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Scrapbooking Day Challenge 5 :: Try a new photo edit

scrapbooking challenge :: photo edit
scrapbooking challenge :: photo editing tutorial
The other day when I shared my day in photos, one of the big questions that came up was the editing process for creating that look. Was it a Photoshop thing? Was it a camera thing? And the answer is… it’s a little bit of both.

One of the nicest things about a camera with manual control is you can decide what you like rather than just the camera making the decision. In many cases, I actually prefer my photos a bit over-exposed. Not immensely so – just a bit lighter than usual, and definitely lighter than what I would get by following the camera. When I look at my light meter, I normally aim for one or two points to the right, and I just like the colour better there. It works well with shallow depth of field and it provides a way to pretty up a sky that isn’t very blue. So that was the first step: all those photos were a bit lighter than you would expect – right from the camera.

If you have an SLR, you can try this. Go get it and set it to Manual and choose a low number for your aperture – so your lens is wide open. I shot all those pictures at f1.4 on a 50mm lens. (This is the lens I use on a day-to-day basis and it makes it pretty easy to make things beautiful.) Set your ISO to something appropriate to your surroundings. I still use the same ISO reminders that I learned in high school: 100 for sunshine, 400 for cloudy, 800 for I wish someone would turn on some more lights! And if your camera goes higher than 800, you can adjust for darker conditions with higher numbers. Now that you’ve set the aperture and the ISO, all you have worry about is shutter speed. And that makes shooting in manual a lot easier than it seems. Once those two steps become second nature, you’ll wonder why it ever seemed intimidating.

With those two things set, look through the viewfinder and half-press your shutter to focus on something. Look at the viewfinder to find your light meter. On a Canon, there’s an a ruler from -2 to +2, with an arrow pointing down on the very centre. On a Nikon, there’s a – at the left and a + on the right and a zero at the very middle. They both work the same way, and if you’ve never paid attention to them before, they can be very useful indeed! When you half-press, you’ll see a little marker come up to show you where you are with your current settings. Try turning your wheel to adjust the shutter speed and you’ll see the little arrow move (or if you don’t see it move, half-press again and it will be in a different place and if that doesn’t work, get out your manual because you’re turning the wrong wheel, probably). So the point in the middle? That’s what your camera thinks is the best exposure for these settings (so the best shutter speed, since we’ve set the other two things already). Take the picture so you can see how that looks on the screen. Now move the wheel again so your shutter speed changes — move it so the arrow moves a bit to the left and snap again. That picture should appear darker than the first shot. Move it several clicks the other way so now you’re a couple lines to the right of the middle and snap again. Now your picture should be lighter – even lighter than the first image. And that is what shooting in manual is all about, really. For me, anyway. So I snapped all those shots with the arrow one or two lines to the right of that middle point. (By the way, you can also do this in Aperture Priority and let the camera set the shutter speed while you tell it to shoot lighter rather than right in the middle – but I think we’ve covered enough technical trickery for this single blog post, so we’ll leave that for another time.)

photo before edit
But then that wasn’t quite what I wanted either. I loved that the images were light, but I also wanted them warmer in tone. And to an extent, I could have done that in camera. But I didn’t. So I turned to Photoshop for the warm part of the glow.

I use Totally Rad Actions for most of my photo editing. If you do a lot of editing, then I totally recommend them. If you only edit every once in a while, then it’s a pretty big package to get if you’re not going to use it much, if you know what I mean. Plus they only work with full Photoshop – not Photoshop Elements, so I’ll tell you that right from the start. (They also have a Lightroom product, and I’ve seen people request an Elements product, but I haven’t seen anything about them bringing that out just yet. Also, if you’re an Elements user, please don’t switch off now, because in a couple paragraphs there will be an answer for you, I promise.) Okay, so anyway, if you go here, you can get an idea of all the different looks that these actions create (and if you follow many photo blogs, you may start to recognise some looks, as there are plenty of people out there using these same sets). So basically, I ran one action and that was it. It’s called Flare-Up Golden. It adds a warm, orangey flare over the top of the photo. In most cases, it’s far too warm and orangey for my liking at the 100% opacity, so I dial it down to 50% or less. For that set of photos, that was it. Now… technically, yes, anything that exists in an action can be created by your own tinkering in Photoshop. But in just that one action alone, there are nineteen steps. With the action, I just push one button then adjust the opacity when it’s done. Without the action, I have to go through a million things. Plus here’s the truth: the people who make awesome actions know more about Photoshop than I do. There are whole portions of Photoshop I have discovered just by a step in an action that made me wonder what exactly was happening. I’m convinced that program has an infinite number of settings and the people who make fab action sets? They know almost all of them.

before processing
But I also realise that may be no use to you at all if you don’t have Photoshop or that set of actions. So how about some alternatives to achieving a warm glow without all that? Even with a picture from your phone or point and shoot. Picnik can do this for you in just a few easy steps. Choose a picture and go upload it there now.

Starting with the ‘Edit’ tab, make two adjustments. Click ‘Exposure’ and move the top slider to the right to lighten the photo. Click OK when you’re happy that it’s light enough. Then choose ‘Colors’ and move the temperature slider to the right. Stop when it’s warm enough and click OK again.

Then move to the ‘Create’ tab and select ‘Effects’ and scroll down to ‘Lomo-ish’ which is under the Camera heading. Click that effect and for the settings, move the top slider to about 70% for blur and the bottom slider to to about 40% for fade. Adjust as necessary for your image and then click at the top to save your newly edited photo!

photo edited with Picnik
Of course, there are plenty of ways you can edit your pictures – not just to make things lighter and warmer! So that’s challenge five for this lovely day of scrapbooking: Try a new photo edit. You can just follow these steps in Picnik or you can try something completely different! Just take an image and try a new look! You can upload it to Flickr, the photography gallery at Two Peas or your blog. Whatever works! And if you find something you think we should all try, let us know in the comments!

A note about all the Scrapbooking Day challenges here: You can enter any time between now and Sunday, 15th May, so you have a full week to do as many challenges as you like. Unless otherwise noted, winners have a choice of prize – an online class pass or a gift pack of scrapbooking stash. I’ll also be choosing three winners from all the links and comments left today (Saturday the 7th of May) on any post, so just participating and saying hello gives you another chance to win!

xlovesx

PS: While this is my last post of today, this happy day of scrapbooking, Two Peas is celebrating all weekend. So tomorrow I will be focusing on their challenges – continuing with the supplies I started with this morning – and tomorrow I’m hosting a live chat there. It’s at 8pm UK time and 2pm US Central time, so perhaps you can stop by to say hello. And all the challenges at Two Peas? They have prizes and they don’t close until next Sunday too. So just in case you’re looking for even more to keep you creative this week, I think they can help! See you tomorrow, and thank you for joining me for such a happy Scrapbooking Day 2011.

07 May 2011



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37 Comments for Scrapbooking Day Challenge 5 :: Try a new photo edit

  1. Carolyn Says:

    I’m an elements person, so would need to use your idea of picnik, but may well have a play with pse and try some new effects there as well. Thanks for the idea.

  2. Jules Says:

    These look great, will definitely have a play with editing my photos. Thanks for the info about your lens too – I’m looking for a good everyday lens so that was really useful :D

  3. Mariangeles Says:

    It’s been easier than I thought :)

  4. Angela Says:

    I love messing about & experimenting with photos….probably just as much as I love taking them in the first place even if my final picture isn’t up to much lol

  5. Louise Says:

    great photos Shimelle, I will try to have a play tomorrow xx

  6. MarieP Says:

    My favorite just-for-fun editing tool is the “TiltShift” app on my iPhone. Love making a landscape look all miniaturized!

  7. Jimjams Says:

    Happy Scrapbooking Day – technically yesterday now as I was waylaid by the links you supplied :P

  8. Melissa Says:

    I’ll have to come back to this challenge in a few days since I’m new to editing my photos.

  9. Jane Says:

    Love seeing what you can create with just a little tweaking!

  10. abbeyviolet Says:

    I like that you have a photography challenge too – such a good idea!

  11. Margie Says:

    This is a great challenge for me as I rarely spend any time on the post processing and I have it on my mind to delve in deeper.

  12. Kelly Massman Says:

    Love your photos!

  13. scrappysue Says:

    I totally LOVE actions; but have only dipped my toes in so far. The one I use most is Contra Pop, ack can’t remember where I got it from, sorry! Would love to get the totally rad ones too, they look awesome!

  14. Candace Says:

    Thanks for this photo challenge.

    Really like the results I have got using Picnik. Like them so much I need to re-edit the whole of the 250+ photo order I was placing tomorrow.

    Hhhhhhhmmmmm, thinking about it, should I be thanking you with all the time it will take me to re-edit??? lol

  15. rockchickhelen Says:

    I really wish I had a DSLR, but i’m stuck with a temperamental point and shoot and the camera on my phone (which is better than my actual camera), will definitely have more of a play with Picnik now though.

  16. Daphne Says:

    Never tried Picnik before but I think I like it!

  17. Carol S. Says:

    I just got PSE and am overwhelmed with the learning curve. I’ll have to give Picnik a try.

  18. heather Says:

    this is definitely out of my comfort zone as I prefer my photos pretty much “as is” and don’t have any editing tools, other than Picasa. Still, I gave it a go just for fun, with an editing thing on my phone camera :) thanks for the challenge!

  19. Nathalie Says:

    Thank you so much for this “mini” photography class! I love your first photo and I am going to try your tutorial for overexposed photos today. Thank you for all your work this NSD/week!

  20. NancyLee Says:

    First of all, Happy Mothers’ Day everymom! Shimelle, good timing. I took these photos in our yard a few days ago in one day and had this idea as mothers’ day post. I use Picasa only and some were warmified and grained before i put the txt on. I wish i have photoshop recovered but that’s another story. Anyways, thank you. You are a big influence to my photos.

  21. Daphne Says:

    Thank you Shimelle for your challenges – I linked them already and HERE is my blog entry with all the layouts and some close-ups!

  22. Jen Clark Says:

    I think this was my favorite of the challenges because I love to edit photos, but I hadn’t added text to one in a long, long time. :) ~Jen

  23. Jo M Says:

    Ok so I’d never tried this before and now I’ve spent my whole morning playing with one photo on Picnik!

  24. pidgen Says:

    I had a lot of fun trying to fake your action … will definitely be doing this again! :)

  25. alisa beth Says:

    Wow! What fun! This post was definitely what I needed to help me get over the intimidating hurdles of both photo editing and blog challenges! In a matter of minutes, I had created a few fun photos! Thanks for the clear directions – your instructions + Picnick made it SO easy. I will be having LOTS of fun in the future now.

  26. Kimberly K Says:

    I had no idea you could do what you did using Picnik. How cool is that?

  27. click2scrap Says:

    Oh, I love this post. It reminds me of all of the wonderful photography prompts you did for JYC 2010. I loved those, too! Thanks, Shimelle!

  28. rkokes Says:

    love the before and after pictures-very cool!

  29. Mel Says:

    Blogger ate my post!! My link in your list above no longer works because of whatever issues Blogger is having :( I’ll pop the pics somewhere else and leave a new link, but sorry about that! x

  30. Mel Says:

    OK, Blogger says the post has only been removed temporarily, but I’ve added my pics to the Two Peas gallery as well just in case – hence the second link above :)

  31. click2scrap Says:

    Thanks for the photo challenge, Shimelle! :) Belinda

  32. Olivia Says:

    I added date stamps to my photos, much easier than I thought it would be, only wish I tried it sooner!

  33. Emy Says:

    I’ve been playing with a photo from the wedding we were at last weekend – especially correcting my wonky horizons!

  34. dogmatix Says:

    Picnik was great fun….will definately be using that again :)

  35. Helen Overton Says:

    Just added my link. Picnik is great fun but a bit slow to load on my computer.

  36. Lou Says:

    I primarily use Photoshop for my photo editing, but sometimes I use Photoscape or Poladroid just for fun. Added my link.

  37. anneberit Says:

    Loved your challenges, really wish I had time to do them all :D

    I use PSE for my photo edit. One of these days I’m going to install Pioneer Woman’s actions again, I loved those.

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