Category: Tutorials

Hybrid How-To | Make a Notebook Cover

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of our Hybrid How-To series on The Digital Press blog! Today I’m going to teach you how to use digital products to make a physical cover for your Traveler’s Notebooks (and/or for any other small book) by printing and using your favorite papers and digital word art from The Digital Press.

To give you a good idea of what can be created using the digital products you’ll find here at The Digital Press, I’ve selected a wide range of products to play with today. Here is a look at some of the gorgeous products I am using for today’s tutorial…

The Good Life — a TDP Designer collaboration

Blessed | Collection by Karla Noel

Snapshots | Kit by Little Lamm Paper Co.

Wild Child | Papers by Rachel Etrog Designs

A Little Focus | Word Art by KimB Designs

That’s a good selection, right? I love how much variation there is in the different types of products (and styles, too) that you can find when you go digital.

I started doing my memory keeping in a Traveler’s Notebook about a year and half ago. The inserts I use are easy to find at my local craft store, and they are inexpensive. When I went to get covers for the notebooks, however, I was disappointed — both by the lack of selection, and by the high price tags! So I started doing some research and playing around a little bit, and made a few of my own.

Here is a look at some of the tools I used  for this project (most were purchased at my local craft store or on Amazon)…

*A Few Supply Notes* The “fun foam” and Avery self-adhesive laminating sheets are 9″ x 12″ in size; you can also make these using vinyl, a laminating machine, and/or iron-on cloth webbing. The elastic cording is 2mm thick. Double-sided tape, eyelets, and a Crop-a-Dile (or some type of hole/eyelet puncher) are also necessary.

To begin, I printed my papers out on medium weight craft paper; the presentation paper that I normally use to print photos was a bit too heavy for this project, as you want something that will bend easily. I used a 8.5″ x 11″ sheet paper, which was just tall enough for my “standard” size Traveler’s Notebook (the 11″ was actually a little wide, so I ended up cutting about 1/2 inch off the width, once printed).

The next step is to adhere the self-laminating sheet to the printed side of your pattern paper. Smooth gently with your hand as you lay the adhesive laminate over your paper, and go slowly to avoid any bubbles or wrinkles.

Cut off the excess laminating sheet so that it is even with the pattern paper. Now you are ready to add the foam to the other side of your paper. I used double-sided sticky tape for this, adhering it to the piece of foam first, as shown here…

Pay extra attention to the edges and the corners, as shown above, as that is where it could separate if not taped all the way to the end.

Next, remove all of the tape protector and line up the foam piece with your paper and smooth out. Once adhered… you can cut the foam to fit your paper…

You now have your cover — approximately 8.5″ x 11″ (or whatever size you may have used, instead) with the pattern paper side laminated, and the other side adhered to the foam. This is a good time to trim it down if it is too wide, or if you have any uneven edges.

Next, you are going to punch holes for your eyelets. I punched a 1/8 inch hole using my Crop-A-Dile and my Big Bite for the center hole. You can either just measure and mark where you want to punch the holes using a pen, or you can make a paper template to set onto the foam to guide you as to where to punch the holes. I made my two holes about 1/2 inch down from each edge, and then the center hole about 4-1/2 inches down from the top.

After punching the holes you are ready to set your eyelets. This is step can be a bit tricky depending on your eyelets. I had to redo a couple of mine because the eyelet wasn’t long enough to make it thru all of the layers (to fix, I just pulled out the funky eyelet and tried another eyelet from the same pack and it worked great).

Once you set your eyelets, you can also use a corner edger/chomper to round your corners (see next image, below). I rounded mine to 1/4 inch on all four corners. This was a personal preference decision; I think it gives it a more finished look…

Now you are ready to thread your cording thru the eyelets. I cut the main piece of cording to about 20 inches. I started on the inside and left a “tail” of cord to go thru the first hole at the top, and then from the outside I threaded it through the second hole at the top, like this…

Once your cord is threaded through the eyelets, you will tie the two ends together. You’ll want this to be taut — but not so tight that your book curls up on you a lot. If you’re not sure, tie it loosely and put one of your inserts in to see if it feels right. When you are satisfied, tie your knot and trim the ends.

Next, you’ll want to thread the middle cord that actually goes around the book. For this one, I cut about 10 inches of cording. Before threading both ends thru the center hole, you may want to make a “tab” out of the fun foam like I did. I just cut a 3 inch rectangle of foam and rounded the corners, punched a hole on each end, and threaded the cord in and out of the holes.

Then you are ready to take both ends from the outside to the inside of the center eyelet. Because you are pushing thru two cords this one may be tight – on 2 of mine it worked, and on two of them I went ahead and punched a bigger hole and used a bigger eyelet.

Once you get the threads in, you’ll tie a knot — making sure the cord is lose enough to fit over the top and around your notebook.

Here is a look at the finished notebooks without any inserts; they will lay much better once the inserts are placed inside…

Here is a view from the back of the book; it’s sometimes nice to put different paper or word art here…

Next, you can add the inserts. My books get so bulky that I only add two insert books into mine, as you can see here…

Here are a few photos that show my book after I added my completed inserts…

As you can see, they will actually hold quite a bit!

And finally, here’s a look at all of my completed notebooks with their new custom-made covers!

And that’s it! Super cute, and fun to make. I hope I’ve inspired you to use your own digital products to make a book cover! If you give this project a try, we would love to see pictures of your completed projects in the Hybrid Gallery at The Digital Press!

Happy crafting, everyone!

About the Author  KerriAnne is a homebody who resides in the desert SW. She started scrapbooking when her kids were little and hasn’t stopped despite the teenagers rolling their eyes and sticking out their tongues!  When not scrapping or being a chauffeur, she can be found consuming large amounts of iced coffee.

Tutorial Tuesday | Using “Group Layers”

Hello Everyone, and welcome to an edition of Tutorial Tuesday that might change the way you scrap forever! LOL! Today I’m going to show you a trick for using the “group layers” function in Photoshop to move/adjust an entire grouping of items on your page, all at one time.

I am a little bit indecisive as a person, and that is definitely true when I am scrapping. I might think I have the page pretty much how I want it, but then I tend to fiddle and want to move the little element cluster over a bit, and make it a bit bigger, or no, actually smaller maybe and so on. I might decide that I want to try moving the main focus/photo/group of the page all the way over to the left, or go from straight lines to all at an angle. Using “group layers” is a way to do all of those things without needing to move each item individually, or lock them together. When I learned this trick, it made scrapping so much faster for me, and allowed me to satisfy my indecisive curiosity, too!

Let me give you an example. I made the following page called “Tower Bridge,” about a trip my daughter and I made to London…

[Layout created using mainly Rachel Hodge – London Take 2 Set and London Take 2 Cards]

When scrapping this page, I knew that I wanted the photo of the bridge to go across the top, so I chose my background paper and created the photo effect I wanted. So far, so good!

Next, I knew I wanted to have a photo and a journal card, with my journaling written on the background paper (and not on the journal card — that is just the kind of contrary person I can sometimes be!).

Because I knew the basic idea of the layout I wanted to create, I started to place the journal card and photo with the word art, the stickers, and the flowers, etc… until I was happy that I had the elements pretty much where I wanted them. So far, this is how the page looked…

*NOTE* If you look at my layers panel in the image above, you can see that I tend to rename the layers as I go; it is easy to do, and I like being able to find the particular element I want from that whole list of elements! I select the layer, then press OPT and double click on the layer name, and it opens a box for me to rename that layer.

Meanwhile, I had built the main cluster in the middle of my page, but soon could see that I had too much space at the bottom. I wanted to move the main cluster down, but leave the wide background photo where it was at the top. This is when the “Group Layers” function is so handy!

All you need to do is…

  1. Select/highlight the layers you want to put into a group (you need to hold down CTRL (PC) or COMMAND (Apple) and click on each layer you want to select, so that each layer is highlighted in blue).
  2. When the layers you want in your group are selected/highlighted, click CTRL+G (PC) or COMMAND+G (Apple) and it will put all of those layers into a group for you. I often rename the group at this point (for example I named this group “main group”). Now I can click on that group name, click COMMAND+T, and move the whole lot in one go. I moved it down a bit, so that I could have space for a title up at the top, and less space down at the bottom. If you click on the little triangle next to the group name, then you will be able to see all the layers in the group. Click on the little triangle again, and the list condenses into just the group name/file.

*A handy tip — if you “Group Layers” when you have only a few layers, it is faster… and any layers you add after you’ve already made that group are added into the group “folder” also, unless you move them out of the folder. You can even create a group before you have any layers to go in it.

So now that I’d moved everything in that group downward on my page… there was some space to add a title above the main cluster. This time I started a group called “TOWER title” before I opened any of the alphas because I knew I was going to use a couple of different alphas that I would then want to keep together, and that would mean a lot of layers to keep track of. I know I could have made the title and the merged the layers into a single layer, but as I mentioned, I am indecisive and I like to keep them separate until the last minute, so I still have options! Here is how it looked with the title…

(I get “group happy” and actually I have a “stencil tower title” group and a “stamp tower title” group, and then the “bridge” layer separately, so I can fiddle with each of them independently)

At this point, all that was left to do was to add the journaling… and I found I had more space than I needed for that journaling. Therefore, I decided I wanted to make that main cluster and title a little bigger. It was sooooo handy to only need to select my “MAIN GROUP’ and “TOWER title” to adapt all of them to suit my needs!

There are all sorts of things you could play around with using the “Group Layers” function. For example, I could have decided to move the main cluster over to the left of the page (but with this particular page I wanted to create a bit of a subtle “T” using the wide photo at the top and then the block of other “stuff” as the vertical section of the letter T). I have also been known to duplicate the title or text box so I can flick between different fonts or different colors until I decided which I preferred. I’ve also been known to duplicate the main cluster to tilt it a bit for a quirky angle. Sometimes, if I have created a flower cluster, I have duplicated the cluster and then moved the duplicate cluster to another location on the page and then tweaked it a bit, but I’ve found it useful to have the main structure of cluster already done.

You can see the final result of my page up at the top of this post. The wide, bridge photo has never moved, while the main cluster of photo, journal card, word art and other elements, were all adjusted with a few simple clicks of the keyboard throughout my scrapping process.

I hope this might be an easy trick that you find useful… something that helps neaten up your process (and if you are like me, maybe it can speed up any decision making you tend to dither over)!

CorrinAbout the Author Corrin is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. She is a fan of the Big Bang Theory and a lover of cozy pajamas or flip flops when the sun finally shines! She lives in the breezy South of England with her husband and 4 crazy kids, who regularly discover & plunder her secret chocolate stashes, and hopes that maybe this will be the year she reaches the bottom of the laundry pile!

Tutorial Tuesday | Minimalism & Sharing Digital Scrapbooks

Hi there scrapping friends, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog!

This week, I’m here to share a topic this week that’s a bit near to my heart. It’s an answer to the question — how do I store my scrapbooks and share them with friends and family across the miles — AND take them with me wherever I go?

A few years ago, I got on a huge minimalism kick. Inspired to declutter my life, I went through my entire house and sold or donated carload after carload of clothes… unused electronics… unnecessary furniture… books… oooooh, so many things!

My minimalist ambitions were even more motivated by an insatiable desire to travel that I share with my husband. We are basically digital nomads, and rarely stay in one place for very long. Over time, though, I found that it bummed me out that I didn’t have a great way to take my scrapbooks with me, since I like to look back on them often. On top of that, it got really old, really quickly to have to lug around box after box of super heavy scrapbooks every time we moved — whether the traditional paper scrapbook albums of my past, or even the books & albums I printed from my digital creations.

In addition to all of that… here I had all of these wonderful albums of memories with friends and family, but these books were only sitting on my coffee table. I wanted to share the albums with the friends and family who were featured in them… and those friends and family live all over the country, which makes sharing a physical book rather difficult.

So with a desire to share these memories across distances, minimize my household, and be able to take my books with me wherever I go… I decided to find a way to share my scrapbooks digitally.

How to do this?

Well, there are obviously social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest where we can share our layouts (and I do!)… but I wanted a way to share a full album, with the option to have it private, and I wanted it to “feel” like looking through a physical scrapbook.

Therefore, I did a lot of research and enlisted the help of my tech-savvy husband to find a solution that worked for me.

What I want to share with y’all today is a few ideas of ways to do this — in case anyone is in a similar boat. There are several services out there that let you upload your own layouts and share either a gallery of images (in our case, a gallery of layouts) or full albums created from a collection of layouts. To name a few:

  • Shutterfly — you can upload and digitally share a scrapbook album
  • Snapfish — you can upload layouts and share a gallery (but not in “scrapbook album” format)
  • SmugMug — you can upload layouts and share a gallery (but not in “scrapbook album” format)
  • Mixbook — you can upload layouts and share a gallery (but not in “scrapbook album” format)
  • Flickr — you can upload layouts and share a gallery (but not in “scrapbook album” format)

What I personally ended up finding is that while these were all great services, none were geared specifically toward digital scrapbookers in the way that I wanted.

My husband is a computer programmer, and in order to help me out he ended up creating a brand new service just for folks like us! It’s called ShareMyScrapbook, and it is now the site I prefer to use. It’s got a really simple interface: I can see all of my scrapbooks at once, digitally-stored, and easily shared (see below)…

For each album, when I click into it, it feels like looking at a real physical scrapbook…

There are options to create albums that are either single page spreads or double page spreads, and you can set your albums to be either public or private.

Then, something I really like, there is a way to enter credits for which designer’s products you used for any given page, as shown here…

And the albums are super easy to share. There is a unique link for each album that you can email to friends and family or post on Facebook.

So now… everything I create is available everywhere I go, there are no heavy boxes to lug around, and my albums are easily shareable across distances. It’s the perfect solution for a gal who wants to keep things simple and yet wants to carry her memories with her everywhere!

And I feel like I’m not the only one who has some of these problems… so I thought it would be helpful to share this solution here on The Digital Press blog in case you’ve been looking for something like this to simplify your own memory-keeping!

Though is my favorite because it was designed specifically for digital scrapbookers, the other services mentioned above (and there are probably tons more, too) can be used in a similar fashion to share your beautiful layouts with people you love!

About the Author  Shannon has been completely addicted to digiscrapping since she began in early 2016 (though she’s been a scrapper since 2000). Her early morning ritual of a few quiet hours of scrapping while sipping a chai tea is her favorite part of each day. She is also the owner of a web design company, and when she’s not at the computer designing websites or digiscrap layouts, she’s probably hiking one of the local mountains in her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. She is an avid reader and loves to travel to foreign countries.

Hybrid How-To | Use of Patterned Papers

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of our Hybrid How-To series on The Digital Press blog! Today I am here to show you how to use multiple patterned papers from your favorite digital kit(s) on your next hybrid scrapbook page.

For the purpose of this tutorial, I added my patterned papers onto a Traveler’s Notebook spread. You can see the final result here…

If you are a lover of patterned papers, then this post is a shout out to YOU!

How many times do you find yourself completely in love with more than 1, 2, 3 (or more!) patterned papers in a collection… and wanting to use ALL of them on your layout? Decisions, decisions… right?! Well, let’s dive into how you can please your palate for all of your patterned paper dreams.

For my layout, I decided to use the Monthly Chronicles March 2019 Nurture collection, shown here…

Here’s a better look at the papers that were available for me to choose from, within this collection…

To begin my project, I used my paper trimmer and cut 1” strips of paper, as shown here…

Then, I turned each stack of paper strips 90 degrees and used the trimmer again to cut the strips into 1″ x 1” squares.

The reason I love using small pieces in this way? You’ll find that you can maximize using multiple patterned papers on a layout by using a shape punch (i.e. square, circle, triangle…) to really spread the love to all your chosen patterned papers. You can also use your die cutting machine (i.e. Cricut Explore Air, Silhouette Cameo, Sizzix Big Shot, etc.), or even freehand with scissors to evenly cut out your preferred shapes.


Sprinkle Patterned Paper Mini Bits Here and There…

Once I had a sampling of paper pieces to work with, I staggered my patterned papers for a smooth flow in which the overall design is not in a block or predictable square format, if that makes sense (scroll up to my layout example image, above, and you’ll see what I mean). I prefer the eye to flow to different levels throughout the layout for interest and pop.

One important recommendation — I think it’s best to lay out your design FIRST, instead of immediately gluing down your papers with a permanent adhesive. You might want to change around a few squares or so here and there. Once you have permanently glued everything down, you are committed. 🙂


Choose a Dominant Patterned Paper as Your “Showcase” Paper…

A dominant paper would be one that has a busier, bolder or stronger pattern than the others you’ve chosen to use on your layout. For example, on my layout, I chose my dominant pattern paper as the fern/leaf paper. It was a bit bolder in color and pattern than my other papers, which were all more toned-down in neutrals or pastels and design flow. If you look at the final project image, up above, you’ll see that the squares of paper with the fern pattern just stand out as a tiny bit bolder/more noticeable.

You’ll want to be careful with your dominant paper so that you don’t use it too often in your layout. I like to design in “odd” numbers for balance and eye flow. So, I cut 7 squares for my dominant paper that would not overpower my other choice of papers.

Mix and Match Your Patterned Paper With Photo(s) and/or Journaling 

I chose a minimal flow for my overall design, and decided to have one photo as the focal point of my layout. Also, I toned down the photo by printing it in black and white for a smoother transition into the multiple patterned papers (as they are various colors within themselves).

If you add a color photo, you want to be careful with your dominant pattern paper choice, as well as the rest of the coordinating papers of choice on your layout. Otherwise, things can end up being too bold and overpower the photo itself.

Finally, you’ll see in this next image that I planned my layout design out ahead, in order to leave a space at the top for my title work in addition to the space for a photo at the bottom left…

Here’s one more look at the finished project…

Hopefully these ideas will be helpful the next time you consider printing out a few of your favorite digital papers to add to a physical project!

I challenge you to choose 3-4 of your favorite pattern papers from over in The Digital Press shop on your next layout! We can’t wait to see what you come up with after you try out my tips for inspiration. Load up some projects in the gallery and link us up in the comments, if you do!

About the Author  Wendy has a strong passion for the arts, lots of creative spirit, and is fearless in working with new products and techniques. During the day, she works full-time as an Audit Manager. Wendy and her family live on the Gulf coast of emerald waters in Navarre, Florida. Her husband is from Italy and is an amazing Executive Chef at an Italian restaurant in Navarre. Her daughter is a Yorkie named Principessa. Wendy has over 20 years of experience in the scrapbooking industry. She has been published several times in print and online scrapbook magazines, and has designed for several manufacturer’s creative teams. Wendy is currently designing for The Digital Press as a hybrid artist.   Also, Wendy is on the Creative Teams for Feed Your Craft, Sahin Designs, Everyday Explorers and Creative Memories. 

Tutorial Tuesday | PART 4: The Exposure Triangle

Welcome another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! This is Part 4 of our 4-part photography series all about the exposure triangle. If you’ve happened to have missed this series throughout the past few weeks and you need a recap, you can find the other parts of this series HERE –> PART 1  — PART 2PART 3. To refresh your memory, in the first post we introduced the idea that photography exposure depends on three settings: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed… and then we’ve been exploring each of those in the subsequent editions of the series (ISO in PART 2, and aperture in PART 3).

That means that today we’ll be focusing on the final setting of the exposure triangle — shutter speed.

Shutter speed is the time when the “hole” that lets the light come into the camera and hit the sensor remains open. The longer it remains open, the more light gets in, the shorter it remains open, the less light gets in.

As I mentioned in PART 1 of this series, every setting of the exposure triangle has a “side effect.” In other words, each setting has consequences for the exposure… but also on something else in the photo, as well. The shutter speed impacts the way movement will be captured in the camera. Shutter speed indicates how long the action of taking the picture will last. If you photograph a car going from point A to point B with a fast shutter speed, you will freeze the movement because you will take the image instantly. If you use a slow shutter speed, the car will be blurred because the image will be taken while it’s starting on point A, and while it’s 5 feet away from point A, and another 5 feet away, etc.

In this first photo I used a fast shutter speed (1/500th of a second) to freeze the movement. The ball looks like it’s floating in the air. You may have noticed that my ISO was pretty high because I had very little light in the room… thus causing some noise (as we saw in PART 1).

In this second image, I chose a medium shutter speed (1/50th of a second) to show some movement, but the ball is still recognizable.

In this last image, I chose a slow shutter speed (0.6 second) and the ball is so blurry it’s not as recognizable anymore. My hand is blurry as well, even though the only movement I did was to open it to release the ball.

As you can see, one second may seem like a very short time in our regular life, but for our camera it’s considered to be a very slow shutter speed. Whether a shutter speed is slow and will create blur… or fast enough to freeze the movement… will also widely depend on your subject. For instance, you will need a much faster shutter speed to capture a sharp photo of a moving car than of someone walking.

In PART 2 and PART 3 of this series I said that ISO is a setting you can set on “auto” if you are just starting to shoot manually, because ISO doesn’t have much impact on the “creative” part of taking a photograph, but that it’s best if you decide on the aperture. Shutter speed is another setting that can drastically change the outcome so it’s important that YOU decide what it will be.

For example, you might want to freeze the movement and hence use a fast shutter speed.

Having a tiny bit of blur gives a sense of movement, like here with the foot, the dress and the hair:

On the contrary, you might want to purposefully create some blur to show movement, like I did here on those bikes from the Tour de France:

As you can notice, the shutter speed I chose was fast enough to freeze the people standing on the side of the road but too slow for the fast moving riders. I could have done the “opposite” effect called panning: by following the riders with my camera, they would be sharp while the environment would be blurry. Both options give a sense of movement for a dynamic image.

Slow shutter speed is also amazing to photograph moving lights, like fair attractions at night or those fireworks:

Be careful with slow shutter speed, though, as you can create unwanted blur. It can be caused by your subject moving too fast for your shutter speed (but in an unintentional way, unlike the examples above) or by your own movements while holding the camera. To avoid “camera shake”, the rule of thumb is to never go below 1/Xth of a second, X being the focal length of your lens. For example if you have an 18-105 zoom, never go below 1/100th of a second. With a 50 mm lens, you can go to 1/50th of a second. Below that, you will have to be very careful and ideally use something sturdy to support your camera (a tripod, a fence, a car) or for you to lean on (a wall).

Now, how do you change shutter speed? If you’re not comfortable using the manual mode of your camera (where you choose all the settings), you can use the speed priority mode: you decide on the shutter speed and the camera picks the other settings in order to have a correct exposure. This “semi-automatic” mode is often represented by the letter S (Nikon) or Tv (Canon) and it gives good results in most situations. It is a good way to experiment with shutter speed without having multiple settings to worry about and it is a great way to start learning about shooting manual.

This is the last post in this series about the exposure triangle! I hope you learned a few things about this very important concept of photography… and that you will also have fun experimenting with the settings! I cannot wait to see the photos you capture (scrapped beautifully and posted in The Digital Press gallery)!

ChloéAbout the author  Chloé is in charge of PR and communication for her small town by day, a digiscrapper “by night,” and a photographer whenever the light is beautiful. She recently became a very happy mom to an adorable little boy.

Tutorial Tuesday | Photography with Artificial Light

Hello, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I’ll be sharing ways to use many under-utilized artificial light sources around your home in order to snap memorable photos and document your life.

Why does the light source matter?

Back in March, I shared a post here on the blog containing tips for using window lighting for capturing photos, and today I’m back to talk about the similar use of artificial light. What’s the difference, and why does it matter? Well, several reasons:

  • Always know your light source, and avoid mixing them
  • Size of light source matters (in general, artificial light sources are smaller than what you’re likely used to working with, and this requires a bit more planning and arrangement to get the photo you want because of how dramatic the shadows are likely to be; more on that later!)
  • Overhead lights don’t count. I only use overhead lights if it’s absolutely unavoidable, as the shadows are often not flattering (or non-existent) and lend themselves better to snapshots and not photographs.

If you have a DSLR camera, I recommend pulling it out to try these ideas. Be prepared to use your highest ISO settings on you DSLR. This tutorial by Chloe is a great intro (or refresher!) on setting exposure. You may be able to get similar results with a cell phone camera… if you can put it into manual exposure mode.

The subtle art behind indoor photography is revealing little bits of light to tell your story, so be prepared for lots of shadow.

Now, let’s jump in!

Computer Monitor — Rim Lighting Effect

My son would live in front of his computer if I let him, so capturing images of him at his desk is important to documenting who he is right now. My goal here was to capture him as I see him… with his face lit up by the screen of his monitor. The very bright light from the monitor quickly fades away and leaves much of this image in shadow, but the way the light frames his face and arm is called “rim lighting”.

To try this yourself: Use your DSLR in manual exposure mode, then set exposure for the brightest spots on the skin of your subject (here I exposed off the skin on his cheekbone). Be sure to eliminate all other light sources or you won’t get that rim lighting effect! Rim lighting is meant to be bright light and dark shadow with little gray in between.

Computer Monitor — as Direct Light Source

Direct Light is light that goes from the source straight to your subject.  In the lens example above, I simply placed the lens on my desk about 6 inches away from the monitor. I love the way the light reaches down into the layers of glass within the lens, and highlights the repeated circles. Notice that the light “falls off” so quickly that it doesn’t even extend down the full length of the lens! This is perfect for helping me hide all the other junk on my desktop that I didn’t need in my image. 🙂

To try this yourself: Use your DSLR in manual exposure mode, then set exposure for the brightest spots on the object you are photographing. Be sure to eliminate all other light sources in the room so you capture all that wonderful shadow! This would work well for a favorite pen, a steamy cup of coffee, or anything else that is slightly reflective!

Laptop — as Portable Light

I really wanted a picture of my oldest sleeping. Her room was lacking a suitable light source, however — so enter the laptop as a portable light! I positioned my laptop on it’s side on her night stand, pretty close to her face and just out of sight to the left in this image.  I found that putting it on it’s side allowed the light to project straight out, vs. the downward angle of a laptop screen when it’s upright and in use. (also note, my sweet sleeping angel called me a creepy stalker when she saw this! LOL).

To become a creepy stalker yourself: Use your DSLR in manual exposure mode, then focus and set exposure for the brightest spots on the skin of your subject. As always, be sure to eliminate all other light sources in the room so you capture all that wonderful shadow! You could also use a laptop on a subject fully awake too, but where’s the fun in that?!

Book Light — as Indirect Light

This is one of the easiest techniques! See that tiny book light on the left of the image, above? That’s the only light source in this whole image! Since the white paper of a book is a perfect reflector, the light bounces off the pages right back onto my subject’s face. The light would be way too harsh if I simply pointed it straight at her face, so using the book to distribute the light back into her face was the perfect solution.

To try this yourself: Grab a book light and make your kid read for 5 minutes. Position the light down onto the book, play with the angle of the book to get the most flattering light on your subject. Eliminate all other light sources. Use your DSLR in manual exposure mode, then set exposure for the brightest spots on the skin of your subject.

Cell Phones and Tablets

This is another SUPER easy technique! I had my niece hold the phone a little closer to her face than normal, set exposure off the skin on her cheekbones, focused on her eyelashes, and clicked. So easy! She was even sitting on my daughter’s bed, in the middle of her messy bedroom, and you wouldn’t even know it!

Black and White is Your Friend

I snapped this purple-skinned image with my cell phone one night after my teen spontaneously joined me while I was scrapbooking. Sure, i could use Photoshop to edit the skin tones… but I’m WAY too lazy for that! One click on a black and white preset — and voila — a beautiful black and white snapshot I’m perfectly happy with, allowing me to remember that moment forever — on a scrapbook page, of course!

[ Layout created using “Our Story” by KimB Designs ]

Don’t be afraid to convert to black and white. Many photos with low lighting tend to look awesome in black and white, which further accentuates the play of light and shadow. Give it a try, yourself!

Thanks for joining us today on the blog! I hope all of these ideas encourage you to try capturing images around your home using all those underappreciated sources of light! And don’t forget you could try many other light sources, as well — like fridge lighting, candles, televisions, etc.!

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