Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blog Tip: Basic Photo Tips for Bloggers

At some point in you blogging career, you will do some sort of post that will need photos taken by you. Whether it's to show off that yummy dish from the recipe you plan on sharing, product shot of some new items for your shop, to show off your amazing craft skills with you step by step tutorial, etc. What ever it may be, at some point you should plan on taking pictures. Bet you didn't think you would add photographer to your skill set when starting a blog.
Now I wont get super technical here, just give you some basic tips to help get you started with simple shots you might need to get you by. I am going to show you how I take a good majority of my blog photos and what steps I use to achieve a simple yet great looking photo. For about 90% of my photos, I use my DSLR camera and then edit in my photo editing program (Lightroom) on my computer, the other 10% are taken with my iPhone and edited with a photo app. So I thought I would share just a few tips using both.

Basic Photo Blog Props
 To keep this very basic there are really only 2 things you need other than the item being photographed.
  1. LOTS of BRIGHT NATURAL LIGHT! The perfect set up is next to some bright windows or sliding glass doors. This helps give your photo nice light with out harsh shadows and wonky lighting.
  2. You can either get a tri-fold white foam board or a plain white poster board. This will be your background/backdrop for your photos. I like the tri-fold because it has a large open space for multiple items and you can set it up several was depending on how you are shooting. The white helps bounce the light around the image and I just like the crisp, clean look it gives to the photos. Looks less busy when I have it all posted on the blog.
  • This isn't necessary, but I would suggest investing in a tripod as well. You can get really inexpensive one if you shop around. It will help to keep your shot still and less blurry.
 And that's it for materials needed when taking your photos. Pretty basic and wont break your wallet. As you get more comfortable with the picture taking aspect of blogging you can branch out and experiment with different backdrops. I have plans to make some using reclaimed wood - the possibilities are endless really.

Camera Adjustments
 If you know your way around your camera, then this next step is again pretty basic. If you have a nice DSLR camera and haven't got a clue how to use it... I suggest getting to know your camera a little bit better - pull out the manual, watch YouTube videos, take classes, or just use your camera and mess around with it to get a feel for how it can work in different settings. Like I said, these are just basic steps, nothing too technical. Now when shooting I always check how my camera is shooting in the area it's in and just do a quick shot to see how the lighting is. Most of the time to achieve the look I want with out getting too technical, all I do is adjust the shutter speed. This is basically adjusting how much light you are capturing in your photo. 

 The setting wont be perfect for every shoot you do, so always make sure you do some test shots before you get to far in. This is just an example of too dark or too bright. The bigger the bottom number (800) the darker the photo will be, the smaller the bottom number (2) the brighter the photo will be.  And every camera is different, so do be scared to refer back to your manual or look it up. Once you get it down, it will become one of those automatic steps you just do.

Now you're ready to shoot! Take lot of photos, use different angles, get close-ups, take some wide shots, play around with the set up you have. It's better to take more photos while you are there in the moment then wishing you did after you have packed everything and you're sitting there ready to write up your post.

No Natural Light...

This is an example of how not to take your photos. In a dark hallway, with no natural light. While there is light coming from the lights, they don't photograph well.

These 3 photos I showed how I tried to adjust the shutter speed to capture more light. While it did get better lighting as I adjusted, you can still see the lighting is a little wonky. You can try and fix it out of camera in an editing program, but there's no guarantee that it will be a nice crisp photo.

So here are the results from my basic shoot. One is straight out of the camera with no editing and the other has slight editing is a photo program. NOTE: If you don't have a photo program on your computer, there are tons of online editing tools that can give you the same effect of editing: PicMonkey  and Pixlr are 2 that I use often.
This is straight out of the camera. No editing what so ever. You can see by making those simple camera adjustments, I can basically get away with out editing if I wanted too.
This is the edited version. Not much difference really. I usually sharpen the image just a tad and it's usually good to go.
Using iPhone
So here are some simple tips to use when shooting with just your iPhone. Still set everything up like I mentioned in the beginning of this post with your photo props and backdrops, that will stay the same. Now grab your phone and get ready to shoot.
When shooting with your iPhone, there are 2 basic tips to know: How to lighten and darken your image.
  1. When ever your image looks like it is going to be too bright, touch the lightest area on your screen and  it will adjust the lighting so it is a bit darker. Some times if it's too bright you can't see any of the details you are wanting to shoot, so darkening the image will help focus in on those darker details.
  2. If when you are shooting and the image is far too dark for your liking, touch the darkest area on the screen and the image will readjust so the image is brighter. This is usually how I like to shoot my images if I am using my iPhone. It looks brighter and cleaner.
Here are the results I got when using my iPhone to shoot.
This is the image with out a touch of extra editing. While it looks okay, it's a tad dark for my liking.
Here is a look at the same photo that is edited. I use the VSCO app for majority of my editing. I adjust the highlights, shadows, and sharpen it up a bit.
There you have it. So simple and basic tips to take with you when you go to shoot for your next blog post. I hope that wasn't too confusing. If you have any questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment below.

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  1. This is really helpful! Thanks for sharing.

    visiting u from Aloha Friday.

  2. Loving all these tips! Getting ready to advertise so the post about growing your blog was so helpful!

    This photo tutorial is so helpful!

    Now following!


  3. First of all, so RAD that you guys started this blog together! I feel like my blog is always a work in progress so I can definitely use all the help I can get. I am working on my photography and it is slowly improving. The hardest part for me is our natural light here in WA state is crummy and gray 90% of winter days...makes it really hard to get a decent shot. You gave some really awesome tips, thanks!

    1. I bet it's hard with the gray weather for those brighter shots. So glad that you like what we have done with this blog space too!
      Thank you Becky!!

  4. Thank you so much for this post. It was a very straightforward explanation on what I can do now to have better photos. I just got a dslr so I am very excited to use these tips.


    1. So glad we could help! Can't wait to hear how you're liking your new camera!

  5. Such an awesome tutorial. Thanks so much for sharing this. This is sure to help make my blog photos a bit more professional looking. Pinning now.

  6. So I just read all of your posts ... starting with the most recent. Glad I found your blog.. I need all the info I can get!

  7. Awesome tutorial. I learned something new & found out that my iPhone does even more than I thought it did. Thank you so much!

  8. found this on pinterest and what a great tutorial! thank you for sharing this!


  9. Can you please let me know what is the name of the font you are using for the text embedded in your pictures?

  10. Can you please let me know what is the name of the font you are using for the text embedded in your pictures?

  11. Thanks for the tips. I'm bookmarking to my faves and tweeting it too!! This will help so much when photographing for my blog.

  12. This is really helpful! Thank you very much :)

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  14. Awesome information, simply stated, thank you!

  15. This is really helpful! Thanks for the post. The photography tips are great.

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  19. Thank you so much to take the time and give us some tips. It is much appreciated. :)

  20. Wow, such an amazing post!! Iv'e been wanting to look up info such as this for some time now. As soon as I googled it your blog popped up. All of my answers right in this single post. Thanks so much for sharing :)

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  25. Thank you so much for these basic photo tips. I'm having a hard time getting great pictures of our house because I don't know anything. They said that architecture and interior photography is different and it is really difficult, but I still wanted to try it.

  26. Someone pinned this on Pinterest today, I just read the article....have had an iPhone for about a year now, and didn't have a CLUE that I could do that little dealy (touching the light or dark part to change the light/dark details How cool!!! Thank you a bazillion times over!

    Another hint: set the back-drop on a table instead of the floor--makes for easier straight-on shots than having to lay on the floor! (I'm too old to be crawling around on the floor!) Hehehehe!

    Deb from www.TitusTwoFriends.blogspot.com

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