The Felt Matters Archives, curated by the International Felting Association, features a series of articles centered around the theme “How to Photograph Your Work.” This intriguing topic has inspired our latest blog post, particularly relevant for those looking to enhance the publish ability of their work when submitting photos for our upcoming Online Exhibition. Our inaugural post in this series delves into a photography article penned by our chair, Mandy Nash, originally published in FM149 in December 2022.
EDITING YOUR IMAGES
WE ALL THINK WE ARE PHOTOGRAPHERS NOW WE HAVE INSTANT ACCESS TO THE CAMERAS ON OUR PHONES. ACTUALLY, THERE IS A LOT MORE TO IT THAN JUST CLICKING THE BUTTON! THIS ARTICLE IS LESS OF A HOW TO, RATHER THAN HINTS ON WHAT YOU NEED TO LEARN.
I was organizing the selection process for an arts organisation many years ago, where the images submitted had to be a certain size. Why? The images needed to be medium sized files so they could be emailed to the selectors without clogging up their inboxes, but large enough so that the images could be seen clearly. Many applications for exhibitions and craft shows will stipulate the size of image required. If the application is to be done online, then often, the wrong size image will not upload. So, if you want to exhibit your work and use social media to promote it, please read on. Declaring that you are a technophobe (you have a smart phone!) is a poor excuse and it just takes time and patience to learn how to edit your photos. When I first set up my business, taking photos was a long process; using real film, waiting for the photos to be developed, then being disappointed by the results. It was expensive, time consuming and frustrating. Now, with digital technology, we can instantly take a photo. However, it isn’t a simple case of clicking and sending – your images need editing first. Each camera and phone is different, often counter intuitive to use and exceeding your requirements. Spend some time investigating how they work, look and experiment with the different settings; Google can help and there are useful YouTube videos. You might find a local one day course too.
This can be confusing. Digital images are made up of pixels (small dots). The terminology is dpi – dots per inch. To describe this in textile terms, think of thread count, the more threads per inch, the finer the fabric. So, more dots per inch, the sharper the image. High resolution refers to more dots per inch and low resolution refers to less dots per inch. For websites, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp etc, a low res image is all that is required, usually 72dpi. For print, 300dpi or above is necessary. If you imagine that each dot is stored individually, it is easy to understand that higher resolution images are larger files and use more memory. They will take longer to upload. You can reduce the image size but cannot enlarge it. If your camera is set to take large files, even at 72dpi, you can increase the dpi and reduce the dimensions so the file remains the same size. Once you have reduced the size and saved the files, then you cannot reverse this.
CROPPING This is a basic technique that can easily improve your image and most devices now have a facility to do this. You can cut out unwanted parts. You may have to crop an image to a certain size – a square for Instagram for example. You can play around and zone in on a detail too.
SIZING You can usually set the size that your camera or phone takes images. Newer cameras and phones boast that they take in excess of 10mb pictures which is far too large for everyday use. If you are simply taking images to use on your phone for WhatsApp and Instagram etc., you don’t need to take huge images. These files will take longer to upload and clog up the memory on your device. It’s very frustrating for the receiver of these images too, as it will clog up the memory on their devices too and take an age to download. You only need to take large images if they are being reproduced in print or require to be viewed on a large screen. For everyday shots, you can set your camera to take low res images (less than 1 or 2mb). For print they need to be 4mb or larger.
SENDING IMAGES Many devices automatically resize images when you send them as an attachment. This can be frustrating if you are unaware of this – especially if you are sending a high res image and it arrives as a low res one. Each device varies so you need to investigate how to control this. For large files, WeTransfer is a useful and easy tool to use to send images.
EDITING SOFTWARE There are many editing image programmes available. Most professionals use PhotoShop but this is expensive. A compact basic version, PhotoShop Elements, is more affordable (I use it) but probably offers more than you will require. Canva and PixR offer basic level versions for free. It is worth investing time in learning how to use these. You can also use the software to alter the colour balance, adjust the exposure, add text etc. to improve your image – very useful for social media. There are no shortcuts – you need to invest time (and money!) in presenting your work. Professional makers spend as much time, if not more, in marketing, promoting and administrating their practice. If you have tips on software that helps you size and edit your images, then please post them in the members’ Facebook group.
ATTACHED IMAGES (Please download pdf file)
1) 300dpi image, sized for print
2) the same image at 72dpi; this could be changed to 300dpi as it is a large file
3) the same image reduced to 72dpi and dimensions changed to create a smaller file for web use
4) the image has been reduced in size again so it is pixelated
5) an image for print
6) the image has been cropped to show a detail
PHOTO CREDITS: Mandy Nash
Article by Mandy Nash, IFA Chair