Photography tips

I am by no means an expert photographer, but I have learned some great tips as I’ve progressed. Here you will find a wealth of kskristy knowledge on how to improve your own photos!

Fun with photo editing

Happy new year’s eve!

In light of my recent pattern of posting photos of my home state of Kansas the day before a major holiday… I bring you… more Kansas photos. Don’t ya love me?

For today’s post, I decided to not only post the final product, post editing, but also to show you a few fun edits I created.

I love photo editing! I could do it all day long for days on end and never get bored. I especially love editing landscapes. There are so many different ways a photographer can go when editing landscapes. From natural adjustments to high-contrast, highly-saturated edits, photos can look very different when edited than when captured in camera.

Here are a couple of my favorite edits from a group of photos I shot last week.

Barbed wire. Beautiful and classically rustic. Nothing says prairie and open range better than a barbed wire fence.

Did you know there are over 530 patented kinds of barbed wire and over 2,000 variations of it?

I have no idea what kind this is. If I had to, I would classify it as “regular” because that’s the kind of intelligent farm girl I am.

Hardy har.

This shot is SOOC (straight out of camera). It’s a simple photo and nice enough, but look at what happens when I boost the contrast and saturation and add a little bit of an “old west” effect.

Kinda nice, huh? I like the added definition and vibrance in this one. But the next one is my favorite.

Mmmm, black and white. Love it.

There are so many ways to turn a photo to black and white. It’s a whole different world than color. For this particular edit, I muted the overall tones and gave it a warm tint.

The end result? Timeless and aged and sort of vintage-y.

I’m a sucker for vintage.

Here’s another shot of my backyard that I edited in much the same way as the photos above.


Old west.

Black and white.

To perform all of  these edits, I loosely used some of my favorite actions from The Pioneer Woman and The CoffeeShop Blog as starting points then added my own tweaks and tricks to create the final images.

If you haven’t ever experimented with Photoshop actions, I encourage you to try them! They are an easy way to enhance your photos in ways you might never have thought to edit them yourself. There are a ton of high-quality free action downloads out there. If you’re looking for a good starter set, check out either of the ones I mentioned above. Both are great.

Happy editing and happy 2011!


Shooting blind

Allow me start off this post by saying I am by no means an expert photographer.

I simply love holding a camera in my hands, looking at the world around me through a viewfinder and doing my best to capture little moments and pieces of God’s great creation.

Photography has always been a hobby of mine. I remember going through one disposable camera after another during my junior high years. Pets, clothes, grass, refrigerator magnets… there was nothing out there that didn’t warrant a picture in my eyes. Then my mom got her first digital camera, and oh boy, was I a happy camper. I’m pretty sure I single-handedly kept Duracell batteries in business all through my high school years with my constant self-portrait photo shoots. That Kodak went through batteries like there was no tomorrow.

Then, in April 2009, I purchased my first dSLR, and that’s all she wrote. I was hooked.

I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve learned how to manually control the settings on my camera. I’ve learned about framing and composition, and even photo ethics.

I still take photos of anything and everything, and I still have a lot to learn. But during my photographic journey, I have developed one theory that has given me some of my favorite shots.

I like to call it shooting blind.

The gist of the theory is that you simply hold your camera in the general direction of your shot and without looking through the viewfinder or framing the shot, you simply snap the photo.

Not everything has to be meticulously composed. Sometimes you just gotta shoot a blind shot.

(Note: I do not recommend putting this into practice with real guns, arrows, darts, or any other potentially harmful projectile. That could be bad news bears for you or others…)

I’ve found that some of the most interesting angles show up when you just point and shoot. I’ve discovered angles and perspectives that I might not have ever thought to shoot from otherwise.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:

I love everything about this shot. The hole in the tv, the window in the background, the cool tones of the foreground compared to the warm tones of the background, the drama and the interest created by the composition… awesome.

I had knelt down on the floor of this great abandoned house (more on that in another post!) and shot a couple of similar shots prior to this one but I had just been focusing on the cracked tv. The photos were very cold and not super interesting. I knew this was too cool a subject to just be content with a mediocre photo so I decided to try something different. I laid down flat on the floor and propped my elbows up in front of me. I set my focal length and focus point to approximate values that I thought might work for the shot I wanted and then I took a couple photos. And I got a great photo!

Here’s another:

Funny story about this photo. I actually got it out the drivers side window of my car as I was flying 70 miles an hour down the highway. (Don’t tell my mother… or the cops.)

Too many times I have been driving down the road and seen something that would make a great photo but didn’t have my camera with me.

After kicking myself and asking myself why a photographer wouldn’t have their camera with them at all times, I vowed to keep my Nikon in the passenger seat of my car forever. Except when I take it other places.

And that’s how I got this photo. I was driving back to college last January and as I drove up a hill close to the Kansas-Oklahoma state line, I saw this little clump of trees in the valley below me. I reached for my camera right away, popped off the lens cap and right as I passed the trees, I took the photo. I basically got lucky on this one, but hey, it works!

Now here are two examples of the same subject I shot blind. One of them turned out well, one of them not so much, but they are still interesting.

This is the photo that didn’t turn out so well. Just in case you were wondering.

A couple months ago, I was doing a photo shoot in the downtown area of my little college town with a group of women. I had a co-photographer along with me and she started setting the group up for another shot. I wasn’t doing anything at that moment so I found this sign and decided to try and get an interesting shot of it.

I gripped my camera in my hand and held it down at my side. Then I tilted the camera up toward the sign and took the photo. This one missed, obviously, but I still find it interesting.

I took a couple more photos and ended up with this one:

I love this. I think the angle is intriguing, the shadows are nice, the composition is somewhat surprising but pleasing and the simplicity of the photo draws me in.

And to think, I got it without even looking.

So I encourage you, the next time you take a photo, to try shooting blind. Don’t look at or through your camera or anything. Just point and shoot and see what you get. You might be surprised!

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