Love the look of that soft, glowy, blurry background in portrait photos? You can achieve it too! Follow our 4 foolproof steps!
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!
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:
If you flick through your photo collection, you are likely to see quite a few photos that look distinctly like one another. We tend to find one or two angles that ‘work’ and produce satisfactory results and just limit ourselves to them. The thing is, however nice they are, they rarely tell a powerful story and can get a little bit…dare I say…boring?
This little creative exercise doesn’t require anything apart from 15 min of your time. Try it! It may just help you shake things up!
1. Get yourself a timer ( the old fashion kind or on your phone – we’re not fussy)
2. Pick a time of the day when your child is calm, preferably preoccupied with something, or for babies – asleep.
3. Make sure your camera is ready, you checked your light settings to make sure the photos have the best chance of coming out bright and then…
4. Set the timer on for 15 minutes and take as many VARIED photos as you can. Move around your child, shoot from above, from behind, from the floor. Go very close and move a few feet away. Shoot the little details and take in the whole scene. Notice the light and how moving around your child will change things.
5. When the time is up, stop shooting and review your photos.
Most people will exhaust their ‘go-to’ poses in the first 5-10 minutes so the last 5 minutes is the time when you push yourself and are forced to find different angles and perspectives. Some of the photos will turn out great, others not so. It doesn’t matter, if you discover even just a couple of new angles, this will be worth it.
Give it a try!