Blog Conference Notes: Taking Pictures and Editing Pictures

photography tips from a blog conference

I’m passionate about taking pictures, so I was super excited to go to a photo editing session at the Blog Better Boston Conference this past Saturday! Kristyn Ulanday takes some fantastic photos, and it was great to hear her tips! Her session was fantastic – we got to see photos transformed, and all of her tips work across the various photo editing platforms – and they’re helpful whether you own a DSLR or a regular point and shoot camera!

I know a lot of my readers love photography as much as I do, so I thought I’d share what I learned:

First, a few photography-specific tips:

  • Take a bunch of frames so you have a lot of options (Already good at that one!)
  • Optimal times to shoot: morning light (right as the sun is rising), afternoon light (3pm-sunset), and overcast. Avoid shooting in the middle of the day, and don’t stand in direct sunlight, as that is hard to fix on the computer. Fill flash can help if you have to take photos in bright sunlight.
  • Camera filters can help in bright sunlight, if you have a DSLR. ND filters are black coated filters for DSLRs – like sunglasses for your camera. Graduated filters fade to clear, and can help to balance out a landscape.
  • Having true white in the frame helps you know if the rest of your colors are where you want them to be – if it’s true white, the other colors are true to life.
  • Use custom white balances on your camera – technology on modern cameras is amazing!
  • Manual camera settings – general guidelines:
    • Dark/indoors: ISO 1600, 2.8 fstop, 100 speed.
    • Outside, really sunny: ISO 100, f stop 4, speed whatever keeps it from getting too blown out (5000-8000).
    • Overcast, golden hours: ISO 400, 2.8 and 4 are optimal f stops, speed sits around 200 and 300.
    • If you set your f stop higher than 4 you start to lose depth of field.
  • Try shooting two stops down from where you ultimately want your photo to be, because you can get more colors that way.

Photo editing tips:

  • Understand your subject, and then figure out how to make it pop from the background.
  • Focus on people, especially the eyes.
  • Raising the photo temperature warms up the tone.
  • Temperature adds yellow, tint adds magenta.
  • If a photo looks too blue, add yellow. If it looks too green, add magenta.
  • Watch histogram mountains – an evenly lit photo makes more of a mountain range, with softer peaks.
  • Cropping a photo: For the most part, keep things out of the center of the frame. The human eye likes things in threes. Use the center frame only intentionally.
  • Exposure: When you bump up the exposure in your editing software, the photo editing software shines light on anything light hits, which can make a photo lose definition. Bring definition back by bumping up contrast and blacks.
  • Black & White is great for exploring form and emotion – it strips an image down and gets people to pay attention to something (crying, intense eyes, an image with lots of lines).
  • Sharpness/sharpening the photo is a great tool for an image where the focus is just a little bit off.
  • Noise is the film grain dots – noise reduction softens the frame.
  • Adding a vignette darkens the corners of the frame, which can make the subject pop.
  • Editing a washed-out photo:
    • Add color before bringing exposure down.
    • Add yellow.
    • Add Magenta if green.
    • Knock down exposure.
    • Fill light.
    • Bring down brightness.
  • In Photoshop, you can now edit JPEGs in photo raw settings – JPEGs are now fine to work with.

Free photo editing software:

Thank you, Kristyn, for a well-organized, informative workshop!!!


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