Oh Snap: How I take my pictures

Oh Snap: How I take my pictures
On my early blog days I didn’t invest much on my pictures and used a cheap digital with a gorilla pod. After breaking two digital cameras in two years and feeling frustrated by the limitation of places I could grab the pod, I took the decision of investing in better equipment.  I’m not as good as having any lighting equipment altho I have thought of investing in some in the future. Most of my pictures are either on my sewing room (where you get my bookshelf on the back) or on ‘my’ trusty wall. Sometimes I get adventurous with a “location” shoot. 

The main advantage of ‘my’ wall is that it gets the daylight needed in a relative secure location, where I can take a picture even if is raining outside. Doesn’t mean secluded. Im overlocked by almost every neighbour window and have to stop for cars to leave the garage. The  main disadvantage is that can be a bit boring, expected and doesn’t add to the ‘feel of the picture’. I do feel self conscious of my neighbours but at least is less that when shoot on location. Works well for now.

When I’m on location, I never shoot under direct light. I use natural diffuser like standing under a tree, or a building, something that will naturally reflect lights all directions.

Camera:Canon EOS 1100D alternative  Canon EOS 1200D 

Tripod:MKC3-P01

Location: Back wall
Even after having a technical 2 full day photograph course, nothing makes me change from ‘Auto’. Yes, I know my pictures can be so much better by even adjusting the white balance. This is an area I do feel I need to improve because so many shoots could be made better either on focus or colours. Sometimes I make some changes on my camera settings and I’m lucky, more often not! Don’t get me started in Aperture and light speed.
My biggest issue at the moment is that my camera doesn’t like wireless remote and I need to use the timer.
Timer can make the pictures off focus.That’s because I am behind the camera adjusting the picture by the rule of thirds.  I shoot, the cameras locks on what’s in front, when I step over it I’m not what the camera thinks is the focus. I have been getting around and always promise myself before the next shoot I will read a little more. ( never happens, maybe one day…)
I avoid using flash as much as I can but when the day is very bright I use my flash to counter balance the light behind me.
You all know my “the rugby player’ pose and a few others I play around. I try to be as creative as I can, showing the garment as best as possible. Every time I shoot the camera It takes 4 self portraits.
My advice when shooting with a self timer continuous mode is to do smaller movements changes at every click. Don’t try to move the whole body as you are not as fast as the camera. Move your head sideways, your hands grip, raise or lower your shoulders, drop your eyes, smile. Be confident, try a few pictures in front of the mirror and get shooting.
Having someone to take your pictures is only an advantage is they LIKE doing that, like a creative collaboration.  I am often feel a lot more self conscious when people take my pictures but when I do them myself I am as silly as I can. Do many funny faces, jump, dance.. I like the more serious poses to make the blog however I try to have fun because isn’t the most comfortable situation to be in, specially is you are productive.
I often shoot more than one garment or outfit at a time as the weather in the UK is so unpredictable.
 I use pic monkey to crop and add filters. Gimp is a great tool for more elaborate collages like the one of my Copacabana trousers. I heard illustrator is also fun but I don’t have it. My pictures are always set for 650 width. I been thinking to get the rental option for the photoshop/lightroom. Anyone recommends?
My process of taking blog pictures started organic and like my writing, is evolving on style as I explore different ideas.
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  • A great post! I’m really trying to be smarter about how I take my pics too – the one setting I do adjust a lot is exposer It looks like a -/+, and you can force the camera to over expose or under expose. Great for not getting washed out pics outside, or dim grey pics inside. That’s really all I adjust, though!
    As for the autofocus issue… I wonder, what if you set the camera a bit further away (to get a wider shot), stood in the centre, but then cropped it to follow the rule of thirds? I haven’t tried that, but it seems like it should work?

    • i do that ( go further) to my wall, i actually go quite far but I wished i could have sharper details images… Im getting there!

  • Great post- I totally agree it can be easier taking photos alone than with someone to help. A couple of things that might help- my Canon only likes a remote if it’s set to Manual AND manual focus. Also, you can focus a Canon by holding down the shutter button halfway, but then actually move the camera while still holding it half down. The focus point will stay the same, but you can reframe it (so the focus isn’t just the middle of the frame). Does that make sense?
    I think you do a great job of photos though, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

  • I have a canon t3 that doesn’t use a wireless remote either. I bought a wired remote off amazon (Neewer Shutter Release Remote Control RS-60E3) for $7 and then an extension wire (2 Foot 2.5mm Stereo Headphone Extension Cable) for $7. This plugs into the camera on the one side and would work on yours. I like it because I can stand in front of the camera and it even focuses before shooting with the remote. You should give it a try!

  • Very interesting post and yes your creativity has evolved so much since when you first started your blog. It’s always been a joy to read and look at your wonderful photos, not forgetting your amazing sewing 🙂 I’m on blog holiday….

  • Hi Rachel, thanks for the interesting reading! Funnily enough, I was editing some photos while reading this. I relate to a lot of the things you talk about, especially the self-timer focus issue. I have exactly the same problem. Because I keep my photos quite small, I can live with it for now. But I’m definitely hoping to find a solution soon. If I do, I’ll let you know. 🙂 Have a good day! xx

  • Photoshop is da bomb! I have an older version which is actually installed on my computer. I don’t believe in that rental buainess they now have.
    I edit all my pictures in PS. Correct blemishes, color, shadows etc. Sadly my camera is not good at taking pictures indoor so not all of my pics look great. Had my man friend take few pictures of me in ky new shorts. On them there was a hole lot of nature and not enough of me…
    Illustrator is a vector program. People use it to make patterns in the home sewers world. Also great for illustration s.

  • So I’m not the only one with the remote problem with a Canon… That explains a lot! I thought it was just my camera, making my life harder on purpose 😉

  • T

    Great post. I love Lightroom and it is the best for photo editing. I use Photoshop every day as a designer, but Lightroom has such a lightness of touch to it and it’s much easier to control exposure and remove blemishes – also, it costs a whole lot less!

  • Great post Rachel! I have decided to get a tripod to take photos as Piemaker is not overly keen and I never have time to take the photos I want. Your lucky to have a beautiful brick wall! We normally use my blue kitchen wall 2 mins before he goes to work. I think all of us try to improve our photos but yours always look fabulous. I also use Picmonkey and wouldn’t be without it. Much quicker than photoshop etc although your limited by what they provide. x

  • Great post! It was definitely an inspiration primer as i’m thinking about shooting all of my makes for the first time. As a relatively new beginner (both to sewing and photography) it sometimes seems like getting a good shot is impossible. I’ll definitely try out some of your tips!

  • I’ve got the same camera but never tried to self time it, I just nag the husband to take pics. Hence why there are so few pictures of me on the blog, they’re not too good, but lots of Constance, who is far more frequently photographed by good photographers! (I must stop talking about myself in teh third person!)

  • Most helpful post! I really need a better camera with a better self timer? Very good advise you provided.

  • I have the same problem with focusing using the timer function. Since I take photos on a blank white wall I usually tape something small to the wall at around my bust height and then focus on it. But even doing that I cannot get the photos as crisp when I use the timer 🙁

    I have an external flash that I use when it’s too dark and it works waaaay better than the pop-up flash because you can adjust the flash exposure and move the flash all around to bounce the light where needed.

  • I use a Canon Rebel, and I find that if my camera isn’t responsive to the remote that I need to check the remote battery. I hope this helps!

  • What a great post, thank you for the tips. I have the same camera, and don’t take it off auto either!

  • I don’t have a Canon but assume that it will have a focus lock for use with self timer? My hubby is happy to take photos as it’s his hobby – that means he takes them the way he wants to. He tends to take in RAW and edit in Lightroom but I prefer Jpegs as this is easier to upload, and a much smaller file size. I have the baby version of Photoshop – Essentials and an older version of Lightroom and that does me. I stopped using Lightroom a bit because it insisted on making multiple copies which is very irritating! I haven’t really thought carefully about my blog photography but your post has inspired me to think about it. I do have a decent tripod and a DSLR with electronic remote (which I prefer to a cable version) I can use for self photos but really prefer my smaller camera. I hadn’t thought that much about sewing and photography together – I clearly need to!

  • For yout focus issue using the timer you could grab de camera and, while standing where you’ll be for the photo, focus on the tripod. Then set it to manual and place it on the tripod. Et voila!

  • This post was suuuuper helpful! For some reason, I never understood how to set my photos all to the same width–it’s so hard for me to figure out photo editing software. But this motivated me to figure something out, and it is so easy to do in blogger! It looks so much better now that I’ve set everything at 640 width in my latest post, I’m going to go back and switch everything haha

    Thanks Rachel!