How do you think magazines keep their readers?
I started this tutorial last fall for a friend at Lorby's World to be a guest designer on her blog, as the holidays came fast and it never got published. When she asked, I asked her what she would like me to focus on, and she said something you are best at, a digital layout or my photography. Instantly I was inspired by this because I thought it would be a great idea to focus on how to improve your photographs of your projects for your blog posts. I have a mini tutorial and this extensive one on my blog if you would like to visualize it differently.
I have many photography tips on my blog (if I was encouraged to do more I would… hint, hint) but this post I will talk about photographing general projects. Some of us have light boxes and some just photograph them in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen where ever. Either way this tutorial can help you improve your pics for your posts. All these tips are the same tips of getting a great portrait of as well.
1) First of all, I can’t stress enough about the Rule of Thirds. Any camera will do a great job on some of these tips I am going to post and will continue to post as time goes on. They key to a successful photograph starts with the photographer using his/her skill on
Rule of 3rds, lighting , subject matter. and minor photo edits if needed such as contrast, and brightness.
2) Know your camera and it's limiations: time to bring out that ole manaul, ughhh... ya it's a photography course in there!
3) Eliminate unwanted backgrounds. Keeping focus on the subject, when you are photographing your family and posting it on Facebook do you want everyone in your Facebook to see the messy kitchen after dinner? Or your messy craft table after finishing your project. You can always use 12x12 papers for your background, zoom in but leave a little crop room too to insure you can crop it level. Many of our projects are very small and this works well. There are many sites out there that you can use if you don’t have a photo editor but even programs like Word will do the job on cropping.
4) Use natural light if you can. I am not talking full bright sun; I am talking available light in open shade. Open shade is light in a sense like window light or the open shade when you are under a carport or an opened door whether it is a house door or garage. Your camera doesn't know what your subject is nor care what it is, it’s there to photograph light and records what is in it. Harsh lighting can result in blown out image, and harsh shadows give no detail, not enough light can result in grainy or blurry images. Knowing your histogram is important, but you can get buy while learning this. Knowing the limits of your camera and proper settings and maybe sometimes a tripod is very helpful in very low lighting. Using this method I am about to show you, a tripod isn’t necessary. Using available lighting does require a time of day your best light comes in your home, garage or where ever you choose to photograph. None will know it is your laundry room if you are using a simple background. With this kind of light, any point and shoot camera should be able to handle it.
Here is a set up that I drew in Photoshop to help you visualize what I am talking about.
You can imagine this as your sliding glass door or the opening of your garage, or your front windows. If you keep your subject facing beside the light you will start to see it is more 3 dimensional, and molding of the subject, apposed to facing the light, will produce flat results of the subject.
Your second option for indoor lighting would be to have an Ott-light, it produces as close to natural light as one light can get. Why not a regular bulb? If you use regular bulb you may get a green color cast in your subject.
To be a little more technical, your third option for indoor lighting would be to have a camera that has the ability to use a mount flash that can tilt and rotate or able to use it with a sync cord to bounce light off the ceiling to soften it. If you not have that either, there is the light box option as well. Anyone can soften the harshness of a flash is a thin tissue this will eliminate hard shadows. Don't place your subject right up against the back ground, if you are fairly close you can put a thin tissue over your flash to soften in. I personally will wait for the natural light to be able to photograph my subjects because I am a die-hard fan of natural light. With that being said, I am going to stay focused on the natural light.
I recently was doing a project and I wanted to challenge myself. I could have taken all my images in a standard boring sitting like this, as I usually do.
Can you see where the light source is coming from? It is on the right I may have used a white poster board to boost up the left side so it didn’t get drowned out, but the natural light coming from the side is what gives this project a 3D effect you can look into it, I wish I had of take a photo of it the other direction so you can see the difference. If I had of, there would be no shadows or molding within the subjects, this is very important with photographing people and faces. Faces come alive when photographing in natural light; you want to see them as they are in real life, not flat.
It is pretty standard for me to wait for the natural light, using 12x12 papers for a background, keeping focus on the subject, especiall y in the winter I am not much for props but pretty paper is always nice that complements your subject.
Last fall I challenged myself to going out and” making it pretty” using props and had some fun. I know my camera well, using different manual settings will give different results than a point and shoot can do. I then took close ups of each pumpkin to show off the details. So went outside and make a set up. It isn’t well groomed but it worked well for the photo opp.
Another post I decided to spruce up my photography, I set my subject in this dead grass, that photographs wonderful, many many shoots I have done in these fields that I live in. Doing shoots with my kids and doing senior portraits. A popular choice from the seniors as well.
There you have it, the prob and background all in one, great lighting, composition and just basic skill.
Another thing to Add is interesting lines..
I very rarely take photos straight on. I like my subject to lead into the photograph.
Winters are long and hard for me to get as creative, the light is gone by the time I get home from work but hoping that soon enough I will have some great projects to brag upon again in new settings. I have bought some vases and flowers to add as props, hoping this will make my subjects more interesting.
Good photography is as good as a good book, crafters come to our blogs to see projects, and if they are wowed by the “eye candy” maybe they will read a little too if the content is interesting enough. The better the photography is, the more your post will be attractive to the viewer. Then he/she will be more intrigued to read what you have wrote, and good writing, good photography = blog followers. Then you have a reason to keep posting projects you have worked so hard on. Photography isn’t something that just happens; you have to make it happen. I believe in getting it right in camera the first time, because I don’t like to WORK in Photoshop. I like to play in Photoshop. A good photo editor really is a must to know the basics, but in the mean-time if you have nothing for an editor there are online editors and there is also a free download called Gimp. You can find YouTube tutorials on how to use it, I surely would show you but I don’t know how, as many others do. I hear it can do the basic needs you have to have to crop, rotate and maybe even put a logo on it. Most of all using the tips given above and being able to adjust brightness, contrast and color correct. These tips I have provided today are the keys to a successful blog, and pride in your work! I do have a tutorial on Photoshop processing, not in depth but it introduces you to the basics coming up soon, keep an eye out for the YouTube screen cast photo.
More tips? What would you like to know? I would love to talk about it if you are struggling with your photography. I can’t give specifics on any camera, but I can give you general direction in taking better pictures. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, and if you would like to see more I will be adding more at the minimum once a month. I am not a fan of flash so you many not get to far, the basic questions will get answers but if you have a set of alien bee's forget it.. lol. It' s only a dream away for me!
Hope to see you again!! Subscribe to my blog via email up at the top right and you will get those updates right into your inbox and won't miss a thing!