Friday, January 15, 2016

Ten Steps to a Great Layout Picture

We love it when you share your layouts with us on facebook and we would love to see even more!  But taking a good picture of a layout and editing it can be one of the hardest things!  Christine joining you today with a photography tutorial. Today I am going to share with you how I do mine and you don't need any fancy equipment or software to do it!
My goal is to always have the layout look how it does in person - I want it to have
no shadows
true colors
good exposure
& sharp quality  

Here's the 10 things I do when I take pictures:
1) I try to take my pictures around 10-11 am or 2-3 pm.  The main reason for that is the sun is not directly overhead.  The main times I try to avoid are close to sunrise and sunset.  For me that always produces the best results.  

2) I also take them outside whenever possible.  I do it on my front porch where I have indirect light and not shade. Here's a picture looking at where I shoot my picture at - right there on that little area by the glass door and front mat.  

3) Don't let the weather keep you from taking a picture. If it happens to be too windy or rainy then I take it right inside that glass door.  I don't worry about the amount of sunlight - a sunny day makes it so I have to edit less but I can still get just as good of a picture on a cloudy day (you will learn how to do that in a few steps :)).  I live in Northern Illinois so my weather more often than not is bad for pictures.  But the deadlines march on - so I learned how to work with it. 

4) I set my layout on the ground and stand above it and shoot straight down.  I usually shoot 5-10 pictures to ensure I get a straight one that crops down just right. I also try to shift my body, move the camera slightly, zoom in differently, etc so each picture is a little different.  I don't stand there and hit the shutter button 10 times, that could give me 10 slightly crooked pics!  Here's an example of 2 shots of the picture I am going to be sharing today - you can see where the slight shift produced a much straighter one.

5) After I have shot the picture I go to to begin editing! Picmonkey has all the tools you need to quickly and effectively edit a picture! And it's free and web-based so there's nothing to download until you are ready to save your picture!

Now let's get to the editing!  Here's what we are starting with:

6) I start off by cropping the photo 

I then resize it 600 X 600ish.  I always make the width 600 (the width is the first number) and let the height go with whatever it adjusts to proportionally.  

7) Then it's time to make adjustments to color.  I always adjust the white first!  Click on Colors and then Click on Neutral Picker - that will allow you to remove color cast and get your white whiter!  

After you have clicked on neutral picker you will want to click on a white part of your layout. It will automatically adjust the whole layout! You may want to also adjust your saturation to calm down bright colors or amp up dull ones. I don't have to mess with that too often.

8) Adjusting the Exposure is a really important step to making your layout look true to life!  Click on Exposure and I usually start with Auto Adjust. Nine times out of ten that is sufficient!  Sometimes I will mess around with Brightness, Highlights, and Contrast to get my white more vibrant. In this case I just stuck with Auto Adjust.  You can see there is a huge difference in if I stopped at the above layout or kept going to the one below.  Exposure makes a huge difference in improving the quality of your picture!

9) Adjust your Sharpness.  This is the last step for me in editing and also makes a huge difference.  The Sharpen menu offers two options - sharpen and clarity.  I almost always adjust both but am cautious not to do too much.  I never sharpen more than 3 and clarity never goes above 10 - things can get grainy and pixelated looking real fast if you do.  For this one you can see I did sharpness to 3 (it needed a lot of help) and clarity only to 2. 

10) Now you are ready to save it and share it!  Click on Save and make sure to save it on the "Sean" choice so you get the highest quality save.

How about a look at what that editing did?  
This is when it had just been cropped.

And this is the finished product!  It took me about 10 minutes on a free program to do all the editing - not bad!


Rebecca Genet said...

Thank you so much this is extremely helpful 😃

Lyne Blodgett said...

So very helpful. I always have trouble getting good pictures because I am not home from 7:30 am - 5pm so it's usually dark when I take pictures.

Melissa Smith said...

Very helpful! I've not used PicMonkey but will definitely give your suggestions a try. Thanks a bunch.

kate blue said...

Fantastic tips. ..I see that I was not using my auto exposure and I've dialed up my sharpness way too high. going to test this tomorrow, thank you! !

Karen said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I will have to give picmonkey a try.

Jaclyn Rench said...

Great tutorial, Christine! Even though I've been using picmonkey for awhile now, you taught me some things I didn't know!

Sharon said...

Thank you very much. I have been having a terrible time getting good pictures of my layouts. Will try it for sure.

Majken Pullin said...

Superb tips!! Thank you. Guess I have a new site to try!