Photography

Why You Should Learn to Shoot in Manual

Friday, June 1st, 2012

This post is directed at you bloggers/non-bloggers/budding wannabe photographers/non-wannabe photographers just people who just want to learn how to take better pictures with your DSLR camera or people who own a DSLR camera but don’t know how to use it.  Raise your hand if that’s you. 

Well guess what, that last one was me two years ago too!  I had owned a Nikon DSLR camera for a few years but didn’t know how to use it other than setting it on the automatic functions (seen below) and I lived in the automatic zone pretty happily for several years.  

automatic modes nikon

 

Then I became one of those ‘I just want to learn how to change the settings myself’  people because I wanted to be better at taking interior shots or project images for my personal life and also for the blog.  I read my manual and there was that one fateful day switched my camera to “M” – it was there I applied what I learned and taught myself a few things about shooting better interior photos and it’s true, there was a “lightbulb moment” and I’ve been shooting in manual mode ever since.   

Good news!  Even better than your wordy manual, there is an easily digestible and understandable source of information about shooting in manual mode that anyone can absorb and understand, whether you own a Canon or Nikon.  Do you want that “lightbulb moment” too?  Do you want to push your photography to the next level?  Do you want to finally learn to shoot in manual mode?   Yes?  Yes?  Amen! 

If you’re familiar with The Lettered Cottage then you know Kevin and Josh have launched Shoot Fly Shoot, an online tutorial site dedicated to breaking down the concepts of shooting in manual mode into digestible videos per topic (aperture, ISO, shutter speed, lenses, etc).  Together in their everyday voices, they coach you through the basics from how  to change the aperture, how  to adjust the shutter speed, and how  to set the ISO, etc.  If you spend the time to watch them do it, you can do it too, promise!

Want to take better interior shots?  Learn why you need to dial up the numerical aperture setting for greater depth of field, and why using a tripod allows you to dial down the shutter speed to better capture interiors. 

centsational girl tufted sofa

 

Here’s Kevin changing the aperture and shutter speed for you – coaching viewers on the better settings for shooting interiors.

kevin how to shoot interiors

 

Want to shoot landscape or outdoor scenes?   Learn how to quickly change the shutter speed to capture outdoor settings in filtered sunlight. 

grapes in bin outdoors cg

 

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Five Tips for Styling Better Photos

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Greetings everyone!  Today I’m on a flight to the SNAP Conference in Utah where I’ll be mixing with other bloggers and also speaking on Saturday on a panel with Ana, Shelley, and Emily on ‘Discovering and Defining your Personal Style’.  Can’t wait to meet all of you that are attending! 

While I’m away, I have a very special guest for you.  I’ve long admired Heather Bullard, a talented stylist with impeccable taste.  Heather is a Contributing Editor to Country Living magazine, and she also produces and styles editorial stories all over the country.   Heather recently launched her publication Souvenir Magazine, filled with inspiration on all things home and garden.  I admire her talents so much I asked her to share a few styling secrets with you. 

Here are Heather’s Five Tips for Styling Better Photos!

“Hi Centsational Girl readers! So happy to be visiting you here today. I thought I’d share a few of my styling tricks and tips with you. Whether you’re working on an entire room, a small vignette in your home or want to style better blog photos here’s five tips to help make things easier!

1. Contrast.  When styling, think in terms of adding items that counter balance one another. The bright whites and warm woods in this photo of my kitchen corner, are a great example. Also notice there is additional contrast in the breadboards and the texture of the basket tray. And even hints of subtle contrast in the various colors and textures of the ironstone.

low shelf heather bullard

 

2.  Use a Statement Piece.  The bold graphic artwork in this mainly white home makes this room stand out.  Because the artwork was the focal point, I kept the other styling elements minimal and neutral. In this case, less is more.

statement piece heather bullard

 

3.  Real Life Styling.  Keeping props and styling realistic is what makes a space or image feel lived in and gives it a warm, inviting atmosphere. For this kitchen, I added what the homeowner might naturally have, such as a small collection of cookbooks, vegetables at the ready and the cooks favorite utensils. Even with all the added props, the styling remains simple and comfortable.

Carla Malloy, Counter, Kitchen, Lompoc, Malloy

4.  Group Like Items.  A collection of like objects can be a stylists best friend. For this vignette, the only additional props added were a few vintage books in similar colors to accent but not overpower the clock collection. Letting the collection remain the true focus.

group like items heather bullard
 

5.  A Touch of Nature.   Adding just a few sprigs of greenery or simple bouquet can give such life to any styling project. Beautiful florals and natural elements bring fresh perspective and help to add color and life a setting. These are a stylists mainstay and I can’t imagine working on a project without fresh flowers!

table styling heather bullard

Thanks for inviting me to guest post today, Kate! I hope you and your wonderful readers learned a few Tricks of a Stylists Trade! Feel free to stop by and say hello anytime!”

Thank you so much Heather, you’re so inspiring!  I love all of these tips and she’s so right.  Incorporating at least one of these suggestions into your next photo shoot is sure to make for a simple yet well composed image. 

Be back tomorrow with one more post to finish out the week! 

 

.

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Picnik Aftermath + Making Pinteresting Labels

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

I’ve had two cups of coffee so brace yourselves, this is a long post about photo editing, Picnik, and making labels for Pinterest. My friends, Google dropped a bomb on us over the weekend.  Perhaps you’ve heard, but according to their blog, Picnik, one of the best and most user friendly sites for online photo editing is closing on April 19th.

Deep breath people, deep breath.

Truth is, I’m upset like so many and there are hundreds (maybe over a thousand now) of disappointed and angry comments.  Picnik is/was so great for an easy photo tweak, I loved the Collages and Effects, and I used it to quickly make labels for Pinterest with the Basic Shapes tool.  Some of the basic Picnik tools have been moved to a Creative Kit on Google+ but after visiting, it’s really not the same thing. It seems this is Google’s way of forcing people to join their social network by transferring this popular program over to lure people over to Google+.

Hopefully they’ll reconsider, but let’s assume what’s done is done. What are we to do? What about kids who can’t join or those who don’t want to bother with Google+? We Picnik lovers are now mourning and seeking alternatives. What are our choices?

bye bye picnik

I’ve been hunting around for one over the last few days. It basically comes down to a few other online sites, upping your game by purchasing and learning to use Photoshop Elements, or turning to close but free equivalents like GIMP, Splash Up, and Pixlr.  My brother is slowly teaching me the ins and outs of Elements – I’m just amazed at what it can do.  I’m getting more proficient, but there is definitely a learning curve.  Often my eyes glaze over when working with Elements, which is why I’m excited Layla is planning some tutorials in the near future.

For us Picnik fans, sadly, there’s no one program that does exactly everything I or we want to do as quickly and easily as Picnik.  iPiccy is the most Picnik-like it its layout and user friendliness and has some of the same fancy tools we’ve become accustomed to (Clone Tool, Sketch Tool, and also a Painter tool), but lacks the sophisticated Frames, Borders, Collages, Shows, or Stickers (Geometric, Speech Bubbles, etc.) we loved over at Picnik.  iPiccy likes feedback, so feel free to suggest any Picnik like tools to them.

Fotoflexer has a few Photoshop like tools that are available like the ability to use Layers and Scissors (similar to the Lasso tool), Paint Bucket, Pencil, and Eye Dropper.  There are several fun Effects similar to Picnik and it will Beautify (meaning fix wrinkles like Picnik’s Wrinkle Remover) but still not as great as Picnik.  (Thanks Jen for letting me know about this one).

Pixlr Express is another online editor which offers the ability to make some quick adjustments, and also has some fun Effects and Overlays. They have a Teeth Whitening tool like Picnik, but no other Touch Ups or Stickers and a limited amount of Frames.  Photoshop Express Editor is available as well, and while their basic edit functions are superior to most, they have none of the other fabulous Tools, Effects, etc. offered by Picnik.  I’ve always liked Picasa for a basic photo edit, but again, no fancy Tools or Effects.  And then I checked out Pixenate and LunaPic and gave up due to their ads and the fact they seemed to be not very user friendly.  For two other articles offering helpful tips in the wake of Picnik closing, read the SITS girls post on Photo Editing Sites like Picnik and Susan’s article on 9 Photo Editing Alternatives to Picnik.  Also check out Rhoda’s tutorial on using Photoscape!

I also played with three free Photoshop Elements-like programs, they are GIMP, SplashUp and Pixlr.  GIMP requires you download the software, but it also has Layers, and a good toolbox (Paintbrush, Healing, Bucket, etc).  The nice thing about GIMP is once you download it, you can work without an internet connection.  Splash Up’s layout is also similar to Photoshop Elements, it offers Layers and Tools like EyeDropper, Marker, Eraser, etc.  My favorite was Pixlr, simply because it looks and feels the most like Elements and is completely free so you can work on it anywhere you have internet access. My brother and I played around with it a lot over the weekend and he was pretty impressed.

 

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