Silhouette Pictures

Sunday afternoon. We did a test drive to the train station.  My husband is working 2 hours away this year, which makes things extra challenging here at home. He won’t be able to come home every day, and there will be some weeks that he won’t come home at all. I feel sad this week as the reality of what it means sets in.  What surprised me is how the children reacted.  My husband has worked very long hours for many years and my kids are used to that, but having him further away made a big impact and the kids are devastated. Not sure how to handle it all yet.  We will work it out.

Enjoying sunset

Sunday afternoon.  Before we left for the train station, I spontaneously grabbed a packet of rolls from the freezer.  We went to a nearby park, unceremoniously ate bread rolls, and later snapped silhouette pictures as the sun set.  For me, this captures the importance of making moments count in family life. Sometimes this is even more important than at other stages.  It’s about capitalising on those simple moments and by doing so allowing them to tun into something special. A test drive to the train station merged into gorgeous moments of family fun.  I need to hang on to that, because in reality, many pressures put a strain on family life and it’s a juggle to keep everything together.

silhouette pictures - at sunsetSilhouette Pictures

Fun at Sunset: silhouette pictures

  • The easiest way to do silhouette pictures is at the beach at sunset, where you’re sure to get a lot of sky background without distractions.  
  • Another way is to have the subject stand on something like an outdoor seat or table so their body is on a background of sky.  

Tip: For these pictures, the kids stood on a chair and I lay on the ground and angled my iPhone up so to get the maximum amount of sky behind them.  It was so much fun! The kids tried many different poses and checked out the pictures to see what they looked like.

So there’s an idea for a bit of fun at sunset: silhouette pictures.

Here’s one we did at the beach.

my-four-at-sunset

Photography: Sparkler Words & Shapes

Photographing sparkler words can be a fun way to celebrate New Year’s Eve or the night of the New Year. 2014 is here!  Below are some tips on how to photograph sparklers shapes and words with a DSLR camera.

Camera Settings

Capturing these photographs is surprisingly easy, you just need to find out how to control the shutter speed on your camera. (Google ‘adjust shutter speed {your camera brand and type}’.  I use a Nikon D90 so the instructions are specific to my camera but most SLR and digital cameras have very similar functions.

1. Select Shutter S (rather than auto, manual or what you usually use)

2. Choose on how many seconds you want the delay to be.  I set mine to 4 seconds and that worked well.

3. Place the camera on something that doesn’t move.  So a tripod if you have one or just a box, railing, chair or other furniture that is near where you want to take the picture.  I used the railing on our porch.

4. Get the person in position with the sparkler and then count down before you push the button.  Say “GO” just after you press the button.  Hold the camera very steady. The picture is taken when you hear the delayed ‘click’.

5. We experimented and for best results, use deliberate, not-too-fast movements to draw something within the 4 seconds (and only do it once unless you want to do swirls). For example, when drawing a heart, do a heart shape in the air once, and then just hold until the click. Most of the pics below we got on the first try so it’s not hard at all. Just keep in mind that you need to draw things in the air that don’t need breaks, but rather a continuous line.

camera instructions for delayed shutter for sparkler pictures

Swirls

This is super easy. Just get the kids to swirl their sparklers round and round in a circle.

swirls sparkers picture

Star

My husband decided to try a 5 point star and this pic is our first attempt!  So, so cool!

star sparkler picture

Heart

I did a love heart by drawing a heart shape in the air once during the 4 seconds.

heart sparkler picture

Letter

K is for Kelly.  When doing letters, you have to draw it backwards so it’s the right way in the photograph.

letter k sparkler picture

Love

I didn’t know how this would go but we got this pic on the first take!  I instructed each of the kids on which letter to draw and they stood next to each other and waited for the “go”. Can’t believe how awesome it turned out!

Love sparkler picture

Masterchef

My eldest daughter decided to do the Masterchef symbol becuase she is a big fan of the show.

masterchef symbol sparkler picture

Cloud

Cloud shape, or is it a flower?

flower shape sparkler picture

Craziness

Then, of course, you can just go CRAZY and see what comes out. Awesome. There’s four kids in there somewhere.

sparklers!!

Date

The numbers 2014 would work well too!

More

10 Fun Things to do on New Year’s Eve as a Family

Getting Kids to Smile for the Annual Christmas Photo

christmas photo ideas

I’m holding a bell up here for the kids to look at

We’ve moved a lot as a family and have many friends and acquaintances around the country.  Each year I do an annual Christmas photograph with the kids to include in the Christmas card.  Many of our friends are not online so it’s a nice way to connect.  After getting everyone ready, it can be quite a task to keep everyone clean, let alone standing still for a picture!   I’ve learned (the hard way) that the best photographs of my kids happen when we are all relaxed, interacting and having fun together.  Below are some tricks and tips I use to get genuine smiles from my children that reflect their personality. 

1.     Be prepared to take a lot of photos

One of the advantages of living in the digital age is the freedom to take many pictures, relatively cost free.   Now, when I say, a lot of photos, I’m talking 50. You’re sure to get at least one good pose, especially if you try the tips below.

2.     Give them something to think about

“Say cheese” may give you a smile, but it may not reflect personality.  Instead, I give my children something to think about. I look at them and have the camera ready to snap as they react, or answer my questions.

For example:

  • “Think about presents at Christmas.”
  • “Are you excited about putting up the Christmas tree?”
  • “Lollipops and rainbows.”
  • “A big red truck.”
  • “Cake!”
  •  “You’re beautiful.”
  • “I love you.”

Christmas photo tips - laugh

The lighting isn’t great in this pic but I love it for their smiles.

3.     Give them something to do

Asking my children, to “just stand still” doesn’t work very well so I give them something to do, and have the camera ready to capture how they interpret my instruction.

Below are some examples:

  • “Love each other.”
  • “Dance.”
  • “Sing!”
  • “Look at each other.”
  • “Do star jumps.”
  • “Ring the bells.”
  • “Pretend you’re letting butterflies out of your hand.”

Christmas photo ideas

 Love this one. I said, “Love each other” and this is what I got.

Another idea is to photograph kids doing an activity. For example:

  • Decorating Christmas cookies
  • Baking Christmas pudding
  • Decorating the Christmas Tree
  • Throwing cotton wool balls to look like fake snow
  • Wrapping or unwrapping Christmas presents
  • Get the kids to write the word “Xmas” or “Christmas” in the sand at the beach
  • Climbing on play equipment

christmas photo ideas

At a playground

4.     Give them something to look at

The favourite pictures of my children are when they are laughing at their Dad, who stands just behind me doing I-do-not-want-to-know silly things.  When I ask them to look at something specific, they are usually all looking in the same direction, at the same.

Try:

  • Doing a dance or a funny face
  • Clapping
  • Asking the question: What is inside the camera lens?
  • Looking at the clouds
  • Ringing a bell held just above the photographer’s head
  • Asking the child/ren to look at a particular object

christmas photo ideas

Laughing at dad 

5.     Give them something to hold

To give the annual photograph a themed Christmas look, there are a variety of ways to include props. Not only will this give the child/ren something to do, it looks festive and fun.  You may like to wrap large empty boxes in Christmas paper and stack them for a backdrop, set your Christmas tree up early or put up a backdrop of fairy lights.

Below are ideas of what children can hold (or wear) for the photograph:

  • Christmas decorations
  • Mini Christmas tree
  • Wrapped Christmas presents (or wrapped empty boxes)
  • Santa hats
  • Angel costume/wings
  • A sign that says, “Merry Christmas”
  • A basket full of different coloured baubles
  • Tinsel
  • Bells

Photo Christmas Card Ideaa

One year, we did an illustration-style card with each child acting out a particular action. I gave the younger two kids paint brushes to hold.

I then edited the add-ons in Pic Monkey and Publisher.

6.     Expecting mum, newborn or baby

A baby wearing angel wings or a bow tied around their stomach always looks gorgeous. For the pregnant mum, the bow can be tied around the expecting belly.

7. Photo themed gifts

Once you capture a wonderful picture of your child/ren, you can use it in your Christmas preparations.

Here are some examples:

  • Make a personalised photo Christmas cards
  • Make a personalised snow globe
  • Frame the photograph and give as a gift to a loved one
  • Glue a magnet on the back of the photo and include with your annual Christmas letter
  • Create personalised lettering paper or Christmas baubles.
  • Incorporate the photograph on other personalised gifts like a mug, calendar, computer mouse, apron or key ring.

Do you have any tips for taking photographs of kids? Add them in the comments below.

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Favourite Photo Editing Tricks

I do most of my photo editing via Picasa by Google. It’s free and easy to use.

I’ve used this program for a while now, and experimented with many of the features.  I always fall back on the same two ways to edit my photos, depending on whether I want them in black and white or colour, and I’m sharing them in this tutorial. Many of the photos you see on the blog or my Facebook page, are edited using these methods. The idea is to make my pictures look gorgeous, capturing a concept, while staying true to the realness of the subject.

My aim is to improve my photography through practice, and when I do, I find there is less editing needed.

1. Black & White

I adore black and white photos. The simplicity allows for emotion to shine through.    To convert and enhance black and white photos, I follow these three steps.

Before

black and white editing with picasa

After

black and white editing with picasa

Step 1

Select the black paint brush tab (third across) and click the B&W button.

black and white editing step one

Step 2

Click to the lighting tab (second across) and adjust the fill light so the picture looks washed out (I slide the bar close to the right hand side).

black and white editing step two

Step 3

On the same lighting tab (second across) adjust the shadow guide to the right, putting depth back into the photo. Stunning!

black and white editing step three

2. Colour

This is the process I often use for colour photographs.  Although, if the subject is of a person close up, I don’t use this process but skip to step 3.

Before

photo editing picasa

After

photo editing picasa

Step 1

Under the pen/green box tab (fourth across) there’s a range of fun features to use. My favourite is  the HRD-ish because it brings out the colour, detail and the depth of the photo. However, I like my photos to still have that natural look so I apply it very subtlety. The first step is to click on the HRD-ish button under the tab fourth tab.

picasa photo edit favourite

Step 2

Then move the Strength and Radius bar right back to the left so the change is barely noticeable.

photo edit favourite with picasa

Step 3

Many of my photos are a little too dark so I lighten them a fraction. So the next step in this process is to select the light tab (second tab) and adjust the fill light tab, just very slightly.

picasa photo edit favourite

Step 4 (optional)

If I still want a little more colour in my picture, I click on the black paint brush tab (third tab) and click on the Saturation  button. Then I move the slide bar until it’s just off centre to the right. Again, so the change is only very slight.

picasa photo edit favourite

These little changes to my photographs make a big difference to how they look.  The wonderful thing is you don’t need any special skills or knowledge to do it!

It’s all about telling the story.

More Photography Posts

Getting Kids to Smile for the Camera

The Rule of Thirds 

What’s in The Background?

Setting Up a Photo Shoot

A Different Perspective

Make the Most of Your Mobile Phone Camera

Mobile Phone Picture Gallery

My Favourite Pictures (so far!)

Self Portrait — I See Hope

Come see what I see in Eye-Land

eye-land -- come see what I see

I wear glasses of blue when I look at the world.

Blue: It’s a hopeful colour.

I see hope everywhere.

I know there are shadows.

But I still see the sun.

I look for it.

When the sky is grey and the wind grows cold with doubt,

I tell myself:

You reap what you sow;

You see what you look for;

Your treasure is where your heart is.

Yes, still, it is there.

Always. Hope.

Thank you God for Hope.

What do you see in Eye-Land?

**********************

This is my Self-Portrait for the Eye-Land Challenge 4 in the Canon Island Competition. You can read more about the challenge I’m taking here.

One day to go…

Voting for this challenge ends tomorrow and if you don’t mind voting for my picture, click here and press Vote for Entry under my profile. Thank you!

Only one more challenge to go: My-Land! Look out for it next week.

**I’m using a Canon Powershot SX 40 HS to take the photographs.  You can read about the features I love in the camera over at the Canon EOS Blog.

Canon Powershot SX 40 HS

Read about my other entries

1. Urban Island — My Daughter and I Visit the City

2. Desert Island — Imaginative Play Scene

3. Dessert Island — Lolly Flowers

Imaginative Play Scene — Island

I confessed that I don’t get down and play with my kids all that often, but I do constantly facilitate and watch them play.   One of the things I enjoy to do is help set up play scenes for the children.  I was first inspired by this concept by Kate from Picklebums and I highly recommend this post from her: Imaginative Play at Home.

Fostering imaginative play is important to me as it’s evolving play: it starts with the building phase, then the play phase, and the play evolves with the environment. Plus, as a bonus, this sort of play lasts for days!  This imaginative play scene is island inspired and below is how I put it together.

Imaginative Play Scene -- Desert Island

How to Make

A Desert Island play theme is a fun idea for the summer months. It was easy and inexpensive to set up. It can be used outside on the grass, under a patio/veranda or even inside (if you’re game) on a large towel.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- materials

Materials:

Large shallow rectangle box (I used an underbed storage box from Bunnings)

Round laundry bowl (you an also use a standard kitchen bowl — I purchased this from Bunnings)

20Kgs double washed sand (I purchased a bag from Bunnings)

Blue food colouring (optional)

Note: You only need a small amount so it’s very diluted and doesn’t seem to stain the kids hands or clothes

Washer or tea towel (I bought a $1 tea towel from Best & Less and cut out a rectangle)

Decoration items/toys

  • Pebbles
  • Shells
  • Duplo palm tree (make your own palm tree by threading a large leaf on to a stick)
  • Mermaids
  • Pirates
  • Rocks
  • Boats
  • Treasure box
  • Barbies

Most of the materials we found around the house, however, because I want a large box dedicated for imaginative play scenes, I purchased a few of these items.  The sand, the under bed box and laundry bowl came to a total of $30.

Step 1: The Island

Fill the round laundry bowl with sand and smooth to create the Island.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 1

Step 2: The Sea

Place the Island into the underbed storage box and fill the box with water to the level of the laundry bowl. Add a little blue food colouring if desired.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 2

Step 3: Create the Island

I cut up a cheap tea towel for a beach towel and used pebbles for a path. We used a Duplo palm tree to create the island look; or a large leaf on a stick does the trick.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 3

Step 4: Add Toys

Here are some ideas: Barbie, mermaids, fish, sharks, boats.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 4 add toys

Step 5: Play

This sort of water play is perfect for the summer months!

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 5 play

Step 6: Create

The best part of this sort of play is it evolves and grows as the kids use their imagination. Last time I checked, this is what their play looked like. I helped create the basics and the kids did the rest, including the leaf trees.

Imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 6 create

Kind of dreamy really.

imaginative play space -- desert island -- finished

Other Imaginative Play Scene Ideas

Imaginative Play Scenes

My Daughter and I Visit the City

I have this drive to create and constantly challenge myself.  I’m bursting with ideas, and feel like I have to put them somewhere. It’s a great thing but it actually hurts my head sometimes. It can lead to unproductively too, when I have so much going on in my head, I can’t capitalise on anything at all.

The key to combating this is twofold:

1. Realising that I can’t capitalise on all the things I want to and letting go of projects that aren’t realistic.

2. Enjoying creative time but putting up some form of time frame (or I get totally lost in it).

Canon Island

Photography is something I enjoy. I’m not a brilliant photographer by any stretch, but I enjoy seeing what life looks like through the camera lens. I guess for me, it’s helps me see the moments.  When Canon Australia asked me to be part of a the Cannon Island Blogger challenge, I thought it would be a wonderful to challenge myself to think of photography in terms of interpretation.

The idea is to submit 5 photographs over a 10 week period.  Below are the themes I’m working on:

Entry 1. Urban Island
Entry 2. Desert Island
Entry 3. Dessert Island
Entry 4. Eye Land
Entry 5. My Land

I like this comp because it’s less about technique and more about creativity.  I’m using a Canon Powershot SX 40 HS to take the photographs.

My Daughter and I Visit the City

I like to allocate special time alone, with each of my four children, and it was my 10-year-old daughter’s turn.  After seeing a movie, we drove into Brisbane City to look at the Christmas tree in George Square, the window displays at the Myer Centre, then over over to Southbank to overlook the buzz of the city across the river. We finished the night at Mt Cootha, spotting all the places we had been. It was an absolutely fabulous night for both of us. It was magical!

{George Square Chrismtas Tree — Brisbane}

george square christmas tree brisbane

{Christmas Window Displays — Myer Centre, Brisbane}

christmas window display at myer centre brisbane

{South Bank, Brisbane}

Southbank Brisbane at night

{Looking at Brisbane City from Southbank}

view of brisbane city from Southbank

{View from Mt Cootha (the large circle shape is where we were)}

Brisbane City View -- Mt Cootha

If you are looking for an activity idea for an older child (or even as a family), looking at the city lights is brilliant! We had an awesome time.

The Photo I submitted — Urban Island

For me, the word urban describes the city where people work and visit.  And suburban is where people live and create their lives.

The city is full of activity. It is chaos and structure come together.  From across the river, Brisbane city looked like an island of light. I settled on this photo because it was interesting and a little absract. For me, it captures so much of what urban means.

View of Brisbane City from Southbank

Energy fills the black void of night with a blur of colour.   The pace is fast yet there’s a definite sense of structure – an aspect of focus — that holds the picture together.  People are busy; vehicles are busy; boats are busy; yet they all seem to know where they are going.  It’s the marriage of activity, and order, with a little bit of magic thrown in.

The Competition

4 other bloggers are joining me on this challenge.

Pip from Meet me at Mikes

Bec from Inside Cuisine

Kirsty from Kootoyoo

Brooke from Brooke vs The World

Now, I’m pretty shocking at these sorts of competitions because I want everyone to win. HA! Although the final prize is awesome, the main reason I’m doing this is to challenge myself to think creatively about photography and because it’s fun!

If you do want to vote for my photo, just follow these instructions:

1. Head over to the Canon Australia facebook page o

2. On the left hand side there is an Canon Island button. Press.

3. Press continue and then when the challenge page comes up, press on the Challenge 1 tab, and click ‘vote for entry’ under my profile and follow the prompts.

Oh, and for voting, you could win yourself a Canon Powershot!

Thank you!

Other Photography Posts

Photographing Kids — Getting Them to Smile for the Camera

Photographing Kids — Capturing a Child’s Essence

Photographing Kids — Rule of Thirds 

Photographing Kids — The Background

Photographing Kids — Setting Up a Shoot

Photographing Kids — Perspective

Making the Most of Your Mobile Phone Camera

Visit my Photography Gallery

Visit my Mobile Phone Gallery

Taking Photos for Father’s Day

A wonderful photo of your children can be just the thing for Father’s Day. There are so many crafts and gifts you can make with photos. Below are 5 ways you can take photos of children for Father’s Day.

If you are looking for tips on getting kids to smile for the camera, read my post here: Photographing Kids — Getting Kids to Smile for the Camera.

1. Canvas Photograph

Paint hand prints on a canvas and get the child/ren to hold it for the photo.

father's day photographs

2. Holding Letters Photograph

Use letters are props for this photograph. You can use these types of props:

  • Letter blocks
  • Cut out letters
  • Letters drawn on a page
  • A sign with a message

father's day photographs

{Image from Mummy Savers}

Frugal Father's Day Photo Gift

3. Feet Photograph

I saw this gorgeous feet photograph idea on The Orgnaised Housewife blog. It was a fun picture to take with the kids because they thought it was hilarious. The lighting wasn’t fantastic but we still managed to get a decent shot. I had quite a few feet to write on but you can adjust the message to suit.

father's day photographs -- letters on feet

Tips:

    • Have the child/ren sit on the grass. The photographer should lie down on the grass to ensure the feet are in the forefront of the picture.
    • Sit the children on a table with a tablecloth and crouch down to take the picture so the feet are in the forefront. Make sure you have the table where there is a nice background if possible.

{1 child}

Father's Day Photograpgh: feet photoraph one child

{2 children}

feet photograph two children

{3 children}

feet photograph three children

{4 children}

father's day photograph feet photograph four children

{5 children}

feet photograph five children

{6 children}

feet photograph six children

{more kids}

If you have more than 6 kids, the word combination is huge!

4. New or Expecting Dad Photograph

Tie a bow on the baby or pregnant belly for a photograph.

new baby pregnancy picture father's day

5. Fun/Favourite Photograph with Dad

Get Dad to pose for a special picture with the kids.

father's day photographs

To help celebrate the special men in your lives, I have 3 other posts filled with ideas.

Photographing Kids: Getting Kids to Smile for the Camera

I especially love taking natural and unposed photographs of my children. However, sometimes I need to get the kids smiling for the camera. For example: family shots and Christmas photos.

But what is a smile? A “Say Cheese” smile is just muscles moving, but a real smile is all about emotion. And that is what I want to capture on camera.

I want to capture the light behind their eyes as their face lights up.

I want to capture the curve of their face as they express themselves.

I want to capture the sway of their body as they move.

I want to capture their personality.

For me, reflecting personality in photographs is all about two things: emotion and interpretation. Catching a smile can be easy but capturing emotion is much more challenging.  The best way I have found to achieve this is to allow my subject the room for interpretation.  Nothing I can fabricate can ever come close to the real thing.

Here are my tips for (not just getting a smile but) capturing a child’s personality and character in still life.

Note: I’m not a professional photographer (at all) but I’m interested in photography and I enjoy learning as I go along.

1. Drama of Words

One of my favourite things to do is to give the child a word to interpret how they like.

Picture 1: Think of the word “Cute”

Picture 2: Think of Mummy

Picture 3: Think of Daddy

Picture 4: Think of the word “Special”

taking photographs of kids: how to get kids to smile for the camera

I also use phrases like these too (especially helpful with  younger children aged 2-5 years):

  • Think of rainbows
  • What’s your favourite thing?
  • Lollipops
  • Cars and trucks

2. Give an Action or Emotion

Allowing the children to interpret an action or emotion gives me so much more than I could fabricate myself.  For example, when I say “love each other” to my kids, rather than “put your arms around each other” I can capture such beautiful emotion. Take a look at these:

Getting Kids to Smile at the Camera 1: Give them an action

Or when my two youngest were in a wedding party:

getting the kids to smile for the camera

And this one of my four at a camping trip, all scruffy and happy:

getting kids to smile for the camera

3. Say “I love you”

Sometimes getting a smile is as simple as saying:

“I love you.”

or

“I think you are so special.”

getting kids to smile at the camera: say i love you

4. Look Up/Look Inside

One of Katherine’s tips in her guest post is to ask children to look inside the camera lens to see what they can find.  This is a great way to get kids looking right at the camera.  Another idea is to hold something up for the kids to look at. This works especially well if you need to get multiple children looking at the same time.  A bell is my favourite tool.

getting the kids to smile at the camera: Look up or inside the camera

5. Do Something Silly

This was the reaction from my kids to their father’s silly antics behind me. Always works a treat.

getting kids to smile for the camera

6. Interact

There nothing quite like interaction to get a reaction from children. This could be tickling, talking or playing.

getting kids to smile for the camera

Getting Kids to Smile for the Camera

Tips for taking photographs of kids

I want to look back and, not just remember, but feel too. Photography: It’s not just about memories, it’s about moments.

Other Posts about Photographing Kids

Rule of Thirds 

The Background

Setting Up a Shoot

Perspective

Making the Most of Your Mobile Phone Camera

Quick editing tips

Make the Most of Your Mobile Phone Camera

It’s easier than ever to capture special moments; there’s a camera in almost every mobile phone these days.  I love my (proper) camera, but it’s not possible to take with me everywhere so I enjoy the flexibility of having a camera with me without the need to lug around a big unit.  Taking pictures is important to me.  I love being able to capture what the kids are doing and often send pictures to my husband’s phone so he feels part of the everyday going-ons at home.

I’ve been working on my mobile phone camera skills and below are some tips I’ve discovered.

{all these pictures were taken with my iPhone 4 or 5}

1. Timing

While timing isn’t everything, it certainly helps.  Over time I get a feel for my mobile phone click speed which helps me time my photos well so I get that gorgeous expression when it happens.

2. Light

The control of light is quite limited when it comes to phone cameras but apps like Pro Camera are making it easier. For the majority of pictures, it’s best to have the light behind you when you take a photograph.

To experiment a little more with light, try these techniques:

Sun burst

Sun bursts work quite well on phone camera.  I’ve found capturing sun bursts most effective in the mid morning or late afternoon when the sun is relatively low in the sky. This way you can capture the sunshine directly behind an object or person.  Angle the phone until you get the right “sun burst” look in the view finder. As a general rule, I like to have the sun coming from a corner of the photograph. Here are some examples:

photography: mobile phone camera tips -- the light

Silhouette

I love silhouette pictures because they are simple yet somewhat mysterious.  To create a silhouette picture, the subject needs to be between you and the light source.  The best  results I’ve had with my phone camera have been in the late afternoon, just before and around sunset. (More Silhouette picture ideas here)

making the most of your mobile phone camera

3. Framing

I think about framing more than I do the subject. I frame first then quickly adjust the phone camera to fit in my subject. In both the photographs below, the eye follows the line of the land.

photography: mobile phone camera tips -- framing

4. Perspective

I love trying different perspectives on my phone camera to give a depth and interest to a photo. My favourite perspective when taking photographs of kids is looking down. I think this is because this is actually how I often see them.

photography: mobile phone camera tips -- perspective

5. Cut the Subject

You don’t need to frame the entire subject or person to get a great shot.  Cutting the subject slightly can add a lot of interest to a photograph, especially if it’s a familiar object. Here are two examples:

Photography: mobile phone camera tips -- cut the subject

Photo 1: It’s obviously a bike but I haven’t shown the entire form. In fact, I took this photograph from behind glass panels. I like it. It’s interesting.

Photo 2: While the entire umbrella isn’t visible,  it is clear what it is.  Boxing in the edges of the umbrella shows the rainbow colours perfectly.

6. Emotion

Capturing emotions through photographs is hard. Emotions are so complex and when I do get it it takes my breath away. For me, capturing emotion is more about body language than anything else.

photography: mobile phone camera tips -- emotion

Photo 1: My son forgot his yellow truck for a moment as he watched the birds fly by. I just adore this picture of him.

Photo 2: There is something the way my son is holding himself here that I love. He enjoyed swirling an umbrella  around on a sunny day at the beach.

7. Movement

 Capturing the ellusion of movement helps to make a photograph feel alive. Take a photo while the subject is moving (picture 1) is one way to have that moving feel.  Body language has a big part to play too when it comes to movement. In picture 2, the way the my daughter’s hands are placed, and her one closed eye helps you feel what will come next.

photography: mobile phone camera tips -- movement

8. Tell a Story

Photography for me isn’t just about pointing a shooting. It’s about telling a story.  I often think about what I’m trying to say when I’m taking a photograph.  Here are two photographs with captions:

winter warmth                                                     there is always hope

photography: mobile phone camera tips -- tell a story

9. Point of Reference

It can be helpful to have a point of reference for some photographs. A point of reference is something that relates to the picture but is  not the main subject. For example, in picture two below, I was watching my son play at the beach from a distance.  So my feet are there but the picture isn’t really about my feet. It was about me watching the spot that was my son.  This reference point set the tone for the picture. In the second picture, I ensured the feet of my subject was showing so the viewer could get a feel for the photograph perspective.

photography: mobile phone camera tips -- point of reference

10. Be Random & Break the rules!

I’ve captured some awesome shots from holding the camera totally random. I’ve also got some absolute shockers from doing the same. HA! But who cares? It’s worth a shot sometimes! Below (left) is a photo I took of when my daughter came down to sit with me on the grass (I just stuck my hand up in the air). I love how the photograph captures our hats and my daughter’s feet. In the second picture, I was in the passenger side of car while we were driving on the beach, and I spotted the side rear-view mirror and just snapped without thinking. I really like how the shot came out. Be random, and although all these tips I’ve learned are useful, you gotta throw out the rules sometimes to capture something wonderful.

(For example: Take a look at the first picture in my ‘A Few More Favourites’ below – it’s of my youngest and oldest exploring the rocks at the beach. I wanted to show the moon at the top of the picture and a lot of sky – with the children only being small figures – to emphasise the wonder of the experience.)

photography: mobile phone camera tips -- be random

 

11. It’s doesn’t have to be centred

In fact, many of my favourite shots are not centred.  I roughly work on the rule of thirds when I take pictures to add interest and perspective to the photograph.

mobile phone camera tips -- off centre

A Few More Favourites

Making the Most of Your Mobile Phone Camera

Making the Most of Your Mobile Phone Camera

Making the Most of Your Mobile Phone Camera

jacaranda tree -- brisbane

Mobile photography tips

Mobile photography tips

Mobile photography tips

Mobile photography tips

Mobile photography tips

Mobile Photography Tips

Instagram

One of my favourite photography apps for the iPhone is Instagram (you can find me @beafunmum). This app allows you to filter photographs in one simple step. You can then share your pictures with friends on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or email.  You can see some of my favourite photographs in the Instagram Photo Gallery.

I’ll never give up my regular camera but I don’t carry it around with my as much as I used to.  It’s nice to know I can get relatively nice photos with my phone camera. It’s pretty much always with me so I never have to be with a camera.

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Has your mobile phone replaced your regular phone?

Do you have any phone camera tips to share?

Other Photography Links

Photographing Kids Tip 1: Capturing a Child’s Essence

Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds 

Photographing Kids Tip 3: The Background

Photographing Kids Tip 4: Setting Up a Shoot

Photographing Kids Tip 5: Perspective

My Camera

Photographing Kids Tip 5: Perspective

Perspective is one of my favourite tricks when it comes to photography. By changing the angle of the camera, you can bring interest,  depth and meaning to a photograph.  Below are four examples how you can use perspective to enhance photographs of your kids.

Example 1: Look Down

Instead of taking this photograph at eye level, I stood slightly above the girl and the focus is on her eyes.

photography and persepctive example 1

Example 2: Aerial

The best way to take this sort of photograph is be on a ladder or, like me in this case, on a bridge looking down at the girl on the grass.  One tip with aerial photos, keep feet visible so there is a perspective marker for the viewer.

photography and persepctive example 2

Example 3: Look Up

This is one of my favourite pictures of my children. It was taken from the ground looking up at the children on a playground climbing frame. Aren’t they adorable?

photography and persepctive example 3

Example 4: Tell a story

I title this photograph “safe”.  My son was frightened at the sound of a boat.  He came to stand close by my side and I held him.  My husband took this photograph and you can see my son’s clenched fist and the “I’m with Mum” expression.  Through perspective, this photograph tells the story of my son and the privillage I had to comfort him.

photography and perspective example 4

Which picture is your favourite?

Be A Fun Mum Links

Photographing Kids Tip 1: Capturing a Child’s Essence

Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds 

Photographing Kids Tip 3: The Background

Photographing Kids Tip 4: Setting Up a Shoot

Photographing Kids Tip 5: Perspective

My Camera

Photographing Kids Tip 4: Setting Up a Shoot

Katherine Shultz brings immense maturity to her photographs, far beyond her 16 years. It’s hard to believe someone of so little years can produce such vision through photographs.  Through some tough times, Katherine has found solace in capturing moments around her. For the fourth post in the photographing kids series, I’m thrilled to have Katherine share some of the tips she’s picked up after a year of pursuing photography.  Please make her feel very welcome.

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You want some photos of your children, but they won’t hold still long enough to pose for the shot? I am quite certain those who take photos, regardless of whether they are a photographer or not, have encountered this problem. Thankfully, over the course of the past year, I’ve picked up some tricks along the way that may help you get some photographs that don’t go straight to the recycle bin.

1. Can you see a dinosaur/fairy in the lens?

For younger children, this one works wonders. For older children, I simply ask them to look deep into the lens, and tell me what they can see. It almost always produces the cutest expressions.

2. Show me what you’re doing.

Children get up to some fun and exciting things. Sure, photos of them posed and smiling are nice, but I also love to capture what they are doing at a particular point in time. For candid moments, try following them around with your camera, ask what they are doing or get them to show you something special. By simply following my gorgeous cousin as she danced on the front lawn, I snapped this photo:

3. Standing back.

If you’re lucky enough to have a zoom lens, look for moments around you. Stand back for a little while when your subject is relaxed. You are looking for people interacting, people laughing, people crying. All those candid moments produce beautiful photographs you will most definitely treasure in the years to come. Although my example isn’t exactly of a child, I love that I was able to capture this moment. So much emotion:

4. Walk a few paces behind your subject.

This is a variation of “standing back”. Try to hang a few paces behind your subject, and sometimes it will give you a beautiful candid moment.

5. Okay, pose.

There is no denying it: it’s absolutely great to get candid shots of smiling kids doing what they love. However, sometimes you just want a portrait. Plain and simple. Just before I snap away, I like to tell my siblings, “Okay, show me your bestest smile in the world,” or, “Look here just for a little bit.” After a while (they have been my personal models for over 12 months) they get the picture and usually stand and smile. However, if your kiddos aren’t used to this, try telling them if they stand/sit for a few photos, you will show them the beautiful image after :). It almost always works as they love to see themselves on the computer/camera screen after.

Some general tips for taking portrait photographs:

1. To make it exciting for children, ask them to dress in something they love to wear. That way they will feel more comfortable.

2. Dress ups! This works for photographs of girls, especially. Because personally, I think girls in tutus, and fairy outfits produce beautiful portraits.

3. Natural, hazy light. Try shooting an hour or so before sundown. The light is generally heart-stoppingly gorgeous.

4. Don’t push it. If they don’t want their photo taken, don’t push it. Otherwise it may end in the child growing to hate the camera… and you definitely don’t want that.

5. Angles. Try “out there” angles. Play around a bit. Try using a tri-pod. Pick up your cam and play around!

6. Half face. I have a weakness for these. Try shooting half of your child’s face when they are sitting/standing still.

7. HAVE FUN! Just relax. You smile, they smile.  You laugh, they laugh.  Just have fun with the whole process :).

                                  

“You smile, they smile.  You laugh, they laugh.  Just have fun with the whole process.” — Katherine Shultz

Follow Katherine

Blog: Those Bliss Moments

Facebook: Katherine Shultz Photography

Twitter: @ksphotoblog

Be A Fun Mum Links

Photographing Kids Tip 1: Capturing a Child’s Essence

Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds 

Photographing Kids Tip 3: The Background

Photographing Kids Tip 4: Setting Up a Shoot

Photographing Kids Tip 5: Perspective

My Camera

Photographing Kids Tip 3: The Background

When I photograph, I’ve learnt to look at the background as much as I do the subject.  It’s a little like an orchestra: while there are focal instruments, the sound of “oneness” produced by combining many elements is what makes it so special.  I’ve been working on that same element of “oneness” in three parts (one step at a time Kelly).  Firstly, in my previous Photographing Kids post I talked about balance.  Secondly, I’ve been working on framing my pictures.  Thirdly, I look for interesting backdrops that are a little out of the ordinary.

1. Balance

Rule of Thirds: read post

2. Framing

Bad framing can ruin a good picture.  Take these images below.  The first image is of my nephew.  I love his expression but the part in the curtain behind always draws my attention away from him.  In the second picture, the sand line is cutting into my son’s head.  If I had angled the camera slightly, his head would come under the line so not to disturb the aesthetics of the subject.

photographing kids the background 2

In contrast, below are two photographs I’ve framed better.  In the first example, on a slightly different angle, the background seat could be coming out of the girl’s neck.  Instead it becomes a complimentary background feature: she’s holding a book so a sitting bench in the background seems — just right.  In the second example, the boy is contained under the fence line so not to interrupt the flow of form.  A large tree forms a border like effect and the rail line curves intriguingly off into the distance.  Instead  the boy’s head could be cut off by the fence and the absence of the framing tree would be a sad loss to the picture.

    

3. Intrigue

I’m always looking for interesting backgrounds to work with, that are a little out of the ordinary. Below are some of my favourite backdrops so far.

Street art: Know I’m not supporting graffiti and vandalism here. Rather I’m talking about commissioned art developed in a public place. I’ve explained to my children, the difference between graffiti and art.  Using street art as a backdrop can bring a vibrant energy to a photograph.  You can find this sort of commissioned art in parks, some roads and buildings. At one of our local parks, the entire toilet block is a beautiful mural! Another idea is to get the kids to decorate a heap of butchers paper and make your own special colourful wall.  This idea can used in theme photos too.  Say you need a family photo for your Christmas card; make a backdrop of white, red, green and gold.

Grass: I love grass.  If there is a mound or a vast area of grass, it can take up an entire background.

      

Flowers: A small patch can seem like a field in a photo. I took this picture in a small patch of wild flowers but for all you know, we might have been in a field of flowers.  Wouldn’t that be nice!

  

Sky: Isn’t the colour of the sky amazing? The graduation of the skyline brings subtle interest to this photograph and the illusion of movement.

Industrial buildings:  Many industrial buildings are unusually coloured.  Have you noticed that? This backdrop brings something very bright and interesting to a photograph.

Texture: I love using texture in photographs, especially in black and white.  Texture adds a special depth without being overbearing.

    

A photograph is only as good as the backdrop.

External Links

Photography Composition

Amature Snapper: Top 10 Photography Composition Rules

Be A Fun Mum Links

Photographing Kids Tip 1: Capturing a Child’s Essence

Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds 

Photographing Kids Tip 3: The Background

Photographing Kids Tip 4: Setting Up a Shoot

Photographing Kids Tip 5: Perspective

My Camera

Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds

If you’re a regular at my blog you will know how much I love taking photos.  I invite you to join me on a ten part series (over 10 or so weeks)  in my quest to learn more about photographing my kids. Read Tip 1 if you missed it.

Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds

The “Rule of Thirds” is a theory of equilibrium often used in photography and art.  Whether we are aware of it or not, our eyes often look for a sense of balance in what we see.  This balance can be explained by breaking an image into thirds, horizontally and vertically (see image below). (1)  The basis for this theory surrounds the tendency for the human eye to gravitate to intersecting lines. (2)

I don’t believe this is the only way to take photos but it’s a great place to start.  This “rule” is not meant to be constricting but rather a guide for improving the composition of photos.

This is how I apply the “Rule of Thirds” principal:

1. Pick a focal point along one of the view finder points (red). This centre of interest.

2. Use intersecting lines to arrange the focal point and the background.

I applied this principal to some of my photos.

Example one

These photos are similar.  In the first one, the focus is on the children looking out to the sea.  In the second image, the first rock line, the horizon and the children’s bodies line up up to bring a holistic view to the picture.  When I look at these pictures, the second one is more pleasing to my eye; however, the angle in the first image is interesting so there’s an element of intrigue there.

 

Example Two

Both these photos are off-centre, yet are beautifully positioned so they hold both intrigue, and balance.  In the first image, the rock line and the boy’s body are balancing features.  In the second image, the eyes and the connection at the head are a focal point. Also the photo is clearly defined in thirds: Mum in first third, Son in second third and grass in the remaining third.

 

Example Three

In this image, the body line and the tree line bring symetry to the picutre.

Example Four

This is my favourite picture yet.  To me, there’s so much to love.  There are a lot of elements here but the photo still holds its balance. Why?  The body-line and the fence lines frame the boy.  The eyes are drawn to the boy and the slight turn of his head which leads to the direction of the passing train. 

By using the Rule of Thirds as a guide, I’m able to produce well balanced photos with an element of intrigue (well, that’s the plan).

TIP 3:

I’m welcoming a professional photographer to guest post Photographing Kids Tip 3.  I also plan to hold a competition at Tip 10 (if I get there — I mean WHEN I get there).  Who would like to join with me in learning how to make wonderful photos?

Be A Fun Mum Links

Photographing Kids Tip 1: Capturing a Child’s Essence

Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds 

Photographing Kids Tip 3: The Background

Photographing Kids Tip 4: Setting Up a Shoot

Photographing Kids Tip 5: Perspective

My Camera

References

1. Gestalt Theory and Photographic Composition by Michael Fulks

2. Composition rules for photography based on physiology and psychology of human vision by D V Korablev