Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Point and shoot

Today I'm talking photos. Earlier this month I took part in InspireMeHeather's blog-feedback "What I like about your blog" project, and I got positive and negative feedback on my blog. Once I removed myself and looked at it objectively, I agree with the feedback provided and think it's great to have a few things to work on.

One reviewer said "...I also noticed that some of the images were not taken properly, maybe they could work on getting the perfect shot before displaying the pictures."

I totally agree with this. To be honest, I'm often writing posts at night, after work with no daylight to speak of. Sometimes I am so "done" with the project that I just want to get a photo and get on with it. In terms of food pictures, I wish I could get better at taking them, but usually I just want to enjoy the yumminess right away and not worry about "staging" the photo to look its best.

Even before this feedback I was thinking about the images on my blog and how to improve them. The conclusion that I came to was that I need to upgrade my camera to a DSLR. They take SUCH great photos and make everything look good!  Then over the holidays, I was thinking - if I get a DSLR I'm going to have to learn how to use it. Why don't I just learn how to use my point and shoot properly and see what happens? I read some articles in blogland, and this one (Growing your Blog - Photography & Styling) stood out in particular - the common thread was that none of these featured bloggers EVER used a flash (and one of them used a point and shoot for years!). Note taken, tripod purchased.

I by no means know what I'm doing with photography, but I am going to try to play around a bit more and try to plan for posts so I have a chance to take photos on the weekend when light is good. Here are some examples of the differences in photos between auto and manual settings:

Auto setting (flash):

Manualsetting (no flash):
Isn't it amazing how much the flash takes away from the colours and detail in the auto photo? You can barely see the little droplets of juice near the knife under the auto settings., but with manual you get a much nicer photo.

These next two examples were taken without the advantage of natural daylight - just regular old lighting (and my now-trusty tripod).

Auto setting (flash):

Manual setting (no flash):
Look at how much more of the room throughthe doorway you can see with no flash and the proper manual light settings!

Auto setting (flash):

Manual setting (no flash):

And finally, a quick try of a food photo:
Auto setting (flash):
I have always had difficult with food shots since the flash LOVES my white dishes...

Manual setting (no flash):
(Yumm...this was dinner on Saturday while watching Hockey Night In Canada)

The next step is editing. I have been playing around in Picasa, and used it for a number of the photos in my home tour posts (here and here). I didn't touch any of the photos above, but just think what a few clicks could have done! If you have any tips or have come across any great artciles please let me know.


Pine Tree Home said...

I am learning all about my Canon and can't talk enough about manual settings. My favorite too is to use the close up feature with my 50mm lens. Amazing.

Carol-Anne (Use the Good Dishes!) said...

I can't afford a high-tech/end camera at the moment, but I'm really working on getting my point and shoot to do more. I've gotten better at it, but I can see that there is still lots to learn. I have the same issue as you, with trying to find just the right time of day & lighting to get the best shots.

How does a tripod help?

Michelle (@The236) said...

I would also love a DSLR, but I also want to decorate my house and travel. So, my current point and shoot will have to do.

I will admit that I edit almost all of my photos on my blog with Picnik. I use the online editing tool to touch-up my photos and to add a watermark (very important especially with the popularity of Pinterest). I highly recommend Picnik. I bought a subscription with some extra premium upgrades. Worth the small cost.

As for taking photos at night.....totally understand what you mean! I work a 8:30am-5pm job that has me commuting two hours a day. When I get home, it's dark and I'm tired. I'm trying to take more photos on the weekends as well (or work from home days) to take advantage of the natural light san flash.

Loving your blog! Keep up the awesome work!
Michelle from the236.net

Tamra said...

I still need to get to know my DLSR properly, but I do agree, flash is the worst! thanks for reminding me of one of my resolutions, learn my camera!


Linds said...

oh my, this is so on my "do better list". My pics are terr-i-ble. It's a combination of lack of skill, only having 2 days where I'm home in the daylight and impatience...but I would definitely like to learn to use my point-and-shoot more effectively! I'd read that post in the growing your blog series too and was surprised to read the "no flash" part. Such a simple thing to do, but it had never occurred to me before! Like Carol-Anne, I'm wondering what how a tripod helps?

InteriorGroupie said...

The tripod helps when taking photos with lower light bc the manual setting keeps the lens open longer to let more light in. When you're holding a camera you are likely not 100% steady, so your picture comes out blurry. The tripod keeps everything stable, is good for using the timer, and is great for getting jut the right height/angle. I got the tripod on sale at bestbuy for $15! I recommend it as a low cost addition to your point and shoot. 

Hope that helps!

amy walters said...

Love this post Heather!!! When I started my blog last year, I barely new a single feature on my extra-basic point and shoot cam. The first month or two, I used the flash - having grown up being taught you ALWAYS use the flash when the lighting is dim.
After a few months of not-so-fab photos, I turned the flash off, and I've NEVER gone back. I began to rely soley on no-flash and photoshop! I couldn't believe the difference these two changes made to my pics! Can't wait to see you experiment with your cam Heather :D Cheers!

Carissa @ the Fabulous Design File said...

Great post! The difference is shocking! I use a point and shoot too, and you can actually turn off a lot of the 'automatic' stuff for way better pictures. I've been trying to figure out my sister's DSLR camera, but it's tricky.

Wendi @ Classic Chic Home said...

Hi Heather,
I want to take more professional looking pictures as well. I love your demonstration on the difference between flash and manual photos.
I'm happy to have found your blog, and will be following you from now on. If you have a chance, stop by my site, and if you like what you see, follow along as well!
~ Wendi ~

Daisy said...

Great tips! I'm learning how to take pictures also, this was helpful.

Jenn said...

I am so impressed you signed up for an anonymous critique. Sounds so scary!

Isn't it amazing how much of a difference simply turning off your flash can make? One of my major goals this year to to start taking better photos. We need to swap tips as we figure things out :)

blackheartbetty said...

Thanks for the post! Good luck on your photos. Personally I like it when a few imperfections show! Not everything has to be glossy.

christine, just bella said...

It really is amazing what a difference it makes, your photos above look great! You totally can make it work using the camera you have! Don't beat yourself up too much, your content and pics are great and "professional" photos aren't necessary. The ones above look awesome. I find using a tripod helps a lot too when you're using no flash, apparently, I've got a really shaky hand ;)

Designwali said...

ooh i totally am with you. I really need to take better pictures...i'm diggin a tripod for $15! score.

emily said...

Wow -- it really is crazy to see the differences in the pictures side by side like that!

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