Wouldn't it be great if you could use more of your own photos?
Photos don't always need to be technically 'perfect' in order to be useful as a blog image. You'll be surprised what you can improve, disguise, tweak or even just hide, using these quick and easy Photoshop techniques.
Using Your Own Photos for Blog Images
It's not easy to get your work to stand out online. There's already so much out there and chances are, someone is using the same style or stock photo as you.
There is one way you can stand apart, however, and that's to use your own photos.
You may not consider yourself a budding photographer, but the following tutorial will show you how you can enhance, repurpose or resize quite ordinary photos with a little help from Photoshop.
How To Improve Your Photos with Photoshop
There are many ways to brighten an image in Photoshop. This technique looks specifically as using the screen blending mode.
This is so quick to do and instantly brightens up an image, without losing contrast. It's also non-destructive, so causes no change to your original photo. It can also be fine tuned using the opacity slider.
- With your image layer selected, click Ctrl/Cmd J to create a duplicate layer.
- With the duplicate layer selected, change its Blending Mode from Normal to Screen.
- Adjust the impact of the Screen Layer using the Opacity Slider.
Again, there are many ways to do this. For this tutorial, I'll show you the Sharpen tool.
What this allows you to do is sharpen specific areas of your photo. This is great if you have an image with an intentionally blurred background you would like to keep (like the shallow depth of field photo in the video), or if your photo isn't as sharp as you would like at the focal point.
In the example below, I've just sharpened the detail on the front steps and door to the left.
This is a destructive method, i.e. it permanently changes the original photo. If you want to retain the original click Ctrl/Cmd J to create a duplicate layer and do your sharpening on that.
- Select the Sharpen tool on the left-hand Tool Bar. (It hides under the Blur tool. Click the Blur tool and hold for a second to get the fly-out menu).
- Set the Strength on the top menu to around 50%.
- Change the Brush Size on the top menu or by using your left and right square bracket keys.
- Paint over the area that needs sharpening.
3. White Balance
If you take a lot of your photographs indoors, you'll be familiar with the warm, orange glow you get from artificial lighting.
Natural daylight, without a doubt, is the best lighting you can use for your blog photography. But, this may not always be possible, particularly if you are restricted to taking photos in the evening.
'Cooling down' your images with Photoshop is simple. Don't be put off by the term 'raw' — the filter works on raw and jpeg files.
When using the temperature slider, be careful not to overdo it and end up with a blue glow rather than an orange glow!
- With your image layer selected, choose Camera Raw Filter from the Filter menu at the top of the screen.
- Select Auto under White Balance on the right-hand side (under the histogram).
- If you need to, 'cool down' the image further by moving the Temperature Slider to the left. If you overdo it, just move back to the right to warm it up.
- Click Okay.
Desaturating an image is a great way to take the focus away from the detail in the photograph, while retaining its theme. It works particularly well when you have a lot of contrast in your photo.
It's also great for making your colour-branded text really stand out.
In this example, I've used a Black & White Adjustment Layer. This is a non-destructive way to desaturate an image. If needed, you can enhance the image by moving the colour sliders. I've moved the yellow slider to brighten the buildings in the distance and make them stand out more. Which sliders you need to play with will depend on the invididual photo.
- With your image layer selected, choose Black & White from the Adjustment Layers Panel (black rectangle with white circle at the bottom of your layer stack).
- If needed, adjust the Colour Sliders to add contrast and depth.
- Return to your layers panel and add your text.
So, the picture is really bad, is it? Of course, I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't try to improve your photography or use the best images available to you. But sometimes, you just have to make the best of what you have.
Enter the Colour Overlay. A fabulous invention and a great way to literally cover up a bad photo!
This is also useful if the black-and-white approach above doesn't suit your blog's aesthetic.
Leave the image as colour or desaturate. Add your brand colours over the image. Add your text. And, voila! You've transformed a poor photo into a brightly-coloured, branded, Pinterest-friendly, themed backdrop for your text. Not bad at all for an less-than-perfect photograph.
- Use the Shape Tool to add a rectangle on a new layer above your photo (or use a Solid Colour adjustment layer).
- Double-click the Shape icon to set the colour.
- With the shape layer selected, use the Opacity Slider to reveal or hide the image.
- Add your Text.
Tip: When adding your brand colour and adjusting the opacity, you may find the colour becomes too pale or grey. I usually set my brand colour but then increase the saturation a little.
Just because a photograph isn't what you are looking for, it doesn't mean that a small part of the photo wouldn't fit the bill perfectly.
Cropping can add impact, improve the focal point, or get rid of distractions. Occasionally, you will be able to crop out more than one image from a single photo.
This can be a destructive or non-destructive method. If you want to keep your original, or have the ability to change your mind and re-crop, make sure you have the delete cropped pixels unchecked. I find it helpful as it allows you to reframe the image if you need to.
- Select your Crop Tool on the Tool Bar.
- Ensure the Delete Cropped Pixels on the top menu is Unchecked.
- Use the Crop Handles to select the area you want to keep.
- Hit the Checkmark at the top to confirm changes.
I hope this has tempted you to go back into your stash of photos and see if you can make use of some of them for your blog images.
I've no doubt there will be some perfectly salvageable photos tucked away on your hard drive. And, you'll know that nobody is using that image but you.
[Image Credits: all images itsorganised.com except books from Pixabay.]