Tag: stock photography

Taking Stock – Building up a bank of multi-purpose photographs

When blogging, writing or creating pages for the web finding good quality photographs that illustrate what you’re writing about, and aren’t restricted by copyright laws, can be difficult. However, if you’ve got a camera handy (even if it’s just a smartphone) there are plenty of ways to capture attractive images that you can use to your heart’s content without worrying about the legal implications.

Below are a few things to keep in mind that will help you if you find yourself stuck for a key image to insert into your copy.

Pictures of pictures

Sometimes just a picture of a picture can make an interesting image in a blog post. Think colourful and think bold lines. Simple designs can work well, especially on a white board (or even a chalkboard) which can lend images an academic look. Even if it’s just a hand-written message it can look artistic if you choose your medium carefully. And if you need to add a little extra something to make the image pop there are plenty of filters that can be quickly applied in Lightroom, often just a little bit of vignetting can make a big difference.

Taking Stock Photos

When taking pictures of pictures a good camera is not necessarily essential, depth of field won’t be an issue and with simple designs, you don’t have to worry about capturing a lot of fine detail. And even lower quality images from smartphone cameras can be brought to life in Lightroom.

Think outside the box

Light bulbs can represent good ideas, interesting light trails could be linked to anything vaguely futuristic, and computer screens can look if intriguing if you get in close and capture the pixels. Anything that’s colourful, clear, and simple can make great pictures and create interest. Post-it notes are always a good option, as are alphabet fridge magnets. Sometimes cliches are unavoidable but are still better when shot right than low-quality images in a blog post.

It’s worth remembering that some pictures will come out well with a basic camera, at least well enough to sit on a web page, if the lighting is good. Others will require a DSLR to capture or create really interesting effects like light trails, depth of field, or bokeh.

With a DSLR it’s possible to create all kinds of abstract images by experimenting with longer shutter speeds and different apertures. For example, longer exposures can be taken during the day, without ending up with a completely white image, by using a higher aperture value. This will create a smaller hole for the light to travel through, so you get a longer exposure but with less light.


The night is the perfect time to take light trails – head out to any busy road and set your camera up. The lower the shutter speed the longer the light trails. Use bulb mode to leave the shutter open until you press the shutter release again.

For any shots where you’re leaving the shutter open for longer than 1/30s, it’s worth getting a tripod to ensure you don’t get any camera shake.

Be obvious

Some things that can be photographed are simple and less abstract. A padlock with a key in it could be used in an article on security, while close-up shots of tech like a USB stick is a solid general image for a technology blog.


When taking images of everyday objects try to make things look a little more professional by creating a narrow depth of field. The above picture was taken against the screen of my laptop, displaying the following graphic:


The background becomes unrecognizable when out of focus and shows that sometimes all you need is a computer screen to create a more interesting image.

Don’t worry about resolution

Although the high-res imagery is important for banners which stretch across a website, most blog posts won’t feature images which are more than 500px wide, 1000px at most. Even a camera with a 1.2mp sensor will offer enough resolution for the web, the quality of the sensor and the way the camera processes the image will have just as much affect on the quality of the end result.


The above image was taken with a smartphone camera, and when displayed within a blog post at the same small scale it doesn’t look much different to the first image taken with a DSLR. The vignetting added in Lightroom also helps to make it look more professional and less like a smartphone shot.

Change what you can control

If you’re taking images on the fly, or are in a hurry, remember to focus on changing what you can control. You might not have a proper lighting set up but simply thinking about moving your subject to where the light is better can be a great help. Areas close to windows will allow you get better shutter speeds though if the light is too direct, or there are strong shadows, this can be just as dangerous for an image as too little light.


Learn to enjoy improvising interesting backgrounds. If shooting on a small scale it’s not hard to find everyday objects that can be used to make a backdrop more interesting. Colourful paper, fabrics like cushions, and anything with an interesting texture can work and lots of things can be disguised by taking advantage of a narrow depth of field and making sure they’re out of focus.

Next time you’re creating a blog post or article and don’t have an interesting image, or need to spice up a post on social media, don’t panic. Even if you’re writing about something that’s impossible to stage and recreate with your resources, thinking about how they can be represented in an abstract way can lead to some interesting and creative shots.

Silver Linings – 5 Rainy Day Photography Projects

Rainy days may put a damper on outdoor photography shoots but for those who decide to ditch a day out with their camera in favour of a day in there’s plenty of creative fun you can have indoors. From building a stock photography library to rediscovering forgotten photographs in Lightroom there are many ways to make the most of wet days. The limitations of working indoors and in poor lighting conditions offer an opportunity for inventive and original shots.

All you need is a camera and a bit of imagination to turn a light shower into a storm of creativity.

Stock photography

If you often find yourself searching for generic images when working on projects, only to be hindered by copyright laws, rainy days are great excuses to build up a library of stock images. The easiest kind of images to get will be everyday objects that could be used in multiple contexts. Hands on keyboards, photos of computer screens where you can see the pixels, and shots of colourful things like pencils and post-its are all great ideas that can have a range of uses.

Rainy Day Photography Projects

Rainy Day Photography Projects

A tripod is a useful thing to have for rainy day photography as if you don’t have a spare body you can set up your shots and then use the timer feature, or an infrared shutter control, and shoot your own hands.

Food photography

When you’re locked indoors, with nowhere to go, and a cupboard full of food there’s only one thing to do – photograph it (and then eat it). Whether you’ve got a project in mind or just want to experiment make yourself a snack or meal and find the most flattering way to frame it. If it’s a rainy day natural light probably won’t be your friend so get out the spotlight (or whatever lighting you have to hand) and have a go at setting something and frying something up.

Rainy Day Photography Projects

One spotlight will usually suffice for food photography whatever you’re shooting. Bounce the light off a wall or ceiling to cast a bright but diffuse light on the subject. A prime lens will help to create a narrow depth of field and also offer better shutter speeds in darker lighting conditions.

Experiment with lighting

If you’re struggling to get sufficient light for your shots embrace the darkness and experiment with extra lighting. There are plenty of ways you can improve the situation with budget lighting ideas, or with things you already have around your home. If you don’t have a spotlight try using any source of light that can illuminate your compositions. Ceiling lights and standing lamps won’t make a huge difference, though every little helps, but brighter work lights are a more effective solution and fairly inexpensive to buy. Typical household light bulbs will cast a yellow glow but this can be improved in Lightroom by adjusting the colour temperature slider.

Rainy Day Photography Projects

Even if these experiments don’t yield great results exercises like this can be great for learning what works and what doesn’t, and save you time on a future shoot.

Rediscover your home

It might not seem like the most obvious place for photographic inspiration but rainy days can be a great way to rediscover your home through the eye of a lens, and develop a photographer’s eye around the house. Whether it’s a small detail or a wider shot of a room try experimenting with lighting and subject matter to capture what’s special about where you live.

Rainy Day Photography

Your subject could be something as simple as a bookcase or an interesting piece of furniture. Or it could be a room in your house that has a strong character. If you’re shooting a room imagines you’re taking shots intended to help sell it – this will put you in the mindset of trying it make it look as attractive as possible and as an added bonus encourage you to do your household chores, like dusting bookshelves for example.

When photographing rooms keep in mind the field of view, and if you have multiple lenses or a telephoto lens with a wide range try taking images at different focal lengths to see how it affects your compositions.

Revisit old photographs

Finally, if the rain is too oppressive and you just want to curl up under a blanket with a laptop on your lap it’s a great time to boot up Lightroom and rediscover old photographs you’ve taken. Looking over old photos with new eyes may reveal shots that deserve a second chance, and help you to see how your eye has developed over the years. If you’ve built up a large collection of images before adopting Lightroom it’s also a good excuse to see how older images could be brought back to life with its range of filters and brushes.

Rainy Day Photography Projects

It can also be fun to see what can be done with some of your earliest digital photos, in my case those taken with a Fuji @xia ix-100 in 2002 – the results might not be amazing but it will make you grateful for modern camera technology.

Rainy Day Photography

Next time it rains doesn’t despair, just use it as an excuse to get creative with your camera. Even if you live in a small and uninspiring apartment like this Sleeklens writer when you’re looking at things through a lens you can often find some interesting surprises.