How To Take & Edit Your Blog Photographs | Blog Advice
It’s time for a brand spanking new piece of blog advice. Are you ready? But first onto a more important matter – dry January is over. I have officially been cleansed and detoxed; but could someone please pass me a large glass of white Chardonnay?
I’ve recently had a lot of comments on the quality of my photographs, so I decided to write this post to help you along a little if you’re struggling to capture a photograph you are really proud of. Photographs on your blog should be eye catching and look professional because this is what first attracts readers. Please don’t be under the impression that you need an expensive camera and software, because you don’t. I am stripping it right back to the basics and running through the steps I take from capturing the photographs to the final result. Please remember that these steps are just what I take, there are no rules in blogging so please don’t feel you must follow them.
First, some key points that really make a difference to photographs before the editing:
Make the most of natural light.
Winter is a bloggers worst enemy. The more natural light you can get the better when it comes to photography. The lightest time of the day is around 12 noon so make sure to get your snaps before dark!
Use a little help from artificial lighting.
I recently bought some super cheap lights from Amazon (here). They have made a huge improvement to the quality of my photographs, not forgetting of course that it means I can be more flexible when I take them. If I fancy taking photographs at 3am, I can – wahoo!
Rule of thirds.
This is one of the first things budding digital photographers learn about in classes. The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. Some cameras allow you to enable this setting so you can see the lines on the screen. The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally.
Use a neutral background.
Think about what you actually want in your picture. Do you want people to see your messy bedroom? Probably not. Try to keep it simple by using a plain background or backdrop. Online shopping websites such as Boots use neutral backgrounds because it shows off their products the most, so it makes sense to to the same.
A single item can look very lonely in a photograph. Use some props that you already have lying around your house to liven things up a little. Take a look at ‘30 Cheap Prop & Background Ideas for Blog Photographs‘.
Experiment with various angles.
Using different camera angles can often make all the difference between an ‘okay’ and a ‘WOW’ photograph. Try tilting your camera for a diagonal composition. I often go for this when I’m photographing products.
Up until very recently, I used my beloved and very old Sony DSLR (similar one here) to take all of my blog photographs. My Sony was restricted to photographs only so I had to use an alternative to film my YouTube videos with. I got tired of switching between both cameras so I decided to buy the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Camera and I’ve received a lot of comments on the quality of my photographs since.
So you have your photographs, you’ve sifted through and deleted the dross, and now they just need some tweaking to make the selected few perfect. I take around fifty shots per photograph session for my posts, and I only ever use about five; so it can be a long process!
I’m lucky enough to have access to Adobe Photoshop, it was a freebee with my University Computing degree. But, I’ve used others such as PicMonkey and GIMP which are free photo editing softwares (and can do most of the same steps I take in Photoshop!).
Once you’ve uploaded your shots to a piece of editing software you’ll need to crop them. It’s very rare that I skip this step. Cropping your photographs is like framing your work, it makes a heck of a difference. I have often taken photographs with unnecessary items peeping in, or I want to focus on the product a little more, so I crop it. When you’re actually taking the photograph, don’t be scared to stand back from the object, it means you’ll have more space to work with afterwards. Nobody likes a wonky composition either, so if the image I’ve taken isn’t straight, I will use the crop-rotation tool to sort it out.
This is probable the most basic editing tool, there’s nothing complicated about it whatsoever. However, you must not be heavy handed when it comes to altering the brightness and contrast because it can cause the photograph to quickly look very false and over-exposed. By adjusting them only slightly, it simply makes your photographs look like they were captured in good light and on a good camera. I always try to match the brightness level to the contrast because this keeps it looking as natural as possible.
You could adjust the colour balance, selective colours etc. but I like to keep things simple by just editing the general saturation of my photographs. This tool basically enhances all of the colours. I often only adjust the saturation by 10%, too much and your photograph won’t look realistic (see below). The difference between the before and after images is only slight, but this is enhanced more when the brightness and contrast is altered too.
Sharpen & Dodge
When working with portraits, I like to use the sharpen and dodge tools. I use the dodge tool to brighten features like the eyes, and the sharpen tool to sharpen the eyes and mouth. I learnt this little trick during work experience at a photography studio. This only makes a very subtle difference but it instantly attracts the eye to these areas.
So, put everything together and that’s how I edit my photographs. Below are some examples of the originals compared to the fully edited.
What tools do you use for editing? Did you find this post helpful?
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