This post has been sponsored by Fotor and all opinions expressed below are my own.
In our first installment of Starting a Food Blog, we dug deep into the bare bone basics of what starting a site from scratch entails. Today, we’re going to talk about what goes into creating a blog post and one of the key highlights to such is photography- perhaps one of our most asked about topics.
I’ve written a lot in the past about photography but the world of photography is progressive and ever-evolving. In my most recent article, I delved deep into the fundamental basics to editing pictures, creating collages and adding watermarks to your photos which is an absolute must. Today, I’m going to show you more about the editing process itself and how to have fun with it to create a distinctive look that will set you apart from other sites.
As you know, I’ve been a long time user of Fotor: Online Photo Editor. While I have dabbled with other free editing programs out there nothing has come close, in my opinion, to what Fotor has to offer and quite honestly, I find it so much easier to navigate than most.
Recently I started a new Instagram account focused solely on the bts shots and outtakes of Living the Gourmet where I’m dedicated to giving you a deeper look at how I shoot each post. In a more recent post I shared about how as the season’s change, my photo editing techniques change slightly as well.
I tend to gravitate towards warmer presets and filters to evoke the aesthetics of Fall. So think a little more saturation and warmth, more background shadows and even some film grain to certain images as a styling effect. All of which can be done through their Basics option and then Effects. As shown below.
Right now for the month of October, Fotor has released a few limited filters, Halloween templates, and Halloween cliparts. Which can be used for an array of different photos such as Halloween-styled portraits, invites, etc which is perfect for all your upcoming festivities.
When I edit my photos I use multiple programs on a single post to get the look and feel I want. It varies depending on the lighting of the shot (if I post later in the day and the images tend to be a bit darker than I’d like I use Lightroom room adjust the balance and tones, same goes for when I shoot earlier and the images come out too bright). My main staples, however, are VSCO and Fotor.
Both come with a variety of options as mentioned earlier but they also offer affordable Pro packages, and today one lucky reader is getting a Pro Package to Fotor so you can experience everything your photos have been missing.
All my photos are shot on a Nikon 3400 DSLR. A few years back I finally invested in a DSLR after shooting only on my iPhone (and yes it is totally possible to run a blog with only the camera on your phone. Also note that was way back during the 4S days, the newer models are far more stunning).
There’s a myth that you NEED a professional grade camera to get beautiful pictures, and I’ve spoken about this before in previous articles. It is in fact, however, a myth. So then why would you ever need to invest in a fancy camera if you have the latest smartphone?
From personal experience, shooting on the phone, then editing on the phone, then having the phone overheat and crash during my editing was not conducive to a professional workflow. Furthermore, with a DSLR I was able to start creating videos, and had the proper format to upload to my current movie maker.
Even today with my more updated smartphone there are some key differences between the lens on the camera and that on the phone. Here are the pros and cons:
Lenses – This is pretty interesting. My current smartphone (which is a Galaxy fyi) seems to capture the larger picture. So let’s say for instance I’m trying to shoot an overhead tablescape. I can just hold my phone over the table and snap. Now, if I’m shooting the same photo on my DSLR, I need to stand on a stool and zoom all the way out. You can, of course, get different focal lenses but the con about DSLRs is that the lenses tend to be more expensive than the camera of the body. Another hefty investment you make not be too eager to go for.
Image Quality – This can be a pro or a con depending on the image. Sometimes if I’m shooting later in the day this is great. It gives my photos the extra light that just…well, isn’t there. So if I want to share an image on Instagram or Facebook, I will sometimes just share my shot-on-the-phone image.
The con, however, is that sometimes, if I already have a great source of light, it might actually make my images look overexposed, the colors aren’t true to their actual color, and at times it just looks like I took the sharpening tool and cranked it up to 80%. In this case, having a camera lens is great. From my own experiences, nothing- not even my fancy smartphone can compare to shooting on a Nikon with natural light. Everything is clear and true to their actual form which allows me total control over the editing process. Whereas when I’m editing a really bright shot from my phone, I’m editing it down to make it look more real.
Convenience– Shooting on a phone is infinitely more convenient. I’m not going to beat around the bush here. I shoot on the phone then upload straight away to my preferred app. Where as with the DSLR, I have to upload all the images to my computer, sift through them, send the ones I like best back to my phone for editing, then back to my computer for the finish touch.
Furthermore, the phone is easier to carry around. Not that I really had to point out the obvious here, but I digress.
One of the biggest differences for me when it comes to shooting on the phone vs. a camera are movies. Prior to investing in a DSLR I couldn’t create any video content. It was tricky propping the phone to get a good angle (though nowadays you can get a tripod for your phone- hello modern technology!). Furthermore, I couldn’t format the video files from my phone so that my adobe program could read them properly. Now this might be because my phone was out-of-date at the time but nevertheless, getting the DSLR was a true gamechanger.
Pricing – Let’s be honest, both are expensive investments. The difference is you NEED a phone and don’t necessarily need a camera unless you’re making it your business. DSLRs aren’t as expensive however as some might think. There are lot of beginner packages you can pick up online that come with the case, camera body, SD card, and lenses. It’s a more affordable way to start out, then you can upgrade your gear overtime.
Finally a big question I get is Canon vs. Nikon? I did a lot of research on this because at the time I wasn’t sure either. I only knew they were both highly reputable names and that most likely I would be pleased with either. Nikon is more user friendly when it comes to beginners. I tested both and personally just gravitated towards Nikon. However, while both are of the highest quality, Canon is said to be the preferred model for cinema and movie-making. The differences are subtle and there are no real advantages to either, so I highly recommend going to a local camera store and testing each first to get the feel of them. Only then can you decide which is best for you and your work.
So now that we’ve got that squared away, let’s talk about putting all your knowledge together to create a blog post.
Pinnable images are a big must when it comes to putting a blog post together. Fotor has become a great tool for design templates, putting together those vertical collages and in the image above, I show you just how easy it is to do. Simply upload your images (I usually do a 2 image layout), set the dimensions – 735 x 2000 is standard for me, then just add text, any desired graphic designs, save, and voila!
If you wish to set your pinnable collage as a ‘hidden pin’ which I strongly suggest, check out this great article on how to do so!
Now that you have the basics of principle photography down, there is really only one other thing you need to go along with a perfect post and that is good storytelling. I may not necessarily be able to teach you how to be a great story-teller as that is a craft I try to perfect with each post, but I can give advice.
I feel that honesty and authenticity are the tools to creating a good story.
If you’ve been hit with writer’s block here’s a good new perspective to take on, in the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, “I don’t sit around waiting for passion to strike me. I keep working steadily because I believe it is our privilege as humans to keep making things. Most of all, I keep working because I trust that creativity is always trying to find me, even when I have lost sight of it.”
So without further adieu let’s jump into the process. Today I’m making Candied Apples complete with caramel, drizzles of white chocolate, sugar crystals, macaron coconut flakes and chocolate sprinkles. The toppings are limitless when it comes to these Autumn gems. Dehydrated fruit bits, nuts, seeds, can all be swapped in or added. Hey, it’s candy season. Go nuts 😉
In the upcoming weeks, we’ll be sharing our third and final installment on Starting a Food Blog which will focus more on the backend of things such as the new Gutenberg platform and blog cosmetics.
Now for the fun part! Today one lucky ready is eligible to win a month of Fotor Pro! Simply comment below telling me how you’re celebrating Halloween this year! Winner will be chosen at random on Halloween. (UPDATE: Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who participated)!