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.
I’m not a wedding photographer. There are several reasons for this - most of my weekends are filled with my children’s activities, peak wedding season is when I go home to Canada every year, and I’m scared I might meet a bridezilla.
Then again all rules have exceptions. Natalie and Terry’s wedding was one. When I first met them a year ago (ish) they were not looking for the overly posed (though magazine worthy) shots. You know the photos I mean? Often they are shot in some beautiful location, but have nothing to do with the actual wedding. They are more of a stylized session than wedding photography. To me these photos don’t convey the emotion of a wedding, nor do they commemorate the events of that special day.
To coin a phrase that another photographer used: I wanted to be a photographer at a wedding, not a wedding photographer. (It was Mike Riley if you want to check him out! I don’t know him but admire his work.) Natalie and Terry wanted to capture the interactions between people, and evoke emotions. They wanted to have photos to look back on that would take them back to their day. This is exactly how wedding photos should be, so I said yes, I would be honoured.
The ceremony took place in Windsor’s Guildhall, designed by Christopher Wren. (It is the same venue where Charles and Camilla were married, and also Elton John and David Furnish.) It is a beautiful place steeped in history. Lucky for me there was space in one of the two wedding cars (hired from Always Chauffeur in Sonning) because parking in Windsor on a Saturday in late November is not easy! The cars were a real attraction, everyone waving and honking horns - it was fun!
The reception took place at the beautiful Birds Hill Golf Centre. Due to the time of year it was already getting dark when we arrived, so we didn’t venture outside although I’m sure it is surrounded by picturesque countryside. The interior was full of period charm and the food was lovely.
Natalie and Terry - thanks so much for putting your trust in me to document your wedding day. I had an absolutely fabulous time and I hope these photos will help to treasure the memories for years to come.
Highlights of the day in under 3 minutes - be sure your sound is turned on!
I was stunned. Sixty years of a life full of marriages and children, laughter and loss. She was the most important woman in the world to me, but the photographic evidence of her existence didn’t even exceed the maximum attachment file size of a single email. I looked closely at the photos of a grinning toddler in a red Flyer wagon, a prom photo of a whisper of a smile in a blue velvet dress. There was a woman with curly hair and dimples who I remembered well, her face pressed close to my gap-toothed grin. This handful of photos seemed so meager compared to the space she had filled in my life.
The further ahead I looked, the bigger the empty space grew. There was an entire decade of her life in which we had only four photos of her. She was never fond of having her picture taken, always shirking from the frame with excuses about her hair. And often she was on the other side of the lens, creating a record of the memories we’d cherish later. But as I looked through the photographic pieces of our life together, I was struck by what was missing. She had been there for every award ceremony, packed every lunch, applied every Band-Aid, and yet, in these pictures she was gone—reduced to nothing more than a ghost standing just over my shoulder, whispering lovingly in my ear.
When I went to bed that night, I lay awake for a long time, thinking about what my own kids might see if they were to page through our family photos. And I came to the uncomfortable conclusion that they might have a very similar experience. They’d have to search long and hard for pictures of our faces filling the same frame. There would only be a handful, carefully posed and taken at specific moments. It wouldn’t be the mom they loved, that wild-haired pajama-clad woman who preferred a sneer to a smile. If I continued along the same path as my own mother, I’d leave very little evidence behind that the mom my kids knew had existed at all.
I cobbled the book together as best I could, and when it came time to choose the cover, the answer was obvious. I’d entitled the book “A Life in Pictures” with my mom’s name as a subtitle. But there was really only one photo I wanted to put on the front. It’s an old, blurry, bleached-out shot in tones of sepia. My mom is sitting at a table in a kitchen, flowered wallpaper behind her. I think my sister and I decided she’s likely about 17 in the picture, brown hair flowing down her back in gentle waves. You can’t see her face because she’s lowered it toward the tabletop and screened herself from view with her hands, interlaced in front of her forehead. You can see a long stretch of bare arm, the glint of a watch—clues of a woman but never the whole story. This is the way I know her best, hidden from view, always at a distance. I’ll spend my whole life longing for her to look up from that photo and smile at me so that I can see the mother I know.
A few weeks later, I snapped a pic of my daughter and I as she snuggled in my lap. It was definitely not my finest personal hygiene moment. Pajama-clad with messy hair and face still swollen from sleep, we stared into the lens without censure. And I did something I’d never done before—I posted that messy, imperfect photo on Facebook with a comment encouraging other mothers to do the same.
The response was overwhelming.
My mom friends posted their makeup-free selfies with their kids, tagging me in the comments, glad to simply share a slice of life that was real and meaningful. I think we all began to recognize that if we want our kids to be confident, we’re going to have to practice a little self-acceptance in front of the lens. My mother remains a ghost in the photographic memories of my childhood, but I’m determined not to pull the same vanishing act.
This story was originally published on Scary Mommy.
It was written by Kaz Weida. You really should read her blog www.asweetlittlelife.com.