Photography Tips for Better Blog Photos

One of these days I’m going to write a post and title it: The 10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I First Began Blogging.”  If I ever write that post, “master the manual setting on my camera” will be at the very top of the list.   In fact, it will probably be #1 on that list.  As proof, let me give you exhibit A, this picture of my guest room below.

Not only did I share this photo of my guest room, this picture along with several other similar pictures are THE pictures you’ll find if you tour this room under the category My Nest/Guest Room.  Sad.  I’ll try to be kind to the Susan of three years ago, but {palm slapped to forehead} what was she thinking?!

Blue and White Guest Room

When I took that photo above, I actually thought it was a good photo.   Hard to believe, isn’t it?

I now know the reason the photo came out this way in the auto setting was:  1. The camera saw all that light pouring in through the windows and created a greatly underexposed picture. 2. Light bulbs give off yellow light and the lack of cyan/blue makes a lot of indoor shots appear yellowish.

Here’s how this room REALLY looks in real life.  It’s not the dark dungeon previously portrayed, but you would never know that from that first pic.  I can’t go back and redo three years worth of photos but I can promise you from here forward, things will look much more realistic and less “dungeony.”

Blue and White Bedroom

How can you improve your blog photos?

In addition to not settling for sub-par photos like I did for so many years, there are some other things you can do to improve your photos.

Years ago I purchased Photoshop Elements online. PE isn’t the “professional” high-dollar version; it’s much, much less. PE sat on my computer for a long time because I really wasn’t sure how to use it.  I recently upgraded to Photoshop Elements 10 and I still don’t know how to use the majority of what it has to offer.  I hope to change that this year.  In the meantime, I have begun using some of the easier photo editing options in PE.

Photoshop Elements


My goal in this post is not to explain how to use Photoshop Elements.  Whole books have been written on that topic, plus, I’m still trying to figure it out myself.   I just wanted to share a few of the “tricks” I am using in that program in case you are not aware these features exist in a lot of the free, online photo editing programs.  If you know these things exist, you can seek them out in the photo editing program you use OR you can purchase Photoshop Elements 10 for around $70 online at Amazon and have at it.

By the way, I just discovered last night, there’s a free photo editing program by Adobe Photoshop available HERE.   It’s called Photoshop Express Editor.  I just added it to our growing list on this post called, 14 Free Photo Editing Sites, Picnik Alternatives.  You can use it to make the usual photo fixes/corrections, as well as “decorate” your photos with some fun effects, captions, thought bubbles, etc…  I’m not sure how many of the typical “photoshop” options it has, but it looked like a neat program.

So, what fun things can you do in Photoshop Elements 10?

Well, if you foolishly had the outlet cover near your front door changed to white when you added a porch to your home (who does such things…whistles, looks up at sky) and now it threatens to horn in on a photo of your porch decorated for Christmas…

Porch Decorated for Christmas 1

…you can make that baby disappear!  Outlet?  What outlet? ๐Ÿ™‚

Porch Decorated for Christmas 2

You can take a photo that’s a bit dark and unfortunately, once again showcases the infamous outlet, along with the added feature of an electrical cord…

Lantern on Front Porch with Magnolia Leaves

…and lighten the photo while making the electrical cord go bye-bye.

Lantern on Front Porch with Magnolia Leaves 2

Or, just make the whole outlet vanish for good.  Is it cheating?  Well, sort of…but in a good way.  Think of it as a service to your readers/viewers.  You’re removing elements that add nothing to the scene and might actually detract or ruin an otherwise pretty picture.

Lantern on Front Porch with Magnolia Leaves

You can also take a photo of a fall table setting that came out a bit dark and shadowy before you learned more about using your manual settings on your camera.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanksgiving Tables Setting with Natural Centerpiece


…and lighten it up a bit.  You sometimes lose a bit of the clarity, though, so use these editing features carefully.

Thanksgiving Tables Setting with Natural Centerpiece 2


From time to time now, I’m going back and taking old photos posted on BNOTP…

Example of Picture that is too dark


…and lightening them up some.

Picture Lightened up some in Photoshop


But nothing can ever replace taking a photo with the right camera setting at the start.  It really is worth taking the time to learn how to use your camera in the scary “M” setting.  Very rarely will the light be just as it should be for the picture you wish to capture. It really is exciting…capturing the true feel of a room or space.   If I can began to take better photos with the limited knowledge I have, I know you can, too.  One of my goals for 2012 is to take more photos like the ones I’ve shared over the last few days.  These were all taken in manual setting.

Valentine’s Table Setting:

Valentine's Day Tablescapes Table Settings


Love Songs Valentine’s Tablescape:

Valentine's Day Tablescapes Table Settings


Guest bedroom decorated for Valentine’s Day:

Daffodils in a "Love" vase for Valentine's Day

Daffodils in Vase for Valentine's Day Decorating


Again, I still have soooo much to learn and I’m spending a ginormous amount of time sorting through pictures to find the very best to post. But I’m loving it. I’ve caught the photography bug and I have a severe case.

Valentine's Day Feather Tree Covered in Red and Pink Mercury Glass Hearts 5

Have a wonderful weekend dear friends!  See you on Monday for Metamorphosis Monday!

Looking for more blogging tips?  Check out these posts:
9 Tips for Better Blog Photos
Photography Equipment I Use

*If a post is sponsored or a product was provided at no charge, it will be stated in post. Some links may be affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. *

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  1. Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest says

    AWESOME post. I have so much to learn, but you make it less scary sounding….thank you, Susan for a really excellent blog – this post is awesome, and I love you admit you aren’t perfect, because to us you truly ARE! By the way, now that I see your guest looks so danged inviting, mind if I come for a visit? Tee hee. Have a great weekend.

  2. Well, Susan, you can furnish/decorate my dungeon any day! Seriously, though, your “after” photos are even more ravishing, which I honestly didn’t think possible. Every room you’ve showed us is really a joyous space. Add me to the list of those with a dollhouse. I have 3 now, 2 1940’s Keystone dollhouses and 1 similar to yours, except instead of a wraparound porch, it has a ground floor front porch and a second storey sleeping porch. I can’t wait to start working on them.

  3. Ehehe, I’m guilty of a lot of these. ^^; But I’m getting much better and lately I’ve been a bit (obsessively) relightening old photos. Oh well!

  4. Lani Derrick says

    I am totally going to be working with my camera more!

  5. Katie @ Wildwood Creek says

    Thank you for sharing your photo tips! I learn so much from your tips.

  6. Just One Donna says

    This is a great motivating post for me. I really need to focus on my photos. I got a new DSLR camera about 6 months ago that I barely know how to use, tet alone my photo software. I’ll definitely work on it.

  7. That scary “m” setting – LOL! So very true though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. If you wait until you’ve got it perfect, you’ll never start a blog.

  9. Susan, Thank you so much for this post. Since I work during the day, most of my pictures are at night, where there is absolutely no good lighting. So, I want to THANK YOU for this post (and the link). I really appreciate it!

  10. Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia says

    Such a wonderful tip..I try to replace some of my photo’s when I have taken a better one on my site. Someday I want to take a class and learn about photography, if I only had the time. I think your pictures are gorgeous! XO Kristin

  11. Hibiscus House says

    I actually liked the photo.

  12. Love your photos, Susan. I used the tips you posted a week or so ago about using the manual control on the DSRL camera. The photos I had taken of some terrariums in front of a window were TERRIBLE before I went back to re-read your post on how to compensate for bright light coming in a window (I think you used your office area as an example). Your advice helped the re-shot photos so very much. Thanks for sharing these great ideas with us. I got Elements about a year ago but have not explored it much…I think with Picnik leaving, I will try to learn some more “tricks” on Elements like you suggested.

  13. Wow, what a difference between Photo A and Photo B! I probably wouldn’t notice unless they were right next to each other though! Love all your pics. Beautiful home:)

  14. I am working getting to know my camera better I think it takes a while and a lot of practice.

  15. You rock! Thanks!!

  16. Our Country Bungalow says

    I liked the first photo, but then I saw all of your newer pictures and wow! You’re right… ~cathy

  17. Dear Susan, What would we do without you? I have learned so much from you and you have also helped me with several technical problems. When I look back to my early posts I really do not like what I see. I have improved (and with the same camera have received a photo award.) I have a lot to learn. I loved using Picnik but will try Adobe Photoshop since Picnik has decided to close. Again, thank you for taking the time to help those of us who are still trying to get better. Gina

  18. Great tips.

  19. Designs by Pinky says

    Thanks for the tips and motivation to make our pictures better!!! I will have to study my manuel now:) XO, Pinky

  20. Connie (aka LOU) says

    Oh MY, I’m totally still at picture 1. Thanks for the tips, and perhaps I should pull out my camera instructions. I’m thinking I got some with the camera………somewhere. Your porch is BEAUTIFUL. I could live there!

  21. All second photos were better except the one of your guest room. I like the warmer looking first one best. Good job taking pictures, posting and of course decorating your lovely home.

  22. If anyone needs this, it’s me! I have terrible pictures! Too dark and murky. Gotta improve! Thanks for sharing, Diddie

  23. I have palm slapped my face, my name it many times now since the beginning of blogging. I am still learning too. If I can figure out manual a little better I am good to go. Your blog was the first one though I read on the photo tips and it has helped me along the way. Thanks Susan! Have a great weekend.

  24. Linda/patchwork says

    I really need to get more comfortable with the dreaded “M” mode. It’s not like it’s permanently on the camera, anyway. Thanks for the Photoshop Express link.

  25. FABBY'S LIVING says

    I like all your photos before and now. I too have some UGLY before photos, but I still have not so good ones either, although I have a fabulous Cannon EOS 30D. You’re doing prophesional photos now, dear Susan, congrats! FABBY

  26. ~Damita's Pretty Wrap~ says

    Love your pictures…so pretty, have a wonderful weekend!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Oh Susan, I don’t even really get what “manual” means – is there another post that explains this? I’m hopeless at interior photography! Becky

  28. hello hello…. I spy… a *dollhouse* in one of your pictures. I’d love to see the inside of it…. inside, outside…all sides of your mini world. Maybe you have pictures that you want to redo of it…lol That would make me happy to see it..or maybe you’ve posted some of it already. Where do I find them? I’ve been working on my dollhouse, it seems to be my latest passion/obsession. I have an on going love afair with the little gem. Have a great day…oh, your new pics are beautiful. Great job. xoso Sandy

  29. And here I thought the brightness was caused by your sparkling clean windows.

  30. miss flibbertigibbet says

    I have a brand new camera that I haven’t hardly touched yet! I feel like a real dope with it so I keep using the point and shoot with not so good results. Pictures are SO important! Thanks so much…I wish I could come and stay with you for a week and learn something! Thanks, Thanks, Thanks! Lorraine

  31. DearHelenHartman says

    I Must be a big dope because the befores look pretty durn good to me as well as the afters! The subject matter may have something to do with it.

  32. Kelly (Seaux Southern) says

    Learning how to use my camera and take better pics is on my list of things to accomplish in 2012! I am going to have to try Photo Shop. Your pictures look great!!

  33. Susan, that is one of the reasons I have kind of quit blogging…I can’t take a good picture. I need to work on that too. Thanks for sharing.

  34. I just take them and post them! I try to have good light, nearly impossible as I have a wrap around covered porch. I would never post if I had to fix up the pics first! What you see is what you get, freckles and all! Thanks for the tips, enjoy the weekend!

  35. Betty Sneeringer says

    I don’t know whether to laugh or feel really bad. I posted pictures of my little guest room this afternoon and they are really dark. The room is dark, the day was dark and I just let my little cheap camera do whatever it does! I have no ability to photo shop. What I get is what I show. I have realized that lighting can be improved on but in the mean time I am happy with what I can do. I will say one thing – I very much dislike the unnatural colors that people change their pictures into. Even some of the “softening” is a bit too much. Betty

  36. I really need to learn how to use my camera….I find the manual to be incredibly overwhelming though and all those buttons on the camera freak me out a little!!! LOL ~Des

  37. Thanks for the tips, I really need help with my pics.

  38. Cote de Texas says

    you don;t have to redo the photos, just redo the settings – like, indoor light makes everything look so yellow, so you can use the saturation setting and lighten away the yellow, or the tint level or both. and add more light, contrast. etc. all in your computer instead of the camera. i don’t use manual because i’m too scared of out of focus pix. so i just readjust. but removing light switches? i love that – i might have to get that program. great article. i’m going to tweet it!!

  39. I’m a lousy photographer and don’t think my little point and click has much to offer. I do love the photoshop shout out. (Actually, I don’t think that first picture looks bad. I guess I’m easily impressed. LOL!

  40. I took a class on PE at our junior college. Some of it was/still is over my head but I am learning. I need to sit in one more time..two more times….a few more times!

  41. Wow! I can really see the difference. Good job and good post. And ever better…you seem to never stop learning. Love it!

  42. Pigtown*Design says

    I got a new camera at Christmas and have only been using on the scary “M” setting. I am very practiced with photoshop, but couldn’t stand to spend the $800+ for the full version. I tried the 30-day trial of PSE and found that it could do about 90% of what I was using it for anyway. If I really need to do the other 10%, i just e-mail the image to my office where I have the real deal Photoshop.

  43. Erin Caballero says

    You have the same camera that I do. I got mine this summer after my second daughter was born. I too have been experimenting with manual mode. I shoot with a Nikkor 35mm 1.8f lens which is great for letting in light! My next lens purchase will be a 50mm 1.4f. I would love to hear how you set (Aperature, ISO and shutter speed) your camera for the last pictures you took. They look great!

  44. I love Photoshop Elements! I just upgraded from 4 to 10. I have many favorite features, but I especially like the ability to “skew” (great for eliminating that tunnel effect when shooting rooms and the windows or walls tilt in) and “remove color cast” which might have helped the first photo of your guest room. My husband bought me a Nikon D3100 for Christmas, and I have yet to use it for my tablescapes. I know I need to just jump in because that’s how you learn, but I think I am a little intimidated by it! It’s been ages since I used an SLR camera. It certainly looks like you are having fun, so maybe it will motivate me to grab it and just start clicking!

  45. Dale Janeรฉ says

    Your posts are so helpful. I just found your blog and you’re so right how important a great camera is. My friend takes the pics for my fashion blog but I didn’t have that help in the beginning and it definitely makes a huge difference. I really like your blog! Following you xoDale

  46. Inspired By Felicity says

    Doing indoor photography is something i really struggle with, but I’m trying to learn. I do all the product photography for my website outside in natural light because that is the only way I know how to get a decent picture. Am hoping to invest in a better camera soon too. -Pamela,

  47. NYC, Style and a little Cannoli says

    Great post Susan and oh so true! I always shoot on manual and did with my film camera as well. I will be checking out this photo elements you mention but I would be sure Flickr is going to have something else to use when Picnik goes away. I cannot imagine they would not have edit software on their site when it is a photo storing place. Cannot seem to find anything on that but guess they are being secretive.

  48. I would have never noticed that white outlet, had you not pointed it out. Just a thought, paint it a dark gray to blend better with your brick. I too liked the first photo of the guest room but I can see the difference you are talking about.

  49. JOY 2 JOURNEY says

    I too have learned a bit along the way in taking pictures and thanks to Mr. Man (a Mac techie) he has helped with a few tweaks until I got the hang of it! Love reading this today .

  50. Thank you for this informative post and hopefully inspiration to bloggers. I own a landscaping business so I have limited time inside at the computer. I do not have a blog of my own but I want to express my personal opinion as to what blogs I choose to subscribe to. Besides interesting, informative posts, I think great photography is key to a great blog. I love the large photos, as well. Maybe its because I am a visual person that the photos play such an important role. Blogs are replacing a lot of magazines so large ‘glossy’ photos that were so appealing in printed periodicals are so important. Keep up the great work you are doing, Susan, sharing all that you know and love with your subscribers. Marsha

  51. My camera is horrible.I am crossing my fingers it will just die soon so I can finally convince my husband that we NEED a new camera.Ours is 8 years old.What camera would you recommend that takes great photos but is affordable?Anyone?

  52. Inspired By Felicity says

    Met Monday Questions: Could you tell me what time the Metamorphosis Monday link up opens up. I have just posted pics of my Dinning Room Before & After Remodel on my blog and I want to be one of the first people to link up to the Metamorphosis Monday so I was going to set my alarm to get up and link as soon as it opens, if you could let me know what time that is? Thanks a bunch! Just recently discovered your blog and I’m so happy I did! -Pamela,

  53. Susan, I love your blog and always thought your photos were high quality. I guess everything can be improved. I also struggled learning Photoshop Elements. There were many tutorials on the web but when I found Kim Klassen I was amazed at her classes. (Kim Klassen cafe) She specializes in adding textures to your photos but offers many free videos on how to use PSE also. I’ve taken a few of her classes and it has increased my ability to use PSE greatly. She is a great teacher. Check her out. Peggy From PA

  54. So, if I’m still learning photography, should I not start a blog yet? I was thinking about just taking the plunge and starting one. Now, I’m nervous. I also liked your first photo of your guest room but of course like the newer one better. I love your house and your blog. Michele

  55. You are SO right. My blog is only 5 months old and I just now got a new camera. I wish I had practiced a bit because most of my photos are pretty icky. Your advice is well received.

  56. Hi Susan, You are sooo encouraging to photographers like me…you know us ..we’re the ones who look at all the bits and menus on our cameras and FREEZE….then press the button and hope for the best. Thank you for your help and for information I can understand. Love your blog and I especially LOVE the colours and layout balance of your header,the touches of red are perfect with the yellow.The snow makes it so crisp and inviting. God Bless Barb from Australia

  57. Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) says

    My dear Susan, ALL of your photos have ALWAYS been wonderful!! You are being way too hard on yourself because your photos do not need to be re-done and reposted or anything of the sort. Why do you think you have a successful blog and so many followers? You have always taken lovely photos, and even that first one of your guestroom is beautiful, with the shadows and the hues. It’s gorgeous! And as far as removing things like electrical outlets, well, my opinion is that people LIKE to see things like that… most of us having things like that to deal with ourselves, so none of our photos are perfect. I wish you’d reconsider with reposting new photos of ‘old’ photos. In a few years you will wish you still had the first photos you took on your blog still there. Trust me. OR, don’t trust me, LOL! It IS your blog after all, and you should be making yourself happy! Hope you don’t mind my pep talk. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Best, Gloria

  58. Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) says

    P.S. I also wanted to say that I LOVED those Pier 1 Eyelet napkins you had in an earlier post a few days ago. Beautiful! gv

  59. Hi Susan. I am LOVING your photography posts and tips as I’m a beginner and can use all the help I can get. How timely your post as I just purchased Photoshop Elements 10 and it’s on my desk ready to be loaded. Feel free to offer up any other tidbits on the PSE 10 as you plod your way through the software – I’d love to hear them. Thanks! ~deb

  60. I agree that Photoshop can really help you out after the fact – but still, there is nothing I appreciate more than a great photo Straight Out Of Camera. When looking at others pictures, of course, you can never know how much they had to tweak them but when I am working on editing my own photos in simple Picasa there is a line in my own mind that I don’t want to to cross. All the more motivation for me to upgrade to a DSLR and get better photos SOOC.

  61. Modern Country Lady says

    Such an interesting post.A good blog friend of mine, Mariette , from Mariette’s Back To Basics, once told me it’s all about the visuals, and it is really, isn’t it.I have a super simple camera but always use the natural light setting and try to photograph everything without flash .It really works AND will have to do until I can invest in the sort of camera’s you like to play with!! I MUSt go and check out that photo editing site, though, such fun! Thanks for the tips, Susan.So enjoyable to read your posts.XOXO Bea

  62. Beautifully Coastal Design Blog says

    I’ve known I need to learn to use my camera on the scary “M” mode, but now you’ve really convinced me. Smiles, Lesli ๐Ÿ™‚

  63. Katherines Corner says

    One day I hope to learn about Photoshop. I enjoyed this post. Very informative. Biggest Hugs!

  64. Karah @ thespacebetweenblog says

    Such great tips…I still need to pic my alternative to Picnik…I’m procrastinating. Amazing to see your outdoor outlet just disappear. Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Karah @ thespacebetweenblog

  65. Thanks for the great tips. I’ll take more time to study them later. I found your blog through Pinterest, although I must admit I’ve seen it on many blogrolls previously. Think I will subscribe too. I don’t have photo shop or anything, but I like fooling around with the basice adjustments I have on my computer. Thanks again!

  66. Thanks, Mary! Hope these tips help! ๐Ÿ™‚

  67. Thank you for the tips! I’ve just started blogging and photos aren’t my forte. And who knew I’d need an engineering degree to use Elements?? LOL! I’m leaning as I go, but it’s kind people like you that make my life a bit easier. ๐Ÿ™‚

  68. Thank you so much for all the terrific tips! You are a tremendous help Susan. Pinning and studying and experimenting. One day…I’ll get there. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Along the way…I’ll try to enjoy the process.

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