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Lightroom Live is BACK!

By popular demand, following the success of our last Lightroom Live – we’re bringing it BACK baby! Join us to learn how to get the best out of your images, how to fix and enhance and get creative with your photos!

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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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RANT : NO you DON’T have to be a ‘BORN ARTIST’ 

No, you don’t have to be a ‘born artist’ to significantly – and I mean really by a LOT – improve your photographs. This is a topic which makes me see red so get settled for a bit of a rant.

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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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Photographer’s Child Syndrome – is your child affected????

Does your child suffer from the Photographer’s Child Syndrom (PCS)? The symptoms include eye rolling or vocal objection at the sight of you picking up the camera or reluctantly playing along adopting less than sincere poses and the “cheese” variety smiles. Sounds familiar?

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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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How to take a great autumnal portrait

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A few times a year, Mother nature creates the perfect conditions to capture stunning, truly memorable images. It just suddenly gets generous with colour and light and textures and makes it almost a sin not to try and capture all this beauty. These perfect windows of opportunity don’t last long but when they do, you should absolutely make sure to try and make it out to get shooting.

Autumn, especially at the peak of the season is one of those times. It just looks so pretty – the multitude of rich and saturated colours trying to make up for the fact the summer is gone. But blink it, and you miss it, so time is of the essence. After all, you want to capture the rich, saturated glory, not the sad, crumpled browns.. ( well, actually hold that thought, because you might find those worth of a few photos too). Wondering if you missed your window? Look outside – if you still see some trees with green or otherwise coloured leaves, you’re still on time. Just don’t delay it any longer.

So what to photograph? And how?

1. The autumnal portrait with soft, dreamy background:

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The kind of photos people tend to comment about when it comes to autumn, are those with a soft, dreamy, delicate background. And for good reason – a curtain of colourful leaves turned into a soft backdrops makes people really stand out and adds instant WOW factor to your images. But there is a skill in capturing pictures like these and we’re about to break to you exactly how to get what you want.

What we want to achieve is a  lovely head and shoulders portraiture with a soft, dreamy, colourful background.

How to achieve this effect:

  1. Find a bush or a tree with some lovely colour on it.
  2. If you’ve not really explored your manual camera settings, put your camera on Portrait mode. If you know what you’re doing – Aperture Priority or full Manual with as wide an aperture setting as you can get – F1.8 would be great here, but if not, just pick the lowest you have.
  3. Unless you have a very wide aperture setting, you will want to make sure that your child is not standing right by your colourful tree, but at least few feet away. Better still, pick a tree  at a bit of a distance from your child and frame the image from such an angle that their head looks set against the backdrop of the tree. More distance between your child and the background helps create a greater degree of blur to your background. 
  4. Now you need to stand a few feet away too and if your lens allows it, zoom in on your child (if you’re more technically advanced, you will want a Focal Length of at least 50mm or more). Please bear in mind that you don’t want to be too far from your child either – when zoomed in, you want the child’s face to fill approx no less than 1/3 – 1/2 of the entire frame, maybe even a little more. Yes, you can achieve it without zooming in, but trust us, you’ll get much better results if you do.
  5. Make sure the focus is definitely set on your child’s face and take the picture. If you’re not sure if your camera is getting the focus on your child, look for little light-up dots or squares on your screen or through your viewfinder as you take the photo.Voila!

2. Fun with the crunchy, fallen leaves

 

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The key to capturing these kind of images is making sure that the leaves flying in the air are captured nice and sharp and that they are actually visible against the background. In order to achieve it, you need to ensure that you’re in the right position and that the photos can be taken quickly enough.

If you’re using your camera on auto, select a Sports mode ( or similar) – your camera on that mode is pre-set to take the photos quickly and ( at least for some cameras ) that the potential camera shake is minimised. The faster you ‘re able to take the photo, the more chance of the leaves appearing pin sharp and crisp 🙂

If you’re using your camera on semi-manual settings, such as Shutter or Aperture priority, select the Shutter priority setting and make sure that it is set to a minimum 1/250s and preferably faster. being outside, with generally a good quantity and quality of light, this should be relatively easy, but if your camera is struggling, increase your ISO to 400 or even 800 if needed.

If you want both your subject and the leaves to be sharp, they should be both within the same distance from you – so, if your child is throwing the leaves up, or to it’s side, you’ll catch them both sharp. But if your child is throwing the leaves towards or away from you and as a result one of the two will be further or closer to you than the other, chances are, they won’t both be sharp. Not always a bad thing, but worth remembering!

3. Just having a bit of a laugh!

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In my experience, there is (almost) nothing that kids hate more than being asked to stand or sit still, waiting to be photographed, whilst Mum or Dad spends ages fiddling with the camera. Even if they oblige to begin with, they’re quickly bored and want to go and just have fun.

So my advice is – let them. No, scratch that – encourage them and have fun with them – you’re bound to get much better photos and kids that’ll cooperate with your photo demands more readily in the future. And if the photos aren’t perfect – oh well, I guarantee they’ll still make you smile!

 

WANT TO LEARN MORE? 

Join our photography classes – in LONDON and ONLINE Click on the images below to find out more! 

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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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