Tutorial Tuesday | Make Your Subject Stand Out

Hello, and welcome to another edition of our always-popular Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Today, I’m here to share with you some practical tips for making your subject stand out more when taking photographs.

Whenever we take a photo, it’s usually much stronger if it has a subject (or a main subject, at least) that can be immediately identified. To make the subject of your photo stand out, you have several “tools” at your disposal. Today, I will show you how to use those tools… using a toy that was recently gifted to my newborn son (because it’s a toy and not a person, it was able to “stand still” for a loooong time while I took all the pictures to illustrate this tutorial, LOL — so it was the perfect subject for me!). Here’s a look…

As you can see in this first picture… it’s a cute stuffed animal, but there is a lot going on visually around the toy (let’s be honest and call it what it is… clutter!). Because of this, it’s not standing out as well as it could be; you cannot easily tell, in just a split second, what the subject of this photo is.

How can I change that without having to clean up the mess around it? Here are a few ideas…

Use Focus and Depth of Field

“Depth of Field” is the sharp area of your picture. If you use a shallow depth of field, that means that only a small “slice” of your image is in focus, the rest of it, in front and behind this “slice”, is blurry. This is a great technique to avoid distractions in the background and separate your subject from the background, even when it’s super messy (like my example here).

How to achieve this effect?

  1. Use a wide aperture (small f/stop in manual mode, macro mode, “portrait” mode on some smartphones)
  2. Zoom in
    …or…
  3. Increase the distance between your subject and the background

You can also mix all of those steps/techniques for an even bigger effect. That’s what I did in the 2nd image, above, when compared to the first image above it. I moved the toy away from the background (closer to the camera), and switched to my “nifty fifty lens” to have a much wider aperture (f/1.8  vs  f/3.5-5.6 with my zoom lens that I had used in the first picture).

Want to read more about depth of field? Here’s an older tutorial from TDP’s blog all about focus and depth of field.

One other idea — you can also “fake” this technique after-the-fact, using your favorite photo-retouching software to blur your background, if your subject isn’t standing out to your liking.

Use the Rules of Composition

The rules of composition — such as the most famous “rule of thirds” — are great at helping guide the eye of the viewer towards the subject to make it immediately visible. There is a great tutorial on TDP’s blog about the most common composition rules.

To quickly recap the concepts that are covered in that previous blog post… here are some of the Rules of Composition to think about…

  • Rule of Thirds
  • Balance
  • Leading Lines
  • Viewpoint
  • Background
  • Symmetry and Pattern
  • Depth
  • Framing
  • Cropping

We definitely recommend giving that old tutorial a quick read! Lots of great info.

No matter what rule you use (or if you decide to break them!)… what’s important is that you make a mindful, creative choice that’s dictated by your subject and what you want to convey. Isolating your subject is key — whether you do that through use of negative space or, on the opposite, by filling the frame completely with it. Each of these two composition choices work really well to eliminate distractions. When you use the “fill the frame” technique, don’t be afraid to crop part of your subject. To achieve these two techniques, you might have to move yourself around your subject… and sometimes move your subject itself, if it’s possible.

Here, I chose to focus on the toy’s face and fill the frame with it…

Use Color

Color can be a very powerful visual tool. Using complementary colors (colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel — for example, purple and yellow… or blue and orange… or green and red), or using contrast between bright and neutral colors, is a great way to add dynamism to your image.

If your subject is red, well… lucky you, because red is a color that stands out naturally! Watch out for red elements that are NOT your subject, however, because they will attract the viewer’s eye and distract from your subject. In this example I used the toy’s bright colors in contrast with the neutral background by photographing it from above…

If you need more color inspiration, there is an older tutorial on TDP’s blog about using colors in layouts …but those examples can perfectly apply to photographs, as well!

Change Your Perspective / Point of View

Try taking your time to work your subject… move around it… experiment various points of view… different angles, etc. Try shooting at your subject’s level, or above it (like I did for the image up above), or from below it (like this next example), or from the front or the side, or even from the back for a “faceless” portrait.

Use Light

Light is the photographer’s raw material (photography means “writing with light”)… and you can definitely use it to make your subject stand out. For example, you can use backlight (with subject between you and the light source); rim light (the light is on the side of your subject and defines it with a “glow”); or a pocket of light in an otherwise darker environment.

In this image, above, the light was actually a mix of backlight and rim light.

Focus on Details

Last but not least, sometimes you don’t have to see the “big picture” to tell a story through your photo. You can focus (no pun intended) on small parts of your subject and still evoke emotions and memories, and sometimes they will even be more powerful than an image of the whole subject.

Focusing on details can easily be “mixed” with the “filling the frame” technique I mentioned before. Here I decided to focus on the toy’s ears that are, to me, the cutest part of it. My hand got into the picture as a nice “prop” to help attract the eye to the part I wanted to highlight.

Hopefully all of these practical tips and tricks will help you get stronger photos by helping to ensure that your photos have a clear subject! Now it’s time to get out your camera, and start capturing the little Everyday things in your life from a new perspective!


ChloéAbout the author  Chloé is in charge of PR and communication for her small town by day, is a digiscrapper “by night,” and a photographer whenever the light is beautiful. She lives with her man and dog Kira in a small town of Alsace (in the northeast of France), where she loves to read, watch good TV shows (TWD being her absolute favorite), and just hang out with her friends — no matter if they are close by, online, or away in her Swiss hometown. Right now she’s busy growing her baby boy that should be here in February.

Tutorial Tuesday | Editing Colors Individually

Hey everyone, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Let’s talk about photo editing and color today!

You probably know how to change the colors of your picture globally (and if you don’t, there are some other tutorials on the blog that can give you some simple tips like this one about saturation and contrast, etc.). But sometimes, editing all the colors of a picture at once can lead to an unnatural, “fake” looking photo. To avoid that, you can work on each color individually so that you can edit just the color you want to change, not the whole picture. I will show you how to do so in Lightroom and Photoshop, but I’m confident you will have similar settings available in just about any photo-editing software.

Here’s a look at the picture I will be working on today…

This is the straight out of camera image (SOOC). As you can see, the red rose is very bright and saturated — almost neon — and I would like it to be more natural-looking.

First, I will show you how to do that in Lightroom. Import the image in the software, then open it in the “Develop” module. Then find the HSL/color/B&W panel, which is the one open on the image below, on the right. We will work in the HSL settings. HSL stands for Hue, Saturation and Luminance. In each of those three areas you can edit eight different colors: red, orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, purple and magenta.

If you’re not sure which color you should be working on, use the little circle (pointed by the arrow in the image below), click on the color you need to edit and move it all the way up and down. You will see one of the colors change drastically, probably one or several other less notably. The main color will be the one that changed the most, that’s the one you need to work on.

For my rose here, I had to work mainly on the color red and a bit on the color magenta (in the inner petals). I edited those two colors in saturation (to change how “strong” the colors are)…

… and in luminance (to change how bright or dark the colors are).

As you can see, the greenery in the background isn’t affected at all by the changes I made in the red and magenta areas.

Let’s move to Photoshop now. You can do something pretty similar using the “hue/saturation” adjustment layer. To use this tool, go to Layer –> New Adjustment Layer –> Hue/Saturation or click on the “new adjustment layer” icon on the bottom of your layers panel. As you can see, unlike the HSL panel in Lightroom where you decide first what setting you’ll work on (hue, saturation or luminance), and then which color you’ll edit, here you will first decid on the color and then on the settings you’ll edit. To do so, you will pick the color in the menu that says “global” by default. You will have 6 colors to pick from: reds, yellows, greens, cyans, blues and magentas.

As in Lightroom, if you’re unsure exactly which color you should be working on, there is a helpful tool. Use the little “hand” (pointed by the arrow below), click on the color you wish to edit and move the hand from left to right. The “global” menu will change for the right color you need to change.

As I did in Lightroom, I changed the reds, editing saturation and luminance…

… and the magentas, where I changed saturation and luminance but also the hue (teinte in French). I did that because I wanted to bring the pinkish inner petals closer to the rest of the flower, which is more red than magenta.

And that’s it! As you can see, it’s not super complicated and it can be very useful for specific images, like making a red dress pop (be careful as skin often has red and yellow in it, so don’t oversaturate your subject’s skin if you don’t want her to look like an alien!) or decreasing the “visual weight” of the bright greenery we often get in Spring, so that your subject will stand out, not the grass he/she’s sitting on!

I hope you’ll find this tutorial helpful, don’t hesitate to ask your questions in the comment below or in the forums!


ChloéAbout the author  Chloé is in charge of PR and communication for her small town by day, is a digiscrapper “by night,” and a photographer whenever the light is beautiful. She lives with her man and fur-babies in a small town of Alsace (in the northeast of France), where she loves to read, watch good TV shows (TWD being her absolute favorite), and just hang out with her friends — no matter if they are close by, online, or away in her Swiss hometown. She recently became quite obsessed with Bullet Journaling, FlyLady and Zero Waste.

Tutorial Tuesday | Capture the Everyday

I’ve been following a few photography challenges this year, and even if I don’t do them every week (or at all, let’s be honest!), they are slowly influencing me and helping me see my daily world with new, creative eyes. A few days ago I was doing our laundry and decided to capture this everyday, mundane task as artistically as possible, and in as many different ways as I could think of. And it was so, SO fun!
Capture the Everyday

Of course, some of my images didn’t turn out… but that’s OK because experimenting was part of the fun. I decided to implement various photography techniques — like macro, changing angles and perspectives, long exposures, purposeful blurs, compositional “rules” like leading lines, centered compositions, repetition/pattern, texture, rule of thirds, etc.

Capture the Everyday

This was truly an eye-opening experience and I never thought photographing something as mundane as the laundry would be so fun and could bring so much variety in the images.

Capture the Everyday

To add some cohesiveness to the photos I took, I edited them all with The Basics Lightroom Presets (#1) by Dunia Designs.

If you, too, want to see — and document — your everyday life with new eyes, why not try something similar?

  • Grab your camera and focus (pun intended!) on some daily aspect of your life — a task (like my laundry), an object, a place, etc. You don’t need much time to do this; 5-10 minutes is plenty to do this sort of creative exercise
  • Try to look at your everyday event like an explorer would when discovering a new civilization. Forget everything you know about this thing and try to see it with fresh eyes, as if it were the first time you laid your eyes on it
  • Then… simply grab your camera and start playing! Change your angles, take a wide shot to capture the whole environment (or the opposite — come closer and do a close-up shot), play with light and shadows, experiment with the composition rules and have fun. Maybe you won’t produce a masterpiece but you will definitely start seeing your world with new eyes!

I hope you’ll have fun experimenting and being creative, and I’d LOVE to see the result if you try your hand (and eye) at it! You can leave links to photos in the comments, below… or if your photos actually result in the creation of a scrapbook layout, you can post it in TDP’s gallery and then link me up here!

 


ChloéAbout the author  Chloé is in charge of PR and communication for her small town by day, is a digiscrapper “by night,” and a photographer whenever the light is beautiful. She lives with her man and fur-babies in a small town of Alsace (in the northeast of France), where she loves to read, watch good TV shows (TWD being her absolute favorite), and just hang out with her friends — no matter if they are close by, online, or away in her Swiss hometown. She recently became quite obsessed with her BuJo (bullet journal) and can’t wait to discover how much it’ll help her improve her (so far non-existent!) organisational skills!

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in photography

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

In many cases, blurry photos are a bad thing: photos are supposed to be in focus and sharp to be considered good. I usually follow this “rule” but I’ve been trying to be more creative recently and I’ve decided to create intentional blur in my photos. And I found out that the result could be awesome, fun, and creative (as is often the case when you break an artistic “rule” on purpose!).

Let’s discover the 3 types of blur you can have in photography (all images are retouched with Dunia Designs‘s The Basics Lightroom Presets):

Camera shake: when your shutter speed is too slow to handheld your camera, you get camera shake. It can be “bad” when it’s distracting from the subject of your picture, but it can also be a fun technique when done on purpose. I took this very abstract image, for example, with a 3 seconds exposure and while spinning my camera in front of Christmas lights.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

Cynthia Haynes is a photographer I discovered recently who is known for her long exposure / intentionally blurry pictures, and she has some pretty inspiring shots!

Bokeh: this type of blur is created by using a very big aperture (very small f/number, like f/1.8 for example) and it’s usually in the backgound of something sharp, but you can also create bokeh “by itself”, on purpose. Last week we had some spectacular sunsets, and I obviously had to snap some pix after work. I started with the classic, in focus, shot.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

Not bad, but not very original either, right? Then I decided to manually un-focus and create bokeh with the sun reflection on the river. You can’t see the landscape any more, but you get an abstract picture where light and colors are the most important things.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

Here’s a more classic example of bokeh, that I created by focusing on the puddle right in front of me with a very big aperture, so that the background (and a bit of the foreground too, since the depth of field is very small) is out of focus.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

Movement blur: this happens when your camera is steady (because your shutter speed is fast enough for you to handheld it or because it’s on a strong support like a tripod, a table, etc.) but that your subject moves faster than your shutter speed. This is the technique you use to photograph fireworks, for example, that’s how you create those gorgeous “flowers”.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

You can also use this technique to show movement and gives a sense of speed. That’s what I did (without even knowing, I was just starting to take pictures and had absolutely no idea what I was doing! LOL) while photographing the Tour de France in our little town in 2005. I got on the first floor of a building, right above the road, and since the day was cloudy and dark, my camera (in auto mode) selected a shutter speed too slow for those speedy athletes.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

If I had do take that picture again, knowing what I know now, I’d definitely try to use a technique called panning where you follow your moving subject with the camera. That way, your subject will look sharp and the environment around it will become blurry, kinda the opposite of the image above.  It’s a perfect technique for races of all sorts because of how much it materializes speed.

I hope you’ll enjoy playing with intentional blur and find these tips helpful! Don’t hesitate to comment with your questions or post in the forums!


Chloé

About the author  Chloé is in charge of PR and communication for her small town by day, is a digiscrapper “by night” and a photographer whenever the light is beautiful. She lives with her man and fur-babies in a small town of Alsace (in the northeast of France), where she loves to read, watch good TV shows (TWD being her absolute favorite), and just hang out with her friends — no matter if they are close by, online, or away in her Swiss hometown

Moving Forward into Fall

Moving Forward Into Fall

 

I don’t know about you, but I am so ready to move forward into Fall. Fall is by far my favorite season. There is just something about fall that brings a peaceful feeling. I don’t know if it’s the change in weather or the beautiful warm colors, but I just can’t wait for that  first crisp breeze that lets you know summer is gone and fall is in the air.

As fall officially begins this month, I’d thought I’d share a few of the things I look forward to. Here are some of my Fall Favorites:

  • The Crisp, Fresh Air
  • The Beautiful, Warm Colors
  • Leaf Lookin’ (as we call it in the South)
  • Football Season
  • Sweaters & Tall Boots
  • Pumpkin Lattes (or anything pumpkin flavored)
  • Snuggling Up with a Warm Blanket and a Good Book
  • Halloween
  • Corn Mazes
  • Hot Apple Cider
  • Making Soups
  • Pumpkin Patches
  • Leaves Crunching Under Your Feet
  • Fall Festivals
  • Fall Spices – Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves

 

I used Little Lamm & Co.’s Crisp Collection to document some of my fall favorites.

Move Forward Into Fall

 

Move Forward Into Fall

 

So, how about you? What are your fall favorites?

I’m hosting a challenge over on the forums at The Digital Press so grab a Pumpkin Latte and come play along! Check it out at The Drawing Board: Challenges. See you there!

 


LindyKrickbaum

About the Author: Lindy Krickbaum is a Creative Team Member here at the Digital Press. She is a happily married wife and best friend to her twin sister. She currently lives in Johnson City, TN.  Lindy is a self-admitted scrapaholic, rarely missing a day to scrap. She also enjoys designing jewelry, reading and traveling every chance she gets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Your Photos Off Your Camera

Get Photos Off Camera

 

 

 

 

A few months ago, I wrote a post about taking pictures to help you document your everyday. This month, I’d like to discuss getting those photos off your cameras and phones and onto your computers in an organized way so they can be scrapped in a timely manner. I have found that automating this process as much as possible has helped me keep my camera’s SD card as well as my Camera Roll on my phone clean so that I never run out of space on either. Here is my process:

 

Phone Photos

Like most of you, I use my phone to take a lot of photos. I use an app called Carousel by Dropbox to organize and back up my phone photos. When you take a picture, it automatically backs it up to Dropbox if you have that option set up. I have mine set to back it up when I am connected to WiFi so that it doesn’t use my cellular data. Therefore, when I am home, I just open up my Carousel app and it automatically starts backing up any photos on my camera roll.

 

 

Get Photos Off Camera 2

The beauty of Carousel is that it will also alert you when your storage is low on your device. This way, you will never get a message telling you can’t take another photo because you have too many old ones stored on your phone. I don’t typically wait that long. When I think of it, I tap the ellipses at the bottom of the app, go to settings and select Free Up iPhone Space. Then, Carousel will tell me how much space it can free up by removing my photos that are safely stored in Dropbox from my Camera Roll:

 

IMG_7029

 

Wait. It gets better. Dropbox can get expensive so I don’t use it to store backups of all my photos. So, I need to get my photos out of my Dropbox folder and onto my computer. Enter Lightroom.

 

Lightroom works with Carousel by way of its Auto Import feature. Anytime a photo is uploaded to a watched folder, Lightroom will automatically import it into its catalog whenever Lightroom is launched and it will move it wherever you tell it. It’s pretty easy to set up. First, you need to enable Auto Import:

 

Choose File > Auto Import > Enable Auto Import

 

Next, you need to specify the settings:

 

Choose File > Auto Import > Auto Import Settings

 

In the Auto Import Settings, you will specify the name of the Watched Folder. This folder must not contain any subfolders. In the case of Carousel, the Watched Folder would be the Camera Uploads folder within your Dropbox folder. Next, specify the Destination where you want the photos moved. I move mine to a folder on my hard drive called Auto Imported Photos. Next, you can choose a File Naming option which will rename all of your imported photos. (I don’t do this.) And finally, in the Information section, you can choose to apply Develop Settings, add Metadata and/or Keywords. I apply the Auto Tone develop setting upon import which applies automatic corrections for Exposure, Blacks, Brightness, and Contrast:

 

Auto Import Settings

 

While a lot of what I said may sound overwhelming, let me stress that that is a one time set up. To be clear, my process for uploading my phone photos to Lightroom with color corrections is as follows:

 

Open Carousel.

 

That’s it. All I have to do is open the Carousel app and everything else is automatic!

 

Now, onto my process for downloading my dSLR photos. Unfortunately, my process for that is not as easy, but it can be.

 

dSLR Photos

I choose to tether my camera to my computer to download photos. My reason is this:  I feel there is less probability for damaging or losing my SD card if I don’t take it out of my camera. I keep my camera and cord by my laptop, so it is not really a big deal. I just connect the wire, connect my EHD (because that is where I store my photos), open Lightroom and press the Import button.

 

Along the right hand side, a number of panels open up: File Handling, File Renaming, Apply During Import and Destination.

 

Under File Handling, I check the box “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates.”

 

File Handling

 

I don’t do anything under Rename my files, however, this is where you could choose to rename all your files by date or event name. I just don’t do that.

 

Under Apply During Import, I choose the Develop Setting Auto Tone which can be found under the Lightroom General Presets. As I stated earlier, this automatically corrects the Exposure, Blacks,  Brightness, and Contrast.

 

Develop Settings

 

Finally, under Destination, I choose to organize them By Date using the Year/Month format. Then, I select my External Hard Drive and navigate to my Pictures folder. There Lightroom will automatically copy my photos from my camera to my EHD and store them in a yearly folder which is then separated again by month.

 

Destination

 

Once my photos are in Lightroom, there are a number of ways they can be organized to make scrapping them a breeze. I will talk about this in another blog post. However, I did want to share with you how some others on our team get their photos off their computer.

 

Sabrina says: I use an app called PhotoSync and it transfers the photos wirelessly. I also have downloaded the application my computer so it can do the transfer. Super easy!! You can get it for iPhone or Android.

 

Jamie says: If you’re working with everything Apple (Mac and iPhone), Airdrop is a great feature to get pictures from your phone (or anyone else also on an iPhone) to your computer. That’s what I usually use to get pics from my phone to computer, then I import them into Lightroom at that point. When getting them off my DSLR, I just put the SD card in my computer, and import through LR. (Note: If you are working with an older Mac computer or iPhone, Airdrop may not be compatible.)

 

Juliette says: My compact camera automatically files my photos by date on my Mac (over wifi from anywhere in the world provided the Mac is turned on) when I press a button on the camera. It’s a Samsung WB800F; it’s absolutely brilliant!

 

Kathryn says: I use Google Photos auto sync to back up my phone photos. It’s a really easy process for Android users as it’s built in and the backup is free. I do also have an Eyefi SD card to do wireless transfer from my dSLR.

 

So, as you can see, there are a number of ways to get your photos off your camera pretty easily, so they are ready and waiting for you to scrap them. So, how about you, what’s your process?

 

 

Jen Flaherty

About the Author: Jen is a member of the Pocket Team at The Digital Press. Having scrapped digitally for many years, she has come to embrace the simplicity of Pocket Scrapping since it fits more easily into her busy lifestyle of shuttling her three children from field to field. When she is not on the computer, you will find her working out or really doing anything else she can besides cooking, cleaning and doing laundry.