• Linda Woodard

Bluebells (a parent's photography guide)

I am so sad to be missing out on my Bluebell sessions this year. They really symbolise the rebirth of nature and tells us that summer is on it's way!

The bluebells themselves make for such wonderful photos with their beautiful lilacs and blues. I especially love sitter sessions amongst them. Little munchkins blinking towards the sun whilst taking in the magical light as it spreads through the trees, dancing amongst the bells. No wonder little ones go looking for fairies amongst them.

So although I won't be able to capture these magical moments this year, there is nothing stopping you from taking a photo of your child/ren if you see bluebells when you're enjoying your daily exercise. One thing to always bare in mind; do not trample the bluebells. Not only are they protected, but you want to ensure other people get to enjoy them too. Instead, look for a patch where there are none growing, or a path with bluebells on both sides. The trick is to make sure you have bluebells behind your subject and in front of them to create the illusion that they are amongst them. I often use a Victorian washbasin to put my 'new crawlers' in as it keeps them in one place and I don't have to worry about them crawling into the bluebells or even trying to eat the - bluebells are poisonous and can cause very bad tummies amongst other things!

You're now ready to take your photos.

Always think of your height when taking photos, especially when they're of children. You want their faces and not the top of their heads. Make sure you get down on your knees and try to capture a few 'out of focus' bluebells in the foreground. If you can do this or not will of course depend on what camera/mobile you are using, but if you were to use a DSLR I usually have my camera set to F2.8 if there is only one person in my photo, or two sitting at the same distance from me. If there are more people you need to go higher on you F stop, to ensure no one is out of focus, but at the same time you want the blur in front and behind (BOKEH) so try to keep the F stop low. I would try not to go above F5.6. It is worth knowing that the further away you go from your subject the deeper the focus space (depth of field). So if a group is far away I can use F2.8 but if they're up close I might need to go for F6.3 for example. To counter act the low F-stop, up the shutter speed, which you would want at a minimum of 320 when capturing children moving around. With regards to ISO I would set it as low as possible, but if it's a gloomy day you can up it to about 600 without causing grainy images. Always put the focus on the eyes! Moving onto posing. I personally prefer children having fun and showing natural smiles in images. Getting them to look at each other often makes them giggle, or ask them to do 'Patty Cake'. If you want them to look in a particular direction, ask if they saw the fairy just passing, this often gets them excited and they love that you're taking part in their magical world. You can also do the whispering game where you get one child to whisper something to the other one and then the second child says it out loud. This is often a good way to involve boys.

If you're photographing a group (make sure you stick to your family until lockdown restrictions change) then think of how they stand. Littlest ones at the front and build up the image with taller persons at the back, and try to create a triangle shape.

Finally, make sure you actually stop and look at the photographs you have taken. There is no point in taking lots only to find you need to change the settings. Also have a look at the overall image. Its there a tree directly behind someone making it look as if they have antlers on their head? Is there a connection between the people in the image, are they standing close enough to each other. Even a small gap can look enormous when printed. Hopefully this has given you a few things to bare in mind if you stumble upon a photo opportunity when out and about.

Most importantly in these times - stay safe and practise social distancing! You can return for a photo another day so make sure your bluebell area doesn't turn into a social gathering but is part of your daily exercise. Good luck!

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