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May 26 2015

Blogging Photography Tips (No Fancy Camera)

 

Let’s talk about a subject that has presented its set of challenges for me over this past year: Blogging Photography. I often find myself admiring the exceptional photographs featured on other blogs. Both envious of their skills but also using my admiration of them as a motivating factor to improve my own abilities. Sometimes, great photographs can be partially attributed to a great camera. These days it’s all about DSLR, a digital single-lens reflex camera. But what if you can’t afford one? Or don’t see yourself carrying around something so large? Can you still take great pictures? I think the answer to that, if you’re willing to put in the effort, is Yes.

 

Blogging Photography

 

When I first started Blogging, I used my IPod to take photographs. I was always frustrated by the quality and desperately wanted a new camera. For my birthday, about 4 months into starting my blog, I was lucky enough to receive a fantastic point and shoot from Mr. Bear (Nikon Cool Pix s9700).

 

Blogging Photography

 

While it isn’t a DSLR, it was a step up from the IPod. But after using it for a while, I noticed something interesting. Sometimes, the difference in quality between the photographs I was taking with the new camera and SOME of the photographs I had taken with the IPod, was very minimal…in some cases non-existent. The reason? Lighting.

 
Lighting

I’ve read about the importance of photography and lighting before, but it was only when comparing my own photos that I truly gained an appreciation for how important it could be. Some of the photographs I took with my IPod turned out pretty decent. And some of the photographs I took with my Nikon Cool Pix s9700 left much to be desired. In all of these cases, the determining factor was (and still is) lighting. If I got the lighting right, the difference between a photograph take with once device versus the other was virtually imperceptible.

For example:

 

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Multi Colour

Taken with Ipod

 

dior tie dye edition blush review pink sunrise

Taken with Nikon CoolPix

 

I think the two photographs are pretty comparable in terms of quality. And the lighting is definitely better in the first one. At the end of the day, while I do find that it is easier to take a good photo with the Nikon Coolpix – you can still get a great photo without a so-called “proper camera”. Plus, these days some phones take better pictures than cameras do. 🙂

 
Natural Light

All photographs on the Blog between May and September (and a few in October) were taken in natural light with my IPod. In the beginning, I would take photos next to a window. But even on a sunny day, they would come out dim and dull with obvious shadows. I am fortunate to have a small balcony, so I started to experiment with photographing outdoors. My balcony is covered – it’s like a rectangular box with an opening on one side. Light filters in but does not shine directly into the space. It’s like the perfect filter. In the late afternoon, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun (in my part of the world) is at about midpoint in the sky, I get the perfect lighting.

 
Soft Box

Despite enjoying the natural light, however, I couldn’t exactly be on my balcony at 3 p.m. every time I needed to photograph something. Plus it rains. And I was limited by what I could use for background. Sometime in the beginning of the year, January/February, I decided to purchase a pair of *Limo Studio soft boxes.

 
Blogging Photography
 

The set of lights that I chose are simple and very inexpensive but made a huge difference in my blogging life – giving me increased flexibility. If I use both lights simultaneously, I can produce some great pictures. But my space is small. I don’t have the luxury of a room dedicated to my blogging needs. Therefore, using both soft boxes at the same time (which helps reduce shadows and gives better light) isn’t always possible or practical.

 
My Combination Method

After experimenting with both natural light and artificial light (soft boxes), I’ve recently settle on a method that works for me. The reason it works for me is because it is the most convenient way for me to produce decent photographs. Notice that I didn’t say that this method gives me the best photographs. At the end of the day, we all have to do what works for us – what fits into our lifestyle, working conditions, circumstances etc.

Anyway, at the moment I’m using a combination of natural light and one of my soft boxes. Basically, I place the object(s) that I wish to photograph between a large open window and one of my soft boxes. The light coming from the window, as well as the soft box is usually enough to sufficiently illuminate the object(s) to produce a good photograph. Despite my best efforts, sometimes the quality is better than other times. However, I’m working achieveing greater consistency.

 
Other Blogging Photography Considerations:

Reflective Surfaces: I’m afraid, there is no easy answer as to how one goes about photographing reflective surfaces. Unless you have a studio or have the space to create a makeshift one, it’s going to be quite difficult. Basically in order to reduce reflections to a bare minimum, you will need to completely surround the object with as much blank white space as possible. A significant source of diffused light also helps (i.e. from a softbox).  Your camera should be placed on the opposite side of the light source. Unfortunately, I don’t have the kind of space or setup to be able to surround my objects with blank white space.  I just try shooting from different angles until I find a position the reduces glare and reflections. No science behind this (or if there is, I don’t know it).

White backgrounds: I love a white background, but I’m beginning to discover that they can really mess with my photograph quality. Sometimes a white background can make objects look blurry, dull or overexposed – especially if the object itself is mostly white. The lack of contrast definitely makes it a challenge and editing can just make things worse. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with adding pops of colour (contrast) onto the white background which seems to really help the situation. If anyone knows the technical reason why this appears to be the case, I’d love to know.

Eye makeup: This is a work in progress. I was photographing my eye makeup the same way as I do everything else – sat between a window and the soft box, facing the softbox. I think most people who feature eye looks photograph facing the primary light source – I can often see their ring lights in these photographs. But I’m starting to think this may not be the best angle given the lighting that I’m working with. My soft box isn’t exactly state of the art. It isn’t large or bright enough and there are too many reflections in the eye. I’m working on some new angles, so this is one I’ll have to update you guys on. 🙂

 

And the end of the day, a good photograph is about one’s skill level. But you don’t have to be a professional. Experiment, experiment, experiment. You may not get it right every time, but hopefully, as you practise you’ll learn what works best for you.

 

 

 

 

 

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The first image used in this post is attributed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. All opinions are the author’s own honest opinions. Affiliate links are marked with a “*”. See Disclaimer here for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

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20 comments

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  1. Kiss & Make-up

    I often feel sooooooo basic when it comes to photography, especially when I see the super pro stuff other people have! I don’t have a mini studio or lightboxes or a super fancy camera. Just a Nikon D3200 that I probably don’t get the most out of because, ya know, meh. With time I’ve learned some little things that I can do to make my pictures look better though. But 90% of I’m still not really happe with how things turn out and I feel like I need to ‘pro’ it up a notch, lol.

    1. Kimmy

      I know what you mean, Melissa. I look at other blogs and I’m like – really, really? Hehe. I think your photos are great though. I do envy the uber pro stuff but sometimes I also enjoy a more “realistic” representation of something. 🙂 xo

  2. Dagmara (@mummyscorner)

    I agree that you don’t need the latest fancy camera to produce good quality pictures, it’s more about your skills and other factors, like lighting. I hope I can get better camera soon and improve my photography but for now I have to work with what I have and try my best 🙂 x

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

    1. Kimmy

      Agreed. It’s all about working with what you have. And practise. I love the closeups you do when you feature tutorials. Amazing job! 🙂 xo

  3. Alina

    I don’t have a DSLR either, think it’s called a mirror less camera but it does the job for me and I’m super happy with it so far. I agree lighting is the biggest factor in good photos, it can really make or break the final shot. On top of that having a good editing suite to add more light/colour, etc also helps. I use Lightroom (not too its full potential as I haven’t a clue what half of the settings even do) but I love it x

    Beauty with charm

    1. Kimmy

      Ooh, a mirror-less camera? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of those. I’ll have to Google it, hehe. I’ve heard people mention Lightroom but I don’t know much about it. I’ll have to check it out. xo

  4. Connie

    Great post! I absolutely love taking pictures with my iPhone. I usually use my Canon G7X to take photographs because it’s convenient. But to be honest, a typical point-and-shoot usually does the trick just as well. It truly is all about the lighting.

    Connie | Sponsored by Coffee | Bloglovin’

    1. Kimmy

      Agreed. I wish I’d come to appreciate the importance of lighting earlier on. Now I need to work on exploring more editing suites. 🙂 xo

  5. Beautylymin

    Some great tips here! Not everybody can afford or actually even wants to spend a lot on a DSLR so your tips are really useful! xx

    1. Kimmy

      Thank you, hun. Yeah, everyone’s budget is different so learning to use what you have to the best of your ability is the way to go I think. 🙂

  6. Shireen L. Platt

    I wish there is space in my home for me to set up a working corner, for photography and vanity table but my husband works from home so the spare room is his office and I blog from the dining table.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

    1. Kimmy

      We all got do what works for us. I photograph mostly in the bedroom on the floor, hehe. And sometimes outside as mention. 🙂

  7. Ingrid Stump

    I think you’re right on about a fancy camera. Phones/tablets have such sophisticated cameras that I think they can take decent photos. You make some really good points about a white background. I think maybe I’ll start trying some different backgrounds to see if I can make my photos better. Thank you for the wonderful tips!

    1. Kimmy

      You’re welcome Ingrid and thank you. I’m definitely thinking of migrating away from completely white backgrounds. We’ll see how it goes. And let me know how your experiment goes as well. xo

  8. Laura/Pink Frenzy (@Pink_Frenzy)

    I think lighting is the most important part getting a good picture. Great post hun x

    Laura
    Pink Frenzy

    1. Kimmy

      Thank you, Laura! xo

  9. Ella

    Natural light is so important but it’s hard to find in Belgium sometimes. I am looking forward to summer so I have more time to take pictures.

    I have a DSLR which I had to buy for university but I do think you can get a long way with other cheaper cameras!

    1. Kimmy

      I can imagine. I do realise that I am very lucky to have so much light for most of the year. Perhaps I will eventually get a DSLR but I’m definitely working with what I have for the time being. Your photos are always fantastic! xo

  10. agapelovedesigns

    another great post girl. I do have a dslr camer and do feel like IT and not me is the biggest reason for the great quality photos I take. Still as you mentioned – lighting is a HUGE importance for great photos! And I definitely think quality photos can be achieved even without an expensive camera. What a wonderful serious of posts you are doing! I know a lot of new bloggers will find these super helpful!

    1. Kimmy

      Thank you again, Maria for all the love and positive feedback. It is so much appreciated. And I think even though you have a DSLR, you have a great deal of skill as well. Your closeups of eyes and lips are so fantastic! xo

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