Photos as Reference and Inspiration: Part 1

Photos as Reference and Inspiration: Part 1

Photos as Reference and Inspiration: Part 1

Photography and felting go together well. Whether you are doing a landscape, a portrait or adding flowers to a nuno felted scarf photo reference will help inspire you. You need not be a slave to what you see in the picture, you are the maker of your own world when you create. Change the colours, remove or add background, change your perspective, erase that offensive shrub. It’s your picture so you decide. When you use photos they can help you with proportions, give you a guide to colours, and inspire you to try something new.


Lets look at a few of aspect of photos we can use to inspire us to felt.

Composition (the layout of the picture):

When I look at images sometimes it’s the composition that attracts my attention. Many of the flower shots I take are about the shapes or repetitions within the composition.







Sometimes it the colours and effects of light within an image that are drawing me to take a photo.   This could be due to a contrast between light and dark colours or the way the light is playing across a surface.


The changing of the cast shadow changes the feeling you get form the flower. I find the middle most appealing but the last most dramatic.


The glow with in the poppy has an almost iridescent aspect.


Back lighting on a flower can change dramatically what colour you see too.  (My Black Hollyhocks are a spectacular purple if the light is behind them, but from the front they look black. this is there off year, so if I’m lucky they may be back next year. I hope I haven’t just lost them over winter.)

It Moved and caught my attention (Animals/ Birds)

Most of my animal shots I try for artistic compositions and usually get photo journalism, “Squirrel was here and he did this”.  Sometimes I can get a better composition from a shot by using a high resolution shot and cropping afterwards.

Combining shots often is effective put bird “A” with tree “B” and add Flowers from shot “C”. Just remember to make sure you light sources are consistent in the final layout. (There is only one sun unless your finished picture will be shown at and science fiction convention.)


Inspiration for colour ways


Sometimes photos from nature are a good source of colour combinations you might not have considered.


Depth of field

Having a foreground, a mid-ground and background will give more depth to a landscape.  Even a flower is more interesting if you have a shorter focal depth to enhance the interest in the flower and not be distracted by what is in the background.

The backgrounds in the lilacs is a good example. Some time looking at the blurred out sections of backgrounds will give you ideas for a neutral background to put a flower in front of. (so don’t trash all you blurry shots some may be inspirational for backgrounds or inspire new colour combinations for dyeing  or spinning) blurred backgrounds can be quite active or agitated to vary calm.

These Japanese miniature lilacs are from my back garden beside the patio. This is their first flowering in early summer. They will make two more attempts at flowers but not with as much enthusiasm.

In part 2 of this blog, lets chat about using photos as design elements by manipulating them.

7 thoughts on “Photos as Reference and Inspiration: Part 1

  1. Lovely photos and explanations Jan! We couldn’t agree more that photos are great for inspiration. Looking forward to reading part 2.

  2. Great explanations Jan! I have thousands of photos that I take for inspiration. Usually the hard part is finding the photo I remember taking but don’t remember where I stored it.

  3. Well explained Jan. Like you, I enjoy taking photos for inspiration and have zillions filled on my computer, but there always seems to be more to take! Looking forward to Part ll.

  4. Just read this after reading part 2 which I also loved. Very useful. Thank you. I just finished a piece incorporating a blurred background – great fun.
    I also look for textures – whether stone, soil, bark, the cement wall along a canal – even better with algae or moss on it. Then the play of light gets very, very interesting. (Thank you for the photos of the tulip which illustrate lighting wonderfully).

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