Giveaway winners are being announced on the Sweet C's Facebook page!
This was a post I originally ran in April this year, but I've had a lot of people ask me about Adobe Lightroom, the product I use for all of my photo editing, and just WHY it is so imperative for anyone looking to make their photos shine. THIS IS NOT A PAID POST- all opinions are my own. I do earn a small commission for sales of lightroom from users who click through the ads on my site, which helps me keep this blog running!
I am constantly trying to learn all that I can about taking better photos and making the ones I'm stuck with more interesting. While I can't change everything, and I can't come anywhere near being an expert, I'd love to share some tips I have come across that have helped me morph my stale boring shots into interesting subjects.
While you can find numerous sources on how to stage interesting shots (I will soon be posting a link to many such resources), I want to go over the one thing I have been overlooking in my quest for better photographs until recently- photo editing. You see, I had a hip, trendy computer which I was fiercely loyal to- and I assumed said computer's standard photo editing software was all I needed (that is what the commercials lead you to believe, right? Only frumpy word-processing types need other equipment....). My husband and I were in the market for a desktop with a ton of memory when said hipster laptop became bogged down with our numerous photos (we began shooting in RAW, and I am totally a convert who will never go back... but I digress, that's another post). He showed me that I could have a fast, memory-packed pc with lots of fancy schmancy software for a lot less money than a hipster desktop with none of the above. I caved. I am now enjoying some lovely pie of crow, by the way.
So, on to a few pictures to illustrate why you need a good software too (and a few common sense tips to fixing your photos). These were all from my honeymoon in Scotland a year and a half ago. Some are shot with our DSLR, and some are shot with a Canon Powershot SD870 IS plain old point and shoot (yes, expensive cameras are fabulous, and yes, they will take your photos to the next level. No, you don't NEED one to take great photos). These were all taken before we learned how to actually use our DSLR, or really how to get interesting angles (some were literally out of a moving car going the wrong way down the road). Some of these photos are really horrible, but I hope to show you that with a little creativity you can make your pictures great! I used Lightroom for all of these edits, and strongly encourage you to look into lightroom if you are new to photoshop. It isn't too hard to learn, and its a great way to organize your photos. Plus, photoshop actions run seamlessly in it, and if you aren't doing expert level edits or font, it has all you need.
*I've edited these with somewhat darker tones to reflect the dramatic, romantic nature of our trip. We went in the middle of fall, and the drizzle let up for one out of fourteen days. It was perfect. This might not be how it looked, but they convey how the scenes we saw felt. I love that I can take the images we have on the computer and transform them into how I remember the scene looking, how I felt being immersed in the most beautiful country on earth. The incredibly hard part of taking photos in Scotland is the constantly gray sky and flat light. Yes, overcast days can be great for photographing people- but when you're taking pictures of a landscape (or landmark that's set against the sky) it ruins your shots by looking like everything is shot on a big white backdrop. I've tried to minimize that wherever possible by cropping shots.
The first person to correctly identify which were taken with each camera wins a bottle bag of their choice!
Before: Boring, gray, one-toned. After: still a bit boring, but the white is clearer, colors stand out. A good chunk of worthless sky is also cut out. This distillery is the black hole of our honeymoon shots- almost none are good, but it was a great story about how I made us lost by going to the wrong town and then hauling our little rented mercedes deathtrap over a singletrack road full of dicey turns and speeding two ton lorries. So, I had to do something to make these more palatable!
Before: Another shot that is cool to me because I remember this quaint little town, but it's unremarkable. After: by adding a lo-fi black and white preset which makes the photo gritty, shadowy, and antiqued, it is much more interesting. The spire was the whole reason I took this, and it stands out wonderfully in this shot. (Just a note- this was achieved by filtering out certain colors when transferring the image to black and white. A standard "b&w" setting on cheap editing software won't achieve this)
This cross was a roadside memorial in a small town, which we actually passed and turned back around to photograph. We loved the shape of the cross, and it was positioned over a breathtakingly beautiful valley in the Spey between the Glenlivet Estate and Granton-on-Spey. I remember that day perfectly, and the pictures we have are nothing like this place that felt so mystical and cherished by the family, who oddly enough, have their family cemetery in their front yard, complete with parking spaces for the public. The following shots are some different creative edits I was able to obtain with free presets I downloaded-and while not all of them look as I remembered them, they convey how I felt about this find that was so small, but so moving.
The more accurate colors of the day- that valley!
And finally, we spent a good part of an afternoon hunting for Nessie at Urquart Castle on Loch Ness.
We have a ton of pictures from this beautiful loch, but most are spoiled with rain drops, for which I have no cure (was it Nessie's curse?). However, I thought this one my husband took on top of the castle looking out to the loch could be dramatic if only we could punch up the color. I was right. The edited shot is so dramatic, you can tell why a mythical beast chose this loch to live.
Before- gray, flat, boring (and you can't really see the rock foreground which is the only part of the shot in focus). After- the sky is no longer white, the trees along the hill pop, and the water pool from the castle ruins dance in the passing light.
I will be discussing HOW I got these edits in upcoming posts, including the presets I used- but in the meantime, if you don't have lightroom or photoshop, run and buy it. Your Etsy shop, blog and facebook galleries will thank you!