Monthly Archives: May 2015

Positive Facebook

Many people lament Facebook and its quirks. Ever since the last big changes in 2014 especially small business feel the effects in a negative way, as no matter how much time and effort we put into posts and maintenance of our sites we tend to gain little reach and even less exposure.

But, as with all negative things there are always positive, and since I’m a glass half full kind of girl, I have found myself a wonderful positive outcome from good old Facebook:
Shared on the page of the very unique and special Handmade in the Hunter Markets was the post about The Little Black Cow Farm Stay.

As it should be with social media, after scrolling down their posts, I got intrigued and visited The Little Black Cow Farm Stay website and read through all their blog posts.
That lead to my knowledge about an Open Day, which my young one and I were very excited to participate in during the Easter Holidays.
What a wonderful day we had! Feeding the goat and sheep and Willow, the little black cow, and patting the one week-old guinea pigs. We checked out farm machines and olden day tools and devices. Some very clever and futuristic art was created as well.

And I took photos. I had asked permission beforehand, even though it was a private visit, I cannot help myself now can I  😉
See for yourself what fun we had.



Old Fashioned ?

During the January summer holidays I had finally tackled the long overdue clean-up of my studio. New props and backgrounds meant I was running out of space. Oh, the things I ‘found’.
If ever you see a person rummaging through the ‘sales’ box at the craft and art shop, that’ll be me. So many ideas and things to do and create! The kids and I have done lots of little and bigger projects over the years, but there was a backlog. There’s one thing I never run out, and that’s ideas.
As I had run out of space though, these ideas had to be put into action presto, to get some of the boxes empty and ready to take on new and different goodies.
Years and years ago I found this DIY Clock Set in said ‘sales’ box at the craft shop. I have a thing for clocks, and finally, I found a nice use for it.
I measured the wooden clock face and used Photoshop to create the background by incorporating the originals of some of my favourite digital restorations.
Once printed on normal A4 paper, I cut out the circle shape and glued it on the wooden clock face using ModPodge. Once it had dried, I used a paint sponge and gave it several thin layers of ModPodge, letting each dry completely before applying the next. Last was a thin layer of acrylic sealer, just to give it a bit of shine not too much, I’m not a huge fan of the big gloss.
Then the clock motor was put in (it runs on battery) and that was that. It sits on the sideboard in my office now and I like checking the time on this one much more than on my laptop or my phone. Call me old fashioned 🙂


Environmental Portraits …. How to

As I said in my previous post, the term ‘environmental portrait’ is referring to portraits taken of a person in their environment. Most photographers call them location shoots, and the location can be anything from a client’s home, studio or business, to their boat, the local skate park or playground.
As these are the types of photos most people take themselves, whether with a point-and-shoot camera, a DSLR or their smartphone, I thought it could be a good idea to write down some tips to make the result perfect every time  🙂

The Subject
Know the subject, which, obviously, if it’s your kids or Pop, you do know them quite well.
The aim is to take a photo of them in a situation that says something about them. This could be Pop at the jetty with his fishing rod, doing what he loves. Or the kids zooming along the Flying Fox in the park. Or Nan during special Tea & Cake day in the retirement village. Or the early morning birthday celebration.

EnvironmentalPortrait1(All my example photos are from the young ones birthday a while back. As it was early morning, the light changed within minutes, and as I didn’t want to miss actually being there as a Mum, taking photos was not the first priority. Nonetheless, despite so not being a morning person myself, they do show what I mean. And they show that it doesn’t take a gazillion of photos to document one special event. It’ll be in our hearts anyway, and thanks to the few photos, it’ll be in our albums now, too. They are not overpolished, there is bed hair and sleepy eyes and the clothing didn’t matter. Feel the love?)

The Context
In any of these circumstances it will be relatively easy to identify the things and details that say something about the subject. It will also be relatively easy to identify any item or angle that adds interest to the photo. Picture Pop putting the 10th fish in the bucket. Nan folding her hands in her lap after she’s done eating cake. The kids tipping the sand out of their shoes after the Flying Fox excitement. Birthday Presents.
If you get any of these shots you will be putting your subject and their environment into context. It will work every time.

EnvironmentalPortrait2He LOVED the wrapping paper, so I decided on some selective colouring in post production.

The danger will be having too much in the shot. A cluttered background or too many people in the shot can distract from the main focal point, which is your subject. Crumbs or a coffee stain on the table cloth, too many boats in the background …

EnvironmentalPortrait3There’s always the suspense …..

Knee Lock Syndrome
Zooming in on your subject and selecting an appropriate depth of field could be all it takes to make it work. Don’t be afraid to change your position. Kneel down at the jetty to get Pop from a lower angle. Stand on a chair (safety first though!) to get Nan from a higher angle. Don’t suffer from Knee Lock Syndrome: MOVE!

EnvironmentalPortrait4He is a great hugger. I made sure I was much lower than him to show he’s still our baby.

Posing your subjects may well be hard or even impossible for you in these circumstances, and with these subjects – I know that well from my own extended family 😦 . It is easier for me, the photographer who was hired to take photos, to instruct people how to put their head and where to place their hands for a particular shot. Whether to look at me or not. Whether to smile or not.

Camera Settings
There is no point telling you what camera settings to choose, as the thing with environmental portraits is that they will all be completely different and unique every time. If you’re using an DSLR start with choosing the correct White Balance for the day and weather, if you’re not in Automatic. If you do the Flying Fox thing with a smartphone, you may well be out of your depth, because it is not capable of doing such quick photos well.
You will have to adapt not only according to place/time of day/inside/outside but also according to your equipment. And your capabilities.
Be brave, and relax, photography is about creating and documenting a memory.
And don’t give up if at first you don’t succeed 🙂