How I edit photos

Not sure if anyone is even interested but just felt like showing how I edit photos for Instagram.

I start in my windowsill, ideally on a sunny day, somewhere between 7:30 - 9:30am when the light is warmer/more yellow. I find in the afternoon it looks almost blue, and it casts a more harsh shadow which I don’t like.

This is the original photo. I put a doily and some pressed flowers around the painting to add some interest and color. 

Next I crop the image in my photo editing software (I use GIMP). I try to center the painting as much as I can.

Next I lighten the colors, and sometimes I adjust the color balance if there’s too much blue or something, but this one was fine so I just adjusted the Levels to make it brighter. Usually I’ll adjust the Curves but today I used Levels, not sure it makes a huge difference, I just felt like doing something different.

Then I edit it into a square. And I might crop it a bit more if things still don’t look even or something. Then I resize the image to 1080 x 1080 which is the image size for Instagram.

Hope you found this at least somewhat interesting, and if you ever have any questions about this sort of stuff feel free to message me :) I’m obviously not an expert but I will try my best to help! 

Starry skies

Next week is the longest night of the year. As we gear up for the 2018 Winter Solstice, we’re enjoying starry skies as seen from your public lands. The BLM manages one in every 10 acres of land in the United States, including some of the most rugged areas for those seeking solitude. On BLM-managed land, you’ll find some great spots away from light pollution and the crowds of the more popular parks. Here are some tips and tricks to help you capture incredible night sky photos on your public lands from BLMer Kyle Sullivan, Mojave Trails National Monument Manager.

Step 1: Learn about night sky shooting: My favorite resource for photographing the night sky is lonelyspeck.com. This website provides tutorials on how to shoot and post-process night sky photos, and includes a comprehensive gear guide that focuses on night sky photography. They even have reviews for shooting the Milky Way on cell phones! This website helped me go from no experience to pro in one night sky shooting session.

Step 2: Gear and equipment: I’m currently shooting with a Nikon D750 with a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens. I’ve also shot with a Canon 60D. The lower the f rating, the more light is let in. Wide angle lenses help capture the foreground and the night sky. You’ll also want a sturdy tripod for long exposure photos. One way you can make your tripod more stable is to hang a heavy bag off the hook to help anchor it. I sometimes use a re-useable shopping bag filled with rocks for this purpose.

Step 3: Figure out where to go: One of the best resources for finding dark skies is the light pollution map at darksitefinder.com/map. This map helps you find the darkest places to see the most stars. It also has some recommendations for specific places. Local topography can also help shield you from light pollution. For example, look for low spots or canyons to help block out light pollution from nearby communities.

Step 4: Figure out when to go: The moon phases have a huge impact on the number of stars you can see. A full moon will light up the landscape like its daytime and hide most of the stars. A new moon creates the darkest skies, but you’re the foreground will likely just be a silhouette. The new moon is ideal for first time night sky shooters because it allows you to focus on capturing the stars and makes post processing easier. For more challenge, shoot when the moon is within ¼ of a new moon, which will light up some of the foreground while still preserving most of the stars. Celestial events, like meteor showers, can add a unique element to your photos.  

Step 4: Figure out when to go: The moon phases have a huge impact on the number of stars you can see. A full moon will light up the landscape like its daytime and hide most of the stars. A new moon creates the darkest skies, but you’re the foreground will likely just be a silhouette. The new moon is ideal for first time night sky shooters because it allows you to focus on capturing the stars and makes post processing easier. For more challenge, shoot when the moon is within ¼ of a new moon, which will light up some of the foreground while still preserving most of the stars. Celestial events, like meteor showers, can add a unique element to your photos.  

Step 6: Share the love! Not everyone knows how amazing the night sky is! It takes the human eye about 30 minutes to fully acclimate to the dark. This means that flashlights, lanterns, camp fires, car lights, etc, can impact the amount of stars you see.  Your home may also be contributing to light pollution. Visit darksky.org/lighting to learn about how your outdoor lighting might be impacting dark skies and what you can do to preserve this endangered resource.  

Did somebody say weekend? 

This elephant seal was spotted hanging out on the shores of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Each year, elephant seals haul out on these beaches to molt, give birth, and mate. 

These elephant seals need their rest, and approaching them can be dangerous – always give them plenty of space! If you're looking to get a seal photo like this one, a zoom lens is key. 

(Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)

Behind the scenes of the pool shoot.

You might have seen some of the cool photo I've been posting over the past few days. I thought I'd give you a behind the scenes look at what it took to set this up and show you how to do this yourself.

Kiddy pool from Walmart-$22

Dark fabric- already had some but a king size sheet would work.

Fowers- pick some things growing in my yard.

Dry ice- $2 a pound. I used about $10 worth to do 2 shoots that took about an hour. I bought mine at my local Walmart. Some stores carry it but not all.

Fog machine- Optional. We really didn't need it for the Yang shoot but the wind picked up and played havoc with the dry ice so we switch it on for a bit. These run about $40 at party City.

Editing software- free. I use gimp.

Anonymous asked:

I have actually fallen in love with your photography. Love the way you capture light!! Any tips for someone starting out with photography?

Aww, thanks! Absolutely, I’d love to help however I can.

Whether you’re brand-new to photography or just trying to get better, these are my 10 biggest photo tips!

If it seems daunting, don’t worry, it’s not a list everyone needs to run out and complete tomorrow – just a roadmap of things to think about as you learn.

1. The best camera is the one you have with you. 

Case in point: my Fuji street kit is so light I even bring it on business shoots, but I’d never bring my heavy Canon kit on a street shoot.

Whether that means a little portable camera or even just your phone, focus on learning the device you’re most-willing to bring places.

All the expensive equipment in the world is worthless if you don’t have it with you at the right moment… plus, the quality of the camera matters infinitely less than the eyes behind it.

2. There’s (almost) no such thing as taking too many frames.

During a recent fast-paced play, I took 4,032 photos. Seriously.

On average, whether shooting for myself or work, I take about 5-10 images for every *one* I choose in editing.

Countless variables benefit from numerous frames. Moments come and go, expressions change, settings can be improved or better compositions found, a dog walks by and the photo gets 100% better. Yes, shoot with intentionality, but never be afraid of overshooting as you learn.

3. Mess around constantly

…because this was just a random long exposure from exiting an elevator, plus a little editing.

Experimenting with weird stuff is how you find techniques and options you didn’t notice before. Look at a scene you find interesting, and figure out how many ways you can inject another element into it. 

The options are limitless. Use an unusual POV or object in the foreground, keep it perfectly symmetrical or extra askew, drag the shutter or let everything silhouette… it trains you to picture how 3D space works in a 2D photo.

4. Look up tutorials/explanations of camera settings, and take a little time to learn what’s affected by a setting so you can control it.

Mastering the fundamentals is vital, and it’s never been easier to learn. Plus, they’re simpler than they seem, I promise!

Getting settings to the point of muscle memory is what lets you catch the quick moments you get one shot at, and troubleshoot situations when something isn’t working.

4. Get lower, higher, or closer… 

…but especially closer.

Practically any shot gets more interesting from one of those perspectives, even those not containing crazy birds.

And if a photo is best completely straight-on, commit to it – make it as precise and flat as possible. Attention to those details makes a composition feel balanced and intentional.

5. Editing is half (or more) of the craft, and is basically magic.

Just some basic image prep turns this… 

…into this. 

There are tons of free photo editing options these days, and a ridiculous number of learning resources available. If you find yourself getting serious one day, though, you can get Lightroom & Photoshop CC for just $10 a month.

It’s easy to overedit a shot, too, but it’s better to go a little far and learn a lot from it than to never try.

Editing can range from just enhancing an image to outright transforming it, so it also benefits greatly from experimentation. Go nuts!

6. Seek out the interesting light wherever you are. 

This applies to everything from practical portraits to street photography – contrasts are always engaging.

Whether you need gentle light to put subjects into or weird light to mess with, more light equals more possibilities. And speaking of light…

7. External flashes can be crazy affordable these days ($36 or less!), and make practical, dim situations like events infinitely better. 

Speaking as someone who uses high-end lighting equipment daily, you don’t need expensive gear and crazy technical skills to get some nice light in tough spots.

Buy a cheap flash and dome diffuser, slap ‘em on the camera, bounce the light into the ceiling when possible, and adjust the power up/down as you go. Google suggested camera settings to use with flash.

See? Doesn’t have to be scary and overly-technical! Don’t get me wrong, you can do way more with a $2000 5-light portrait setup, but while learning, one cheap flash into the ceiling will get you far.

9. Nature is nice, but also not very challenging. 

There’s nothing wrong with it, but you don’t learn a ton from taking photos of already-beautiful things in ambient light. 

Branching out from nature (pun unintended) is a good path to keep growing (pun doubly-unintended). Whatever it is you like to shoot, find circumstances and subjects that push you to make a difficult situation look great.

10. Nothing makes you improve more than consistently closing the loop. Shoot, review, edit, post, repeat.

Yup… that’s the actual number of photos I took last year.

Practicing or researching one aspect of photography is good, but you learn infinitely more by going through the whole process again and again. 

Getting to the point of “I’ve edited this as well as I can, time to post” means you’ve gotten all you can out of it and are moving on… which isn’t always easy, I know.

Perfectionism is good, but can be paralyzing. If it stops you from creating new things because you’re still obsessing on the old ones, ironically, it’s slowing improvement down… the only way to become better is to push through and try to make the next image a tiny bit better than the last.

11. Cute animals.

They make every photo better. No exceptions.

Ok, sure, I said it was gonna only be 10, but that tip matters as much as all the previous ones combined.

–Colin (instagram)