Thursday, 24 November 2011

How I compose a blog post...

Since taking over posting the blog on a daily basis, I have developed a approach to it that I find sustainable (and that gives me quite a lot of satisfaction in the process). I have decided to share this -without suggesting that it is the only, or the best, way to do it.

I typically start with my camera, which is the one built in to my iPhone 3GS.  
This is not particularly high spec (2 megapixels) - iPhone4s and 4Ss have higher resolution (Annie Liebovitz rates the iPhone as a portrait camera, so it is not seen as just a toy!). It only has a digital zoom function, which I never use, because it only results in pixellated images.  I used to use the Camera program supplied with the phone, but now use the Camera Genius program (£1.49)  - or sometimes Camera+ (£0.69). Both of these have an image stabilisation function, which means the shot isn't taken if I am waving the camera about.  This avoids fuzzy images that I can't use and is really helpful when taking a series of shots to put together into a panoramic composite.
Because the phone generally goes everywhere with me, I always look out for images to put on the blog. They don't always work out - often because of the light levels. Camera Genius gives a little control over this, as well as on the focus  snap point of the photo. 
I will use yesterday's blog post as an example:-

This is an original photo I took yesterday morning, just up the road. I downloaded it, along with all the day's other photos, into iPhoto onto my computer (a MacBook) yesterday evening.  
Onscreen, it was clearly off vertical, so I used the Straighten function to correct this.  In this "Quick Fixes"tab, I most often use the Crop function. I never use Enhance or Retouch.
Having straightened the image, I then switch to the "Effects" tab.  I typically just Boost all images to a value of 1 - this corrects for the slightly muted colour that the iPhone camera gives.
Switching to the "Adjust" tab - typically I leave Exposure, Contrast and Saturation alone, and simply boost Definition and Highlights to 100, and increase Shadows as necessary.  It is easy to overdo Shadows to get a grainy effect, and sometimes Highlights can look odd - so some judgement is needed at this stage. Photos are generally ready to use in the blog after these steps.

Panoramas are assembled in the phone, using a program called AutoStitch (£1.49). I typically take a series of overlapping photos in CameraGenius and then get the program to combine them. 30 is the greatest number of separate photos I have used so far in making a single panoramic image.
Yesterday's panoramic sunset image was built up from 7 separate photos (cropped to give a rectangular image). It had the same Boost, Definition and Highlights adjustments as the other photos.
I take anywhere between 10 and 100 photos a day. The processing time to get them ready for use on the blog is generally around half an hour to an hour a day. I select the photos that I think might work on the blog and Export them to the desktop of my computer. Then I start composing a blog post for the day by logging into Blogger,
uploading the photographs

and placing them on the screen.  They get placed at Medium size, which is quite small. I resized the blog screen recently to allow X-Large images to be used without overflowing the blog post boundaries.  Most of the examples in this post are Large.
Having got the images onto the blog, I may move their order around and then typically write a descriptive or explanatory piece around each one
I then proofread (not always as well as I should!) and then change the font from Times Normal
 to Georgia Large
Another quick read through, edit - and press the Publish Post button.  I then post on Facebook and Twitter that there is a new blog post for the day, and wait for people to read - and sometimes respond with comments.

Now I've got that off my chest, time to finish my glass of wine:-)!


  1. Excellent post. I am always interested how things are done so it's nice to see explanations of other people's processes.

    Now, if only there was a direct way of writing blogger posts direct from your phone then you could spend the day creating the posts and then just hit 'post' when you finish for the day.

  2. What I did not say is that editing and reviewing photos on the iPhone is less effective or satisfactory than on a larger screen. Also, looking at all the photos all at once helps to get some feel for the whole day, as opposed to just recent happenings predominating. I find that the photos help me to appreciate the richness of apparently mundane days as well.

    If I composed on the phone as I went, it might just be a series of "and then"s - which I believe might be less engaging.

  3. I think you're right. Come the end of the day you can reflect on it and draw the story you want from all the pictures available.

    If you post every picture you take when you take it, you lose the rhythm of the day and it does indeed turn into "and then I did this, and then this happened and then I had cake" and so on and so forth.