Today Amanda from Everyday Elements is here again for the final post in Visual Storytelling. In addition, she’s offering Momcomm readers a whopping 35% discount on any of her classes, actions and e-book. That’s a pretty swanky deal. Just use momcomm35 at checkout.Take it away!
Welcome to the final post in the Visual Storytelling series. To recap, in the first post I shared why images are important in blogging and how to approaching the image creation like a writer approaches writing a story can be beneficial. In the second post I share the basics elements that go into capturing a good picture in-camera.
Today I am going to talk about the edit process, where you fix any problems your photos may have and get them ready for the final “draft,” the one that goes on your blog.
I want to start by expressing how important a good workflow is to the edit process. If the steps you take with photography and editing are well thought out and build on each other in a healthy way, the process will be quick and easy (once you get the hang of it). If you don’t have a process, you probably find yourself bouncing between steps, many times going backwards and having the redo things.
Here is a basic edit workflow, which will work regardless of what edit program you use.
- Import from your camera, keyword tag & select images you wish to use for the post
- Correct any problems the images may have (below)
- Enhance elements or features
- Add creative effects, if desired
- Crop or recompose for best composition
- Resize the image(s) for the web
- Sharpen for the web
- Add a watermark of logo or domain name
Import and Select Images
Hopefully you are using some type of photo management/editing program (like Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Picassa, etc.) to help you manage and keep track of your images. If you are not quite certain what photo management means, I wrote a post about it at Life Your Way that may help.
Once you have your images on your computer, you need to select the picture(s) you will use for your blog post. If you thought about the story you wanted to tell before/during capturing the photos, then you should have a good group to select from. Choose the ones that best convey the message you are trying to share.
Correct Image Problems
If you do not already use an editing program, I highly recommend you start. There are several free ones, like Picassa, PicMonkey and Gimp, which will get you by for a while and will do a good job with basic editing. If you need to remove objects, do more intense editing, want to make collages or graphics, then you should look into Photoshop Elements. It is a simplified version of Photoshop and will be all you need (as a blogger).
The problems I share below are all preventable. Get to know your camera, practice daily (maybe start a 365 photo project). Remember, the goal is to get the best “rough draft” possible so that you spend less time editing.
The most common problems pictures have that need correcting are:
- Exposure (example shown in previous post)
- White balance (example shown in previous post)
- Clutter, distracting objects
After you correct any exposure and white balance issues your image may have, you want to remove any distracting objects/blemishes that the image may have. This is an important step because if you don’t correct it, your viewers’ eyes will be drawn to the distracting clutter and away from your subject. The message or story you are trying to tell will not be conveyed like it should because people are focused on something that should NOT be in the picture.
Try to catch those objects while shooting, and either remove them from the scene or shift yourself and your subject so the object is no longer in the background.
Enhance Elements or Features
Once your image has a good base, look for any features or items in the image that you might want to enhance. Moderation is key here; don’t let the image go so far that it looks “Photoshopped.”
- Add contrast or color to a particular object to create drama (like make a barn more red or more aged, etc.)
- Add light and sparkle to eyes so they come alive (but make sure they still look realistic)
- Make blue skies bluer or grass greener
- Add a vignette to increase focus on the subject
After you have a good,”clean” edit of the image, meaning it looks as good as you can make it but still looks like it came out of the camera that way, then save it and play with special effects to produce an alternate version. Some images look better, or tell the story better, when made vintage or urban or black and white.
In Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you can get “actions” that will help you produce particular looks. In Lightroom, you use “presets” for special effects. I believe PicMonkey and Picassa have the capability to produce these also, so play around. Experiment.
Most images, even those that were well composed in camera, need a bit of cropping and possibly recomposing (when you crop to cut out clutter or to make the image more pleasing to viewers).
After you have cropped the image(s), then you want to resize it; make it smaller. This serves two purposes: it helps the images load faster on your blog and if the image is copied by someone, the image will not print well because it is so small (in resolution).
I recommend using a resolution of 72, and a width between 500-700 pixels, depending on your blog posting area. If you have PSE, here is a tutorial on how to resize for the web.
Once you have cropped and resized, now you want to add a bit of sharpening. All digital photos need a bit of sharpening, both for print and for the web. Be careful with sharpening, though, because it is easy to go to far. If your subject starts to look edgy or their hair gets straw-like, then you know you sharpened too much.
This is a controversial topic. Some are very much for it and some are very much against it. I fall into the camp that is for it. I don’t have time to get into a discussion about it in this post, but I will say that if your images ever get disconnected from their corresponding blog posts at Pinterest, you will wish your domain name was on the images. Without the domain name on the pictures, viewers will just see your image and not know where to go for that recipe or tutorial.
The simplest way to watermark is to use the type tool and type on the image, then reduce the opacity so that it is more transparent. Try to keep the watermark unobtrusive to the picture; you don’t want to add distraction for your viewers.
What if you have several images you want to share? A great way to do this without giving your readers “picture fatique” is to create a collage. Again, the free programs can be used to create collages, and you can also use PSE or Photoshop. There are many wonderful places you can find templates, both free and for purchase. My favorite place for free templates is The Coffeeshop Blog and my favorite for-purchase templates come from The Album Cafe.
I hope that this series was beneficial to you and will help you improve the images you use on your blog. Thinking like a writer will help your images tell stories, which will engage your readers to the topic and you. Once you have that story to tell, don’t forget the edit process, which will take that good story and make it great.
Amanda Padgett is a veteran homeschooler who began blogging in 2008 to keep family updated with her dad’s fight with brain cancer. After his death in 2009 she took up photography as a hobby for therapy and quickly became immersed in it. Now she shares her passion for photography and editing at her blog Everyday Elements.