6 Tips for Better Photos of your – #tt – Home Renovation

Half the fun of a home renovation is getting to track the results of your efforts.  Documenting your progress with your cell phone camera might be the easiest way to get started but here are a few more tips to help ensure you get the best pictures possible.

***If you are shooting before and after pictures, mark where you took the first images so that you can reproduce similar angles and composition after your renovation is complete***

1.  Lighting – lighting can be your best friend or your biggest enemy when shooting a renovation.  Usually, more light is better, but watch for hot (over exposed) spots.  Twighlight shots outdoors create a strong effect, and most cameras have a dynamic balancing or HDR function to help deal with bright lights or excessive shadows.  Use a tripod or set your camera on a stable object to reduce blurry photos in lower light.

2.  Composition -  Take the time to set up a shot and ensure your space is staged (remove any distractions and ensure it’s relatively clean).  Think of your camera screen as a three by three grid and use the “thirds” / “centering” to balance subjects in your shot.  Panorama settings, apps or applications like Aperture, Photoshop or Microsoft ICE can also help you stitch multiple images together for more dramatic images.

3.  Exposure - the longer the exposure, the more light will get into your shot so increase exposure length until lighting works for the shot.  Once you reach over 1/10th of a second shutter speed, the chance of motion blur increases so use a tripod, increase your ISO to 400 or 800 and set your aperture below 2.8 to help get more light in.

4.  Focus and Aperture - when you want to highlight one subject in a photo, you can use image blur to help set the focus.  This can be accomplished by using your camera’s auto-focus settings, zooming in to a portrait focal length (ie to 50-80mm) and setting your aperture to as low a number as possible (<f2.8).  If your camera lens doesn’t create good depth of field (also called “bokeh”) you can also move the camera closer to the subject.

5.  ISO settings:  Usually you can leave your camera’s ISO settings on Auto.  Increasing ISO will allow more light to be processed though so it can  improve indoor shots and evening shots or reduce motion blur.  Unfortunately, the byproduct of increasing ISO is noise or fuzziness when too high (above ISO400 on a cell phone, ISO800 on a point and shoot, or ISO1600 on an SLR) so if you need your photos brighter, remember these limits.

6.  Camera Pre-Sets:  Armed with the first 5 steps, we have to also suggest that your camera pre-sets and auto settings are going to get a strong picture most of the time because the manufacturer has optimized them for different situations.  That “night setting” is going to increase ISO settings, add stabilization, open your aperture and leave exposure open enough to get a shot, but tweaking manual settings can get you even better result.

7.  Post Production:  use cropping, instagram (or similar filters), and color balance or Dynamic Range (HDR) processing to improve your photo quality.  I could fill a separate post on some of these tools, but my main advice is: don’t over process.  You should also save your photo’s to a size that makes sense for how you are publishing it – most online photo’s don’t need to be bigger than HD quality (1980px x 1020px) these days, but if you plan to blow up your photo or print a detailed version, higher resolution is important.

Photography is as much of an art as it is a science so you can learn a tonne by looking at professional images on Pinterest.com or Houzz.com and compare to your own shots – you’ll begin to get a feel for images that are the most appealing.

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  1. One other tip – don’t forget to clean your lens and flash. Cellphone photos will come up blurry if there is a fingerprint or dust (or scratches) across the lens – Use a soft cloth and be careful not to scratch the lens. Dust / dirt (or a finger covering part) on your flash can create mini shadows too.

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