Friday, August 10, 2012

Get Crafty: Homemade Photo Shoot

Since I upgraded my camera from a point-and-shoot to a dSLR way back in '09, I've been slowly working on my photography skill set. I feel pretty confident about my close ups on small colorful things that don't move (like my Etsy products), but capturing portraits of people is an ongoing area of improvement. Being a hack without much in the way of equipment (I still don't have an external flash), I like natural light for my photos. I find that works for most everything, and I play around with my lenses when it comes to various types of shots (landscape, action, portrait, etc). I try to be mindful of composition, and I use the rule of thirds to draw the eye to the main purpose of the photo (this concept deserves it's own post, but I definitely suggest reading more about that if you want to make your snapshots more visually pleasing and interesting). The goal is to isolate and amplify the subject, if you will.

In addition to actually capturing images with the camera, I've also been working on my post-production editing. I use a variety of software and apps for this (depending on where I'm working, really), but the things that I've found to be the most helpful in turning an average photo into something much more fabulous are brightness, contrast, color temperature and saturation. And let's not forget artful cropping. Those basic factors can be adjusted with almost any program these days, so it doesn't really matter what you use.

Here is a my sweet and adorable neighbor on a recent afternoon:

And here is my sweet and adorable neighbor after basic editing (cropped, increased brightness and contrast, decreased saturation to zero):

Kind of amazing! Now the photo really is just about her and her beautiful smile, and not about my backyard.

Another similarly edited before and after:

Here's another unedited photo:

Now cropped, brightened, warmed with increased contrast and boosted saturation:

But I like black and white for portraits because it removes the distracting colors and let's you focus on the person. Once you desaturate, you can play with the tint function to make some areas lighter or darker, and you may be able to make your photo even more dramatic:

If you have any favorite photo editing tips, please share them in the comments!

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