Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Photography Tips For Bloggers: Part Two

Hello! Welcome back to the second half of my photography tips, hints, ideas, whatever you like to call them. I was so touched by your response to part one, thank you for your comments. I hope you like this post as much. Many of you mentioned that you had to use your phone for blog photos, and lamented the quality of the images. I think it's worth emphasising that you do not need a fancy camera to enjoy taking photos for your blog (or photos for yourself, for that matter) and that the important thing is that you enjoy what you are doing, that you enjoy taking the photos, and I think that this will be conveyed in your images.

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7. Editing

By this I mean playing around with an an image on the computer by using a package or a website like Photoshop, PicMonkey or Pixlr. PicMonkey is the one I usually use, and certainly the one that I am most familiar with. It's largely free - the functions I use are - but you can pay more to access extra filters and effects I believe. I tend to use it to to correct wonky horizon lines, crop images  or sometimes, during the winter, add warmth to the light and colour settings if I took the photos on a very bleak day.

You can have tremendous fun by uploading your photos and playing around with the filters that are there, or creating your own effects by playing around with contrast, colour saturation or focus. I changed the effects of the leaf skeletons below by going into "Sharpen" and moving "sharpness" and "clarity" to their maximum settings, for example.


I'd really recommend you play around on it and experiment. 

The other thing it's great for is creating collages. All the collages you see on my blog were put together using PicMonkey. Sometimes they can give a feel or flavour of something in a way that one single photo can't. 


Sarah at Mitenska uses collages very successfully to capture the feel of an event, day or holiday to great effect, such as here, rather than showing us lots of individual photos. They become pieces of art all of their own. I think she also uses filters really successfully, and they work well because her original photos are so good.

Annie at Knitsofacto is a very gifted photographer, and she recently put together this excellent tutorial for using colour in PicMonkey collages. But I'd highly recommend a look at all Annie's photos, she has a unique talent. (in my humble opinion!)

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8. Be Observant

I find I often wish I had my camera with me when I see something I like the look of, or something I want to capture. Often it's a view or a sunset, but sometimes it's something more mundane. My eye is always drawn to interesting or unusual shadows around the house...


...or reflections...


...or the way light is refracted through glass.


Things like this fascinate me. You might say that images like these don't really serve any purpose, but if they catch your eye or pique your interest, then it's a challenge to try to capture them on camera in the best way you can, and rewarding when it works out. Scenes like these challenge me and make me more observant, and I like that. Also, they remind me how much beauty there is in the everyday, and that's worth remembering.

I think that these four bloggers all have a genuine knack for capturing the beauty in the real, everyday, even mundane things they see in the landscapes around them. 

Leanne's love of her local Cornish coastline comes over time and time again, such as here and hereJennifer's love of homemaking, of her crafts, her garden and ever changing local desert landscape is a rich vein running through her blog. CJ has a gift for capturing her local area, her allotment and her life with three small boys, not to mention a very wry sense of humour. And Sue's talent for spotting and documenting the happiness there is to be found in simple pleasures - food, fresh flowers, sunshine, knitting, her quince tree - is a joy to behold. (Also - if you don't already know Sue's blog, do have a browse through her recipe page - you wont be disappointed.)

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9. Break the rules 

I always thought that all photos had to be taken with the sun behind you. I'm sure we all remember those family photos taken outdoors: a group people stand in a row, squinting into the sun, with the long shadow of the photographer in the foreground of the photo. 

But guess what? You can take photos into the light! It can create wonderful, dramatic, sometimes magical effects. (But please, be careful, don't blind yourself.)

These two shots were taken on the beach where the reflection of the sun on the water created extra light. I know that these are not technically good shots, but when I look at them, straightaway I remember that feeling of the bright winter sun and the cold wind


These two were also taken in the winter, proof that the low, bright, cold winter light can be as photographically rewarding as the golden light of summer.



These three were taken into the setting sun in the summer months, creating a softer, warmer effect, and wonderful rainbows on the lens.



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10. Take lots of photos. 

Then take some more for good measure, then delete most of them. The joys of digital photography! Or, you can get your husband to take lots and then go through them until you feel there is one that does not make you look like an idiotic poser. (John taking a photo of me is an unhappy situation not unlike when one of us is navigating while the other drives; me tetchy and uncomfortable, him not really sure what I want or what he is doing, both of us unsatisfied.) I loathe having my photo taken and am now wondering why I've shown you twelve photos of me. You can laugh, if nothing else.


If I'm trying to get a good photo of, say, this cowl, then I'll take far too many and delete about 90% of the ones I take. This works for me because I've learnt to edit quickly and I'll whizz through them, deleting or not, until I'm happy with what I've got. Here, you can see me moving it in and out out of the sun, arranging and re-arranging until I was happy I had some clear photos that faithfully reproduced the colour of the yarn and showed the texture of the stitches.



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11. Go Large

I would advocate uploading a bigger photo onto your blog, if you can. This is purely my own personal preference, but I would suggest using the large or extra large settings. It's as simple as clicking on the photo while you're composing your blog post, and then choosing your size preference. Here is the difference for you to see...

Small:


Medium:


Large:


Extra Large:



One of my absolute all time favourite blogs is Posie Gets Cozy. Alicia always begins her post with a long series of images which fill the screen and almost stand alone to create a post of their own, like a visual story ready to be told, and that's before she even starts to write.

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12. Avoid Using Flash

It's the middle of winter. You left for work in the dark and returned home in the dark, and your weekends are most likely filled with a mixture of hobbies, chores, seeing friends and family, getting out and about, and having fun. That leaves precious little time to take any daylight photos and so, if you want to photograph something you've created, you are left with the option of electric light. It doesn't always show colours accurately and your camera will most likely want to use the flash, as it will tell you there is not enough light. This one is up to you - try the electric light in different rooms (maybe the bright spotlights in the kitchen give too much shadow?), try experimenting with and without flash, just snap away and see what you come up with. Try using Picmonkey to add a little more light into the photo if you think it needs it. I don't have any solid advice here, I am sorry! What I would say is, with electric light, go with the low light levels, go with the interesting shadows and effects it can create, rather than trying to control it too much.


However, in daylight, it's a different matter and I'm very wary of using the flash on my camera during the day. I'm always amazed at how keen my camera is to use the flash! It decides there is insufficient light constantly, so I generally switch it off. I took the photos below on a bright day and was surprised that camera still felt flash was needed. The two below were taken with the flash turned on and I think the glare spoils the depth of the photos and gives an unnaturally bright, false look.


These were taken with the flash turned off. Yes, they are very slightly darker, but I prefer them. It's a matter of taste I think, but my preference is not to use flash unless it's really necessary.


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Well that's it. I've enjoyed putting these posts together enormously, thank you for indulging me. Snap way, practice, and most of all have some fun.

51 comments:

  1. I loved these posts and I appreciate all of your advice and tips. Thank you for mentioning me. Gosh, I still can't believe anyone likes what I share, that was really nice of you. I know what you mean about having your picture taken, especially by one's husband, because that's me too. One thing I really, honestly regret is that mine had some really silly ideas for pregnancy photos and most of mine are really dorky, to the point of being unsharable. For what it's worth, I think you always look great in photos, for a lot of reasons, but one big one is your excellent posture. I'm serious. You always stand so nicely. I look like I should be ringing a bell in a cathedral somewhere... :)

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  2. Thanks again for these wonderfully useful tips and advice. It's made me realize I don't need bright sunshine all the time to take lovely photos. I didn't know that before! Thank you!

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  3. Brilliant Gillian, I loved these posts. I certainly take loads of photos and then delete most of them. What a joy digital photography is.
    I love your posts and I'm sorry I don't comment more often.
    Jacquie x

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  4. Hi Gillian! This is another brilliant post - and well done for appearing in all those photos (you look great by the way) - that shows real commitment!
    Whilst I find myself realising I too use some of the techniques you mention, I've also picked up loads of great tips. This post will be added to my bookmarks with the first one. Thank you!
    PS Good to know my collages aren't just self indulgence and others like looking at them too ;) Thanks for the mention.
    Sarah x

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  5. Hey Gillian,
    Firstly, blush. Secondly I have really enjoyed these posts. I think it has reminded me to be more spontaneous with my camera. I wonder if I have lost sight of that lately? I think the collage of you is quite brilliant actually. You look fab (a Breton never fails a girl) and it reminds me of those studio shots of old. You do have such a good eye. I always enjoy your pictures of shadow and light. I have found some lovely bloggers through these posts too. So more reading and wafting for me!! Hooray!

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  6. Thanks for the tips and advice..... I'm going out right now, to put them into practice.
    Jacqui xx

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  7. Again - brilliant, thank you Gillian. So useful. You have such an eye for photography, your images are so well captured.
    Have a good week,
    Kate x

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  8. Keep meaning to try pic monkey, after reading your post off for a look! x

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  9. Great post, Gillian - thanks for sharing your knowledge & your pics. Xx

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  10. Brilliant Gillian. I use PicMonkey and followed your link before to the post on Knitsofacto with the colour chips - I am now colour chip obsessed! Sometimes I long for a posh camera but you've shown that you don't need one - it's what's in the pic that's important! Thanks also for the links to some lovely new blogs that I'd not seen before - My Bloglovin list grows ever longer and I now have to set aside (way) too much time to read them all! Have a lovely week. Jane x

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  11. Thanks for the brilliant advice Gillian. My 'new thing' for this week is to learn how to put together photo collages so, after dropping L back at uni, I'll be off to PicMonkey for a practice. X

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  12. LOL - fortunately I know nothing at all about photography and simply enjoy snapping away on my iphone and leave the fancy stuff to my daughters! So far, so good - I'm the one who therefore breaks all the rules, I suppose… ;)
    Is PicMonkey something I could use to make pictures that combine 2 or 3 photos for comparison or can you recommend anything else that is simple to use to edit photos in iphoto?

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    1. I don't know anything about iPhoto I'm afraid, but in the "collage" section of PicMonkey you could upload the pictures you wanted to compare and then arrange them how you like. x

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  13. More good tips and particularly interesting to see how much difference it makes loading different sized images onto the blogs. I thought my husband was rubbish at taking photos of me until I realised that I really do look like that and not the considerably younger version I carry in my head!
    The only comment I'd make about lots of photos at the beginning of a post is that for those of us with slow broadband it's very frustrating waiting for them to load and better when they're spread out a bit.

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    1. Anne, that's a really good point and, to my shame, it hadn't even occurred to me. I'm afraid I completely take for granted the fast broadband we have here and forget that it's not the same all over the UK. x

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  14. Thanks for the tips! I've become a bit lazy with my photos of late so this has made me think a bit more about what I wanted to achieve with them in the first place x Jane

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  16. Excellent advice I agree with everything you say (particularly the bit about my blog! thank you so much). I use Picmonkey for all my editing, just the simple free stuff. I have never used the flash on my camera. Ever.
    Brilliant post again Gillian.

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  17. Thanks for all your advice. I do use mainly my phone for my blog photos but I am starting to experiment with different shots and editing. I've posted some photos recently on my blog where the sun was in front of me rather than behind and then edited them. It's all trial and error but at least I'm gaining the confidence to have a go.

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  18. Thanks again - another very interesting and informative post. Now to put it into practice!!

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  19. A wonderful post, Gillian, and now that I'm back from holiday I've also read Part One - thank you so, so much for all of these amazing - yet entirely do-able - tips! I'm going to spend the rest of the day observing shadows and reflections and colours now, how fun! Chrissie x

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  20. Another great Post Gillian! Yes, I'm one of the people who has been using her phone way too much these past few months (I'm blaming Instagram and the fact that the camera in the new iPhone is pretty amazing) but I've been using the real camera this past week and have noticed a big difference\, especially with editing. The photo of the sun shining through the woods is one of my favourites of yours :-) Mel x

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  21. Thank you so much for these posts on photography Gillian, you've given us so many useful tips which I'm definitely going to put into practice as I think the photos on my blog are slightly lacking.
    Jane x

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  22. Soy una fan indiscutible de la fotografia, me las arreglo con la camara de mi movil, tengo que ahorra para una camara pequña porque la que me gusta es muy cara, pero sea como sea, pineso seguir al pie de la letra tus consejos
    Besos

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  23. Great!! and Thank you very much for all advices to take pictures!! Good pictures in fact.
    I'm new in the blogland and to take pictures and to put them is not easy ( to bring the beauty of things)
    I need to work it!!
    Miss.

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  24. Thanks for this useful advice Gillian. I use PicMonkey for collages (in fact, it was you who made me aware of it a while ago) but have never used it for editing. I agree with you, large photos are so much enjoyable to view than smaller ones. I love your photos, every last one of them, you are very talented.

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  25. Some amazing pictures in this post (and the one before!), thank you for all the tips, some of them are so simple and it's so nice to know that you don't need an expensive SLR to take good pics.
    I will have a look at PicMonkey, I've always wondered how to make collages!

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  26. Hello Gillian,

    We followed the link from Sarah and, like the proverbial Alice in Wonderland, have found our way here to your most intriguing blog.

    The photography tips are really excellent and beautifully illustrated. We have often wondered how to create some of the effects you show here and now we know. It is very helpful to have such down to earth instructions which are free from technobabble. It makes achieving the desired outcomes so much more accessible and appealing.

    We are hooked and are now your latest followers. To find out more about us, well, we are just a click away.

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  27. Excellent article with loads of useful info Gillian.Thank you for the article.... Just wanted to mention that Aviary is a good app for android users.

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  28. Hello, didn't have distractions in my life so have signed up to instagram but the link at the top of your page doesn't work, I'm queenbeesdontwearcrowns if you can find me, I'm still getting the hang of it #daytwonovice ! Xx

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  29. Thanks for telling me Alison, i'd no idea the link wasn't working. I've fixed it now, it should lead straight to my instagram page. It's a lot of fun (but not as much fun as blogging). x

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  30. Fab. I'm going to use it for the bits of my life that aren't so teaching related so probably wouldn't make it onto the blog and it's private only - incase my school parents find it and think I shouldn't be in charge of their little people !! Xx

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  31. Collages are a great idea, sometimes you don't always want loads of photos one after the other (could be photo overload) so this is perfect :)

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  32. Thank you again for this wonderful tutorial!!! I want to start incorporating some collages into my blog...such a nice alternative to too many photos (I may be guilty of this). Thanks for the links...I'm a huge fan the blogs you mentioned. Your photos are stunning!

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  33. Thanks for the mention Gillian. I really love this post, as well as the first one. Some great tips, and links to some of my favourite blogs. I'm really in love with Alicia's pictures as well, they are quite magical. I particularly like what you say about flash. I feel the same, and I rarely use it. The rabbit photo is lovely, you've captured that moment beautifully. I really struggle to get people to take photos of me. And when they do I'm usually shouting out instructions - it's not a good look. Thanks for sharing your tips, this is a brilliant post, and one I know I'll return to several times. CJ xx

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  34. Very helpful -- thanks so much for the tips:)

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  35. Great post Gillian.....thanks for all the top tips! Sarah xo

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  36. I really appreciate this post Gillian (alongside the first one). It's really helpful to see what you do to create such lovely images. You have a real eye for that.

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  37. Brilliant! These posts have been so enjoyable to read and really interesting too, thanks so much for all the effort you've put into them. I also am a devote to the 'take loads and delete loads' system! I guess if I was a better photographer I wouldn't need to, but that's the beauty of digital for me :) Love your poses pics, there's some lovely ones of you in there and I can certainly sympathise with the husband taking photos comments!

    S x

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  38. Thank you for all this information, it's very helpful, just making my way through it and having a go.
    Amanda x

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  39. Great post again Gillian, thank you for sharing all your tips and info; I had to laugh on reading the paragraph re your hubby taking your photo - I could have written that word for word re my hubby and I! Nearly weekend again - I hope it's a great one for you and family, and enjoy your photo shoots! Hugs, Joy xo

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  40. I can relate to the taking hundreds of photos to find just one! I haven't tried PicMonkey yet but will look it up - I use the Microsoft Picture Manager which came free with Office. I also agree with being observant - that's why I'm having a dilemma over which camera I'd choose if I upgraded - I'd love one with more features but also like just being able to stick my little one in my pocket! x

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  41. Great tips and great photos Gillian! I love the mirror image with the bright garland and the sky - brilliant! Since I've started blogging, I've really begun to notice more of the everyday things in my life that are interesting. As you stated, some people might wonder why you are photographing such ordinary items, but since most of life is about the mundane, it is good to appreciate it! I will try the collage idea - something I have not done yet. Really enjoy the picture with the ferris wheel in the distance also.

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  42. Really enjoyed these posts Gillian and both in my likes to refer to again. I haven't used pic monkey yet so that's something to do this weekend. I really enjoy your photos and I think you have a real talent for using light, I'm so often struck by the quality of light you capture so I love the wood in winter my other favourite is probably the beech scene, which you took into the light something I have never tried. Xxx

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  43. Another great post, illustrated by lovely photos. Useful to know how to make the collages, thanks for that.

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  44. I have just caught up with all your recent posts.
    I think Picmonkey is a fab website and use it often. The collage feature is so handy.
    I love what you did with the beads and the CK rose that really is quintessentially CK that pattern isn't it.
    I used to sell Denby when I was in retail in my early 20's and came to love it. It's so strong but there is also a beauty in that strength.
    Lisa x

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  45. I can use all the help I can get with photos. I tried PicMonkey too. Thanks. Especially like the use of shadows.

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  46. Thanks for even more fantastic ideas. I love PicMonkey too - it's just so easy to transform even the dullest photo. You've really inspired me to be confident to blog photos - thanks x

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