30/10/2016

Blogging Tips - How To Take Great-Looking, Bright Photos In Winter

How to take great looking, bright photos in winter
While I love a lot of things about autumn and winter, having crap lighting to take blog photos in is not one of them. After four years of trying different ways to avoid the ‘winter dullness’ in my images, I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks with you to help you get those lovely bright shots, whatever the weather.  

Zoom in less and get closer to your objects – I often end up using the standard kit lens on my Canon 600D to take lots of my photos. This comes with a zoom, but I try to avoid using it as it can automatically change the camera settings and will often make your images seem darker. The best bet is to zoom out and get closer to your object to take the shot. The less you zoom, the more light it will naturally let in.

It’s time to go manual! I know a lot of people find these settings to be totally baffling at the best of times (me included) but a few simple adjustments can make all the difference.

Shutter speed – The lower the butter speed, the brighter your images, (so 1/30 rather than 1/200) as it lets more light into the lens. However, the lower you go, the more stable you need to be, so it’s worth investing in a cheap tripod to keep the camera perfectly still while you shoot.

ISO – this sets the sensitivity level to light for your camera, so can naturally brighten your images.  100 is the lowest ISO and is best for naturally bright, sunny weather. It doubles in number each time, so 200, 400, 800. The higher the number, the more sensitive to light your camera will be and the brighter the image will get. There’s a trade-off however – the higher ISO can make images look grainy, so ideally you want to keep it as low as you can get away with if you’re looking for really crisp images. I normally play around with a few different ISO settings so that I can make a decision about how much brightening I want/need to do in Photoshop afterwards without having to re-shoot all the images.

Use a reflector - a simple white reflector (via Amazon) placed at the opposite side of your image to the light can help to lift it and add extra brightness where it needs it. A big piece of white card or a very crisp white sheet could also work - they're just there to help lift the image, not feature in it, so experiment with what you have!
How to take great looking, bright photos in winter
Time it right – summer is great for photos as it gives you loads of hours in the day to take them, even before/after work if you’re lucky. Winter is a whole other ball game and you need to plan, plan, plan. I set aside 2-3 hours at a weekend to take photos for 4-5 blog posts and will always try to time it as close to midday as possible in winter. The light is never as bright as the summer months so you have to worry less about glare, but doing it on a nice, bright day, as close to noon as possible will give you the most light. You might also have to move your photography set up to another room that gets better lighting in winter (I tend to set up under the biggest window in the house).

Photoshop is your friend – I’m not a big fan of huge amounts of Photoshop, but it really does help if you want to bring out certain colours, remove too much warmth/coolness or generally just brighten the image up a little. I use a Creative Cloud version, which means no massive outlay cost (it’s about £9 a month) and is well worth the spend.

The Curves tool is my favourite to use as you can play around with everything from brightness to contrast in one easy tool. If you still feel like you need a bit extra, then use the Brighten function, not the Exposure one as Brighten will look a lot more natural and doesn’t wash the image out as much. It’s also worth playing with the Colour Balance tool as I find I often get a more yellow tone on images in the darker months that I want to remove.

There are huge numbers of Photoshop tutorials on YouTube, so I haven’t gone into loads of detail on specific steps, but if you’d like to know more, please just let me know.

Buy some lights – if all else fails, a ring light or a couple of larger photography lights can be a lifesaver. Amazon have some for reasonable amounts of money and it will give you a lot more freedom in terms of when you can take your photos throughout the day. They can be quite large and a pain to set up, so do a bit of research before investing. I’m looking at several at the moment, so if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments below.

What are your tips and tricks for perfecting your blog photos in winter?
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