Photography is now my daily hobby, but I’m not a professional. I don’t know anything about camera settings or how to do lighting, or even shoot portraits at all. However, a question I often get is why don’t I become a photographer, based on my Instagram aesthetic.
I’m super flattered that my friends and followers enjoy my photos! That’s who I post for in the first place. I just want to genuinely share my stories and design lifestyle.
I approach my photos the same way I approach design: A photo is just another canvas. Things hardly ever begin looking the way I want it to, especially since my mystery camera is my iPhone 6S+ (80% of the time). I always have to “create” how I want it to look, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out after hours of hard work.
My trip to Point Reyes National Seashore is a great example to show you the behind-the-scenes of some of my favorite photos! My parents and I took a day trip out there back in December when they visited me. Point Reyes is infamous for being the windiest and foggiest place in the USA, and here’s where it’s located.
It wasn’t super foggy on the day we went because it was winter (I think fog is thicker in summer) but nonetheless was an ugly day for photos. It was so windy and cold that I had to wrap my jacket hood and scarf around my face.
Luckily, I was distracted by the wild deer hanging out on the side of the hilly slope down into the ocean. It’s not easy to take photos of animals since they don’t care about posing – so I just snapped away and hoped I ended up with at least one good photo I wanted to work with.
Check out how the original photo looks! Cropping is a super powerful tool, and sadly the third deer didn’t make the cut.
I don’t like to use editing apps because pre-made filters change colors without taking the original photo into account. I prefer Photoshop, so I can control exactly where my colors are going. Here’s my next photo, of the seashore itself. I thought it was absolutely beautiful because it looks purposely cut by the ocean.
Unfortunately, my camera didn’t agree! Oh boy. I first adjusted the lighting to emphasize the soft teal color of the water. Second, the brown dirt was seriously bothering me, so I tried to bring in red tones like many pro photographers do. I think I over did it with this one, but trial and error will make perfect.
Another photo I colored manually is of a must-see, the Cypress Tree Tunnel. It’s not on the map but can’t be missed on the side of the only road that goes through Point Reyes. From what I’ve seen, pro photographers like to wait for sunlight to peek through the trees to create contrast and shadows.
I wanted the warmer hues of sunshine as well, but the fog wasn’t going to cooperate. I ended up brightening the existing color and adding more brown to the trees. Instagram also has a handy feature called Lux to add perfect contrast to the light shadows in my original photo.
Sometimes I have to force the color to come out, demonstrated by the photo below. Many tourists miss this spot as a great photo opportunity with the tree that grows completely slanted. The little house is broken down and dirty, so I needed colors that can draw attention away from what seems unpleasant.
I noticed my original photo had a tinge of blue in the sky, and used that as my chance to brighten the photo with its natural colors. Also, tourists will very very very often get in your way. They worked as a prop in my photo of the Cypress Tree Tunnel, but this time they had to go.
So, fog is not actually bad in the hands of many photographers. It’s my aesthetic that clashes. But for my last photo, I saw it as a necessity due to the gloomy weather. This was taken at the very end of the road, the Point Reyes Lighthouse. When the wind is under 40mph, people are allowed to walk all the way down to the lighthouse, but I’m secretly glad it was closed so I could take this photo without people in it.
As you can see, the horizon line in the original isn’t appealing and distracts from the focus of the photo, which is the lighthouse. My trick was masking the sky and ocean separately and adjusting the brightness and contrast so that they blended well. I lastly increased red saturation of the lighthouse to complete the picture.
That’s everything I saw at Point Reyes National Seashore! Definitely put it on your list if you ever visit San Francisco. For this post I tried something new by putting together a photography topic with travel. Let me know if you think I should continue doing these!