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Sunday, March 3, 2013

BBHQ March Task - Photo and Video Editing

Hello Lovelies,

This month's BBHQ task is to discuss and share about how us beauty bloggers edit our pictures and/or videos. If you've never heard of BBHQ before, it stands for Beauty Blogger Headquarters and it is an online community group created by Krystal for beauty bloggers to share tips and tricks about what they do to run and maintain their blogs. If you are a beauty blogger or think of starting your own beauty blog, you may want to check out this small community. I enjoy reading tips and ideas from other bloggers because I'm always about improving and in turn I also like sharing my own tips and recommendations because I find it rewarding to be able to help others.

Since I don't do videos at the moment, I will leave that part out but I sure would love to find out more about how others are editing their videos and what program they use as I've been considering doing so for the longest time, lol. What can I say I can be slow, especially if I don't know what the heck I am doing. 
Other than that I can only do so much and once I get in the routine of things, I often just get stuck in that rut.

Warning, this is going to be a long, detailed, but informative post. I've thrown in here as much knowledge and tips that I can think of. 

Programs/Software I have used in the past

For the past 10 years or so I have been strictly using Photoshop 7.0 for all of my image editing needs. Yes, it's a pretty old and outdated Photoshop program but it did get the job done. Never had a problem until about a month ago, I don't know what in the world happened, but I am no longer able to open up the program on my desktop. I'm getting an error message from Windows that the Data Execution Prevention has closed the program. I've googled every possible ways to fix the issue but I've been unsuccessful and gave up. With that said, I had to resort to other options and perhaps it was about time I update my ways of photo editing too. 
Photoshop is a good and powerful image editing program but does require some learning curve. Certain things were pretty easy to figure out but I would have never figured out on my own how to do the more complex and advance editing and had to resort to some online search and YouTube videos. It's definitely not the most user friendly. I would only recommend Photoshop if you are serious about photo editing and want to take your pictures to the next level. Otherwise, if you just prefer to make simple and minor adjustments, there are other less expensive AND free programs that will allow you to do so. 

Programs I am currently using

There are a few programs I have been using since Photoshop 7.0 is no longer compatible with my computer. I've been able to find some pretty decent and FREE online photo editing programs that does not require registration. You just go on the site and upload your pic and start editing, then once you are done, you save it right back into your computer. 

Here is a list of free online programs I found useful...
  1. PicMonkey (
    • This is probably the one I use the most because it does most of the things that I need and it's very user friendly and great for quick fixes. There are some limitations with the free usage but if you register and pay for Royal membership, which is only $2.75 a month, you definitely get to use everything they offer. Did I mention it's super user friendly? That's why I really like it.
  2. Pixlr Editor (
    • One thing I like about this program is that the interface is similar to Photoshop 7.0, which I was already familiar with. It's not as great as Photoshop but good enough for the average user.
  3. iPiccy (
    • Allows you to do adjustments similar to Pixlr Editor, it just looks different. 
  4. BeFunky (
    • I rarely use this program for my blog pictures but I like the photo effect selection, which I find some of them look similar to Instagram.
  5. Fotor (
    • This would be the place I go to when I want to make a collage. It's very easy to use. 
I heard that GIMP is also a free photo editing program that you can download and based on some reviews I read, it is supposedly the next best thing to Photoshop. This is something I am considering but so far the programs above have met most of my needs. If you are a GIMP user, please let me know how you like it and if you think I should try it.

Lastly, a program that I use on occasion, is Adobe Lightroom 4.2. I'm still fairly new to the software but so far I've only figured out the basics, lol, and I think it's pretty awesome already. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that Photoshop does, however, it like it the best for color correcting and enhancement. This thing rocks! This is what you need to have if you want vibrant rich colors in your photos that will blow everyone's mind. Again, since this is an Adobe product, like Photoshop, it does require some learning curve. You gonna have to figure and learn on your own. I occasionally use this program for my portrait pictures and makeup looks to correct my skin color and makeup colors because it's often hard to get it right on camera, even with a DSLR. Surprised? Don't be. You need more than a DSLR camera in order to produce good pictures. 

Here's a screen shot of Lightroom and a before and after view of a picture that I edited. I love how Lightroom allows you to instantly view the side by side difference. The history panel shows you all the adjustments I did to the image. This is handsdown the best color correcting/enhancement software I've tried. It saved a lot of my bad lighting pictures.

Free programs vs. paid programs

From my personal experience, I've definitely had better luck with paid programs. They offer more and better editing tools. 

If you want the basics like, correcting exposure, hues, saturation, crop, resize, adding text, etc...The free online programs can do all that. These will meet the needs of most users.

If you need more advanced editing, crisper pictures, more vibrant colors, adding layers, creating special effect, then the paid programs are the way to go. I would only recommend these if you are particular about how you want your pictures, if photography is a hobby or job, or if you are not completely satisfied with what the free program offers. 

I've been mainly using the free programs I listed above for the past month or so. I think they did meet most of my needs; however, the problem I run into occasionally is jumping between programs just to edit a picture, lol, due to my peculiar needs. Ideally, I would like a program that does all that and I don't have to use 2 or more in order to get the desired result.

So to sum my rant about free and paid programs, the main question you need to ask yourself when considering either one is what are your needs when it comes to photo editing and does that program offer the tools that meet your criteria. Some programs are better are certain thing, yet lacking in other.

My editing process

Pre-processing is just as important as post-processing. The better your images look on camera, the less editing you'll need to do, thus saving you time during post processing. 

A designated area for photography. Whatever you have available or whatever works for you. I am using my beauty station because that's pretty much the only work space that I have available. 

A proper set up. I know some people use a light box but personally for me it's too cumbersome for my work area since I have limited space. I like using table mats as background and I prefer to go with something neutral and not distracting.

One of the most critical element you need is proper lighting. Natural light is probably one of the best source of light you can get. However, my work area can't benefit from that so I have to resort to artificial light in most of my pictures. You don't need to dish out a lot of money on expensive equipment. I've found that there are many budget friendly alternatives that gets the job done. I am currently using 1 table lamp and 2 clip on lamps. That third light really helped. Another advice I can give you is understanding your light bulb. I've already done a post about it on my photography blog so if that is something you want to know more, you can read it HERE.

Tip: I'm covering my lamps with tracing paper. It helps diffuse the light, which is the same effect you get with a light box without having to use one. This set up is also good for portraits.

Get familiar with your camera. Even point and shoot camera nowadays can take fairly good pictures. They are certainly not as advanced as DSLR cameras but they do produce good result if you understand how they work and how to use them.
The most used setting on my camera is AV, which is aperture value. Occasionally, I'd flip around between AV, P, and Macro. Sometimes I would use my 50mm f/1.4 lens instead of the kit lens. I usually like reaching for it when I take pictures of my nail polish bottles. It seems to produce the best result. Otherwise, I use my kit lens for the majority of my pictures. 

If you don't have a steady hand, I strongly suggest you use a tripod to minimize and prevent blur. If  your camera or lens has anti-shake, use it. Also increasing your shutter speed will minimize blur. 

In spite of all the preparation during pre-processing, sometimes my pictures still need a bit of tune up in post processing.
The most used (and abused) correction I do during post processing is adjusting the exposure, contrast, and colors so that they look as close to real life as possible. Aside from that, I watermark all of my pictures too.
Because I've become efficient at pre-processing, my editing process is very minimal. I edit most of my pictures in less than 2 minutes individually. Five minutes is probably the most time I'd spend editing a picture, those usually involves pictures with my face in them as I spend an additional step correcting skin color and makeup.

The first picture from this post is a perfect example of bad lighting, lol. It was so bad, I had to use Lightroom because the free program couldn't fix it. My skin color looked washed out and ghostly. The image was also under exposed.

The second picture was a lipstick swatch I just posted yesterday. Tip: when taking a picture of lip swatches or close up face makeup, I highly recommend that you do not put the camera in your face. The reason is the closer the lens is to your face the more distorted your facial feature will be. I've seen a few bloggers do this and it is very unflattering because it's blowing your nose, face, lips and eyes out of proportion. Keep the camera at least an arm's length from your face, use the highest pixelation your camera can handle, and then crop out the areas you don't want during post processing so that you don't lose out in quality.
If you don't believe me try it taking picture up close and further and you will see a difference in the way your facial features appears when the lens is up close and when it is further from your face. Your facial feature will look much nicer and less distorted when the lens is further away from your face.

Lastly, this is a nail polish I edited very quickly. It wasn't too bad to begin with but certainly needed a couple tweaks...exposure, color, crop, and watermark. This one was easy. Small adjustment but it makes a difference.

Prior to using a DSLR, I was still able to take fairly good pictures for my blog with a regular point and shoot camera. Of course, they weren't as sharp and defined but they were good still. As I experienced more with the lighting, camera, and software, I've seen a lot of growth in the quality of my pictures as time went by. I always strive to be better at what I do, even now I still feel that there's plenty more room for improvement.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading :). Feel free to ask any questions.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Pang! It is, indeed, helpful! :)

  2. For sure I'll come back to this post! Thanks for sharing! I had no idea about some of these editing programs and now I can check them. I would like to see more posts like this one! I will check BBHQ too!

    1. I hope you find these programs useful.

  3. Loved your post, I always enjoy your behind the blogging type posts, so informative and helpful! I recently downloaded GIMP and haven't even had the chance to play around with it yet, lol, too behind on work to play ;)

    1. Thanks. Do let us know how you like (or don't like) GIMP. I need a one stop place that does it all.

  4. I am using Picmonkey, Pixlr and several other free programs as well and I believe it is very important that one publishes some good quality photos. You explained all of these very understandable, I have to check some of them out myself too. I am your new follower via GFC and I hope you will stop by my blog sometime :-)

    xoxo Pakize

    Madame Keke

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Yes agreed, good quality pictures is usually what I look for in a blog too.

  5. I want to get better at taking product photos :) great post

  6. Great point about keeping the camera at arm's length and then cropping down to facial features. I read through your lightbulb post also and it was really informative and helpful! It does make such a difference if you prep the photo correctly so you don't have to correct a ton of things later on.

    1. I know at first it may seem complicated or too technical but once you figure out what works and you get in the routine, the process gets done much quicker. Not gonna lie, I cringe when I see a distorted image cause I know they shoved the camera all up in their face.

  7. This was an in-depth and wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing with us. I'm not a beauty blogger, but you gave some really useful and helpful tips...ones that I'll be sure to keep in mind when taking and editing pics. Thanks!

    1. Thanks. I'm happy to hear this post was helpful. The tips and concepts will be useful for anyone who likes to take pictures so I'm glad it's not just for beauty bloggers.


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