Nov 22, 2013

How to Take and Edit Your Own Blog Photos Yourself

For Peet's Sake blog grey cardigan headband white top
If you're here just for the how to take your own pictures and edit them yourself tutorial,
feel free to skip the intro!

      A few people have asked me here on the blog and in person how I can manage to take my own photos and how I do this or that so I thought I'd make a post about it. Now, please, this doesn't mean I think I'm god's gift to the world of photography. I'm not. Far from it. And I'm fully aware of it. I've just learned some bits and bobs along the way and since people are curious, I figured I might as well share what I know, but again - I know shit, just so you know, and I don't live in a delusion that I'm a photographer of any sort.
      Anyone can save up some money and buy a fancy camera and call themselves a photographer, but one DSLR camera does not a photographer make. And I know that. I don't want to offend or belittle all of the photographers out there with this post, after all people go to school for photography. You don't go around saying you're a doctor just because you religiously watch Grey's Anatomy (or even House!). So I'm not saying I'm a photographer, I'm just someone who takes pictures, I have to make that clear. And I know 75 % of my photos are shit - don't think I think the pictures you see here on the blog are great. No, it just means I think that the pictures you see here are not as bad as the pictures you don't see, as simple as that. But enough with the disclaimers, let's get on with what I do know.
      Everything I know, I owe to my friend Erik. When it comes to photography and photoshopping, he's basically a mad scientist - you can see some of his stuff here. He picked out my camera (about a year ago I bought a used Nikon D90 for less than €400/$550/£350), he taught me how to use it, he sold me his old tripod for peanuts and he taught me how to use Photoshop as well. All of the lessons combined took about 4 hours so trust me, it can't be that difficult if I learned what I did in 4 hours. Aside from the lessons, he also helped me design the first header for the blog. And by help I mean he did everything because I didn't know what I was doing back then when I started all of this (which coincidentally was exactly one year ago). Now you see why I had to mention him - because without him none of this would be possible and I'm very very VERY thankful to my genius friend. I'm forever his humble student.
      So... Disclaimers - check. Accolade - check. Now, let's get on with the post...

How do I take my own pictures?

Like so...

I get to a location and take my stuff out of my original World War II partisan bag
(which I'm very proud of that's why I'm stressing that it's an original World War II partisan bag)
and I make sure the dog doesn't pee on me or on my original World War II partisan bag.
Then I set up the tripod.

Then I take the camera out of the camera bag (which I bought here) ...

For Peet's Sake blog

... and put it on the tripod and check the settings.

      The settings: I shoot in the raw format (.nef, the biggest), but you have to have Photoshop's Camera RAW or some other program that opens those files otherwise you won't be able to see the pictures on your computer. I always take my blog pictures in A mode, which means I only change the lens aperture (which is signified by the number next to the F on your camera's display, otherwise known as the F stop) and the camera decides on its own how fast the shutter should close in order to produce the best shot. I set ISO to 200 but if it's not bright enough I'll set it up to 1250. The obsession with low ISO is pointless, you can easily take pictures without any noise (noise = grainy look) at 640-800 ISO and you can always remove noise in Camera RAW (select Detail tab and increase Luminance). I set the F stop to anywhere from 8 to 13 for full body shots and anything below 8 for close-ups. If you want blurry backgrounds, you should choose a lower F stop number and/or zoom into the shot - the lower the F stop and the more you zoom in, the shallower the depth of field will be. What's a depth of field? The area of the photo that's in focus, the area that's sharp. So the more you zoom in and/or the smaller the F stop number, the smaller the focused area is going to be, dead simple. That's why it doesn't hurt to take your full body shots at higher F stops and without zooming in - just move the camera closer instead.

For Peet's Sake blog

Then I take the remote control (which I got here) out of the bag ...

... and I do a test try and go check the photo to see if I need to tweak the settings.

      If the photos are too dark, I'll increase ISO, choose a smaller F stop, increase exposure or say: "Fuck this!" and go home (just kidding) - or just open the flash (that's why it's there). And vice versa: If the photos are too bright, I'll decrease ISO, choose a higher F stop or decrease exposure. To change exposure look for this button here.

      Then I put heels on, take a bunch of shots and then go to the camera (and try not to kill myself) to see the photos. Then I change the location a few times and do the same thing over (and over) again. I'm guessing you want to know where the remote control is. It's here:

For Peet's Sake blog

      I point the remote at the camera and press the button on it. Then I have 2 seconds to hide the remote and I quickly slip it in my pocket, hide it under my extended palm or just hold it in my hand like you see in the pictures. If I put it someplace that it later shows in the pictures, I use the Clone Stamp or (Spot) Healing Brush tool in Photoshop to easily remove the small black spot.
      Another thing I should mention is the position of the focus point. I either set the focus point dead center and then crop the pictures or I move it around depending on the composition of the shot. Although dead center is easier (because then you just stand directly in front of the camera and you know you'll be in focus), sometimes you just have to move the focus point and this is how you do it:

You just look through the viewfinder of your camera and select the point you want by pressing on the arrows around the OK button. Make sure the focus isn't locked!

This is the grid you see when you look through the viewfinder. The point you select is marked with a different color (mine is red) and you just move the focus point where you want it to be. When you change the focus point, make sure to check and memorize what's on the selected point so you go and stand exactly in that spot otherwise you won't be in focus (you won't be sharp, you'll be blurry).

      Why is sometimes 'necessary' to move the focus point? Because when you're taking pictures, composition is something that's good to have in mind. Again, I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I try to follow a few simple rules, like for example the rule of thirds and the triangle composition. BUT. Sometimes you take a shot and you like it simply for the sheer imagery of it even though the composition sucks and you really shouldn't feel guilty for liking (or posting) it. Who gives a fuck about rules, this is all subjective and nothing is set in stone, not even gravity! But here are some examples of the two rules I've mentioned:

composition photography rule of thirdscomposition photography rule of thirdscomposition photography triangle rule

      With all that in mind and trying to look somewhat presentable you click, click, click away. Then about an hour later you have a bunch of pictures (in this particular case I took 107 shots) and you go home where the real fun begins - at least that's the fun part for me. The truth is that without Photoshop (or any other program for photo manipulation) there is no photography, but the good news is - learning some Photoshop basics isn't hard.
      The very least you can do is open a picture in Photoshop and select Image (which is located next to File and Edit above) and first click Auto Contrast then Auto Color and Auto Tone in that order. Do this before you crop your picture, if you decide to crop it. With those commands Photoshop "fixes" the photo on its own and after this it should be looking pretty decent if not great so you don't have to do anything else if you don't want to. But I want to and this is what I would do:
      I always open all photos in Camera RAW first and in the Basic tab I increase Exposure (if the image's too dark), Contrast, Shadows, Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation. If the photo's too bright, I'll decrease Exposure and Highlights and still increase all of the other things. Then I open the Detail tab and increase Luminance. This is all very intuitive and values differ from photo to photo, just move those sliders and decide what works best for you and each individual photo you're editing. Then I click OK and that opens the photo in Photoshop and there the possibilities are endless really.

For Peet's Sake blog

      1: No editing at all.
      2: Only doing Auto Contrast, Auto Color and Auto Tone in Photoshop.
      3: Fixing Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation and Luminance in Camera Raw.
      4: Fixing settings in Camera Raw and clicking Auto Contrast, Auto Color and Auto Tone in Photoshop.

      With the photo above, I moved the focus point from center to left, but let me give you an example, where you leave the focus point at the center and later crop the image.

      I'm not saying this is THE best example, it's AN example. Ok? Of course it's best if you don't have to crop the picture at all and if you think about the composition in advance, but sometimes this comes in handy so I wanted to show you what I meant by cropping.
      After you deal with all of the previously mentioned settings and crop the image (if you need to), you can play around with some other things and settings as well.

For Peet's Sake blog

You could sharpen eyes to make them brighter and more vivid.
Use High Pass - check out this tutorial here.

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      You can add a vignette. By darkening up the edges, the focus of the picture pops out more. There's a bunch of ways to do that - check them out here. Yes, you can add a vignette via Lens Correction (found in Filter tab above) too, but that slightly deforms the picture and if you have any straight lines running parallel with the edges of your photo they'll bend and it'll look odd.

For Peet's Sake blog red heeps pumps black leggings grey H&M cardigan
You can make your photos more sinister ...

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 ... or vintage ...
For Peet's Sake blog
... or black and white.

      You can do whatever you want basically and you can find some great tutorials for the above examples here. Some might say that by doing this you're torturing the picture, but you know what? Sometimes you have to do all of this to mask the fact that photos weren't taken under the best conditions because you don't always have the time or the luxury to wait for the perfect weather and for all photography starts to align. And sometimes you just like to mix things up just because you want to - remember, it's all subjective so don't stress too much and just have fun with it.

      And don't forget to follow FPS via Twitter, Bloglovin or Google+ to get the latest updates. Also do come by again next week to see what's new! Posting days are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so see you then.



  1. wow ! this is a very good learning process , on how the pictures were taken and done. Love the vintage photo ;)
    Your look lovely dear :)

    Yati Noah

  2. that's a great post and those are great photos!
    have an amazing weekend!

  3. This is such a helpful post for me . :) I am very new on using photoshop .. Bookmarking it so that I can come back again and refer to it when I am editing
    Thanks a bunch for such detailed info
    I am inviting you to join my $30 certificate giveaway
    Keep in touch,

  4. Love the pictures!
    And great advice I will hopefully try to use them. (:

    Anushka Makar

  5. Love this post. :) I think you do REALLY well with all your shots, you pro. Doesn't hurt to have a good camera, too. One day, I'll get one too.

    xo Ashley

  6. Ooh, such helpful tips! Love the editing processes you use. Your photos always look great! xo


  7. I'm not even going to try and comment on your shooting and editing process, it's far too technical for me so all I can say is that you're doing a great job with the photos. So you know... just keep doing what you do! ;)


  8. Oh this is how I take my shots too...sometimes I wish I had a a photographer minion

    X. pixelhazard | Bright Green Laces |

  9. OMG I really appreciate this babes. You know what I am going to do, I am going to print this off and read it properly - it deserves my full attention and I will come back to comment properly - Saturday morning rush and all that. Thank you so much babes!

  10. My biggest regret is buying a camera that won't let me have a remote control. I have to put it on a self timer, then run and wait for it to count down. Ha.

    Corinne x

  11. Kudos to your friend to have taught all you know Peet! (As well as for the header which I really love!) You are a master, seriously! Wish I was as much good as you. Id love to get a new camera from ages (I actually use a compact one) but everytime I try to do my best to make the photo more clear. This post is really useful, have read it very well and for sure I learnt something more. How gorgeous you are in the shots?!:) Kisses lady, have a marvelous weekend! Mine is just for relax!:*

  12. OMG I've been living under a stone because I didn't know most of this. To be fair I've just been too lazy to read the manual or ask someone for help, but that is not the right attitude to have when you subject your audience to your pictures is it? I don't know why I bought a DSLR because I don't use any of the functions, but I think I will have a little play around and you can tell me whether you see a difference.

    Now for Photoshop, I don't appear to have any of those functions in the Photoshop I use and I clearly need them. What Photoshop programme do you use babes, is it one that you have paid for and downloaded or is it just one from the internet, if it is the latter, do you have a link?

    I really appreciate you doing this post hun, really interesting and informative and you've clearly put a lot of work in to it - I hope your other readers appreciate it as much as I do. Thank you.

    1. I don't think they do but who cares - as long as I made one person happy, I'm happy.:D

      I've got it from my friend who found it online and that's all I know. It's Adobe Photoshop CS6 13.0 final multilanguage something...

    2. Just seen your extra comment on blog - thanks doll, will look this up!

  13. Phew! I hope there is no pop quiz after this...I just click. But then gain your pics are great!!

  14. thanks for all the tips, I suck at this and I don't know anything about photoshop... I should learn. I'm also onna ask santa for more material :)

  15. This is so awesome! I've loved your photography and getting to see the process you go through and read your tips was exactly what I've been wanting to find out. Thanks for sharing :)

    Enter to win a $50 or $30 coupon to Oasap!
    The Dragonfruit Diaries

  16. Wow, this was super thorough! We're d90 twins lol

    Mili from Call me, Maeby

  17. That's a very helpful post. You're pretty good at the whole one woman show :)

  18. I still don't understand half of what your saying haha guess I'll never be a photographer! :P

  19. Wowww.. that's a really learning full of useful information post! You are a talented stylist and photographer!

  20. I do have a tripod myself and apply most of the post photo techniques you described. I also apply this other technique called "boss around the photographer from where I stand to get a better angle". This includes commands such as: "Not this angle makes me look fat, could you please bend down more to the right so we'd get that tree branch behind me but not too much not to lose the natural shade of the coat that I am wearing also make sure my face doesn't look pissed off and don't get that kid running in the background in any of the shots."
    I don't know how but they manage to adhere to these weird requests. Also, what they don't understand is how can I calculate how the light falls on my face and how it is seen in the lens. I also don't know how I predict these. Maybe it's a super power?
    This is a super awesome tutorial. 'Nuff said!

  21. Hi Peet, I am the least savvy person when it comes to taking photos, so your excellent tips and ideas were really helpful to me...all I need now is a DSLR camera ;) You are so lucky you had a good teacher, but its what you do with those lessons and skills that actually matters and darling, you got the skills! Your photos always look so professional and well edited. Love those red heels. P.S. I can understand why the iceberg thing was confusing now, I didn't think of it, lol. I really want to try this perfume you mentioned. Hope you have a productive week ahead sweetheart!

    1. I know, the fact that I had someone who was able to teach me stuff for free it's pretty remarkable. I'm very lucky, I know!

  22. I love you , i love you so much for this comment : "one DSLR camera does not a photographer make"
    I pray for other people to Realize this is completely true. The camera does not take pictures. YOU take pictures!

    ( Your friend has a good stuff! 've Been gossiping =))

    But ... I hate you. I hate you deeply. You have gathered in one post not only all the things i knew about photography , but everything I've learned these two months of vocational education (I love it ` s name en english: " vocational "). I want to strangle you . It really is a very simple and perfect tutorial for those who need photos for the blog . So even though I hate you , my sincere congratulations .

    The remote trigger is a brilliant invention . But you know what ? I have a nikon D3100 and you can not attach any. At least it's what they said me in the shop. I should take a chance, buy one on ebay and try Buuut .. while i can trick someone to do me pictures ...

    And that's it , I can only end with three words : clap , clap , clap !


  23. Wow, that was a great tutorial! I need to try "Auto Contrast then Auto Color and Auto Tone" and the sharpen eyes! Thanks for this :)

  24. What a super tutorial Peet! All I need to do now is get enough money to buy a nice camera haha. Or move closer to you so that you could take my photos and edit them for me :)
    Keep in touch

    1. I'm all for the second option, that would be hell of a fun.:D


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