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    Editing Photos for Instagram

    I often get lovely compliments on my photography on Instagram through both my business page - @vandc.designs and also my personal page - @mumwithanikon so I thought I would share a few of my settings and editing tips.

    I've used a couple of my recent examples (although they are screenshots from Adobe Lightroom so not the absolute best quality but good to show before and after shots!)

    The image above shows a 'before' and 'after' screen shot from Lightroom. In this example, the editing was minimal but creates a lighter, brighter image more suited to Instagram or your blog. In all three of the editing apps I mention, I use the same settings and tools to edit.


    I mainly use my Nikon D3300 DSLR camera with a Nikkor 35mm 1.8 Prime lens. The camera itself is a relatively cheap DSLR (around £350) but I found the kit lens that came with it didn't quite produce the sharp images I was after. I've since learnt that the lens is more important than the camera body itself in a lot of cases. I've purchased a handful of lenses since last Summer when I began to get into photography, the cheapest around £90 and the most expensive was over £600. I have to say though, my favourite one is the Nikkor prime as mentioned above which was around £150. Even compared to my really expensive lens, this produces the same quality images and is light and compact on the camera. Everyone will have different preferences and want to achieve different looks but (for now), this is my go to lens.

    I would also recommend using a tripod (especially for still shots) - even a slight hand shake on the camera can have a negative effect on your shot with a blurred effect and a photo not quite in focus - not what you want. I even tend to have the camera on the tripod and set the 10 second timer so I'm not even touching the camera when the shutter goes. That said, there are also instances, especially lifestyle when the tripod is just a nuisance and handheld is easier.

    If you don't have a DSLR camera, DON'T PANIC - even camera phones these days have great image quality. Sometimes I will take a snap on my iPhone and end up preferring it, plus it's convenient and you always have it to hand. In truth, the real magic comes in the post editing so whether your original photo is from a camera or a phone, they can be edited much the same.

    Post Photo Editing

    Now I must start by saying I am in no way an expert - everything I'm saying is self taught  in the last few months. I haven't read any books on the subject or covered it (yet) in my photography diploma. I'm sure once I have, I will be able to update this post with some more 'pro' advice, but for now, these simple tips should hopefully help!

    There are lots of photo editing programmes and apps out there - many are confusing or hard to navigate (I have tried and deleted many myself!) but I have found my go to apps to be PhotoShop Express and VSCO on my phone and Adobe Lightroom on my MacBook. It's worth pointing out that PhotoShop and Adobe Lightroom are paid for (I pay a monthly subscription through the business as we need all the Adobe programmes daily!) although I believe there is a free version in the App store and VSCO is definitely free to download.

    - Exposure: This is always my first move - it instantly lightens the picture to make it appear brighter. Up the slider slowly until you get the effect you are after - be careful not to over expose so the picture looks washed out and too bright (I've done this before and then kick myself for it!!)

    - Clarity: I alter the clarity feature next - this usually only needs minimal change but can make a nice difference to the photo adding a little more depth and clarity to the image. If the image is really clear to begin with, you may not need this. Too much clarity can darken the image.

    - Sharpen: I always sharpen my images, it may be only slightly but it just adds to the 'crisp' look I like. Sharpening can sometimes create 'noise' - this is when the photo appears slightly grainy. If this happens, I adjust this by sliding up 'Reduce Noise' in Photoshop (or 'Luminance' in Lightroom) which gives a smooth look to the image. Again, if this is moved too high, it can make the photo look more like a painting than a photo.

    A lot of the time, these are the only edits I make for my Instagram pictures. There are a lot of editing options on every programme and it's always fun to play around and find certain looks you like. Some people will edit their photos dark and that can look great too, and many will use favourite filters. I don't currently use any filters although there are some great ones, even on Instagram directly if you wanted to. If I had loads of time to spend on an edit, I would go into more details - altering shadows, highlights, vibrance etc but most of the time I find these main edits are enough.

    Another tip I've found is that having the brightness on my iPhone on the highest setting gives the best image - photos look their brightest and clearest so also bare in mind that photos being looked at on a dull screen or non HD laptop or computer won't look as good as they did in the edit. For this reason, I also have my brightness on high when looking on Instagram.

    I hope this has helped in some way, if you want to ask any questions at all - camera settings, lenses, editing, just add a comment and I will answer the best I can!




    Easter Baking with the Boy


    Hurrah for bank holidays! Today is Good Friday - historically for me that meant a day of fasting. I was raised in a Catholic household and Easter is the biggest date on the calendar. My Good Friday's of old consisted of no food until lunchtime where we were fed a yummy (I use this term VERY loosely) fish pie and not much else after that... In truth, I dreaded the day.  So, the adult rebel in me now sees this day as the new Easter Sunday, the 'let's eat as much as we can' day, the 'let's eat chocolate for breakfast and stretch our stomachs in preparation for Sunday' day.



    I started by sprinkling up some tableware - this is so easy to do and by the end of the afternoon I was eyeing up what else I could cover in hundreds and thousands... All you need is a little paintbrush, golden syrup and a bowl of sprinkles. You just paint on the syrup to the rim, dip in the bowl and the effect is truly scrummy!


    Next we made these Chocolate Chicks - the recipe I found involved a creme egg but I altered this to a Kinder Egg (Max's favourite) with the added bonus of having a toy inside which makes them perfect as little Easter gifts. I made his feet and beak from orange icing and his eyes and wings from white chocolate buttons and used the golden syrup as glue to hold it all together.  Needless to say, he went down a treat (as confirmed by the Boy's chocolate face).

    Last up were these Babybel bunny faces! I must say, perfect for a novice like me and so quick and cute I may even make them a regular feature for Max's lunch plate. So easily done with a simple babybel cheese piece, carrot (for ears and nose), celery (for whiskers) and I must admit I used blobs of icing for the eyes and mouth although any creative alternative would work great too - little raisins for example!