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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
We often get asked about some of these in class so we decided to compile a little “cheat sheet” to the most essential and commonly used ( or misunderstood) photography related acronyms. You can download the pretty file in pdf format from the link below and if you like it, don’t hesitate to let us know – we have a few more in the pipeline!
12 Essential Photography Acronyms
DSLR : stands for – Digital Single Lens Reflex camera
WHAT IT MEANS – Single Lens Reflex camera describes a camera where the light travels through a single lens and then is reflected by a pop up mirror, which relays the image to your viewfinder. It specifies it is a Single lens reflex camera to distinguish it from Twin lens reflex cameras developed around the same time. SLRs describe e general type of a camera, DSLR are SLRs that use a digital sensor in lieu of film.
AE : stands for – Automatic Exposure
WHAT IT MEANS – The camera measures the light reflected off the object or scene you are pointing it at and automatically adjusts all its parameters : the aperture, shutter speed and light sensitivity as well as whether or not to fire off the flash to take a correctly exposed photograph.
AF / MF : stands for – Auto Focus / Manual Focus
WHAT IT MEANS – Auto focus refers to the camera’s and the lens’ capability to achieve sharp focus on a selected part of the picture using a sensor, a control system and a motor. Some lenses will allow you to switch between auto mode and manual mode, some offer only manual focus (often the case with older legacy lenses).
A ( or Av) : stands for – Aperture priority
WHAT IT MEANS – Aperture priority is a semi-automatic camera mode which allows the photographer to select a desired aperture value and let the camera adjust the rest of the settings to achieve a correctly exposed photo. Aperture values are responsible for how much of the image will be in sharp focus and how much will be blurred and out of focus.
WB : stands for – White Balance
WHAT IT MEANS – White balance refers to a camera setting responsible for adjusting the colour temperature of the photo to achieve a photo with the most natural looking colours (without orange, blue or green-ish tinge). Settings include : sunny, cloudy, flash, tungsten, fluorescent etc. There is also a possibility to adjust white balance based on Kalvin temperature scale.
DOF : stands for – Depth of Field
WHAT IT MEANS – Depth of Field refers to an area in the scene we are trying to photograph, which will appear in sharp focus on the finished photo. Where only a small area of the scene appears in focus (and what is located behind and/or in front of it is blurred) we talk about “shallow depth of field”.
Exif : stands for – Exchangeable Image File Format
WHAT IT MEANS – Exif is a standardised system used to encode information on the parameters of the photo taken (date/time, camera settings such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO speed, metering mode, focal length, copyright etc ) onto the photo file itself, allowing you to review this data either in your camera or once uploaded onto a computer.
ISO : stands for – literal acronym: International Organisation of Standardisation,
WHAT IT MEANS – In photography ISO refers to a measure of light sensitivity. ISO values typically range from 100 to 16 500 and beyond and determines the level of light sensitivity of your camera. Lower values are used where a good quantity of light is available (daylight photos outside) and the higher range is used to compensate for worse light (indoor photos in poorer light).
S (or Tv) : stands for – Shutter Speed Priority
WHAT IT MEANS – A semi automatic camera mode where the photographer sets the desired shutter speed value and lets the camera adjust the rest of the settings (aperture, ISO) accordingly to achieve a correct exposure. Expressed in fractions of a second, the smaller the fraction, the faster you are able to take the photo and capture movement.
P : stands for – Program mode
WHAT IT MEANS – A more complex automatic exposure mode. It sets the aperture and shutter speed automatically but still allows you to change some of the settings such as whether or not you want the flash to pop up or what ISO setting to select.
M : stands for – Manual mode
WHAT IT MEANS – A fully manual camera mode which allows the photographer to set every single camera parameter based on their needs. The photographer manually selects the aperture value, the shutter speed and the ISO value as well as whether or not to use flash.
RAW ( not an acronym, but often used like one)
WHAT IT MEANS – Often thought to be an acronym, Raw file format refers to a picture file which is preserved by the camera “as shot” – without processing it or compressing into a more portable format such as jpg. Shooting in Raw will require from you to have photo processing software capable of working with this format.