July 10, 2011

Making Your Blog Pretty, part 1

I’ve been asked about this by a couple of people. I’m not an expert. I usually piddle around until I like what I see. I have minimal skills. Please ignore this if you’re smarter than I am.

Also, I have only used blogger, so that’s all I can sort-of cover in this minimally bad advice on how I play with what you see on my blog.

OK, those are the disclaimers.

I purchased my first digital camera summer 2008, so I’m still fairly new to the whole photography world. I wouldn’t even say that I’m actually in a “photography world.” The three things I keep in mind when I'm taking pictures:
1. You can never take too many pictures, just delete the rejects! I usually have at least twice the rejects as I do keepers.
2. Natural light. I am opposed to the flash.
3. PLAY! Play with your camera's settings, play with your angles, play with your perspective, play with your background! If it's not fun, don't do it!

In the beginning I used a Canon SD 1100 point-and-shoot. Then I lost that camera and upgraded to big-girl camera, a Nikon D50 D-SLR. This year I upgraded that to Nikon D90 D-SLR. A good post on the differences between a point-and-shoot and a D-SLR is on This is Reverb

I use a couple of different lenses: 
Nikon 18-55mm VR:
Nikon 55-200mm:
And my FAVORITE Nikon 50mm:

I’m still learning a lot about photography, I love these blogs/sites for inspiration, advice, and motivation to keep taking pictures: Pioneer Woman Photography, Blue Lily, Ken Rockwell, Quiet Life, This is Reverb and many others. 

Photo Editing:
I told you once before, I edit everything. At first I used iPhoto to crop and enhance and edit my pictures. For Christmas awhile ago I asked for Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and I’m smitten. I absolutely love it. I know there’s more I could do with Adobe Photoshop, but it costs significantly, significantly more and I’m still learning more things with Photoshop Elements, so that’s that.

Photoshop Elements less than $100, totally worth it.

FREE! If you don’t want to invest the money on Elements or Photoshop, check out some of these free online photo editing sites from this post on Unplggd. Picnik is on the list and the only one I’ve ever tried.

I have previously downloaded templates and installed them and piddled around with the HTML and spent hours and hours and hours trying to figure out how to change the margin of this or that.
I don’t do that anymore.

Part of what I like with blogger is the ability to edit the layout and really customize it pretty easily. Here, I’ll walk you through:

From your Dashboard, click on "Design," it's orange.
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Next, Template Designer, in orange.
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This next series shows all the areas where you can play around. Check it out, don't be afraid to have fun! 
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I use the most basic, simple layout option. Then I customize to my heart's content. 
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By clicking on that white box, you get a pop-up window with all kinds of background options. Including "Upload Image" so you can do your own thing. 
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I like to choose my layout...one column, two columns, three columns, etc. next. 
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Then I adjust my width. I make the entire blog as wide as possible. With my 3 column layout, I adjust the right sidebar until I my main body [where the posts are] is a little over 500 px wide, so I know my pictures can be 500 px wide. Capiche? 
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The "Advanced" section is my favorite. I just change and choose new things and look at the preview on the bottom of the screen to see if I like it and what I like. See how the red area is highlighted? That's where things are changing. 
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I have no idea what CSS is or how to edit it. I leave this alone. (-:
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OK, that's enough for now. Sorry if I'm boring you. Next time we'll talk Headers and Banners. Do you have any requests?

I'll try. I'm not an expert. Nor am I qualified to tell you these things, but I'll try.

Effort is half the battle? 

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