Hey guys! Welcome to another Friday feels where I share what I’m “feeling” this week. (This post contains affiliate links)
So, I have had lots of questions about my photography/camera/editing photos lately, and I thought I would share a few tips today. First off, I am by no means an expert. I’ve never taken a photography class – I’ve just sort of googled things and asked questions of my friend Kari (who is an amazing lifestyle photographer check her site out here). But I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way, so I’ll share my limited knowledge with you (which is much like I’m always doing, basically sharing how I wing my life).
I recently bought a new camera and lens, which has helped my photos significantly. I went to a local camera store to talk with an expert and explain all the things I use my camera for and he actually persuaded me to buy the cheaper camera. I bought a Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm STM Lens – WiFi Enabled he recommended that one because he said I would be better off with a cheaper camera base and more expensive lens. Also, because most of the photos I use are online and not being printed off into huge images like say a wedding photographer, he said there was no need to spend a zillion dollars on the camera itself (Side note: we are talking huge poster size photos, I’ve printed off beautiful perfectly sharp 11 x 20 shots). WordPress (the blogging platform I use) compresses my images a bit anyway, so I could have the most amazing zillion dollar camera and they still wouldn’t appear as sharp as I would like them here on my site.
I was surprised that this was his recommendation, because I had a 10 year old canon rebel before and was looking to upgrade, but the technology has lept ahead like crazy. I’m so glad I listened to his advice. My new camera has bluetooth, so I can send photos right to my phone and I can also use my phone as a remote (which makes family shots so easy…well minus my kids’ shenanigans). It also has a touch screen, so it’s super user friendly as well. This is a great easy camera for a family, realtor, or just a hobby photographer.
So the lens he recommended for me, which has made the difference on the blog is the Tokina ATXAF120DXC 11-20mm f/2.8 Pro DX Lens for Canon EF. It is a wide angle lens that helps me capture more of our home because it can fit more of it into the shot. It’s not crazy expensive (still an investment, but believe me lenses can shoot up there in price, and bonus, it’s actually on sale right now on amazon, just click the link above) and I feel like it grabs nice sharp shots.
My other go to lens for close up shots and food photography is the “nifty fifty” Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens w/ 49mm UV Filter & Lens Pouch Accessory Bundle that every blogger has, this guy is so inexpensive, so grab one if you don’t have one. I use it for most of my photos of the kids and our Christmas cards too.
My next biggest tip (especially for you realtors) is to get a good tripod. I have this Professional PRO 72″ Super Strong Tripod With Deluxe Soft Carrying Case For The Canon Digital Rebel XSI, XS SLR Cameras and I shoot 95% of all my shots on the blog with it. It’s only $30 and worth every penny. I always want to shoot on ISO 100 for really clear shots, but most of the time that’s going to require such a slow shutter speed to let in enough light that it’s hard to get a sharp shot. I set my camera on a tripod and use the 2 second timer so there is absolutely no shake (you would be shocked how just pushing the button on your camera can shake it enough to blur your shot). This allows me to slow my shutter speed down as much as I want and still get a nice bright photo even in a dark room. Also, turn those interior lights off! It messes with the white balance too much and you will always get that yellow look.
On to editing, I use Lightroom to edit all my photos (you can get the creative cloud pack of Lightroom and Photoshop for around $10 a month, which includes the LR app on your phone. I use it even on quick iPhone photos) and this is how I’m able to get those shots where you can see the lake out the window. I take 2 shots with my camera in the exact same spot on my tripod. One at the correct exposure for the inside and one at the correct exposure for the outside, and then I will merge them in Lightroom (there are lots of youtube videos to walk you through this process just google it).
I also use the HDR feature on my iPhone. This will get a nice shot of my living room, but it will still be dark in spots so I go into the Lightroom app and use the graduated filter over the dark spots (you can use the brush tool as well) and lighten those areas. Below is the before shot straight off my iPhone and after I used the Lightroom app to fix the exposure of the couch area. I should point out that’s ice on the lake and not glare on the window.
Here are some screenshots of what I do to adjust them on my phone. Choose the graduated filter option under the selective edit feature and drag it up the photo to encompass the area you want to lighten. The red portion shows the area you are going to adjust. I usually bump up the exposure and shadows as well.
Here is the final photo. So, this was all done right on my phone. It’s not perfect by any means, but you can see there is a huge difference. I lightened the ceiling area as well, so I was able to adjust the exposure on most of the photo without changing the exposure of the water out the windows if that makes sense. This doesn’t give you the sharpness the merged photo out of my camera gets you, but it is super quick and still gets a nice shot for instagram or facebook. It’s also a handy tool if one of your kids faces is in the shade etc…
Below is a photo of the same space where I used my camera (as opposed to my phone), wide angle lens, tripod and the merge function. Obviously, it’s much sharper, but the quick phone trick will do in a pinch. Also, you can see how much more of the space my wide angle lens can capture vs my phone, standing in the same spot.
I hope that helps! Like I said, I’m not a pro, but these are the little tricks that have helped me out a ton. If you have any questions feel free to leave them below and I’ll do my best to answer.