31 Days / day 5 – new vignettes with my top 5 photo tips

I have the chance to do a little creating for HGTV.com. They gave me a theme to work with, so I’ve been playing in my spare time to whip up something new for them.

And because this is a Blog to Biz series, I’ll confess I’m not compensated for this.ย 

So why do it?

Because one day I hope to be compensated somehow someway, so I consider this my resume. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I love working with them!

HGTV.com does call me from time to time when they spot something on my blog they desire to feature and I love the relationship we have.

There’s never even a guarantee something will be used, but some generally are so it’s worth it to try.ย ย So off we go!

Staging is one of my fav things to do. I love creating brand new takes on traditional ideas.

I liken it to pulling out all your toys and playing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Playing playing playing… love how these hydrangeas dried the perfect tone for the aqua jars.

Can you guess what the theme is?

So anyway, let’s learn something while we’re at it.

My top 5 photo tips

1. Photo Edit

I like using Picasa the most for the blog, but will at times play in Photoshop Elements if submitting for mags. Elements is a price efficient and easier to use version of Photoshop so it’s a very worthwhile investment if you’re newish at all this.

In Picasa, I generally:



play with the saturation feature (indoors I generally remove, outdoors I increase)


add a slight blue gradient to outdoor sky photos

2. Take LOTS of shots

Taking various angles of any given angle offers you more chances for the perfect shot.ย Just keep working that camera until you’ve exhausted all ideas possible.

And know… I delete MANY. It takes oodles of shots to land just a few good ones so don’t be camera shy on this one. Digital is free to process so no holding back!



3. Slightly airbrush skin

Whenever I take a closeup skin shot, I ever so gently airbrush it in Picnik (found inside Picasa). Just know when to stop otherwise it’ll look like… someone airbrushed you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now know, it’s not that I’m trying to be super vane or anythingl. If you submit online or to mags, you want the potential ‘blow ups’ to look nice, not all… whatever. Ya know?

ย Others add lemons to their vases… so I added some clothespins and raffia into the water just for a fun twist. ๐Ÿ™‚

4. A covered patio offers awesome diffused light

Taking shots on my covered patio offers the best light. It’s diffused and generally always weather safe. However I’ll totally admit if it were sunny the day I took these photos, they’d turn out a little crisper. (you’ll see a sample below) Weather plays a huge part when you shoot on (ahem) automatic it seems. ๐Ÿ™‚

5. A brighter day makes for better pics

Well look who joined me…

Take a look at this photo. It’s taken on that somewhat gloomy overcast day.ย 

FYI: I didn’t add a blue sky gradient to this one because of the patio roof being present, otherwise I would have. White skies tend to wash out a photo.

Here’s a shot on a slightly brighter day. There are more highlights on Teddy’s fur and the image is also sharper.

But my kitten always looks good in my eyes regardless. ๐Ÿ™‚

Days with better light ALWAYS translate to better photos, even if outdoors. The trick is to ensure the light is diffused and not direct.

Anyway, I’ll be doing more vignettes over the next couple weeks so I’ll be sure to share some unique ideas when they’re done. Cuz I wanna add to this list. ๐Ÿ™‚

My own HGTV features to date:

trash to treasure features

headboard features

Christmas tree features

And on Day 6... I’m going to brave up and make a BIG announcement. Well, it’s BIG for me anyway. And I’m putting this in here tonite so I don’t chicken out and let you down therefore letting myself down.

See you tomorrow…. unless I run back into hiding again… ๐Ÿ™‚

This just in! Wanna hint? Go read my instalment on Brooke’s blog today. Her topic is about making money on one’s blog. Way perfect…. You can read that HERE.

All 31 Day posts to date areย HERE.

Visit Day One for each listingย HERE.

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Categories: Photo Tips

38 thoughts on “31 Days / day 5 – new vignettes with my top 5 photo tips

  1. Loving the kitten! That porch is an awesome photo studio….Hmmm… I’m going to have to brainstorm how I could replicate that diffused light situation? I do love your photos and appreciate the tips you’ve shared. Looking forward to your announcement ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I am really enjoying this great inspiring series that you are positing here. Your photos are fantastic that’s for sure and I thank you for your tips.

    Looking forward to hearing your big announcement.

    Have a great day ~ FlowerLady

  3. LOVE this post! Great timing between you and miss mustard seeds recent photo tip post! I downloaded the free trial of photoshop element 10 last night and played around a little & recently just invested in a new camera….so now I gotta learn ๐Ÿ™‚ When you are taking pictures inside with poor lighting, do you turn the lights on (I see most pics without lights on) or is there a special effects that you know of for inside or is it best to use the flash?(kinda like the bluegrain effect for outside)? Exciting about HGTV that is cool ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thanks for sharing the great tips! Don’t you just love that you can take so many pictures with a digital camera to make sure you get just the right one?!

    Can’t wait to hear the big announcement!

    Have a blessed day!

  5. Thank you, Donna! You rock! And I saw Miss Mustard Seed had the same theme going on last night on her blog. Y’all are just fantastic. Thanks for the tips – and I can’t wait to hear your big announcement! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. This is awesome! I never thought to airbrush my “grandma hands”. They looked like grandma hands when I was in high school so you can imagine what they look like now that I’m in my 30s!

  7. I adore Picnik and recently discovered Cross Process which is cool on blue flowers. I do not normally adjust color but that effect is interesting. Thanks so much for this series which I know is time consuming.

  8. Love this post!! I have two questions…I use picnik, but I’ve never seen an airbrush option. Where do I find it? Also, I take my pics outside to optimize the lighting conditions, but what do I do this winter when I’m stuck in the house with poor lighting?


  9. A first time visitor from 31 Days. Sure enjoyed the wealth of knowledge you (and Miss Mustard Seed!) have shared thus far about making your blog a business. I’ve always loved blogging, but hated how much “unpaid” time it takes out of my day. I would LOVE to make blogging my business, but don’t know how – so I really look forward to what you will continue to share this month. Hope your day has been a good one so far! Kristin from Kristin’s Veranda

  10. I just found your blog via Miss Mustard Seed and I already love your style and your blog! I learned a lot from this post – thanks so much for sharing. I can see you’re already very popular but I will be your newest follower. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Your Hydrangeas look so cool in those tones! I finally let mine be to dry and love the shade of green with dark pink in them.

    I might have to give Picasa a try again for photos, they’re getting better, but still need lots more help. And I just have to tell you that your Teddy kitty reminds me so much of my Misty that I used to have.

  12. Wow… wonderful pic with Teddy. I swear I’ll never have another black dog because he is so hard to photograph. His eyes just disappear behind his moustache and eyebrows. Teddy however, looks stunning. Might be a cat vs dog thing….

  13. Talk about eye candy Donna….you my dear have got the touch with that camera. Hey if I airbrush myself can I look 16 again…LOL…just a thought. It’s getting close to my birthday, can you tell? You are good at what you do, write, blog, stage, photos, is there anything you don’t do well? I can’t wait to hear your big announcement.

  14. Donna, these are fantastic tips. A few things I hadn’t thought of, like tips for lighting. I do love Piknik. I recently erased a few wrinkles and got rid of a nasty PMS pimple in a head shot of me! That is a fun program! This is such good stuff, I am loving it.

  15. You seem to be reading my mind, Donna. Recently, I’ve been going back over photos I though were useless and editing. I’m planning a post with some of them. This series is such a generous gift.

  16. Hi Donna. I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you for running this series. I know it’s a lot of work for you (a post a day – whew!), but it sure does mean a lot to a little fish like me who does want to grow her blog and hopefully make a few $$$ one day. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  17. Just had to let you know. I was at an antique store today, and was asking about the old mason jars and their colours. I was told something very interesting. Depending on how much mineral content there is in the glass, letting them sit in sunlight can darken their colour, also apparently putting a little sand may also darken their colour. It all depends on the amount of mineral in the glass. Thought you would find this interesting.

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