Detail collages get me in all the feels. I love seeing those newborn lips, and those mushy cheeks, and the little noses, and those itty bitty ear folds.
When I can, I like to create a little birth announcement for my newborn clients. Even if you don’t purchase 150 and mail them, it’s always nice to have one for yourself. When my daughters were a few months old, maybe even a year old, I finally made a couple for myself and printed a 5×7 of each, then framed those 5x7s in an 8×10 matted frame. Just a suggestion… 😉
No one can resist a nibble on newborn toes. Maddie is no different. I love Mason’s face, looking up to Daddy like, “HAAAAALLLPPP!!!!” Seriously, it’s not like anyone could resist taking a smooch or maybe… nibble.
If you’re expecting in June or July of 2017, email me today firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your newborn session!
A year or so ago, I typed up a post about silhouettes but because Word Press is sort of the devil, it got eaten and is lost in the pits of internet mystery. So here goes with Take 2: Holiday Silhouette.
Long story short– expose for your tree lights, focus on your people, under exposing the people. Voila! Silhouette.
I just asked my daughters to stand in front of the tree and BE TOTALLY 100% STILL FOR PETE’S SAKE JUST STOP MOVING. (proud parenting moment -_-)
But I had good reason to demand they be totally still. If you know anything about photography you know LIGHT MATTERS. Light is the single most important factor in your photography but when you shoot this, you want NO LIGHT. Why is that, Wendy?
Glad you asked. To create this specific holiday silhouette, your only light source will be your tree. If you have day light, lights on in the room- you will have a harder time getting that soft bokeh from your lights on your tree. But when you have pretty much zero light, you’re going to need to use a super slow shutter speed. When you have a super low shutter speed, any movement will look like a ghosty blur. No bueno.
What you’ll need in addition to a basic understanding of the manual settings of your camera:
tripod or something sturdy to set your camera on
holiday lights, the more the better. DO NOT wrap your kids in holiday lights.
a kid or two who will STAND STILL FOR THE 100TH TIME, I SWEAR TO GOD. (swearing to god optional). Also good for practicing with, stuffed animals because they are the best at being still when people are in the room.
a DLSR camera
Handy to have:
remote shutter release
First things first, mount your camera on your tripod or Sturdy Thing. You’re going to keep your ISO low, and your shutter speed SLOOOW like I said above. You can up your ISO a little bit, but don’t go to high or you will risk too much light on your people. My ISO was set to 200. My shutter speed was set to 1/20th– if I was trying to hand-hold my camera at that shutter speed the silhouette would be a motion blurry mess. If you have a remote shutter release, it’ll be nice to use so you don’t risk shaking the camera even on your tripod when you push the shutter release.
Next you’re going to set your f-stop. I was set to 1.6 since my lens is pretty baller and I knew I would be able to get both girls in focus with it. For super beginners it’s sometimes suggested that your f-stop equal the number of people in your picture, so with 2 people, I could have set my f-stop to 2.8. If your lens only goes to 3.5, just remember to move your subjects farther away from the tree (some day, I’ll teach you all about depth of field and why it matters).
You should be good to give it a shot. Set your person or stuffed animal up, and take a test shot! How’d it look? Was your subject in silhouette? Was it a little brighter than you expected? If so, you can speed up your shutter, or close down your f-stop. Were the lights little pin pricks? Slow down that shutter even father! Show me in the comments on wendy b photos what you got!
I saw a really good post over on newbornphotography.com about taking safe photos during the holiday season. To most of us pros, they are common sensical but there are a lot of people who will try to take photos themselves (and hey man, more power to you if you want to give it a shot). One of the first things they talk about is the danger or wrapping your child in Christmas lights. Just– don’t. It’s so unsafe for so many reasons, not the least of which is the lead the wires are coated with. In fact, you should wash your hands after handling the lights yourself!
I love the look of “twinkle lights” in holiday photography- it’s a safe way to incorporate lights without risking anyone’s safety. I had one of my daughters sit for a minute so I could show you a couple safe twinkle lights. I’ll do a tutorial post on how I shot these twinkle lights shortly ;D ::UPDATE read how to create this backdrop HERE.
If you’ve looked back and found that WHOOPS you’ve done this, don’t worry about it. Most people really don’t know better. Before I had any idea what I was doing, I’m about 98% sure I tried something with lights. But I won’t do it ever again. Your safety as my client, or your child’s safety if you’re trying this on your own, is more important than getting a bunch of “ooh that’s so cute!” comments on your Facebook feed (and you betcha I’m going to post to my Facebook).
There is one other big thing I can’t stress enough when talking about safe photography, though not holiday related. Let’s talk about railroad track photos.
Never, ever EVER (for real) take photos on railroad tracks. Nothing ruins a photo session like being hit by a train like happened below:
Even if you’re preeeeetty sure the tracks are “dead” meaning they haven’t been in use (that you know of) you are still trespassing and breaking the law. Please, don’t ask us to shoot on tracks. I don’t like having to tell my clients no, but I won’t hesitate to do it. I love my clients but there’s no way I’m going to jail for you or anybody! If you read that like Garth Algar from Wayne’s World, award yourself one gold star.
I know there is a ton of info out there and a lot of people feel :so what: when it comes to things like this, but if you’re my client, my friend, I will never ever put you in harms way.
At Christmas time, I showed you how to create a star-burst effect with your tree lights. The neighborhood I live in is lined with street lamps and every night I want to photograph them! If you’re in Northeastern Ohio, you know it’s been *really* cold. Really cold + expensive electronics = OH NOZ!
A few nights ago, I got sick of waiting out winter and decided to set up my tripod, camera and remote shutter right in my foyer and shoot through my storm door. I can see two lamps really well, but this spring/ summer, I’m going to head out on to the sidewalk and get more of the neighborhood 🙂
Look how cool these star-bursts are!
Super love that. Have you tried to create any star bursts? If you need directions, you can find them HERE 😀
Oooooh, bright shiny lights. I love how the tree is glowing and the lights are bursting, don’t you? I’m going to talk you through how you can take a picture of your family’s tree (if you have one). You will need a basic understanding of photography, you’ll need to understand shutter speed, but that’s not super hard 😀
tripod or something sturdy to set your camera on
camera with timer and manual settings
pretty lights to photograph (I have a crap load of lights on my tree and still want MORE! ahaha)
an dark night… ooh
You might want:
a remote shutter release
So, first things first- turn off all the lights. Light is the number 1, most important thing you need when taking pictures, and in this case, you need to eliminate all outside light because you want the only light source to be your tree.
You’re going to set your shutter speed to a really, slow, really long which is why you need something sturdy to set your camera on. Any tiny movement will RUIN THE SHOT FOREVER! Well, ok, it’ll just ruin that one shot but you’ll have to reshoot and if you’re a perfectionist, that’ll drive you crazy. My shutter speed on the above was 13 seconds– the shutter was left open for 13 full seconds allowing all the twinkly light to enter. I had my ISO turned as low as I could, which is 100. Your ISO setting tells your camera how much available light there is- a low number means there’s lots of light and the camera doesn’t need to compensate for that. A high number means there’s very little light. Logically, you’d want to set your ISO to a higher number since there is very little light- BUT in this case we are going to make up for the low light with a slooooooooow shutter speed.
I closed down my aperture to F-11; there’s a long explanation about the blades in your lens and angles, so you can read up on the specifics and I encourage you to but I’m not going to get into it all. You’re going to want to be stopped down to at least F-11, the further down you’re closed the more dramatic your burst will be.
Next, you’re going to frame up your shot. Select your focus point, you can pretty much just point it toward the middle and go at it. Your lens will be stopped down so almost everything will be in focus. Remember, you need something sturdy to hold your camera or you’re going to get motion shake. Use a tripod, or, rig up something sturdy to angle your camera correctly. If your camera has a timer setting USE IT. If your camera has a remote setting, invest in a remote. I use the word “invest” loosely–I have this little guy . $7 folks. Worth it if you have a Nikon DSLR (there are millions for Canon and other bodies as well). Go ahead now and take your first shot. How’d it look? Good? No good? Post your picture to my Facbook page wendy b photos. If you don’t like what you got, shoot again!
You can use the settings I have listed as a starting point, but if your photo isn’t “right” make adjustments and try again. Every situation is different, you may have more or fewer lights on your tree, you might have more ambient light, make the adjustments for YOUR specific situation. And, feel free to ask for help 😀
After I posted a little twinkly light teaser on my Facebook page, my friend Ashley asked if I could fit her kids in. Her son and my daughters were in the same Kindergarten class, then they had t-ball at the same time. Ashley and I got to know each other walking laps around the t-ball park- she was pregnant with Xavior at the time and due any minute! It’s been so fun getting to know these three (and daddy Ryan and hound-dog Charlie, too). Ashley wanted to get some photos for Ryan to keep at work, and I think we got some great ones.
Aren’t those boys perfection?
And, totally tooting my own horn, but how awesome are those lights? So soft and warm. I’m so 100% offering mini lights sessions next year. Leave a comment or send an email to email@example.com if you want to be sure YOU get a mini session!