My Blogging Kit

Noob Blogging Kit and Kaboodle!

Since I'm so new at creating and maintaining a blog as opposed to lurking all over other peeps blogs lol, I thought it might be handy to compile a list of all the bits and pieces I've accumulated so far in case any other newbie beauty bloggers out there are looking for some helpful tips/tools.

Equipment


Ipad Mini with Retina Display

Specs: 64gb, WiFi, white/silver iPad Mini with Retina, A7 processor,

Reasons: So I finally got my hands on one of these babies after waiting a torturous 18 months or so after looking the original iPad Mini in store and knowing straight away for me it was Retina display or nothin'!

My main justifying reasons for an iPad Mini were that I was sick of carrying my 15" laptop on top of all my camera gear with me when I traveled. I wanted something lightweight, have enough hdd space to back up my entire 32gb CF card out of my camera in a pinch and be able to do basic photo editing and publishing to various sites/email all on the go (read "fits in my handbag").

I also wanted a tablet device I could browse on, read blogs/ebooks, watch youtube, use social media apps, take photos with and post online content - basically the core functions of my phone at the moment LOL. With that in mind and my new resolution to start my own blog, it only made sense to trick out my mini as if it were my main blogging device (and not keep going back to my laptop).

Logitech Keyboard Folio

Specs: Bluetooth connection, rechargeable battery via USB, 395g (heavy sonofabitch!), easy and secure clip on case, comes in navy blue, sky blue and yellow, works with mini and mini 2, qwerty keyboard, landscape stand only

Reason: because typing on a touching screen blows >.> Seriously though, it does.
The only issue is that I was too impatient to wait/find the newer Ultrathin Keyboard Folio version in stock which are sexier and weigh 100g less, but for the moment this one is awesome and functional.
The keyboard is a great size for my tiny hands LOL, I have no issues touch typing on it and the sturdy folio style case means I can throw my iPad along with my keys in my handbag without being precious about it.

Lightning to USB Camera Adapter

Specs: connects your apple device (ipad, ipad mini etc) to self powered camera via USB.

Reason: ease of use, no laptop required to get my images straight from my camera to my ipad mini. I opted for the USB adapter as my 7d takes a CF card and not an SD card so there's not much point for me to use the SD one. On another note, Apple are cheap bastards! the older version Camera Kit for ipads had both the SD card adapter and the USB cable for the 30 pin plug for a total price of $39, now it's $39 EACH! It may be possible to just buy a 30 pin - lightning adapter if you already have this kit.

Cameras - Canon 7d plus lenses, Canon G12, iPhone and iPad Mini

Specs:
  • the 7d is a prosumer DSLR with 18MP, 8 framers per second, HD video recording and fits all my Canon lenses.
  • Lenses I use mostly - Canon 100mm USM macro f2.8 and Canon 17-40mm L series f4
  • the G12 is a compact digital camera, shoots in RAW and jpg, has a hot shoe for an external flash, flip screen (yay!), 10MP, wide angle lens and a decent macro function, f2.8-4.5
  • iDevices - (iPhone 4s and iPad mini retina) 5MP, decent close up function due to inherit wide angel lens, f2.4

To take great photos these days you don't need a DSLR or even a digital camera, if your phone camera has decent enough features (looking at you Samsung Galaxy series) eg MP count, decent close up ability and not too slow a shutter speed then you have the essential. The difference between crappy blurry grainy phone photos and DSLR images is mainly to do with lighting first and then physical specifications/capabilities.

Reasons: My cameras I have are from my photography work and were purchased well before I even thought of starting a makeup blog, however I do find I use my iPhone as much as my DLSR - mainly because I always have my phone on me. I've even started using my iPad's camera, especially when opening post parcels or doing quick haul photos as the quality is good enough in decent light.

Like I said, it all comes down to lighting.

Haven't got external lights/strobe/flashes? Go outside during daylight.
Worried about harsh shadows in bright daylight? Take the photo in the shade.
Have to take photos at night time? Use a lamp and prop your camera device on something steady/makeshift tripod-esk and take a photo using a longer shutter speed.

Basically just try and make the best of what you already have and get creative with solutions that work to the best of your camera's specs. When paired with a decent software editing tool you can make those phone photos shine =) (although that's no excuse to rely on "fixing it in post" all the time! Take it right the first time = waaaay less work in post production)

External Flash - Canon 580 EX II 

Specs: a Speedlight flash made by Canon that can be used both on and off camera - click here for full details

Reasons: for those times when you can't take photos outdoors but you still want balanced non-harsh light and you still haven't gotten those studio lights you've been lusting after *sigh*. You can still achieve a soft wrapped around light affect with an external flash by bouncing it off a wall or side panel or even a piece of cardboard and using reflectors or more white cardboard opposite to create/bounce fill light. There's heaps of tutorials out there on how to effectively use your flash to light small products - some of my favourites can be found by the guys over at the Strobist blog.

Software/Apps/Tools

Blogspot - online

Specs: online, super easy, relatively flexible templates, free

Reason: all the manual hosting setup for wordpress.org was too much of a pain in the ass, wordpress.com wasn't flexible enough with the templates, had to pay for design features and oh reblogging >.> I already have a squarespace account that I use for my photography website and didn't want to pay for a second account for my blog, tumblr is mainly porn and I don't like my stuff being reblogged on it and my stuff would still be live even if I were to end my account, ghost is still too new and more writing orientated and yeah as you can see I kinda went through everything else before resorting to blogger which has been surprisingly less crap to use then the last time I tried it! So far, so good.

Blogsy - iOS App

Specs: works with most major blogging platforms incl Blogger and Wordpress, drag and drop in images and video to posts from your camera albums and various other 3rd party storage sites, text formatting, add captions to images, add tags, save to draft, heaps of awesome stuff, costs $4.99

Reasons: I needed an app that I could use to compose blog posts and then load on to the blog as either published or draft directly from my iPad. After quite a few frustrating other apps that had almost all the features I assumed should be standard - especially adding images from my freaking camera roll - I settled on Blogsy.
I was hesitant at first due to it not being being free and maybe it wouldn't do everything I needed but it was totally worth it. I was using Posts which is lovely and simplified but lacking the ability to add images from my camera roll and subsequently useless for my needs.
So far its been fairly good however I have noticed that with images over a certain pixel size it seems to have this god-awful downsizing compression algorithm that I'm trying to get around - not 100% sure it's entirely Blogsy fault, it may be Blogger that's crushing my images when compressing them >.<


Photoshop Express App

Specs: photo editing app with pre-set filters, cost – Free (in-app purchases for some features like the Reduce Noise adjustment)


Reasons: I use this app for editing photos mainly for its sharpening algorithm, exposure adjustment to lighten, clarity filter to either increase mdi tone contrast or add highlight blur and temperature/tint adjustments in order to colour correct all on my iPad mini. I don’t seem to find these particular functions as well covered in my other photo editing apps. I also enjoy the straighten slider in the crop tool really helpful as I can make really fine tilt adjustments to an image.  



Snapseed App

Specs: photo editing app with the original slider adjustment awesomeness! Cost – now Free (I think I may have paid like $9.99 when it first came out). IOs/Android


Reasons: I already had this app for ages on my phone and loved it for photo editing although since getting an iPad it’s a million times better on a bigger screen. I also do about 85% of my editing work in this app as it’s just so conducive to my workflow. It not only allows me to make fine-tuned global adjustments to an image, but I can even make selective ones with Nik’s renowned “area of affect” style adjustment pins that you can place on an image and select to adjust only the area/radius based on tone around it. 

It also includes all your regulars like a Crop tool, Straighten tool, Sharpen filter with two styles of sharpening, B&W filters, Centre Focus, Tilt Shift and a few other vintage –pre-set-like filter types as well. In the Tune filter where I make the bulk of my adjustments I do wish the Shadow slider could make negative adjustments eg make shadows darker and that along with the Warmer/Cooler adjustment there was also a Tint (green/magenta colour shit) adjuster to make colour correcting easier. 

Afterlight App

Specs: photo editing app with pre-set filters, cost - $1.29 AUD (in-app purchases for extra filter packs)


Reasons: this is a fairly new photo editing app that I found/invested in. I like that it gives you a full page preview shot prior to processing, has colour adjustment sliders for the mid tones/highlight/shadows separately, has a nifty “fade” slider which decreases mid-tone saturation and contrast, has a decent vignette adjustment and a really nice adjustable grain filter. Plus it has a lovely stack of pre-made filters which you can adjust the opacity of, apply on top of each other, a great selection of light leak overlays and this awesome (and probably my favourite) kick ass range of frame overlays including letters that can have their opacity changed and your image zoomed/moved around to fit within it. I don’t use this with all my photos just mainly the cover/hero shots at the beginning of a post if I want to jazz it up a little. 


PicFrame App

Specs: allows you to compile/montage multiple images into a framed image – has adjustable frame edges, amounts, sizes, rounded or squared corners and colours. You can also add labels within it. Cost - $1.29AUD. IOs/Android

Reasons: again another app I’ve had for ages on my phone that I now use on my iPad – super handy for doing montage shots or even side by side images, mainly where I have a swatch shot under different lighting. I love how easy it is to use and that I can select different image size/quality outputs and add labels within it. 


iPhoto App:

Specs: it’s free and lets you edit photos

Reasons: it was free LOL. Seriously though, about the only thing I use this app for is the clone brush tool – which isn't great but at least the app has it. I like to use it to clean up any marks/spills on white backgrounds of product shots.  Also I hate the way it saves to my Camera Roll and how it sorts my Albums – it’s like it purposely tries to mess up my archives >.<


Photoshop CS6:

Specs: everything LOL

Reasons: It’s Photoshop, ‘nuff said really. Obviously I use it on my computer and not on my iPad mini and only when I have serious edits (usually cloning/liquefy etc) I need to complete or an image that requires multiple layers like the monthly lustables post. 

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