Tuesday, 16 July 2019

How I Edit My Blog Photos

One of the common questions I see on blogger groups is people asking how they can edit their blog photos to look more professional. I don't have access to anything fancy, no Photoshop or expensive programme (some of my old blog photos were edited with Photoshop but when I got a new laptop I lost my copy of Photoshop). What I use is available as an app on a computer, and is available through the google play and apple stores. I use a programme called Afterlight, it cost 79p on my laptop, and similar on my android phone. I edit my phone photos through the app, as well as my blog photos taken on an actual camera. For the iPhone there is currently Afterlight 2 which is a more complex updated version, available for £2.99.


This is the original image I took using my DSLR, a Canon 50D. Full disclosure, I was a sort of photographer back before my carpal tunnel, so I know how to use a manual SLR which obviously helps my blog photos to an extent. However, as I stated before, I also edit my phone photos using Afterlight and I'm not using any fancy modes on my phone.

You can adjust a whole bunch of different things in Afterlight, I usually add some contrast to make the detail pop a bit more, and maybe increase the exposure slightly if it's a little dark. All of these options shown above are edited using a sliding scale, with previews, so you can see the effect before applying it to the image itself. With this image I'm going to increase the contrast slightly.
The thing that I love the most about Afterlight, is the filters. It comes with a whole bunch of built in filters that can really push a photo from OK to something much more finished looking.
Here I've opted to use one of the 'wander' pack, a filter called 'wicker'. I've used the built in slider to turn down the filter effects slightly, so it's at about 75% of it's full application.

Now this filter is a little cool toned, but I really like the depth and the green tones. So in this case, I'm going to increase the 'temperature' of the image and make it slightly warmer toned. I added about 15% warmth to make it seem like a lovely warm autumn day.
This took me a handful of minutes, but I think it took an OK photo and made it a lot more interesting and professional looking for my blog.

From this... 
To this!
Not a huge difference, but enough that I feel like they really add to my blog and look more finished.

The app is very similar on my phone, easy to use, and easy to undo any effects. Here's a before and after phone photo I've edited on my phone using Afterlight recently.

Edited vs unedited.
This isn't any major kind of edit, but I think the tones and the textures look a lot more interesting in the edited version on the left.
Little differences can make a lot of difference to the overall look of your photos. 
Here are a few more photos I've edited on my laptop and their originals.
Edited
vs
Unedited 

Edited
vs
Unedited 

Edited
vs
Unedited

I think it really helps my blog photography get that step ahead! And it's a really cheap and easy to use programme. I really pride myself on having blog photos that look professional and Afterlight really helps.

You don't have to have the fanciest and most expensive programmes to edit photos, so long as the exposure is roughly OK before you start editing.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Mid-Year Favourites

I used to write 'favourite' themed blog posts fairly regularly. It was an easy way to share all those random little things I've enjoyed recently that don't deserve or require a full blog post. I haven't done one in absolutely ages, certainly not in 2019, so I figure a mid-year 2019 favourites seemed just right.


I love a good pin, and the Secret League do the most amazing Pokemon Go inspired pins. They had a sale earlier in the year so I snagged myself this limited edition Mewtwo pins, and the Level 40 articuno Team Mystic pin. I did get stung by customs on these even though they cost under the threshold on sale, because they put the full price as the value, but they are so well made and cool that I don't mind too much.


This amazing zebra print dress is from the Collusion range by ASOS. It is sadly out of stock now, but here's the funny thing. It's from the straight size range. It goes nowhere near my size, but someone bigger than me could easily have fit in this. It has a shirred top and a very full skirt section making it super comfy and stretchy. Keep an eye on the Collusion range for sure, because I can see them bringing this style back in other colours and prints.


My amazing Bloody Mary Metal moon ring that was a birthday gift from my husband Stu. It's called 'Knox'. Stu has their old style of moon ring, which was set in a more traditional crescent shape rather than on it's side, and he catches it on everything. I never catch on anything with the moon at this angle!


Our new bed! Our old bed was beyond broken. I had bought it 10 years before, incredibly cheaply, and it was always awful. All the lats were snapped, the mattress was long past needing replacing, and it was just so uncomfortable it was unreal. When we ordered our new bed we took apart and broke up our old one, just putting the mattress on the floor. If you've ever slept on a mattress on the floor you know it's not great. It was bliss compared to our old bed! This time round we got a divan style bed, figuring that the biggest problem with our old bed was the crappy lats. It's higher than our old bed and every night we climb into it and it's heaven.






I got to see The Spice Girls live in Coventry! I never got to see them as a kid, so when Stu surprised me with a ticket for Christmas I was unbelievably excited! We had standing tickets, but before they came on stage it was becoming fairly clear that they had mishandled who should have been allowed into the standing area and it was way over full. We opted to pinch a couple of seats and if they turned out to be anyone's we would move. Turns out they were actually empty seats and we stayed in them for the whole concert, we got so lucky, just looking at the amount of people squashed into the standing area was making us anxious. The Spice Girls were absolutely amazing. So much fun and everything I had ever dreamed of. I video called my Mum during 'Mama' and made her cry. Got so many daughter points.

And the final thing, but no photo because I don't want to share it publicly. My new car. A couple of months ago my car suddenly made a weird clicking noise when I turned it on. Had a mechanic come out and look at it and bad news, it needed a new engine. After exploring the cost of putting a new engine in it, it was almost what the car was worth, so I began a new car hunt. I've never picked a car before. I had bought small cars I could afford, or cars from family members, but I had never gone out and actively made a choice that I wanted a particular car before. When I'd test driven one particular car, I fell totally in love. And then I set out the hunt to find it in the colour I wanted to. I had almost given up hope when Stu found the perfect car, in our price range, in the colour I wanted. He had told me he would find me my dream car and he did. I love his determination! It took weeks to finally get my hands on it, and I absolutely adore it. I'll be honest, I've never really looked after a car before. I've always been messy and my cars have always born the brunt of that. Not this car! It's immaculate and I treat it like my baby. I feel incredibly lucky to have been in a position that we could do this and I'm so grateful.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Pokemon Go Snapshot

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I was a photographer. Sort of. I loved it, I was OK at it. I mostly did fashion photography and it was my favourite hobby. I loved creating art and I made amazing friends doing it. I liked feeling like I had created something tangible I could be proud of. And then carpal tunnel hit. And despite surgeries, I can still only handle holding my camera for short lengths of time. Being unable to hold my camera for longer periods means unfortunately no more photoshoots, no more creative outlet.

It's been gutting to say the least. I really miss it. Now my only real hobby is Pokemon Go. I play every day and I love it. So when they released the 'Go Snapshot' mode, incorporating AR photography into Pokemon Go. I was hooked.

 

Because it involves using my phone, I can take photos for a lot longer with Pokemon Go without my hands hurting. It also combines my two great loves, photography and Pokemon! Anytime I go somewhere pretty I think about the Pokemon that I could photograph there, what colours work together, what types of Pokemon work in that setting, and I inevitably end up slinking off to take photos when I get the chance. 




There's actually a whole amazing community of Pokemon Go AR photographers, and I follow a whole bunch of them on twitter. I have my own dedicated Pokemon instagram @kittypokemonsalot





When I see interesting graffiti, I immediately think of a Pokemon that might match well with it. I find that I'm forever photographing bug type Pokemon and trying to learn new tricks and techniques to manipulate the Go Snapshot mode.



I see a sunset, I put a Pokemon in front of it. I appreciate Pokemon I previously thought were kinda 'eh' because now I see the different environments that they can be photographed in and how they can fit into the 'real' world via AR.



Do I get some funny looks taking photos of invisible creatures using my phone in public? Sure. But I already got those looks because I'm also a tall fat 31 year old woman who is obviously playing Pokemon Go, probably wearing a dress covered in zombies or Pokemon pins or something else equally garish, so why would I care? I love it, and that's what matters. It's so nice to be able to create some form of photography again, I thought I wouldn't be able to do it again in any way.

If you play Pokemon Go, drop your friend code below so I can add you!

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Black Heart Creatives Earrings

Last year I took my plugs out of my stretched ears to wash my hair and just sort of forgot to ever put them back in. They've shrunk back up but aren't like a normal ear piercings, but what they are perfect for is hoops and dangly earrings. I haven't owned any earrings in over 10 years, so when I saw Black Heart Creatives run their recent sale, I couldn't resist grabbing myself a few pairs!
 


My first choice was easy. I'd had my eye on these for ages. These Cheese Plant Hoops were an absolute bargain at £15 in my opinion. When I say these are a statement piece, they really are huge hoops! I love cheese plants but they are toxic to cats unfortunately, so no cheese plants for us, so instead, adorable cheese plant earrings. Winner!


These Statement Vine Earrings are available in gold or silver findings, and are only £10. I opted for silver which is always my preference in jewellery. These are also absolutely huge, and I love the way the chains attach to the hooks for your ears. I love plants and plants for my ears make me happy.



And the last pair I got were Custom Drippy Heart Earrings that say 'CREEP' in the middle. I picked the iridescent acrylic because I love the way it shines and picks up on other colours. At £13 these could not be resisted. I chose to have 'CREEP' written on them in a nod to one of my favourite horror films, Creep (1 & 2, the sequel is amazing too!). It's an awesome found footage horror film and the third part is in development. I was tempted to get 'Peachfuzz' on them but figured that would raise a lot more questions than 'Creep' would!

Supporting indie businesses is so important and I really recommend Black Heart Creatives. I bought these just after they'd gone viral on twitter meaning  a real spike in sales for them, and they sent out an email unprompted to let me know their turnaround time would be a bit longer than usual as a result. I never mind waiting longer for an order from an indie business and BHC are a one person team so I was so excited for them to be doing well. They have a whole range of plant inspired jewellery that I am very tempted by, because I always need more plants in my life!

Much love,
Kitty xxx

PS. Shout out to my Mum for the excellent hand modelling, because holding earrings and taking photos of them is basically impossible!

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Green Fingers and Comfort

Sometimes it's the little things in life that bring you comfort. I've barely blogged this year, it's been rough to say the least, but in the darkest of times, you have to look for the little things that bring you happiness. And for me, one of those things is plants, succulents specifically.



 My husband Stu likes to surprise me with plants. He comes home from work, or a trip to town, and he'll come home with a plant for me, hidden behind his back. He tries to find breeds I don't have, varieties I haven't seen before, something new. He never buys me flowers. Always plants, so I can keep them and nurture them. Every window sill in our house is covered. When they get big enough I move them into bigger pots, some go outside that are strong enough. Our garden is a sun trap and some thrive in it's light. These are all recent new additions to my ever expanding collection. I'm running out of room and I don't care. There's always space for more plants.




These succulents are all memories of loved ones, growing in my parent's greenhouse till they are ready to be re-potted and shared amongst our family. For both my Grandad G's funeral flowers, and my Grandma's funeral flowers, I asked to include small succulents in them. When the flowers began to wilt, we took the succulents from them, planting them, splitting them leaf by leaf so we could grow more from them. That is the beauty of succulents, all you need is a single leaf, and it can root and grow. These all came from single leaves, or tiny succulents. It gives us all great comfort to see them, something tangible from such awful days, something beautiful growing from it.


And these? These are even older. Three years old to be specific. Grown from the button holes Stu and I had for our wedding back in 2016. They inspired the tattoo on my leg, and our desire to have succulents form a part of the important times in our lives. These particular succulents live in my parent's garden, they've taken countless babies from them to propagate more again from them. They've become a beautiful symbol of our wedding day and one of the first things I do every time we visit my parent's house is go and see all the succulents and see how they are growing.

I know people think of plants and succulents as a 'millennial' trend, the media says we get houseplants because we are avoiding responsibility, or that we can't afford to have children and pets so we get plants instead. I have plants that I've had since the week we moved into our house 6 years ago, still growing, taller than ever. I've never wanted children and I have a house full of cats and one giant dog, so it's not that either. It's something else. Something about being surrounded by nature even inside that is so comforting. Something about being able to care for something that wants for very little. Succulents are cute, they don't take up much room, they're not like anything we normally grow in our gardens in the UK, and they don't mind being slightly neglected.



When I send people gifts I often send succulents. I don't send flowers. I like knowing they too can keep their gift and think of us. It makes me smile when people often their gift before their card, and know instantly who sent them it.

Succulents have become a way my family remembers moments. We care for them and they whisper to us of weddings and lost loved ones. We help them grow and they bring us memories, they bring us comfort. I look at my window sill as I sit on the sofa and type this and I smile. I know when I got each plant, what they mean to me, and what event they grew from. They are our comfort. Our families desire to heal. Our message of love.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx