Basta already!





In life, one often must come to terms with compromise.

In needlepoint land, one has to face the crushing reality that digital cameras get confused when confronted with raw or unpainted canvas. You know it’s white, you can see this very clearly at a glance, but what you see and what the camera thinks it sees are two different things.  The camera, as it turns is working off some internal script about what it thinks is out there, instead of just taking a pic of the darn thing and leaving well enough alone.

No, they just have to do silly things – silly annoying little things — like averaging out colors, or focusing on the wrong thing.

They can’t help themselves.

They’re just cameras.

And not half as good as your father’s Rolleicord or Leica in the nice brown leather case with the shoulder strap the one without the internal script thank you very much a camera that used actual film all you needed was this cool light meter and a dark room and the red light and the liquid chemicals and the mystique of watching him give the pics a bath and the excitement of going to town with him to buy at the camera store those yellow Kodak boxes of film with ASA 100 or 400 and an expiration date stamped on the box and after watching your father carefully develop those beautiful pics helping him hang them on those nylon strings with plastic pegs to dry like laundry on a summer day beautiful they came out just like that and then putting them in albums with those little glued on picture corners and those would be pics that everyone could look at in the living room together not separately each at their own computer or digital device like zombies because looking at real pics in a real photo album was once part of being a family.

At any rate, the time has come to resolve this belt pic taking business once and for all.

Needlepoint Land is having it’s soft launch opening on Friday, and I need to move from exploring digital camera estorica to having a belt catalog for my store.

The problem that needed solving was that my belt pics were coming out slate grey or yellowish brownish. This only happened when a belt had a lot of unpainted canvas around the design. If the belt stitch area was entirely painted, no problem.

So, the question was: why exactly was this happening?

Finally, after much trial and error, and examining carefully every settings on my SONY DSCP-200 (including exploring the joys of the now famous WB “Tungsten” setting), I noted the exposure value was set at -2.0. It turns out that this was the root of the problem.

As usual, the indefatigable Marilyn provided a succinct explanation:

“If you can change the mysterious EV setting on your camera, try setting it to plus 1 and then plus 2. What is happening is that the camera is assuming that you are taking a normal photo of a mixed bag of stuff, and is setting the exposure so the ‘average’ value of the entire photo is 18% gray. Hence the gray canvas and dingy colors. It seems counter-intuitive that one has to overexpose to get a really white scene, but it is true. The same thing happens when taking photos of the freshly fallen snow – if there isn’t enough non-snow in the photo, the whole thing comes up gray.”

So I downloaded the SONY manual for this camera and searched for the page that discusses changing EV setting. This is what SONY had to say about the matter.

EV settings

So to do what Marilyn suggested. that is to say, to overexpose the shot, all one had to do is… what?

SONY implies that pushing the histogram button “repeatedly”  increments the EV.  In actuality, this does nothing but show a temp histogram for a given shot. So in effect, it’s totally useless. There was no magic presto button.  There was no silver bullet. There was nothing.  Nada. Just empty promises and broken dreams… once again.

Finally, after again experimenting with a quite a variety of settings, which I will not bore you with here, I came up with a simple, good enough solution that will allow me to move on already.

Here’s how I got my example belt pic to look semi acceptable:

1. ISO set to auto
2. AF set to center
3. Scene set to the light bulb icon
4. F 2.8
5. Shutter speed at 1000
6. WB set to auto
7. placed the belt on a white foam backing
8. surrounded the belt with 4 100w bulb lamps, lampshades off, bulbs on
9. half pressed the shutter, then pressed it fully down

The result was a better pic, but there was still a faint, lingering yellow-like cast, so I finally took the plunge using what must no doubt be a basically disgusting hack to camera purists that was suggested to me by a reader of this blog (thanks Mikie!)

Displaying the pic in Windows Photo Gallery, I adjusted the color temperature very slightly by going to Adjust Color and moving the slide control to a bit to the left (or “cool” temp side).

This pretty much got rid of the lingering yellowish cast, and diminished the soot problem I was having before.

So there you have it. The problem is “solved,” albeit thanks to what the tech crew is now sneeringly referring to as “The Kludge.”

Be that as it may, at least I now can actually complete putting together Julia’s Needleworks trunk show catalog in time for my store opening.

And that, as they say, is that.

© Erin McGrath and, 2012 – 2016


About Erin

Owner of Needlepoint Land, LLC. Professional in the field for more than 15 years, during which I have managed and/or worked with various high-end needlepoint shops. I enjoy teaching both beginners and advanced stitchers, and have created numerous stitch guides, with speciality thread selections, for in-store customers and private clients. I maintain contact with an extensive network of needlepoint vendors, custom artists, and, most importantly, reliable, high-quality finishers. I look forward to hearing your comments on my blog!

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