Knitting Butterflies Episode 26 – Winning in Winter

Thanksgiving is here!

Clicking Away:

Craftiness:

Image Copyright Maria Yarley

Image Copyright Maria Yarley

Giveaway:

  • I am giving away two copies of the Graceful Pullover by Maria Yarley as a fundraiser for a family in need. Visit the Ravelry thread to enter!

Photography:

  • I have been doing a big push in my photography business to wrap up the year. I did learn some lessons about doing family portraits in the snow.
  • I wanted to answer a couple of questions about photography from the Ravelry board. To see a blog post I wrote about making your backgrounds look beautiful, click here. I also mention the Fiber Factor and the Rocky Coast Cardigan in Coastal Knits.
Image Copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC

Image Copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC

Image Copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC

Image Copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC

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Unusual Angles

As I have honed my craft, I have come to appreciate interesting angles to shoot from. I always try to start with the “safe” shots, the images that are the same creatively for every family, where everyone is looking at the camera, the image is straight, and the subjects fill the frame in the relative center or a specified third of the frame. These are important images to capture, they are what most clients are looking for when booking a photographer for their Christmas cards or wall portrait.

Image copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC. All rights reserved.

Image copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC. All rights reserved.

As the session goes on though, my clients and I become more relaxed. Sometimes I will have them stay in the same location, but I will move around just a bit. I’ll see if I can get higher or lower. I will use my 18-200mm lens to its full capacity and zoom all the way in, as well as out. I will try to capture the landscape while the clients talk and smile at each other.

Image copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC

Image copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC

Recently I have been really valuing the concept of getting down low. Good photographers are willing to crouch, great photographers are willing to get incredibly dirty. I have always been taught to “shoot from above,” or to make sure my camera is slightly above my subjects. While this often creates a flattering angle, I have been getting down low, pretty much laying on the ground, to get some of my favorite images. I have been using weeds and grass as a foreground element, while still keeping my subjects in focus. I have photographed through trees and bushes, around buildings, and through window and door frames. The 200mm lens zoomed in so closely makes it so I really have to be creative in where I position myself, but it has made for some really exciting images. 

Finding unusual angles in photography. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC. All Rights Reserved

Finding unusual angles in photography. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC. All Rights Reserved

This week, try some unusual positions and angles to shoot from in your photography. All of the images above were shot with the clients in the exact same location, yet you can see how I was able to create a different feel with each image. Be sure to share a link to your work on the comments below!

Five Tips to Make Your Photography Backgrounds Spectacular

I have gone back and forth in my mind about the importance of a good background in photography. I have regular conversations with my clients about what type of background they want; urban or rural, color choices, muted or bright colors. I am convinced that lens selection and focal length have a huge impact on the final product and can make the overall background not quite as significant, although a good background can really make an image spectacular.

That being said, most of us don’t live the in the forest of car/building free wonderlands. Photographers are constantly trying to avoid cars, trash cans, even sculptures of naked people in our backgrounds (true story for me). Here are five tips for you to help make the most of the background in your next photo session:

Five tips for making your photography backgrounds spectacular. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Five tips for making your photography backgrounds spectacular. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Look for unusual angles.

In the image above, I was wanting to focus on the subjects and the giant, beautiful golden tree behind them. The trouble was there was a 20 foot dirt pile behind them, and I couldn’t figure out a way to not have it in the frame. The solution: I got way, way down on the ground in an unusual angle, and blocked the dirt pile with the long grass in front of me. Look for an unusual angle to block or hide the unsightly pieces.

Use lens compression to your advantage to focus on one area of the background. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC. All rights reserved.

Use lens compression to your advantage to focus on one area of the background. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography LLC. All rights reserved.

Zoom in really, really far.

This is utilizing what is called lens compression, where the camera sees the background as closer to the subject when it is zoomed in. This also makes the background have even more of a blurred effect, making your subject stand out even more. In this image, the bush behind the subject was not very big, and we had many other objects nearby such as a shed and a wheelbarrow. I wanted to focus on the little girl and the bush, so I scooted myself really far back and zoomed in a lot, making the bush appear much larger than it normally did in the frame. 

White Space is golden.

Use white space to your advantage to make your subjects pop. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use white space to your advantage to make your subjects pop. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.

Normally during a session I try to find interesting places to feature my clients within. I have learned, however, that having just a simple white space can be incredibly powerful. In this image, the kiddos were walking up the hill. I got down on my stomach and created a frame with tons of white space using the open, plain blue sky. What I got back was an amazing piece of storytelling that would be fantastic for an art piece in a home.

Enhance Texture

Pairing silky smooth skin with a textured background creates an interesting contrast. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Pairing silky smooth skin with a textured background creates an interesting contrast. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

I love to play with opposites. When I want to focus on a smooth, silky kiddo face I will often place said kiddo next to a textured wall or blanket. When photographing someone wearing a crazy, textured knitted outfit, I will aim for a smooth planked wall or water. I find if I pair smooth with smooth or textured with textured, the image can sometimes appear muddy. By playing with contrasting elements my subjects will pop against their backgrounds and keep the viewer’s focus where I want it to stay.

Frame Your Subject

It is really, really important to make sure your subject is framed within the background elements. Check for poles coming out of heads, trash cans coming out of elbows, even naked statues peeking over shoulders (again, true story.) Use the background elements to create a frame around your subject, and place the subject in the white space. This creates an intentional composition that looks polished and well thought-out.

Use the more colorful or busy elements to frame your subject, and place your subject in the darker and less busy areas of the frame. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use the more colorful or busy elements to frame your subject, and place your subject in the darker and less busy areas of the frame. Image copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.

Mom’s Acorn Trail

I know, I know, I broke a promise. I said I would keep you all updated on the progress of my mom’s Acorn Trail cardigan and I didn’t. Truth? I was too busy knitting on it to stop and blog! Then I had to give it to her and she loved it, so the rest is history.

I have to say, this might be my favorite thing I have ever knit. For 2014 I set a goal of “What ever I do, do it well.” This project shows me that I am finally hitting that mark. 

The cable detailing on this pattern seemed overwhelming six months ago when I found the pattern. Three different charts, PLUS waist shaping? I figured there was no way I could pull it off. But I did! My Sirka counter came in very handy, and this sweater flew off my needles because the cables kept my attention so well.

The yarn itself was lovely. It’s not superwash, but my mom is excellent at taking care of handmade items and I knew she was worthy of such a yarn. It has enough give to be comfortable, but it’s sturdy and incredibly soft, especially for being 100% wool. And the color? Brown doesn’t even begin to describe it. Think the most milk chocolately brown, perfect to set off my mom’s blue eyes, especially when paired with a turquoise top.

There are a few things I would go back and fix if I had the chance, like re-attaching the grossgrain ribbon and reworking the buttons, but overall I LOVE how this project came out. I feel incredibly accomplished not only to have knit her a sweater, but really taken the time to do it right. My mom loves it too, and assures me it will be worn often when the cold weather sets in. 

Project Details:

Knitting Butterflies Episode 25 – Domesticated Diva

Clicking Away:

Hitofude progress

Hitofude progress

Freddie's Blanket progress

Freddie’s Blanket progress

Other Crafty Endeavors:

  • I have been working hard on my craft room!
    • I finished covering both of the parsons chairs to use as sewing chairs. Here is the tutorial for putting the back on with the “metal strips of death.”
Reupholstered chairs, Ninja Turtle costumes, and sourdough starters

Reupholstered chairs, Ninja Turtle costumes, and sourdough starters

Events:

Some of the beautiful work at the Boulder Handweaver's Guild

Some of the beautiful work at the Boulder Handweaver’s Guild

Photography:

  • I have been working hard for my family and friends lately, including a session with my parents on a family friend’s farm.
    • I am learning more about hard light and soft light, and slowly beginning to love hard light.
Copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC

Copyright Emily Straw Photography, LLC

  • I also love to share my favorite website to order prints from, mpix.com . I am not an affiliate of them, but I also go over some of my other past print situations to shed some light on a tricky subject. Persnickity Prints is also great for square prints. I also mention the Project Life scrapbooking program by Becky Higgins.