Thursday, 31 July 2014

#Craftblogclub chat ~ Photography hints and tips....

I hosted #CraftBlogCub this week and in keeping wth the current theme on my blog the chat was about Photography....

I started the evening off with asking, "What camera do you use? a DSLR, compact, iPhone...."
@Amy_Christa - I rely mostly on my iPhone then editing on my iPad

@youngonesfive - my phone mostly. Samsung Galaxy 5, fab camera

My hubby has that phone, it has similar settings to a DSLR and dare I say, I think it has a better camera than an iPhone!

@mypapercrush asked for "any tips for getting the best of your photography if you've only got your iPhone?"

A top tip I got from A Beautiful Mess is to wipe the lens. You can check out all their top tips for iPhone photography over on their blog here

@eyrea  -  I don't know about iPhones, but my Android lets you take photos by voice command. Helps avoid camera shake.
That is very cool, I asked Siri and he took me to the camera but he wouldn't take a picture for me! Unless there are other settings on the iPhone, I don't think it can take pics by voice command.

I am still amazed how technology has evolved and how it is possible to take a quality photo with a phone! My first mobile was only capable of calls and texts, O and playing snake (who remembers that??!) 
@Creative_Mine - I  just recently got myself a new camera, I am on the lookout for any tips that can be useful. Thanks, :).

My top tips are ~ I would play and try all the functions and see what results you get. Also re-read your camera instructions, I re-read mine after a year and found all sorts of info I missed.
What's your #1 photography tip?
My tip is to use natural light
@Kay_O - I'd love natural light but currently my house isn't ideal for that! I've got better at positioning under artificial though!

I'd highly recommend a natural light bulb, it can help.
@Kay_O - One thing I'd recommend is taking loads of pics from different angles! Sometimes the strangest things work!

@ForestFlower23 - My top tip is learn to use macro settings for close ups and invest in a mini tripod to keep camera steady!
I also would recommend a tripod, stops the shakes!

What photography apps do you use? I love instagram!
@ForestFlower23 - me too - I actually asked for a smart phone for my birthday JUST so I could have instagram!
@Kay_O - I use the insta editor but though I have the app I don't actually use instagram!
@eyrea  - The GIMP for editing -- it's great for photos destined for the web, it's full of features, and it's free! 

@FlutterbyButton - I resisted Instagram for a long while as I felt it was just another social media platform to get bogged down in, now I love it! Also use Afterlight, great app.

 @Amy_Christa - I use VSCO to edit most of my photos but I love the in app edits Instagram has as well.  My favourite photography app is TimerCam, I did a post about my love for it

@Baking_Betsy - I use also VSCO  for all my phone edits. Really lovely the app with great filters and a whole lot of editing control.
I need to check out VSCO, I recommend A Color Story app.

We had a great question from @Kay_O " Does anyone have a favourite PC/Laptop based photo editor?
(update) I used a Serif program which was free and I love but I now use Photoshop which is brilliant and a step up from the free software.

@Kay_O - I've used picmonkey a bit, loving at the moment, I did all my current new photos on the blog using them!
Is there a blog whose photography you admire?
@Kay_O - I admire too many to mention, I want to take nicer photos from now on! It wasn't something I'd really thought about before!

I am so pleased this chat has inspired @Kay_O!

I've mentioned them already but I'm currently loving A Beautiful Mess and I love the clean and crisp photography of One Sheepish Girl
@eyrea reminded me of another great blog for photos  - "Attic 24, Always has fantastic light, pleasantly bright but not harsh. Hard to duplicate in my apartment".

I asked @eyrea if she has tried taking photos outside to get the natural light ~ "On my balcony, in the shade :-). I've started using the local park when weather allows." 
I wanted to know if this has made a difference ~ "Certainly enough to venture out again. I've also used local cafĂ© tables."
I'm impressed with the effort it just shows that if you haven't got the right light at home there is a way around it.
It was a great chat, so thank you to everyone who joined in.
#CraftBlogClub is every Tuesday from 7pm, join us for a friendly chat about blogs, craft and everything in-between!

Pssst... have you missed any of the previous posts from the Photography Season?  You can catch up by clicking on the below....

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Photography Season ~ Part 4, but it isn't here....

It's over here.... 

I have a guest slot over on Frugally Peachy where I show you how to make this....

A light tent made from a cardboard box

I followed the tutorial from "The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos" by Heidi Adnum

I hope you enjoy....

fizzi~jayne x

Friday, 25 July 2014

Book Review ~ The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos....

This is the third blog post in my "Photography Season" you can catch the first one here and the second here.

I've recently finished reading Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photosby Heidi Adnum.  This is a great book for anyone who wants to sell their crafts online or have a craft blog.

The book begins with a section on choosing and using a digital camera. The pros and cons of digital types of cameras are clearly set out so this is very useful for the complete beginner. 

If you are taking photos on Auto, this book will help you take steps to switch to manual by taking you through the basics. It will help you to tell your story through composition, choosing backgrounds and using props.  It even has a section of tutorials for DIY accessories, including a light tent, (I have made this tent and you can see the results over on Frugally Peachy!)

The rest of the book is divided up into chapters for different types of craft.  Even though not all the products on these sections were relevant I still read them as there was more information on compostion and the uses of props and backgrounds.  There are FAQs and common problems after each section which I found particularly useful and interesting.

 What I liked about this book:
  • It's informative but not dry
  • It explains photography terms and because of this book I found out about white balance which has made such a difference, it was an eureka moment!
  • There are inspirational images throughout
  • There is a section on troubleshooting showing examples of common mistakes which is a handy reference.
  • There are interviews with professional crafters sharing their experiences and advice.
  • I find the glossary explaining the jargon a useful reference.
  • The book explains different types of image files and which format to choose.
  • It doesn't stop after taking the pic, it takes you through post production and offers business advice when using your images.
One thing to note before you rush out to buy this book is, there is not enough advice if you have a compact camera, the book presumes you would use a Digital SLR.

The final chapter touched on editing but it only refers to Photoshop Elements 9 which I don't use but there are so many types of software out there that one book could not cover them all.  However, a lot of editing programs work in a similar way so there were some pieces of info I could relate to. If you take the advice of the book, with practice you can take a photograph you are proud of at the time of shoot and you shouldn't need to do more than tweak the brightness and maybe crop the image.

Have you read this book?  I'd love to know what you think of it or if you have read any other photography books that you recommend please let me know.

Disclaimer: The Amazon link is an affiliate link

Monday, 21 July 2014

Guest Post ~ Photography hints and tips....

I am very excited to hand you over to a pro to give you hints and tips as part of my photography season! 

I first met my photographer friend, Hiral, when we worked together in retail. I was very thankful for her advice when I first got my DSLR and started product photography. 

I am so pleased she has kindly agreed to share her knowledge. With a topic like this she could write a book! She has focused on her top technical tips to get a good snap, over to you, Hiral....

Hi All,

I’ve been asked by fizzi~jayne to give all you wonderful crafters some top tips on photography!

My name is Hiral Dixit (Hiral Dixit Photography).   I’ve been a photographer for over 7 years photographing everything from Apples to Humans. 
Taking photographs of your products or crafts can be quite daunting even when there are so many how to guides on the internet and Youtube, somehow it’s just difficult to get that perfect photograph in one go.
Well you're missing one BIG aspect of photography and that really is the technique. Taking pictures of your crafts is not all about having expensive cameras, it’s about knowing your camera, surroundings, light and then bringing a load of creativity to the table.
I’m going to cover two main topics I think will help you. Choosing the right camera and understanding photography jargon such as ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. So let’s get started!

Choosing the right camera:

Lots of people think buying a £2,000 DSLR will solve all their problems. Sorry but if you're not going to take it off the auto mode it isn’t any better than a good point and shoot camera.

Your choice of camera should really depend on what context you are going to be using it in.
I’m not going to talk about point and shoot compact cameras in this post because I want to keep it simple and not have you snoring!

Mirror-Less camera known as a hybrid camera - Compared to compact cameras these offer versatility allowed by interchangeable lenses. It became pretty popular in 2011 and they are continuously becoming the choice for amateur photographers who want to migrate from point-and-shoot cameras (I think people we have found you a camera).  Prices are roughly £200+


DSLR have a manual override system for greater creativity, these are high in cost £349-£5000 depending on what you’re going for. They do offer huge amounts of accessories, lenses and come with more functions. Which can also get daunting if you don’t have time to learn how to use it, which actually is a common theme!  

Understanding photography Jargon

Ever taken a photo and found it’s too dark/bright or shaky?  Guys if you nail this you’ll seriously be laughing.

Three pillars of photography: These quite simply perform the task of regulating the amount of light entering the camera and exposed onto the film.

1. Shutter Speed: Responsible for creating a dramatic effect either by freezing action or blurring motion. General Rule: Anything above 1/80s you will freeze anything, below you’ll either need a tripod or you can have lots of fun making dramatic effects.

2. Aperture: Responsible for the amount of light reaching the sensor and control of image brightness.

Size of aperture is indicated by F-numbers (f-stops).

Quite simply the larger the number, the sharper the image will be. However if you are to use f/16 you will need an external flash or studio lights as higher number = less light into sensor. The lower the number the shallower the depth of field, this will produce lovely portraits with a blurred background.  However it also means more light so you need to use Shutter/ ISO to get perfect exposure.

3. ISO: ISO is short for International Standards Organisation – The main governing body that standardises sensitivity ratings for camera sensors, basically a fancy term that was carried over from film.

When you change your ISO setting you are adjusting your camera's sensitivity to light. ISO settings can be anywhere from 24 - 6,400 (or higher) the higher you go the more grainy your pictures can be as it will make your photograph brighter, so to speak.

If you use all three pillars it will really start shaping your photography.

So I hope this helped you understand basics - Until you crack these it will be hard for you to even start taking quality photographs of your product and crafts. It’s not quite that easy being a photographer but once you get the hang of it...its bloody brilliant!

One piece of advice I would give to you all. The photograph on the back of your screen should be more or less exactly what you want your shot to look like, don’t rely on Photoshop as this is merely a tool to create dramatic effects.


Facebook: Hiral Dixit Photography
Thank you Hiral for taking the time to share your top tips!
I hope you all now know the difference between your f-Stop & ISO and have found this useful, I know I have.
I would love to hear from you to know what you think about these photography posts and if there is more you would like information on. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Photography season ~ My love of photography....

My old film camera and new digital camera, taken with my iPhone.

If you sell products online or have photos on your blog you will know how important it is to have professional looking photos but we can't all afford a professional photographer. 

To help, I have some exciting blog posts coming up offering hints and tips to take a great pic!  I have a couple of book reviews planned and a guest post from a photographer giving professional tips.  I am also having a guest slot on Frugally Peachy showing you how to make a light box and we are having a #CraftBlogClub Twitter chat on 29th July dedicated to photography. Exciting hey?!

coming up on this blog ~ book reviews.....
But to kick off this photography season I thought I would tell you about my love of photography....

My Mum first got me interested in photography, she took a course at college when I was young and when we went on family trips out she would take her camera.  When I went to art college I had the opportunity to take a course, this was back in the day of film and a dark room.  At this time, I possibly enjoyed the processing more than taking the photos, it was like magic how the image appeared!
My old camera that I learnt with. Although it takes film and I will never use it again, I can't throw it away!

My Digital SLR

I invested in a Digital SLR last year and fell in love with photography all over again.  I went on a photography course via Groupon, to refresh the memory of the basics.  It was in London and we took pictures and tried out different camera settings around the Southbank. I learnt to do this....

Motion blur whilst keeping the background in focus

Keeping the horse in focus while it's moving

The principle of shutter speed and aperture are the same but there are new features on a digital camera to learn.

With my passion reignited, I take my camera wherever possible and practice with different settings and lighting. Flowers and portraits are great for depth of field

Sometimes it is not convenient to carry a large DSLR or an unexpected photo opportunity presents itself when I'm not prepared.  Thankfully camera phones are great for taking snaps on the go and Instagram is my favourite app.

As I take a lot of pics I started my month in pics on the blog and I hope you have been enjoying these posts.

At first I found product photography frustrating, I couldn't get the lighting right and do my products justice. It can also seem a big job as I have to set up and pack up. (When I win the Lottery not only will I have a craft wing but I will also have a photo studio, I can dream!)  However, now I plan it as part of the creative process and allow time to play and get the image right, I am enjoying it far more now.

I am trying new things and learning new techniques all the time.  I have also read more of my camera's handbook.  I'm not great for instructions, they are boring right?!, when I bought the camera I read enough to get me started but once I went back to read the rest I found so many hints and tips that have helped me take a better picture.

What I use....
  • Camera ~ Canon EOS 600D
  • (Update) My conservatory used to be my photo studio but I struggled with the lighting. I now take photos in the bay window in our bedroom using a net curtain to diffuse the light.
  • (Update) Tripod and remote shutter. I was advised to get these to eliminate shake and have sharp images. It does help but if I can't use a tripod due to the angle of shot or I don't have the space, I don't go below a shutter speed of 1/50 as I know I can keep the camera steady at this speed.
  • Natural light or natural light bulbs.
  • Reflector ~ This reflects the light to avoid dark shadows. These are relatively inexpensive, I got mine for around £10. 
  • (Update) I used to use lining wallpaper for a background.  Now I use a mix of white mount board and a wooden pallet which I painted with white chalk paint. For my products I want a plain white background but not bright white, the wooden pallet adds texture and interest to my lifestyle shots.
  • I did use a light tent but I didn't get on with it, but they are supposed to be helpful for product potography.

Here are the top things I have learned about taking a good snap....
  • Read your camera manual. I wouldn't do it all at once as it would be information overload but I wouldn't leave it a year before you pick it up again, like me!
  • Never use a flash, it bleaches the colour. Instead increase ISO and use a slower shutter speed.
  • Practice on topics you enjoy, whether it's portraits or landscapes
  • Make time and plan for photography as part of the creative process
  • Get as much of the image right at shoot, don't rely on post production.  Too much editing will not represent the item as well.
I hope you will enjoy the photography posts coming up and I'd love to hear your photography hints, tips and experiences so please leave your comments....

Pssst.... I have a Pinterest board for photography hints, tips and tutorials which you can check out here and you can also follow me on Instagram.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

#CraftBlogClub Chat ~ Blogging hints and tips....

craftblogclub badge

I hosted tonight's #CraftBlogClub chat which was about blogging tips and offering advice to each other and this is what went on....

@hugsarefun started us off with this question "I’ve been struggling to get an about page up. I would love any tips or advice"

My tip ~ I would read other blogs "about" page to get ideas of what they include. I'd include why you write your blog.  Write about you but only include the personal stuff you feel comfortable with and include what inspires you.

@FlutterbyButton Be yourself, don't write in a style that is not essentially you. I tried to make mine a bit fun and quirky.
@mypapercrush  I agree - it's much easier (and fun for you!) to blog about what you love.

I agree, it's so much easier to be yourself!

@rosetintedcraft I learn a lot from following other blogs, such as how to lay out posts and extra features that you can use.

Tips on content....
My main top tip is to be passionate about what you write about, also include pictures to make it interesting

@IcySedgwick Write posts that add value to the reader's life - why should they read YOUR blog?
@craftsonsea  My main tip is to really make your images Pinterest friendly, it should be your main source of traffic

@CraftsellerMag Write with plenty of personality about things you're passionate about. Enthusiasm is key. ;-)
@DaintyandIvory Although I do love wordy blogs, sometimes I skip them because I never have the time to read it.

@EmmaRuthJones Blog about what you love and want to share with the world, rather than focus on what you think others will want.

@IcySedgwick Remember there are 1000s of others blogging; what makes your blog unique? YOU! So write in YOUR voice 


@rosetintedcraft Good photos are SO important! Has anyone bought a good camera for their blogging?
@EmmaRuthJones I have a SLR camera but tend to use my compact more because it focuses quickly and is easier to handle. As long as your photos are sharp, well lit and interesting, it doesn't matter what you use.

You will pleased to know that their is a chat planned on 29th July to share top tips on Photography.  I also have some posts coming up on this blog about taking great photos.

@FlutterbyButton When I started, I wrote in the style that I thought people wanted to see, big mistake... now I write as me with my own personality, so much easier and more enjoyable!
@IcySedgwick Write posts that respond to ones you read on other blogs!

Finding Inspiration.....
@CornerofCraft  I find it difficult to stay motivated to write my blog. How do people stay enthusiastic and inspired?
I always have a notebook with me for when inspirations strikes so I can look back on it.  If that doesn't work I take a break, visit somewhere, even if it's a coffee shop
@IcySedgwick I still say reading other blogs is a good source of inspiration
@rosetintedcraft Taking a break from it sometimes helps. Or set yourself a goal with your blog
@eyrea Mind trick: if I tell myself I don't have to, then I will
@hugsarefun maybe take a step back and readjust your schedule. Blog less and create more.
@IcySedgwick We could set each other blog topics!
This was a popular suggestion so maybe we should include it as a #CraftBlogClub challenge?

I did a couple of shameless plugs, but I thought that my posts on finding Inspiration and a Book review on Blogging for Creatives would be useful and of interest based on the discussions.
During the chat some shared their inspiring blogs of the moment....
@FlutterbyButton Discovered The Pleated Poppy today and love it!
@EmmaRuthJones I am always inspired by A Beautiful Mess and Design Sponge.
@rosetintedcraft  I have just discovered which has really nice photos. The author is only 14!

#CraftBlogClub is every Tuesday at 7pm.  Katie is hosting next week and I will be hosting on 29th July to share photography tips.

fizzi~jayne x