17 May 2013

Photo Friday: Letterman Jacket


Photographing Letterman Jackets
Photographing a Letterman Jacket

Continuing on the theme of High School, one of my greatest treasures in high school was my Letterman Jacket. I wasn't an athlete, per the usual awarding of such a jacket, but I was active in 'other activities' such as band, dance, and color guard.

Many of our relatives still have their letter sweaters or jackets, so I decided to share the photo shoot of my jacket with you. Mind you, my jacket is COVERED with patches and such. At one time, I even wore my band and color guard medals on it. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of me wearing this beloved treasure with the exact arrangement I wore the medallions in. So, I didn't try to attach them for the photo shoot.

Wouldn't it be nice to travel back in time to photograph the jacket on me when I was younger? Well, since that's not the case, I decided all the photos of me modeling the jacket would be 'headless'. However, I share this one photo so that you can see the set up for my studio. It is actually quite simple.

DIY Seamless Backdrop
Adult sized seamless backdrop


My normal photo shoot configuration involves a PVC construction that is just wider than a traditional coffee table. I lay a white muslin fabric over the stand and then onto the table. This creates a seamless background (when the fabric is ironed... hey, someone has to say it). For this session, I reconnected the PVC construction into a larger frame, unfolded the white muslin and created a structure that would accommodate a standing adult. (Yes, I'm not smiling. Remember these photos were only to be show casing me 'headless'. However, I'm willing to share the set-up shot so you can see what I'm talking about.)

The set up was placed in our large play room (can you tell?). We have a directional spot light that was turned on me and then the regular lights were left on. These seemed to provide enough light for our purposes. Now... to stop seeing me!!! (The photographer was my darling hubby. Good job dear.)

Photographing high school memorabilia
f/4, exp 1/2 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

With the camera mounted on a tripod, my husband zoomed in for a closer look at the letterman jacket. Before he snapped the photo, I moved out of the frame and he set the custom white balance for the mixed lighting we had. Then I moved back into the frame for the shot.

High School Letterman Jacket
f/4, exp 1 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
The purpose of this photo shoot is not to see me in the photos. It's to high light the jacket. So, my husband moved in to zoom in closer. Now, I'm 'headless' and the focus is on the jacket. Why do this? Well, because if I put these photos in with my high school story, I don't want myself 'now' in the photo. I don't want to visually confuse my family history reader. I want them to see the jacket with a body inside and image it being worn by me around school, around town, and at every opportunity.

High School Memorabilia
f/4, exp 0.6 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

Heritage artifacts
f/4, exp 0.8 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

For most folks, they could be finished after a few shots of the jacket on a model. However, my sweet (and slightly insane) mother hand sewn all of the patches on the sleeves. The sleeves were made of leather (or a variant of leather). For those who know, that is one difficult material to hand sew. My mother's poor fingers were calloused and bleeding after all of this work. When I told her I didn't really need all those patches on there, she wouldn't listen. If I earned the patch, she wanted it on the jacket. Like I said, she was slightly crazy. But honestly, she was just proud of me. Can you tell?

For the close up of the patches, I didn't want any movement in such a tight environment. So, I took the jacket off and placed it on the ground of my set up. I adjusted the tripod to this "from above" shooting position. Before taking a photo, I moved the jacket out of the way and took a custom white balancing adjustment. Then I returned the jacket to the frame. As you will see, I took various photos of the jacket to capture the various patches on the jacket.

Photographing Band Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/10 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Flag Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/13 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Color Guard Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/15 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Competitive Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/13 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Marching Band Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/25 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Patches
f/4.5, exp 1/15 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Music Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/20 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Band Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/20 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

These are all photos going down one sleeve. (I know, crazy right?) Time for the other sleeve.


f/4.5, exp 1/10 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
f/4.5, exp 1/13 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
I liked the photos I had of the front on the model (er, me). I wanted some more close-ups of the back patches.

f/4.5, exp 1/13 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
f/4.5, exp 1/15 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
f/4.5, exp 1/10 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

Now I have a great collection of photographs showcasing my letterman jacket. It's a story of my accomplishments, my interests, and my mother. I will definitely have a great assortment of photos to tell the story fully. In case you missed it, the jacket actually has another letter not on it. Where would it go?

If you have family members (including yourself) who received a letterman jacket, I encourage you to photograph it. Grab a model or use a mannequin to fill it out and give the jacket or sweater shape. Photograph the little details as well. Then, write the story of how and why the relative received the award.

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