Photographing my work (again)

Happy today? (detail)

Happy today? (detail)

When I needed to photograph a really big Ruins piece in August I ended up borrowing a studio and some lighting. (The design walls in my wonderful studio just weren’t big enough.) And whilst I was happy with the result it was a lot of effort to ‘book’ the studio, transport the quilt etc. So, with help from son Cal, I have built a system that will allow me to photograph big pieces and 3D pieces in the comfort of my own studio. Just in time to photograph my latest piece ‘Happy today?’ which is a double sided long thin piece designed to hang from the ceiling and pleat onto the floor.

We brought a 2.7m wide roll of photographic backdrop paper which sits on a narrow shelf built onto one of the long beams in the studio. This allows me to drop the paper down and along the floor. We brought a roll of metal mesh and used wood battens to fit a length to the ceiling in front of the backdrop roll. In the photo below Cal is using picture hooks and nylon hanging thread to suspend the quilt about 30cm in front of the backdrop. Cal made me two lighting stands. Each is a 6ft length of timber with four 10inch shelf brackets attached to the base to provide stability. He drilled out 3 holes on each upright through which he has attached regular bayonet light fittings. Having inherited my ‘tidy’ gene Cal put a junction box on each upfright so that each is run off a single plug. We used six non-directional cool white light bulbs to gave lots of good light although I need to invest in a better way of cutting the light from the french doors as this gave us a bit of problem with shadows.

Once we had finished photographing the piece we rolled up the paper and stored the lighting stands. (And moved tables, chairs and print benches back in place!). We have already decided that the system could be improved. Sometime before I use it again we need to get a 2.8m wood or metal pole to hang the roll of backdrop paper from so that it drops without any distortion. We need to replace the wire mesh with something more heavy duty especially if I want to photograph bigger, heavier pieces. And we need to paint everything white so that it looks nicer! Well maybe ‘need’ is a bit of an exaggeration but I do have the ‘tidy’ gene!

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