Easy Tips to Improve Your Photos for Instant Sharing (part 2)

Today I am over the moon excited to introduce you to a fellow blogger Christina. Her blog Route Bliss is an impressive showcase of her talented photography, writing, and sweet tips on travel and healthy living. Today she is taking over A Beautiful Little Adventure and sharing some intro photography tips – teaching us all simply ways to make our photos ready to share on social media. Take it away Christina:

Hello everyone 🙂 I’m Christina I blog about travel, photography, and healthy living over at Route Bliss. Katie asked me last month if I would be interested in guest blogging, and with all that was going on at the time, I kinda dropped the ball (oops! Sorry again Katie!). So, to make up for it, I brainstormed for something to share with all of you over here at A Beautiful Little Adventure.

I actually came up with a longer list of tips to share, so I’ve split them up — the first half I blogged recently over at Route Bliss (click here) — and today I’m sharing the other half …

Okay, so you have a blog … or an Instagram/Twitter/Facebook profile you want to share images on.

Your only camera may be the one built into your phone.

You might want the images to be “pinworthy” too … but you’re limited on ways to make the images look better (i.e. lack Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop or Photoshop Elements) …

So what can you do to make them better without expensive software? There’s two tricks that you can use that don’t require an app on your phone or fancy editing.

#1: Light

Photography is all about light — let in too little light and you can’t tell what you took a photo of, unless its of the stars on a moonless night with a long exposure, and too much light probably means you have an image that has little detail to it because its washed out.

You don’t even need an app to improve the light in your images … just a few tricks and techniques!

Here’s a few scenarios:

Scenario: Let’s say you’re out with friends/family and want to take some selfies or photos of everyone else. Its a bright sunny day, perfect weather for photo-taking, but don’t want the image washed out from the bright sun or everyone in silhouette because you put them in the wrong spot.

Solution:  Find an open shade under some trees, an awning on a building, in the shadow of a building to place everyone (and/or yourself) … essentially, a place where everyone is not staring squinty-eyed at you because you have them staring into the sun. If that’s not an option (perhaps you’re posing in front of a landmark), just make sure that the sun is at their (or your) back. Here’s a couple of examples …

lighting example - cowboy on horseback at the Fort Worth Stockyards by Christina McCall

You can see the sunlight on his beard, but thanks to the cowboy hat, the rest of his face isn’t washed out.

And if you can’t find open shade, do what I did in this image and find an object to block the sun as much as possible, simultaneously creating some sun flare 🙂

lighting example - teepee near Cortez, Colorado by Christina McCall

Scenario: You’re at home and you want to take a photo of something (food, a new outfit, your kids or pets, etc). If you’re like me and you work all day, odds are the only time you have to take photos for your blog is in the evening. And then your photos have a yucky yellow cast to them because soft white light bulbs we all have in our homes.

Solution: If possible (especially now that it gets dark later outside), shoot earlier in the day right after you get home from work or during the day on a weekend. Place the item/person you’re photographing near a window — north and south facing windows are best — and take advantage of the natural light instead.

The first image was taken in front of my back door that faces southwest (its a full panel of etched glass which helps diffuse the light a bit) …

lighting example - yellow billyballs by Christina McCall

This one was taken during the morning in my bedroom, which faces northeast — you can tell the light is diffused behind it thanks to white mini blinds and sheer curtains

lighting example - book and coffee mug by Christina McCall

Scenario: Not many windows in your home? At a place where the lighting situation isn’t within your control or favor?

Solution: Create a reflector to bounce what ‘good light’ you can find! You don’t need a fancy photographer one either …  white poster board or a white sheet, t-shirt, or a towel will work, as well as mirrors and tin foil, which also make awesome light reflectors. Have a white wall in your home or see one where you’re at that’s near a window? Use it, even if its cloudy out! Clouds are a diffuser of light too 🙂

While I used the same idea of using an object to block the sun as mentioned above, I took advantage of my client wearing a white tee to bounce light back onto her black lab (which are hard to photograph tonally btw).

lighting example - girl and her dog by Christina McCall

White, as well as silver and gold reflective surfaces, bounces light! White provides a neutral tone to your image, silver will create a cooler tone, and gold will warm up the image (which makes it great for dreary days).

#2: Composition

What can take an okay image to fabulous? Its composition … here’s a few ways to improve an average setting or portrait:

Rule of Thirds is easily explained as dividing your image into thirds (horizontally and vertically) and then placing the object off center to draw attention to where you want the focus. If you were to shoot a landscape like the one below, for example with the horizon and the VW bus at the center of the image, it would be a bit boring. Placing the horizon at the bottom or top third and placing the bus on the ‘center point’ of the right line and the bottom line draws your attention to the bus as well as the view off in the distance.

composition example - VW Bus by the Rio Grande River near Taos, NM by Christina McCall

Leading Lines are great for drawing a viewer’s attention to something in the image — a person, an object, or just a general direction. For instance, in this image from the Clinton Presidential Library, there’s nothing at the other end of that I’m focused on, but the lines draw your attention to the people down below as well as the continuous emblems visible in the columns.

composition example - Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock, Arkansas by Christina McCall

In this image at the Rio Grande Gorge, I used the bridge to direct attention to the mountains in the distance. While I broke the Rule of Thirds by not waiting until my brother was closer to a ‘center point’, his presence helps provide scale to the scene.

composition example - Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in Taos, NM by Christina McCall

Try another perspective — get down low, find some place you can climb/step up to shoot downward. Photographing someone shorter? Kneel/squat down to shoot them at their eye level. Here’s a few examples from some of my past pet portrait sessions …

perspective example - eye level with canine by Christina McCall

perspective example - on the ground with canine by Christina McCall

perspective example - shooting downward at canine by Christina McCall

perspective example - shooting downward at canine by Christina McCall

Questions, want more tips, or is there something you’d like to know more about photography-wise? Leave a comment below, tweet me, or drop by my blog to view my how-to archives!

Thanks Katie for hosting me … and Maggie, please don’t be upset with your mom that I posted other dogs’ photos on her blog!

Christina – Maggie is just fine with that – as long as she gets to model for you sometime in the future! Thank you so much for sharing your talent and tips! – Katie