Ways to Up Your Instagram game

Johnny Brunac

Are you looking to up your game on the gram this Winter, all from the comfort of your home? Look no further, here are a few tips and tricks to ace your Instagram photography.

First and foremost, in photography choosing a location(s) is always a tricky yet important factor in your finished product, taking into account what kind of photo you’re going for. For portrait photos or photos of other people, because the backgrounds aren’t the subject of the photo, details are easily blurred so that the colors and lighting of wherever you’re shooting play off the subject nicely. For landscape photos, however, the subject is essentially whatever area you’re taking pictures of.

Some good spots to take photos around Corvallis are downtown, the Chintimini Park playground, the Weatherford Hall arch and wherever there’s some good greenery to use as a background. Downtown Corvallis offers some pretty unique color and lighting schemes with all the alleyways and fire escapes, while the playground gives more creative freedom for the model to pose. The arch is an OSU staple, especially at golden hour (which tends to be at around 6 p.m.) and the backdrop of trees and bushed plays well off of winter wardrobe palettes.

Secondly, you want to establish a subject or model for your photos. If shooting landscape this step isn’t necessary. For a model, establishing a color palette for a shoot beforehand is always good in order to establish a wardrobe that would go well with wherever you’re taking pictures. If there’s sun, take advantage of it!

“I think consistency is important,” Cristian Diaz (@cristiaaandiaz), a film student based in Los Angeles who primarily shoots in film, had to say. “Consistency is definitely important but so is having your vibe and look within that.”

So you’re ready to go out and shoot. You have a location and are ready to head out with some friends. When taking pictures on a phone and have an established subject, tap on it to better help your camera focus to establish some steady light levels. If you think it might be too light or too dark, you can slide up or down on your screen to change the exposure manually. There’s also portrait mode on some cellphones, which is optimal for up-close portrait shots and allow for the blurring of the background as much or as little as needed.

According to Cameron Black (@cameronjblack), a Corvallis photographer popular for his Instagram account, “keeping things simple, is crucial.” Black tends to capture a lot of nature shots with the occasional portrait in his photos, shooting both vertically and horizontally while keeping a consistent muted tone to his feed. “Don’t be afraid of negative space,” Black said, “keep things clean and edits light!”

After shooting you’re all set up to edit. For editing on mobile, some popular apps are VSCO, Adobe Lightroom, and Snapseed by Google– all which are free for Android and iOS. VSCO, in particular, has a multitude of filters that are grouped by color scheme on top of some pretty powerful editing modules, in addition to being able to add on borders for a cleaner looking feed. Snapseed is more for manually adding blurs, using double exposures (photo layering) and more intense selective editing.

Being in the Pacific Northwest, Black shoots and edits typically in winter-like conditions. “When a lot of people move into winter, I feel like they think of things in cooler tones, or under contrast, but I feel like warmth is more successful.” Using mainly VSCO and Lightroom, “[he] tends to make sure the highlights are cool-toned and the shadows are warm.”

It is all a matter of whatever you think represents you’re vibe the best while keeping a clean and cohesive pattern, these tips are sure to keep your gram game strong this winter.


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