Write 31 Days - Taking Better Blog Photos - Introduction

Office News
Posted by Jennifer - 10/1/14
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

I'm not sure how I stumbled across the challenge to Write for 31 days straight, but since I've been off the blogging radar for a while, I thought this would be perfect to try and get me back on track. I want to inspire others to write more too and I figured the best way I could help them was to teach how to take better blog photos.

The first few days will cover some technical phrases that will help you understand the number 1 thing you can do to enhance your photos! After we get that out of the way, then we'll start covering ideas for content and creative methods to make your subjects look better.

If you have questions or ideas along the way, please reach out and comment.


Are you ready to learn some basic tips on taking better photos?

To join this FREE 31 Day series simply sign up HERE to have each day's topic delivered to your inbox. Eventually this series, as well as other photography tips will be added to my new site www.healthylivinghappyhome.com (which is not up yet), so another reason to sign up now is that you will be the first to receive new information as the new site goes live! Or if you prefer not to have the posts delivered to your inbox you can simply check back here at www.memoryjournalists.com/blog each day starting October 1, 2014.

I think it's going to be a fun and motivating month to learn some new tips and I challenge you to post any photos you take on our Facebook page.

Are you ready?! Let's get started! Each day the new post link will be added to a list on this main post. They will be posted by 8am PST.

Day 1: this post.
Day 2: My recommend reading list for photography how to books.
Day 3: What is depth of field?
Day 4: What is shutter speed?
Day 5: What is ISO (aka film speed)?
Day 6: What is the exposure triangle?
Day 7: Manual exposure
Day 8: Automatic vs manual camera modes
Day 9: Use details to enhance your story.
Day 10: Rule of Thirds
Day 11: What is the Hand Test?
Day 12: What is Catch Light?
Day 13: Direction of Light
Day 14: Direction of Light Part 2
Day 15: Using Natural Light
Day 16: What is your photo story?
Day 17: Framing
Day 18: Leading Lines
Day 19: Horizon Lines
Day 20: Using Geometric shapes and repeated lines.
Day 21: Using Symmetry
Day 22: When to use black & white verses color photos
Day 23: Take your car shade along with you as reflector!
Day 24: What is perspective and how can it add to your photo story?
Day 25: Create storyborads to tell a better story.
Day 26: Use contrasting sizes to tell a better story.
Day 27: What is color cast?
Day 28: What is white balance?
Day 29: What is temperature of light?
Day 30: Why you shouldn't use auto white balance.
Day 31: Back up your photos before it's too late!

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Why not use auto white balance? - taking better blog photos

Office News
Posted by Jennifer - 10/30/14
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

Today we are going to talk a little more about why you shouldn't use auto white balance. We've talked about color cast, setting white balance using your presets in your camera to overcome color casts, and color temperature.

In auto, the camera guesses what white balance to use depending on the available light. In 95% of these instances, the guess results in a nicely colored photograph. This is a perfect setting for times when you're unsure what white balance to choose.

Certain subjects create problems for a digital camera's auto white balance - even under normal daylight conditions. One example is if the image already has an overabundance of warmth or coolness due to unique subject matter. For example, if the subject is predominantly red, the camera mistakes this for a color cast induced by a warm light source. The camera then tries to compensate for this so that the average color of the image is closer to neutral, but in doing so it unknowingly creates a bluish color cast. Some digital cameras are more susceptible to this than others.

A digital camera's auto white balance is often more effective when the photo contains at least one white or bright colorless element. Of course, do not try to change your composition to include a colorless object, but just be aware that its absence may cause problems with the auto white balance.

Photos taken indoors while cloudy outside can pose a problem too. Way too blue and ugly! 99% of people take this shot and never think anything more about it. If you think about these mixed lighting conditions, as in this example, indoors with tungsten bulbs near large windows where's it's cloudy - the camera has to determine your kelvin setting to be someplace between 2500-7500 which is a very broad range. And if you slightly change your subject direction, this setting will be completely different when on auto.

In this example of Mike and Nicole, we were shooting indoors, and I purposely placed them facing the natural light coming from windows. However, you can totally see the warm light coming from the indoor lights at the bar behind them. In this case, I used a manual setting to get the look I wanted. Can you cheat by looking at your image preview to see how your Kelvin setting looks? Sure you can and then adjust as you see fit. In this case my Kelvin temperature was set based on the natural light being my primary light source on their faces, and not based on the indoor lights behind them.

manual white balance

If you are shooting RAW (which we've never talked about yet, and by the way we do not shoot in RAW still, yes I know I get a lot of slack about this from my photographer friends), you should be able to set the correct white balance while editing later. However, when using auto white balance it does not provide shot to shot consistency, and it makes editing later more difficult.

The bottom line is that auto white balance is only as good as the camera guess-timates. When possible, be sure to set your white balance yourself on the appropriate light setting. You can get back to the monthly table of contents of Taking Better Blog Photos via our Day 1 post.

To join this FREE 31 Day series simply sign up HERE to have each day's topic delivered to your inbox. Eventually this series, as well as other photography tips will be added to my new site www.healthylivinghappyhome.com (which is not up yet), so another reason to sign up now is that you will be the first to receive new information as the new site goes live!

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Temperature of Light - Taking Better Blog Photos

Office News
Posted by Jennifer - 10/29/14
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

Today we are going to talk about the temperature of light, and why you would want to manually set your white balance. We talked about color cast and we talked about white balance and using your presets in your camera to overcome color casts.

According to Wikipedia, color temperature of a light source is the temperature of an ideal black-body radiator that radiates light of comparable hue to that of the light source. Color temperature is conventionally stated in the unit of absolute temperature, the kelvin, having the unit symbol K.

Color temperatures over 5,000K are called cool colors (blueish white), while lower color temperatures (2,700-3,000 K) are called warm colors (yellowish white through red).

For lighting building interiors, it is often important to take into account the color temperature of illumination. For example, a warmer (i.e., lower color temperature) light is often used in public areas to promote relaxation, while a cooler (higher color temperature) light is used to enhance concentration in offices.

As an introduction, here is a chart of light sources and where they fall on the spectrum of Degrees Kelvin.

color temperature in photography

In film cameras, where we can't set the degree kelvin that we want as our white balance, filters on a camera lens, or color gels over the light source(s) may also be used to correct color balance.

In digital cameras, there are a few reasons why it's best to set your degree kelvin for your white balance verses using a camera's presets. Not all cameras presets are the same so using degree kelvin would be more accurate. And if you are shooting in a team, as we often do at The Memory Journalists, and if using different model cameras, using degree Kelvin is precise over the built in presets to ensure that all our photos are of the same white balance. Even if we are off by a bit, at least all photos will have the same color cast and in can be fixed more quickly in post production.

Start looking through your owner's manual and find how to set your Kelvin for white balance! It's enough to learn a few of the basic numbers such as indoor incandescent (tungsten) lighting, florescent lighting, full midday sun, cloudy, full shade. From there you can start to enhance your photos!

You can get back to the monthly table of contents of Taking Better Blog Photos via our Day 1 post.

To join this FREE 31 Day series simply sign up HERE to have each day's topic delivered to your inbox. Eventually this series, as well as other photography tips will be added to my new site www.healthylivinghappyhome.com (which is not up yet), so another reason to sign up now is that you will be the first to receive new information as the new site goes live!

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White Balance - Taking Better Blog Photos

Office News
Posted by Jennifer - 10/28/14
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

Yesterday we talked about color cast and I mentioned that we would be talking about white balance and color temperature. Today we'll be addressing how you can use white balance to overcome color casts.

According to Wikipedia, a white balance is the global adjustment of the intensities of the colors (typically red, green, and blue primary colors). An important goal of this adjustment is to render specific colors correctly, particularly neutral colors; hence, the general method is sometimes called gray balance, neutral balance, or white balance.

What's important to know is that the acquisition sensors (your cameras) do not match the sensors in the human eye. What this means...is that what we see as white....isn't recorded as white in your camera depending on the ambient viewing conditions and lighting. Proper camera white balance has to take into account the "color temperature" of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light.

For example, in this first series, when indoors, tungsten lighting is warm in color - giving off a yellow/orange color cast when recorded in "auto" white balance mode. But when I modified my white balance setting to use the preset of Tungsten light - it takes into consideration the yellow cast and adds blue, making the whites seem white. "Tungsten" is the name of the metal out of which the bulb's filament is made.

white balance example

One thing to remember however, is that when you set your white balance for indoor settings with Tungsten lighting conditions, and then you go outside, if you forget to change your white balance to say the daylight mode, you'll have a very blue photo. Remember the camera is adding blue when you are using the Tungsten setting. I did just this on Sunday while at the Dream Wedding Show, but luckily I knew exactly what I did and fixed it immediately. It's so easy to forget until you get used to setting your white balance with each photo you take.

white balance example

It's important to note that when shooting in a condition that has more than 1 type of light source, it's best to use a white balance setting based on the main light source.

Here are some of the basic White Balance settings you'll find on cameras:

* Auto - this is where the camera makes a best guess on a shot by shot basis. You'll find it works in many situations but it's worth venturing out of it for trickier lighting.
* Tungsten - this mode is usually symbolized with a little bulb and is for shooting indoors, especially under tungsten (incandescent) lighting (such as bulb lighting). It generally cools down the colors in photos.
* Fluorescent - this compensates for the 'cool' light of fluorescent light and will warm up your shots.
* Daylight/Sunny - not all cameras have this setting because it sets things as fairly 'normal' white balance settings.
* Cloudy - this setting generally warms things up a touch more than 'daylight' mode.
* Flash - the flash of a camera can be quite a cool light so in Flash WB mode you'll find it warms up your shots a touch.
* Shade - the light in shade is generally cooler (bluer) than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm things up a little.

(this list was borrowed from www.digital-photography-school.com)

Try using your white balance presets on your camera. We'll be talking about Degree Kelvin and manual white balance in future posts.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Please be sure to send in your photos as you try out our tips. Email your entries to info@memoryjournalists.com or post to our facebook page.

You can get back to the monthly table of contents of Taking Better Blog Photos via our Day 1 post.

To join this FREE 31 Day series simply sign up HERE to have each day's topic delivered to your inbox. Eventually this series, as well as other photography tips will be added to my new site www.healthylivinghappyhome.com (which is not up yet), so another reason to sign up now is that you will be the first to receive new information as the new site goes live!

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Last Minute DIY Halloween Gifts

Pinterest Ideas, Personal Musings
Posted by Mai - 10/28/14
Photographed by Mai

Mai posted by Mai

Getting last minute gifts can be a dreadful experience. Trust me, I've witnessed and even been in the situation myself, and the chaos is real. You've probably been in my situation, too, if you're a procrastinator with a busy schedule. And at the same time, you have an expectation when you're browsing for items. Now is the time to not be picky, because everything you want will most likely be off the shelves (gift baskets, popular items, etc.).

The Solution=DIY

Yes, you're just going to have to settle and do it yourself. It's probably more simple than you think. Don't get scared of the time you don't have, but dedicate at least an hour to these gifts. It might even take you less time, and all you really need is the basics. Here are my favorite ones you can easily mock, and give away as thoughtful gifts.

Gifts in a Jar-Mason Jars are always a popular item, and are totally reusable. This DIY is so easy, you will still have time to cook dinner, and kick up your feet by the end of the night. What you'll need: Mason jars, candy, and ribbons. Toss in a mix of candies, close the lid, and tie a lovely bow around the cap. They come out looking great. What I did here was slightly different, all I added was an already custom plastic bag around the jar to give it some creativity.

Last Minute DIY Halloween Gifts

Bags of Treats-Talk about easy packaging! These are just cute and ready to go. What you'll need: Plastic gift bags, candy, and ribbons.
Most gift bags are already custom made with designs, and usually come with the closure as well. The ribbon adds a nice touch, but you can also design laundry pins to clip them as I have below. Personalize it any way you want. Here, I quickly hand painted the pin, and engraved my daughter's name.

Last Minute DIY Halloween Gifts

Well folks, it doesn't get any easier than this. There are plenty more, simple ideas, and I hope these have inspired you as they did for me. Be sure to check out more inspiration of Last Minute Halloween Gift Ideas on our Memory Journalists Pinterest page.

Find your supplies at: Amazon.com, Walmart, and Target

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