Getting Good Photos of Your Coloring Pages
I’ve asked my photographer and author friend Liz Masoner to write up some tips on how to get better pictures of your coloring pages. I’ve also added some of my own comments and tips from my own experience of taking photos of my colored pages. -Sue
You’ve spent hours picking out just the right pencils and markers, carefully picked colors, and then poured every ounce of creativity into coloring the design, now what? Taking a photo and sharing the finished page online is a pretty common step. What easier way is there to show off your hobby?
Getting a great photo that really does justice to your coloring is another matter. It really isn’t hard but you do have to know a few tricks. Every photo in this tutorial is taken with an iPhone because cell phones are what most folks use for social media sharing.
Pick the Right Light
The biggest step to getting a good photo of your coloring pages is picking the right light. This means avoiding artificial lighting, including your phone’s flash. Most house lighting is going to create a yellowish cast to your photos, especially when using a cell phone. Very few cell phones can accurately handle the color temperature of artificial lighting (be it incandescent or fluorescent).As you can see in this example, the inset image (on the left) color is washed out, slightly yellow, and has an odd shadow in the bottom left. The right side of the image has good depth of color and clarity along with more even light. The inset was photographed under a normal house light and the shadow is from holding the phone over the image and blocking part of the light. Even though it was not directly under the light, house lighting can still easily throw shadows. The right side of the image was photographed next to a window at a time of day when the light was not casting shadows (diffused light).
Photographing your coloring pages next to a window where the light is natural and even is a great way to improve your photographs. If the sun is shining brightly, place a thin white curtain over the window to diffuse the light and avoid harsh shadows.
Photographing your coloring pages under natural light will also result in lower noise in your cell phone photos than under artificial light that is usually much dimmer.
Hold the Camera Parallel to the Page
The next big thing you can do to improve your photos is hold your camera parallel to the page. In other words, hold it directly over the page without angle. This reduces distortion and helps keep straight lines straight. You won’t always get this perfect, but the closer you get, the better the photos will turn out.
From Sue: If you can’t get your angle just right, SnapSeed is a mobile photo editing app with a transform adjustment that will help you correct the horizontal and vertical perspective angle to straighten your picture after you’ve taken it. I’ve included links further down in this article.
Or, Try a Different Angle (from Sue)
From Sue: I also find that if I can’t avoid getting a camera shadow when taking the picture from above, I can get good results taking the photo as a close up with an exaggerated angle.This is also a good trick for concealing a mistake you don’t want to show in a part of your picture–just leave it out of frame! This trick, plus a subtle “tilt shift” blur effect is my secret to getting “wow” factor pictures.
Picking the Focal Point
Your phone won’t always do a good job understanding what amount of light is in the area. Even if you have your phone held perfectly parallel to the page, the camera might focus on one of the white areas instead of the colored areas. If this happens, the phone will adjust the light for bright white paper and you will wind up with a dark image that doesn’t show the nuances of your shading.This can be seen in the split photo that shows a focus on the colored area on the left and what the phone did when the focus was changed to the white paper on the right. Most phone cameras allow you to pick the focus point you want by simply tapping the screen.
Delayed Gratification – Use the 3-Second Timer
From Sue: Another way to ensure you picture is in focus is to use the camera phone’s 3 second delay function. Tap the timer icon on your camera app, and choose the 3 second delay. This will help you avoid out of focus photos caused by the camera shake that usually occurs when tapping the screen to snap the picture.
Catching the Shimmer
If you are using pens with metallic shimmer, you’ll need to pay closer attention to your light source to get some of that shine in your photos.A slightly less diffused light striking the page at a low angle will help bring up the shimmer in your photos. You’ll either need to tilt your page to get the light to strike it at the right angle, or photograph it in either early morning or late evening light to get the angle you need.
Note that you don’t want too much angle or the glitter will actually obscure your colors.
Mobile Photo Editing Tips
From Sue: Sometimes just a little bit of tweaking can make a big difference in your pictures. SnapSeed is a great, free mobile photo editing app which can help you to make big improvements to your pics with just a few minutes of tweaking. Some quick and easy adjustments you may want to make in Snapseed are:
- Crop out unnecessary background clutter, to put emphasis on the colored page.
- Use the “Transform” adjustment to straighten and align the picture.
- Try the one-click “Auto Adjust” under “Tune Image” and see if it makes your picture brighter.
- Manually adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, ambiance, highlights, shadows, and warmth in the “Tune Image” area.
Here is a before and after example of a picture taken in low light and then edited in SnapSeed.Get SnapSeed for Android in the Google Play Store
About Liz Masoner
- Amazon: Cell Phone Photo Tips: How to Take Better Photos with Your Smart Phone
- Smashwords: Cell Phone Photo Tips: How to Take Better Photos with Your Smart Phone
- Amazon: Composition in Photography
- Smashwords: Composition in Photography
- Smashwords: Introduction to Nature Photography
Thanks, Liz, for sharing your knowledge with us!
What tips and tricks have you found to make your pictures of coloring pages better? Let us know in the comments!