How I Edit My Instagram Pictures

     As weird as it sounds, I love editing pictures.  I’ve had the VSCO app since it was called “VSCOcam” back in 2014 and I’ve loved it ever since!  Today I’m sharing how I edit my Instagram pictures for my account that corresponds with this blog, @apocketfuloffaith.  I’ve always loved watching “How I Edit My Instagram Pictures” YouTube videos so I thought this might be fun!  I’m by no means a pro, but I really like the way I’ve been editing my pictures lately!  Keep in mind, these steps vary from photo to photo, but this is typically about what I do.  Enjoy!

     After I take and upload the photo from my camera (I use a Canon EOS Rebel T6), I open my photography/editing folder on my iPhone.  These are all of the apps I ever use on my Instagram photos, but it’s very rare that I use anything aside from VSCO, so that’s all I’m going to show you today!  I really love VSCO and I would definitely recommend downloading it if you don’t have it already, it’s free and it will seriously improve your Instagram game if you use it correctly!

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     Once I’ve opened the Instagram app, I choose “Import” and select the photo(s) I’m considering posting.  Today it’s just one, but often I’ll have a few that are pretty similar and I’ll edit all of them before choosing one to post.

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     Now that I’ve uploaded the picture to VSCO, you can get a better look at the before.  I don’t think anything about this picture looks really bad, it’s just a little darker and less colorful than I’d like it to be.

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     The first thing I do to all of my Instagram pictures is choose the filter C6.  As extra as it sounds, I did buy this filter in a package on VSCO but there are lots of great free options too!  If you’re not willing to put down money on photo editing (I wasn’t until a few months ago), I would highly recommend the filter C1 if you’re looking for a colorful theme, HB1 or HB2 for a more minimalistic, black and white kind of theme, and F2 for a colorful but soft, muted look.  You can actually adjust the intensity of your filter by tapping on it again and playing with the levels, but personally I usually just leave it all the way up.

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     The first thing I really mess with after I’ve filtered the picture is exposure.  I usually turn it up just a smidge if the picture’s a little darker like I mentioned this one was, but sometimes when I use flash the pictures appear a little washed out and then I would turn the exposure down to -1 or -2.

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     After I’ve brightened up the picture a bit, I like to turn up the contrast just a little too.  This usually makes your photos look like they’re better quality than they actually are, even if it was taken with an iPhone (been there)!  The trick is to turn it up no higher than 2, once you pass 2 the picture’s shadows begin to get too dark and the highlight points become white.

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     Next I like to use the straighten tool to make sure all of the lines in my picture are straight.  When a photo is taken without a tripod usually they’re a little crooked, so this is really helpful.  I think having all of the lines in a picture straight (like the line where the road meets the grass in this picture) makes it more aesthetically pleasing to the human eye and therefore more likable if you know what I’m saying!

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     After straightening the image I usually turn up the sharpness a bit.  I would recommend never turning your sharpness up past 4, at that point photos tend to become grainy, dark, and honestly kind of ugly.

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     Once I’ve sharpened the picture I usually like to turn up the clarity a bit too.  This feature also helps to add more definition to the picture, but the same “don’t go past 4” rule applies here too.

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     Here’s a little trick for my fellow pale girls out there.  I discovered the highlights feature a couple years ago while messing around with settings on a picture and it has been a bit of a life changer.  Turning highlights up to about 7 or 8 will decrease the flash or sunlight reflection on your face (or whatever your picture’s subject might be) and make your skin appear a tad darker.  Yes, I just taught you how to make yourself appear realistically tanner in photos, you’re welcome.  This trick is especially helpful for all of those late night, bright flash photos that tend to make your face look completely washed out.

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     Next I like to turn up the saturation just a bit to bring a little more color to the photo.  This tool can definitely make or break a photo.  If you use this the right way, it’ll make your pictures seem bright and colorful, but if you use it the wrong way it’ll be super obvious and your skin will literally be orange.  I would recommend never turning the saturation up past 4.

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     At this point, I’m pretty much done editing the photo, but I like to go back to the initial exposure setting and turn it up a little more now that there’s so much edit on the picture.  Settings like clarity, sharpness, and contrast are all great, but they often make a picture grow darker, so always check exposure again before saving the photo.

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     My camera takes pictures that are classified as “2:3” and “3:2” in VSCO, but Instagram makes you crop it to what VSCO calls “3:4.”  I usually do this cropping in the VSCO app instead of through Instagram because I’d rather crop the photo than zoom into it more, which is all Instagram really allows you to do.

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     This is the final product!  I like my photos to look realistically bright and colorful and I think this editing does a nice job of accomplishing that.  Like I mentioned in the intro, this editing varies from photo to photo because the lighting isn’t the same in every single picture I take, but this is a good example of what I usually do!

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Thanks for reading!  The outfit shown in the image I edited for you today is featured in this blog post.  Be sure to check it out (linked here) and find all the details on this outfit there!

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15 Ways to Fight Summer Boredom

     Summertime is upon us, as I’m sure you’re well aware, and I couldn’t be happier.  With the arrival of summer I am always so happy to think about the possibilities.  Your summer might be packed with exciting travels or you might have a lot of fun plans with your friends in town.  However, if you don’t have a lot of plans, the sudden abundance of free time has the potential to quickly turn into boredom.  I absolutely hate feeling bored in the summer, so today I’m sharing fifteen summer boredom busters!  Let’s get started!

#1: Go to the pool.

     Going to the pool is perhaps the most cliché, well known summer activity, but it can be a ton of fun!  Invite a friend and bring a deck of cards and some snacks to guarantee a few hours of classic summer fun.  Don’t forget to pack sunscreen!

#2: Take a little day trip.

     If you have a beach, lake, or big city within a couple hours from you, grab a friend and hop in the car!  Charlotte and Asheville are fairly close to me and taking day trips to either of them is always super fun.  If you have a camera, be sure to bring it along, as well as some spending money for roadside snacks.

#3: Surprise a friend.

     Imagine how cool it would be to return from a weeklong trip and find your best friend sitting in your driveway with a box of donuts.  Why not do this for yours?  You could use this same idea if you have a friend with a summer birthday or just want to surprise them for fun.

#4: Try a new sport.

     Maybe one of your friends plays lacrosse, why not go to their house and play with them? I’m sure they’d be happy to give you some lessons on the basics.  It’s always fun to try something new and this is a great way to get some exercise with a friend!

#5: Try a DIY.

     DIY videos are all over YouTube, so pick out one you like and try it yourself!  The DIY might be for room decor, clothing, or a gift.  What better time to give it a try than now?

#6: Read a book.

     If you’re anything like me, you have practically no time during the school year for just-for fun reading.  Take advantage of your free time and read a book you’re interested in or have heard a lot about.  This summer I’m going to read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, a book that I’ve seen all over Instagram over the past few years and am super excited to read.

#7: Get a summer job/internship.

     If you’re old enough and have a lot of time on your hands this summer, you should apply for a summer job!  Think of a place near you that you visit frequently, have a passion for, or just enjoy being at.  See if they’re applying by checking their website or asking an employee next time you go.  Summer is also a great time to get an internship, these look great on college applications!  Think of a business near you that aligns with what you think you want to study in college and shoot them an email!

#8: Find a few blogs you like and read them consistently.

     Not only do I love blogging, but I love reading blogs too.  You can find blogs about just about anything, including recipes, book reviews, fashion, exercise, school, short stories, music, politics, the list goes on.  Once you find a blogger you enjoy reading from you’ll look forward to every post, a lot like you look forward to a new episode of your favorite TV show or a new video from your favorite YouTuber.  A few of my favorite blogs are A Sunny State of Mind, Lonestar Southern, Kelly in the City, The College Prepster, The Road Les Traveled, and Live the Prep Life.

#9: Start a VSCO and become dedicated to it.

     Okay, this one probably sounds silly considering the majority of girls have a VSCO, but this can be so much fun!  Use your camera or iPhone and get a little artsy.  Make your VSCO something you’re really proud of as a “photographer.”  I’ve recently gotten super into VSCO and I love the way mine looks right now, check it out here!

#10: Go on a picnic.

     Stop by the farmers’ market, pick up some fancy snacks, and go with a friend to a pretty outdoor area near you (this could be a mountaintop, middle of a field, park, or even your backyard!).  Be sure to bring a camera because picnics are so photogenic.

#11: Go camping in your backyard.

     Set up a tent in your backyard, take a lot of blankets, flashlights, and snacks, and camp out with a friend or sibling!  Take it to another level and leave your phone inside to truly enjoy each other’s company.

#12: Tie-dye shirts.

     Everyone knows how to tie-dye, plus it’s super cheap and tie-dye is super trendy right now!  Invite a bunch of friends over and tie-dye shirts together!  You don’t have to stop at tee shirts either, socks are also super tie-dye-able.

#13: Have a movie night with friends.

     Rent a chick flick and have your gal pals over for a fun movie night!  Pop a ton of popcorn, make cookies, and bring out a ton of blankets for maximum fun.

#14: Go to a workout class.

     I’m not really a huge workout person, but I love going to Zumba with my friends!  If you’re a member of a local gym (my family has a YMCA membership), you should try out a fun workout class this summer!  I highly recommend Zumba because I find it super fun (mainly because I’m terrible at dancing and it’s hilarious) but there are many other fun options like yoga and spin class that sound great too!

#15: Try new recipes.

     I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of cool recipes you’d like to try on social media like Pinterest, Buzzfeed, and YouTube during the school year, but never had the time.  Now’s the time to try them out!  Master making those crazy snacks so you can easily make them for your friends and family during the school year.

That’s all for today, I hope these fun activities help cure your summer boredom!  Thanks for reading!

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How To Get Free Stickers + Companies That Will Send Them

     Everyone loves to accessorize their laptops, water bottles, cars, notebooks, and more with stickers.  I’ve received a few questions regarding obtaining stickers, so today’s post is something that I hope will be helpful to you all; how to get free stickers!  I personally have an embarrassingly large collection of stickers due to my obsession with getting them in eighth grade and I thought I’d help you get some too!  There are a few easy ways to get stickers; by emailing companies, asking for them in stores, filling out request forms, and with online purchase.  Now, let me explain them!

By Email

     So, how do you go about emailing a company?  Who do you email?  What do you say?  Well, first you need to find an address to send the email to, which you can usually locate somewhere around a “contact” or “customer service” tab on a brand’s website.  When writing the emails, I always said something along the lines of the paragraph below.  Feel free to copy and paste this filling in your own name and address!

     Hey!  My name is ______ and I absolutely love your company!  I was wondering if you’d be willing to send me a few stickers.  I would love to promote your company around my school campus by putting your stickers on my water bottle, notebooks, laptop, etc.  If you’re willing to send some stickers, please send them to the following address:

(Your Name)

(Your Street Name)

(Your City, State, and Zip Code)

Thank you so much, have a wonderful day!

(Your Name)

Here are the names and emails of some companies that I have successfully received stickers from this way in the past:

Vineyard Vines – tieguys@vineyardvines.com

Southern Proper – customerservice@southernproper.com

Chaco – customerservice@chacos.com

Sperry Topsider – customerservice@sperry.com

Yeti – internationalorders@yeti.com

Smathers & Branson – info@smathersandbranson.com

High Cotton – customerservice@highcottonties.com

Johnnie O – wingman@johnnie-o.com

(Disclaimer: I can’t 100% guarantee that these brands are still willing to send stickers, but they sent me stickers a few years ago!)

In Store

     When you visit a company’s store or one of their retailers, there’s a good chance they’ll have stickers either to give out for free, to sell, or to include with purchase (or sometimes all three).  If you’re in the store of a company that you’re sure makes stickers, ask an employee if they have any free stickers.  They might say no, but what do you have to lose?  I haven’t physically been in a ton of preppy stores (I do a lot of online shopping – I’ve only been in a Vineyard Vines store once) so I can’t tell you exactly where this will work, but it’s always worth a shot!

Sticker Request Forms

     Some companies know their stickers are desired and have sticker request forms online that just take a few minutes to fill out.  These requests might just ask for your name and address to send the stickers to or require that you send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the company inside another envelope.  A few companies I know of that have request forms are listed along with the link to their form below.

Jadelynn Brooke – www.jadelynnbrooke.com/pages/happy-sticker-request (and when the form asks you how you became aware of Jadelynn Brooke products, please mention that you saw them on my page!)

Southern Tide – http://www.southerntide.com/sticker-request-form

Southern Marsh – http://www.gratsistickers.com/order.cfm?shop=southernmarsh

Patagonia – https://www.patagonia.com/catalog-request/

Southern Tide – www.southerntide.com/sticker-request-form

Over Under – https://www.overunderclothing.com/pages/sticker-request

Southern Lure – https://www.southernlure.com/pages/stickers-1

The Lucky Knot – http://www.theluckyknot.com/pages/stickers

With Online Purchases

     Lastly, most companies include free stickers with any online order.  A few of these companies include Jadelynn Brooke, Fraternity Collection, Vineyard Vines, Lauren James, Southern Tide, United, Tiny Tulip Monograms (special details here), The Lucky Knot, SoutherndoeCountry Club Prep, and many more.

Here are a few of the many stickers I have collected.

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Thanks for reading!  I hope this helps you expand your sticker collection!

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P.S. – If you’re looking for some extra stickers on top of the ones that Jadelynn Brooke sends through sticker requests and with orders, use my code “FLHS” for 15% off your purchase and send me proof that you used my code (such as checkout confirmation, etc.) via email (apocketfuloffaithblog@gmail.com) or Instagram direct message (@apocketfuloffaith) and I’ll send a bunch of adorable Jadelynn Brooke stickers your way!

Easy DIY Halloween Costume Collab

     As I’m sure you’re well aware, Halloween is next Monday, which means most parties will be this weekend.  Last year I was invited to a Halloween party super last minute and had no idea what to dress up as.  I must have read every “clever Halloween costumes” article on BuzzFeed but I couldn’t find anything I really liked.  This year, I realized there are a ton of cute costumes that are super easy to make yourself!  Today’s post is a collaboration with my friend, Fiona, of Preppy NYC!  Fiona and I are each sharing a costume that you can easily make at home, so be sure to check out her post here!

I’ve created a cow costume, but with a few pattern adjustments (i.e. changing the shirt color, headband attachments, and felt shapes) this could easily be a rabbit, leopard, pig, giraffe, or just about any other animal with ears!  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a big plain tee (can be purchased at Walmart or Target)
  • felt (can be purchased at Michaels or Walmart)
  • a plain headband (can be purchased at WalgreensWalmartTarget, etc.)
  • leggings/jeans (I think it’s safe to assume you probably already have at least one of these)
  • safety pins or a hot glue gun (can be purchased at Walmart or Michaels)
  • Converse (or another basic shoe to wear with your costume)

     First you need to cut your shapes out of felt.  I cut out black spots for my cow costume, but you might cut out a white belly for your rabbit costume.  After you cut out an appropriate amount of shapes, attach them to your tee using safety pins or a hot glue gun.  I used safety pins, and if you do so too I recommend pinning the shapes from the inside of your shirt to avoid showing the part where the pin fastens.  Once you complete your shirt, it’s time to work on your headband!  For the cow ears, I folded two pieces of white felt and cut an ear shape through the four layers at once.  I attached these base ear shapes to the headband by putting the headband into the crease of the ear shape and safety-pinning the top and bottom of each ear (you could use a hot glue gun depending on your preference.)  Then, I cut some smaller black felt spots and attached them to the ears with safety pins as well (again, you could use hot glue if you prefer.)  If you chose to do another animal, say a rabbit, you might cut out pink ovals to attach to your grey ears.  Now pair your tee and headband with leggings or jeans and some simple shoes and you’re set!

Thanks for reading!  Don’t forget to check out Fiona’s post here for another fun costume idea!

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