Thursday, April 21, 2011

Photo Shoots & Color Matching

"Strawberry Moon 4"
Art Quilt 8 x 10 framed
Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2011

Last week I braved 40 degree windy weather to try and get better photos of the three art pieces being submitted with my ArtWalk entry form. I really have been quite lazy about this picture taking thing of late, and have struggle to get accurate colors. I hoped that going outside on an overcast day would solve my problems. Well, only partly. The good news is that because I had blocked out the day for photo shoot and jpg preparation, I learned some different ways to adjust color in my Paint Shop Pro program which finally gave me much more accurate representation of my art.

"Strawberry Moon 2"
Art Quilt 8 x 10 framed
Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2011

With the artwork propped next to the monitor, I could see that the biggest challenges come from teal green which perpetually reads as blue. In both Strawberry Moon variations, there are fabrics with this green tint. In the first one, the background actually washed out to white. Any color manipulation merely gave it a blue cast. In the second one, the grey was reading more blue than green. With any of the one step fixes, I could not match that green tint well, and the pink of the moon would be totally thrown off. What I learned was to isolate different sections so that the color manipulation would only apply to the sections needing it. Maybe that sounds obvious, and in fact, I'd played around a bit with that in the past, but this time, I improved my skills in fine tuning the selected area and I used color adjust functions I'd not understood before. Now if I can just remember what I learned. Compare these to my previous photo of these two here.

Art Quilt 12 x 16 framed
Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2011

I still struggled getting it right with Fracture. I felt I needed to apply a golden wash to the center part of it, as the lighter silks are just too white. Still, it is a better representation than the raw photo. And as you can see, I opted to submit it sans dimensional leaves. Time constraints did not allow me to fully assess whether their addition worked or not.

So after the photo shoot and preparation of the jpgs, I spent quite a bit of time arranging and re-arranging those leaves. I left them pinned in place as you see them above and moved the framed art around the house so I could see it in all kinds of light. Because it just wasn't working. The leaves weren't adding anything to the design. They weren't showing up over the pieced area as I'd anticipated. They were lovely but not for this piece. Even though part of what I hoped they'd do was camouflage some baubles in the satin stitching along one edge.

So finally on Monday, I moved it back into the studio, ready to remove the leaves and stitch it to its watercolor paper backing. And then I had second thoughts. The leaves suddenly looked like they should be there. I was caught off guard by what must have been my inner eye envisioning the upper leaves moved higher. Ok, I'll bite, I thought. I moved three leaves up and partially off onto the border and now it seems to be working. Still, I'm letting myself live with it for awhile before I stitch them down. And however I stitch them, it will be an easily reversible act in case my mind's eye changes its opinion. And why, in this shot quickly taken in the studio, do I suddenly get that golden glow with no color adjustment?


Felicity Grace said...

I meant to comment when you first posted this but then went off to mull and forgot! ;) I just think the leaves are wonderful, I hope you keep them, I love the colours, the composition and the textures - one of those 'I wish I'd made that' pieces!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Why thank you! The leaves are making an excellent case for staying - each time I catch a glimpse of the piece lately, they look more and more like they belong and add to the piece. So I'm pretty sure they'll be staying.