If you are looking for some simple ways to improve the photos you take - and fast! - look no further. Below are three quick wins to help you reap big results, and totally up your photography game…
Look for Light
Etymology of the word “Photography” always points to the word “Light”, and sometimes even “Drawing with light”, which both ultimately signify light’s importance in photography. We constantly adjust the settings on our camera to brighten or darken a shot, to avoid under or overexposure, but how often do we actually go in search of light itself?
Light creates depth and patterns, impacts how vibrant colours are, highlights various shapes and textures, and can even conjure up an overall mood or tone as well.
I often see creatives complain about the light, or lack thereof, when trying to shoot during the darker winter months. If your blog is your hobby or side hustle, that you can only get to in the evenings or at weekends, it can be frustrating when the days are short and you can’t manage your shooting schedule around when the sun is out. My solution to this would be taking the time to notice when and where the sunlight is strongest, in and around your house, at different times throughout the days you shoot on - and then utilising that.
From doing this myself, I have noticed that the best light for shooting appears early (sunrise, 6am - 8am), at midday (12pm-2pm) and in the evening (golden hour and sunset, 4pm-6pm in Autumn/Winter, and 7pm-9pm in Spring/Summer).
Morning sun casts pink and orange light, which makes my room feel almost dream-like, and the gorgeous shadows created by my Venetian blinds are reminiscent of a sexy noir… As the sun is at its highest point in the middle of the day, the skylights cause our living room to be flooded with gloriously bright midday light. Then in the evening, just before sunset, golden hour creates ethereal light outside as well as orange-tinged hard lighting, with dark shadows, inside.
So, when you are next shooting, look for light, study it’s intensity as well as how and where it falls and do your best to incorporate it in every shot.
BONUS TIP: If you are shooting people, try your best to shoot them with light reflecting in their eyes. This will bring so much life into the shot, and your subject, to transform your images.
Shoot in RAW
Whilst you can take brilliant photos on a smartphone nowadays, if you take all of your photos on a camera, you will likely have the capability to shoot in RAW.
Cameras are usually configured to capture images in a .jpeg format. Now, .jpeg files are great - they are a widely recognised format, are perfect for sending to others, or uploading online - but they aren’t the most editable, nor are they of the highest quality.
When you take a photo in a .jpeg format, it takes all of the image data captured and compresses it into a file that is small, manageable and instantly ready to share. Whereas a RAW file saves all of the image data, which consequently creates a far bigger file, but provides complete control over the final photo, and endless editing possibilities as a result.
As you can access all of the different aspects and details of a RAW file, you can tweak the smallest aspects of a photo; such as shadow brightness, how vibrant a specific colour is, or enable profile corrections. This can even mean that an image, that would usually be left on the cutting room floor if shot in a .jpeg format, can be revived. Check out the pictures above to see what I mean!
I’ve set up my camera to capture images in both RAW and .jpeg formats, so I have both options, but mostly stick to editing the RAW files in Adobe Lightroom - although they can be tweaked in Adobe Photoshop too. Once I’m happy, I’ll export the final images as .jpeg files for sharing.
So, if you constantly find yourself heart-eyed over someone’s editing style but don’t have a clue how they implement it, want to brighten images so that whites really pop, or are just looking to create content with a real punch, consult your camera’s manual, change your settings, and get shooting in RAW!
Watch Your Edges
When in the midst of shooting, it can become very easy to focus wholly on the subject; whether it be a person, object or location, and how they look in shot. Yet, sometimes, it isn’t until you return home and start scrolling through your photos to edit, that you are met with some unwanted surprises...
It could be a tree branch poking in frame to ruin an otherwise clear sky, a passerby captured half in and out of your shot, or just something odd that once you have noticed it you just can’t un-see.
With digital cameras providing us with the capability to shoot and shoot and shoot, it’s easy to become a little trigger happy. Whilst we can focus on our subject, and click away in the hope that one of the photos is usable, I learnt a long time ago not to leave “fixing” an image until post production. Taking the time on my shots when shooting has made me a better photographer, and leaves me with a lot less work to do when editing!
Therefore, rather than spend time meticulously trying to crop the photo in a way where you don’t lose a chunk of it, or going ham with the clone tool to no avail after shooting, once you have lined up your shot, pause and survey your edges. If there is something sticking in where it shouldn’t be (ooer), reframe until you are happy to shoot.