Posts in photography
Photographing Shawls
Shawls Book 2 by The Crochet Project

Pulling a book together, even if its just 5 patterns, is a lot of work.  Its less about the designing, because that is a given, its all of the little things that take up the time. I have a checklist I use when pulling together patterns and The Crochet Project books and in the run up to publication and Yarndale, it looked like we were ahead of the game.  All the flat shots of the shawls were done, the text was mostly edited and laid out, just some final tweaks here and there and then we were done.

And then came the tweet "Could we get a couple of washing line shots to show all 5 shawls together, please?" This task hadn't made it on my list and I had simply forgotten about the need to get a photo of all 5 shawls together.

While my washing green does have excellent views, it is walled and it can be a bit of a struggle to get the right angle on larger objects.

I needed an alternative plan. Out came two tent poles, some cord and tent pegs and off I went into the cow field.

It took a couple of tries to get it right.  The weight of the shawls needed some counter traction.

The I erased the guy lines in lightroom to get more of a "washing line" and less of a "using tent poles to show off shawls" effect. 

As dramatic shawl photos go, I am quite pleased, even if the farmer said something to the effect of "Every time I am up here, you are doing something odd in that field". Hahaha! 

Chasing Sunsets

I know I have mentioned it eleventy billion times on all social media channels, but this summer has been rotten. So wet, so cold, so grey and dull.  I hear you all saying "You don't live in Scotland for the weather". I know, but even I need to dry out and get warm at least once a year! 

However, one thing that bad weather teaches you is how to enjoy the sun when you see it.  So, when (after a terribly wet day) the sun broke through the clouds for a sunset on Sunday night, I was out like a flash.

I am a big fan of shooting back lit photos...if I could every photo I take would be back lit or at least in the golden hour, but you know, scotland...rain...grey...

But when the chance is there, I grab it with two hands! 

ISO 160, f2.5, 1/1250sec

ISO 160, f2.5, 1/1250sec

ISO 500, f2.5, 1/2000

ISO 500, f2.5, 1/2000

ISO 160, f5, 1/200

ISO 160, f5, 1/200

ISO160, f3.2, 1/200

ISO160, f3.2, 1/200

ISO160, f3.2, 1/200

ISO160, f3.2, 1/200

ISO 160, f3.2, 1/200

ISO 160, f3.2, 1/200

To get great sunflare and back lit shots takes practice.  It can be tricky to get the exposure and focus right when you are shooting straight into the sun, but its so worth it. For landscapes and still life, my best tips are: 

  • Sun flare is best shot with your lens directly facing the camera, with the sun slightly off centre of the lens.
  • You will need to play around with the exposure you want.  Your camera will automatically expose for the brightest part of the photo (the sun) leaving the rest of the shot in shadows. To better expose the foreground, you will need to adjust your settings. You can do this a couple of ways:
    • change the light metering so that you are using spot metering.  This will help adjust get the correct exposure on your subject. Don't know how to do that? Read the manual. 
    • You can trick your camera by aiming it toward the darkest part of the scene and adjusting your settings then reframing and taking the photo. 
    • Simply adjust your settings so the light meter is showing slightly over exposed. This is what I usually do.
  • I almost always adjust exposure initially by shooting in Live View (ie with the screen on), then turn that off to focus. For my camera at least focus is better through the view finder.
  • If you are having problems focusing in the bright light, turn your lens to manual focus or close down your aperture (go to a hight f number) so that more of your scene is in focus naturally.  You can also focus at the bottom of your subject and reframe the photo to take the shot. 


My Favourite Makes

Truth is, this started as a simple shoot to show off Georgia's finished owlet. Then Theo wanted to come. Then Ellis. Then the dog and the super friendly rooster, Scarecrowy. Then it moved from the wall outside my studio to the back paddock overlooking the Trossachs. 

And then it turned into some of my favourite photos ever of my brood. 

Yup, the best things I've ever made. 

One At A Time

I find more and more that I can only be creative in one area at a time. If I am deeply engrossed in designing, cooking and photography go out the window. If my camera is always in my hands, I can't be crocheting as well. If I am in the kitchen, very little else gets done.

These days, it seems that I can't move without heading out with a dog or a child into the woods.  The autumn light (when it is here) is simply magical, so we eat wraps with cold meat, no other works get done and we walk.

Practice Makes Perfect
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If you have read Slugs for any length of time, you will know that I am not great at following through with any meme or series that I may start. I bore easily, get distracted and don't like to feel like I *must* do something. Its obviously the remaining teenage rebel in me. However, quietly over the last few months, I have been trying to take at least 1 phone photo a day.

Iphoneography isn't my strength, I struggle with the lack of control and crappy phone cameras, but (as we so often say in our Collect the Moments course) it is the camera I have with me All.The.Time. I rarely take my DSLR out and about on daily errands, to the back garden or on travels with us, but I still want to capture our lives.

So, I have been trying, every single day, to get at least one photo. Most (of course) I am posting to Instagram, some are just TOO crappy. But, they are getting better and I am getting more happy with them. Just consciously trying and practicing really is the only way to improve, despite my impatience.



Love and Marriage (and Photography)

The first time I saw Kerstin, at the introduction day to a Master's course we would both later drop out of, I knew I wanted to be her friend. There was something about her incredible organisational skills, sense of adventure and dry sense of humour that made sure I was always sitting next to her in class.


Nine years later, I still sit next to her at every chance we get. Having seen each other through babies, marriages, moves, break ups, redundancy, more bottles of red wine than I could ever count and more she remains my very best friend. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending and photographing her wedding to the love of her life.



I mostly cried through the entire event. I am a cryer by nature, but having shared so much over the last 9 years with someone, I found there was no controlling it.  Thank god for waterproof mascara and spending most of the time behind the camera. In the midst of happy tears and chasing children around, whilst also trying to capture the day, I developed a deep appreciation for my normal styled, on-location shoots and a deep gratitude that Kevin was the one chasing Theo up the fire escape during the group photos.

Hard work? Yes! Worth it? Without a doubt.


This month, I have been blogging over at the Manfrotto Imagine More blog all about the trials and tribulations of photographing a friend's wedding when you aren't a wedding photographer.  You can read part 1 here and part 2 here. I have a couple more posts coming up over there as well, so you may recognise some little faces if you pop over there!





This Evening






Today we saw sand pipers, red squirrels, a red kite, wild pigs, a breathtaking sunset and more pheasants than I could ever count. At yet, (at 35 years old) I am still slightly disappointed I did't seen a unicorn.

Best Friends

Before I met these 2, I didn't know that very young children could have best friends. But from the moment Ellis and C met, that was it. They were inseparable. From about age 2, these boys have been the best of best friends - each other's "person". 20140407-IMG_1991

Now they live at opposite ends of the country, and while Facetime can bridge some of the gap, there is nothing like having your bestie with you. They disappear off for as long as we let them, resurfacing only for food.

20140407-IMG_2001 20140407-IMG_2012 20140407-IMG_2033 20140407-IMG_204920140407-IMG_2036I was going to write more about just how special their relationship is, but looking back over the photos, I think they speak for themselves. Man, I love those boys.



Photography: My Essential Equiptment


Make up artist Abbi Rose at a recent shoot

I feel like I have been permanently glued to my camera of late. Two book shoots, 1 look book, a couple of pieces for magazines and a dear friends wedding means that my camera has logged over 4000 photos this year already. Its a strange ol' career I lead - one foot firmly as a crochet designer, the other as a working photographer. While the crochet was always intentional, up until recently, it felt like photography was something I fell into. I remember my first day of shoots on Crochet at Play, as I stood over the Beastie Feet absolutely quaking in fear that I would be found out as a fraud.

18 months + countless shoots later, I finally feel in the groove of this photography gig. I speak the language, have a better sense of my style and am beginning to feel like I know what I am.

I also really feel like I have my gear in a place that really works for me. I am predominately a natural light photographer. While I have a small set of studio lights, I can count the times I have used them on one hand. Its just not for me - some do it well, but I prefer the depth and shadows given by even the poorest of natural light and my gear reflects that kind of shooting.

My essential Kit:

Canon 6d - having shot now with a a 450d, a 7d, and all 3 of the Canon 5d series, I can say that the 6d is hands down my favourite. It is light weight, with great focus and good low light capabilities.  Its resounding selling point though is its wifi-which I use connected to my ipad as a remote control and playback for my camera.  As I only shoot in natural light, I  need to use quite slow shutter speeds.  This means touching the camera to set off the shutter is pretty much a no-go.  The remote control and exposure preview of the Canon Eos App is a god send. I can shoot at crazy angles in the slowest shutter speeds quickly and easily. It is also AMAZING for shooting tutorials.  Easily the best camera-related purchase I have ever made.

Manfrotto Tripod- hand in hand with my wifi controlled camera is my tripod. This is a good, sturdy tripod, that importantly fits into my suitcase for London-based shoots. Invaluable for getting crisp shots in low light and also for saving my back from holding the camera all of the time. It is a wee bit flimsy for a DSLR + Grip + L series lens, but its portability makes up for it.

Lens: Canon 50mm f1.4 - Love this lens. This is my walkabout lens in most situations. Its speed and clarity is just to die for. Its focal length is perfect on my full frame camera.

Lens: Canon 85mm f1.8 - lovely portrait lens - I use this for most close ups and any wedding I shoot, I will slip this on a crop sensored 7d for great closeups.

Lens: Tamron 70-300mm - this is a killer macro lens for close up stitch shots. Its not one I use frequently (and it is quite slow to focus, I must say) but its a fantastic long-range zoom.

Lens: Canon 16-35mm L - This is a beauty of a lens that (sadly) I don't own, but rent for every shoot I go on. Its huge diameter sucks in the light and its lens distortion is at a minimum.


(taken with a Canon 16-35L)




20130914-IMG_3033 20130914-IMG_3034


20130914-IMG_3036 From a recent shoot for Knit Edge magazine. Oh that child.

He is also here being an example of how I edit out the snotty noses and dirt from my shots. Which I didn't in these, because I thought you would be distracted by the tummy.

A Very Useful Collection (aka Thrifting For Photoshoots)

IMG_0895Amongst the many things I collect, I have a special place in my heart for pillowcases.  I make a bee line for the textile section of the charity shop and often leave with 2 or 3 - at 29p each - its hardly an extravagant spend. While, vintage cases do bedeck our pillows, I have to admit to hoarding the best of them in my office for use as backgrounds for photos for the blog and my work as a product photographer - a tip I learned from my awesome stylist for the book. I can spend ages artfully arranging yarn or exactly positioning cufflinks.  Working with models is great as well, but I like the quiet of simply placing and photographing in my studio.


It can be really tempting to take photos of products or crafts on a white background for shops or blogs.  This can be nice on shopfronts like Etsy where white is the culture or if you need white cutouts for magazines, but truth be told, the images can look a bit flat and they can be hard to do well with white often overpowering the images (and throwing off your exposure).



Adding fabric can really change the colours of the objects - bring out the hues and highlight certain colours, as well as fabric can add depth and movement to the image and create a mood.  They can add a sense of luxury, or a sense of fun.


Fabric can be hard to get perfectly flat, so that is where I use my other collection - tea trays.  These are great for a perfectly flat background that is really portable. I often set them on a stool near a window, just the perfect height from photographing from above. IMG_0907


I also use painted wood and even our chalkboard for backgrounds.  The black of the chalkboard can really set off light items and there is always the fun that is adding writing to the image  - either by hand or in photoshop.


So, see Kevin?  That pile of "stuff" I keep IS super useful and not clutter at all*! Yarn is from Libby Summer's soon to launch yarn line.  Its scrumptious, I tell you. Scrumptious.

*its totally normal to use one's blog to finish household arguments, right? RIGHT?!?!!?

(interested in Product Photography?  Capturing Childhood is running workshops in Edinburgh and London this autumn on how you can Rock your Product Shots).

Happy Birthday, Capturing Childhood!!

Just over 1 year ago, Kat sent me a tweet asking if I would be interested in starting an online film and photography school. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Capturing Childood Logo - hi res

This past Saturday, Capturing Childhood celebrated its first birthday and we celebrated in style at Twycross Zoo in the Midlands. We celebrated big successes such as being featuring in the Guardian Christmas gift guide and our upcoming workshop in London. We celebrated the hard work it takes to run a business and juggle family and other work commitments. Mostly, we celebrated a year of sharing our love of photography and film.


This last year, Capturing Childhood has seen hundreds of students come through our virtual doors and we have loved being a part of their photographic journey.  It is amazing to see the change in our student's photographs and an honor and a privilege to get  such beautiful glimpses into family life across the world.

To celebrate our 1st birthday, we are each giving away 1x £95 voucher and 1x £55 voucher which can be used on our current courses. Just enter a comment below. For a second chance to win, pop over to Housewife Confidential and enter there!

Thank you for all of the entries!

Winners: Aussie Mum for the £95 voucher and Jeannette Archer for the £55 voucher!!

Competition Terms and Conditions:

  • Giveaway is open worldwide.
  • Maximum of one entry per person.
  • Please leave your email to make sure we can contact you.
  • Each voucher is valid for the face value which covers the cost of courses at 2013 prices. Vouchers may be used for full or part payment of a course.
  • Not valid for use on our London Workshop.
  • Entries must meet the entry criteria or will be void.
  • Giveaway will close at 9pm BST on 10th of May 2013.


Product Photography - Tivoli by Anniken Allis

I love photographing knit and crochetwear.  It should probably go without saying, but I genuinely find it thrilling to take a design and make it shine.  Because, quite frankly, that is what sells a pattern.  We live in an age of visuals - pinterest, ravelry, blogs, all of the ways most designers interact with one's design is a photo at a glance and I LOVE making those first impressions great ones.

And there is no greater joy than photographing things that are beautiful anyway, and this shawl, Tivoli by Anniken Allis, is amazing. Made in her silky camel 4ply and oh my!!  I have never handled camel yarn before, but you know me, say silk and I am usually sold anyway, but the camel gives it a wooly-ness and warmth really unlike anything I have ever touched. Kind of like an alpaca silk, but less hairy and with a gorgeous smooth handle.  It was simply divine. and I had to wrestle the shawl away from Kerstin after the shoot.

This is the 3rd of 4 items I photographed for Anni and each time she releases one, I think "This is my favourite"...this time is no different.