My best photography tips

My best photography tips

How is everyone doing this new year? Hope you’re all having an amazing start to 2016! Being that the first few days of the new year fell to be on the weekend is definitely a nice little treat.

I’ve been enjoying my time off by organizing a lot of my digital mess, I had no idea just how much junk email I’ve been getting on daily basis. Right now, I’m sipping on my green smoothie (because, you know… “new year, new me”) and getting ready to take down our Christmas tree- which I can’t say that I’m ever looking forward to- holidays always seem to just fly by so quickly!

But before I get to cleaning, I wanted to make sure to have a fresh post waiting for you! Photography still seems to be one of the most popular categories here on Thirteen Thoughts and today, I thought that I’d share some of my best and most useful tips.


If you’re working with a DSLR, using manual mode can be a little intimidating at first, but it can make a big difference in your images. When you use manual mode, it’s sort of like telling your camera exactly what you need it to do. If you want to use your manual mode, you need to get familiar with your camera and understand the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture (also called the “exposure triangle”). I explained the exposure triangle in this post.



Adjusting the white balance accordingly with your lighting situation will get the colors on your image to show up as accurately as possible. There are seven, preset white balance settings on camera: Auto– pretty much self-explanatory, this is where the camera makes a best guess each time you take a shot; Tungsten– this is often used when taking photos indoors in “bulb” lighting, this will cool the colors in your photos (so that they don’t come out yellow, which happens due to the yellow-toned lighting in your home); Fluorescent– this is generally used when using artificial, fluorescent lighting, as it takes out the cool, blue tones in your images and adds some warmth to them; Daylight– this mode is for shooting outdoors during normal, daylight lighting, not all cameras have this setting; Cloudy– this is for shooting on a cloudy day and warms up the subject a bit; Flash– when using flash, photos make look a bit harsh, this preset white balance setting will help to take the edge off that brightness; and  lastly there’s Shade– when shooting in a shaded location, your images may look cool and blue-toned, using this setting will add pink tones to warm up the image. Most of the time, especially when shooting in natural light, I use Auto White balance and find that it works just fine. When using ring light, soft boxes or any other artificial lighting you may find that you need to adjust your white balance settings accordingly. You can also use custom white balance settings instead of the preset ones as well, just follow your camera’s manual (it’s pretty easy, all you need to do is take a picture of a white piece of paper in particular lighting setting where you’re shooting, just remember that this changes, and one custom setting will not work in every situation).

auto white balanceAUTO WHITE BALANCE

white balance photography


One of the best things that you can do to improve your photography, is to use natural light. This means that the quality of your images will depend on the weather, which can be a little unpredictable. On those days when it’s really dark, I recommend that you either take your photos outside, or place your subjects on a window sill when taking your photos. If using a DSLR, you can also try bringing up your aperture (lowering your f stop) and bringing up your ISO to get a brighter image. Keep in mind that the size of the aperture has impact on the depth of field: large f stop will bring both your subject and the background into focus, while the smaller f stop (bigger aperture) will create a blurry background.

white reflector photography

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One of the most popular posts I’ve ever published is How to take bright photos for your blog post. My number one tip for taking brighter photos, other than taking them by the window, is using a reflector. It’s a simple and inexpensive solution. This is it the one that I use.


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Direct sunlight can make your images look too bright and can create tons of shadows. The best time to take your photos would be early in the morning, when the sun isn’t too harsh yet.

lifestyle-blog 2016


Composition is what can set you apart. This is where you get to express your style, your creativity and your originality. Don’t be afraid to try new things, add some fun textures to your photos, try different angles, backgrounds, props. When styling your photos, remember that there is a difference between “styling” and clutter. To look for inspiration, you can check your favorite Instagram accounts, magazines, Pinterest. There are tons of places to find inspiration, but remember to always make your photos “your own.”

stila kitten


In order to avoid camera shake, I try to use a tripod and a shutter release cable as often as I can, but sometimes, using a bulky tripod is out of the question. This can be a problem especially when you’re working in a small space. When I hand-held my DSLR while taking pictures, first thing I always make sure to do is to set my shutter speed accordingly to avoid blurry images. One simple rule to follow when doing this is to set your shutter speed to 1 over your focal length. So, for example, when using my 50mm lens, I make sure that my shutter speed is at least 1/50th of a second, when using a 40mm lens, I never go lower than 1/40th of a second and so forth. Second thing I make sure I do when not using a tripod, is to hold my camera as stable as possible (resting my elbows on flat surface, wrapping my neck strap very tightly around my wrist, etc). This article demonstrates a few great techniques for doing this.

What other photography-themed posts would you guys be interested in seeing?