When I took this picture it was on a sheet of white paper. There was no additional lighting and was taken indoors. It was a grey day so there was no sunshine to help out. It was a recipe for disaster but by the power of Greyskull, well, Photoshop, actually, the image was taken from this to the above:
Whether you’re trying to improve the presention of individual items for posting on online shops or to make your blog look cleaner and sharper, the Color Range technique works wonders. (Singing **Flash! Ah-aaa** to myself while typing this).
I removed ALL of the shadows in the second image purely for the purpose of demonstrating how effective the Color Range technique can be. Want to know how it’s done? View or download the tutorial and try it yourself.
Just so as you know that Anglicised spelling is the norm here and my speeeling is verry gud.
I’ve been reading up on taking pictures and staging them to make my blog look pretty. I have a ‘proper’ camera and know Photoshop pretty well. I’ve been using Photoshop (and Illustrator) over ten years now so I should have picked up a thing or two.
I thought I’d share some of the tips with you and you can make of them what you will. I haven’t tried them all but intend to when time allows.
Firstly, there are definitive lists of things to observe, include or fuss about. Just like there are seven signs of aging (female) and five signs of tiredness (male). If you believe the ads…
**As an aside, there is an advert for a company that sells you spectacles with the tagline: “We are defined by what we see”. Really? Unpack it and make sense of it. Total tosh.
Adverts try to mesmerise or lull us into some state of false consciousness that suspends or paralyses our critical faculties. Like the skin care products that say ‘clinically proven’. Clinically proven to do what? That is not stated. Illusions of meaning are carefully crafted. Beware the harbinger of the false premise! Think and question! Here endeth today’s rant, lol. **
Anyway, if these ‘definitive’ lists are to be believed there are certain fundamental elements for staging a scene. First find your focus and find ways to direct the eye to that focus by:
- Including distinctive shapes into the composition – vectors – lines of shapes and planes that lead towards the subject. For example, position the subject in a natural circle – eg, a spray of flowers behind around the subject (but not so as it looks like they grow out of somebody’s ear or top of the head). I, of course, have a natural halo and aura. (Please, I’m joking!).
Choosing images that have similar styles so you don’t combine, say, very minimalist images with graphics overload or lots of shots using natural materials like leather, sand, hessian, etc, with shiny plastics. Cohesive imagery are the keywords here. I can’t be any more definitive as it’s like everything – context and purpose dictate what can or is appropriate.
- Making sure colours complement to create the effect and atmosphere or brand you want to achieve.
- Ditto pattern and texture.
- Including something called ‘needs’. This basically means essential things… (I don’t have a scooby what this means, really.) Food, water, light, comfort – I don’t know. Elements that suggest these things? Certainly not directly pertaining to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs unless they are expressed semiotically using symbolic meaning. Maybe that’s it.
- Adding some bling – Photoshop a sparkle, include a shiny trinket or piece of glittery jewellery.
- Including botanicals into the scene. Flowers, leaves, flora and fauna. Apparently they add that je ne sais quoi to a composition.
There. You know as much as me about it now.
Taking pictures (these are tips and techniques gleaned from courses, books and some experience while standing on the bunions of giants):
1. Be experimental in with the angle and distance you take pictures from. Include close-ups of whole and partial areas of the subject. Include wide angles shots and think about taking aerial views and almost horizontal pictures to show surface detail or texture. Take landscape and portrait shots to vary layout and add interest.
2. Good lighting can save hours of editing. Can’t always get it and not all of us have studio lighting. If there’s good, natural light, though, use it.
3. Staging (see above – too many elements to go over again!).
4. My photography books say ‘fill the frame’ – so… fill the frame.
5. Make sure the pictures are clean. I take pictures of crochet and only when I look at the photographs do I finally see the single cat hair on, beside or in the baby booties. Gah.
6. Symmetry is somewhat frowned upon if graphic design advice is anything to go by (which I do), as is having the subject dead-centre. Arrange your picture using the rule of thirds to shift the central focus slightly off-centre.
7. Read up on depth of field and use it to blur the background so as to not distract the eye from the main subject. Or select the area in Photoshop and apply a Gaussian Blur.
8. Use a tripod, especially, if not always in poor light. I have one but often believe I can stand stock-still without the slightest muscle tremor and achieve perfect shots. I am invariably disabused of that belief when I see motion blur although I do wonder if my camera is on the blink first. Thankfully, not. It is me and the proof of the pudding is the end picture. Lesson learned is set up the tripod for picture perfect clarity.
Well, a good place to start is to think about where your images are going to end up. If on your blog then you don’t need images that are bigger than the content width of your blog. They can result in slow load times when rendering your web pages. How big is that? Want to know?
Go to your blog, click on the three strip (‘hamburger’) on the browser menu at the top of you page. Click and select ‘Developer’ – to display a drop-down list which includes ‘Inspector’. Click on it and a panel will display at the bottom of the web page.
On the far left you will see an icon, a square with an arrow in its bottom right corner. Click on it then click on your web page – it will show you the structure of the page as defined in HTML and will give you values including ‘content width’ in pixels.
Mine is 739 px wide. Do I size my images up in PSP to this size? No. I’ve never been bothered. But I think I should. I know these things but don’t do them. *Sigh* What a pudding I can be.
By the way, DPI and PPI are not relevant to what the web displays. What is relevant is that they should be 300 PPI if they are to be output in hard copy, ie, printed.
Well, I’m exhausted now and want to go get a coffee and some lunch. Bye for now. I’d love to know if you have any tips or wrinkles you’d like to share.