Tutorial Tuesday | Photography with Window Light

Hello, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Today, I’m here to show you ways that you can capture photos using the light from the windows in your home.

Have you ever avoided taking photos in your home because the lighting isn’t great? Or looked around and wished you had gorgeous natural light flooding in, as with the beautiful homes we see in magazine spreads? Me too! I love our current home, but it has several rooms that are rather dark. As I eventually discovered, myself, window lighting has so much potential — even if it’s hard to see at first.

A few tips before we begin:

  • I highly recommend pulling out your DSLR if you have one. If all you have is a cell phone camera, however, that’s OK! Explore all the options and controls available in your camera app and ensure you’re making the most of your images.
  • Turn out the artificial lights! These techniques rely on having only the light from the window affecting your subject.

Ready? Let’s go!

Where’s The Light?

I love our kitchen, but it’s dark. There’s one window behind the sink, but it only gets indirect sunlight and the rest of the kitchen pretty much stays in shadow…

While it’s true that good light makes an image, the same can be said for shadows. Having both shadow and light gives much more depth to an image,  and shadows can help hide the junk in the background that you don’t want to see anyway! As you’ll soon see, this kitchen window has become my absolute favorite spot to capture photos in my home.

Once I even had to stop mid-chop to capture a photo of cilantro as I was preparing dinner!

Now that we’ve focused on figuring out where the light is… let’s explore all the ways we can utilize the windows in our home to capture amazing photos.

Photograph At An Angle To The Window

Stand perpendicular to the window. This means to stand so that one of your shoulders is toward the window, and one of your shoulders is away from it. The subject should be right in front of the window. This allows you to capture strong directional light and shadows moving across your subject.

Here is my son standing in front of the kitchen window, and my left shoulder was toward the window. Notice how the light falls off and the right side of his face and body is in shadow?

Here are two more examples using the same kitchen window. I placed these flowers in a cup on the kitchen floor and pulled out my macro lens! I love how the light just kisses the flowers and then dies off, leaving the rest of the image in shadow. You can’t even see the floor just a few inches below.

*TIP* If you do product photography, for an Etsy shop or another type of online sales listing, consider using lighting like this!

And just to show that I do have more than one window in my house, here’s my daughter and our cat Tiggy. In this instance, my right shoulder was toward the window. These windows happen to be much larger than my kitchen window, so you can see that the image overall is pretty well lit even though we still have those awesome shadows in there…

And one more of yet another cat, Pinkie Pie (we have four cats!). This is a window in my daughter’s bedroom…

Photograph Straight On To The Window

OK, so now you know how to use the window when you are standing perpendicular to it. But you can also shoot straight on to the window, as well. Here’s another shot of the cats in my daughter’s window… only this time, I was directly facing the window…

This presents challenges, as the outside will often be much brighter than the inside. In this example, I used the meter of my DSLR to set the exposure for the front yard, which resulted in the cats being in shadow. I focused on their ears so I could capture the outline of their ears in focus. I think this works because cats have a distinctive silhouette and this lets me tell the story of two cats staring out into the trees in the front yard.

And now, back to my favorite kitchen window. You’ll notice my kitchen’s a mess, dishes all around, even a dead plant off to the left! I want my kids to look back on our photos and connect with what they see, so I don’t stress over clutter or creating a perfect frame. I just had my daughter hop up on the counter and I snapped this. Took just a few minutes!

A few things to note:

  • While I am facing straight to the window, my daughter’s body is at an angle to the window so the light can touch her face. I had her slowly turn her head back towards the window just until I saw the light outline her sweet face and then I took the photo. If she was sitting with her back fully to the window and looking directly at us, her entire face would be in shadow and we wouldn’t be able to see her.
  • It’s totally OK if the window itself is blown out when you attempt this type of photo (“blown out” meaning that the image data is so bright that it has become fully white and lost all detail).
  • I set exposure off her face — that little patch of skin on her left cheek — to get the results here. You can easily play around with the exposure in your editing software later.
  • It’s very difficult to capture this type of an image with a cell phone. Most cell phones will try to auto-meter and it’s nearly impossible for the phone to determine what it should be metering for (and thus, it will probably over-expose the image — i.e. make the interior of the home appear fully lit).

Get Out There And Practice!

I took these photos in a camper we rented over spring break last year…

Once you learn to manage window light, you’ll see opportunities everywhere! At stores… restaurants… even in campers!

There’s no substitute for practice. If some of these techniques seem confusing, pull out your camera and try to replicate the setups from the sample images. I’ve been known to use a doll in place of a child because the doll listens to my directions much better than my kids do. As you practice, really focus on “seeing” the light and shadow, and notice how small changes in positioning can make a huge difference in the impact of the photo.

A few things to consider:

  • What is the story you’re trying to convey? Are things properly illuminated (or hidden!) to support that message?
  • Editing is key. Remember that what I’m showing here are edited images! Now, I’m pretty lazy… so the editing on these is pretty basic. But I do like to enhance contrast a bit so my images pop.
  • Explore black and white. The high-contrast images you get from directional lighting naturally lend themselves to gorgeous black and white edits.

I hope that I’ve inspired you to try using window lighting in your home in new ways when taking photographs. I’ll be back later to show you tips on creating amazing photos using the artificial light in your home!


About the Author  Beckie is a creative team member at The Digital Press and who lives near Austin, Texas. In addition to scrapping and photography, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and ignoring household chores. 

Friday Favorites | Dawn by Design

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of our designer feature series here on The Digital Press blog in 2019 — Friday Favorites! This year, we are learning a bit more about each of our fantastic designers by having them share some of their favorite things with us each week (so much fun!).

This week, the spotlight is on the super talented Dawn Farias of Dawn by Design! This is actually Dawn’s 3rd feature here on the blog (you can find her most recent feature article from March 2018 HERE… and/or her Foodie Friday article from September 2017 HERE w/ yummy food ideas/recipes).

This time around, in order to learn even more about Dawn, we asked her to share one (or more) of her favorite things with us… and this is what she had to say…


“I’ve always had straight hair, but wished for curly. In the 80s that meant perms, but thankfully that time has passed and we don’t really talk about it anymore. Nowadays, it means that I rely on my wand curling iron to get the job done.

About a year ago, I came across a tip for doing this really quickly. You simply put your hair in a high ponytail, curl it in sections, and then let it down. It takes me less than five minutes to curl, shake out, do a random re-curl here and there, and spray my hair. Considering I work outside the home and have a family to get up and out of the house each morning, this hair hack makes me very happy! It’s also easier on my arms.

Here, you’ll see my entire hair/make-up routine from start to finish (and I timed it! — less than 10 minutes! — see lower-right image)… “

 


For those of you who aren’t already familiar with Dawn’s design work, she creates an awesome collection of kits, templates, pocket cards and stand-alone element sets. I love the color schemes she uses in her kits and how she includes a nice mix of dimensional and artsy elements so her kits will work well with any style layout you’re creating. And, if you haven’t checked out her office style date stamps, you really should; they’re super fun! And if you’re into alphas … you’ll find a bunch of fun options in her shop as well!

Here is a sampling of some of the items you’ll find in Dawn’s shop here at The Digital Press


And to give you just a glimpse of how versatile her products are, and show you many of the fun ways they can be used… here’s a look at just a few of my favorite projects from the gallery at TDP, which is always full of beauties from Dawn’s shop

 

Aren’t those layouts super inspiring?!

Hopefully, today’s Friday Favorites article has given you even more insight into Dawn’s persona and creative style (and again, if you want to know even more about her — scroll up and use the links to her previous features here on TDP’s blog, where’s there’s lots of good stuff!).

And the best news of all?! …during Dawn’s upcoming feature week here at The Digital Press, you can enjoy the chance to score an amazing deal in her shop if you use the following coupon code when purchasing her digital goodies (this code/sale will be valid through 11:59pm ET on Thurs 3/21). Don’t miss it!

 

[ if you have trouble seeing the coupon image, above, the codes are as follows: “save $2 off any purchase of $5+” by using code = 2OFF5-DAWN . . . or “save $5 off any purchase of $10+” by using code = 5OFF10-DAWN ]


Barbara

About the Author  Barbara is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. She lives in Minnesota, is married (coming up on 25 years!) and has two awesome kids (a 22 year old son and a 19 year old daughter) as well as an adorable 12 year old Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier. In her free time she loves to play in Photoshop (you can learn a little something new every time you use PS right?!), take photos, and try out new recipes for healthy dishes. Life is good!

Tutorial Tuesday | Photo Repetition

Greetings happy scrappers, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! This week, I am going to share some creative ways to use the same photo multiple times on your layout in order to draw attention to and highlight the important details, and more!

Using the same photo repetitively on your page is also a fantastic way to bring cohesiveness and interest to your project. As with every aspect of scrapping, there is no right or wrong way to use a photo more than once on your page… and it is fun to try different techniques!

Therefore, I’ve compiled the following list of tips/ideas for doing so…


Blended photo | In the two examples shown here, the duplicated photo has been subtly blended into the background. Placement of the blended photo is important, because you want the viewer to be able to see the main subject of the photo…

Whether the blended photo takes up a portion of the background, or fills the entire background, the effect gives the page a soft, airy feeling…


Cropped photo | Cropping the duplicated photo is a great way to emphasize your favorite part of the picture. The cropped photo can be laid on your page as a shape (square, rectangle, triangle, etc.), or the cropped area can be blended into the background. Either way, the duplicated photo provides a path for the viewer to follow on your layout…

In each of these two examples, the most important part of each photo has been cropped and placed strategically on each page, creating visual triangle…

Here’s another example in which the image on the left is simply a cropped/zoomed-in version of the same photo on the right…


Creative cropping | In the next example, not only is the cropping super creative, but changing the photo to black and white gives the page some added interest. Think outside of the box when duplicating your photo!


Macro cropping | Cropping the photo so it appears that it was taken using a macro lens really adds a fun aspect to the layout. When using this technique it can appear that you have used two totally different photos, when in fact it is the same one duplicated…

KIT & TEMPLATE: As the Leaves Turn by Designed by Irma: http://shop.thedigitalpress.co/As-the-leaves-turn-bundle.html
FONT: Touch by Karla Noel: http://shop.thedigitalpress.co/KN-Font-Touch.html

As you can see, using repetitive photos on your page is a great way to add interest to your pages… and really, the sky is the limit as to the ways the duplicated photo can be scrapped. Thanks for stopping by the blog today! I hope you’ll find this installment of Tutorial Tuesday to be useful the next time you work on a project!

Until next time… happy scrapping!!


About the Author  Jill W is a creative team member at The Digital Press and has been scrapping for over 13 years. She resides in Northwest Illinois. In addition to scrapping, she enjoys spending time with her family — especially her three young grandchildren (ages 6, 4 and 2). Retirement is getting closer for her, and she is anxious to travel the country with her husband, taking photos and scrapping them as they journey across the USA.

Hybrid How-To | Decorative Peat Pots

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of our Hybrid How-To series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I am going to show you how to print digital elements on tissue paper to make these pretty peat pots.

This tutorial is about making the peat pots, yes… but really, it is going to teach you the trick for printing on tissue paper — a skill which opens up a bunch of new crafty possibilities. Peat pots are the object I chose for this, but you could use the tissue paper on lots of other mediums — from those cute metal buckets, to the glass inside a picture frame, to bowls or plates, etc. So many options!

Supplies Needed

  • Digital elements of your choice (I used Starting Fresh | Blendable by Calista’s Stuff)
  • Photo-editing program such as Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
  • White tissue paper
  • Cardstock
  • Tape
  • Peat pots
  • White acrylic paint
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint brush & foam brush

Instructions

  1. First, we need to size the elements for the peat pots. Mine needed to be about 2.5″ in height (but it didn’t matter how wide)…

2. Next is the printing. Cut the tissue paper down to about 1″ smaller than what your printer will allow. The trick to printing on tissue paper is to tape it to a piece of cardstock and send it through the printer that way.

Here’s a look at my tissue paper after I’d sent it through the printer, with the painty elements printed onto it…

You’ll note that I had a little ink spray on my page, but it didn’t matter because I knew I’d be cutting all of that away.

3. The next step is to paint the peat pots. The white acrylic paint will help hide the edges of the tissue paper. I just used a big paint brush and criss-crossed a pretty thick layer all over the pots, leaving some of the brown color showing.

4. Next, cut the images out of the tissue paper. Nothing precise, just follow the basic shape of the image…

5. After that, we’ll Mod Podge the tissue paper images onto the peat pots with a foam brush. Once the tissue paper is wet, it will rip easily… so make sure you brush carefully.

That’s it! So easy, right?

Here’s a look at the final project. The Mod Podge finish makes them shiny and so pretty…

Another look…

These peat pots took me less than an hour to make, and they will make a perfect addition to my spring decor. I think I’m going to fill mine with some fake nests and eggs. 🙂

I hope you’ll give this project a try!


Kate About the Author  Kate is on the hybrid team here at The Digital Press. She lives on the Utah/Colorado border with her husband, 5 kids, 10 chickens, a dog named Gracie, and a cat named Kit. She’s a city-born girl who found she’s really a country girl at heart. She can be found outside, barefoot, and probably in her garden.

Friday Favorites | Julia Makotinsky

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of our designer feature series here on The Digital Press blog in 2019 — Friday Favorites! This year, we are learning a bit more about each of our fantastic designers by having them share some of their favorite things with us each week (so much fun!).

This week, the spotlight is on the awesomely-talented Julia Makotinsky ! This is actually Julia’s 3rd feature here on the blog (you can find her most recent feature article from June 2018 HERE… and/or her Foodie Friday article from February 2018 HERE w/ yummy food ideas/recipes).

This time around, in order to learn even more about Julia, we asked her to share one (or more) of her favorite things with us… and this is what she had to say…


“When my family and I came to the US, we found our new home in New York. It’s been over 20 years now and I love seeing the ocean from my windows first thing in the morning. There is something magical and calming about the ocean and I never get tired of it. I’ve been walking the same beach all these years and only lately discovered such thing as “beach combing”. I always loved looking for things on the beach, but lately it has become an obsession.

I also discovered a new beach nearby, which is a true treasure hunter paradise. It’s an abandoned place which holds various household items from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. If I ever get sad or lost for ideas, I go to that beach to just get lost in the search for history, bits of pottery, toys… while listening to the waves crush against the shoreline.

Here are just some of my finds…

…and being a designer, I always look for pieces of pottery to get some pattern design ideas from for my papers, or color combinations, and just have fun exploring. I always thought I was the only crazy person looking for stuff to find on the beach, but as it turns out IT’S A THING! called “beachcombing” — who knew? 🙂 …and there are others who do the same exact thing. Makes me wonder if any of our followers have the same hobby as I do? And if not, I just hope you’ll find this little fact about me interesting to read!”


Isn’t that so fun?! Kind of amazing… the history that can be found just laying around on a beach somewhere… 🙂

For those of you who aren’t already as familiar with Julia’s design work, she creates the most amazing doodles and fanciful elements.  Her work is fun and quirky and so easy to play with!  Julia has so many different products too!

Here is a sampling of some of the items you’ll find in Julia’s shop here at The Digital Press

And to give you just a glimpse of how versatile her products are, and show you many of the fun ways they can be used… here’s a look at just a few of my favorite projects from the gallery at TDP, which is always full of beauties from Julia’s shop

Aren’t those layouts super inspiring?!

Hopefully, today’s Friday Favorites article has given you even more insight into Julia’s persona and creative style (and again, if you want to know even more about her — scroll up and use the links to her previous features here on TDP’s blog, where’s there’s lots of good stuff!).

And the best news of all?! …during Julia’s upcoming feature week here at The Digital Press, you can enjoy the chance to score an amazing deal in her shop if you use the following coupon code when purchasing her digital goodies (this code/sale will be valid through 11:59pm ET on Thurs 3/14). Don’t miss it!

 

[ if you have trouble seeing the coupon image, above, the codes are as follows: “save $2 off any purchase of $5+” by using code = 2OFF-JULI4 . . . or “save $5 off any purchase of $10+” by using code = H4LFOFF-JULI4 ]


Robin

About the author  Robin is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. A wife of 26 years and a mom of 4 crazy children (3 in college and 1 still at home), she says that her life occurs mostly in the car as she transports said crazy kids to their many, many homeschool activities. When not driving, Robin loves to make her family cringe by pulling out her camera again (and again, and again…).

Tutorial Tuesday | Creating a Pop Art Effect

Hi everyone, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I’m going to show you how to create a pop art effect with your photos — either for fun, or as a way of using your imperfect photos in a creative way.

We all know that life sometimes gets in the way of the perfect photo. Sometimes that one blurry photo is the only one you have of a wonderful event, and the memory deserves to be scrapped even if the photo is less-than-perfect! I have found that applying a pop art effect is a great way to use those imperfect photos in a fun way.

For instance, here’s a photo that I want to use from our recent trip to Rome…

You’ll see that I’m all hot and bothered in this photo, and that’s not exactly the type of photo I want to record forever in the pages of my album! So… I decided to give the photo the pop art treatment, instead.

The process might seem a little complicated, but trust me, it’s worth the trouble! Let’s get started.

Step 1: Select your photo and open it in your photo editing software. I use Photoshop CS5, so depending on your own software, it might look a bit different for you (hopefully similar enough, though!). In the Layers Palette, double click on the “Background” layer to unlock it… and rename it to “Photo” or something suitable.

Step 2: Create a new layer underneath your Photo and rename that layer “Background”.

Step 3: Select the Paint bucket tool (G) and fill your Background layer with white.

Step 4: Now we want to remove the unwanted parts of the photo. Select the Pen tool (P), making sure that it’s set to “Path”. Continue to create a selection around the part of your photo that you do want to use.

Step 5: After creating a closed path, right click on the photo and select “Make Selection” from the pop-up menu. Enter “0” as Feather Radius on the next menu.

Step 6: Invert the selection (Shift-Ctrl-I) and press Delete.  You now have your photo subject on a white background.

Step 7: Desaturate your photo (Shift-Ctrl-U).

Step 8: Select the Crop tool (C) and crop your photo to make it visually appealing.

Step 9: Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and adjust the sliders until your photo has pronounced lines (and the imperfections are balanced out!). Merge the adjustment layer with your Photo layer.

Step 10: Go to Filter > Artistic > Cut-out and apply the filter to your Photo, with settings more or less like mine in the image. If your Artistic filters aren’t showing up in Photoshop, a quick Google search will yield a video that explains how to enable these filters.

Step 11: Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels and adjust the sliders until you are left with only black, white and 2 or 3 shades of grey in your photo layer.

Step 12: Apply a Cut-out filter again (see step 10), this time changing only the “Edge Simplicity” setting to 4.

Step 13: Now is a good time to save this project! Then open a new project – I used a 12 x 12 inch canvas to get a feel for the size of the photo on a scrapbook layout. I named the new canvas Pop Art – this is where the magic is going to happen!

Step 14: Drag only your Photo layer to the new canvas, and rename the layer “Photo”.

Step 15: Put the Photo layer into a Group (Ctrl-G) in the layers palette, and rename the group “Set 1”.

Step 16: Create a new layer in the group, underneath your Photo layer, and rename to bg 1 (this will be your photo’s background).

Step 17: Select the Shape tool (U), making sure the rectangle shape is active.

Step 18: With the “bg 1” layer selected, create a rectangle underneath your photo, with the same size as your photo.

Step 19: Now duplicate your Set 1 group 3 times, so that you have 4 groups.

Step 20: Spread the groups evenly on your canvas.

Step 21: Open your inspiration colour scheme – I wanted to use the kit All the Feels | Happiness by Juno Designs and Amanda Yi for my layout, so I decided to use those colours in my photos too.

Double click on the thumbnail of the background layer in Set 1 to open the Colour picker and fill the rectangle with your chosen colour.

Step 22: Create a new layer between the Photo layer and the background layer, and rename the layer to “Photo Colour”.

Step 23: Choose a colour for your photo by using the Eyedropper tool (I).

Hold Ctrl and click on the thumbnail image of your Photo layer (in the layers palette) to select the area in your photo. Make sure the Photo Colour layer is selected, and fill the selection with your chosen photo colour using the Paint bucket tool (G).

Step 24: Select the Photo layer, and change the blending mode to “Screen”.

Step 25: Repeat steps 21 to 24 for the other 3 sets too.

Step 26: You can increase the Saturation on your Photo Colour layer if you want to. Do this by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue / Saturation and adjusting the sliders.

Step 27: You can now drag the Photo groups to any layout you want to make, and enjoy your fun pop art photos!

 Here is the layout I created with my improved photos:

As you can see, the pop art effect really adds a fun element to the page, and I don’t have to feel embarrassed about scrapping with such a bad photo! 🙂

I hope you all enjoy creating the pop art effect… and please don’t be scared to use bright colours!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Christelle is a creative team member at The Digital Press, happily creating for all of the talented designers. She’s originally from South Africa, and has recently relocated to the UK with her husband. She loves scrapping her 3 lovely step-children and 4 beautiful nieces and all of their (mis)adventures. If she could, she’d travel all the time, but for now she makes do with traveling as often as possible. Her other hobbies include machine embroidery and sewing, as well as reading soppy romance!