What It Takes..

On the left, my photo. Granted, with my mobile phone, but it’s the best I have available to me. It’s in the same place, and against the same background, and with nearly the same lighting, as the one on the right, taken by Bernard.

In Bernard’s version, the colours are brighter, warmer, the crevices and shadows are reduced or enhanced in different places to bring out the details in the various elements, and the placement of the highlights on the glass was carefully tweaked and managed to ensure that the shape of the dome was brought out without any odd little bright spots in the wrong place. The highlights even bracket the embroidery, framing and presenting it.

Photograph of the set up needed to get the professional photo, with mirrors and reflectors all around.

And now you see what it took. Lighting and diffusers, and then a whole slew of little improvised mirrors and reflectors, including one held in Bernard’s hand while he operates the camera with the other one.

We all say that embroidery is hard to photograph, but in truth, until you’ve seen the effort that an experienced professional photographer will put in to get a good shot, you have no idea just how hard!

And all this tells me something else – part of the trick is that, with a lifetime of doing this behind him, Bernard can look through a view finder and think, no, we can do better. I would be impressed from the start, and give up too early, not because I don’t want to achieve a good result, but because I’ve no idea just how good a Good Result can be, and still less of an idea of how to attain it.

But incidentally – I’m so glad I tinted the base of the dome. That dark, vaguely walnut shade works much better than the plain pine!


  1. Sue Jones says:

    Impressive change. They are both good clear shots, but Bernard has given it more clout and more intimacy. More “selling power”
    Lighting is hugely important, as are shadows. You are lucky to have an expert to call on. That said, the power we have in our hands these days, with even a simple phone camera, is stunning. Good enough for all everyday purposes, no chemicals or darkroom required, sent worldwide with a few clicks. We are lucky.
    It’s a lovely photo.

  2. Lin says:

    What a difference! Bernard is obviously a perfectionist at his craft – as are you. xx

  3. When we see a good still life photograph we hardly ever think of what it took to achieve that result. Your second photo reminds us that there is a lot of know-how behind such photos.
    Your photo is exceptionally good considering it was taken with a mobile phone camera, but the warm glow of the braid and the base in Bernards photo come out so beautifully.

  4. Amo says:

    When I was with Workshop on the Web we used to send all pieces to be included to a professional and the difference is amazing. Well worth it sometimes.

  5. Carolyn Foley says:

    They are both good shots but the professional knows how to enhance the whole picture, highlighting every aspect. I think we tend to look at the embroidery (or subject) and overlook the whole.

  6. Linda C says:

    What a difference.

  7. What a difference – and I love the little pot!