Friday, 28 January 2011

Friend Friday: Blog Mechanics

Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email katy_rose1@yahoo.com.  This week we are talking about the mechanics of blogging, the technology behind it and our picture taking process. The biggest challenge for me has been getting good outfit shots and I didn't really do them when I started blogging because I felt I couldn't do them on location and didn't have a good backdrop.  I don't think I am alone here so I've explained here how I got around it.

1. What technology do you use in blogging? (computer, camera, video camera, tripod, etc...)

I use my boyfriend's Nikon D5000 SLR and an old tripod that he's had for years.  If I'm out and about or travelling and its not practical to carry the Nikon I take a small Canon Ixus 970 IS to take snaps.  I have a Samsung laptop and although I have access to Macs (Mr V is a big Macintosh fan) I tend to favour Microsoft as I'm more familiar with it from having used it for work.

2. What computer and online technology do you use? (blogging system, photo storage, photo editing tools, etc..)

I use blogger as I like the look of it and just want to keep things simple.  I do actually have a Wordpress blog for something else but don't use it very much.  I use the Microsoft picture editor to edit my photographs as I find it quick and easy to use.  I recently bought Premiere Elements and am trying to learn how to use Photoshop but am struggling to get used to it.  I just stick photos straight from my laptop into blogger.  I find faffing around with Flickr and then loading from there into blogger too time consuming.

I have the technological equivalent of an abacus for a mobile phone so it is never involved in blogging or tweeting.

3. What is your process for taking pictures? 

Depends what I am photographing.  Anyone who visits this blog regularly will know I don't just do outfit shots.  I take a combination of photos of things in my wardrobe, some outfit shots and sometimes I take photos of events I attend such as London Fashion Week or fashion buying trips.

At the London Fashion Week trade shows.

Sometimes there will also be pictures of where I travel to and the occasional other random thing I find ascetically appealing thrown in.

A morning coffee.

Most of the photos on my blog are taken by me but some are taken by Mr V (who is actually a pretty good photographer!).

Taken on a jetty by Mr V at my brother's wedding in Oz.

As for my process, it's pretty much trial and error at the moment.  When I shoot objects clothes, shoes or jewellery, I have an idea of what I'd like the image to look like, set up the shot, take a photo and fiddle with the settings until I get the effect I'm after.  Usually I'm trying to pick out a detail I like in the clothes.

Trying to capture the studs on my gloves.

The majority of my outfit shots are now done in the comfort and privacy of my own home and I take them myself.  There is usually a comedy of errors going on behind the scenes before I get a shot I like.  I use a tripod and a remote but often I'm pretty rubbish at hiding the remote and it appears in the shot!

At home in my kitchen with the remote which annoyingly, sometimes gets in the shot!

Getting outfit shots in outdoor locations is problematic as I personally cannot bring myself to pose a squillion times in front of an SLR in public on my own.  So if there is an outdoor shot it chances are Mr V was with me and took it.  He tends to be a lot more careful than I am about choosing where I stand and the camera settings.  But usually he is working under extreme duress as when we are out in public with the camera the picture process is more like - "Quick! Nobody's around! Let's take a cheesy outfit shot here before anyone sees us!" Click!

Riverside: Taken in Oz after Mr V went for a windsurf

4. When it comes to backdrops for your photos what do you consider? Do you scout locations or shoot the same spot daily?

If I'm taking a photo of a piece of clothing, jewellery or a pair of shoes I usually take them in my flat and arrange them on a bit of furniture, my dresser, on a ledge or on the floor, any place where I think that features I want to highlight will show up nicely, where there is good natural light and where I can avoid photographing any mess in the background.  No mean feat!

My jewellery collection

A white wicker chair in the bedroom often gets used for shoe shots.

For outfit shots I have a recently re-painted, white wall in my kitchen I usually use as a backdrop.  It has been a life saver as it currently remains dark until about ten in the morning here and is too dark for photos by about four in the afternoon.

My White Wall is my makeshift photography studio!

Add to that the constant cloud and rain in London and the chances of finding natural light for photos of anything when I actually have time to take them is pretty low.  I'm also concerned about taking pictures alone in public with the camera perched on a tripod out of my reach and it getting stolen, especially as it is not my camera!  I live in a big city where unfortunately this is a risk.  So outfit shots outdoors at the moment are not possible for me unless Mr V comes along or I can hide away from prying eyes in long grass with the remote and take them unnoticed!

Taken in a local park hiding in the grass with my camera and remote

As a result of all that I had to find a backdrop at home that looks okay with flash photography.  I find the plain white wall works well as there is minimum interference from other things like brickwork or furniture in the background and you can actually see the detail of the clothes.  It also means I can play around with the settings, the tripod and poses until I get a shot I'm happy with.  If I had to do all that outside with spectators I would be mortified!

Trying to fit my fluffy coat in the view finder!

I don't really scout for locations.  Occasionally Mr V and I bring the camera along if we know there is going to be some decent natural light when we go out on our daily activities or on an excursion.  We have been known to sneak a photo on our grocery shops.

Grocery shopping

If we see somewhere that looks like it might make an interesting backdrop we'll whip the camera out but it's not preplanned other than "lets bring the camera along with us today and see if we can get an outfit shot along the way".

Taking a sly outfit photo with an interesting door we happened to spot near Borough Market

To get over our inhibitions about taking contrived and posed outfit shots in public Mr V and I now also have a little trick of pretending to be snap happy tourists wherever we happen to be, Australia, Spain or England.  This is particularly easy to do in London as the city is overrun with visitors taking photos.  So if we are in central London it's pretty easy to blend in with other tourists and take shots with iconic London scenes as a backdrop!

A nice side effect is that we are getting some nice photographs that will serve as mementos charting what we've done and where we've been as we have often in the past neglected to do this even when we go on holiday!

Pretending to be tourists strolling through Southwark.

5. If you could splurge and get one new piece of equipment what would you be buying?

The Nikon is Mr V's so at some point I should splurge out and get my own.  But its not essential at the moment as he hardly uses it unless we are on holiday, if I have a flamenco gig and the handful of times when I tell him to bring it along on an outing for a few sly outfit shots on location.  A portable tripod would be handy but I don't think I'll ever overcome the nerves of setting up and taking photos of myself alone in public.

A flamenco outfit shot by Mr V.

What I really want to splurge out on now is not a new piece of equipment, but a short digital photography course.

18 comments:

  1. Good work on this week's questions (I'm sitting this topic out...)!

    I HATE taking photos of myself, and although I prefer the remote control method - Mr B is a photographer, but I don't like having to boss him around so much - the main concern for me is getting used to what I look like on camera. THAT for me is no mean feat. It IS hard taking photos at home - I take what I think is a really good picture...and then I notice an old carrier bag or pair of socks lurking at the back of the shot.

    Hey, congratulations on 100 followers!!

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  2. Oh Miss V, there's a side of you that's so shy and bashful yet you are an accomplished flamenco dancer and you also have an intense wardrobe of beautifully embellished, textured and tailored clothes. It's great to read what it's like to be a London blogger and how to get around the self-conscious aspects of outfit shots. xoxo

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  3. Love how you've interspersed the post with all of the photos as examples - it makes it so much more of a pleasure to read! Love your answers too. Your jewellery is very well organised!! Mine is a tangled pile!! A digital photography course is a good one. I did an Art and Photography course with my D-SLR a couple of years ago - not sure it improved my photography skills but I loved it!! :)

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  4. I actually really like your white wall, its like you usp! though i also love the grass picture! i am way too awkward to take pictures in public. on the few occassions when i do get dave to take then, he'll take a maximum of 3! he thinks all of this outfit picture taking is v. silly!

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  5. I love all of your photos....I have both a Nikon and Canon...yours look really great...Im going to be adding in more NON outfit pics on my blog as well...Really like your answers:)

    Stop by and say Hello:)
    Enter my e.l.f Cosmetics Giveaway!!♥

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  6. You do really well with your outfit shots as is--I'm wishing we had a nice white wall around here! I'm glad you give so many product/detail shots, rather than only outfit shots, and it's one reason your blog stands out to me. Clothing is often beautiful all on its own, not just something to put on (although that's great, too).

    I should really think about getting a remote soon. My boyfriend does all of my outfit shots, which is so kind, but sometimes I just want something *quick* to get back to work.

    What particular questions about photography do you have?

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  7. Your pictures are always very textural, I can almost feel the fabric and want to stroke some of your amazing coats and wraps.
    I love that photo of you on the grass, why can't it be summer again now? xxx
    PS The Dorset Rex bag was £1.

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  8. interesting to read how others deal w/ the picture-taking aspect of blogging. i laughed at some of your situations- i can definitely empathize with being outdoors in public "quick outfit shots? come on, no one's around! wait- how's my hair?" that sort of thing. ;)
    speaking of outfits- some great-looking ones in this post!

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  9. Let's not forget the time you laid out all your worldly possessions on every surface of your house :)!

    Those were good photos!

    --Courtney
    @thosegraces

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  10. If you gave a Mac a chance for two weeks you'd probably be converted forever. It is just so easy to use that I now have a hard time using a regular PC. And how lucky that your mister has a great camera you can use. - Katy

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  11. Veshoevius--about a month into my blogging i wanted to take a full course in Photoshop. I like your idea of pretending to be a tourist when you take your photos!

    The yellow dress is gorgeous and I am lusting after the dragonfly pins.

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  12. the pictures in this post are lovely! and i especially love that floral dress. :)

    www.yogaandpencilskirts.blogspot.com

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  13. I really enjoyed this post! I always love finding out how the other bloggers do it! haha, sometimes I find that I have so many little shortcuts that I have learned during my blogging time and I became so capable with technology, mostly because of the blog.. And we bloggers even have our own language, which I didn't even realize until I was telling my housemates something about Pinterest and so and they were like 'what?!' :P But I love it, it makes me feel like I'm in a little secrec club, ha! :P I don't take outfit shots, precisely becuase I don't have tripod and my Mr lives far away, but as soon as we move in together (August, yay!) I will have him as my 'technology tool' :P But as you said, it's hard to get good time in UK, it makes me so jealous over Cupcakes and Cashmere and other girls living in California! :) But we've got the Queen, eh? :P

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  14. Loved reading 'how you do it', Veshoevius. It's tricky, isn't it. I find having my picture taken strange, which is why I prefer to work with tripod and remote control. In the beginning I stood on wobbly backgrounds or chose other distracting situations to distract me.

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  15. We all have our photo-taking challenges, don't we?

    And the abacus line...hysterical!

    ••V••
    www.gritandglamour.com
    @gritandglamour

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  16. I just wanted to let you know that I ended up buying the D5000 this weekend :)!

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  17. Great to read everyone's comments and know I'm not alone in the challenges of outfit photos for the blog - hope I've inspired some of you to try the tourist trick!

    @Shopgirl - re: your jewellery in a tangled pile - so is mine until I tidy it up for a photo!

    @SabinePsynopsis - I don't like having photos taken either even when I take them myself with a tripod and remote - much easier removing my head because you don't see the god awful facial expressions I'm pulling!

    @KT - believe me I have spent way longer than two weeks on Macs and I always end up wanting to throw them across the room!

    @Aesthetic Alterations - totally agree that clothing is beautiful in itself as a subject of photography.

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  18. Your style is so adventurous. Love it.

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