BLOGGING TIP: How to add social media icons to your blog

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I’ve recently received a few emails from some of my readers asking how I added the social media icons and my description picture on my blog, so I decided to post a tutorial explaining the process. It’s pretty easy once you get familiar with it, and you can apply the exact same process to add other buttons/pictures and make your site look more personal. Everything you see on my blog has been made by me; I don’t necessarily like the idea of spending money on it, plus I enjoy experimenting and doing it myself. I’m by no means a computer savvy girl, so if I figure this one out, you can as well! 🙂

Let’s get started then.

step 1follow the arrow

First, you need to find social media icons that you want to use. It always looks better if you choose colors or designs that flow with your blog theme. Just google “free social media icons” and a million different options will show up. Download the icons and save them to a folder where you will be able to easily find them.

Here you have some free sources that I personally like:

step2

Next, open a new post, select “add media” and upload your social media icon. This is just like adding a photo. My example will be for a facebook button, but you will need to repeat the same process for the other social media you would like to include as well.

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step3

Now go to your social media profile, in my case my facebook page (which you should Like to make this girl happy, btw ;P), and copy the web address. Then go back to your post and click the icon image to edit it. A window will open, and you should paste your web address where prompted for a Link URL.

The same window also features an advanced settings tab. Use this tab to modify the size of your button as you desire.

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step4

Repeat the aforementioned steps with your other social media profiles. Once completed, it’s time to copy the HTML code from the text tab. What a relief you don’t have to code that yourself, huh? But if anyone asks, just say you did and hold your head high! 😉

Save your post as a draft in case you want to modify it in the future.

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step5

Next, go to Appearance > Widgets and scroll all the way down until you find the text widget. Drag it up to the sidebar box and place it wherever you want your social media buttons to appear. You can add a title above the icons if you’d like with a little description such as “Follow me”.

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Lastly, open up the text widget box and paste your HTML code. Save it, and voilà! Your blog has now awesome social media buttons on it! Make sure your web links work properly when you click on the icons.

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final result

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Isn’t it easier than you expected? Go ahead and try it out! 🙂

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PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: How to create your own watermark for FREE!

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Last week I promised I’d post a tutorial on how to make a custom watermark for your photos without the need of using expensive photo-editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom, and here it is!  Before I had access to Photoshop, I used PicMonkey as my go-to source for all my basic photo-editing needs and to design my old FeetfromShore button and header. I didn’t want to pay someone to make that for me, so I used this online photo editor to make my blog more personal. It’s very intuitive and easy to use – you’ll be a pro in no time! Ok then, let’s get started.

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Go to PicMonkey and select “Create a collage” from the main screen.

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The Collage editing screen opens up. Remove two cells to have just one single cell. Select the Background option on the bottom left side of the screen and check the “transparent background” option.

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Save the transparent image as a .png file in a location that you can remember easily. Close out the collage page.

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Now we are going back to PicMonkey’s main screen, click on the tab “Edit a photo” and upload the transparent image we just saved as a .png file. It will look like there is nothing in there or a plaid image, but don’t worry, that’s a sign you are doing great so far. The background should be transparent, remember? 🙂

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Now it’s time to test your creativity and design your watermark signature. In the left side of the screen you will find different tools that can be used to add your desired font, text, and other ornamental elements. Go ahead and explore for a while. I prefer to create simple watermarks as they look more professional to me, but in the example below I added two arrows in front of my name to show you some of the stuff you can create with this editor. You can also see that I made my signature black, but you can pick a different color if you want.

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Next, use the crop tool to crop your watermark as closely to the text as possible. I recommend to make the text the size you want now so you won’t need to adjust the watermark when placing it on an image. Don’t lose too much time on this though, you’ll be able to re-size it later on. Once you finish, save the image as a .png file again and name it – in my case “Yael Serena Watermark”. Now you can say you have your watermark ready!

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To add the watermark you just created to a photo you will have to go to PicMonkey’s main screen and select “Edit a photo”. Go to “Overlays” and select the button “Your Own” at the top of the screen. Open your saved watermark image and move it wherever you want (try to place it where you don’t distract the attention of the viewer). I recommend to fade your watermark to 50% as it looks more professional.

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That’s it! See? No need to buy Adobe Photoshop to create awesome signatures! Now that you’re done creating a custom watermark you can add it to each of your photos in mere seconds. All for free!

Enjoy!!

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Do you own Photoshop? Check out how to create a custom watermark signature in 5 steps here.
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PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: Watermarks

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Before I started taking photography seriously (just a few months ago), I used to dislike watermarks. Most of the times it ruined my viewing experience because it was so hard for me to be able to concentrate on the image. A watermark can easily ruin an awesome photo if it’s not well positioned or if it doesn’t have the right size – it gets in the way of the art. I’m by no means a professional photographer and I don’t intent to make a living from my images (at least not in the short-term), but I really want people to enjoy my photos and have a pleasant experience with them. I realized that I was doing the same mistake that used to annoy me so much on professional pictures, and that’s why I have been reading some articles recently on how to best use watermarks.

Before explaining how to create a watermark signature in Photoshop, let me clarify the reason why I use a signature on my pictures. Honestly, I don’t lose worry about image theft since I’ve read that my photos are automatically copyrighted as soon as they are stored in my camera (read more here), plus I don’t own any masterpiece anyways. However, I tend to share my pictures on Pinterest (check out my boards here!), and when people see an image they like often times they come to my blog looking for more. It’s free advertising and it drives traffic to my blog –  these are for me enough good reasons to use my signature. I know this is a controversial topic among the photography community, and there are a lot of photographers out there trying to prove why or why not is good to use watermarks.  I personally believe that there is not only a right thing to do, each photographer should take that decision based on its own personal reasons on whether or not it’s worth it to add a little element of distraction on the images.

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Your logo brush is ready to be used in the Brush Preset. You can adjust the size and color of it, depending on the background of your picture. I always add my logo to a separate layer so it’s easy to change, move, remove, etc. There are multiple ways to stamp your signature on your images using Photoshop, but I found this one to be the easiest for me. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any doubts!

You don’t have Photoshop? Don’t worry! Check out this tutorial I made on how to create a customized watermark logo FOR FREE!

Have a great night!

 

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Self-Taught Photography. THE ART OF EXPOSURE

I’ve been frustrated countless times in the past when I’ve tried to experiment with the manual mode in my Canon Rebel T3i and I didn’t get the results I was hoping for. ‘Why is the sky so bright? Mmm let’s change this setting and see what happens. Oh no! Why does everything look so dark now…?’. I got tired of guessing, and after devoting some time to reading good photography blogs and magazines I’m finally starting to understand these WHYs. It all comes down to the basics, my friends.

This week I have focused on teaching myself what is called ‘the exposure triangle’ – a basic concept to understand how light enters and interacts with the camera. Knowing which settings you should use in each situation can be tricky, and a lot of practice is needed in order to understand the interaction of the three elements that form the aforementioned triangle.

Once you read the theory, put cozy clothes on, go out and…shoot, shoot and shoot! Practice is always the key to success – don’t forget that! The more you do something, the better you get. After a while, it will be very satisfying to look at your first pictures and see the evolution of your photography skills over time. I’m really looking forward to that special moment!

So let’s get down to business. The three elements that we need to understand in order to master the art of the exposure are…

The exposure triangle

It is at the intersection of these three elements that a photo is properly exposed. It hasn’t been an easy task for me to completely grasp the relationship between Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO since there are a lot of different components involved. However, I read a metaphor about the exposure triangle on Digital Photography School that was very useful to get the big picture in mind. Let me share it with you (please note that this metaphor hasn’t been written by me, I got it from the Digital Photography School page).

windowTHE WINDOW

Imagine your camera is like a window with shutters that open and close.

Aperture is the size of the window. If it’s bigger more light gets through and the room is brighter.

Shutter Speed is the amount of time that the shutters of the window are open. The longer you leave them open the more that comes in.

Now imagine that you’re inside the room and are wearing sunglasses. Your eyes become desensitized to the light that comes in (it’s like a low ISO). There are a number of ways of increasing the amount of light in the room (or at least how much it seems that there is. You could increase the time that the shutters are open (decrease shutter speed), you could increase the size of the window (increase aperture) or you could take off your sunglasses (make the ISO larger).

 

There is not a single combination of the three elements to achieve the same exposure. Different values of shutter speed, aperture and ISO can give the same exposure result. However, we need to keep in mind that every time we change one of our settings, the image will be affected in a different manner. Therefore, it is really important to understand the trade-offs of each element to know how to best play with them. In order to remember how each element can affect my shot, I carry a note like this one in my camera bag (at least for now!).

Triangle exposure note

As I’m not a professional in the field (yet!) and my main objective is to help others who like me are starting to learn photography, I’ll just sum up the main concepts that I have learned during this week. However, I strongly recommend carefully reading some of the professional websites that explain in more detail each of the elements of the triangle. I’ll also post some of the pics that I took as examples during my practice sessions.

 SHUTTER SPEED – how long the image sensor is exposed to light

  • Impact on how motion is captured
  • It is usually measured in fractions of seconds, meaning that the bigger the denominator the faster the speed (1/1000 > 1/30)
  • Important question to ask yourself: how do I want to capture this movement? (freeze it or blur it?)
  • To freeze movement –> choose a faster shutter speed
  • To let the movement blur –> choose a slower shutter speed
  • It is recommended to use a tripod to avoid camera shake when using 1/60 or slower

shutter both Differences in shutter speed settings

As you can see in the first picture, I wanted to blur the moving object (water) so I had to use a slower shutter speed. Unfortunately, I don’t own a tripod yet, so I had to rely on the lens image stabilization. I’m happy with the final result though – I barely can notice the image shake.  In the second pic I shot with a faster shutter speed in order to freeze the movement.

APERTURE – how much light the lens lets in

  • It is measured in ‘f-stops’ (f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, etc) and every time we change the setting to the next f-stop it means that we are doubling or halving the size of the hole in our lens
  • The larger the hole the more light that gets in, and the other way around
  • Large apertures (more light gets in) –> f/stop smaller numbers (i.e. f/2.8)
  • Small apertures (less light gets in) –> f/stop larger numbers (i.e. f/22)
  • Depth of field (DOF): describes the distance in front of and behind a focus point that appears sharp in a photograph
    – Large aperture (small number) = shallow DOF (part of the image is focused, the rest is blurry)
    – Small aperture (large number) = large DOF (most of the image is in focus)

Different aperture settings

In this example you can see that with a large aperture the object in focus is the flower and the rest is fuzzy. However, in the second picture the whole image is in focus.

ISO – the camera’s sensitivity to light

  • The lower the number the less sensitive the camera is to light and the less noise the image has (less grain)
  • If we’re taking photos outside in sunny conditions we’ll want to use ISO of 100 or 200
  • If it’s a cloudy day or evening time, then we should use a higher ISO between 400 and 800
  • In darker situations (night or indoor activities) we will generally want to use an ISO of 1600 or more (the cost is noisier shots though)

Different ISO settings

When I took these pics it was still sunny outside, so you can see that using an ISO of 200 was the right choise. However, when I increased the ISO value my shot was way too bright.

Finally, we always need to keep in mind that thinking about one element in isolation from the other two of the triangle is not going to give us the perfect exposed picture. As you change one of the elements you’ll need to change one or both of the other ones to compensate.

If you are an amateur like me, my recommendation is to find some time to understand each element in detail. You don’t need to spend hours and hours reading professional blogs and magazines; just pick one that you like and read the basic concepts to get a general idea. Once you’ve done that, grab your camera and experiment by playing with the different settings. Every time that you take a shot explain to yourself why the picture is too bright or too dark, why it has so much grain or why it is so fuzzy. Try to find the logic of it and eventually you’ll understand how the three elements work together to find the perfect exposure.

That’s exactly what I’ve done this week, and even though I still have a lot of practice ahead of me, I’m having so much fun along the way! Here is the proof – Dan being goofy while I was practicing with the aperture settings.

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Feel free to share your advice or criticize my work. I really appreciate when people give me their honest opinion :).

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