DSLR Photography For Bloggers | Brit + Co | Skillshare

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DSLR Photography For Bloggers

teacher avatar Brit + Co, Unlocking creativity in women.

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Camera Settings


    • 4.

      Side Lighting


    • 5.

      Composition and Styling


    • 6.

      Final Project


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About This Class

Calling all bloggers! Get ready as photography pro Lindsay Ostrom shares all of her behind-the-lens tips and tricks. Learn the basics of your camera, as well as how to light and style your shoot. At the end, you’ll see a notable difference in your photography!

Stunning photography has the power to take your blog or website to the next level. In this class, photography superstar, Lindsay Ostrom, will show you how to take photos that will make your content stand out. First, get a quick overview of how to use manual controls on a DSLR. Then she’ll focus on how you can use lighting to take your photos from average to amazing. Finally, Lindsay will cover styling, including how to get the perfect detail shot of a DIY or how to take the perfect overhead picture of your breakfast spread. At the end of this class, you will know the essentials of manual photography, lighting, and composition. Plus, your readers will notice your new photography skills!

For this class you will need the following supplies:

  • Camera: DSLR manual photography will be covered in the first part of the course, but an iPhone camera can also be used for the second part of the course
  • Background: something to shoot on, anything from a whiteboard to a distressed wood table to a neutral colored tablecloth
  • Content: Food, Crafts, DIY Projects, etc.
  • Lights or lightbox

Meet Your Teacher

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Brit + Co

Unlocking creativity in women.


At Brit + Co, we believe everyone is creative. That's why we provide tools to teach, inspire and unlock your creativity. Visit Brit.co to discover products and ideas that add creativity and simplicity to your everyday life.

Be sure to visit brit.co/shop to snag the DIY Kits available for each class.

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1. Introduction : Hi, I'm Lindsay from Pinch of Young, a food blogger. I started in my Minneapolis kitchen. Today. I'm going to teach you how to take your block photography to the next level. First, I'll walk you through how to make the most of your camera using manual controls. Then we'll talk about how to use lighting properly. Finally, will set the scene. I'll walk you through composition, propping and angles. Today I'll be photographing food, but you can easily apply what we learn to shooting your favorite subject. By the end of this class, you will have the skills to confidently shoot well lit professional photographs that will help you create a visually stunning brands. Let's get started. 2. Supplies: get started. I want to make sure that you have everything you need. So let's walk through the supplies. So the first thing that you're going to need obviously is a camera. So the camera that I'm shooting with is a cannon 60 and I have a 50 millimeter 1.4 lens on that camera body. This is a really great lens for tabletop photography, and it's a really good blends. If you're just starting out and you're looking for a DSLR recommendation, I really like that camera and lens combination. If you don't have a DSLR at this point and you have a camera phone or a point and shoot camera, that's OK, and you can use those for what we're gonna be doing today as well. And I'll show you what I mean by that in the composition section. Another tool that you're going to need for this course today is a light source, so that could be a simple as a window, and you could be setting up and doing everything right along with me next to a window that has some good light coming through. But for the purposes of this course today, I'm gonna be demonstrating with a tabletop soft light, and this is what that looks like. I also have a cardboard reflector here. Both of those will sit up on the table, which is really nice for me. And it's also nice for other beginners because you can be working alone and you don't need to have your hands holding everything. Everything could just rest on the table. I also use a T shirt to defuse my light, and it doesn't have to be a T shirt. But if you have any kind of a white sheer fabric that can help to soften the light, that's a really useful supply to have. Unhand as well. Another thing that you're going to need for this course is a background. And so there are lots of different options when you're choosing a background for your photography. I have a lot of what I use in my photographs is would or like distressed wood. I have these two boards as examples of my own boards that I use in my food photography. This is obviously a white, and it kind of has that distressed look to it, and then this is another would piece that I have that are just wood panels, and I can take them apart and put them back together. These air really flexible and adaptable kinds of backgrounds that can handle a lot of different mediums and colors. If the look of your blood is more colorful, you can also use papers or fabrics. I've even seen people and my I myself have used on old cookie sheet that's got lots of scratches and stains on it that could give some fun different texture. And if all else fails and you don't have any other background, you can always just set up on the floor. If you have some cool tile that maybe has an interesting color or texture to it, those kinds of things can still be used as a background for your photographs. Another one of the supplies that you're going to need for this photography course is some props, and these are obviously props that I'm gonna be using along with food. So I have some colorful plates, some silverware and some and some cute little straws there. But whatever it is that you're gonna be shooting, you're gonna want a few items that might add some style and color and personality to your photos. And finally, you're gonna need a computer so you can upload your photos. Now that you have everything you need, let's get started. 3. Camera Settings: So let's talk about manual controls for your camera. There are three manual controls that I use and that are really important to know when you're using a DSLR camera, the 1st 1 that I'm going to talk to you about his aperture. So aperture really controls the amount of light in the photograph and then also the amount of that background blur that you can get in certain photographs. So if you can call to mind an example of an image you might have seen that has a really strong focal point and then a really dramatically blurred out background. That effect is achieved through the aperture setting. So the settings that I would recommend using for shooting next to a window or shooting next to a light like I am if you're shooting ah, pretty small set up of something on the table. I typically start in the 2.83 point 23.5 kind of range, and those numbers have an F in front of them. There is called an F stop, but on your camera, you might see you might not see that with an F like for me on my on the little screen of my camera just says 1.4. And obviously now for everybody who's using a DSLR that there's gonna be a different way to actually change those settings on your camera. And I would recommend that you you can consult YouTube or just Google if you're not sure or your user manual for me. Obviously, I know how to do that. So I'm just gonna go ahead and change some of my settings to get them where I want them. Which for this set up, I'm going to start with a setting of 2.8 now. One thing I want to warn you about before getting started is that it's really important to think about how much of that background blur you actually want in your photograph. When I first started doing photos, I was really obsessed with getting a dramatic background blur, and I think I compromise the quality of my photos because I didn't have enough of the front main area of the photo and focus. So it really encourage you to try to find that happy medium of some kind of background blur . Some of that kind of nice styled look to it but also keeping the main part of your food or your whatever you're shooting really in focus. So now I'm going to show you a couple examples of how using aperture would actually look in real time. So I have this cookie set up here with the cookies and the milk and the chocolate, and I'm going to start by shooting with an aperture off 2.8, and then we'll take a look at that photo and see how that looks. Okay, so in this photo, you can see when I look at the front here, here's my small little focal area. And that's where right where. I had the focal point of the camera centered on, and I had my aperture set to 2.8. So I have a pretty small area of that photo focused. So look at the background here and you're going to see quite a bit of blur like these. This back plate of cookies is blurred out and the chocolate. You can kind of see some of the definition with that, but it's starting to get blurred out already at that point in the photo. So let's try to make more of the photo and focus. And the way that you're going to do that is by turning your aperture number up, which actually, technically means going for a more narrow aperture. But basically, if you're only focusing on what you really need to know, it means making that number a little bit higher. So let's take that aperture setting up Teoh um, 4.5, just to see a pretty dramatic difference. When I look at these two photographs now, what I can see is that this on this original one, we had an aperture setting of 2.8 and that small areas and focus. But if you compare that to the one with the 4.5, this front area is still unfocused. But, ah, clear place where you can see the difference in temperature is that piece of chocolate. So on the first photograph that writing or whatever is textures on top of the chocolate is a little bit more blurred out, whereas in the second piece you can see a little bit more clearly. There's also a little bit more definition to these back parts, like in the glass. You can see the straw a little bit more clearly as well. So that's an example of how you could use aperture toe control. The amount of background blur in your photographs the way the aperture works within your camera is that as the number of the aperture goes higher, like 44.5 and up that way, the actual size of the aperture is getting smaller. So it's controlling the amount of light that sled into the photograph. So sometimes we would say, if we're shooting with a really low aperture number like 1.41 point eight, that we would say that the aperture is wide open and that's usually in general a good thing , because it's letting in a lot of light. But what that also does is creates a lot of background blur, and sometimes we want the background blur, and sometimes we don't. So that's why it's important to really understand your aperture and be able to control that amount of light. Ambler, Another important manual control to understand and use when you're using your manual controls on your DSLR is the shutter speed. So the shutter speed, as it sounds, is literally how fast or slow the shutter opens and closes, and this is really I think it's easy to understand, but it can be hard to put into play with all the different pieces, so I always try to keep that at the forefront of my mind. That shutter speed is literally just how fast or how slow the shutter opens and closes. I traditionally keep my shutter speed fairly slow, and the reason for that is because I like to let all that light come in. So if you can imagine the shutter, it's gonna open and the slower or the longer it stays open, the more light is going to come in to the photograph. Typically, like I said, I use 60 or 1/60 of a second. And if you're going to go slower than that toe, let more light into the photograph. I highly recommend using a tripod, and the reason for that is that if you're holding your camera and your shutter speed is so slow, it's a good thing cause it'll let all that light in. But it's a bad thing because it will have time to catch your hand movements in your photographs, and it might make them blurry. So 60 for me is a really good shutter speed. Everybody will have to figure out what works best for them. But I like it because it lets in the most amount of light without catching my hand movements. So let's take a look at what shutter speed would actually look like in action. So I'm gonna right now, I have my aperture set at 3.5 and I'm gonna put my shutter speed at what I usually do, which is 60. Okay, so when I'm looking at this photograph and I have my shutter speed opening and closing in 1/60 of a second, I can see that that's way too bright for the lighting set up that I have in this situation . I'm really glad, though, that it looks that way because it gives us a chance to fix it using the shutter speed. I'm actually going to keep the aperture the same because I like the amount of focus and the amount of background blur that I'm getting. But now I know that I need to decrease the amount of light in that photograph, and I'm going to do that using my shutter speed. So if I think about How can I limit the light? It's by making the shutter speed faster so that not as much light can get in. And I'm gonna make that faster by turning that number up. Let's try going upto 1 60 or 1/60 of a second. Okay, now, when I'm looking at these two photos side by side, I can see that the 2nd 1 where my shutter speed was a little bit faster, limiting some of that light. It looks much better, and it looks more balanced. If I were doing this as a real shoot, I would probably continue to play around with those settings even more. I might even go a little bit faster on the shutter speed because this is still looking pretty bright and a little bit even blown out in that back corner. But in general, that gives you an idea of how you can really use your shutter speed to control the amount of if you have action to control those crisp actions that your camera can capture and also to control the amount of light that's lead into each photograph. One thing that you'll notice about your shutter speed is that it's something you can actually hear with your camera. So let's play around with this a little bit. I'm going to turn my shutter speed up, so I'm gonna put it at 6 40 So that's 1 640th of a second. So that's super fast. When I take the picture, listen to the sound of the shutter and you'll hear it. Just It'll be really quick. Snap. So the sound of that is really quick. It's really crisp, but now I'm going to slow my shutter speed down quite a bit. So let's go down. Let's go to 1/30 of a second, just for fun. I would never shoot that slow without a tripod, because we want to hold it still. But just for the sake of being able to hear the slow shutter speed opening and closing, um, I'll put it at 1/30 of a second. So now listen to how slow this is in comparison, and you can hear that it takes a while for that shudder. I mean, it's still pretty fast, is 1/30 of a second, which, to me feels pretty fast. But But 1/30 of a second is a fairly slow shutter speed, a slow amount of time or a long amount of time for that shutter to open and close. And you can even hear the difference when you're taking your photographs. The third manual control that's really important to understand and use and is actually really, really helpful is called S O, and you should be able to find on your DSLR camera a place where you can change the is so whether you're in manual or aperture priority mode, I typically recommend that new photographers keep their eyes soas. Lowest possible because what I S O does is affects your camera's sensitivity to light and the lower the number, the less sensitive to light it's going to be. So when you have a lower number, it's going to preserve really rich colors in your photographs, and it's going Teoh keep the photograph from looking to blown out in certain spots so that low I eso is what we're really going for it. The only thing I would caution you against when using that magic light button or your eyes . So is that if you start to go to high with that setting, you're going to start to get what's called noise or kind of a grainy look to your photographs. I find that with my camera because it's new enough. It's able to handle a higher eso without sacrificing much in terms of quality. But you'll just have to play around with that for your own camera and for your own comfort level. Depending on how the photos are used, it might not be that noticeable toe. Have a little bit of green in the photograph, so keep that in mind when playing around with higher ISO settings. I'm going to demonstrate this I S O concept and the ISO settings in practice with this cookie set up again. And let's start with a really low I s O and see how that looks. So I'm gonna put my eyes so down to 100 let's see how that looks with these cookies. Now, if you look at this picture that we just took with the ISO set at 100 it's pretty dark and the colors if if it were lit, we would be able to see that the colors are really rich. They're really good and nice, but we need more light than that. So we're gonna go up a little bit on the ISO. So let's go ahead and turn that I s o up to three twenties. We'll give that a try and then we'll adjust again if we need to. When you look at these two photos side by side, you can see that that is so really does act like a magic light bun. Because that's the only thing that I changed between these two photos. And they have ah, really different look to them. This 2nd 1 looks much brighter. It looks a lot more usable for a blawg. This 1st 1 it was just way too dark. I'm going to do one more just to try an example of what it would be with an even higher eso to bump up the brightness even just a bit more. So let's go with our eyes. So up to 6 40 let's see how that looks when I see these two photos side by side. My leaning is definitely more towards the 1st 1 because I tend to prefer photos with a few more shadows and a little bit more richness to them, and I always feel like I can change a little bit of that in my post processing. But with this second photo, I notice that the back part here is a little bit blown out, and some of that's gonna be harder to recover in post processing. So it's really part of its your personal style. Part of it is what you feel like best represents your blogged and how the photos are gonna be used. So for this particular set up with this lighting and this food, I think the 3 20 was the right ISO setting to choose. So as you move forward, keep in mind that you're going to be using all three of these settings toe work together to create that perfect photograph for you in your blogged. All of these settings control different things, and they also all have to do with lighting and they work together beautifully. When you really know how to use your camera in the right way and make the most of those settings, it does take practice. I would really encourage you as you're practicing this part, to be patient with yourself and to go back to your notes. If you have some, that's a really helpful thing because it can be slow going in the beginning. But it's so well worth it in the end, when you get that perfect photograph. One example of how you might use thes three settings together is if you were shooting in a restaurant or in a place that was a little bit darker and you didn't want so much background blur. So you didn't want to go so low on that aperture. But that would be a good time to use your eyes so and bump it up and use it in conjunction with your shutter speed. You're capturing fast action, and you might want to turn your shutter speed a little bit faster, which is blocking out the light. So then you're gonna compensate by turning the is so up a little bit. So all of these settings are gonna work together to help you create the perfect photograph for whatever you're set up might be. Also, keep in mind as you're learning these settings that this is going to take really a while for you to learn, and the best way to learn it is by doing it and so it can be really easy. And I remember when I was new to food photography and just photography in general, I would often just want a default to that auto setting. But be intentional with yourself and remember that every time you practice, even if you're making a mistake, it's helping you become better at using those manual controls to create your perfect photograph. 4. Side Lighting: learning how to use lighting properly can actually be really fun and easy, and it actually makes a really big difference in your photos right away. So I found this to be one of the most rewarding aspects of food photography or just photography in general when I was learning how to use my camera and how to set up the lighting. There are a couple things that I want to say about lighting before I talk to you about specific lighting angles, and the first is that I almost always shoot in natural light. So what I mean by that is I'm almost always setting up my my scene next to a window, or sometimes even outside. When I was first starting, I would often go out on our little deck and I would set everything out on our little patio furniture because that's where I felt like I was able to get the best natural light. But Natural ages means outside light light that comes from the sun. This is not natural light, even though it's meant to emulate natural light, and it can work in a stand in situation like we have today. But I would highly recommend that if you're trying this at home along with us and as you're practicing as a beginner, I just really highly recommend that you start out using natural light. It's really beautiful, and there is no comparison in terms of the quality of the colors and the tones that you're going to get in your photos. So as we go through the lighting angles today, we're going to just actually imagine that this lighting unit is a window. It works as a lighting unit, but it would also work in the same way if this was your window and this was your set up, and I'll talk a little bit about those specific lighting angles in just a second. But another thing I want to note about lighting that's really important is this piece right here. And this is my reflector, and this is going to be really important as we get into lighting angles because, as you can see, we have a ton of light coming from this one side of the photograph. But we really need to balance that out. And no matter what the lighting angle is, it's important to balance that dark side off. Whatever you're shooting now. Obviously, if you want stronger shadows or you want more contrast, it's fine to not use a reflector. And sometimes I feel like that's a better fit for whatever I might be shooting on that particular date. But in general, for a beginner, it's really helpful to have something that brings more light into the photograph. As you have more light toe work with, it's just easier to do your manual controls, and it's easier to create a photograph that really looks how you want it to look. The last thing I want to mention before we get into specific lighting angles is that it's really helpful to diffuse your light source. Even if you're using natural light, it could be really helpful to do something that will soften the light. And for me, with this lighting unit, what that means is actually something kind of goofy. But what I do is I take a white T shirt, a nice little T shirt here, and I'm just gonna slide it over the light. It's actually ends up being about the same size that I need when I stretch it over the top and what you're going to notice, as I do that is that the light changes from a harsher kind of a more shiny, bright light to just something a little bit more soft, more diffused. And it's gonna look more gentle and nice and kind of an ambient light in your photos, which is really desirable. And it's easier to work with, in my opinion. So I'm gonna slide this over my light now so you can see that when I put the T shirt over the light. First of all, it kind of looks like a person, so it's like my little friend metal light. But second of all, it really softens the light. It kind of just cast that beautiful, even balanced, light over the whole spread here, and it's really fun to work with. So let's talk a little bit about lighting angles. You might notice that if you don't have diffusion on your light source, whether that be a window or a lighting unit like this, that there are certain parts of the photograph that become blown out or overly white and bright, even shiny. Sometimes that's why this diffusion is really important. I'm also going to suggest that if you're using natural light, you hang something up over the window or if you're outside that you set up some kind of a system for me. One thing that worked really well for diffusion when I was shooting next to a big window is there was actually a curtain bar across the top, and I just hung a sheer white sheet over that, and I just did that right in my house. I actually just used a bed sheet even one time when I didn't have the, You know, the really nice sheer white. I just use a white bed sheet, and that's just a really nice way to soften the light. Make it so It's not so harsh and blown out and bright in your photographs. So let's get into to specific lighting angles that I'm going to recommend for you to try at home. The first lighting angle is basically how I learned to take photos, and that's with side lighting. And how we have this set up right now is just about perfect for our side lighting set up. The thing that I love about side lighting is that rather than being above the food or in front of the food, Um, or whatever it is that you're shooting and having that light just completely wash out any shadows or textures. The light washes over the side of the food. It creates natural shadows and highlights. And whatever you're shooting, whether it be food or whether it be some kind of craft or a D. I y project, it's just going to give it a more really life appearance. And it's going to give more contrast. More texture is going to be more visually interesting and engaging toe. Look out with that scrape of light or the top, and I often keep this mantra in my head. The scrape. So it's like the scrape of light over the top of the food. Now again, like I mentioned with The Reflector, we don't want that front side right here to be getting too dark. And that's why I have this set up here, because essentially what's happening is I'm having the light shines right into the set up, and then it's going onto the reflector and kind of coming back down and washing into those spots that are otherwise too dark and aren't hit by that original light source. over here. So as I'm visualizing this, this is what I see. I see the light coming here, and then I see it coming back in and filling in some of those shadowy dark spots in the front. Let's take a look at what this looks like in real time shooting. So I'm gonna go ahead and take a vertical shot of this And my hope would be that this side of the photograph is gonna look nice and bright. We're going to see lots of contrast, lots of color right in here. And then that there would be somewhat of a shadow on the front side, but that it wouldn't be too dark. We can also control that. Remember, with our manual settings that we talked about in that first section. But let's just take a sample shot and see what it looks like right now I have my settings at 3.2 for my aperture 80 for my shutter speed and 3 20 for my eyes. All right, so when I'm looking at this photo, I can see that that left side of the photograph is really nice and bright, whereas this right side of the photograph There's some natural shadowing right in there. I'm going to do two things to change this photograph a little bit. I'm going to move my reflector in a little bit closer so it's a little bit more strategically angled at that front kind of dark spot up here. And I'm also going to bump up my eyes so just a little bit so that I get a little bit more brightness in the photograph. Let's try that and see how that looks. All right. Now, when I'm looking at these two photographs, I can see that obviously the one on the left is a little bit darker. We had a lower I S O. So the camera was less sensitive to light with that 1st 1 We also have stronger shadows in this front part of the salad bowl right up here. Whereas in the second photograph, this part looks more well lit and I can actually see the color. I can actually see the texture in that front part of the salad. This overall photo in general also looks a little bit brighter. That's because we bumped up the i s. So this is a great example of how you can use side lighting to really highlight the textures of your food, the color and utilize those natural shadows and highlights to get a really crisp are really distinct and a really eye catching look. Now that we've seen what the reflector conduce, let's take it away just to see and compare it to what we've previously shot already and see what a difference that actual reflector and getting that extra light See what a difference that actually makes. And if we maybe we would like it better without the Reflector, every photo is gonna be different. So let's put this aside for a minute so you can see in this photograph the difference isn't huge, but there is a difference in that first photograph right up, especially in this front section versus this photograph over on this side, especially if you look under the blue plate right there. You can see that here there's not much of a shadow were over here. There's quite a bit more of a shadow underneath the bull, and this whole front part in general just looks a little bit darker. Then it does in the first photo, So this is just a good example of how reflector can change your photographs, add more light where you need it and kind of create the look that you're going for. Like I said before, there might be times where you don't want to use it because you want more of a shadow. Look. And then there might be times where you're shooting something that you need kind of brightness all around. And then that's a great time to bring in your reflector. So we talked a little bit about side lighting and why that works great for your photos and creating those highlights and shadows. Now I'm going to show you another one of my all time favorite lighting angles, which is called backlighting. And with backlighting, it's just like it sounds. We're gonna have the light source at the back of whatever we're shooting and much like with the side lighting how it kind of washes over the food. We're gonna achieve that same effect. But we're gonna have it with light washing over the food or whatever it is that you're shooting from the back. I'm gonna move my set up around here to show you in real time what backlighting would look like. So with this set up with back lighting, I have the light source now position at the back of whatever it is that I'm shooting in this case, this Yemi kale salad and the light is gonna wash over from the back. It's coming over the food, and especially with these glasses, it's really fun because it's gonna kind of create that transparent glowy Look through the back of the photograph. Um, this is gonna be a great type of lighting for something where you want a brighter background. Maybe you don't want as much of, ah, shadowy look to the sides. But you really want a pop, something that stands out right when you look at it because it does kind of create a magazine e effect where the back is really bright, sometimes even blown out a little bit. And even that could be intentional sometimes to get a what a really bright white look to the photograph. So let's take a look at what this will look like when I use the same settings that I had for side lighting, and now I'm just going to try it with backlighting. Also, I'm gonna keep my reflector right here because I want this front section to still be getting some of that light. Vance. Some of that light bounced back to the front. When I see this photograph, I have a couple of feelings, right? First, I get really excited because I love the look of that light washing over the back of the kale. You can kind of see that, especially on the back side of this salad plate. That being said, the background of this is really bright and washed out, and those yellow glasses are looking just a little bit too harsh. I think if the glasses were clear, it would look a little bit better. But they're looking really bright and kind of icky. Those little bowls look nice because they're not too transparent. They're not too warm or significantly colored, one way or the other, I think for this next photograph, I'm actually going to remove the glasses to get more of that white background throughout and no, and remove the distraction of those yellow glasses. I'm also going to try to position my reflector a little bit more in frontier so that this front part of the sound gets a little bit more light. So this is what the photo looks like now that I've taken out those yellow glasses. I didn't like the way that worked with this particular set up in this backlighting. And I also moved the reflector, so it got a little bit more of the light up in frontier. I'm gonna show you now a comparison of the side lighting in the back lighting so you can see how they look side by side and how they compare. So you can see a pretty clear difference from this photograph to this photograph in this 1st 1 The brightness is primarily on the left side, and it's really coming over the front and the side of the food, whereas in this second photograph, that whole background is washed out. But I kind of like the way that looks for this particular photograph because it's white background to begin with. So it wasn't supposed to have any color, and it doesn't look like misfit with the scene. We put a white background intentionally, and we have that washed out kind of that that really glowy kind of almost a magazine quality to it where the light is really washing over the food from the back. I also feel like the front here is plenty well lit to be able to see the texture and the color in the salad. I really like. If it were me, I would choose the second photograph. But obviously the sidelining or the back lighting, that's going to be a decision based on whatever it is that you're shooting and the specific look that you're trying to achieve. So we've talked about the benefits of side lighting and the benefits of backlighting and why each of them can be appropriate for different situations. But what I really want you to remember and no and actually see in practice is that when I'm actually photographing something on a table like this and I have a light source, whether it be a window or like a lighting unit like I have here, I'm actually not necessarily going straight back or straight from the side with the light. I'm actually doing a lot of tinkering and moving around of my board. Usually I'm moving my board because usually this is a window and you can't move the window , so usually what I end up doing is just tweaking the position off my board to get the light just right. So let's take a look at what that would actually look like, not just straight back or straight side lighting, but what it would look like to just make small adjustments to the lighting with this particular photo set up. And I actually want to start by just turning off the light completely just so that you can see what it looks like to not have that strong lighting source from any direction and just see what it looks like with no light. Let's take a look. So when you look at this photograph right away, you're going to be able to see that there's really no direct light source highlighting what it is that I'm photographing, which is again, this kale salad. The whole photograph looks really dark, which is kind of obvious because we turn the light off. But I think it's also important to note that there's really not any, um, there's not any style or personality to it, and lighting can really be used not only to do the essential task of lighting whatever it is that you're shooting, but it can also really create a style or a specific look within your photograph in within your set up. So, no, let's turn it back on. And let's take a look at how it might look a little bit different if we just tweak the position of the light or are bored a little bit for this shot. I'm gonna move my lighting units so that it's not straight at the back. It's not straight to the side, but it's somewhere in between, and I actually use this quite often when I'm doing table top shoots like this because it gets a little bit of the best of both worlds. It gives you that backlight that kind of washes over, but it also highlights from the side, and it helps. Some of that light will come our own front, whereas with the backlighting you can get a lot of shadows upfront that are hard to work with. For this set up just as an example, I'm also going to just play around with moving the reflector back a little bit. That's gonna help to create more light in the back of the photograph, since I'm not doing backlighting for this one, so Let's just take a look at what this looks like with a little bit of a tweak to it so you could see in this example I actually really love the way this turned out. And that would make sense because this is often how I have my lighting angle set up worth somewhere between backlighting and side lighting. But you can see that I have a really bright spot on this side, which for this particular photograph I'm okay because it also washes around the front. It's like I'm getting the back lighting and the side lighting in the same set up. And remember that for this photo. I also had the reflector back here, so I do have a little bit of some stronger shadows up in the front part of that photograph . But I'm OK with that because this is kale. It's supposed to be really richly colored, and it would make sense that it would have a lot of shadows and texture and different highlights and definition to the look of the front of that salad There. Let's do one more example of how we could tweak the lighting position and lighting angle to get an even different. Look okay with this particular tweak, I just turned it so that basically what I have is side lighting with a tiny little bit of a back lighting effect. This would really be my side lighting, and then I just kind of turned it a little bit like this. So the light is not just going this way, but it's still kind of creates the over the corner. Look over here for this particular example. Instead of washing out the background by having my reflector back here creating all those bright spots in the background, I'm actually going to bring it up front. So we might notice a difference in the background of this photograph that we might see. It doesn't have quite that blown out. Look back here. I'm also not projecting this right on this top cornerback here, but more angled like this so that it's kind of coming over. Like I said, that front corner, I'm just gonna position this and then let's just take this shot and see how we like it. When I look at these two photos side by side, I'm the biggest difference I'm noticing has to do with this front part right here. And if you remember in the first example, I had the reflector to the back part of the board back here, and it gave me kind of a blown out look back here. But it looks like even in this second example, the background still stays blown out like that, Which again, for this particular photo. I don't mind that because I'm shooting on a white background. It's not like it was supposed to be color anyway, so I'm okay with that that bright background spot. But the biggest difference you can see is up in this front part of the salad because I move the reflector up to the front and I also have quite a bit more light kind of over this front corner, this front left corner on the photograph. Whereas here I don't really have that as strongly. So this is just showing you that sidelining and back lighting are great places to start. But in a real shoot of whatever it is that you're that you're photographing, you're gonna find that with practice and that as you get more comfortable working with the light, you're just gonna be making small tweaks here in there to your set up, or maybe to where you have your light positioned and that those are going to be the things that really help you create the style that you're going for with your photographs. This is not the same as a lamp that you would have in your house like you don't want to be taken off your lamp shade and bringing your lamp over and setting it up next to your food. What that's going to do and you'll be able to see this even if you were to just shoot. Ah, photo with your phone, you would notice that you're going to get some yellow tones in the photograph. It's gonna be overly warm, and it's not gonna have a natural look to it. And in photography, it's really important to have the whites be white, not yet not too yellow, not too blue. And that's sometimes it's referred to us white balance, and you might notice that there are settings on your camera that allow you to choose a different setting for white balance. I'm going to recommend that for beginners that you stick with auto white balance and just really make sure that you're sourcing your light from something that looks as close to the natural lightest possible. So if it actually is natural light, perfect. And if you can't get natural light, don't rely on the lights in your house or the lamp on your end table or whatever, no matter how cute it is. Don't rely on that for your actual photos that you're going to use for your blood. We want photos that are gonna look natural and is close to daylight as possible because it keeps your the items in your photograph looking realistic. Riel Life. It's not gonna look overly yellow, overly blew. It will just have that nice, pure white balance. 5. Composition and Styling: So we've talked about using manual controls on your camera to control the look and feel of your photographs. And we've also talked about how to use lighting properly in the different angles that can help you get the look that you're going for in your photographs. And now comes the really fun part. And this is where we're gonna take whatever it is that we're shooting. In this case, it's thes yummy little tarts right here, which I'm super excited about. There are two main compositions that I'm going to talk about in this section, and the 1st 1 is an overhead shot. The 2nd 1 is gonna be a table height shot. So let's get started with an overhead shot. Now, when you're shooting food or anything else from overhead, this is gonna work really well for something that has a lot of little parts to it. Because this is, ah, scene where you can really see the big picture, you can see the whole thing. It's a great time to bring detail in, and this is also a really great time to use a smartphone camera, phone, a point and shoot camera, basically any kind of camera that maybe doesn't have the capabilities of your DSLR Because if you think about what that overhead shot looks like, it's going to be primarily flat. We don't need a lot of blur in that photograph. And remember, aperture is what's gonna control our blur. And so if you're using something that maybe doesn't have a good aperture control, this is a perfect time to use a different camera. I will also say that I love using my camera phone, and actually, I even sometimes prefer it to my DSLR when I'm doing overhead shots. So when we're doing this, I'll be taking pictures with both my DSLR and also my iPhone. So for this particular set up, we're gonna be using these little tarts and I have already on the table. I have, ah, pink paper that I'm going to use as the background. Let's go ahead and take the little Mini Tarts and just arrange them on the plate here, Okay? I have them sitting on here. They're kind of cute, but they're kind of boring all by themselves, right? We want to bring something else in multiple elements in that are going to be really visually engaging when you look at the whole thing from above, and right now it's pretty much three things is the paper, the board and then the tarts. And so that's not really enough to keep us visually engaged. And it's not enough to tie it all together as a really cohesive, well designed and well styled photograph. So what I'm going to do is I have this big bowl of Berries over here, and I have these also have these little bulls. I'm going to take these little bowls and fill them with some Berries and kind of place them on this thing. This actually like a cheese tray. So I'll place them on this cheese tray kind of arranged and interspersed between these little tarts. So now that I have these additional little places for Berries on my cheese platter here, which is actually a tart platter right now, I'm gonna go ahead and take the Berries that I have and try to tie in both texture and color in a way that's gonna be really visually interesting to this whole scene. So I have raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. And when I look at the strawberries, I don't feel like that's necessarily the tie in that I'm going for. I want something a little bit more rich. There's already quite a bit of red throughout the tarts and obviously in the pink background. So I want something that's gonna give me a really strong contrast. So let's see what it looks like when we put some blackberries in there. Okay, I'm looking at these blackberries in this little dish here. Tied him with this whole thing. I'm just loving the way that this looks. There are a couple of reasons that I love this look. One of them is the texture of the blackberries. They have all those little seeds or little juicy bits on them. That makes for a great texture. That's a really interesting look to this whole scene. We have a flat background of flat tray, so it's really nice to have something with a little bit of texture on their. I also really like this because the color is so deep and so rich, and it's a great contrast for this kind of pink, magenta thes. Almost have a blue or a purple kind of deep color to them, and I feel that it just ties in really, really nicely. So I really like that. I'm actually going to do blueberries in this one because I like the dark color of this one so much so let's go ahead and get the blueberries in the 2nd 1 One thing that's helpful to remember as your propping and styling is that it's really helpful, and it helps to just tie the whole photographed together if you can use some of the materials from whatever the content is that you're shooting as a little prop in your photograph. So what I mean by that is in this case, I'm shooting the tarts. The tarts have the Berries in them, so the Berries are a natural prop to include in the photograph. And even though it really is kind of my main content here, they make a great compliment, and they helped to tie it together. It feels relevant to the viewer, and the same could be true for a D. I. Y. Project or a craft. If you have some string, some glitter or anything that would really tie into what you're already shooting that you can use as a prop and arrange around in the composition of your photograph. That's gonna be a really good way to tie the whole thing together and make it feel really cohesive. So now that I have this set up and I have these contrast in colors going on in these different textures, I'm going to just take a sample shot to see what it looks like and what else I might want to add to the photograph in order to do this and really get high enough above the food and above the set up, Get everything frame not. I'm going to stand on a chair, and this is a really common tactic that's used when you're trying to get enough height, depending on your lens. If you have the right lens, you might be able to get away with it with just a little step stool or something. But in this case, I'm going full blown chair. So I'm gonna get the chair and take a sample shot. Now, Now what I'm going to do to arrange this shot is I'm just gonna literally look down right over in my set up. I'm gonna try to frame it as straight on as I can from where I'm standing But it's really common, at least for me. It's common that I can't get it straight on the first trying because we do have straight edges here that we're going to try to line up. It might not be straight on the first try. That's okay. That's something that's really easily fixed after the fact. So don't worry too much about that. Just worry about getting everything you need in the frame. I'm also going to pay attention to anything I feel like needs to be added and also the lighting, because the lighting, especially with this particular background of having a colored paper, it's really important. And we'll just we'll just take a sample shot and we'll see how it looks and make changes from there as needed. I have my eyes. So at 800 right now, my aperture is at four and my shutter speed is at 60. Let's take a look at the photo that we just took from standing over this set up. I'm really liking the way that this is looking with the colors coming together. The strong contrast on a little bit of different texture in these two little bowls right here, however, I feel like we need a little bit more of some details within the set up to really make it feel complete and to make it feel a little bit more styled. Right now, it just feels like it just kind of plunked on there. But we really wanted to feel like it's natural or like it's just built to fill the frame a little bit more. So in order to do that, the one of the first things I'm going to do, and actually this could be applied to any kind of photography. I often use it with food, but it could be anything would be to take one of your little side items. So in this case, I'll take some blueberries and just Sprinkle them throughout the set up. And I like to do that because it looks really it looks like, uh, if you do it well, it looks like it just kind of happened that way, and it adds some. It fills in some of that white space without being too overwhelming. With too many things. It's almost like a secondary prop. It's just these little things kind of scattered throughout. So let's just do a couple of those around on the train. The trick to doing this well is to make sure that you do get a little bit of that scattered feel with whatever you're using, but not to necessarily overdo it. We don't want to overtake the whole scene here with scattered blueberries because the whole thing isn't about blueberries. This just helps to give our photo kind of a secondary focal point. It's almost like when you look at the photo, you don't even necessarily think about the blueberries, or you might not even notice them. But their there and they're helping to fill out the frame a little bit. One other thing I'm going to do before I take another sample shot to see where we're at is I'm gonna add some little mint leaves. I have some mint leaves over here, and this will add. It adds to the overall look and feel of the scene because leaves would be appropriate with tarts. But also the pop of color is gonna be really nice, and it's gonna help to give us even more contrast and brightness within this photograph again. I'm not over doing it with the mint leaves or any of the other little things that I have scattered throughout this scene here. But what I'm trying to do is keep those tarts and the Berries as the main focal points of the shot, while also filling out some of that that white space and kind of filling up the frame, giving it a more complete stylebook. So now that I have that, and I like the way that it looks from here, I'm gonna get up on the chair again and take another shot to see how it looks. So let's go ahead and take our picture off our whole shot here, and I'm actually going to do this twice. I'm going to take this one's with the DSLR camera. Same settings is before. I didn't move my light a little bit because I want that pink to be really balanced all around. But after you take it with the DSLR, um, also used my phone because this is the perfect shot for an iPhone or a camera phone or a point and shoot for the reasons that we talked about earlier. So let's go ahead and take the DSLR photo. Let's take a look at how the iPhone photo looks first. So here's what I have on my iPhone after just standing over that set up and just snapping a picture with my iPhone. This is so slick because if you compare this photograph to the one that's on my computer from my DSLR, they really don't look that different. So that's really exciting. If you don't have a DSLR, there is still great photography that you can get with just your point and shoot or your camera phone or whatever it is that you have. There's always an option that you can work with, so that's just good to know. But let's take a look at the DSLR photo over here. I really like how it looks With the blueberry scattered around. It looks to me like it's not too many. It's not overwhelming the photograph. When you look at it, it's not like the only thing you see is the blueberries. Or like that's the the primary draw. But it does add a little bit to those in between white spaces. I'm also liking the pop of green that we added with those mint leaves, and if this were me, I would just crop a little bit and make a few edits. And then that would be my photo that I would use on my blog's. So this can hopefully be a great example of how you could set up a photo set up. Ah, seen whether it be food, whether it be, ah, craft or a D I y project how you could send it up to successfully shoot from over the top of your set up. We just finished composing the shot for an overhead angle. And now let's take a look at what this composition might look like and how it would be different for an angle that's more table height or straight on. I'm switching out the paper for this particular shot and specifically because of the angle with that pink colored paper, I really wanted it to look flat all the way around and not to have any particular side that was maybe lighter than the others. But with would that feels a little bit more natural, and we will have some of that going on because we're going to get more of that background blur with this shot. Let's go ahead and take a photo and see how it looks, I'm just gonna pull my lighting over here. I'm going for that half backlighting, half side lighting again, like we talked about in the lighting section. Let's just try it from right here. Here's the photo that we just took from table height. And when I look at this, I can see that this is my main focal point in the front and you can see this kind of gently leads you out through the back of the photograph. Now, I am going to make a few changes to this. The first change I'm gonna make is I'm gonna fill in this front space with just a few more little dots of blueberries right in there. I'm also gonna add that blueberry dish to the background here and we'll see how that looks . And then I'm gonna Sprinkle a little bit of powdered sugar over these tarts and actually on the table as well. So let's get another table height shot and see how we like it. Take a look at the difference between the first photograph that I took a table height and the second photograph this 2nd 1 really stands out to me a lot more than that 1st 1 does, and I think the reasons for that are there are a couple of reasons. Actually, one of them is the mint. We added the Minton when we added those those extra this extra dish back here, and you can also see it a little better in between here versus in the first photo, I think it might have been hidden or tucked in between a lot of how you style your photos, the composition, the propping, how much sprinkling and drizzling and and staging that you're going to do is going to be dependent on the style of your blood. Because ultimately you want to be able to visually represent your brand in a way that you feel like is consistent for you. As you're setting up your own shots and composing your own scenes, always be sure to keep your eyes moving around the whole frame. You don't necessarily want to just focus in on that one front and center item. You really want to be paying attention to what's going on throughout the entire photograph , so be sure to keep your eyes moving around the frame as you're setting up your shot. Keep in mind, too, that we want to divide the photos into thirds, and the focal points should ideally fall at the intersection off one of those thirds. So if you look at this photo and you imagine that it's cut into thirds this way, the first focal point that's the primary focal point of the photograph is falling on that bottom third right there. That's a really helpful tool when you're just getting started composing shots just because it helps to get a new idea of where you might want to place the main focal points throughout the whole layout of your photograph. I've worked with a lot of beginning photographers, and I find that most often people are able to get started and really feel confident practicing these different setups if they just have in the back of their mind, Ah, few sample compositions or ways to get started. So as you're getting started with your own practicing, keep the overhead shot and the table height shot both in the back of your mind, so that when you set everything up and you think, Oh my goodness, how do I start shooting this? You've got an idea in your mind that you can go ahead and go over the food or you can go at table height. And either of those options is gonna give you something really beautiful that you can use on your block. 6. Final Project: This is so exciting because we've learned so much about manual controls. We've learned about how to use lighting properly, and now we've learned about how to set the scene with composition with different angles and propping. So now it's time to put it all together, and we're going to create a really beautiful, really stunning photograph of thes, really beautiful and stunning cupcakes. And they have these nice little roses on top. I'm also going to be incorporating some of these cute little D I Y flags with the cupcakes . We're gonna put all those elements together. The manual controls the lighting and the composition to create a photograph that perfectly reflects what this party scene is all about. Let's get started by setting up our lighting. So for this photograph, what I have in my mind is something that's really strongly backlit so that we can see the height of the flags. I'm going to do that by just turning my board and arranging the light directly at the back of my set up here. I'm trying to get that strong wash of light over the back of the food. Now what I'm hoping to achieve with this particular backlighting is I have this white board that I'm shooting on. That's what I chose as my background. And I have the white light, and what I'm hoping to do is to kind of create that blur that will make this look like one continuous background. You can also achieve that effect by just placing a white surface upright at the end of your set up. But for this particular example, I'm just setting the light there. And I'm gonna create the look of a continuous white background with this backlighting. Obviously, with that strong backlighting, remember, we want to put light back in the front. We don't want to have really strong shadows. This is should be a happy, bright party scene. So let's take the reflector and then let's just arrange it up here so we can get some really good light bounce back into the front of the photograph. This looks great. Now I have my backlighting washing over. I also have some nice complimentary light coming into what was a really dark spot in the photograph and bouncing. Some of that light beckon. So we've got our lighting set. We might need to make a tweak when we see the photograph. But for now, we've got it set. Let's think about our manual controls and what we're gonna want to have our settings at to achieve the right. Look for this photograph. I have a fairly shallow focal area here. I really only want this part of my photograph, maybe the main cupcake and the 2nd 1 to be in focus. So in order to do that, I'm gonna have a fairly low aperture number as my setting. So let's take a look at what my settings are right now. I'm at five for my aperture. I'm just gonna go ahead and change that, too. Let's go to four and we'll see how that works for this particular photograph. I'm gonna goto 1000 on my eyes. So because this is a pretty dark space, I do just have this singular light and some strong shadows, and I'm looking for that washed out really bright background. So that's going to be a good thing in this particular set up. That's why I'm going to take my i s o really high. I want that extra brightness. And then for my shutter speed, my magic number is 60 so I'm gonna keep it at 60. I want to let as much light in its possible. So we'll keep that shutter speed slow. We don't have anything moving around here that we need to capture. Let's keep the shutter speed at 60 and see if that works to get enough light into the photograph. The last element of putting this all together since we've got our lighting and we've got our manual controls set is the composition. Now for this shot, What I'm imagining is something straight on so that I'm really not seeing, um really The main part of what I would be seeing would be the cupcake standing tall and then these cute little d I wife legs also standing up in the photograph, and we're gonna feel like we're right on the party table when I set it up that way, let's go ahead and put these little d I wife legs in and then we'll be ready to shoot. All right, we've got everything set up. We have our lighting or manual controls, all set to go. And now we have the cute little flags sticking out of the cupcakes. So let's get down to a really low table height angle. Let's keep in mind the edges of our frame and that we're trying to get that clean straight on. Look, and we'll take our first sample picture. Let's take a look. So here's our final photo that we just got from that adorable little cupcake scene. I'm gonna take one more photograph of this set up, and I'm actually just gonna take my I s o down just just a little bit. So if I'm at 1000 right now, I'm going to go down to 800 which is my next setting, the next lowest setting from 1000. The reason I'm doing that is because I want to make sure you can see that the flags air really bright up here, and that's really nice. We have that nice, bright background, but I would rather make sure that I have a photograph that has really rich color throughout and then tweak any of the lighting that I need to in editing rather than having something that's two blown out that I can't replace the color back to. So I'm just going to take one more with a slight lighting adjustment and then we'll see how that looks. And I think we'll be good to go from there. Here we go. So let's take a look at our two photos that we just took side by side. Remember that the 1st 1 had an I S O of 1000 and then the 2nd 1 I just tweaked the is a little bit and change it down to 800 so that it would be a little bit less sensitive to the light. And you can see a really subtle difference right in the frontier and a little bit in the flags. The color is a little bit richer, and we are getting some stronger shadows. But both of these are great photographs of what we were trying to achieve, which is a really bright and fun and peppy party scene. And I feel like we did that with both of these photographs. I feel good having both of them knowing that one of them is just a little bit brighter, and one of them has a color that's a little bit richer and more full. So we did it and we've learned so much and we put it all together for this final great party shut. You have so much to be proud of. This is a big This is a lot to learn. There's a big learning curve with photography, and you've done so well. If you're really serious about continuing to improve your photography and as you notice yourself starting to get better and feeling more comfortable with a DSLR, I'd highly recommend that you look into different lenses that might be the right fit for whatever you're shooting today. With our lighting, we used a tabletop soft light. I'd really recommend looking into light boxes. A light box is great if you're shooting a single item because it really fills in that space around the item. So as you move forward, I'd really encourage you to keep making those small improvements. Those small improvements that you're gonna making your photography over an extended period of time is really what's going to help you breathe life into your blogged with beautiful photos that helped take your brand to the next level