This is going to be a post where you walk away doing one of three things:
1. Thinking I’m a complete idiot for not knowing this stuff before.
2. Not caring in the slightest because you don’t have a blog or take a million pictures on a daily basis.
3. Picking up your jaw from the floor now that you realize how easy and simple some of these things are that you had no clue about or were doing incorrectly before.
I’m hoping there’s at least a handful of you that fall into #3. If so, this will be worth it.
Last week, I had some major breakthroughs on some incredibly basic stuff that completely changed parts of my photography process and I figured if I was dumb enough to not know this stuff before, maybe there’s some others out there too (wishful thinking at least to make myself feel better) that could benefit from this.
Let’s start with some basics, because I get this question on a somewhat regular basis.
I shoot with a Canon T3 (that’s my amazon store link). I use the stock 18-55mm lens that came with it. That’s it. I don’t have a tripod, I don’t have a macro lens. I have the most entry level DSLR Canon makes. Simple, basic, and it works. I shoot every food picture you see on here in full manual mode. I had no idea how to use a DSLR before June when I got the camera. I taught myself in about 2 weeks through a ridiculous amount of trial and error and reading lots of posts and blogs on photography.
1. If you have a Canon DSLR in the original package and DVDs that came with it, you can shoot and edit a RAW image.
Um, hello? This was earthshattering news to me!!
I’ve literally been pining for Lightroom or some sort of editing software for months now, thinking it was the only way I would be able to shoot in RAW. I was previously shooting everything in L, but the editing process never really looked great because it was an already “formed” image, whereas in RAW, the picture is still “in pieces” if you will, and editing comes out much crisper (that’s an incredibly basic and dummied down explanation).
Canon actually gives you their own software on the Solution Disk DVD that came with the camera for editing photos in RAW. It’s called Digital Photo Professional. It’s no Lightroom, it’s basic, but it works and hey, it’s free!
The pictures from my last two posts of the dough balls and the parsnip puree were both edited from a RAW image and then converted to jpegs. I used Digital Photo Professional to do some exposure, saturation and sharpness tweaking, converted them to jpegs and then cropped them in Windows Live Photo Gallery.
2. Resizing from a smaller image to a larger image = BAD.
I can’t take credit for this realization at all. I owe this completely to Kat, my IT savior (and friend) who has basically taught me anything I know tech related. Here’s a glimpse into my psychoticness through our text message exchange the other night.
(There’s about 15 other texts from me not showing in this screen shot, haha)
Moral of the story? ALWAYS SIZE DOWN AN IMAGE.
For the past 7 months, I’ve been shooting in L (usually resulting in about a 4-5mb image), resizing it to a much smaller size, editing it and then uploading it into my posts and having to size it back up to fit my content area here on the blog. And here I was wondering why the hell my images always looked so much more grainy than they did on my camera! Someone hit me for being so dumb. Seriously.
Here’s the difference.
Image #1, how I used to do it, resizing up (bad, bad Gina):
Image #2, sized down from Flickr (which we’ll get to below):
Admittedly, this is not the easiest picture to see the difference given the nature of a puree, but look at the parsley and some of the “peaks” of the puree. The first one is definitely more fuzzy and grainy.
Here’s another (probably better) example:
Image #1, old way:
Image #2, right way:
See the definition in the chia seeds and chocolate chips? I also noticed that both image #1’s look darker. I guess that’s another effect of sizing up. No bueno.
And this brings me to my last point,
3. Flickr is an amazing resource, use it.
Kat has told me numerous times how she uses Flickr to store all her pictures and then inserts them to her posts from there. I knew many others did this too from hovering over pictures on their blogs and seeing “so an so on Flickr” as the description. I just never understood what the point was! It seemed like another unnecessary step. Why not just download from the camera and put it right into your post that way?
-If you buy the PRO account (for what amounts to $2/mo) you have unlimited storage. No worrying about slowing your computer down with large files or transferring to an external device. The free account gives you 300mb of uploads a month. That will only last me 9-10 blog posts with the amount and size of the pictures I take so, I’ll be upgrading soon.
-Flickr lets you upload the high quality, large sized image and then with one simple right click, you can resize it (down!) and insert it directly into your post, save it to your desktop, whatever.
If you were a #1 or a #2’er, sorry. I hope you still come back tomorrow. If you were a #3’er, you’re welcome. No one ever has to know because you don’t have to be as stupid as me and admit your incompetence publicly.
PS- I am no pro by any means, if you think I’ve gotten something wrong here, feel free to let me know (nicely) in the comments.
If you’re a photographer, what are some of your best tips on anything from software to taking pictures to editing?