This is how I did it. Five easy steps

Last week’s blog post was meant to be a lighthearted diversion from all the stress surrounding the election. I had gone to the Massachusetts Orchid Show and shared my iPhone images of the flowers. Now the election is behind us yet based on what I am seeing on the news and reading on social media, it is obvious we have a very long road ahead with lots of anger (on both sides) and wounds to heal.

The orchid show was packed with people and it was easy to spot the “real photographers” with their big camera bag, DSLR camera, macro lens and flash ring. All I could think of was how I am so over that hassle. My neck was hurting just looking at all that gear and one guy near me was loudly scolded for hitting one of the plants with his gear bag.

I however had my iPhone and was happily moving in and out taking pictures without bothering anyone. As I shared in my previous post, the orchids at the show were on tables that looked like this. There were ribbons and tags and lots of distracting back ground “noise”.

How the displayed looked

How the displayed looked

Yet, the orchid photos I posted looked like this.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

As promised, I said I would share I how I achieved my iPhone photos of the orchids and this is how I did it.

1.Get in close.The first thing I did to eliminate as much of the distracting background as possible was to  get in close…really close. Since the iPhone has such a wide angle lens, I was only inches away from the flowers.

2.Set the Auto Focus Lock. The closer you get to your subject the harder it is to maintain focus. This is where you want to use the iPhone auto lock feature. Simply hold your finger on the screen in the exact spot you want in focus for a few seconds (I picked the center of the flower in most cases). A yellow box will appear where your finger is placed and a yellow highlighted rectangle that shows AE/AF LOCK will appear at the top of the image. The yellow box will begin to “blink” as you continue to hold your finger in the spot. Keep you finger in the same spot until the yellow box stops “blinking”. The camera focus is now locked. Here is an example of what the screen will look like once the auto lock is set.

AF-lock is set on iPhone camera

AF-lock is set on iPhone camera

See how sharp the image is where I locked the focus? I was less than 2 inches away from the flower yet even my slight movements kept the image in focus.

3. Use an editing app. If you only learn to use ONE editing app I recommend Snapseed. Even though there are thousands of editing apps for the iPhone, I used Snapseed for this tutorial because it is both free and easy to use. For every image of my orchids I used only two tools on Snapseed, the healing tool and the brush tool. This what the Snapseed app looks like when open. You can see the healing and brush tool on the right.

Snapseed editing window

Snapseed editing window

Note: I made a short video at the end of this post showing what I did but I want to “talk” through it first.

4. Get rid of unwanted distractions.The first thing I did was to use the healing tool to get rid of as much distracting background as possible. I will be completely honest, there are much better apps for this (TouchRetouch for one) but they cost money and are not as easy to master. With the healing tool you simply run your finger over what you want to remove and in “most” cases it will disappear into the surrounding background. You might have to zoom in on your screen to remove only the part you want.

5. Darken the background. Lastly, I used the brush tool to darken the background and isolate the flower in order to make it pop. The brush tool can either be used to Dodge and Burn the image. For those of you who never did your own printing with film you won’t understand the terms but to Dodge an image is to make it lighter, and to Burn and image is to make it darker. Using my finger I rubbed the background with the minus 10 brush (burning the image) over and over until it was as dark as I wanted. Some images took longer to darken than others but in general I didn’t spend more than 5 minutes on each image.

Here is the image I started with before the edits.

Orchid before edits

Orchid before edits

and here is the after

Orchid after edits

Orchid after edits

Here is a short video my husband took with his cellphone of me first using the healing tool to remove some things I didn’t want in the image, and then the brush tool to darken the background. To save each step you will see I hit the check mark over on the right hand side of the screen.

And that is how I did it!

If you have any iPhone camera questions you would like answered in a blog post please let me know in the comment section below. Until then, keep on shooting!

My election day gift to lower your stress level

Let’s face it, the 2016 election has been a nightmare. The animosity, hatred and immature bullying has reached a sad new low. The process has so divided and polarized our nation that many Americans, myself included, are stressed and worried about the future of our country. I happen to catch 60 Minutes on Sunday night and they reported that 82 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with BOTH candidates. It’s hard to make sense of how we ended up with two candidates that the majority of Americans either distrust or down right hate.

What I do when I get really stressed is take my camera, or these days my iPhone, and escape. I get out in nature, go to a museum or stroll through a city or a previously unexplored part of town. My stress level is lowered as I focus on my environment and on creating an image. Yesterday I took my iPhone and headed to the Massachusetts Orchid Show. Flowers are universally appealing and no matter which candidate you are voting for or against, my gift to you are these calming orchids.

Take a few deep breaths, relax and focus on the beauty of these amazing creations of nature.  (All images were taken with my iPhone)

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

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Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

fullsizerender-33

Linda Holt Photo

fullsizerender-30

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

img_0181

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Now I know many of you are wondering how I took these photos. The reality is that the orchid show was crowded with people and there were tags and prize ribbons hanging from most of the orchids.This is what the orchids actually looked like.

How the displayed looked

How the displayed looked

and this is how most of the orchids looked as I moved my iPhone in close to photograph them. In almost every case there was a distracting back ground that took away from the beauty of the flower.

img_7640

Next week I will share with you the exact steps I took to create the Orchid images above.

Lastly, hang in there everyone. The US election will soon be over (and may be over by the time you are reading this post) and no matter what the outcome we must remember we are all in this together. We all care about our our country and our children and grand children’s future and we somehow must find a way to work together as American’s and stop the hatred that is tearing our country apart.

 

Friday’s Photo: Sleeping with the family

One of my favorite things about going to High Point Market and visiting the different show rooms is seeing how the rooms are styled. The designers are so creative and I always see something unexpected and unique. Continuing last Friday’s Photo theme of wall murals I spotted this idea at Universal Furniture.

wallpaper family portraits

portrait wallpaper at Universal Furniture

I know it’s not for everyone but I thought it was a cute idea for a child’s room. It would be hard to feel lonely when the family is watching over while you sleep. Having the actual wallpaper made would be a huge commitment but another idea would be to cover the wall with either cork board or foam core. Then using adhesive spray (for the foam core) or pins (for the cork board) attach the images. When the fun had run it’s course just remove the foam core or cork board and the walls are back to the origional state.

Have a good weekend!

Friday’s Photo: Do you like this hot new trend?

I posted a photo on Instagram this week that got over a hundred likes. That photo as well as the one below, show one of the hottest new trends in design…murals. Wall murals are big, bold and a fun way to make a statement.

Wesley Hall-Linda Holt Photo

Wesley Hall-Linda Holt Photo

I know it’s not for everyone but if you have a big blank wall and no artwork to display a giant mural could be great fun. Talk about adding personality to your space! There are several online companies where you can create your own mural by uploading any image of your choice. Just Google “create your own wall mural” and you will have several to choose from. Imagine a Caribbean beach scene in your bed room or the New York skyline in your dining room. I’m thinking an underwater oasis on the wall my desk faces would be amazing!

What do you think? Love it or not?

Quick note* Be sure to check back on Tuesday for my upcoming post on the one thing you can do today to eliminate crappy cell phone photos.

Happy Weekend!

A brilliant new way to print and display your photos

It seems today everyone is a photographer. The cameras, even cell phone cameras, take AMAZING photos so we all look like professionals. We post our best on Facebook or Instagram but then we move on. The images live in the cloud, on the computer or on the phone, but they are more or less forgotten. I am completely guilty of this as well. I rarely do anything with my photos once they are posted.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you know that last Spring I made the trip of a lifetime to Italy. I took some beautiful photos, posted them on social media and then I forgot about them. I kept thinking about my trip though and wanted to enlarge some of my favorite images so that I could have a daily reminder of my trip and be filled with that same joy I had while I was there.

I remembered I had seen a new product from one of the vendors at the Design Bloggers Conference. The company is Fracture and they print photos directly onto glass. It’s the picture frame and mount all in one and their photo display was gorgeous. They had an almost luminous quality and the rep asked me if I would like would try them out. Ummm, yes please! I chose the images I wanted to enlarge and sent them off.

The glass printed images arrived last week and I could not be happier. They came safely embedded in sturdy cardboard with a screw attached for the embedded mounting hole on the back. (They are very lightweight so I ended up using a simple nail rather than the screw).

fractured detail3

They easily pop out of the card board protector and are ready to hang. Below is a close up of the glass and the black backing.

fractured3

These blog photos do not convey how beautiful the images are but they appear to glow. I could not be happier. Below is a close up of two of my pictures.

Photos mounted on glass

Linda Holt

The photos are hung on a wall adjacent to my kitchen so I see them everyday and it brings me joy remembering my trip. The price point is also good so if I tire of looking at them I have no issue with replacing them with something else. The best part is that I didn’t have to frame them which as you know, is usually more expensive than enlarging them in the first place.

Photos printed on glass

Linda Holt Interiors

If you are interested in printing some of your photos with Fracture, here is the link. I chose to print my vacation photos but any image can be upload and printed. It could be your kids artwork, a cherished letter, a sheet of music, anything that can be photographed can be printed onto the glass. Fractured also sells ready made images on glass if you want to purchase something unique or you can choose something from one of their artists.

As you can tell, I am a fan. I have already told one of my clients about it as she was complaining about how expensive it was going to be to frame her images that she plans to enlarged.

My experience got me thinking though, do you print and display your photos or let them live in the cloud?

7 tips for getting more followers and “likes” on Instagram

We all like to see our followers and “likes” going up on Instagram. It’s not only validation that others like our feed but with IG’s new metrics, the amount of likes an image receives can also affect who and how many see your photo. Below are seven tips for getting more followers and likes on Instagram.

1.Post pretty photos. I know this sounds obvious but there are plenty of poorly composed and poorly lit photos on Instagram. Before you randomly point and shoot, take a moment to think about the angle and the composition. Take several different shots and then choose the best one. Instagram is your own personal art gallery, so before you post that blurry photo of your lunch, stop and ask yourself “would I like to see this photo in my feed”? If the answer is no, then don’t post it. Also, as much as it pains me to say it, cliche photos get lots of likes. It seems people just can’t get enough of sunsets, lighthouses, white sandy beaches, flowers, and any other pretty image even if it is cliche.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

2.Use the color Blue. Do you know that Blue is consistently chosen as the number one favorite color world wide? It’s also the preferred color on Instagram as well and photos with lots of blue receive more likes then any other color.

red buoy Nantucket harbor

Linda Holt Photo

3.Post bright images. Instagram metrics show that bright and light images receive many more likes then darker moodier images. I think this is primarily due to the fact that bright images are easier to see on a small phone screen. If your image isn’t inherently light there are plenty of camera apps with filters which will lighten it.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

4.Be consistent. Posting without any planning or thought will not easily increase followers or likes. People need to see your images and if you are only posting randomly and infrequently then you will have neither. The general rule is to post three times a day but once a day or even two to three times a week is fine as long as you are consistent.

5.Use good hashtags. There has been a lot of discussion about hashtags and a lot of conflicting opinions on how many is ideal and what the hashtags should be. Instagram “pros” say six hashtags is optimal but others believe the more the better. Personally, if I see a dozen plus hashtags I find it annoying and it looks like spam. I think a good rule of thumb is to keep the hashtags to under ten. As far as which hashtags to use, type in what is applicable to the image. Sometimes really common ones like #interiordesign, or #fashion are not all that helpful because there are millions of photos a day posted with those hashtags and your image will be lost in a sea of others. Try using hashtags that are more specific to your photo such as #paintedfurniture or #redshoes. Some hashtags have their own fan base and are a great way to get more followers such as #tiletuesday, #fashionfriday or #Ihavethisthingwithfloors. Do a Google search and see what hashtags are trending for your particular business. Lastly, if you search a hashtag and you are the only one using it then it is not going to be useful for gaining followers. So skip cleaver hashtags like #it’sagreatdaytogotothebeach and use ones that are more targeted and focused to what others will actually search for.

6.Be true to your brand. Spend some time thinking about your message and what your goal is for your IG account. If you are a business looking to attract more clients, post photos that are representative of your brand. For example, if you are an interior designer then post design related images. It could be beautiful rooms, travel inspiration, or a behind the scenes look at your job sites. It should not be a photo of you and your friends drinking margaritas or a video of your son learning how to ride a bike. Last year I attended a talk about Instagram given by the founders of the design firm Tilton Fenwick. They have 33K followers and an IG feed full of beautiful design related images. One of the founders said she would occasionally post a photo of something non design related and the response “was crickets”. So stick to images that reflect you and your brand and use your personal Facebook page to post the others.

7. Be an active member of Instagram. Take the time to reach out to others, make comments and give likes. You can’t expect others to interact with you if you don’t reciprocate. Like Facebook, Instagram is social media so join in and be social!

The photo below is my most “liked” image on my Instagram. In relating it to the seven tips; it’s pretty, it has blue in it, it’s bright, it has six hashtags, and it relates to my brand (designer/photographer). It also received 315 likes.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

I hope these seven tips are helpful and if desired please share your IG account in the comments as I would love to follow you. To follow me on Instagram simply click HERE.

If you missed last weeks post about taking better photos for Instagram you can read it here.

Note* No matter how anxious you are to build up your numbers on Instagram, you should never buy followers or “likes”. They are worthless and although it might look impressive to have tens of thousands of followers there will be zero engagement and that will actually hurt you in the long term.

Friday’s Photo: Checking out to “make photos”

This past week has been rough. The young singer gunned down in cold blood, the horrific mass shooting, the little boy dragged off by an alligator, it was just one nightmare report after another. Add in all the hate filled rhetoric on the news and on social media and I felt like I was at the breaking point. I was unfocused, had difficulty sleeping and started to obsess over the future of our country and the future leaders of it.

When I get really stressed the one thing that calms and soothes me is getting to the ocean. Nothing fills me with peace, love and joy more than the water. I love the mountains too but the ocean is my deepest love.

Rockport MA

Rockport MA Linda Holt Photo

The timing therefore could not be better because next week I will be staying on the coast in northern Maine immersed in a week long photography class at the Maine Media Workshop.  I had originally taken a photography class there 34 years ago this Summer. I think it was either the first or second year they were open and it was one of the highlights of my photography schooling. I studied with a very famous (at the time) fashion photographer. I remember being absolutely star struck because he worked for Vogue and other top fashion magazines and was friends with all the super models of the day. I was young, impressionable and thought he was the coolest guy on the planet. I mimicked everything he did and wanted my photos to look just like his.

Sunday I return 34 years later a completely different person. I am not looking to copy another Photographer’s style. Instead I plan to dig deep and discover (or rediscover) the artist in me. The pretty photos that I post on Facebook and Instagram are fine but I want to express myself deeper.

Back in the 80’s when I was in photography school I had a teacher who was passionate that his students never photograph flowers, sunsets, puppies, or any image that he deemed “pretty”. God forbid if you did, because in front of the entire class he would dramatically rip up your photos and dump all your hard work onto the floor. He would bellow “any idiot with a camera can shoot a pretty picture. An amateur “takes a photo” and a professional “makes” a photo. I was so brain washed (and traumatized) by him that to this day I can’t shoot a sunset or a flower without hearing him shouting his outrage in my mind.

So next week I am going to spend a week “making photos”. I am also checking out of all social media. I need to clear my head, take a break from the upsetting news and just enjoy being with other like minded art loving individuals. I will continue to post “pretty” pictures (northern Maine is seriously beautiful) but you may also start to see something different…stay tuned!

Have a wonderful week everyone and I will reconnect in a week or so.

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