photography

Editing with Instagram: A Personal Challenge

This past week my aunt sent me a link to Royal Caribbean UK's contest and it excited me to try something new. Usually when I edit photos for Instagram, I go straight for VSCO, a super fantastic app that has so many filters and levels to play with, I could easily spend hours editing photos. However, the contest, which encourages photographers to shoot images and tag #ExtraordinaryExplorer for a chance to be chosen as their seaworthy intern, states the inquiring individuals should have an "extensive knowledge of Instagram filters." That's when I thought, have I ever actually edited in Instagram, sans those early days when I was way too obsessed with Lo-Fi and Nashville and borders?

I decided to give it a go: editing only in Instagram and going back to my roots. No fancy layers in Photoshop, not lens flares and VSCO film filters. Just me and the photos I had already taken on my camera roll. Now, I should preface, I don't always shoot the most exciting things or during the best light. It's a problem I know I need to fix. So, I realize that my photos won't be the most exciting things in the world, but (but!) I did make a promise to myself that I was going to not stress over these things and that I was instead going to enjoy the fun of photography, no matter the subject or time of day.

I shared in my original post that I was going to put up a basic list of what I did to achieve the final images I got. Now, this is my first "to do" step-by-step so any feedback is totally welcomed! Oh yes, my other part of the challenge was this: only using photos taken with my iPhone 6S. Okay, moving on.

The first image I wanted to edit was one I took while in Venice. I loved (and still do) the small arched bridges connecting street to street over winding canals. Below you'll see the original and final image.

 
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What I did in this case was start with the Ludwig filter. I really like that it sort of monotones the photos by bringing out reds and whites while calming blues. It also creates beautiful contrasts with the buildings. I then blew out the photo so to speak by brightening it and also upped the highlights. I've been trying to find a simple but consistent look to my photos and after playing around with various edits, I think this is going to be my new fave go-to. I then played with the contrast and HDR settings (the sun at the top) until I got the balance I liked. I feel really terrible because I didn't write down the exact numbers while editing but I'll pop them below the best I can remember. 

Edits: Ludwig +80-85 | Brightness +40 | Highlights +20 | Contrast +12 | HDR + 15 | Warmth -12

 
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Edits: Ludwig +91 | Brightness +35 | Highlights +27 | Shadows +2 | Contrast +11 | HDR +20 | Saturation +10 | Warmth +3

 
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This one I didn't edit as strongly as it was a bit dark when I took the photo and I didn't want to distort it too much. Mostly, I wanted to share the store of Claudio and Elena and my weekend in the mountains above Lake Como.

Edits: Ludwig +83 | Brightness +21 | Highlights +13 | Contrast +15 | HDR +5 | Saturation -3 | Warmth -10

 
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This one was not shot in the best of light (at all!) so you can see where I have to learn. I'm still playing with flat lays and figuring them out. I completely recommend you read humphrey & grace's post on how to set up and photography a flat lay. She is my complete inspiration on this subject and many, many others.

Edits: Juno +91 | Brightness +36 | Highlights +21 | Contrast +10 | Warmth -11

 

And that's it! My goal is to work through Instagram only photos for awhile just for fun and then maybe I'll go back to VSCO. Who knows. Now, if I could ask a favor, please feel free to go to my Instagram and like or comment on any of my Royal Caribbean UK posts. The winner gets a three week internship with Royal C to photograph for them. There are dozens and dozens of worthy applicants, but every little bit helps.

Have a gorgeous week! 

Rachael xx

Janesville → Chicago

One of the greatest perks of living in Southern Wisconsin has got to be the proximity to some amazing cities. Just 40 minutes north is Madison, 1.5 hours northeast to Milwaukee, and 2 hours south to Chicago.

Only a few weeks ago, when my brother and the girls were out to visit, we decided it was time to see the Windy City. We chose the time honored system of transportation: the Metra.

The only downside to this otherwise solid plan is that the Metra stops an hour south of us. This required a bit of driving to the adorable town of Harvard, Illinois (not the Ivy League university, obvs). However, a drive through some beautiful countryside wasn't too bad a of a sacrifice.

We left at about 8:00AM and made our way to the small train station where the Metra line begins (or ends depending on your destination). Harvard is a tiny town laden with small speakers that play cheery, season-themed music. It was almost like having a soundtrack to your morning.

It didn't take long for the train to arrive and we all quickly boarded, a sense of adventure tangible. The Metra is an easy way to commute between Chicago and Harvard, with about twelve stops in between each end of the line. The morning ride was blissfully empty as most people headed in to Chi Town for work leave much, much earlier. We picked our seats, sat back, and watched town after town pass by. It was fun to see the progression from farm lands and hills to slowly growing suburban neighborhoods and eventually the city.

I wish I had been prepared when we got off the train in Chicago (I think I have a few images somewhere I need to find) because the bustle of the station was just amazing. If it's not entirely obvious by now, you can probably tell I haven't lived in a city in a very long time. 

I had a blast people watching and just getting to enjoy the journey rather than battle traffic and potentially getting lost, which is a forte of mine.




An Afternoon Drive

This week has been so hot and humid and everyone is—at least as far as I know, I might be projecting my feelings on others—ready for fall. The temperature and the humidity matched this afternoon: 85. Do you know how gross you feel when the numbers are like that? It's hard to complain though, when you get to come back to a cool room to edit photos. But let's not digress on how hot it's been. I really like being able to complain about that.

Today was especially warm so this afternoon, I rather loudly woke Parker (my Trusty Terrier Companion) from his lazing around and we took off for an exploration of sorts along the backroads here in Wisconsin. Of course, that meant stopping every 1/4 mile or so to take a picture.

I don't think anything scares fellow drivers as much as a girl hanging out on the edge of a two-lane highway taking photos. I caught a few worried glances and tried my best to smile back and assure them I was good.

These are a few shots from this afternoon. Nothing spectacular, but you can tell the seasons are slowly changing. I'm so excited for autumn when the leaves around here will start changing. We didn't have a high tree population in Southeastern Idaho—as it's mostly a desert—so this year will be the first autumn around the picturesque red and orange leaves. (Until then, you can check out the playlist I made here to get you prepared for those autumn vibes.)