26 August 2014

Simplifying Photo Editing

As part of our simplifying photography series, I have the lovely Jessie Nelson on the blog today! Jessie is a professional photographer and Mama to two precious boys. 

Make sure to check out Nelson Notes for additional photography tips plus Theodora's post on how to protect your photos.


Hi!  My name is Jessie and I'm the voice behind the blog, Nelson Notes.  I'm a wife to a mountain biking sportsman, mama to two busy little boys, sunshine worshiper, musician, and photographer.  My blog is the canvas I use to tell our family's story.  Between the pictures and words, to me it's a work of art.

Today I want share a few tips and tricks with you about speeding up your post-processing workflow so you can get those pictures up on the web quickly and leave more time for living. I use Lightroom 5 for 90% of my photo editing.

It's an incredible computer program that has sped up my workflow and I think has improved my finished photo product.  Unless you're a professional photographer or need to do some heavy and intricate editing (that's what Photoshop is for), Lightroom is the perfect work horse for bloggers.  Plus, it's relatively cheap! That said,  I think many of these tips will apply to other photo editing programs as well.  Let's get started!

  1.  Cull, cull, cull.  Cull means to choose your best pictures and get rid of the rest.  Think of it as a 'yes' or 'no' deal: keep or don't keep.  In this age of digital photography, we often take many more pictures than is necessary to tell our story.  I always have a hard time choosing which photos to keep (they're all so cute!) and usually do two or three rounds of culling before I start editing.  Yes, this ultimately SAVES TIME!  Lightroom has this wonderful little button that allows me to compare multiple pictures side by side.  I begin by rating my favorites with one star.  Then I compare all of my one star photos and rate the best of those with two stars.  Simple!

 ^^The 'compare' button and my stars are circled in red.  Notice I am in Library mode.^^

2.  Presets are your friend.  There are certain things I do to every single photograph: increase contrast and vibrance, use a little noise reduction, add a slight vignette, and more.  Because I do these things to every photograph, I made myself a preset, or set of actions.  I push one button and all these things are applied to my photo.  I can then tweak the exposure and temperature in just a few seconds before applying any 'heavy' editing, such as using a brush tool or changing it to black and white.  Easy!  Each photo on my blog usually takes me a minute or less to edit.  Luckily, there are thousands of presets/actions/filters available on the inter-webs to utilize. Also, this next part is exciting!  When I have the edited look I want on one photo but also have two or three others taken in similar light (because I just couldn't bring myself to cull them), Lightroom allows me to apply all of that work to those other photos by clicking the 'sync' button.  Amazing!  One button.  Boom.  Everything done.

 ^^The arrow points to one of my favorite presets I made for myself.  I use that in conjunction with the tabs on the right side to get the look I want in each photo.^^

3.  Save and sharpen for the web.  I've found this is a photo editing 'secret' that not many folks are aware of.  Not only does this step make your photos appear sharper on the screen, but it saves you a lot of time uploading to the web and a ton of memory space! When exporting your photos from Lightroom (or saving in Photoshop, etc.), resize your pictures anywhere from 600pixels to 1200pixels on the long side, depending on how wide your blog is.  Choose sRGB color mode and sharpen for screen.  Easy!  Note: Be sure to save full size copies to your computer too because pictures that are made especially for the web are often too small for printing well. 

 I hope this information helps someone out there.  Please be friendly and stop by to say 'hi'.  I love "meeting" new friends.

24 August 2014

Top Apps For Bloggers (Part 2)



Last week we delved into a few of my favorite apps, from the ones I use to edit my photos to digital storytelling platforms ( my favorite being Steller). I'm going to add the apps I use to stay organized, network, learn from, and more. That's right, I'm going to be adding a part three to this series as I geek out on apps. 

As a blogger, you're going to need a place to put stock images, your own photos, notes, drafts, and even videos and mp3s. So let's start with storage and organization. 



I use Google Drive on my desktop to upload or backup thing I want to use on my phone, or just for future use. My husband uses Drive for work and has had issues with it ( slow upload speed) and it's not our all time favorite storage app, but if you have desktop photos/files you want on other devices, Drive can be helpful.


You've seen me mention Dropbox over and over on the blog, and I'm still loving it. In fact I have upgraded to the monthly plan and backup movies and coursework on it, as well as most of the ebooks I buy. The best app ever! 



Similar to Dropbox, Box is an app that let's you store your stuff in a cloud. You get 10 gigs of free storage, which isn't a lot but let me let you in on something...if you have several storage apps, changes are you won't need to pay for any of them. Just sayin'....


My second favorite after Dropbox, Documents App by Readdle has a great layout and makes reading an ebook more enjoyable than even on the kindle app. You can upload/download zip files onto it, as well as watch movies right in the app. It's a must have in my opinion!


You probably already know I'm a fan of this one, but it just deserves as much mention as I can possibly give it! Evernote is the best note take app, period. You can scan things into it ( business cards, wine labels, etc) take photos and add notes to them, share notebooks between a group of people ( maybe bloggers? maybe joint venture ideas? ) and also record audio. 


Turn your notes and quotes into miniature pieces of art, or at least beautifully designed. 


This free calendar is visual and design savvy. You can integrate it with your other calendars or daily tasks into it, as well as your contacts.

Next week, I will write the third installment, delving into social networking apps for bloggers as well as how to use apps to get ideas for posts. Make sure to check out my blogging resources page for additional tips!

15 August 2014

Top Apps For Bloggers (Part 1)


Today in our Simplify Blogging series, we're talking about my favorite subject: Apps!


I haven't mentioned it much here on the blog, but in addition to writing I do social media and content strategy (as well as copywriting) for businesses. What I've told my clients is the same thing I am going to state here: how important apps are to tell your story, increase your audience, and spread the word about what means most to you, as well as using them as a creative outlet.

The only difference is that most of my clients either don't yet have blogs or are relatively new to blogging, and typically don't incorporate themselves/their personality into their business sites the same way a lifestyle blogger does.  Which is where I come in: we work on personal branding throughout their site and social media.

For those of you who have a lifestyle blog, you've probably got that part down and are at this point looking for ways to take better pictures, connect with more readers/fellow bloggers, and learn how to edit your photos. This post has you in mind!

Because I have quite a few must-have app recommendations, I'm dividing this post into two parts. So stay tuned to part two!

Digital Storytelling



Stellar is a game changer for the visual savvy storyteller. If you're passionate about Instagram, Pinterest, and video sharing, this app will get you hooked. With the amazing typography, you get to create gorgeous stories about anything you want, and can repost other people's stories.


Share your story with Tapestry. Use taps, photos, GIFs and text to create beautiful tappable stories.

Although I wouldn't have included this app if it was still 2 dollars ( as it honestly has some issues) Pippit App is now free ( as of this writing) and I feel it has potential. Pippit App allows you to combine your iphone photos, blog feed, and videos all into one place. It has very little engagement right now ( I have 4 followers.... oh well) and seems to be mainly a place where you just post your own stuff and don't connect as much with others, but like I said it has potential. Bringing social media and blogging together is a great idea and helps a person tell their story. In time this app may grow and increase in engagement.



EyeEm is an interesting photo community. You take/upload photos and connect with other people, making it sort of a social media app. You can also enter into themed photo contests. All in all I'm having fun with it!


Express your creativity with videos, photos, gifs, animations and drawing!

Photography/Editing


By far my favorite photo app! I'm impressed with the filters and design, as well as the photo prompts. I highly recommend downloading Little Moments!



An extremely popular  (and rightly so) editing app filled with dreamy filters. It's free but has awesome extra filter packs you can buy if you so choose. And you probably will...



Word Swag is an excellent app that was recommended to me on Instagram. It's versatile, you can use the cool background to make quotes, or use your own images. The fonts are awesome too.



If you like geometric shapes, you will love Fragment! It's great to play around with a different to all the other editing apps out. 



If you find this post helpful, pin it on Pinterest and share it with your blogging friends. You can find part two of this series here and additional blogging resources here.

What are your favorite apps for bloggers?