Everybody seems to be on Instagram these days, but if you have been wondering what it's all about but are not sure where to start, this guide will help you set up an account and get it up and running.
1. Download the app.
This is a readily available free app so just download it from the Itunes App Store or Google Play.
2. Choose a unique user name.
The name you choose can actually be changed later if you like but it is getting harder to get the name you'd prefer as Instagram becomes more popular. Get creative with underscores and full stops if you need to and try and choose something relevant to you or your business. If you intend to build followers, often your user name will be the reason someone will actually click on your profile, so make sure it suits!
3. Connect with your friends.
Now that Instagram is owned by Facebook, it is easy to connect with your Facebook friends who are already using Instagram. You can also search your phone contacts for other people you know but can skip this step when setting up if you like as you can come back to it at any time.
4. Follow people that you like.
Instagram is not like Facebook where you are 'Friends' with people. If you 'Follow' someone you will see their photos as they upload them, and they will only see yours if they follow you, or go directly to your profile.
If you would prefer to share your images only with people you have approved, it is possible to have your profile set to 'private'. If you have a private account (or want to follow someone who does) the follower must send a request and will only be able to see images in that account once that request has been approved.
5. Like photos that you like!
It sounds obvious, but interaction is the key to Instagram and people love to have their work admired. A double tap on the image will bring up the 'heart' which is Instagram's version of Facebook's 'like'. You can also tap the small heart under the bottom left of the photo to give some love!
6. Comment on photos.
Once again, interaction is the key to getting the most out of Instagram, and it is possible to leave a comment on someone's photo by tapping the little speech bubble next to the 'heart'. If you comment on a photo, the owner of the image will be notified, but if you are replying to someone's comment on your own image, make sure you also use their username with an @ in front (eg: @lilahsnow) and only then will they be notified of your comment.
7. Use hashtags when posting photos.
Unless you are a big user of Twitter, you most likely think that hashtags are a little bit silly. It took me ages to use hashtags properly on Instagram because I felt I was being a bit pretentious for some reason! But if there was ever a time to use them, this is it. Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags per image and these can be in the photo description or you can add it in the comments of your own photo. Start with the obvious ones if you like, and Instagram will often suggest other popular related tags that may suit. Get in the habit of clicking on hashtags that you are using and pick out your favourite images. Hashtags are a great way to discover accounts with a similar subject matter to you. Exploring how these accounts tag their photos may also lead you further towards a version of Instagram that suits your interests and style.
8. Upload photos.
Instagram was originally 'instant' and was designed to upload images from your mobile device on the go. Even now, you can only upload a photo from your phone or tablet, but if you email yourself a photo from your camera and save it to your phone, or if your DLSR has wifi, you can upload any image. It is best to edit the photo using apps such as Snapseed or Lightroom for iPhone before uploading to Instagram. You can edit by adding filters on Instagram, but I feel like I see them used less and less these days...although maybe that's just my feed.
9. Sharing photos (The Regram)
It's ok to regram (repost someone else's shot), but make sure you make it clear that this is not your photo and always give credit by tagging them with @username so they know that it has been shared. Try to make the majority of your feed your own photos unless your goal is to only share images.
In time you find yourself gravitating towards groups of users who use specific hashtags and the result is a personalised feed of inspiring images.
What's not to love?
Leave your Instagram name in the comments section below and I will be sure to check you out, or click the button below and check out my feed. This month you can win one of my leather camera bags with the hash tag #lifewellcaptured. More details here.
We've all been wowed by the lovely depth of field (DOF) in photos - in fact a lot of you probably bought a DSLR for that very reason, am I right? So how come your photos don't quite look like you want them to? How come the dreamy blur always ends up on the wrong part of the shot? How can you get great depth of field in your shots?
There are 3 basic concepts that you have to understand to master the depth of field.
I know you've heard about Aperture and DOF before - that's the reason why you have an 'A' setting on your camera, right? When first using a DSLR it's so tempting to open that aperture as wide as it goes (choose the smallest number) and hope for dreamy background blur.
Let me show you a little diagram about how the aperture controls the range of blur in an image:
The key here, is understanding that there is a certain amount of light which is close enough to the 'true point' of focus that it will still be perceived as clear (these rays fall between the green lines in the diagram). A small aperture means that a greater proportion of the light's rays are close to the true point of focus and therefore a greater proportion of the image's depth appears clear. A larger aperture, however, will mean that a larger proportion of the light's rays are further from the true point of focus. This results in a greater proportion of the image's depth appearing blurry.
The thing to remember with aperture is that you don't always want to open it up as wide as you can go, but you can use it to control the amount of blur and the amount of focus you have in your image.
2. The point of focus.
So, now that you understand the distance over which an aperture will focus, you can appreciate how important it is to focus correctly in the first place. The point of focus is so important when composing your image, and should be something that you are aware of, and alter accordingly, every single shot.
One way to do this is to set your camera on a central auto-focus point. Place that point over the part of the image that you want in focus, half press your shutter, re-compose the shot, and then fully press the shutter.
This will work for images where the depth of focus is quite large, however with a wide aperture, even small movements of the camera can be your undoing. In these cases, it is better to manually set the focus point in your camera to lie over the point in your image that you need to be clear. It takes some practice for this to become second nature, but I assure you it's worth it!
If you are leaving your camera on automatic focus point selection, it is very difficult to get well composed, well focused images. You need to take control.
Bonus tip: With portraits, always focus on the persons eye which is closest to you.
3. The focal length/distance from the subject.
If you have played around with prime lenses (lenses with a fixed focal length and no zoom capability), you may have noticed how the depth of field seems to vary from one focal length to the next. The reason for this is more to do with the distance you are forced to stand from the subject with different lenses rather than the focal lens itself.
A shorter focal length (eg a 35mm lens) will give you a wide field of view due to lower magnification. This means that you will fit a lot into your shot, and if you wanted to take a photo of a person standing in a field you would be able to keep a lot of the shot in focus from a fairly close distance.
If you then set up the same shot with a 200mm telephoto lens, you would need to move much further away to have a composition which matched the original 35mm shot. The range of focus, or depth of field, decreases as the magnification of a lens increases. As a result, the telephoto lens will have a much smaller range of the shot in focus than the 35mm, and will give you that creamy background blur which makes a foreground subject stand out. Conversely, the short focal length lens will allow great clarity throughout the depth of the shot.
If you have been frustrated with the results of your attempts to create the perfect depth of field in your shots, I hope this has given you some pointers to focus on with your next images.
Allow your aperture and lens choice to work together to control your depth of focus, and remember to focus purposefully!
When I started my first 'real' job out of university, I bought myself a beautiful silk scarf. I remember wearing it to feel a little more grown up, hoping that people would take me seriously in my new role. Looking back at photos, I looked a little bit like an air-hostess, but at the time it made me feel more confident!
I have moved houses, cities, states and countries many times over the years and each move brings with it a more ruthless cull of unwanted things, but for some reason this scarf has never quite made it into the charity bin.
Pinterest and Etsy are alive with beautiful silk scarf camera straps and this week I decided to give my scarf a new lease on life, and make it into a camera strap of my own.
If you can use a sewing machine, you can do it too.
Here is what you will need:
A silk scarf (or other material)
A piece of leather
Leather specific sewing needles for your sewing machine
2 x D rings
2 x latches/buckles or split rings
I bought everything on the list from Spotlight.
MAKING A CAMERA STRAP - STEP 1.
Cut your leather to shape. I had bought a rectangular strip which was just the right size to cut in half and then use a piece for each end. I used a paper template to design the shape that suited the width of my scarf, the piece of leather and my D ring.
Measure the length of your desired strap. To do this, I measured the strap that was currently on my camera which was 110cm.
Measure the length of your folded leather piece with the both the D ring and clasp (or split ring) attached. In my case this was 11cm.
As you will have 2 leather ends you can work out the length of your scarf the following way:
(Desired strap length) - 2 x (Leather and buckle length) = (Scarf length)
In my case this was:
110cm - (2 x 11cm) = 88cm
I then ADDED 10cm to allow for scarf inside the leather strap, so I needed my scarf to be 98cm (I should also add that I am 6 foot tall, so yours may be quite a bit shorter than this!)
Cut the scarf to the calculated length. I folded mine in half and cut equal amounts from each end to maintain the symmetry of the print. I was a little bit nervous to cut up this piece of my history after storing it for so long and there were definitely a few deeps breaths and crossed fingers as I hoped I had calculated the length correctly.
Set up the sewing machine with the leather needle and upholstery thread. This was the first time I had sewed leather and I was a bit worried that it would be difficult, but the leather needles have a little chisel shaped point on the end which hammers through the leather as it sews. I highly recommend buying these needles as well as the upholstery thread, which is much stronger than regular thread. Your camera is going to be on the end of this strap, so the extra few dollars now are definitely worth it!
Check that the strap and attachments combine for the correct length.
With the D ring fed through the middle of the leather piece, bunch one end of the cut scarf neatly between the two sides of the leather.
First sew closed the end closest to the scarf so that it will be held in place firmly for the rest of the sewing. Sew around the perimeter of the leather, bearing in mind that the thickness of the D ring in the fold will limit how close the foot can get to that end of the leather.
After I had sewed around the perimeter, I lifted the foot, cut the thread, then started on a bottom corner to sew diagonally across the leather. I then ran a second line of stitching across the top edge and completed the cross to the opposite corner. This cross cross adds the extra strength to the attachment and ensures that the scarf is safely gripped from all angles.
Repeat for the other end, double checking the strap length before sewing in case your seam allowance wasn't accurate.
And there you have it, a DIY silk scarf camera strap! I would love to hear from you if you try making one, or if you have any other camera straps ideas that you have made yourself.
Perhaps you can make one for Mum in time for Mother's Day, or splash out and get her a new camera bag!
Emma Anderson. Creating, learning, growing and taking photos of it all!
Follow on Instagram.