Saturday, May 24, 2014

How I Approach Using Images in My Blog Posts

One of the first things that I learned when blogging was that readers like visuals. I learned that my posts should include a picture or some sort of graphic element that relates to the post. Pretty simple idea which I thought was great.

It wasn't until it came to selecting the image that I ran into trouble (and I suspect you, fellow blogger, might have encountered the same problem). My knee-jerk reaction was to head over to Google Images and pick an image that looked good, and that's what I did for a long time. Then one day I learned that it wasn't okay to grab a random image and use it on my blog without crediting it/asking permission/paying for it etc. Essentially, it was stealing.

Suddenly every image I had ever used on A Splash of Ink was in jeopardy, I was in moral crisis, and I worried about being sued silly for a few days. 




Mostly out of fear, I decided that A Splash of Ink needed to take a new route in regards to image usage in blog posts. I decided that I needed to supply and create my own graphic content for A Splash of Ink. I didn't want to have to worry about copyright infringement, and I liked the idea of customized images.

I was trying to think of the best way to explain everything, so I decided on a list (lists make everything better), a list of all the different mediums I use to provide visual interest, why I use them and how I create them.

Photos
This is by far the easiest way to create visual content for your blog. I mostly use photos in posts where I'm talking about a personal experience I've had that I feel the reader needs to see first hand (e.g. visiting a small library, a book haul, or if I want to show off some decorations). I've also used some of my generic photos and layered relevant text over them using MS Paint.

It really doesn't matter how you take a picture (i.e.what type of camera you use) so long as you can capture a complimentary image to your blog post.

The other aspect to using photos is editing. You don't have to edit your photos before you use them, but I've always liked to make sure that the colouring and crop is just right. For editing I use Adobe Lightroom (aprox. $150) and Google Picasa (free!)

Examples from this post and this post:



Illustrations
This is one of the most time consuming methods that I use which is why there isn't as many illustrations on SOI. Most of my illustrations are mini headers for each blog post, because I can't think of any other graphic to go with the post, and it makes the post more "pinable" on Pinterest. Personally, I love the look illustrations give to the blog, and I enjoy creating them. 

I have a Wacom Bamboo Graphics Tablet, so I can "draw" on the computer, which makes things a lot easier. Before I got Photoshop Elements (aprox. $100), I used GIMP to draw in which is the free version of Photoshop. If you take the time to learn how to use GIMP, it's a great tool. 

Another option is to draw on paper than scan it into the computer and use that as your illustration. 

Examples from this post and the blog header:


Photoshop Creations
My "Photoshop Creations" usually consist of a collage of some sort. I find it so hard to get multiple pictures and text to lay right when I arrange them within a blog post, so I usually just end up arranging everything in Photoshop (or in the earlier days, GIMP) and then just have one picture to upload. I also use Photoshop to manipulate book covers and create little diagrams as well.

A little pro tip: if you don't want all your collages to have a white background, use a transparent one and save the image as a PNG. That way the background of your blog will show through, instead of a white background.

Examples from this post and this post:

GIFs 
These are probably the most fun type of visual. I use them to express my reactions or if I'm talking about a movie or T.V. show, I use them instead of a simple picture. Generally I just Google what I'm looking for, but I've had the most success finding GIFs on giphy.com

I've also created a few of my own GIFs using Photoshop Elements when I want a more dynamic image. 

For an example, look to the top of this post and to my "About Me" page.

Screenshots 
Screenshots are great for promoting other things that you can find on the internet or computer. I'll often use them if I'm doing a tutorial on how to do something in blogger, or if I'm plugging my social media or another blog. I like using screenshots, because it gives the reader an idea as to what they're getting into when they clink through a link and it often eliminates the need to even have to follow a link.

Examples from this post and this post:



 In closing thoughts, I'll be honest with you; I still don't completely understand Creative Commons Licenses or all the ins and outs of copyright law. However, I am happy with the way I'm approaching images on A Splash of Ink and I don't think I'll ever go back to using random images that I find online. I don't feel like I need to worry about copyright infringement anymore. If you are interested in copy right laws, I highly recommend this blog post from Go Teen Writers; Jill does this topic more justice than I can. 

I know that this was on the longer side of a blog post, but I feel like I had so much to say on this topic. So if you made it through this, kudos to you. What types of images do you use on your blog? What kinds of images do you like to see on A Splash of Ink? And finally, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Reading: Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boast Morale... by Stephan Lundin
Listening: Bruno Mars
Watching: Call the Midwife

4 comments:

  1. These are all great tips. I was lucky enough that I start blogging a little while after my mum started, so I had all her wisdom to draw upon and I've never used copyrighted images. I love your illustrations. They make me wish I was artistic so that I could make some of my own. Normally I either use photos belonging to me or my family members, or use images under creative commons licenses. Creative Commons Search is really helpful for finding images I can use and most of the time I just have to credit the artist.

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    1. Thanks! The illustrations are super fun to make.

      I'm glad that you started off a little more informed than I was, haha. I wish my mom was into blogging.

      I think I need to explore the Creative Commons and start utilizing that resource. It would be a good blogish thing to know:)

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  2. This post is very much full of awesome. I had noooo idea that taking random pictures from pinterest was illegal. In fact, I was doing it right up until last year. Now I try to make my own graphics but I absolutely suck at graphic making. It drives my perfectionist INSANE. I wish I had photoshop or something to play around with. >_< But it's picmonkey for me. x) Definitely awesome advice, thanks Sunny!

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    1. Your welcome! I'm happy to help whenever I can.

      I would highly recommend you try GIMP. It's super similar to Photoshop and it's a free download. It should quench your photoshopping needs until you can get the real thing. If you're interested here's the link:
      http://www.gimp.org/downloads/

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