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. david
    david says:

    thanks very much for these! I’ve pinned the post and am eager to try them out (strangely enough it’s currently grey and rainy in usually sunny southern California so the timing is flawless!)

    Reply
  2. Roxanne
    Roxanne says:

    Brittany, thanks so much for posting this! It’s so frustrating to do a room makeover and have my point and shoot pictures not do it justice. The Photoshop tips were especially helpful!

    Reply
  3. Char
    Char says:

    I know this post is an older one…but it is just what i needed to learn. Thank you so much for the simple tips that seem to make a pretty big difference. Heading to get some foam board today and check my shed *read as hoarding area* for a mirror.

    Your newest reader, found you via Snap 2013 and so glad I did.

    Char @ HisandHerRestoration.blogspot.com

    Reply
  4. Laurie clarke
    Laurie clarke says:

    I don’t know you.. But I love you 🙂 soooo glad someone I follow on Pinterest pinned your DIY light box tutorial — and then I just kept clicking around your blog for the next hour. I think you may have just saved me about $900 with your photography advice! I’m shooting pics for an article in American Cake Decorating magazine and I was gonna go spend a huge amount of money… But this is sooo much better :-). #sugar dome

    Reply
  5. Monika
    Monika says:

    Omj , not only you have amazing house projects which Ive been a fan of since I can remember but your tutorials are so well put and easily explained, even an amateur would understand. Thank you for taking pictures of your photoshop options, it’s so much easier seeing it, then reading where to find it. I’ll be back for more of your amazing ideas:)
    Cheers

    Reply
  6. Michelle@Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust
    [email protected], Trust & Pixie Dust says:

    Hi Brittany, Just stopping by to say how much I enjoyed meeting you at SNAP {yes, I am running a bit late – life . . . }. I loved your unassuming demeanor – even though you are a blogging celebrity. You did a great job on your presentation . I enjoyed it so much. AND thanks for this photo tip. I’ll give it a try!

    Warmly, Michelle

    Reply
  7. Rasonda Clark
    Rasonda Clark says:

    ok, I know this is a year old but I have to ask what you think of your light scoop? Was thinking about ordering but wanted to see what you thought first. Also, did you order standard, warming, or both?

    Reply
    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

      Rasonda,

      Yes, I like my light scoops a lot! I have both, but honestly I use the standard one 95% of the time ;0). A good investment. The only thing you need to be aware of is when you are shooting a portrait view (vertical) shot, you might have to bounce the light scoop off a light wall or foam board since it isn’t aimed at the ceiling. Does that make sense?

      Reply

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