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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!!!

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

22 thoughts on “Blog Conference Notes: Taking Pictures and Editing Pictures”

  1. WOW! Great notes and I am so thrilled you shared them with your readers. Glad you enjoyed the conference :)

  2. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaa

    I love photography but just haven’t had the time or money to really get serious. It’s on my “to learn” list. Good luck with all of these tips!

  3. Thanks for the tips! I gave up on trying to play with my settings for awhile. I found that it is impossible for me to do so quickly enough to catch something the kids are doing. They are so fast!

    1. They are super fast! I’ve always stuck to auto a settings, but I do want to give these a try!

    1. The photography workshop was excellent, and I was so glad, because that had been the primary conference draw for me!

  4. Great tips – thanks for sharing your take-aways : )

    I love your photos – you really have a knack for photographing children!

  5. Kristi@Creative Connections for Kids

    These are great tips MaryAnne! Thanks so much for sharing them. I’m going to a Bloggy Boot Camp in April and I am so excited about it. :) Kristi

    1. I’ve heard Bloggy Boot Camp is great! It was in Boston last year, but I couldn’t go. Maybe another year…

  6. Elisa | blissfulE

    Love that photo with your smiling face and camera reflected in the wing mirror! :)

    That’s one of the things about photographing small kids – the cute moments don’t often happen at the photographically optimal times and places. Because of that, I really appreciate these guidelines on ISO and F-stops to try! And then I’ve hardly dabbled at all in post-production editing. A whole other area to learn! Yea!

    1. I haven’t played with ISO and F-stops at all, so I was so appreciative of these simple guidelines!

      The focus on the workshop was on post-production editing for a natural look, which is great for all the kid photos we take a sub-optimal times :)

  7. I think I’d of been in there with wide eyes, and a look of “what am I doing here?” I like pictures, but I start getting all confused when people start talking fstops and other things.

    1. It was actually very accessible – f stops came up at the end when I asked a question :) She pulled up a series of pictures and showed how she would edit them in different photo editing software packages – love hands-on teaching like that!

  8. I LOVE focusing on the eyes! Brightening and sharpening them is one of my favorite things to do in post-production.

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