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Taken with Nikon D7000 & 35mm f/1.8 lens at ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/160sec

If you were led by the image, thinking this is a review of the Sarah Chapman Overnight Facial… Sorry, it’ll come along soon but go on and read how to get the most out of your P&S camera, DSLR or Mobile Phone for your blog. A slightly technical photography post is being served up

I’ll be honest, most of the photos on this blog are taken with the aid of professional studio strobe lights which I know aren’t available to most bloggers out there. I also use a solid DSLR (Nikon D7000) with a plethora of lenses, which again gives me the “edge” over those with the bare basics – a starting level DSLR with a kit lens or a somewhat nice point and shoot. However, I’m a firm believer that it’s not the equipment that makes for a great photo but rather the set up and attention to light – with some help from editing.

Also, using Manual mode on your camera will provide you with the most control and aim to shoot next to a window with a good amount of light but with something filtering it. All the images shown here were shot at around 12:30-13:00 on a clear day next to a window with a white drape covering it to filter the light.

same set up, in different aperture settings

If you’re luck and have a camera with control over aperture and speed, I’ll quickly explain why you’re lucky. Aperture (f/1.8, f/2.2 etc.) determines the amount of light that enters the camera it also controls how shallow or deep the depth of field is – this is what gives you that nice “blurry” background with the sharper foreground usually the focus of your image. Going all out – as open as you can go, in my case f/1.8 can be good if you’ve got low light or not a lot of space between your object and the background BUT this means you may “miss” with your focus on the image resulting in a not clear product. You’ll notice I shot these with a  speed of 1/160sec because that is fast enough that my shakey hands don’t impact the image (anything below 1/20 is tricky for me) but still lets enough light in. The basic kit lens’ aperture is usually f/5.6 which doesn’t allow for a very shallow depth of field but if you distance your subject from the background you can get some ‘bokeh’ (blurry background!).
Speed determines the amount of time your camera takes the image, in layman term. If you want to get technical it refers to the amount of time the mirror in an SLR goes up to expose the sensor thus creating the image. I always advise to stay away from the long exposures if you want sharp images (and don’t have a tripod on hand) play around with the speed setting to see what result your happy with.

images taken at different speeds (L-R; 1/40, 1/100, 1/160)

Now that the technical stuff is over, let’s talk set up!
Perspective is everything. In the left photo, you can see that the shot was taken from a little bit more away and to the left/above from the right. I recommend playing around, and changing your position as you take photos – later choose the one you like best. I prefer the right, and the product is at eye-level and that draws my eye to it far more than the left image. Also consider the items in your background but that’s for a different post…(white helps bounce light around, so maybe a black background isn’t that smart, and a diptyque candle always helps!)

perspective is everything

You can also, zoom in with some cameras – this can give you even more options and control over the perspective; try out several angles (as the more zoomed in you are the narrower the angle, the less the wider) if you don’t have a zoom lens try your feet the can zoom you in or out with a simple step.

taken with Fuji x10

Lastly, there’s editing. Cropping can make a huge change to an image so always consider it an option, when you’re taking a picture leave some space for cropping – it’s easier to crop out something that you don’t like that inventing space in an image (possible but, difficult). You can also “nudge” your image – amp up the brightness, make the whites whiter and blacks blacker with contrast or change the overall tone or temperature if you want.

Taken with Fuji x10, cropped and edited

I edit my pictures with Adobe’s Lightroom & Photoshop, and sometimes I use “action sets” from various sources. I also like to use VSCO Cam on my iPad and CameraBag 2 for Mac for effects and vintage film simulation.

editing in lightroom, not just cropping in size but also alignment

You don’t need a super fancy camera to take great pictures, these were taken with my phone and then edited (cropped, tones and contrast changed) to make them nicer. In a bind I could use these on my blog (and I doubt anyone would really notice the difference), sure there are focusing issues but if you play around and maybe download a more advanced camera app to your phone there’s no reason not to use your phone.

images taken with iPhone 5, cropped and contrast edits made.

Phewwww! If you’ve made it this far – go you, if you’re still confused I’m happy to help just leave a comment down below and I’ll try my best to help you out.


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