slant boards
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Author:  Pamela [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:24 pm ]
Post subject:  slant boards

What really prompted me to set up this whole sub-forum on photographing textiles was because Sandra Niessen, Lesley Pullen and I have been talking about photographing a pinunsaan of Lesley's and a ragi hotang (or huting) namarsimata of mine for the book on Batak textiles that Sandra is writing. Both are quite large textiles and, to make matters more difficult, mine is fragile as it has beads threaded on the weft threads and the extra tension is causing these threads to snap and the beads to shed when the textile is moved.

I was trying to explain slant boards to both of Lesley and Sandra. When I first met forum member Digna and her husband Neil Ryan in Singapore in 2005 I was fascinated by the slant board which Neil, the photographer of their fantastic collection, was using. I begged a couple of photos to show the construction which I share with you below.

In 2007 I visited the British Museum textile store with the Oxford Asian Textile Group. The Museum is in the process of photographing their collection and we were able to use their slant board (a somewhat more substantial construction than Neil's) to photograph better a Siberian coat put out for us to see. What does not show in the photo, which I post below, is a set of steps also used in the photography. See Neil's first point below.

Exchanging emails recently with Neil I mentioned my discussion and also directed Neil to a photo of the BM slant board. He came back with a very interesting review of his thinking about the relevant angle for slant boards which I thought that I would share with the forum.

"Thank you for the link to the photograph of the British Museum slant-board – it is interesting to note that their board appears to be set at about 45°. We found 45° impractical and selected 60°. The main reasons being:

1. The camera tripod needs to be positioned to (ideally) allow an equal distance from the camera lens to each corner of the textile being photographed in order to avoid (minimise) distortion due to perspective. My tripod is not high enough, nor am I tall enough to achieve this using a 45° angle.

2. It is easier to reach the board, for pinning and smoothing the textile (avoiding a balancing act and back-pain). The alternative is to lay the board flat on the floor for this function, then raise it to the photographing angle. I have prepared Chin multiple loom-width blankets in this manner, where weft-faced bands have shrunk or pulled the textile in from the outside edges. I would first get the joins between the panels straight and then smooth the blanket to the outside before pinning the outer edges in place.

Unfortunately, utilising 60° can cause the textile to sag towards the bottom and fringes always follow gravity. . . . . ."

I would be very interested in learning - and seeing - how other forum members 'mount' their textiles for photography, especially large ones. We see a selection of carpets and floor tiles in photos posted on the forum so I guess that the floor is frequently used.

File comment: back view of Neil Ryan's slant board showing construction
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File comment: back view of Neil Ryan's slant board showing construction
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File comment: Siberian coat on a slant board at the British Museum textile store - 2007
siberian-coat-BM140607.jpg [ 51.22 KiB | Viewed 17075 times ]

Author:  Pamela [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:03 am ]
Post subject: 

If anyone has previously been looking at this thread and was not logged in they would not have seen the 3 images attached to my last post above on the thread.

Luckily Sandra Niessen alerted me to the problem of no images and I remembered that the default security setting for a new forum is that, to download files (which is what happens when you view an image), a person must be logged in. I have now amended the setting and you should be able to see the images above whether you are logged in or not.


Author:  susan stem [ Sat Mar 15, 2008 3:50 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sorry to wait so long to contribute to this discussion... I guess we've just been too busy photographing textiles! It's great to see how others do it. Our solution may not be the easiest, as it requires some Photoshop ability as well as a gridded floor. We photograph with natural light, outside and from above, on the floor of a tiled porch. The grid of the tiles allows us to correct any perspective problems in Photoshop by lining up the grid of the porch with the grid on the page. If the textile is really large, we shoot it in sections and use Photoshop to join the images, again using the grid for alignment.

Author:  Sandra Niessen [ Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:02 am ]
Post subject:  scanning textiles

I am really looking forward to trying out the slant board for the additional whole cloth photography that I have to do for my book, but in the meantime, I needed some detail phtography done. Details are very important to me because I hope that weavers will be able to reproduce some textiles by looking at the photographs that I provide in the book. They have to be able to see not just the overall design of the cloth and the motifs, but also thread-for-thread, how the textiles have been made.

When I visited a very excellent printer that I have asked to print the book, they showed me an earlier publication with some textile artwork that they had scanned. The result was so stupendous that we decided to try it out with my Batak textiles. This morning I will be going back for a second round because we are very, very pleased with the results.

I don't think that the light is good for the textiles, but the results yield a huge giga file that is so detailed that one can clip details out of it, larger or smaller, as needed. I do one segment of each textile which integrates many elements: a patterned edge plus a bit of a vertical stripe plus a bit of two different panels of the cloth. In other words, one scan can be used for multiple purposes and could eliminate the need for other photographs to be taken in the future. This professional scanbed is pretty large, but not large enough to do whole textiles.

Herman, the scanner, says that he has scanned hugely expensive Rembrandt drawings in this way. The resolution and the quality are so spectacularly huge (the scan merciless picks up absolutely everything) that museums will never have to make another photograph again, just ensure that their digital images are safe!!!

I find the quality higher than with photographs. Of course, I have the priviliege of working with super-deluxe equipment and my professional home scanner doesn't compare. Nor do my computer skills working with the scanner compare with Herman's. But given the revolutions happening in the digital world, I suspect that we are going the way of the future.

Author:  Sandra Niessen [ Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:08 am ]
Post subject:  clingy cotton

We didn't have slant boards available at the latest photography session for my textiles. The photographer mentioned that it would be so handy with respect to the fringes which would stay put nicely at the top end, but that the whole system requires more room and the photographer would probably have to stand on a step or a ladder.

She uses a different system, and I was very happy with it. She stumbled upon it by accident when she purchased a very thick, durable black kind of flannelette/velvet material for the background of the shots. As it turns out, most of my cotton textiles, when smoothed up against it, kind of stuck to it! Like felt against felt. (I remember that from kindergarten!) We didn't even have to use a straight pin to hold up most of the textiles, and we plastered most of them up in the width. We smoothed out the fringes against the black (or white) material so that they stuck as well.

Occasionally, if the textile yarn had been treated with a rice or cassava starch, the fringes didn't stick as well. In that case, we plastered the textile vertically, and usually it was possible to stretch the fringe yarns out vertically, and the lower fringes could just dangle. In only one case, this didn't work, and then we took a picture of just the lower half of the textile and let the fringes above dangle as they wanted.

All in all, I am pleasantly surprised. As you smooth out the textile against the backdrop, you can get rid of alot of folds and pleats, and you can make it as straight as possible. I should think that it works as well or better than a suction wall.

The backdrop fabric was of sufficiently high quality that there were no fluffies left stucking to the textiles when we peeled them off.

Author:  Lesley Pullen [ Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Slant board photography

In response to Pamela's comment of our photography session of the Batak textiles at the V&A. I would like to add that in the end the photo's were taken on a white board flat on the ground. Fon Windsor-Clive a professional photographer and friend, found even though she was in the huge and perfect environment of the V&A study room, that to capture the images of these large pieces she had to stand on a stool on a table to enable her to capture the correct image. Not something the amature photographer would wish to have to try. After 2 hours she managed to have both textiles taken, a huge amount of effort with the lighting correctly monitored. Sandra seemed very pleased with the end resulting jpeg file in high resolution Fon sent to her. Pamela and I now await the launch of Sandra's new book to see the results of our treasured Batak textiles.

I think Sandra's idea of the flannalette/velvet system on a slant board would be the easiest in the long run, especially if you are working with cotton and fringes, but not if the textile is too large, but in my experience this would not work with silks. I have a number of old and delicate pelangi/titrik and lawon from Sumatra that could only be photographed flat as they are so fine and with holes that at any angle the fabric moves too much.

Author:  iain [ Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Benefits of felt

Following on from comments of felt on slant boards I post a couple of images showing the benefits of felt when it comes to keeping fringes in place. I used black felt for the background of this headscarf as it enabled me to more easily meter on the textile. Fringes were separated and drawn out along the felt using a capped ballpoint pen (I know I know the extremes of sophistication :wink:). I show gravity at work which can be overcome with a little pressure on the fringes helping them to "stick".

File comment: Setting the left hand side fringes
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File comment: Halfway to beating gravity
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File comment: Right hand fringes complete
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