Tuesday 18 March 2014

Using close up photography in quilt design.

I love capturing the details of flora and fauna.  The teeny tiny stamens,  droplets of water and the veining of the petals.  It takes be back to children's T.V. show Sesame Street  when they would show the viewers part of the object and you would have to guess what the object was.  I loved the challenge it brought to my sometimes very bored brain and I loved to see up close the details that so often we miss doing the daily grind.

When taking photos up close you need to use the close up button on your camera.   To get even closer a macro lens would be useful.   They are very expensive.  The other option is a attachment that connects the front of the lens to the camera (i.e reversing the lens around).  I went for a Macro lens attachment that screws onto the front of my cameras.  It doesn't come as close as a macro lens but it is still very good.

Frost on a leaf

When doing close ups try taking the photo from different angles,  different distances and different parts of the subject.

A camellia


Centre of a lily

Centre of a lily

Palm leaf

Droplets of water in pine needles

Veins on leaf

Try taking the photos outside and inside using different positions of light.  
Try taking outside photos at different times of the day,  
in different types of weather 
and in different seasons

Getting up close to a subject changes how we view it.  The veins become more visible,  the petals more structured.  Our perception changes.   

Close-up photos are a good to use in quilt design.  The camera has eliminated outside distractions and focuses more on the structure rather than the subject. 

Look closely at each of the photos.  

What do you see?  
Are there any lines that could transfer into a quilting line? 
Are there any shapes that could be cut out and appliquéd onto another fabric? 
Is there a colour way that could be used in an abstract quilt?
Are there textures that work well next to each other?

Crop even closer........What do you see now?

Change the hue and saturation.  What do you see now?

Change it to blue and darken.  How has it changed?  

Make it black and white.  What elements have become more visible?

Crop in closer on a different part of the leaf and change to a sepia colour way. How could you use this on a quilt?

Photographs can be used in many ways to make original designs.  By experimenting with camera settings and editing programmes design can become more interesting and unique.


  1. Stunning photography Catherine! I too love the details in plants, as you say great for things like quilting lines, good ideas for the colours in the next quilt as well.

    1. Thank you Maureen. We have so many wonderful resources around us in our environment to use in our art work. :)

  2. Amazing how much the whole picture changes with just a few different colors, etc.

    1. It is isn't it! It only has to be a small change too to make such a difference.


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