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5 part blog series based on our oversubscribed online Autumn Photography bootcamp. Part 5 – things to do with leaves while with camera
5 part blog series based on our oversubscribed online Autumn Photography bootcamp. Part 4 – lines and frames
5 part blog series based on our oversubscribed online Autumn Photography bootcamp. Part 3 – Autumnal Portrait
5 part blog series based on our oversubscribed online Autumn Photography bootcamp. Part 2 – Colour and texture
5 part blog series based on our oversubscribed online Autumn Photography bootcamp. Part 1 – Light.
“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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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:
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:
- Find a bush or a tree with some lovely colour on it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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!
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!
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