How to Take Better Photos
Since the advent of digital cameras, photography has become so commonplace. Before we all had cell phones – we all had digital cameras and a computer. Remember when we had to wait weeks to use up a roll of film? And then we had to wait for the developing process. Our kids will never know how we suffered. Now we all have cell phones that do everything. Things sure have changed! But you know what hasn’t changed? Photos still need to be “developed”. The process has been simplified and we don’t need our own darkroom to see what we were able to capture, but we do need a simple editing program to make those cell phone photos all they can be.
It’s common knowledge that natural light is the best setting for your photographs, whether your subjects are people or things. A cloudy day is your friend in the world of photography. The “art of light” loves light, but it likes it nice and diffused. Clouds are the perfect natural softbox because the light will spread evenly and eliminate all those pesky shadows. And as long as it’s not raining, you’ll get some great shots. The hour after sunrise and the “golden hour” before sunset are the best times of day to shoot in natural light because the sun is low in the sky and spreads itself evenly over the horizon.
If you’re in a small space outside and you’re having trouble with uneven light, try forcing the flash to fire. It will even out the light a little but it won’t cause the harsh shadows it would if it were the only light.
When you find a place that has perfect natural light, take note of the time of day, and take your pictures there. I have a great spot under a huge oak tree in my front yard. I moved a stump to that area so I can stage my pictures there when the item doesn’t fit into my inside staging area.
Sometimes I have to take my product pictures inside. If you do too, just throw open the blinds or curtains and turn off the flash. You should have plenty of natural light if you’re shooting during the day. I have a place by a window in my kitchen that is a perfect staging area. I keep a small lightweight table in a closet with a few items I use to stage my products. When it’s time to photograph my products, everything I need is right there. I’m busy these days and I need things to be easy and convenient if I’m going to get them done. Anyone else?
Cell Phone Photos
We all love the camera that is so conveniently built into our phones. I’m a little envious of this generation’s ability to take photos perpetually and capture every single moment of their lives. I love the pictures I get of my grandchildren almost every day. I so wish I had this option when my kids were little. Anyway. It’s great to have these snapshots and the quality is getting better all the time.
If you’re like me sometimes it just isn’t worth the time to grab my Canon to take a few pictures. Not when my cell phone is always nearby. I take pictures of my products to put on my website and it saves a lot of time and effort if I just use my cell phone. I have the Photoshop Express app on my phone. Obviously, it doesn’t do everything the full version of PS does but it has a lot of useful tools.
Your phone is such a convenient tool to take your pictures if you post your products on social media. Photo editing programs have the templates you need to size your photos appropriately without any guesswork.
The first thing to remember when you’re a cell phone photographer is to hold your phone horizontally. This makes a higher resolution photo, and you’ll have more to work with. This is very counterintuitive if you’re a portrait photographer like me but we’re learning here!
When I open a photo in my editing app the first edit I make is to crop the photo to get rid of any distracting elements that I may have not been able to avoid when I took the shot. You can also stand back a little and use the zoom feature on your camera to close in on your desired subject. Then I sharpen the image by dragging the lever to the right until I like what I see. The clarity lever is right next to it, and I add some clarity too. You’d be surprised what just these little adjustments will do. There are even better edits you can make to add depth to your picture, like changing the contrast. Adding contrast will create more disparity between the lights and darks in your photo. Taking the contrast down will, of course, have the opposite effect. If your picture was dark, you can add light by increasing the exposure. When your picture is too bright you can take the exposure down and if the brightest spots have caused blowouts, just tone down the highlights. These are just some of the corrections you can make. There are several others to play with. We’re not talking about filters here. These are just corrections that would or should be made to film photography.
The Photoshop app also has a collage feature that I like. I use it to make banners to headline blog posts like this one. You can also add text and frames without a lot of effort.
So many of my pictures feature an item that I want to sell on my website and since I sell décor pieces, they are staged with other décor items. I use the vignette tool to darken the edges of my picture and put more light on my intended subject.
Whatever your reason for taking pictures, just remember a little planning and editing can go a long way. Until next time – happy crafting!
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