Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Capturing the Radiance of the Sun: Taking Photos for Instagram

One of my favorite things to do is taking pictures with my iPhone. I've always had cameras but never seemed have the knack for capturing the right shot. Maybe it's because I was limited to film and had to wait for my pictures to come back from the lab. With digital photography and my iPhone, I get to see my pictures right away. I'm always amazed at the quality of photos I grab with my iPhone. I've been able to experiment and hone my picture-taking skills. Some filtering helps enhance what I capture as well.

I get a lot of requests for advice on taking fitness photos. I like to play with the sun and the sky and I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned with you. I'm no expert, though. A lot of what I've learned has been through trial and error, and there's been some dumb luck too. You know, right place, right time...

Today, I'm going to share some of my secrets for capturing the sun in my photos!

Taking Photos for Instagram


One of the hardest things to capture in a picture is the sun. When I try to take a picture of a sunrise or sunset, the results are usually less than spectacular. Usually, there are sunspots or reflections in the picture. But who doesn't love a great sun photo? To grab the image, I try to make it interesting by taking the picture at a different angle or placing myself in front of the sun. You can also try positioning your phone at different angles, up or down, not necessarily facing straight forward. You'll be surprised at how tipping your phone will give you a whole different perspective!

Warrior 2 at sunrise

Capturing the sunrise through the clouds has made for some really interesting photos! And you don't get that pesky glare. I did use a filter on both of these photos to make the clouds more interesting.

Headstand at sunrise

Running at sunrise

A problem with shooting into the sun is that it can make the subject of the picture appear dark. Here's a picture I took at the pond. My goal was to capture the light reflection on the water, but you can only see my silhouette. No worries, though!

Jumping for Joy before

Here's the picture after I applied a filter. I'm still dark, but with the use of the filter, I enhanced the sun and the rays and made an interesting picture. I also cropped the picture to make it more Instagram friendly.

Jumping for Joy after

Here's another example. The streaky clouds were really interesting to me and so I stopped on my run to strike a pose and try to catch the sun. Notice the piece of grass in the foreground of the picture. I try to get rid of those but it doesn't always work!

Triangle pose and streaky clouds before

After some creative editing where I enhanced the clouds and the sun, and lightened up the subject (me). I cropped it but I didn't edit out the grass. My bad.

Triangle Pose and Streaky Clouds after

I use filters a lot. My favorite filter is Snapseed, which is a free download from the app store or Google play. Other people like to use VSCO. Instagram has a pretty good filter if you don't want to get too detailed. There are a lot of others as well. I've tried quite a few. Some allow you to add captions and make collages. Choose the filter that gives you what you are looking for. Some are more user friendly than others.

A couple of comments about the use of filters: 
  • Using Snapseed and other filters will lessen the quality of your picture. The pictures do appear more grainy. This filter is meant to be used for smaller pictures, like those you post on Instagram.
  • A little editing goes a long way. Don't sacrifice the quality of your picture for special effects. Look at your work with a critical eye. Is your edited version something that's pleasing to your eye? Are you getting the effect that you want? Sometimes I take what I think will be a great picture but I can't get it to look how I want. I play with my pictures a lot. Sometimes they end up being deleted. 
  • Don't get all hung up on getting the perfect photo. Look at the title photo above. I was trying to get into half moon pose but really just didn't have it in me that morning. But with the fog and the sun behind me and my bright clothes in juxtaposition with the gloom (there's that word again!), this turned out to be a pretty cool picture. I used some editing to bring out the light from the sun and my clothes.

When you set up your picture, try to envision how you want the sun to be positioned. Remember, you can use the filters to enhance things, so don't sweat the details. The more you practice, the better you will get at finding the right angle, the right shot. Contrary to what people think, I don't own a selfie stick. I use whatever is handy. There's a lamppost in one of the parks I run through and I take a lot of pictures using that. Sometimes I use a water bottle to prop up my phone! I don't often ask people to take a picture of me because they don't get the shot I'm looking for. Crazy, right?

Warrior One and holding the sun
Here I wanted the sun to be positioned between my hands. I love the reflection of the sun on the water behind me. This is one of my favorite pictures.

Twisted Chair Pose in the Sun
I took this one on my way to work last winter. The winter sun is low in the morning and makes for some really fun shots. The sun was really bright and so I kept most of it out of the the shot. I loved the rays coming across me. I did not have to do much editing on this one.

By offsetting the sun or the subject, you can make the shot more interesting! Most of the time I'll set up my phone and make sure I have the angle I want before I set the timer and jump in for the picture.

Wild Thing at Sunrise
This one was taken on my was to work as well. I had to stop. Look at that sunrise! But I didn't take it directly at the sun, instead choosing to focus on my pose. There is the moon above me as well. 

High Lunge at Sunset
You may have seen this one from earlier this summer. I loved the reflection of the sun through the tree. I asked my son to take this one of me. I could have done a better job of editing, tho--it's a little tilted!

And sometimes, you can get the sun just the way you intended. Big, hot, and radiant! I had a tough run and when I stopped to catch my breath, I saw exactly why it was so hard! Hello summer sun!


the Hot Sun

Don't be afraid to step outside the comfort zone of the traditional running selfies! Practice taking more creative photos. Even a picture that you might think looks bad may be a winner with a little creative editing! I will honestly say that the Instagram accounts I go back to time and time again are the ones with really fun, creative photos. Pictures of your Garmin just don't do it for me--I'm sorry to admit this. I'll share more tips on future posts. But for now, let's all enjoy the sun as the daylight hours begin to dwindle! Show me what you've got!

Do you follow me on Instagram? I'll follow you back! http://instagram.com/wendyistakingthelongwayhome

What photo editing tips do you want to share? What's your favorite editing app?

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is radiant!

Also with Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!

And Debbie, Susie, Lora, and Rachel for Coaches' Corner!






110 comments :

  1. Good tips! I'm working on figuring out pics for IS!

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  2. I've surrendered to the fact my Instagram will always be a hot mess precisely like I am :-) but but but I could use these a lot simply for pictures of life.

    I am an aviary app fan.

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  3. Great tips! I have a new top and shorts that I kinda want to model outside, so definitely will be taking this into account. :] Thanks!

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    1. I can't wait to see the outfit and your pix!

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  4. I do love your photos! Every now and then I catch a good one too but now I'm back to darkness again. *sigh

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    1. The darkness photos are definitely a challenge!

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  5. All great tips! I go back and forth on filters...I love what they do, but sometimes the art geek feels like I'm "cheating" in dong so LOL. I have learned that simply zooming in can make a boring pic more interesting, and not every pic of "me" requires my face to be front & center. I agree with the sweaty selfie thing.....I skim past the pics of sweaty smiles and Garmins....make it interesting, folks!

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    1. I used to think filters were cheating but there's only so much you can do with fitness selfies--I like to make it interesting!

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  6. I always love your photos! Do you do them with a self timer? If so I could never get those poses right in 10 seconds - LOL! Thank you for sharing!!

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    1. I use a self timer but for tougher yoga poses I use the video function and take a screen shot of the frame I want to use.

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  7. You've been hitting it out of the park with your photos lately! Thanks for the tips

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  8. Your photos are so gorgeous. I can never get the positioning right to take a good photo of myself...and then there are the other people around when I am trying to get it done and I get too self conscious!

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    1. I'm kind of over what other people think--I have spent this summer going to the parks around here to do my daily yoga poses and people just stare at me! Oh well...

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    2. Ha! I feel the same way... I get selfconcious when trying to take pictures when other people are around. But I guess you just have to get over that :)
      Thanks for the tips with self-timer and video... I always wondered how other people take their pictures (when they don't have a running partner around).

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    3. It's gotten to the point where I'd rather take my own pictures. Last winter my yoga instructor took some of me in the studio and the angle she took them at made me look weird. I'm getting picky, I guess!

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  9. I like your take on it too, Wendy!

    My husband is a talented photographer, so I've learned a lot from him over the years. Plus I have a design background.

    I happen to actually love some flare from the sun in a photo, but my husband hates it!

    I'd say the 2 biggest tips is to take a lot of photos from all sorts of angles and edit carefully! So much easier in the digital age.

    Try not to have your subject smack in the middle of your photo, either. Use the rule of thirds -- mentally divide your photo into thirds (or afterwards), and try to place the most important thing/subject in the upper/lower or right/left third.

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    1. Good advice! Keep it interesting! And be your own critic--is it a picture you'd want to look at?

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  10. I need to get up earlier a lot often to catch your sunrise photos!

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    1. I haven't been catching the sunrise much this summer. Soon enough, tho...

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  11. Great tips! I always admire your gorgeous photos, somehow me and the timer never seem to work out...lol

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  12. Very interesting tips on the pictures! I tried to take a picture doing a yoga pose in a parking lot once, to capture the sunset... but I ended up hurting my hand with the hard concrete, but I nailed the pose! The picture didn't turn out. I had always wondered if somebody was taking the pictures for you!

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    1. Nope, just me! And that commercial, where the iPhone user goes to take a great photo and storage is full? That's me too!

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  13. Great tips! Love your sun pics !

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  14. You always capture great pics! One thing I try to remember is to go ahead and take them in a square if I plan to use on Instagram so I won't have to crop out anything I don't want to. I like Snapseed, but you are correct in that is does make the pictures somewhat grainy on a larger scale. I rely on PoPo for most of my water skiing pics. Thus, they are never good! LOL.

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    1. Your pictures are pretty awesome! You have a good eye for the right shot.

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  15. Great tips! I like Snapseed as well. I need to get into the habit of setting the camera down and using the timer to take my selfies. You've inspired me!

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  16. I love these tips...I always wonder if sunrise/sunset/sky pics don't turn as a way of God telling us there is just no way to capture His beautiful artwork in a picture...but with these tips maybe we can convey that beauty a bit better!

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    1. Maybe He wants us to enjoy the sun and be in it?

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  17. Great tips! I usually find it easier to ask the IG husband for some shots haha

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    1. My husband actually does a pretty good job. When we were in Yosemite, he got some amazing pictures of my yoga poses. Who knew?

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  18. My issue is that between PokemonGo and IG pics, there's little time left for my dang run!

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    1. Isn't that the truth? I have to promise myself to run a certain distance before I can stop and attend to those things.

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  19. Well I think your quite the expert! You have captured some great shots over the last year! I like the use of filters and you are very creative! I did not know you didn't have some type of tripod. Hey I never thought about a water bottle being a stand before! I really need to work on my pictures and using different angles, I know people get tired of the same thing!

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    1. It's funny how tipping your phone up or down changes the image. I'm super picky about how the sky looks behind me.

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  20. You really do take the BEST run photos for instagram. All so inspiring! Thanks for sharing your tricks!

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    1. You do a great job yourself! Love your pictures.

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  21. I'm so glad you posted this! You always have such great pictures, it's nice to know some of your secrets. Question: Do you put your phone in selfie mode or set it up from behind?

    I have a little remote that I use. I got it on Amazon for about $8. It is really handy, small enough to fit in a key pocket and great for action shots. You can hold down the button to get a good choice of photos.

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    1. I use the timer and/or the video camera. I need to get brave and try a remote. I have an Apple Watch and it has that function--it's voice activated.

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  22. Thanks for sharing your secrets! I always love your photos!

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  23. Your pics are so good. I need to get a remote and some sort of stand. It would make my life way easier. I have major lighting issues. BASICALLY I"M A HOT MESS

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    1. Not at all, Suz! I just use the timer. Which sometimes gives me hilarious results, if I don't get set up in time!

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  24. You do have the best sun shots. My biggest tip is that I actually take a video! Then I take a screen shot of the best moments. It's a great way to get action shots.

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    1. I do that with the more challenging poses or when I want Cocoa in the screen! She's kind of unpredictable...

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  25. Love your photos. I don't have the patience to take so many of myself! You must have a good sense of where/how to set up your phone to get you in-frame the way you want to be.

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    1. Lots of trial and error! I delete a lot of photos.

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  26. Great tips! I always love your pics!!

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  27. Awesome tips! I also use my water bottle and fence posts to prop up my phone if needed.

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  28. Great post-I LOVE Snapseed too-it makes for really cool IG photos! I also prop my phone on benches, walls, or whatever I can find to take a photo haha.

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  29. Snapseed is also my go-to app! I've also started playing around with Colour Story.

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  30. Wow. What a great post. These are some awesome tips. Thanks for sharing.

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  31. Thank you for putting together this awesome collection of tips. I am addicted to Instagram and I'm always amazed at how some folks (like you) always have the most stunning photos to share!!!

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  32. I love seeing all your sun photos and taking my own as well! I have a lot of fun capturing them and playing with filters to make the beauty really stand out.

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  33. Do you use the "selfie" camera on the front of your phone so you can see what it's looking at when you're in front getting into position?

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    1. I do use the "selfie" camera--so I can see myself and the timer!

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  34. You always have beautiful pictures. I don't have insta but I admire them on your blog!

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  35. Woah these photos are amazing! How cool that you are able to capture the sun like that- thanks for the tips!

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    1. I continue to play with it--the sun makes it challenging!

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  36. These are some great tips! Thanks for sharing. The apps really are great but it can be challenging to get great shots of the sun. This is definitely helpful.

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    1. Let me know if you have anything else to share--I'm always looking for tips too!

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  37. Those pictures are so cool they look fake or edited! Thank you for the great tips! I will definitely be using these soon!

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    1. I prefer the term "enhanced"... seriously, tho, I have a lot of fun with this!

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  38. Of course I follow you on IG! :) I don't use filters much. I could but I like your photos too much and I wouldn't be able to live up to the standard. ;)

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    1. Oh you are so funny...the filters do make things more pleasing to the eye!

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  39. i've always loved your insta feed! do you set the phone on something? I'm so bad at selfies and trying to stage pics. call it impatience, lol

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    1. I do--I set my phone on anything that will prop it up!

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  40. I definitely want to try all of this! I haven't moved far beyond the IG or iPhone filters but I love what you've done with your images.

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    1. I started with the IG filters and got some pretty interesting photos that way--you don't have to get too involved!

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  41. absolutely gorgeous photos! great tips. i want to try them. i will have to look more at snapseed! thanks for sharing!

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  42. You really do make your pics super interesting - especially your Yoga pics. Some of my Favorites!

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  43. I always love your photos, I will have to check out that app, I tend to just use the instagram filters and edits. Thanks for sharing

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  44. I love all your sunset pics!
    I have been using Photofy and Studio Design lately. I also like Piclab.

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    1. I will have to check those out! Thanks for telling me!

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  45. I love taking pics with my iphone. I never use a camera anymore. I use Snapseed too. I din't have the patience to get pics of myself nor can I do those fabulous yoga poses. Do you use a tripod? I just rest on my phone on something.

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    1. I do the same--prop my phone up on whatever is handy.

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  46. These are great tips! I love getting sunshine in my photos. I'm pretty new to photo editing so I will definitely use your tips.

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  47. I love taking photo's and playing around with my camera.In another life I would love to do photography. I have only had an iphone for 6 months but have had fun playing around with what it can do.
    You take awesome pics and have great creativity!

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    1. I've really enjoyed exploring photography with the IPhone! Looking forward to seeing what you can do.

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  48. You have the best photos!!! LOVE them all!!!

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  49. This was such a helpful post. I always LOVE how beautiful your Instagram photos are and I have often wondered how you did them. I use several apps, but I had not heard of Snapseed.

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    1. I like Snapseed, but there are a lot of good photo editing apps. It's all what you are comfortable with and what you want to do.

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  50. ok, so I am downloading snapseed as i type this out. I have been wondering this whole time who Wendy gets to take all these great pics and you are just propping up your cell phone with a light pole or water bottle? I clearly need to up my selfie game! :) Great post- thanks for sharing!

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    1. I'm looking forward to seeing your upgraded selfies! :D

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  51. I always enjoy your pictures and your awesome yoga poses. I need to use the timer on my iPhone because I don't always have my GoPro with me. I also use my water bottle to prop my GoPro up sometimes when I want a different angle. I use the Camera+ app to edit most of my pictures I post to Instagram. Sometimes I like the heavy edit looks and sometimes I don't want that affect - just depends on the picture.

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. I like your GoPro pix...I'm so tempted to get one but I've had a lot of fun with all the photo editing tools on the iPhone. I agree with you..sometimes I like the heavy edit and other times not. It's all fun, tho.

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  52. Thank you for this!! I always thought you needed a bunch of props to get nice photos. I do realize that I don't spend enough time editing photos, I always feel silly and don't want people to see me posing!

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    1. I'm over what other people think when I'm out there posing! The guy who picks up the garbage at the park doesn't even acknowledge me anymore...

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  53. This really was an awesome post... because your pictures are so wonderful! Thanks for linking up to Best of Blogs today. Tweeted for you!

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    1. Thanks for hosting and for the tweet! <3

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  54. I need to get more creative in finding props for my camera. Once I used a burnt tree while out on a trail, but most of the places I run don't have good props. Or maybe I just haven't learned to spot them yet. And I get pretty self-conscious about pausing for pics. Guess I need to work on that, too. lol.

    I do have an app, Cam Timer, that takes 1 or 4 pics when the timer goes off. It's come in handy. :) I should use it more often!

    Thanks for the great tips!

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