An Experiment with Better Photography

I’m tired of posting horrible pictures and I know some of you, via comments and emails, have made it clear that you’re tired of it, too. I know how blurry pics make me feel so I’m going to make a concerted effort here. I’m done moaning about my horrible pictures and I’m here to tell ya that I’m going to start an experiment. I got inspired by Tara Swiger’s post on her blog where she’s doing her own experiment to see if a small change can give her the results she hopes for.

Here’s my proposal for my own experiment:

1. Thesis: Spend time setting up photo shoots for the garments I’m working on. Edit these photos and post ONLY edited photos to my blog. I hope this pulls in readers as I know that bad photos turn me off, too. This experiment is to see how many more people I can get interested in my blog from just better images.

2. Parameters: The experiment ends 9/3 and I hope to have 3 blog posts up with better photos by 9/3.

3. Support systems in place: I don’t have money for a tripod yet but I will find creative ways to use backdrops and better lit areas for photo shoots.

That’s it. Over the next couple of weeks, this is what I’ll be focusing on. I’m aiming for only 3 blog posts with edited photos and I know I haven’t blogged in nearly a month. You know why? Because of photos! Plus, I’m working on a bunch of stuff right now so I don’t think I’ll be low on content.

If you follow me on Twitter, I’ll be using #experimentFTW to connect with Tara and others participating in this experiment. If you want to join me in an experiment of your own, go to Tara’s blog and check it out.

10 thoughts on “An Experiment with Better Photography

  1. Tara says:

    Hoorah! So glad you’re experimenting!
    To help you get a clearer picture when it’s all over – do you have a way of measuring if it “got more people involved”? Or is there some other measurement you could use (links clicked, items sold, etc)

    • Leila says:

      Thank you Tara for the comment and for helping me specify my desired outcomes. I average 40 daily hits (it’s never been quite this low) to my blog. I would like it to increase but I don’t know how much my desired increase would be. I would also like to see more comments again.

  2. Brooke says:

    Yay for better photos! I know a bunch of search results lead people to my blog just because of decent photos, so it should help you too. =)

    I never use a flash and I edit mine in Paint Shop Pro – my main edit is always fixing the color balance. And giving photos a “real name” helps search engines find you (dsc-1234.jpg won’t get the same hits as orange-cat.jpg).

    I can’t wait to see your recent projects!

  3. Jennerosity says:

    Photos on my blog are also my weakness. Though my blog isn’t nearly as focused as yours, so half the time I don’t know what kind of photo to post. Plus I mostly blog from my iPhone, which is very limited.

    Anyway, good for you for setting up this challenge for yourself!

    As for the lack of tripod, Lifehacker sometimes posts tips on how to hack a simple, low-cost tripod that you might want to check out.

  4. Erin Erickson (@yorkiemischief) says:

    I never use a tripod. I have an old, cheap one and I just end up tripping on it.

    Here’s the thing. Not all natural light is created equally. It can be way too bright, or not warm enough. The best natural light is that kind of filtered, slightly yellow-y afternoon light. Sometimes I wait for it all day and it never comes. Shadows can also mess you up.

    As far as editing, I only slide the right slider on the levels over to where the graph starts. Then I make sure the center one is still in the center. Sometimes I go a teeny fraction in either direction with the middle slider, but more makes it look fake. It is totally possible to use the level to brighten up the photos without taking them too far, I do it on almost every picture I take. I mostly used iPhoto for this before I bought Aperture, and I still throw them in Photoshop Elements sometimes to mess with the white balance. It looks like you’re using free programs, which is fine but I have no experience with them or I would help more :-/ But, I would put something like PSE on your someday-wishlist. You can do a lot pre-edit though.

    The first thing is to get clear, sharp photos. Even with a tripod, if you are taking photos of yourself, you are going to move. I looked up your camera and it doesn’t look like you have the option to use an aperture priority mode. If I’m wrong, and you do, use this. By decreasing that F number, you can decrease the shutter speed, giving you less chance to move and blur the photo. Granted you give up depth of field, meaning the farther points from your focus will be blurry, but we’ll just call that artistic intent πŸ™‚ But you should definitely go through and find out what settings your camera *does* have an use them to your advantage. A portrait setting might work better, you have to try it.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that to get one good photo, most people take dozens or hundreds of photos from every different angle. I took Etsy pics of 4 wristlets the other day and downloaded something like 138 photos. Yes, excessive, but it’s digital. I admit I’m bad about not deleting the ones I don’t use, but hard drives are cheap πŸ™‚ Sometimes I’ll take 30 photos and get maybe 2 usable ones, where the stitching is clear and the white balance is perfect. I realize that when talking a husband into taking pictures of you, while they are grumbling the entire time, they are mostly (if you’re lucky) focused on not chopping your head off before calling it “good enough” and certainly not anything artistic. That’s why there are no photos of me. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I am constantly screwing around with my camera to get better shots. There are crazy things you can do like use a piece of white foam core board as a reflector. You just have to keep trying. I’m way better than I was when I started, and I expect in a year I’ll be way better than I am now. Also? I’m a WordPress geek. So I’m happy to help with that too. πŸ™‚

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