I’m not sure what I ever did to annoy Mother Nature, but it seems to me that every time I finish a project and need to photograph it, the weather turns ugly. Case in point: my cake stand was completed the day the tornadoes ripped through North Carolina. So I had to bust out some photography secrets I’ve learned.

3″ of water flooding our front walk after the tornado.

But, rather than be deterred by some nasty weather, I decided to use a few tricks I learned from some professional photographers I’ve worked with over the years. And, from a few photography blogs like:

iHeartFaces.com and EverydayElementsOnline.com and My3Boybarians.

One of the photography secrets I learned was how to bounce the light back onto the subject. To light the underside of the cake stand, I set a mirror next to the cake stand and angled it to reflect the light onto the bottom of the stand. I was careful not to let a strong highlight hit on the stand from the reflection.

Next I used a foam core board propped up against a chair. I positioned the board back and forth until I saw the light brightening the cake stand and dessert.

With just those two changes I was able to change my cake stand photo from this:

to this! Va va vooom!

Another one of my photography secrets I used while shooting some of my tutorials is to use two pieces of foam core to get a professional looking white background.

Sometimes if I’m feeling very perfectionist, I’ll use Photoshop to edit my photos. To erase the seam, I selected a color that is midway between the foreground and background foam core.

Then, I used the airbrush tool to paint out the seams that stand out.

Sometimes I really want to photograph a still life in an environment. Take my spray-painted bottles for example:

Whoa, that is one dark and dreary photo. Once again, I had finished the project and the clouds rolled in. So, here is how I dealt with fickle Mother Nature.

I put the bottles in the window to capture as much natural light as I could. Then, I backed away from my subjects and zoomed in with my lens. Next, I used a flash (egads, not a flash!) Yes, I used a flash, but I have the ability to change the flash exposure in my camera so it wouldn’t wash out the subject. And because I was far back from the vases, the flash wasn’t as harsh.

And here is the resulting photo!

I wouldn’t say it is perfect by any standards, but the photos look much more appealing. Don’t you think?

(At the time that I took the above photos, I didn’t have this great flash gadget. However, recently I ordered a Light Scoop and I love how it bounces the flash off the ceiling instead of the object. This is an inexpensive alternative to buying an external flash.)

To head off the inevitable camera question: I currently use a Canon T1i Rebel (SLR). However, I before I bought the Rebel I used a simple point and shoot camera and made some edits in Photoshop to compensate for the cheaper camera.

First I select Auto Tone and if I’m happy with the changes PS made, I move on to the Auto Contrast.

To make the colors more vivid, I play with the Vibrancy and Saturation Settings:

Finally, to give the details that crisp focus look, I add the Sharpen filter:

There are oodles of other fixes that Photoshop can perform on your photos, but these are the ones I use the most.

Do you have any photography tips or tricks? I’d love to hear them.

My friend Megan (Honey We’re Home) has a great post all about using your SLR! Check it out HERE.

59 replies
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  1. Ann
    Ann says:

    Thank you for the awesome tips! Possibly, one of the best blogs I have come across! I am new to photography and love the tricks you have shared! Keep on!

    Reply
  2. Linda Leyble
    Linda Leyble says:

    Hi – great tips. Thanks so much. I just got a Nikon DSLR and I have to lean how to use it better. A little nervous but – I will get over the fear.

    Meanwhile, your tips about the mirror and the foamcore are really great. And your PhotoShop tips – very understandable.

    Now, all I have to do is to learn how to use the dials on my camera!

    Linda

    Reply
  3. Shelly
    Shelly says:

    If I may offer a tip (and please don’t use the photos on my site as a judge, I use my iPhone) for the “professional looking white background”, instead of using two foam coare pieces set together and photoshopping out the seam, use a large piece of white construction paper. Lean it up against the wall and allow it to curve on the floor. Same effect, no seam 🙂

    Reply
  4. laurie
    laurie says:

    …thanks for sharing these ideas on photography….no matter what you do your pictures look great…furthermore, I was in North Carolina as well visiting my sister when the tornados hit….s-c-a-r-y is all I can say. We were at the Museum of Natural History (or something similar)…my sister is in Jamestown. Keep up the great blog – thoroughly enjoying all your posts and hard work!!!

    Reply
  5. ColleenwithMurals&More
    ColleenwithMurals&More says:

    Absolutely awesome, as always! Question: any ‘secret’ to lighting artwork? I don’t use flash (I have a point ‘n shoot Kodak) try to use natural light, but am wondering about foamcore/mirror trick for canvas. Have you tried it?

    Reply

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  1. […] Photography Secrets for Shooting Indoors […]

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  3. […] photography secrets at Pretty Handy Girl will be helpful for that next project you’re shooting indoors. Mirrors and […]

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