picture taking

i love taking pictures.
i suppose that's where it begins and ends for me with photography.
i have a passion for capturing things around me to remember for later.
more times then not while i'm awake i see my world cropped in a picture. i see composition everywhere i look....but ask me about the iso used on a photo or my aperture and shutter speed and you'll get a bit of a blank stare.
most of the things i enjoy doing, i do by instinct. whether it's painting or decorating or taking pictures. i usually go with my gut and enjoy the fumbling around...the growing pains of learning or teaching myself something new. i'm slowly taking in the technical ins and outs of photography...and forcing an interest in it. but i think i'll always love just grabbing my camera and going for it...no lighting checks or bells or whistles.
that said, i get a lot of questions about the pictures i take and how i take them. (a big thank you to all of you who have taken the time to write me about this!).
i'm going to try my very best to break it down...but apologize in advance to those of you who know your stuff! my verbiage might sound a little bit like armature hour.

i shoot with a canon 60D.
i got her 4 months ago and it was instant love. she is a dream, that camera! i know there's nicer out there...but i've never had anything more than a cheap little point and shoot before her.
i have 2 lenses right now: a 18-135mm and a 50mm.
both are wonderful but i've been sticking with the 50mm these days. it lets in so much light and allows for some pretty beautiful depth.

every now and again i'll venture onto manual mode when i'm feeling adventurous...but mostly i stick with the p mode...and scoot things around from there. i like being able to snap a photo at a moments notice...and so far, i can't seem to do it as seamlessly in manual. someday! i generally just mess around with my aperture and shutter...i like to let as much light in without washing things out too much...and love keeping the aperture around 2-1.4 for  the detail shots with a nice blur.


i edit all of my photos with photoshop cs3.
i used to use a lot of actions and filters on my old photos (while using a point and shoot)...but the 60D produces such beautiful photos i can't bare to cover them up with a lot of layers.
these days i just tweak the curves and colors here and there...keep things a bit more natural.

today i thought i would share with you how i edit 90% of my pictures.
this is a photo straight out of my camera.
it's a little dark for me...i like to make my photos bright and airy.
so the first step is to adjust the curves.

curves can be found under "image//adjustments".
for those of you who don't have a photo editing program you can use some online! picnik is my favorite! you can edit the curves of your photos under the advanced section (although i think you have to pay for the premium membership)
once the curves window is open, pull the line up from the middle until you get a nice and soft brightness...nothing too harsh. then grab down at the bottom of the line and pull it up...this will make a more even bow in the line and make a subtle contrast in brightness.
my input usually ends up around 50 and the output between 90-100.
(and i still have no idea what that means...haha)
here's the photo with the curves adjusted!
it's much brighter but the colors are still a little lifeless to me.
from here i like to add a pop of color. 
most of you have noticed that, for me, it's red. i love making the reds in my pictures stand out a bit more.
i do that by using selective color. 
you can find selective color in photoshop under "image//adjustments"
this option lets you isolate colors in your photos and adjust them without affecting any of the others.
and it is by far my most favorite thing to tweak in my photos.

 getting started, i usually adjust my neutrals first.
by taking away some of the black it lets me lighten the darker "neutral" tones in the photos just a bit without washing out the lighter tones.

from there i add a bit more yellow and less magenta to the greens...
and to get a pronounced red, i add a bit more black...some yellow to keep it bright and take away lots of cyan to make it glow.
the end result is bright and cheerful...and the pops of color set it off!
it's such a quick and easy fix for a dull photo..and the clarity from the original isn't muddied much by layers of effects.

here's a quick peak at the before...

and the after...

i hope this helped answer some of your questions.
when we get back from our trip i will add a "camera bag" tab under my header and keep you guys updated on what i'm using and what works and doesn't work for me.
in the meantime, go out and take lots of pictures and play around. document your life! and appreciate your unique way of seeing the world...regardless of whether you know what you're doing or not!


  1. I love, love, love photography. Although I will say that most people who shoot in manual aren't just taking quick snapshots, they're doing actual shoots to take the time and get the best shot SOOC (straight out of camera for those of you who don't know what that means lol). Even when I take my pictures I tend to shoot in P also because I also have the 50mm (only I have the 1.8 not the 1.4) and I love the creamy bokeh look but I have a baby so I need a reasonably high shutter speed as well.

    For you know really knowing the technical side about your camera/photography you take some breathtaking pictures. I love them, they're so relaxing and like you said airy! You do a really simple edit too. Jeez I need to play around with photoshop more instead of using a bunch of actions lol.

    Oh Jazmyn

  2. Ahh this is awesome! Thanks Katie :D I always look forward to seeing your photos.

  3. your photography is always THE most inspiring! You are really getting me into taking better quality photos with my t2i! I only use picnic right now but I really want to start using photoshop! thanks so much for this! it makes me so so excited! :) -Lo

  4. thanks Katie or sharing! And I LOVE YOUR PHOTOS x

  5. thank you thank you thank you! i've been using lightroom for a while now, but recently got photoshop and have absolutely no idea how to use it. this was very helpful. thanks again! :)

    (your pictures are always beautiful, by the way)

  6. This is so great! I always adore how light and whimsical your photos appear! I always adjust the curves in my photos... but have never tried selective color. I'm so excited to check it out! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your techniques with us!!!


  7. I do always love, love, love your photos--so thanks so much for the tutorial!

    I'm with you though. I hate the technical parts. I know it's necessary, of course. But I like the idea of "looking at life like a cropped photograph." That's how I tend to see things too, I think.

  8. I'm so relieved to hear that someone who produces awesome pictures gets the same blank stare that I get when talking manual talk! I've studied my manual time and time again, and none of it sticks. I just know how to focus, how to adjust the light settings, and how to edit a bit in picnick (my mom graciously sent me a photoshop CD... which I lost :s) I think as long as you're producing what you want to produce, there's usually not a need to know all the technical stuff!

  9. Katie, I had been wondering about your photo technique and it sounds a lot like mine - intuitive and spontaneous! I'm still in the point and shoot stage (saving up for a nicer camera) and I've been taking a billion pics just with my Android HTC phone lately. Thank you for sharing your process - it keeps me motivated!


  10. Katie, Thanks for posting this. Now I see where your photos get their dreamy feel. I tend to shoot all manual but understand what you mean about the challenge that poses when trying to capture something in the moment. I play around with exposure and highlights but haven't played that much with color. I am excited to start playing around with it! Thanks again!

    A Collection of Passiosn

  11. oh wow! thanks for sharing this, i always LOVE your pictures. well it isn't the editing but you have a great eye lady!


  12. I was just complaining to my husband how much I love your photos but can't seem to replicate the same effects! Thanks for sharing!! the 60D helps A LOT my rebel does alright but my sister's 60 does much better!

  13. I've been inspired lately by your beautiful photos to make my own a bit more light and airy as well, and I love how they look a lot more now. You're a wonderful photographer, Katie!

  14. This was really helpful Katie! I was thinking about asking you how you get your photos so airy! Great tutorial and easy to understand.
    I get how hard manual is. It was really hard for me to learn at first and I get out of practice a lot and have to do a little review for myself sometimes. It take work. that is for sure!
    Thanks for sharing this!

  15. This has been so helpful. In recent months I've started my own photography business and have been learning so much from playing around w/ my camera and Lightroom and from looking at other people's photographs, so your photographs PLUS this tutorial are amazing. And "airy" is the perfect word choice for your photos. Thank you!!

  16. Ohmygoodness. I've been bff with Photoshop for years now but HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT SELECTIVE COLOUR?! My mind is blown. Thank you thank you thank you!

  17. Lovely picture editing! I also love using layers, they're just to amazing and the colors they give us are beautiful!
    Your blog is amazing by the way:)

  18. Lovely, it's great to see how you make your pictures so lovely.

  19. Photoshop is still so big and scary to me. I've played around with curves but it doesn't always get the results I want. I think your tips will help a lot though. I love what you've done with that photo.

  20. This is great! I was just thinking on my way home today to contact you to ask if you could post about your camera and photography. I also have a 60D, which I got in February. Like you, I only shot with point-and-shoot cameras before (G9 and G11, most recently). I edit my photos in Photoshop Elements.

    Keep the photos coming. They're amazing!

  21. Nice tutorial! I've mostly been editing my photos in Picasa, but I think I'll venture out and use Photoshop now. =)

  22. thank you so much for sharing katie! i am OBSESSED with your blog... seriously-im pretty sure its the pictures! i love them! thank you so much for this post! its amazing! xoxo

  23. Your photography is amazing and uplifting. I look up to your creativity and style. Thanks for the tips and tricks. I appreciate this! x0

  24. thanks so much for taking the time to post about this! i really adore your photography. i've been thinking about getting a 60d for quite some time now.

  25. Hm, I've always wondered about your photos, they're ... exactly as you said, light and airy. I really appreciate you sharing your process.

  26. Thanks so much for sharing your "method" I can't wait to give it a try.

  27. I'm so glad you wrote this post! I love how you wrote about seeing composition everywhere and about instinct. I am the exact same way and, like you, shot in "p" for quite awhile while I was figuring out my style. Manual just wasn't very important to me and, by the time I switched over, everything fell into place and my photographs improved immensely because I already knew how I saw things and just needed to figure out a few extra dials. My editing process is also very similar to yours as I never use actions but adjust photographs on an individual basis without any packages or presets. I don't think that's the norm anymore, but I think it's more fun that way! Your photographs are beautiful!

  28. Thank you so much for this post - my husband and I both adore your photos and I have always wondered how you got them looking the way you do so this is awesome!

  29. loved this post LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. I actually processed my last set of photos with your process (a little altered to suit the photos & added a little yellow at the end). Gorgeous!

  30. Oh thank you for this post! Clearly you are very talented behind the camera anyway but it's great to learn all these little secrets that people have. x

  31. Oh my goodness thank you so much for taking the time to share your photo tips! I have been admiring your beautiful pictures and wondering how you've stylized them, perplexed at how your reds pop! Fun! My favorite color is purple! Can't wait to play on picnic!

  32. I knew you had an awesome secret!!! I just love your pictures. I just bought my first decent camera, a Canon 30D and I love it. You are inspiring to me to take more pictures of things around me, not just of people. You really tell a story with your pictures, the whole story.

  33. I just love your little blog! It's so pretty and inspiring and such a happy little moment in my day!

  34. Ah thanks so much for that! I had been wondering how you did that!
    I love your blog, I agree with what Leslie just said.


  35. Your photos seriously make my heart melt and beat faster at the same time. Magical.

  36. lovely pictures! i tried adjusting my aperture in p mode but i can't seem to get the 2-1.4. i'm verrrry new to photography, so any advice you have is appreciated. i'm not even sure which is the f number in your equation, haha. ugh.


  37. Lovely post-creation! And easy too!
    Thanks for sharing =)

  38. i have very similar ways of photography as you =) i love when people say that you don't need a super fancy camera to capture a great photo. it really is how you see things. i know some folks have cameras & lens that i drool for,,, but the outcome of their picture is... eh.. so-so. this is a great post. thanks for sharing. it's so nice to meet people that have similar beliefs & thinkings on photography :) :)

  39. Oh my gosh! We are exactly the same when it comes to photography although I havent gotten as far in photo editing as you have so I am so thankful for this helpful post! xo

  40. Thanks for this tutorial! i love your blog style...very elegant and inspirational!!!

  41. I loved reading this and seeing your process!. I recently switched from using just the P or Auto settings to the Aperature priority mode(you choose the f/stop and the exposure and the camera figures out the shutter speed) and I LOVE IT! I feel so powerful with my camera and I can control the light so much better. I would highly recommend testing it out. It's much less intimidating than straight up manual mode.


  42. What 50mm lens do you have, the 1.4 1.8? Thanks a bunch!

  43. I have been confused about my abilities for so long.. I could do so much more then the other kids of my age.. I love craft,painting and have an obsession of photography (or you may call it saving things the way I see it)
    But never in my life I thought it is ok if I don't have to use these skills professionally and I almost dropped out of my hobbies.

    I enjoy little details of life. I would now not let myself down :)
    All thanks to you. I have a motivation to not let go of the little things I like. It will matter to someone else then myself in some part of life for sure :)

    Thank you very much. Your baby girl is adorable :) and little boy is so smart and handsome :)
    I really wish you all the best for everything that is gona come your way :)
    May god bless you and your family :*

    Love Aditi
    (From India)

  44. amazing! thanks so much for sharing!

  45. I use Lightroom 4 for editing my pictures. Will start playing with PS5 and using this tutorial to help me.

    Thanks so much, really like your blog and pictures! Have a wonderful w-end.

  46. I love PS, but unfortunately, when we upgraded our computer, we lost it, and my only option was Elements (which I hate with a passion - sorry fans).

    I've been shooting for a very long time, first film camera's, and now digital, and there's always something new to learn. I've recently taken an online class on the ins and outs of manual, and though I do love it, sometimes you just like to shoot a picture and be done. lol

    I prefer my shots SOOC, and honestly (and again, no offense to fans) I think that action layering has been WAY over done. Not every photo needs to be doctored up w/ layers upon layers of texture.

    Love your shots.

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