The secret of great blog-photos revealed

before and after shoot

A picture says more than thousand words; the question is what it says. Is it dull, crooked and without anything in focus, then it doesn’t say what you want. It’s fairly easy to make your photos to stand out and match and give something extra to your text. Below you will find a few good examples that will help you on your way.

I have set my camera to take all pictures in manual mode; reason is that I want to have full control of all parameters as ISO, focal length and aperture. I know for sure that many of you out there prefer to take photos in automatic or half automatic mode. That will give you great photos as well, but then it´s more up to the camera than up to you. If you want to have full control of your photos, then learn how to take your photos in manual mode and maybe more important, shoot in RAW. A RAW photo have a lot more information in the actual picture which means that you can do so much more when developing your photos. See picture above, especially on the sky and the clouds. More of that later.

Cropping and adjusting

Even if your camera is set to automatic or half automatic you still need to focus on keeping the object nicely inside the magical frame. When looking at your newly taken photos on you computer, you will probably find out that there are redundant stuff on the side of the actual object that you didn’t took notice about when you took the photo, and even worse, the horizon is leaning.. and the water flows out of the picture 🙂developing the photo

If your photo doesn’t have a noticeable horizon, then try to find something else in the picture as a lamppost or a column. In short, something to straighten up your photo against.

RAW or JPG?

Cropping and adjusting, as mentioned above is a must, now we are moving over to the magical part. Developing the picture. I use Adobe Lightroom which is more or less industry standard for developing photos as of today. The difference between shooting in JPG and RAW is that when shooting in JPG, the camera is developing and throwing away information. These photos look ok most of the time, but not always, therefore I always shoot in RAW.
If you compare with shooting in RAW, the photos are unprocessed and look a bit dull at first sight, but when you start to adjust the sliders, something magical happens.

I always start with adjusting the Exposure and Contrast controls, but rarely need to do much for the whole photo, but I might use it on details, but more of it at “exposure at details” below.

The slider for Highlights is great if you want to control the bright part of your photo, especially if you shoot in RAW. It can be clouds that you want to stand out a bit or pulling down annoying street lights. As mention above, shooting in RAW will take up a lot more space on your hard drive, but the advantage is that they contain a lot of more material which is great if you want to develop your picture more than just crop and align. Same apply for Shadows, if you want to control a dark “shadowy” part of the photo, Shadow is the controller for that.

Clarity is one of my favourites, decrease it and you get a soft feeling and increase it will add more contrast. Vibrance and Saturation is all controllers for tweaking the colours. Just play carefully with them, you can easily overdo it which doesn’t look good.

To not develop your photos is the same as not use spellcheck for the text.

Exposure at details

With the Adjustment Brush you can both highlight and conceal details in the picture. The unprocessed picture below is rather dull and lifeless. I used the adjustment brush to select everything except for the tram and lowered the exposure to get the tram to stand out a bit. Then of course the overall picture got a  rather intense run through with both Highlights and Shadows as well.

tram in Istanbul

Another typical case to use the adjustment brush is to increase the exposure on eyes and teeth and sometime take out shadows in faces, see example on the girls on the picture on top.

Vertical and aspect ratio

My suggestion is to avoid taking vertical pictures because they doesn’t really fit well in most blog themes. Taking a vertical photo is a common mistake with smart phones. I don’t say that it´s wrong, but try to keep the same aspect ratio on all pictures and it look better in your blog.

pic-sizeMost blog themes have recommendations about what sizes that work best as well. In Word Press, when adding a picture, look under “attachment display settings” and you find the optimized sizes for the theme.

Last but not least, don´t forget to compress your picture. I use Photo Shop to do the last finish and save it to the size that works best for the blog and with a compressions that doesn’t destroys the photo, usually I set the quality of compression to somewhere between 60% to 70 %.

Hope you got some useful tips along the way to get better pictures to your blog, I assume that you put a lot of time into your blog text, so why not give the pictures a little love too.

Read also: what´s in my camera bag..

  • Brilliant advice – we use very basic photo editing software but totally agree that cropping is one of the best and easiest ways you can improve a photo by 100%! Thanks for the great tips!

  • Michael

    Great advice.

    Cropping works wonders to be able to get the subject of your photo in the right spot.

    I find that it also just takes playing around with Photoshop (or whatever program you use) and seeing what different settings do. It’s also a heap of fun!

  • Thanks for the extra tips on processing, often travelling it’s not possible to see everything in the optimal light so those photos generally need more time spent on them than others. I just wonder if you still fee the same way about no portrait photos with the growth in Pinterest, I’ve recently started using a few in each post as they do a lot better with repins in Pinterest which seems to be a good traffic referrer?

    • About your question about portrait photos & Pinterest.. haven’t really looked in to that..
      which I surely will do now.. Thanks for the heads up.. But I think you are right, people tend to like and pay more attention to these kinds of pictures.