I’m pretty busy, not in a ‘Ooh, look how busy and important I am’ kind of way. In a 3 small kids and own a business kind of way. I’m all over anything that helps me do things faster and better. I’ve always wanted to take great photos, ones that capture the essence of a moment and freeze it in perpetuity. No matter how hard I tried, that skill always eluded me. Since I started using Instagram, my pictures have become infinitely more beautiful. Just using the camera on an iPhone, a little bit of knowledge and that handy dandy App, it’s amazing what you can do.
Start with a good foundation: Lighting, angles and a couple principles of design
Good pictures need good light. Did you know that if things look too dark, you can tap on your phone’s screen (in one of the dark areas) and it will adjust the settings to let more light in before you take a picture? Use this feature, it helps.
I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is not capturing different angles. Get down low, look from above, try from each side and get up close and personal. Part of what tells the story is how the image is photographed. Take lots of different versions of your picture and don’t worry if they’re not perfect.
There’s this thing call the Rule of Thirds. It helps anyone create well balanced and visually interesting shots. Basically, if you break an image into thirds (both horizontally and vertically), the intersection points of the grid are where you should place the main focal point of your subject.
While you’re using the grid lines, watch for the naturally occurring horizontal and vertical lines, think of the horizon or a fence post. Keep them straight or adjust the tilt on your picture to make them straight. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference.
Don’t feel restricted by the rule, just keep it in mind to see if it makes your pictures look better. Sometimes, rules are made to be broken.
We were at the park tonight. As dusk was settling in, the light was beautiful. Almost ethereal as the kids played. My youngest was going down this vintage slide and I loved the juxtaposition of her youth against the slide’s obvious age.
Based on the Rule of Thirds, I adjusted the picture to align her body more to the left [isn’t it handy that Instagram gives you the grid?].
When I did that, I lost the sense of her looking little, being perched on the end of the slide. So I didn’t use the rule on this one and went back to my original.
1) Filters: I’m pretty sure I’ve used filters on every one of my Instagram pictures. They’re a quick way to apply a bunch of different settings that can make your pictures look instantly better. I don’t have a favourite filter, so I scroll through them to see which one looks best. Tonight I chose Sierra.
2) Exposure: The centre icon that looks like a half-filled sun is the Lux feature. It helps if your pictures are under exposed or lack contrast. I slide the bar at the bottom to see if I like the effect on the image. Sometimes I apply a change, sometimes I don’t. But I always check to see if it makes an improvement. Tonight I used it to make the picture just slightly brighter.
3) Tools: There are lots of different formatting tools when you click on the wrench icon. If my picture is off-kilter, I use the Adjust tool. Then I play with the brightness and contrast. I often use the vignette tool which darkens the edges and draws the eye inwards.
My absolute favourite tool is Tilt Shift. This creates a focal point and blurs anyting outside of it. The Radial option creates a circular area of focus while the Linear option is for horizontal and vertical areas. In this picture, I used a vertical linear focus so her whole body was in focus but anything on either side became blurred. You adjust the size and position of the effect using two fingers, like you do to resize or turn something around on your phone. (Did that make sense?!).
Like anything else, more is not always better. Only use the tools and effects that help tell the story of your picture. I’d like to think that if you know nothing about me, you can get a glimpse in to my life and who I am through my photos.
4) Sharing: When you’re done, it’s time to share it with the world. You can link other social media accounts to Instagram so that your pictures are published to everything at once.
One last thing! I’ve started taking all my pictures in the square mode on my camera. It saves me the time and frustration of having to re-compose and crop them later.
Here’s the before and after picture using my 4(ish) steps:
Go, busy Mamas. Get the App and make beautiful pictures. When you’re done, tag them with #be_phemomenal, I’d love to see them.
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