Ask Kate

Ten Basics for Better Home Photography

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

I’ve had a few emails recently requesting I write up a post offering tips for taking better pictures of interiors. I really don’t consider myself an expert by any means in the field, but I have learned over the years how to take a pretty good picture of a DIY project, vignette, or room reveal.    

I wrote an article last year about better blog images, and it was mostly about moving out of automatic settings and into manual mode. It’s a good read, and today’s post really piggybacks off what I wrote last year.  

As decorators and home bloggers, we are constantly surrounded by gorgeous interiors, whether it comes from shelter magazines, other blogs, or the newest sensation, Pinterest.  The bar continues to be set higher when it comes to photographing our projects and our homes. Don’t be discouraged by this, feel the opposite. Any novice can improve his or her ability to take great images of homes, projects, or spaces with patience and practice.  I know. I’m proof.  

I look back at my pictures from a few years ago and I cringe.  Just take a look at this and you’ll see what I mean. Back then I knew nothing about photography beyond the simple point and shoot. But I realized that I had to better my ability to take decent  pictures if I was going to grow as a blogger and have my work recognized and featured. I’ve been blogging for almost three years and along the way I’ve taught myself a few of the basics of better photography.     

So to answer the questions of a few readers, I’ve narrowed what I’ve learned to these ten very basic tips for taking better images of your interiors or projects.   

 ten basics for better home photography

 

1. Invest in a Good Camera

I’ve read a few posts here and there from bloggers who use a regular point-and-shoot camera, and yes, I do believe a more basic model has the ability to take a really good picture.  So does my iPhone.  However, a good SLR digital camera with variable settings (F-stop, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, white balance, etc.) is the best ticket to high quality interior photography simply because it allows the user to manipulate the amount of light that enters the lens.  And if one thing is true, a great interior shot is all about proper light.     

Both Nikon and Canon offer excellent choices, personally I use a Nikon D90 and I stick mostly with two lenses, my 18-55 mm lens (the standard one that came with the camera) for close ups and a Tamron 10-24 mm lens for larger room shots.  A great camera will do most of the work for you, so I consider it a worthy investment. 

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Google BookmarksBookmark/FavoritesStumbleUponShare

8 Gift Ideas for the Host or Hostess

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Greetings all, are you feeling the frenzy yet?  I started to feel it today, with a million things on my plate. The kids are home from school this week (who’s idea was that?) which adds to the craziness, but I finally got a chance to sit down for a spell to answer some emails and create this list.

I was asked by several readers this month to recommend some gifts for a host or hostess that don’t cost a fortune.  Most of us will be invited to a soirée or two this holiday season, whether a big Christmas party or smaller get together with friends. It’s a gracious gesture to bring your host or hostess something special they’ll use or appreciate but I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money. 

Of course, there’s always the lovely gift of a bottle of wine or bubbly (forever welcome at my house!) or the thoughtful presentation of a homemade treat if time permits. Here are eight more ideas for less predictable stylish gifts for your entertainer: 

1.  Bowl Her (or Him) Over.  Little sets of bowls are perfect for smaller amounts of sauces or condiments.  Bright colors or rustic wood bowls will blend well with so many table settings, stack them up and tie them with a big bow, they’re sure to be a hit. 

wood bowls

Lacquerware bowls, $17 each, Branch Home; Acacia Bowls; $6-$11, One Sydney Road

 

2.  Shake Shake Shake.  Salt and pepper shakers or mills are such a great gift, they’re one of those necessary items required for any dinner or buffet but something one rarely buys for oneself. Find a rustic, nostalgic, quirky, or colorful version to give to your host or hostess and you’ll be thought of fondly every time he or she seasons the food!    salt and pepper shakersKing + Queen salt and pepper, $40 Perpetual Kid; Mason Jar salt and pepper; $16 Terrain; Turquoise Pepper Mill, $42 Target

      

3.  Spread the Love.   Cheese spreaders are universally appreciated and so useful for all those dips, spreads, and appetizers.  I know I could certainly use a new set, and these are two of my recently found favorites.  

cheese spreaders

Vintage Cheese Knives, $29 Williams Sonoma;  Wine Cork Spreaders, $15, Z Gallerie

    

Read the rest of this entry »

Google BookmarksBookmark/FavoritesStumbleUponShare

Why I DIY

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Last weekend we had some friends and relatives over and in mid conversation, one of the friends asked me out of genuine curiosity, "Why do you choose to make so many things by yourself?  Why don’t you just buy these things, or pay someone else to do it for you?”  The best short answer I could come up with at the time was “I just like it.” 

The longer answer, and what I wish I’d explained much better, is that DIY projects give me a sense of accomplishment. It makes me feel good to design and create all kinds of things, whether I’m crafting or cooking, styling or decorating. Frankly I’m just one of those people who likes to dream up things in my mind and then make them with my own hands.

I’m not a fine artist or an especially skilled carpenter, but I love working with paint and building things and that makes me a creative. It took me over 30 years to finally acknowledge that fact, but then I realized I possess many of the attitudes of creative people. I believe in reinvention, perseverance, and I have an ongoing curiosity about how things are made. 

There’s always a calculation I make before undertaking any DIY project. Do I have the time?  Do I possess the skill?  Will taking on this project teach me something new?  How much money will I save?  Will it look good in the end?  If you’d asked me ten years ago whether I’d tackle a staircase remodel or install a new stone patio, my answer would have been “Do what?  Heck no.”  How did I end up taking on those projects?  Because I’d read how others had gone before me, I was inspired, and had the desire to learn how.

As a creative, it’s important to surround yourself with people who share your passion so I feed off of the inspiration and knowledge that comes from others in the DIY community. When I read about other creatives using their hands to build something amazing, I can’t help but feel admiration for their skills and DIY savvy, which is why I began the ‘Best of the Blogsophere’ series so many months ago. Not everyone has the time, inclination, or skill to take on major DIY projects, and that’s fine. But I believe those skills can be learned if the ‘can do’ attitude is there.

It frustrates me when I hear people say “I’m not creative.” I don’t agree with that. Every person possesses the innate ability to be creative. The naysayers simply have yet to tap into their creativity. Perhaps they lack confidence. Perhaps they’re afraid they won’t be any good. Mostly I think they just haven’t tried. We’re all creative to one degree or another, it just has to be discovered deep within. Life hasn’t been the same since I tapped into mine. 

That’s my long answer.  What’s the short answer to the question, “Why do I DIY?”

just want to create

via

Do you see yourself as a creative person?

Why do you or don’t you DIY? 

 

.

Google BookmarksBookmark/FavoritesStumbleUponShare