setup even gives you decent shots with a cell phone, especially if you use a wide angle cell phone lens and a cell phone tripod mount.

Manduca sexta sampler

Original image made a few months back.

Still working on it. But an improvement.

Still working on it. But an improvement.

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2 Responses to A pretty darn good photography setup for embroidery

  1. Wow – that looks like a very professional set up!

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