Tonight I headed out to The Fiber Gallery to take a “Photographing Your Fiber” class with Franklin Habit: cartoonist, blogger, knit designer, professional photographer, general all-around talented person, etc.
It was a basic photography class with an emphasis on how to shoot flattering portraits of fiber stuff, both on and off people. I came armed with a list of questions:
1) How do you shoot something that sparkles so the sparkles actually show up?
I once spent six hours on a snowy day trying my darnest to get the sparkles on Kate’s Subdued Glitz Picnic Cloth to show up. I never could get the photos to quite match what I saw. I actually have a theory now that the human brain is so in love with sparkly things that it magnifies them, and so what you see when you look at a sparkly thing, is not reality. I think it’s like the moon illusion.
2) How do you pose fabric (essentially a long rectangle) in a way that makes it interesting and engaging??
3) How do you light an iridescent fabric for best effect?
Franklin gave me some ideas to try for all of these, things like playing with fill lights, depth of field, and star filters (which, he assures me, can be used in a non-cheesy way.)
The class was good, the instructor charming, the yarn store tempting. I’d not been in The Fiber Gallerybefore and kept being distracted by pretty yarns all over the place. (I’m now seriously contemplating joining their first-ever store-sponsored knit-a-long.)
At the end of class, one of the students asked if she could take a picture of Franklin in his Utilikilt (the product of a cool clothing company, based in Seattle). And it turned into an impromptu photoshoot where Franklin, who’d just ordered a class full of students to take pictures early and often to hone their skills, suddenly had every camera in the room pointed at him. He laughed off the paparazzi moment.
At the top of this post is the photo of him that I snapped at the beginning of the class. After class a couple of us joked about how ironic it would be to blog about a photography class, and then post a less-than-perfect photo of the teacher. So I want to repeat that I snapped this at the beginning of class, before all the learning happened, using the less-than-ideal camera on my cell phone.
Because…the one SNAFU I had with the class was that I’d dutifully brought my SLR, and things to photograph, but had cunningly left the memory card from my camera at home. (Ironically, I’d brought extra batteries. I’d left the house feeling chuffed about that.) Franklin saved my bacon for the hands-on portion of the class by letting me borrow his CF card.
After class I deleted every picture I’d taken during the hands-on exercises before I returned the card. It drove home the point with digital photography there’s no reason not to play and take a lot of test shots: pixels are free.
So while I didn’t come away with any fabulous shots of the samples I’d taken, I came away with knowledge, and directions for further exploration.
A good class.
Afterwards, I bought a copy of Franklin’s excellent book of cartoons and humorous essays, “It Itches.”, and got in line to get my copy autographed.
When I told him how to spell my first name, he said, “You know, there’s a podcaster with that name.” I agreed that was true. I must have had a glint in my eye because then he said, “Are you Syne Mitchell?” I confessed that I was and he laughed and wrote a nice note when he autographed the book.
A surreal moment: Franklin Habit has listened to WeaveCast? Really?
It was all I could do not to look around for a hidden camera.