For the last couple of years, I decided instead of making a bunch of resolutions that don’t last more than a week I would guide my year by a single word. For 2020 it’s simplify.
Sadly of course life rarely is simple. Lately it’s not been helped by the fact that I’ve been coughing up my lungs for 4 weeks and counting. Lack of sleep, magnified by the short days this time of year, has made things less than simple!
You know what can make things more simple? Pets. In my case my dog Frankie. Ok maybe “simple” isn’t the best word but I had to tie it in somehow! Just spending 10 minutes with your dog will not only reduce your stress but actually make you happy! So the next time you feel your blood pressure rising grab the nearest dog toy or even just give him/her a cuddle. How can that not make you happy!
I know I’m preaching to the choir, if you have a dog you already know all this stuff. The downside sadly is that they just don’t live long enough. When they are gone the house is quieter. There’s no more walks.
The best way to make them live on is to celebrate them as long as they are here. A gorgeous portrait of them on your wall will remind you that they will always be part of your family, your story. Don’t be left with only low res phone snaps with bad lighting. We can also capture your relationship you have with your dog, instead of you being behind the camera.
There’s still some time left on my February pet special, don’t wait too long.
Jenny is a very special person to me. I first met her four years ago, she was my very first maternity client! You would not believe what has happened in her life since then! Check out a photo from her first maternity shoot here in Wokingham:
After Jenny had her first baby, she settled into motherhood with the help of her partner. Emily was a beautiful, healthy baby.
When Emily was about two years old Jenny didn't feel well. She didn't think too much about it, and just got on with life, toddlers don't stop just because mum doesn't feel well!
Eventually Jenny ended up at the hospital, still not thinking anything too major was wrong. Imagine everyone's shock when they discovered that Jenny had a stroke! She doesn't fit into any of the stereotypical high risk groups: she was (is) young, not obese, not diabetic, doesn't smoke etc.
As you can imagine life changed very suddenly for them all. When they went to the hospital they were expecting to be home in a few hours. Instead she spent a long time there before she could start her recovery at home.
Almost two years on Jenny's rehabilitation has been remarkable. If you saw her on the street you wouldn't know what she's been through. Her walk might not be perfect, she moves slower and finds it difficult at times to keep up with Emily. It is more of a "hidden" issue she will have to deal with going forward.
However it didn't stop her going on to have another healthy baby girl! Welcome to the world, Sophie! Isn't it amazing what they have overcome! I wish you all the best going forward with your gorgeous family, Jenny! Hope to see you all again soon!
In the spirit of celebrating wonderful dads, now is the perfect time to start thinking about Father’s Day gifts - for the man who helped you become the person you are today, and the man who gives his all to your children. During the month of May purchase a gift voucher from Marla White Photography and get a bonus mini-session prior to Father’s Day to create a personal, heartfelt card — he’ll appreciate that most of all.
Extra bonus - when you use your voucher receive an extra £20 towards any photo product if you bring a grandparent to your session!
The Bluebell is the sweetest flower
That waves in summer air:
Its blossoms have the mightiest power
To soothe my spirit’s care.
Excerpt from The Bluebell – Emily Bronte
Spring is my favourite time in England. I love the daffodils, crocuses and tulips, but the one spring flower that really stands out is the bluebell.
For the benefit of my non-British friends, bluebells carpet ancient woodlands in late spring with an ocean of beautiful azure blue. Sadly they are fleeting, as the forest canopy above starts to cast them in shadow.
The bluebells are nature’s gift to photographers. They provide such a lush, rich background for exclusive photo-shoots with families, friends, and of course pets.
I am now taking bookings for bluebell photo sessions. Please get in touch to plan, as this opportunity is only available for a very limited time.
“Motherhood is a choice you make every day to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own.” – Donna Bell
You’re their first kiss…
Their first love….
And their first friend, as their mummy.
They are your whole world.
But they soon forget that they used to actually LIKE hanging out with you.
I have no photos of just me with my mother from childhood, and I certainly don’t have any video clips of us.
I want you to make sure your kids don’t say the same thing as adults. So to celebrate the mums I know, I’m currently offering these video fusion sessions.
Shoot me a reply or give me a call at 0776 950 7657 to get your session with your children booked, or purchase a gift voucher for a future date. You don’t want to let these days pass by.
My last blog post, I talked about “P” mode, this time we’re going to explore Av or A, depending on your brand of camera.
Av is aperture priority mode, which means that you set the aperture (the f-stop) and also the ISO. The camera will then set a shutter speed for you so that the picture is properly exposed.
The aperture setting is how you control “depth of field”, which is the blurry or non-blurry background. When you want a large depth of field, choose a high f-stop (aperture). When you want shallow depth of field, choose a lower f-stop. The range of f-stops available is set by your lens. Some lenses will go to f 4, others down to 1.4. The smaller the number, the more blurry the background. The higher the number, the more of the photo is in focus.
Here comes the slightly confusing bit. When the f number is small, the lens diaphragm is actually wide open. So if someone says they are shooting “wide open”, they are shooting with the lowest available f number. Alternatively, if the aperture is a large number, say f 22 then the lens diaphragm is smaller or more closed.
Opening your lens more refers to lowering the f number.
Closing your lens more refers to a higher f number.
Now you know what it means, when should you use Av mode? A lot of hobbyists use Av mode most of the time. Here’s a few times when you may want to switch to Av:
If there's a distracting background that you want to blur out or you want to separate the subject from the background.
If you want to make sure multiple elements in the scene are sharp, for example a landscape scene.
Speaking about blurring backgrounds, I feel I should mention a few other factors. This is particularly helpful if you shoot with a crop sensor DSLR or a phone - basically anything but a full frame sensor. The further away your subject is from the background, the more blur you can create. This will have a greater effect than just changing the f number alone. If you take two photos with a crop sensor at 2 different f factors, with everything else being exactly the same, the difference between the 2 photos may not be huge. (In order to get the really blurry backgrounds, you will need to invest money in better lenses.)
One thing to watch out for when using Av mode, is the shutter speed the camera selects. If your lighting situation is not great, the camera will select a slower shutter speed. If you are hand-holding your camera and not using a tripod, you will get motion blur.
That’s it! Time to go play with Av mode!
Did you get a new DSLR for Christmas? Ooh exciting! Trying to learn about all the different functions? I’m here to help! Let’s talk about the different modes for shooting.
This turns your wonderful DSLR into a point-and-shoot. There’s no point in having a DSLR if you are going to use this mode. We are going to get you away from this!
Program Mode - "P"
Program mode may be a good place to start. In this mode the camera will select shutter speed and aperture for you. You are ready to use this mode when:
Auto focus is selecting the wrong subject in your photo
Your photos are too “noisy” because the camera is selecting a high iso
Your subject is too dark or too light
You want to turn off the auto flash
This mode allows you to change the camera-selected shutter speed and aperture in tandem; for instance, if the camera chooses 1/200 second and f5.6, it might let you shift it to 1/125 second and f6.3 or 1/250 and f4.5.
So go ahead, move to P mode. Let the camera choose, take a shot, see what you think. Then change the settings and see how your photo is affected. Hopefully you will see that increasing the shutter speed freezes action (like a bird in flight, a child jumping) and decreases the amount of light hitting the sensor. Decreasing the aperture value (which actually opens the aperture wider) blurs the background more and increases the amount of light on the sensor.
Just like that, it’s 2018. There's something inspiring and exciting about a new year. It's a great time to reflect on the year that has passed and for you to set new goals for the year that lies ahead. There are endless possibilities and opportunities but it's up to you to make the most of the coming months.
Everywhere you turn people are setting goals and making resolutions. One of my friends is going to eat less meat; another is going to have more fun with friends. But is it really necessary to set goals?
Success can be obtained given the right mindset and routine. Each day that you inch slowly forward, you are closer to whatever it is that you want. You know the saying: slow and steady wins the race.
We also have to keep our eyes open for opportunities. They are there, we just don’t always see them.
For example, penicillin was accidentally discovered by Alexander Fleming in the basement of St. Mary’s Hospital in London, when mould developed on a Petri dish, and he noticed it killed the bacteria. Fleming was not a strong communicator, so nobody really took any notice of his discovery for some time. But he persevered because he saw the opportunity, and now we have antibiotics.
The adhesive for Post-It Notes was accidentally developed in 1968 by 3M employee Spencer Silver. For several years no one knew what to do with it. Then, one day, another 3M employee Art Fry realized he could use it to stick bookmarks in his hymnal while singing in the church choir. 3M was initially skeptical about the product's profitability, but in 1980, the product was introduced around the world.
Every year seems to fly by faster than the last so while you're inching towards those goals don't forget to slow down every now and then to really look for the opportunities.
Every year I learn more about photography as an art form and as a business. Like some other industries photography is evolving at an incredible rate. There’s a lot more creativity with smart-phone cameras and affordable dSLRs but at the same time less creative with selfie sticks and social media vanity.
Some days I feel more inspired than ever, and others I feel like packing away my gear and going back to the “9-5”. For me, photography isn’t just a job, it’s a passion that comes from my heart. When I take an image I’m proud of I feel a sense of accomplishment (although I’m never really satisfied with my own work). When I share that photo and others “like” and comment, I feel happy. However it also creates an internal pressure to post more often to social media.
In reality my life is not my social media feed, nor is anyone else's. In 2018 I will still post regularly, but I am going to limit the time I spend on the various platforms. That’s my biggest “resolution” for 2018.
You know the song Auld Lang Syne? It’s an old Scottish song from the 1700’s that is basically saying “time's gone by”. This time of year not only do we look to the coming year with resolutions and goals for the future, but also take time to reflect on the past. It’s important to remember how far we have come and the lessons and adventures that have brought us this far. You can pull out some old albums, or scroll through your Facebook memories. (See how important photos are!)
I leave you with this beautiful version of Auld Lang Syne with scenic pictures of Scotland while you reminisce over your old photos:
From the beginning of my life, I have always had pets. As a child, we always had variety of dogs and cats, and I loved them dearly, as did our entire family. Each came with their own stories and personalities. From our dog who would escape and steal stuffed animals from neighbourhood children (we had over 20 in our front garden one time!) to our cat who would bulldoze his way through our central heating ducts - they always made us laugh with their ridiculous antics. They are as individual as all the people I have met, and they all brought joy and enriched my life.
Sharing our lives with an animal is one of the most amazing experiences we can have. Our pets help us to develop empathy and compassion. The friendship a pet provides can make a person feel more relaxed and decrease stress, sometimes even more so than friendships with people. I’m sure we’ve all experienced stressful interpersonal relationships, whereas pets rarely cause stress.
Walking your dog might also encourage more social interactions with new people, reducing feelings of isolation or loneliness. I recall walking a friend’s dog (the gorgeous Siberian Husky - Shadow) and not a single person walked by without stopping to pet him, and have a chat.
Our pets make us healthier, kinder, happier and smarter. The love and friendship between people and pets is indescribable. We have a mutual dependency upon each other and there is nothing more rewarding to anyone than knowing that you are needed and loved. This is what makes life rich and relevant.