Saturday, May 29, 2010

Taking Better photos

Hello my lovelies! I hope you are enjoying your weekend! Or starting to anyway. School is still in for us for a bit longer, having an extra week because of all the snow we had this year is an annoyance at this point. It's not like the kids are actually doing any meaningful work, but my girls are social beings and really enjoy school. So I'm trying to enjoy my time to myself !

Today, I thought I'd share some of what I've learned with the recent changes in my photography.

Now... I am not a photographer at heart. I do not have the skills ( learned or intuitive) to be a great photographer, tho I wish I did. I am very amazed at what I see others do with their cameras. I have tried learning what things like shutterstop, and focal length mean, but I tend to fall asleeeeppp when I think about them...
Really- just not good with that stuff. So I mostly keep my camera on Priority (P)or Auto.

I have a digital SLR Nikon with an 18-55 mm lens.  I also have a tripod - which I think is the key to my success. I believe very much that with a tripod and a point and shoot camera you can achieve results like mine- but my tips will mostly be for a SLR camera. I have found that my camera shoots dark, and often too blue, so I fix that in my photo editing program.

Now, first I want to show my setup backdrop. It's NOT fancy--- AT ALL!!
in fact I spent less then $10 on it, 
it's super portable
and you can switch out any parts of it with other cheap stuff
wanna see?

yup.. that's it- 
simply a trifold board- this supports my papers that I use. I lean the cardstock against this. bought this for $4 at the craft store.

four sheets of cardstock- I have two of medium gray and two almond double dot papers. 
The gray shows of my white card base and I don't find it a strong enough color to distract from my cards- no matter their colors. The cream is just another shade that shows off my cards. Switch the colors out for your preference. But try to stick with neutrals. You don't even have to use CS if you like shooting against white.

I also have a container of flat glass marbles. I spent $1 on the jar, you can find any type of jar, I even have  a mason jar I use as well, filled with mints ( lifesavers)
the marbles were $3 - they are a mix of clear, white and frosted. 
I like how neutral they are.
They also occasionally support things, like pages, or tags, so I can keep them in place while I photograph. ( they are kinda optional, but I like them. I also like having the jar in my background, but again- that's my preference.)

After I set everything up- I try to find the brightest spot in the house. My office with my overhead light on is best for me. This set up is great, you can use it pretty much anywhere- even on a chair outside if need be. 

My biggest tip- NEVER NEVER use your flash- it washes out everything and if you have anything shiny itwill give you a nasty bright spot.

When I take a photo- I use the ( S) for shutterspeed. I can't tell you much about it- except it's how long the shutter stays open, hence- brighter pics the longer the shutter is open. My camera has the number down in the view finder and I usually keep it at 1. Sometimes on a dark day I will go no more then up to 3- you change the speed using the little dial by the shutter button, while you have it halfway depressed.
The larger the number- the longer the shutter stays open, so if you put it at 10- it will stay open much longer then at 5. ok?

So if you own a point and shoot- just try take pics during the day, maybe use the night setting to keep the shutter open longer.    The key really is in using the tripod to steady your photos- resulting in much sharper pics.

I also use a photo editing program. I have a very old version of Photoshop- but don't use it. Instead I had gotten Ulead PhotoImpact full version long ago. I use that- it's very easy to use and I think my results are so much better. And even looking at its' cost- comparing to Photoshop- it's around $100.

My advice is totally off hand here- I give no guarantees that anything I say will add up to a hill of beans. But it's working for me, most of the time. 
I still have trouble with my photos- as I am still learning- but I can say whole heartedly that I am 100x happier with my photos now then I have ever been in the past.

Please let me know if anything I have said helps you in anyway! I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Chelle said...

Some great tips but I wonder if your white balance is off on your camera hence the blueish tint to your photos. You can look that up but the grey cardstock can help you fix the balance.

Chloe :-) said...

Thanks so much for sharing!! I wondered what other people do!! So, do you just prop your pages up against the grey then?

kim said...

I know exactly what you mean about the photos. I too have a Nikon, an dI am still trying to figure it out lighting and all, thanks for the tip, can't wait to try it!!!