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Does anyone have tips for taking good blog photos?

edited April 2013 in Blogging
I know that for me, it's a big pull when a blog has great pictures. I see that they're bright and well lit and beautiful, but I don't know how to get those photos myself. We don't get a lot of light in our apartment but I feel like there has to be a way to get around that!
Any tips?

Shoes Off Please


  • Do you have Photoshop?
  • I use Pic Monkey, particularly the brightness, sharpness, and clarity settings. I just have an old Canon point and shoot, but I use manual mode and never use the flash. I play around with the manual settings (exposure especially) and try to take pictures during the brightest time of the day.
  • Thanks @Jena are there tricks for where you should take the pictures from? Light behind you and such?
  • GilitC said:

    Thanks @Jena are there tricks for where you should take the pictures from? Light behind you and such?

    Hmm, good question! Yes, I would if possible but unfortunately all of my rooms have windows smack in the middle of the good parts I always want to take pictures of :). So instead I just end up with too bright, blown out looking windows in order to get the rest of the room looking bright. Centsational Girl posted a tutorial the other day on how to fix this, but it's a good amount of work and you have to use Photoshop or similar type of tool.

  • I saw that post and I just scratched my head because I didn't fully understand. MAybe I'll give it a shot soon. Thanks!
  • GilitC, I'm a wedding photographer so I have many many years of Photoshop experience. The very first thing I do (after cropping of course) with a photo that doesn't have the best light is go Image->Adjustments->Curves, or ctrl+M on a PC. There will be a line like this /
    If you don't feel like you have enough whites or enough blacks then drag the corners towards the center (like you're making you / look more like I, but don't go too extreme! You just want your lights and your darks to be good)
    Next put your curser in the middle of the line, click and drag to the upper left corner so it looks more like a C that fell on its' side a little bit.
    Bing Bang Boom, professionally "lit" photo. Your middle shades are now nice and bright without losing your blacks or your whites.
    Hope that actually made sense. :-)
  • It also works GREAT with childrens pictures without having to turn your flash on and blind them. :-)
  • edited April 2013
    Hi! This tip might help. I've had better luck doing this simple adjustment. It makes the room look brighter and sunnier in photos.
  • I know what you mean @GilitC! I definitely find toggling with the exposure helps a great deal, as done manually setting the white balance (if you're dealing with artificial light). Does anyone have any tips surrounding composition? I normally keep a few rules in mind for macro photography, but interiors are completely different!
  • Composition tips I've learned through time:
    1. Make sure that if you're shooting a room at an angle (where two walls meet) make sure that that corner wall line is straight up and down. Nothing looks less professional than a crooked room.
    2. If you do this for a living it is ABSOLUTELY worth it to get a wide angle lens. Then you can capture the whole room in one shot. You could also take a few photos (on a tripod. It'll save a lot of time later on) and make a panorama of the room.
    3. If you must include people don't let them sit in the room and smile at the camera. Have them look like they're interacting with the room. Eating at a table, sitting on the couch, etc. Otherwise the person becomes the subject, not the room.
    4. The rule of thirds really is true! Don't underestimate it. :-)
    5. Save a bunch of photos that you like of interiors. Once you have a decent amount saved then look at them. Do you see similarities with angles, a certain amount of patterns/colors that you like, is furniture cropped or always fully shown? Make a list so you know what to look for when you're looking through your lens.
    6. Never zoom in-camera for interior photography. Stand as close to the wall/doorway as you can, snap away, and zoom later in your photo editing software. That way you know you wont miss anything that you later wished you noticed.
  • Thank you so much @Aly_C52, @Winkapot, @Lamour_chez_nouse, and @viewalongtheway! I'm excited to try all of these tips with my next photographs!
    Any tripod suggestions? I've wanted one for a few months and I think it's time to get one!
  • My top photo tips/tools: Tripod, white foam board (to reflect light & brighten up images), and Adobe Lightroom!
  • @designeatrepeat I've heard of the white foam board trick, but don't know how to use it! Where do you set it up?
  • @GilitC It took me a while to learn how to use it correctly! You want to place it in front of the dark areas to bounce the light back to those places. So for example, I set my food subjects on a table in front of my window. Because the light is coming from the back (and creating shadows in the front), I place the foam board to the side of my camera so the light catches & gets rid of the shadows. You can see in one of my latest Instagram photos that my big piece of foam board is to the left of my camera, with the window at the back (you can see a piece of the wooden window ledge).

    Hope that makes sense! Maybe I should concoct a blog post about it sometime ;)
  • @designeatrepeat Ooh, cool thank you for the tip and I vote yes to the blog post!
  • @GilitC No problem! I'll put that on my blogging to-do list :)
  • Lamour_chez_nousLamour_chez_nous Vancouver
    edited April 2013
    Thanks so much for the composition tips @Aly_C52! And @designeatrepeat, great idea about the foam board. I've never heard of that before.
  • I have a go-to window in my house where most of my close-up blog photos are shot. Take a lot of test photos at different times of day, by different windows on cloudy, sunny & rainy days. Trial and error is a tried & true way - and it's fun practice too!
  • If you are able to I would suggest taking on online photography class. Personally, I read a lot of tips about taking pictures, and even read my dslr's manual, but nothing was as helpful as a professional's advice!
  • A tripod is definitely a great idea. I have a cave of a house, light-wise, and even though I have all the pro gear to light it with if I want, I still prefer a long exposure shot on a tripod. When you do tripod shots, a good idea is to use the timer mode too, so that the camera has stopped wobbling from you pressing the button by the time it actually takes the shot. So far as the white foam board goes, anything reflective works too, so you can try mirrors, a roll of aluminium foil, a white sheet, or anything like that. The opposite is true too - if you get some sort of weird light effect happening where something is reflecting too much light, a black surface can help tone it down.
  • I might be echoing some of the other comments, but have you considered making a light box? It wouldn't help with room photos, but if you're trying to take photos of items/products it would! I've been wanting to follow this tutorial (found it on Pinterest) to make one for myself, but haven't gotten around to it yet.
  • I've read a few blog posts with tips & tricks on taking the best photos, especially when it comes to food. I've pinned a few of them on my blogging board here:

    I'm also enrolling in a month-long online photography course through Flying Photo School. She teaches MANY different classes that each focus on something different. I'm taking the point-and-shoot class for $29.

    Danielle at Framed Frosting
  • There are a lot of things you can do to improve your blog photos. These things tend to fall into 2 categories (at least in my head!), 1) technical 2) artistic/compositional.

    Technical - this tends to be my stronger area in terms of photography so I will probably have more suggestions here.
    1) Use a tripod - the ability to take longer exposures will leave time for more light to hit your sensor. This will allow you to shoot at a lower ISO (giving you cleaner images), a narrower aperature (to have a sharper image and more of it in focus) and still have a sharp image even with the slower shutter speed that will be required. With longer exposures you need to keep the camera steady so use a remote, cable release or the self timer so that you don't shake the camera when you depress the shutter.
    2) Shoot in Manual - read your camera manual and learn how to shoot in whatever version of manual mode your camera has. Then set the ISO as low as possible, close the aperture down to f/8-f/16 depending on the camera/lens/focal length (for getting a full room shot, you might want a narrower aperture if you are shooting a detail), use a longer shutter speed, and pick where the camera focuses.
    3) DSLR - the fact is that a DSLR and a wide angle lens will in general given equal skill of photographer will provide better images. The larger sensor will have less noise, the lens will be better made (assuming you don't buy a cheap one, and DON'T buy the cheap ones! other than the thrifty fifty), you will be able to control all the things I mentioned in #2. It's a bit of an investment, but really worth it.
    4) Light - photography is ALL about light. So look for the times when the room you want to shoot has the best light. What defines best? Generally soft diffuse even light. You don't want sharp beams of light, that will leave you with blown out spots in your images. Take photos at different times of day until you find the best time to shoot each room. Ideally you would use natural light, and I tend to turn off the lamps as that just leaves you will a confusing mess of different temperatures of light. Only use your flash if you can bounce it or get it off camera, ideally multiple off camera flash units is how you would light all your rooms to balance the light inside with the outside, but few people have the gear for that.
    5) Editing - make sure you either set your white balance when you are shooting or shoot in RAW so that you can adjust it on the computer. Always take your images into a program like Lightroom or Photoshop and adjust the exposure, contrast, white balance, color, sharpness etc.

    Using those tips here is an example of a photo of my living room:
    I took this with a Canon 5D mark III (DSLR with full frame sensor), using a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L lens at 16mm (wide angle lens), on a gitzo tripod with a really right stuff tripod head and a cable release, using settings of ISO 100, f/8 shutter speed of 2 seconds. Then I took the RAW file into Lightroom and adjusted the white balance, the exposure, contrast, sharpness etc. Yes the windows are still blown out, but to me at least, not to a point where they ruin the rest of the image.

    1) Angles - take shots from a lot of different angles to see what works best for your room, a lot of this depends on what you are trying to show. Are you highlighting a new couch you just bought? Showing off a new window treatment? Trying to show the flow of a room? Think about what you want to make the subject of your image, what you want to draw the eye too.
    2) Get Up/Back Up - don't be afraid to make your tripod as high as possible and to back yourself into a corner.
    3) Get Inspired - look at photos that you like, that you aspire to take and see how they framed their shot. Can you do something similar? Look at photos that don't work and try to figure out why.

    I hope some of that helps!
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