Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How to Take Great Pictures of Your Bible Journaling Pages


The other day I did an Instagram poll asking if you'd rather learn how to do watercolor flowers or how to take better pictures of your bible journaling pages.

Watercolor flowers won and I did a video for IGTV

But, I also thought I'd go ahead and show you how to take great pictures of your bible journaling pages. And also anything, really. Because the secret to all photography is great lighting.

If you have looked at images of other people’s bible journaling pages on Pinterest or Instagram, you might have found yourself wondering how some people get such professional looking pictures of their pages.

I do happen to be a professional photographer, but I never use my actual camera or any special lights or tools to take my bible page pictures.

I’ll bet that 99% of the images that you see of bible journaling pages are taken the same way.

The secret is easy, simple and most importantly, it’s free.

Natural light. 

That’s it. 

Like I said, the secret to any good photo, really, is natural light…not matter what you’re photographing.

That can be on a table by a window, in the floor by the front door, or even outside.

Look around your house at different times of the day and I bet you’ll notice that at certain times, beautiful light comes in through your windows and doors. Take advantage of them!

If your house is dark and doesn't have any windows with light good enough, my recommendation is to take it outside in open shade to snap a few shots. Nature is a beautiful backdrop, and the open shade provides nice, even natural lighting. I would avoid harsh, direct sunlight if you can. Open shade is your friend (this applies to all photography, too!)

I take mine by the sliding glass door that leads to my backyard. The light is usually the best in the afternoon and evening because the door faces the East. If I were to want to take a picture in the morning, I would use the light from my front door by just opening it up.

Here’s a picture of my set up. I just pull back my blinds, lay down a piece of white poster board (which is optional, but if you’d like a white background, it’s a great cheap way to achieve that look!) next to the door, put my bible on the poster board….




And VIOLA! You have a professional image of your bible page!



Buuuut, you might notice that it doesn’t look as bright or sharp as some of the other images you’ve been seeing. 

This is where some photo editing apps come in handy. 

Some of my favorite apps to edit my images are AfterLight ($2.99), Photoshop Fix (free) and A Color Story (free, but has add ons  you can purchase. I just use the free version!). 

You will have to just play with the images that you take yourself, but some of the things that I almost always end up altering are
  • - Brightness
  • - Contrast
  • - Highlights
  • - Shadow
  • - Temperature
  • - and occasionally saturation
Sometimes I’ll only have to play with a few of these settings, some days I’ll have to play with all of them. It will depend on your image, page and the light you had available when you took the picture. 

Here’s the page after I edited it in the photo apps.



The last thing that I do is add my Instagram name as a watermark. 

This is optional, but I found that a lot of people were stealing my images and passing them off as their own artwork (sad trombone) so I had to start watermarking.

Side note: I know I probably don’t have to tell you this, but please don’t steal other artist’s images. It makes them very sad.

My favorite app to use for watermarking is WordSwag (Free for some options, but recently it's paid subscription for all options. I will probably start looking for a different option soon that's either one pay or free, but it's hard to find these days!).

A few of the apps that I use do cost a few dollars a piece, but I use them SO much for tons of different things that they are well worth the investment for me. And it’s way cheaper than a DSLR camera and Photoshop…believe me!

So there you have it! You will probably have to practice a little to find what works best for you, but you’ll be taking amazing pictures of your beautiful bible pages in no time!

Let me know how all of these tips work for you! Comment below or find me on Instagram -- @neelysphoto

Originally posted on Rockthis.org

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Before I Go FREE Online Bible Study by Sarah Koontz (and a Giveaway!)

I haven't been posting much lately, which I apologize for! But that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything.

For the last few months...maybe almost a year (!) I have been helping Sarah Koontz put together her free online bible studies by helping create graphics and some artwork for her.

If you read my last blog post (literally my last post 😑 sorry) about her Wisdom Whispers study, you'll learn a little more about our background and the things I love about Sarah, her studies, and her ministry and why I love helping her.

Today is the first day that you can pre-register for her newest free, online bible study called "Before I Go"

I happened to have had the privilege to read ahead and I'm telling you right now that you want to participate in this (and her other studies too if you haven't yet!).

One thing that I really loved about the study is that Sarah gives you action points and discussion questions so that you're not just reading, but you're interacting. You have the opportunity to dwell and really think on the things that you've read.

Another huge thing that I love about this study is that you don't have to be completely convinced about Jesus to read it. Jesus invites every single one of us to follow Him, but that doesn't mean we have to accept the invitation. We all have free will, He will not force Himself upon us.

Sarah begins the study saying, "Hey if you're on the fence...don't let that deter you from doing this study" because it's her hope that after you learn about Jesus and His character, you'll jump off the fence and into His arms.

That's what we all hope. That it will call to those who are undecided and reaffirm the decision of those who are.

When you sign up you'll get a lot of great, free digital gifts (including a few I made!) and most importantly great daily devotionals written by Sarah about Jesus' final teaching and prayer.

Here are 5 things you need to know about the #JesusBeforeIGo study:

  •  It's a FREE email-based online Bible study.
  •  It is a 21-day study with two rest days per week.
  •  It takes just 15 minutes per day to complete.
  •  t is full of powerful truths and practical takeaways.
  •  It will help you get to know Jesus Christ better.

The "Before I Go" Bible study will help you:

  • ⤳ Understand Who Jesus Christ Is
  • ⤳ Receive the Free Gift of Salvation
  • ⤳ Invite others to Accept Jesus’ Invitation
  • ⤳ Study and Apply God’s Word to Your Life
  • ⤳ Pray With Absolute Confidence
We are celebrating the release of this powerful new study with weekly giveaways at LivingbyDesign.org and other collaborating blogs. Each handcrafted giveaway item is inspired by the beautiful truths in John 14-17 and we are so grateful for our talented creative partners who have donated these items to support the study.

This week’s giveaway bundle is worth more than $122. It features handcrafted items from Drift Design Co, AE Lettering Co, Evy Letters, and Copperhead Jewelry (My very talented Mother-in-Law). Enter below for your chance to win!





In addition to this fantastic giveaway, everyone who pre-registers for the study by October 14 will be entered to win a custom handpainted Bible from Wheat and Honey Co.

Visit LivingbyDesign.org/Jesus for all the info & to sign up. Tell your friends!




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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Review of Wisdom Whispers by Sarah Koontz


Today I want to share a bible study with you called Wisdom Whispers. It's a 31 day character study of King Solomon written by Sarah Koontz.

First of all, who is Sarah Koontz and why do you care that she wrote a bible study and why, pray tell, should you read it?

I met Sarah on Instagram (Oh how I love Instagram and the connections I have made there). If I remember correctly, she followed me (😱) and I scrolled through her feed and followed her back (duh, why wouldn't I?). That's where I saw she was releasing a bible study over Psalm one nineteen (Sorry guys, I have to spell it out so it links to the study instead of the verse. 🙈).  After I signed up for her first bible study on Psalm one ninteen, I also started receiving her Saturday SOULfood emails.

One particular email on one particular Saturday seemed like it was written just for me. It was over spiritual attack and it left me in tears. I emailed her, hoping she'd read it but assuming she wouldn't, about how much the email meant to me and she answered back, which was really meant a lot to me.

Fast forward and she released her next free bible study, Worthy of the Calling and I had the opportunity to help her with some creative elements to give away to her readers! Super fun!

Fast forward again and I have had the honor to help her with the graphic elements of her bible study.

I can say that it's been wonderful working with Sarah and getting to know her while helping with her studies.

I started with all of that to back up saying I would never recommend something to someone if I didn't honestly believe in the 'product' or the person creating it. And I believe Sarah.

I believe she has a heart to get the Word of God into women's hands, easily with no restriction, even if that means she has to make sacrifices of her own to make it happen.

I believe that God has a few things He wants us to know and that He's using Sarah to tell us.

SO ALL OF THAT BEING SAID, this is a review of Sarah's character study of King Solomon not of Sarah (although I'd say that was a pretty positive review of her 😂).

Wisdom Whispers is Sarah's third free bible study, alongside Psalm one nineteen and Worthy of the Calling.

Wisdom Whispers is a free 31-day character study of King Solomon, watching his rise and his fall, and trying to see where he went wrong so we don't make the same mistakes he made.

"But I'm busy, Neely. I don't have time to do a whole entire bible study!"


Well, lucky for you Sarah kept that in mind...
  • It's convenient! The study comes to your email (so that means also your phone because I know it's probably not even 1 foot away from you right now [like maybe even in your hand reading this right now]) (and I'm not judging you, mine is LESS than a foot away from me, so...ya know). 
  • It's quick! Each daily reading will only take you about 15 minutes, maybe less.
  • It's free! I don't know about you, but I'll sign up for almost anything that's free. 
  • You get rest days! It follows a five days on, two days off format.
  • You have time to sign up! It launches on April 2, 2018.
  • You can pre-register! Go to LivingbyDesign.org/wisdom
  • You get free stuff! There will be several free digital gifts from Sarah's Creative Partners!
Throughout the month of March, we will be celebrating the release of this powerful new study
with weekly giveaways at LivingbyDesign.org.

If that isn't enough to convince you, I'll tell you more...

Sarah has a way of writing that makes what you're learning easily transferable to your own life...but it's definitely not a study full of fluff. She shares with you history and definitions to give you background and support for the rest of the study.

She breaks down things that we should take away so it's simple to see the lessons God's teaching us through His word.

Sarah doesn't try and speak over your head to prove her knowledge, but instead she shares information and thoughts in a way that a friend would chat with you over coffee.

And most of all, she doesn't sugar coat the truth that we need to hear, but still presents it in a knowledgable, relatable and kind way. And these days we really, really need truth.

Here's one of my favorite quotes from the study...
"Although Solomon was blessed beyond measure, the weight of wisdom and success nearly crushed him. Because our greatest blessings are often our heaviest burdens. There are many lessons about wisdom we can glean from Solomon’s life. But the most valuable lesson we can learn today is this: There are limits to wisdom and there is limits in wisdom." 

I am confident that God presented this study to me at a time in my life that I needed to hear the things she wrote, and I pray that the study will bless anyone who needs it in that way as well.

It starts April 2nd! I think it will really bless you. You can sign up here!

(Also, yes, I am a part of Sarah's team, but that did not effect my opinion in any way. Scout's honor. [there needs to be a Scout's honor emoji])



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Friday, March 9, 2018

How to Use Coloring Pages for Bible Journaling (plus free printables!)

I hear all the time when people are wanting to start bible journaling that they can't because they can't draw.

You totally can do bible journaling if you can't draw. There are so many different things you can use instead of drawing, like stamps, washi tape, or just putting paint on the page as swipes of color.

Those are great ways to bible journal if you aren't "artistic" but today I wanted to show you how to use coloring pages in your bible journaling.


You can look through your kid's coloring books and see if you can find any cute characters you'd like to add to your pages or you can google "free coloring pages" and find something you love to print out.

If it's a page in your kid's coloring book that they'll use again, you can scan the page or rip it out if you don't think they'll use that coloring book anymore.

The good thing about using something you can print is that you can scale them before you print them so they can fit in the margin if you don't want to use the whole page.





Here I printed out a page from my coloring book, Bloom. In the printer settings before I pushed print, I changed the scale of the image to about 65%. It's hard for me to tell you how to do that on your printer because different printers have different options, but it will be somewhere on the pop up that comes up on your screen before you print something.



Just slip it under your bible page...



 and trace it! (If you're wondering what supplies to use, you can check out my post about my favorite supplies here. I like to use Micron pens for journaling.)



You can add some color using watercolors or colored pencils and there you have it!!

So that's how you can use a coloring page to create artwork when you're bible journaling!

You can also use printables! Here are a few I made that should fit perfectly into the margins!





Download them here!

I'd love to see what you're making! You can find me on Instagram and tag me in all your awesome pages @neelysphoto!



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Thursday, March 8, 2018

16 Bible Journaling Supplies for When You Don't Feel Artistic

A while ago I posted a blog about my top 10 favorite bible journaling supplies. Most of these supplies were focused more towards painting, hand lettering and drawing.

I chose those supplies because they’re what I do and what I know best, but I know that isn’t everyone’s style. So, today I wanted to share something a little different.

I know that not everyone is a drawer and not everyone feels comfortable with hand lettering, so I wanted to share a blog post with supplies that you can use when you’re NOT someone who enjoys doodling or drawing, but still wants to do bible journaling.

With these supplies, you can almost think in terms of scrapbooking or card making. Stickers, stamps, tip ins*, washi tape, you name it, it will totally work.

I’m going to give you a few examples and links below to give you some ideas of where you can start!

In my last post about supplies, I recommended the pencils, pens and erasers which would apply here too! So make sure you go check those out!! 


This blog post does contain affiliate links. That means that I will make a few cents off of each thing that you but from clicking these links, but it won't change the price for you!




1. Pre-Illustrated Journaling bible - There are a couple of different journaling bibles out there right now that have illustrations in them already. My favorite is one just came out. It is The Message translation Canvas Journaling Bible. I know that some people are a little iffy about this translation, but I love it. Also I’m not really a colorer, so not really a fan of the pre-illustrations, but I really love these.

There are over 300 illustrations in it that are amazingly gorgeous and there is also PLENTY of room for your own artwork. If you are a colorer, then a pre-illustrated bible might be for you! I think it would also be great for kids.

If you just REALLY don’t like the Message translation, there’s another illustrated bible called the Inspire bible and if you don't like that version, there's also a KJV.


       


And of course, if you’re not into the pre-illustrated thing there are just the blank, 2” margins OR one with a completely blank page on every other page! OR one with a completely blank on page every other page (I’ve got my eyes on these)!


      


DISCLAIMER: Not all bible journaling pages are created equally!! I have heard through the grapevine that the pages in the Inspire bible are very thin (although I cannot say for sure because I haven’t seen them for myself).

My experience with the bibles so far are the Crossway ESV and The Message Canvas have the thickest, most durable pages. The Zondervan NIV has thinner pages. Those are the only ones that I have used myself, so I can only speak for them.

If the page thickness is something that really concerns you, try going to your local bookstore or Christian bookstore and see if you can find some to look at before you buy.





2. Alpha Stickers - These are perfect when you don’t want to learn hand lettering! Just pop these in to make your words and they always look cute! Try buying different styles so you can change it up throughout the verse. Here are a few different kinds, but absolutely anything that you find will work if you like them!







3. Acrylic Stamps - Clear acrylic stamps are really great for adding artwork to your pages if you don’t want to draw. You can find these online by searching for “acrylic stamps”, look on Etsy, Dayspring, or in the scrapbooking area in craft stores. They do not have to be clear, but I like the clear ones because you can see where you're stamping. If you have stamps that are just regular stamps, they’ll work too. I’ve seen alphabet stamps in the Target dollar spot that would work just fine.

I highly recommend getting acrylic alphabet stamps in addition to stickers because you can reuse the stamps and, of course, stickers will eventually run out. Here are some cute ones, but just keep searching, there are so many different kinds!






4. Acrylic Block - If you’re going to be using acrylic stamps, you’ll need an acrylic block to put them on! You probably won’t need a very big one, but they do come in packs of different sizes just in case!





5. Ink pad - The acrylic stamps won’t do you any good if you don’t have ink. I recommend the Staz On brand because it is waterproof, so you can watercolor over it if you want to.

Just a disclaimer, this ink can and will bleed through  your page if you have a bunch of ink on the stamp.

If you stamp over paint, it usually doesn’t bleed through as bad. I recommend leaving the lid off for a while to let it dry up just a little bit so it isn’t quit as juicy, but don’t forget to put the lid back on after a while. ;)






6. Washi tape - Most people that craft have an immense love for washi tape! You can us washi tape on the edges of your page for decoration, tape on tabs to mark your pages, tape in tip-ins*, etc. If you can think of a way to use it, then go for it! You can find washi tape…well, pretty much anywhere! And there are endless amounts of cute patterns to choose from.



7. Scrapbooking Paper - You can finds pads of extremely cute paper in pretty much any store with a craft or art section. You can use this paper to cut out tabs or you can cut pieces out, write prayers on them and tape them in your bible.





9. Tab Punch - This was in my last supply post, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. This is great for if you want to mark your pages.

Just use this to punch out a piece of cute patterned paper (above), write something to reference the page on it, and washi tape or glue that sucker to the top of a finished page and voila! Now you have a marked page.




10. Paperclips - These are actually my favorite way to mark a page. I tie a scrap piece of fabric to the top and have a super easy bookmark! (Gold ones are my favorite, because I love gold…but literally any paperclip will work! I’ve seen some pretty cute ones in the dollar spot at Target!)





11. Die cut embellishments - Die cuts are a really cute way to add color and images to your pages without having to draw anything. Just tape or paste them in to the margins.






12. Watercolors - This one was also on my last supply list, but I just really love watercolors. You can use watercolors to just add a splash of color to your page without actually painting any THING. Just plop it down in blobs. You can’t really mess up watercolors. :)

DISCLAIMER: Crayola watercolors are extremely pretty and vibrant, but they WILL bleed through your page. They’re the only ones I’ve had any issues with bleeding.





13. Colored pencils - If you aren’t comfortable with watercolors, colored pencils are a great way to add color to your pages and to highlight passages even in your regular study bible.






14. Acrylic paint - A lot of people use acrylic paint to add a colorful background to their pages. You can either paint it on with a paintbrush or you can  put a little bit on the edge of an old gift card or a paint wedge (below) and just drag it along the page. A lot of people really recommend a heavy bodied acrylic paint like Liquitex, but you can try different paints to see which ones you like best. You can get this Apple Barrel paints at Walmart for about 50 cents each!







15. Paint wedge - Like I said above, you can put a little bit on the edge of the wedge and just drag it along the page. It will apply a thin later of paint on the page to make a colorful background! Try doing a bunch of different swipes in different colors and directions. If you don't want to buy a paint wedge, you can also use an old gift card the same way!







16. Date stamp - You HAVE to date your pages. You’ll totally regret it if you don’t. I actually use a self inking date stamp  and really like it. I use a self inking one because, honestly, I’m lazy and I don’t want to have to get out an ink pad every time I want to date…but if you have your ink pad out already there are some really cute ones to date your pages with.


Of course, I have pens, pencils and erasers that I love as well. You can find those in my first bible journaling supply post. 

But here are a few quick links to my recommendations:


I hope that these recommendations were helpful to you!

You don’t have to use the specific examples I provided above, but I just wanted to give you some ideas of what the products were and how broad the selection is.

Go to your local craft store and just browse! I’m sure you’ll find tons of things that you can use to decorate your pages. Almost anything you find will work.

The only things I will caution you about are markers and some ink pads.
You have to be really careful with them because there are a lot of them that will bleed through, especially if they’re alcohol based. Usually water-based anything are your best bed for no bleeding (but of course, water based aren’t waterproof).

You can get anything to try, just be sure to test supplies first on some of the blank back pages of your bible.

Also, the most important thing to remember!!

It’s SO easy to get lost in supplies and want to buy every. single. thing. Please don’t do this.

You will soon come down for the craft-supply high and could possibly be left with a bunch of things that you just don’t want, need, or want to learn how to use. Start out slow to find what you like and add supplies gradually as you figure out your journaling style.

I feel like broken record but what’s most important isn’t the supplies or how great of an artist you are. The most important thing is the REASON you’re journaling and what God blesses you with from it.

Have fun!

*A tip in is when you tape something into your bible. It can be a cute printable, a cut out of some kind, a card with a prayer on it, ect.




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Maira Gall