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10 things to do to make your snow photos look great!

“Did you SEE that Mummy! We can go an build a snowman! And play snowballs and …”

Here are out 10 top things to do if you want your snow photos to look beautiful.  Illustrated by our very own students photos!

Before you go anywhere – take steps to protect your camera.

Snow is water and water is your camera’s enemy so make sure you don’t let it into your camera. How? While there are some dedicated camera sleeves and protectors out there, a humble thin plastic bag wrapped around it will do the job just as well. Cling film will work too! Oh and remember that batteries deplete much faster in the cold so make sure your is charged fully and ideally, have a spare somewhere warm! ( like your pockets )

Change your White Balance to ‘cloudy’ or ‘shade’

Your camera doesn’t really understand pure white ( and pure black for that matter ). Because of that, it tries to bring it down to a pale shade of grey and we all know how attractive grey snow looks. If you leave it to its own devices, the effect will be greyish, blueish photos. Changing your White Balance ( WB) – warmifies the image, making it closer to how we perceive it. Where to find it? – Look for either a button with WB on it or a setting in your camera.

Overexpose.

I know, counter-intuitive, but hear me out. This is again down to the whole not understanding white thing and trying to bring it back to grey which essentially ‘dims’ the picture. Find a button on your camera with a +/- on it ( that’s your exposure compensation button) and use the scroll wheel ( if you’re on DSLR – this might differ for bridge cameras) to push the meter towards +1. Take a few test pictures to double check and adjust as necessary but you should find them looking better than on ‘correct’ setting. Just don’t forget to bring it back to zero later!


Keep your shutter speed fast for pictures of falling snow unless you want them to look like lines.

Start from 1/250s and adjust upwards if necessary to preserve the roundness of the falling snow flakes. Go even faster for the obligatory snowball fight  of course! Just make sure your camera is nice and safe (snow = water = trouble)

Photo by Lisa Friday

Think of your background and foreground.

Want to make it clear in the picture the snow is falling around your subject? Make sure your background has something dark in it ( trees are good) so that the bright snow flakes have something to stand out against. Using a shallow depth of field will help to blur some of the snowflakes in the front creating a layer of depth.

Photo by Claire Fay

Shoot the action

Being out in the snow is all about having fun – whether it’s wild tobogan rides, building a snowman or a snowball fight – make sure you get right there with your camera. Catch the snow flying, the tobogans flipping, the cheeks rosy from frost and  eyes sparkling with laughter.

Photos by Karen Baker, Sarah Honey, Sarah Collins and Ruth Harvey

Notice the light

If you’re having one of those wonderful snowy/sunny days you’re in such luck! The sun makes the snow sparkle, shine and shimmer – it brings extra magic in and can easily take your photos from ‘meh’ to AMAZING! Let the sun backlight the icicles, highlight the flying snow, reflect from the snow. And sometimes, all you need is a little creativity as one of our students has shown with the help of a security light!

Photo by Teresa Foyster

Think of the larger picture as well

Head out to the park or a wide open space and show the beauty and calm of the snowscape. If your child is wearing contrasting colour – even better – it will make them stand out against the background and draw the eye. Take a family portrait in the middle of a winter wonderland – all it takes is being able to put your camera down no something and self timer!

Photos By Kerry Anderson, Amanda Vickers and Ruth Harvey

But don’t forget to focus on the details

The wonders of winter lie in the details too – the snowflakes landing on the eyelashes, the icicles sparkling in the sun, the state of your son’s gloves after building the snowman. Don’t forget to get in nice and close to capture those details.

Photo By Amanda Vickers

Too cold to go out?

The falling snow is beautiful to watch from the inside too! Just because you’re indoors, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it!

And above all – have fun!

 

MORE SNOW PHOTOS BY OUR STUDENTS!

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When is the best time to photograph your baby?

What is the time of the day, when your baby is likely to be calm, relaxed, not move too much, and give you the best chance to photograph all their adorable features?

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What we do, as parents, photographers, and why it matters.

What we do as parents, photographers – matters. Documenting the little moments in our family lives, the quiet ordinary moments that make up the fabric of our lives – they matter. They are the ones that in years to come will bring the smile back on your face and floods of emotions.

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Holidays by the pool? Learn how to take great underwater photos and capture the fun!

Want to capture your kids under water? Not as hard as it looks! We explore equipment options, technique and composition – ready? Splash!

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Simple and modern baby photos – getting started

Capturing beautiful and simple images of your baby needn’t be hard and complicated and it doesn’t need to include lots of fussy props. This guide is non-technical and instead focuses on simple instructions you can follow with any camera.

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5 tips for taking great photos of your children in the bluebells

 

 

Are you getting out there with your camera today?

If you want to make the most of the bluebells while they’re still in full bloom, here are our best tips for seriously beautiful photos:

An important caveat here : bluebells are an ancient wildflower but they can be vulnerable to habitat destruction so make sure that when you go exploring your local woods, you cause as little harm to them as possible = don’t pick, don’t trample, leave them as little disturbed as possible. 

 

1. You want LOTS of them

Pick an area where the bluebells are nice and dense – the strength of a flower carpet is in the sheer volume of the photos – give yourself the best advantage by finding somewhere that has an abundance of flowers! Here is some help finding bluebells near you from the Woodland Trust. Our student Sarah Gannon used the abundance of flowers beautifully – by focusing on the logs in the front, she made the bluebells melt into background, creating a beautiful scene, rich in colour and with subtle texture.

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Photo by student Sarah Gannon

2. Think big picture

Before you zoom in on the photos, consider the overall magical scene with the gorgeous flower carpet that’s painted in front of you and shoot that as well – make your photos high and wide, choose a wide angle focal length and picture the whole scene.

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3. aaaand the detail

Once you’ve got those wide images, don’t forget to explore the delicate nature of the flowers by going closer in and creating tighter frames. Putting the wider shot and the detail together can give you a really beautiful collage.

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4. Get your angles right

Most people shoot from where they stand, without varying the height of the angle and you can make such a difference by getting a bit lower to the ground, you know, where your subject is. Try shooting low, at around the flower height, get your kids to crouch down or sit down amongst the flowers to get the most of it. By shooting low,  you allow yourself to develop a good depth in the photo, almost multiplying the volume of the flowers. Shooting from above and into the ground takes away the sense of flower abundance. In the photo below, the little girl is crouching among the flowers with some at the front being out of focus and some lovely and sharp ( for those of you comfortable around a camera, that’s playing with a shallow depth of field)

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5. Bluebells as foreground

Don’t just think of the bluebells as a gorgeous background. Bringing them to the front and either keeping them sharp and your subjects blurry or just using them as a bit of a blurry background can bring a real 3D dimension to your images, lifting them from ordinary, to something a bit more special. Our student Valsa Shah kept the bluebells sharp in the foreground which adds lovely texture to the image. The silhouette of father and a daughter in the background has the perfect blur which means our eyes don’t go there first, focusing on the flowers instead, but at the same time it’s delicate enough to make it clear who they are.

photo by student Valsa Shah

photo by student Valsa Shah

 

 

 

Camera settings:

Choose a shallow depth of field for creating varied texture in the images – ideally you want some flower details around your subject that further melt into the background into a blur of colour and light. You can create it either by picking a wide aperture ( the smallest possible number on your camera), getting close to your subject and zooming in ( ideally all 3 ). Don’t just think background when it comes to creating a texture in the photo – shooting through the flowers brings in a great candid dimension to the photos.

And above all – have fun and mess around with your kids – let them play and  capture the joy! Get them to hide behind logs and flowers and examine the flowers from up close! Play pick-a-boo behind the flowers and encourage them to explore by themselves. When they have fun, beautiful photo opportunities will always follow – you just need to capture them!

Happy snapping!

Want to learn more of what your camera can do? Check out our photography courses, designed especially for Mums and Dads with a passion for photographing their families – just like you! Pick from face-to face, London based classes and Online workshops.

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London classes

online_classes

 

 

 

 

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How to take blurry background photos?

Love the look of that soft, glowy, blurry background in portrait photos? You can achieve it too! Follow our 4 foolproof steps!

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Love the look of those festive lights in the background? Here is how you get them:

I really really really love Christmas. I cheer up instantly pretty much from the 1st December or as soon as the fairy lights start going up all over the place. They’re such a lovely accent among the doom and gloom of the winter, I really couldn’t be without them.

But photographically speaking – if there is such a thing – they are great because they give you fabulous opportunities to get some beautiful BOKEH.

Bokeh is a real word ( I promise), it comes from Japanese and describes the light circles we can get on our photographs, usually in the background. Like the ones below ( all our students photos).

The great news is that they are actually not difficult to capture and they bring such a lovely festive feel to your photos. Follow our 3 steps and you’ll be bokeh-in all over your photos.

The process:

Before go go any further, make sure your camera is set right:

If you’re shooting on auto: set your camera to Portrait or High Sensitivity.

If you’re shooting in semi-auto or manual mode : set your aperture to the widest available setting ( smallest number you have) and ( unless you;re using tripod or something else where you can just set your camera steady by itself) up your ISO to 800 – 1600 ( or until you’re able to get a shutter speed above 1/60s).

If possible, try to make sure that the subject you’re photographing is facing a window or another source of light.

To make bokeh as attractive and as effective as possible, we are essentially trying to throw them out of focus as much as possible. And here is your 3 step plan to achieve it.

Step 1. Distance to the lights

The closer your lights are to your subject, the more in focus they will be. So to give yourself a chance of getting it right, move your subject a little distance from the lights.

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Step 2. Distance to your subject.

The further you are from the point you are focusing on, the more everything in the frame will be in focus. Easy way to test it – grab your camera and hold one arm in front of your lens. Take a picture focusing on your hand. Now without moving an inch from where you are or changing anything on your camera, focus on something a bit further away. If you compare the two pictures, you’ll see that one has comparatively much more blur in the background than the other.

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Step 3. Zoom in

The more you zoom in on your subject, the more you compress the entire space in your frame ( trust us on it) and the more your lights will be thrown out of focus. So use as much zoom as you can in the space you’re in – longer zoom will require you to be physically further away from your subject or it won’t let you focus. Yes, I know in the step above we made a point of saying – get close to your subject – this means, get as close as you can with your zoom stretched out. Try to zoom in so much that your subject occupies at least half the space in the frame.

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IN SUMMARY

1. Get your subject away from the lights

2. Get close to your subject

3. Zoom in on your subject

Good luck and a very happy Christmas from The Photography for Parents team!

Feast your eyes on more wonderful examples of bokeh from our students!

 

 

 

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New creative exercise – the colour challenge

Feeling like you’re taking the same children’s photos over and over again?

It’s so easy to fall into a routine with anything, photography included. We tend to be drawn to the same poses, the same angles, the same perspective and before we know it, we’re in possession of hundreds of photos that only vary ever so slightly. If that rings a bell, it’s time to set yourself up a challenge and see how what you see through your lens, changes – and with it – your photos.

Today’s challenge, if you’re willing to accept it is COLOUR.

It’s amazing how a choice of colour can make or break a photo. Use it to accentuate a point of interest and that’s where everyone’s eyes are drawn. Usea toned down palette of similar pastel colours and your photo goes from boring to dreamy. Use contrasting background and make things ‘pop’ agains it.

Your challenge for the weekend is to pick a colour or a colour palette and  try to incorporate it into your children’s photos you’ll be taking throughout the weekend – be it in the background, as an accent element or just recurring splash of colour. Think about how it dominates or defines parts of your photo. Observe how using it in the background or the foreground makes a difference. Match it with similar or contrasting colours. Whatever you do, it has to be in every photo you take.

Some inspiration for you below: