Hi everyone and welcome back to another week on the Christine Murphy Designs blog. Well, guess what? Today, finally, I’m ready to share my very first tutorial with you! Hallelujah!! Tutorials have always been on my to do list for the blog, and I apologise for how long it’s taken me to get it together, but I wanted to be sure that what I was sharing was going to be helpful. I want my tutorials to be something you can really use in your art and craft.
When I surf around the Internet, checking out art hashtags on Instagram and craft groups on Facebook, one thing that stands out to me is poorly edited photographs, or photographs that haven’t been edited at all. Generally speaking, they are photos that have been taken in poor light, and there has been no attempt to “display” or “show” the work. You probably think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill… but so much of what you see online nowadays is visual, and if you want your work to stand out it needs to be of a high standard.
Think about it… people aren’t reading posts as much anymore. If you think I’m wrong, consider how popular Facebook Live is becoming. Facebook Live is video based, it’s visual. Or what about Instagram Stories. Why is Instagram so popular? Instagram has always been an app for sharing photos, it’s visual, it’s never been known as a platform to release written content. Instagram’s users are looking at visuals and they are following others based upon their visual content.
So your photography needs to be of a high standard if you want your work to be noticed. Does this mean you need to go out and take a photography course and buy a flash camera? No… it just means that you need to get smarter about the way you take photos and how you edit them.
Today I’m going to share with you how I edit my photographs using a little app called Snapseed. I’ve been using Snapseed for about a year now, and I love how specific you can be with it for editing a photo. Let me walk you through how I take photos.
The first thing I should mention is all of my photos are taken on my iPhone 7 plus (that’s right, I don’t have a flash camera, I just try to make do with what I have). It’s best to begin by ensuring your photos are being taken in good light. Natural light is best, but sometimes that isn’t possible.
9 out of 10 times my photos are taken outside on my patio on this old rickety table. I set up my display, and I try to do it when I have good light, so for me, that’s during the middle of the day. I take about 5 or 6 shots, as I’m playing the law of averages! There’s generally one of those 6 photos that I’m happy with at the end of the process.
As you know, I live in a pretty wet place and we get a lot of rain here, so I don’t always have days where I have good light. On those days I do one of two things, I either set up my light tent (pictured above) or I take photos inside under fluorescent lights. Both scenarios are my way of trying to replicate natural light and until I discover another method, or buy some serious lighting equipment, these will have to do.
Once the photograph is taken and I’m happy with what I’ve been able to display, the photo gets brought into Snapseed.
When you open the Snapseed app, the screen above is displayed. Tap on the screen to open up your photos.
You can open and view photos you’ve already taken on your device (your camera roll) or you can open the camera to take a picture. I always work with images I’ve already taken, so I tap open from device and choose the image I want to edit from my Camera Roll.
Now it’s time to begin editing… I tap on tools, located in the middle, at the bottom of the screen, and when I do a whole bunch of photo editing tools will display.
Depending on how I got on with lighting, sometimes I begin with adjusting the white balance, to either cool or warm up the entire picture.
I may also need to crop the image to neaten it up slightly, or rotate it, so I use these tools at the very beginning. In the video I recorded below, I didn’t need to do these steps, but I wanted to let you know of how I use them.
Now it’s time to get serious… the next tool I use is the Selective tool. I begin by placing the tool on any parts of the photograph where I feel that the lighting needs to be brightened. I’m paying particular attention to shadows, and I’m adjusting areas of the photo where it looks darker. You adjust the brightness by swiping your finger horizontally across your phone screen. What I’m aiming for, by adjusting the brightness, is a consistent feel over the entire photo, of bright natural looking light. You can see in the recording that I made below, that this step can be repeated numerous times.
Now that I’m happy with the brightness, I begin working on the colour saturation. We all know I’m a lover of bright vibrant colours, and the Copic Markers, coloured pencils and water colours I use are intense and quite opaque. I have found that photographs never actually capture the vibrancy properly, and it’s probably due to my lighting (I’m telling you, I’m gonna have to invest in serious equipment one day!). What I see when I finish a drawing, can appear dull in the photographs, so I use the selection tool again, this time focusing on saturation, to bring some of that vibrancy back into the photograph and to lift the colours.
You can see on the recording that instead of choosing brightness (B), I am swiping up and choosing the third option down (S) for saturation. I’ll work my way around the photo and adjust the saturation to achieve the vibrancy that I’m looking for. I’m looking for a real rich and bright look to my photos, as it’s replicating my work in a truer fashion.
When I’m finished working the image, I then tap on the export button, on the bottom right hand side of the screen, and I choose the option to save a copy.
Saving a copy is my preferred option, because I always retain my original photograph and I gain an edited copy that contains all of the changes that I made through editing. Here is a side-by-side, so you can see my photo before editing (on top) and an after editing (on bottom). This extra bit of effort is sooooo worth it.
In closing, I highly recommend that if you are showing your work at all, anywhere online, you begin editing your photos. Remember, social media is moving more and more toward being visual. So, if you share photos of your Bible journalling, or you’re participating in weekly challenges where you share your work, you need to be editing those photos. It’s probably the best thing you can do for your craft, as it will help to solidify your presence online and others will begin to pay closer attention to your work.
Can I add that as you do it more and more, you will also begin to notice a “style” coming through your photos. Perhaps it’s by applying the same filter to each edited photograph when you’re done, or perhaps it’s by how you display your work…. trust me, after time, you will see your own style emerge. It’s a lovely biproduct of practicing consistency.
Well, I hope that this tutorial has been helpful for you. Seeing as it’s my first, if you would like to see more of this sort of thing, leave me a comment below and let me know. Also let me know what sorts of things you’d like to learn about and I’ll do my best to get something together for you. In the meantime, let me tell you a little secret…. if you want the heads up on things before the rest of the world, if you’re after the latest news, shop discounts and the odd freebie or two, you’ve gotta sign up to my email list. It’s the monthly email you don’t want to miss.
Until next week, connect with the Creator, let Him inspire you, His magnificence and greatness is everywhere, even in art and craft.