Could You Describe the Ruckus, Sir?

Welcome to Vicky Bell's blog.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Addie in the grass: 1, 2 and 3

Here are 3 versions of a photograph of my daughter Addie. She's modeling one of the wrist cuffs I made for my Etsy shop. The first pic is unedited, taken with an inexpensive digital camera.

Let me say right off that I am camera-stupid and barely computer literate. Whenever I think I've mastered one computer function or other there'll be a kid in the wings ready to blow that notion to bits.

But being an online seller means having to take, and edit, photographs. The problem I am presented with, then, is how to do this and remain blissfully ignorant of most things related to picture-taking and computer editing.

Maybe you don't sell online but like to upload and share pics? Maybe you have a great pic of the family but there's a branch sticking out of Uncle Ernie's head? Or the only pic with everyone's eyes open is also the only dark one?

This is not a tutorial- there are many very good tutorials to be found and why reinvent the wheel?- but rather a small example of the possibilities, and an assurance that there are simple, easy, uncomplicated ways for us non-photographer non-computer geek types to improve our pics.

I use two simple programs- microsoft picture editor and picassa. Both are free, downloadable, or come with your computer. And either one is usually enough, though I like to use a combination. With one or the other I can easily brighten a dark photograph, edit out a stray branch, crop to make an image closer, or correct the color hue.

In the first pic above there is a patch of light brown grass by Addie's hip. I edited it out in the subsequent versions with a simple retouching tool. I've used that same tool to take lines off my face (yay!) and to clear blemishes or get rid of an errant strand of hair.

In the second pic above I used a "warmify" button to change the color balance. Notice the difference in skintone and general light and color.

In the third pic I've increased the light and shadows, and intensified the color saturation, as well as evening out some blemishes. I've made this pic purposely dramatic- overlit, shadowed and saturated. This is more than you would want for a family pic but for online sales it works. That is because most times potential customers see only a thumbnail- a tiny version- of the product pic. It needs to be strong to get noticed. These changes took just a couple of minutes to complete.

For me, the fun of selling is in the creating of the items and the writing of the description. I really don't want to become a photography and photo-editing expert too. I just want to improve my product pics- and make my personal pics a little better while I'm at it.

You can learn to use a simple editor, and most computers already have one loaded in them. I would encourage you to explore some of the many tutorials available on the internet. Find one that makes sense to you, and start experimenting. In a couple of hours you will see the difference you can make in your product or family pics, and once you own the knowledge, you own it forever.

A quick reminder, particularly for online sellers- the simplest way to get better pics is to take more of them. For the wrist cuff shown above, I took more than 40 pics of Addie, from different angles and in different poses. I used 2 in my listing on Etsy and 1 for this blog.


  1. Taking picutes is a lot of work and a learning process. Your pictures look great thanks for your tips.

  2. Vicky, I know you said this wasn't for us photographer types. But I must say this was very informative! You did a great job in describing the diferent steps. So on that note, have a Happy 50th year and I will be looking forward to your bloggings. Great Job!

  3. since i dont know when i have used photoshop. but i started using a program called creative paint. i think. i think it was, anyway it is totally fun to play around with photos i feel bad if i dont try lol i rarely just post photos without using a program, its a natural thing to do.

  4. That's cool that you were able to teach yourself about editing. I could probably use a few lessons.

  5. My Daughter's name is Addie(Addison) too :)