The 'Seriously Crap Guide to Photography' Series; Photo Editing
I've started writing this post a million times and never even got close to publishing it, but since making the shortlist of the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2016 in the photography category, I figure it makes sense to talk about how that might've happened. Truth is, I don't have a whole lot of knowledge on using a camera and generally I fumble along hoping I've got the settings right and most of the time, I just get lucky, hence the name for this new series. Yet hopefully it'll give people the answers they want about how I get the photos I take and how I edit them to look the way they do etc.
Disclaimer: I am not even close to being a professional photographer.
I hated photography at college; all those photographs of derelict buildings and train tracks and Quick! Put a slow shutter on and take a picture of a motorway! shots just didn't do it for me. I was supposed to take an a-level alongside my diploma in Graphic Design and I dropped out after a year—a year of not attending classes for any reason I could possibly think of;
"Sorry, the cat ate my camera, but she did vomit these shots of an industrial building you can use for the final exhibition I won't be attending."
And that was that. I breathed a sigh of relief as I exited that dark room for the last time; I could create anything I wanted with a mouse and a handy ripped-off edition of Photoshop (I definitely didn't do that), who needed a camera to take photos of actual real life? Not me!
Fast-forward three years and suddenly I had this wrinkly ball of cuteness plopped into my arms and I realised all I wanted to do was take pictures, hundreds of them; I wanted photos of his adorable fingers flexing as he yawned, endless shots of his eyes widening in surprise at every new face he discovered and a billion captures of his tiny little feet and wrinkly toes as they sadly grew so fast.
I then started this blog about our family life and suddenly my phone shots just weren't up to the standard I craved—I wanted a dreamy blurred background to my sharp subject and a high resolution that wasn't achievable through my phone camera. Over the course of 3 years, I went from an iPhone to a Panasonic Lumix Digital Camera, to a Canon EOS M to the delightful DSLR I now own & love; the Nikon D3300 DSLR .
Over that time, I have learnt so much about photography; from the importance of having a seriously fast shutter speed with an active toddler, to how to not over (or under) expose your photos to getting the right composition for the perfect shot. I've experimented with different lens', taught myself the partnership between ISO, aperture and shutter speed and learned that an in-built flash is rarely your friend.
TL;DR I hated photography, now I think it's amazeballs.
Without further ado, I'm now going to let you in on my photo-editing secrets (the secrets that I'm quite happy to blurt out to anyone who expresses an interest). Step 01 Firstly, I photo-dump all of the photos I've recently taken onto my fancy-pants MacBook Air using Image Capture (a built-in application); I then sift through them and move only the best shots into a dedicated folder on my Dropbox.
Once uploaded, I can access them via my iPhone 6s+ and that's where I do the majority of my photo-editing; yup, using my phone, not very profesh, right? I used to think that but there are some fantastic apps available and the ones I use are much easier to use than Photoshop, plus they give me the ability to edit my photos on-the-go, so why not?
Step 02 Rarely I'll need to do a bit of re-touching and for that I use FaceTune; I'll only use this when I need to either flip a photo or for really unsightly things, such as a big splodge of mud that's ended up on the side of my face (blame the toddler). Then I'll import all of the shots into Step 03 VSCO, possibly one of my favourite apps ever, and that's where I edit everything from the exposure to the temperature (alot of my shots tend to be quite warm & have a yellow-ish tint) to deciding whether they should be in colour or black and white. I also add a T1 filter to all of my shots; and that's what gives them the vintage-y, faded feel I'm always asked about and also means they all have a uniform look.
Step 04 I then save them back out at the highest resolution & pop them back into Dropbox (there's alot of culling that goes on from Step 01 to Step 04; anything I'm not 100% happy with at this point tends to be dropped).
Once they're uploaded to Dropbox, Step 05 I open them all up in good old Adobe Photoshop, resize them to a minimum width of 1500px (to ensure they're still high-resolution on large retina displays as well as on mobile) and occasionally play around with the levels (how bright or dark parts of the image are) and colour balance (this fixes the tint of a photo in case there's too much of one colour) before saving the final shots into a folder on my MacBook Air.
And that is that! From there, I'll use a nifty little programme called ImageOptim which compresses the images as much as possible whilst retaining the quality to ensure they take up as little space as possible on my server and upload them via an FTP called FileZilla (but that's all stuff that's irrelevant to people who are using Wordpress/Blogger etc.).
Hopefully I've answered the majority of questions I've been asked and shown you all a bit about my process! Feel free to leave any other questions you may have in the comments and I'll get back to you via Twitter or by replying below, but otherwise stay tuned for the next instalment of the #seriouslycrapguidetophotography - where I'll probably end up trying to babble my way through the settings on my camera or discuss composition (something I'm much more comfortable with).
Did you know I'm a graphic designer too? If you're looking for help to brand your business or make your blog beautiful, check out my services page!