To capture those best moments in life or actually, even the simplest moments that make life wonderful such as having some calamari sandwiches and chorizo with your family in the nearby Parque del buen Retiro in Madrid, you don’t have to own a fancy DSLR camera because your trusty iPhone can do the job admirably. Its high resolution and easy to use camera features are readily available to take photos on the go plus you don’t need to carry an ugly camera bag with you all the time. If you’re new to photography, there’s no shame in taking photos using your phone and with all the nifty photography apps available, you can have fun and experiment all you like.
You can also join online photography forums so that you can further expand your network and ask for some tips and advice. If you don’t know where to start, you can start with your own social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and online gaming sites such as binguez. With its fresh and exciting online community, you can meet new friends and even fellow photographers and organize your own photo session. If you’re looking for more exciting games, there’s also Blackjack and Roulette. There are also loads of promotions when you play for free when you’re already winding down after a photo shoot around Plaza de la Villa and Madrid Cathedral. When you play online games such as bingo etc, it can also offer you a fresh perspective after editing your photos on your computer.
Finally, these are some of the most important tips while you’re taking photos with your phone. Remember to hold your phone steadily as you would your camera. Don’t be afraid to do some trial and error and take multiple shots of your chosen scenery or subjects. Don’t rely on your phone’s zoom feature because it will make your high resolution photos look pixilated. For more photography inspiration, you can also check out MadridFoto.
Being on maternity leave is wonderful but it is also expensive. In the last three years we have gone from two good full time wages to one full time wage and one part time wage. Coupled into having time off while on official maternity leave- it means we have really had to tighten our belts.
We have gone from a two parent working family, to a one parent one. And this means that we have really had to reign in spending money. Gone are the lovely dinners out, or the lazy Sunday afternoon lunches at the pub. Gone is my obsession with buying bags and clothes. Of course we still treat ourselves every so often but we have had to tighten our belts a lot since we had our children.
I have started to make sure I use shop promotional cards so I can rack up the points, little things like this really do help save money- after all everyone needs to do their weekly food shop! I also make sure that I do my food shop online- that way I find that I save money by not going into the store and picking up random bits I don’t really need.
Another thing I do is sell our old bits and pieces to make a bit of extra cash. Things that I no longer need and that is just sitting there in my house. For example old baby stuff, old photographic equipment or other things. You can use sites like Music Magpie and earn really good money selling things like CD’s, DVD’s or clothes. You can even sell your PSP!
The more I save money, the longer I will be able to have off with my gorgeous girls before returning to work. Therefore I will do anything I can!
In case you haven’t noticed, we haven’t been around in a while. Have you missed our lovely photography, design and blogging tips? Well the reason for this is there is a lot going on in the I Heart Snapping camp at the moment. Lucy only went and had a beautiful baby, and Katie is busy growing one. Therefore due to a combination of sleepless nights, overactive hormones and baby brains, we have neglected this lovely little space on the interweb recently.
But alas fear not, we aren’t gone for good. I Heart Snapping is still very much another baby of ours, and we will be back soon to fill this space with all things lovely. We may not be posting as regularly as before, but we are still chuffed to bits with the amount of traffic and love this blog gets, and we are determined to keep it going.
Expect lots of lovely new tips, hints and exciting posts on their way soon.
When the I Heart Snapping team attended the BritMums Live conference a few weeks ago, it was definitely fair to say that the session we were most looking forward to was Julia Boggio‘s session on Advanced Blogging Photography. As two enthusiastic amateurs at best, we were hoping to learn some great tips from a proper professional photographer, and the session definitely didn’t disappoint as it was crammed full of useful tips for improving blog photography.
Julia started by talking about the misconceptions that great cameras take great photos; they don’t, its the photographer that does that. Now how many times have you heard those exact words here? She described a photographer as someone who paints with light and that it is light that makes a great photo and gives images interest. She explained that there are three different types of light that you are dealing with when taking photographs, and that how you use these affects the final photograph that you take and the effect it has.
First there is ‘key’ light which is the main and strongest light upon your subject. There is ‘fill’ light which is what lifts shadows and can be created by bouncing ambient light from a reflective surface. And finally there is ‘hair’ light which is an accent or back light which separates a subject from its surrounds and gives an image depth. These different light sources can be differently located for different photos or subjects. Being aware of them and how you use them can be the difference between a great shot, an okay shot and a rubbish shot.
If you’ve been reading the photography posts here on I Heart Snapping then you will have heard us banging on about how photography is generally most attractive in natural sunlight. Sunlight can be your ‘key’ light if if is in front of your subject (and behind you) or your ‘hair’ light if it is behind them (and you are shooting towards the sun). The sun’s rays travel in straight lines, so you do have to be careful about the effect that shadow can have on your photos and Julia suggested that when photographing people in natural light that it’s a good idea to get them to move their face around to make sure you avoid shadows. It can also be a good idea to use a reflector to bounce sunlight so that it also becomes your fill light.
She gave the simple tip of taking a piece of white paper outside using it to gage where the best light is; which is something I’ve tried out since and have found really useful just to bring my attention back to thinking about the best light and best angle for my photo. I definitely take more notice of how shadows affect my photography now and I have found myself repositioning things and using white cushions as reflectors to manipulate the light when I shoot.
Julia showed how she made a simple lighting box or tent using tracing paper, foam board and a ceiling tile, and how she had used it to photograph some garlic. She demonstrated how excluding light and using compact mirrors and carrier bags as diffusers can create a still life full of texture. If you take a lot of still life type photos she also said told us that having your key light come from the side creates far better texture. She also showed us how the position of light in portraiture can completely change the final look; ‘narrow’ shooting means the light comes from the side and you shoot into the shadowed side of the face, whereas with ‘broad’ shooting the light comes from the same direction as the camera and you shoot the lit part of the face. The key with portraits is that ‘narrow’ shooting is far more slimming and flattering on the face. So that’s something to remember next time you have your picture taken; make sure the light is to one side.
The whole talk was crammed full of examples of how to use everyday items like lamps, white cushions and a black dress to play with the light and create different looks with the overriding theme being that you have to play around to find what works. Add light, take it away, move it, bounce it around; it will all affect the resulting photo is different ways and you can’t learn quite how it will unless you try. Oh and demonstrating her opening point perfectly, every single image that Julia had taken and shown us had been taken on her iPhone. I think it would be fair to say that this left everyone feeling pretty impressed and also confident that it really isn’t the kit when it comes to great blog images, but what you do with it that counts.
A couple of weeks ago we told you all about a really clever little app to add label style fonts to your photos- Labelbox. However if you want just a really good, general font app then you really need to be checking out Phonto. Phonto is by far the best font app I have found although there are quite a few out there.
There are literally hundreds of different fonts on there, and they certainly aren’t boring- in fact there is loads of choice. You can choose the position of the font, the size, the way it tilts, the colour, the background colour and the style. It is really easy to use, you just click on the screen to add a font, scroll through the fonts you want and then you can position it by dragging it across the screen. In fact it is so easy it doesn’t even need a tutorial. You can really go to town with the colours as you can tweak them and make them match any of the colours in your picture.
Here are some examples of some photos that I have used with Phonto.
These are just some really quick examples but if you check out Phonto you will see the huge variety of styles you can use for your photos.
Best of all? It is completely free! I guarantee it will be one of your favourite apps for its easy of use.
Another week is nearly done and it’s time for another weekend.I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the sun might come out for this weekend, but I won’t hold my breath. But that’s enough of the very British talk about the weather, lets crack on with some lovely links.
If you use Blogger then you might be interested to know that they are rolling out some changes and if you can’t already then you will very soon be able to create your own permalinks. You can read all about it in this post from Tots100 which explains exactly what permalinks are and why you should use them. It also explains how you can access it if it hasn’t been rolled out to your account yet.
There is another new photo linky on the block which is all about fun. Pop over to The Crumby Mummy and you can link up any photograph which is fun, whether it was fun to take, be in or edit.
One of our readers is sporting the lovely glittery social media buttons we offered up as freebies a couple of weeks back. They definitely look very pretty in pink on Bubba Babble‘s sidebar.
When we were at BritMums Live, Mammasaurus let on about a free photo editing gem she had discovered called Photoscape. I’ve only just downloaded and am starting to play around. But she’s written a great tutorial on using it to make really pretty collages.
You’ve got to smile at these great photos from one very creative photographer dad. I’ve seen this link a few times now and it never fails to raise a giggle and to make me think outside the box for photos a bit.
So all that’s left to do is open up the I Heart My Snap linky so you can share the pictures you love.Any pictures. Everyone is welcome. Just make sure you link back. And feel free to use the badge if you wish.
So you have a blog, and you have started to get traffic. Yippee. However you have decided you want to go further and really improve your blogs search ability on the web. How do you do it?
One really handy free tool that you can use is Google Webmaster Tools- after all we all know that Google is the biggest search engine and of course we want to be on the good side of Google!
First of all you need to make sure your blog is signed up on the tool. Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ and log in using your google account. (or register for one free if you haven’t got one) Then on the main dashboard page on the right hand side there is a big red button which says ‘Add a site.’
You will then need to verify your blog so webmaster tools will be able to pick it up. To do this really easily on wordpress go on to ‘alternate methods’ and use the html meta tag method. If you need to do it on another blogging platform, it is also really easy.
You will then need to make sure that you have installed the ‘Google Webmaster Verification’ WordPress Plug In. You can find this easily by searching under ‘Add New’ Plug In. Once you have done this go to the ‘Google Webmaster Verification’ plug in which you will find under the ‘Settings’ menu on your wordpress dashboard.
Simply then add the code from Webmaster tools into the google site verification box at the top. Remember to only install the code rather than the whole thing. Please see below as an example.
Save changes and voila! Your site is now verified. It will take some time for it to fully update your information- the details I am using below aren’t fully up to date for I heart Snapping but it doesn’t matter as it will give you an idea.
There are a few things which are really useful for bloggers within Google Webmaster Tools. Here are just a few of them.
1. Firstly pay attention to your searches as it can give you a really valuable insight into why people are finding your blog.
Impressions are the number of times pages from your site were viewed in search results- the number of days per period defaults to 30, but you can change it at any time. Clicks are the number of times your site was clicked in search results for a query e.g instagram post, and the percentage increase and decrease in the average daily clicks compared to the previous period. (again default of 30 days) CTR is the click through rate of your site for that particular query and the average position is where it will appear in the search results for that particular query. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look that great to start with, it can take some time to collect all your data.
2. Submitting a site map- It is really important to submit a site map because it helps google know what pages to index. As blogs are slightly different to websites which have hundreds of different pages, you can get away with using your RSS feed. Just go to optimisation, click sitemaps and add a sitemap by typing in your RSS feed to the URL box.
3. Links to your site- this is so important as good quality, stable links are essential for good SEO. Go to ‘Traffic’ and then links to your site. From there you can see how many links you have in total, who your top linkers are what your top linked pages are. It is really interesting and you may find sites linking to you which you didn’t realise were doing so.
There are lots of other really interesting aspects to Webmaster Tools, we have only just scratched the surface. If you haven’t set it up already, it is well worth doing so, especially if you are like me and nosey about just what is going on with your website.
It was while ago now that we first talked to you about a new feature we were planning on starting called I Heart My Edit. But today we are here with the first ever I Heart My Edit; a feature which we hope will see some of our lovely readers getting involved and showing off what they can do.
So what is I Heart My Edit? It is basically a chance to learn about how people have managed to achieve certain affects with their photo editing. We are providing an original photograph and then asking people to edit it however they would like and simply let us know what they did.
This week, it’s our first time. So the I Heart Snapping team are editing this time. But next time it could be you. We were really impressed with all the people offering to take part when we first mentioned I Heart My Edit, rest assured your details are all safely in a spreadsheet and we WILL be getting in contact.
So without further ado, there is the first I Heart My Edit…
A daisy photo taken on a Nikon D5000 with an 18-55 lens with macro filter.
I basically used idarkroom app and added the cross process filter. This made it really green so I wanted to dull it down a little. I used the Photoshop Express App to slightly adjust the contrast (to make it look more dream like). Finally I added a white border to bring out the vibrant colour of the petals.
I used Camera+ first of all to crop the image so that it obeyed the rule of thirds a bit more, and I applied the clarity scene filter. I then used BeFunky to edit it further, by using the vibrance filter and I added the grunge1 border to it to frame it and finish it off.
We both went for phone apps to edit with, just to prove that you don’t need fancy expensive editing software to make your images look lovely.
If you haven’t already been in touch with us and you want to be involved, then let us know.
We have been taking a little break at I Heart Snapping, which you may have noticed by the fact that our posts haven’t been as regular. This is due to a combination of things- the main one being computers breaking, holidays and of course a little weekend trip away to BritMums Live. Therefore because of this reason there won’t be any links we love this week. Don’t fear though- we still have the I heart my snap linky open for you to link up your favourite photos. The rules are so simple- just link up any photo or photos you are particularly proud of, it could be an old post or a new one- we just want to see the photos that make you smile. If you fancied visiting some of the other entries and leaving a comment, it is always very welcome, as we bloggers love comments!
We will be back on top form next week with some more great posts.
On the Friday and Saturday we just had, the I Heart Snapping team were at the BritMums Live conference in London. It was a great opportunity for us to get together and also to meet up with other lovely bloggers, hear great speakers, take part in inspiring workshops and generally feel glad to be part of the world that is blogging.
We picked up so many little tips and ideas to share with you all and just like when we went to Cybher last month, we want to give you the lowdown on what we heard.
It all opened up on Friday afternoon with a keynote speech from Ruby Wax and then we were straight into the business of workshops.
We chose a workshop on writing about parenting for our first session, as we both do this on our personal blogs. There was a lot of discussion about parenting blogs that are either too positive, too negative or too preachy, but the overall feeling was that if you are authentic and honest then people will enjoy reading it. It came back to things we have said here on I Heart Snapping before; which is that your voice IS your blog, so be true to yourself and don’t try to be something you’re not, people see straight through it and would always rather read a ‘real’ post from the ‘real’ you.
The evening was all about the BiB awards, which celebrated bloggers doing great things across a variety of categories. Go and check out the winners if you get time, you are bound to come away feeling inspired.
Saturday was a day cram-packed with sessions which were varied and fantastic. The choices of workshop session available were really great and there seemed to be something for everyone. We attended a quite frankly awesome workshop by Julia Boggio on photography, which I will write up separately in a different post as there was so much she said that we want to share with you.
We went to a Pinterest session too which was really fab and informative, I know for a fact that I’m not using Pinterest to its full potential so expect a post with more information on Pinterest to come your way very soon.
We also attended a discussion session on blogging for happiness. I think the strongest message to come away from this session was that blogging can and has changed people’s lives through the opportunities it has given them and the community it puts them in touch with. There was some great advice from the panel and from the people attending the discussion on how to keep it real, but one of the best was to go back and read people’s first posts so that you can see why they started and what they are all about. And also not to over think blog posts that you write, but to stick with being honest and being yourself. A recurring theme it would seem.
In between the sessions there was plenty of time for networking, chatting and eating lots of cake. It was lovely to meet so many I Heart Snapping readers and to hear so many of you saying great things about how helpful this site is and how much you love it. We really hope this site will go from strength to strength and we don’t see ourselves running out of ideas any time soon. And you can always comment, tweet or email us if you’d like us to look at something in particular. We don’t know it all and we don’t pretend to but if we can help then we will.
Anyway, back to BritMums Live. The weekend finished with a keynote speech from Cherry Healey who had some really interesting things to say about how blogging has an increasing impact on her work as a tv journalist and presenter. It seems like we’re on the cusp of something quite big in the UK with regards to blogging and we’re really excited to see where it leads.
The conference ended with the Bloggers Keynote speech which was a definite favourite with a lot of the delegates. It made such a nice ending to the conference to bring it all back to why we were there; the blogging, the writing and the community. Blog posts can often be emotive when you read them, but there is something about hearing posts read aloud by their writer which is extremely powerful and the thirteen posts selected took everyone through an emotional roller coaster. There were tears, smiles, joy, laughter. It was a definite high point to end on, even if a lot of people’s mascara was looking the worse for wear.
BritMums Live was a brilliant weekend. It was inspiring and informative as well as giving us a great chance to meet blogger friends new and old. We’ll be putting it in the diaries for next year.