I Can’t Show You This Yarn

I’ve dyed two skeins of my lovely sparkly Lucina yarn in the colourway Southeasterly.  It’s an amazing blend of deep purples and seaweed greens.  The sparkles in the yarn shimmer in the light, and it is absolutely gorgeous.

And my camera simply won’t photograph it.


My camera has always struggled with purples.  Time and time again, they come out more blue than they really are.  I’ve tried adjusting all sorts of things on the camera — the white balance, the colour settings, the exposure compensation — but to no avail.  I’ve tried manipulating the colours after I download the picture to make them more realistic, but they refuse to play. Purples come out blue, and a horrid garish blue at that.  And so I have no way to show you what this yarn really looks like.

Which is a real shame, because it’s beautiful.  It took my breath away when I pulled it out of the dyepot.  The colourway is Southeasterly and is much like the yarn I dyed in this colourway before


But this time, it’s so much more intense, so much more striking.  And then with the sparkles too…

I wish I could show it to you, I really do.  But you’re just going to have to believe me when I say it doesn’t look like this.  It really doesn’t look like this — it is so, so, soooo much better.


And if there are any photographers out there who can tell me what I am doing wrong, I’d be incredibly grateful for any suggestions.  …Or, better yet, if there are any knitting photographers who want to come round and give me a lesson on capturing better purples, there might be a skein or two of yarn in it for you..!

15 thoughts on “I Can’t Show You This Yarn

  1. Ruth has it right, try other backgrounds that are complements to purple which is green if my color triangle is right. In addition, try to bounce light onto the skein. So if you are near a window make sure there is a white surface (paper, sheet, etc.) near it to bounce more light off of the skein opposite of the window but near the skein. This will allow more colors to be picked up. Hope that helps from this little photographer.

    1. Alex, thanks for that. I’ll try some different backgrounds… so I’m looking for something more in the same colour family as the purple? Green shares blue with purple… Would blues or reds work? (as they’re component primaries for purple). I may just have to play around a bit…

      And yeah, that’s a good idea to make sure I’m bouncing the light around. I’ll play with that too. 🙂

  2. I’m not a photographer, so I can’t help there, but have you tried playing around with the selective colors feature in Photoshop? That’s usually my go-to when my camera lets me down on the colors.

    1. I don’t have Photo$hop, but no matter what I did in my image manipulation software (and in my ignorance!), I really couldn’t make much improvement. :/

  3. Yep, Ruth nailed it. It’s not you. It’s digital cameras as a genre. I had the same problem with one of my most favorite skeins of yarn. I even consulted a pro for help and the answer was basically “yeah, good luck with that.” I blogged the problem HERE

    1. Isn’t that amazing? I really would have thought that camera manufacturers would be all over this, getting it sorted. Thanks for the link to your blog post — interesting to see you had the same problem. 🙂

  4. And I am the one who got the absolutely beautiful skein of purple and olive! All of my knitting friends are coveting that skein! If your newest skein is anything like my skein, I KNOW it’s gorgeous! 🙂

    1. I’m so pleased you like your skein so much. I thought of you as I was trying to photograph this one… You’re the one person who wouldn’t just have to take it on trust that the colours in this one are much more beautiful than the pictures!

  5. Sorry, I meant to add that you might try yellows, greens, or greys for backgrounds instead of white to bring out a truer purple but I’m not sure what that will do the the other colors in the colourway.

  6. You’re not doing anything wrong. Digital cameras have a hard time reproducting purples accurately due to the sensor. Also, white backgrounds affect the hue of colors (it’s called the Abney effect) and color accuracy decreases as ISO increases. You can try different backgrounds (not bright white) and lighting or try photoshoping your pictures. Bear in mind that everyone’s eyes perceive color differently so you may be seeing more blue than I do. Maybe someone else has a silver bullet for you but I don’t know of one.

    1. Ruth, you have no idea how relieved I am to read the words “you’re not doing anything wrong”!!! Because I’ve been going a wee bit mad trying make this work. Thank you so much for your informative reply.
      Ok, I will try some different backgrounds… I’ve been wanting to try gray for a while anyway. And I’ll maybe play with the ISO a bit too.
      Thank you!

  7. I looked up your camera, and it looks like it doesn’t have the capacity to shoot in RAW mode. I find that the auto white balance on my Canon DSLR usually picks the same mode I would pick, but with RAW mode, I can try out other settings after the fact and see if they are any better. With your camera, I would first try selecting the white balance most appropriate to your shooting situation (daylight, shade, cloudy, etc). Or maybe even one not really appropriate. Shade or cloudy settings would give less-blue results than daylight. See this-
    If that is not giving good results, you can try setting a custom white balance with a gray or white card. I couldn’t find a really good tutorial, but this site covers the concepts.
    In addition to your white balance settings, I think you have some other setting that might affect the color. In the menu where you would go to change your photos to black and white, there are other options like “vivid, faithful, neutral.” You could try playing with those.
    Some point and shoot cameras have a “snow mode” where it knows that a white background is supposed to be white instead of making it gray. It helps avoid underexposure when shooting yarn on a white background, but I don’t know if it would also help with the white balance.

  8. It’s beautiful just the way it’s shown…but I’ll take your word for it that it’s far beyond what the photo shows. It must be absolutely gorgeous.

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