12th December 2009 – Studio practice!

Written on December 12, 2009 – 11:18 pm | by BryonyParkes |

Yesterday afternoon I met up with a local photographer, the lovely Christina Lauder at her fantastic studio. Christina kindly gave up some time to let me try some photography within a studio set up, using her lights and tuition.

I love Christina’s work and have been following her blog for some time now. Thank you, for your time and patience Christina!

I had the small one with me, so she became the focus of the session. We tried three different set ups using studio lights and a wireless flash trigger set mounted on the top of my camera with the other of the pair connected to the main fill light. I have to say, I much preferred this method of triggering the lights instead of using the flash gun. I’ll be adding these to my wish list!

The first set up was with two fill lights only. I love the natural essence of these shots and has made me consider using more natural backgrounds rather than blowing the white out all the time.

(excuse the dummy in this one)

Christina pointed out that I need to think a bit more on the spot about composition. Although a sweet shot that I am actually quite pleased with in terms of the subject, the line of the floor meeting the wall is a bit distractingly (unfortunately?) positioned!

So I tried this one, taken from above:

The second set up, was blowing the white backdrop out using two lights against the white wall which would then, additional to the fill lights, create that bright background that is so popular in this day and age.

Lastly we had a go at some black background, although my daughter was getting a little on the cranky side by now! We used the fill lights again, and a single light shining away from the black wall, as I understand the black background comes best from the light dropping between the subject and the background rather than lighting up the background as in the blown out white. I found this a lot more tricky so the photos aren’t perfect, and perhaps editing is where I need to improve more here, but nonetheless a very good learning experience.

All these shots have been edited by me, just using the small selection of tools that come with Windows Photo gallery that I have on my computer, once I got home. While I was still at the studio, Christina edited three of my shots, how she would have done if she had taken them for a client, using Photoshop and explained what she was doing as she went along. I was really impressed with the results. The images are so much softer and the skin tone is just lovely. They look far more professional than my edits that’s for sure. I can’t quite believe I took them!

I think I need to gain my confidence using Photoshop, particularly if I start taking on some casual work at any point in the future. I have had a lesson from a friend, and then Christina helped me further but gaining the courage to start using it when I’ve always just “got by” with a simple edit program was hard. However seeing the differences between the edits of a shot that I made, and the edits of a shot that Christina made, from the same Jpeg file has helped. They didn’t need editing a huge deal, but sometimes the little touches make it all worthwhile. Hopefully you’ll be seeing some more Photoshop work from me in the coming weeks!

I also have learnt that I really need to buy a reflector. They aren’t expensive, and they are a lot easier to carry around than a piece of lighting kit! Sometimes, rather than using a light, a reflector is all you need and they can be used with natural light too. I always forget about reflecting light and have been looking back on quite a few of my shots recently recognising that a reflector would have made a lot of difference. I think I might need some help though – a reflector needs holding up and today we had Christina holding Evie with myself behind the camera so the reflector didn’t get used as much as we’d have liked!

Thanks again Christina, I had a lovely afternoon and your studio is absolutely fantastic. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain to me, how it works in a studio set up. I hope we can meet up again another time! I wish you all the best for your photography business and hope it continues to thrive and prosper as I’m sure it will do.

All shots were taken (at Christina’s suggestion) at 1/125 and f/8.0

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4th December 2009 – Christmas Card fun

Written on December 4, 2009 – 11:43 am | by BryonyParkes |

This year, as mentioned in a previous blog post, I am making our Christmas cards to keep costs down. I’ve got some prints on order from Snapfish which I’ll then use to do some arty crafty stuff one evening next week.

If you’re on our Christmas card list, you can still look if you like. These are a couple of the shots I took, but the picture I’ve chosen for the final result I’ve helpfully omitted from this small selection at the moment ;-)

My two little girls:

Alice (3 years 8 months)

Evie (10.5 months)

I wanted them bright to contrast with the card I’ve bought to put the photos on so crept up the exposure during editing. I didn’t want the shutterspeed any slower due to the fact I was shooting children after all yet didn’t want to make the aperture any wider as i wanted more in focus (still bearing in mind wanting to use natural light as much as possible, loving the 50mm). I am pleased with them though, and I love the effect. It gives the impression of wintery wonderland I like to think. Please share with me your Christmas Card photos if you have some, I love seeing them!

Photos taken at 1/100 and f/3.5

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17th November 2009 – Park fun

Written on November 17, 2009 – 4:33 pm | by BryonyParkes |

Have just returned from an hour running around the park. Had some good fun and well needed fresh air.

I realised once out that Winter is starting to make an impression. It’s getting rather cold and their is a sharp edge to the wind. We’re getting very dark evenings some days as early as 3pm and you need to put the light on, and it’s raining more and more. But who said that photography during the Winter needs to be dark and dreary?



And anyway, this is also a blatant excuse to show off my girls!

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13th August 2009 – Random thing about me: Fact 11

Written on August 13, 2009 – 6:15 pm | by BryonyParkes |

I’ve finally got a photo to represent number 11 on the list!

“11) I am currently researching into training to become a breastfeeding counsellor”

I’m really pleased with the photo for this one, baby in shot is the gorgeous 5 month old Harry, and his Mum is my very good and close friend, the amazing Deaf Flautist Ruth Montgomery. I wanted a calm, loving shot, breastfeeding a child is such a special thing to do and I wanted a photo to reflect that. I think it works well in black and white, although the light is shining a little too much on his head. I perhaps should have had a wider aperture as I think if his little fingers, grabbing hold of his mum were in focus too it’d have made the picture.

Well, it’s been some time since I wrote the list that I am now working on. When I wrote it, I wasn’t having any problems breastfeeding the Small One, I think she was only teeny at the time and we were still in a cloud of newborn bliss! But since then it all went wrong. Regular readers of my blog may remember a few weeks ago, me talking of my poor baby doing a lot of crying and some stressful times with Colic and Reflux, well the medication for Reflux has to be administered in a bottle. I tried for some time, to keep up, expressing milk for her but I had to admit defeat after about a month, as I just couldn’t keep up. I’ve found it really hard, to come to terms with how hard I found breastfeeding this time round when I was so sure it’d be easy as I had experience after having fed the Big One, and I had lots of time off work to get it established long term. I didn’t count in the possibility of any medical problems however, so it took me by surprise a bit when Evie was in so much pain (we now know, from the acids the Reflux was bringing up).

I believe, heart and soul that breastfeeding is one of the most wonderful things you can do for a baby. I understand that it’s not for everyone, and that is absolutely fine in the same way that cloth nappies, co-sleeping, dressing a girl head to toe in pink, isn’t for for everyone. But if you can, then GOOD FOR YOU. It is the most natural thing in the world, gives baby plentiful of goodness, immunity, helps with bonding, helps mum lose weight and best of all is FREE! Whoop whoop!

Anyway, as it happened in the end, the Small One was breastfed exclusively for 5.5 months, then formula was introduced in order to get the Gaviscon into her. Now, at 6.5 months she’s primarily formula fed, but I am pleased to say she still has the very occasional breastfeed. I really wanted to breastfeed her for as long as possible, I wanted her to be exclusively breastfed until she was 6 months old and weaning onto solid food started. It wasn’t to be though, and I’ve lost a bit of faith in myself hence not sure if I can do the breastfeeding counsellor stuff anymore. I’ve not ruled the idea out altogether though, I’ve been told that it doesn’t have to be exclusively that you feed for 6 months (you need 6 months breastfeeding “experience” before you can apply for the course), so perhaps if I can come to learn that I did the best thing for my baby at the end of the day, therefore formula was necessary, but you did a bloody good job in the meantime… then I could still do the course.

Thinking more about it, I realise that I’d love to be available to help new mum’s with breastfeeding confidence, helping get it established, hopefully increase the number of mum’s breastfeeding on the whole. (The statistics in this country are so low). So many new mums don’t try, or give up after just a week or so due to lack of support and I want to be there to help them if they are struggling but want to continue. I particularly would like to help Deaf mums, I feel that we get even less support as it’s harder for us to access information and follow health professionals.

So there you go, a bit of personal information about me divulged there! Treat me nicely now ;o)

Before I go, I want to point you in the direction of a photographer friend of mine, Lisa Fellows and her recent blog post about World Breastfeeding week. Her photographs of the infants being breastfed are stunning,  and after I had taken the one of Harry above, I realised that it was of a similar style to Lisa’s amazing shots so wanted to credit her and bring your attention to her work.

Photo taken at 1/100 F/2.0

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30th July 2009 – Random thing about me: Fact 10

Written on July 30, 2009 – 3:44 pm | by BryonyParkes |

I’ve been really looking forward to doing this random thing, what better excuse than this to do a little mini photoshoot with my girls? I don’t need an excuse of course but sometimes it takes something like this to give you a nudge.

“10) My girls are my absolute world. I am constantly wanting to be a better mum”

It’s not that I think I’m a bad mum, I just want what everyone wants: I want the best for my children. They deserve the best childhood and upbringing possible and I sometimes wish I could give them more. They are super girls though, I really am so very very lucky to have such bright and beautiful children. Did you know that the Big One can write her name at the tender age of 3 years old and 4 months? She can also draw her Nanny with curly hair, ear-rings, arms and legs! She can tell you that Mummy starts with M and Tree starts with T. I’m not boasting, this probably all typical 3 year old stuff but I think it’s amazing and I’m incredibly proud of my daughter and watching her develop is so much fun.

We once had a conversation about bees and how they make honey. She told me that the Queen Bee looks after the honey and the other bees go to flowers to get it. I asked her what happens after that? She gave it a quick thought and then told me confidently that then Winnie the Pooh comes! How I howled!

The Small One is only 6 months, but despite some really rough months with Colic and Reflux, she is just the happiest, bounciest baby in the world. When she’s not in pain (which thankfully is hardly ever now) she can beam a smile that would stretch to the moon if it could. She’s starting to learn how to crawl, it’s adorable to watch. She gets onto her hands and her knees, sometimes her hands and feet and her bottom wobbles to and fro as she rocks to go forward. She’s been sitting up unaided since she was 22 weeks old I think, so it’s a lot easier to leave her to it and she’s quite happy to sit there and watch her big sister.

I really enjoyed doing this mini photoshoot, they are gorgeous in my eyes so it wasn’t hard to get a decent picture. Of course I’d say that, and I wouldn’t want to hear otherwise ;o) It was challenging though, it was just me to direct and position them and take the shots at the same time. I finally put some new batteries in the flash gun which helped as well as it wasn’t starting to die on me, and I used my trusty old fleece blankets for the background although space issues meant that there wasn’t as much distance between the girls and the background so it’s not as seamless as it should be. I decided to try the black for a change (I normally only use white for children) I think it works well on this occasion, but wouldn’t like to use it all the time. I know I didn’t get the lighting quite right but that’s ok, cos I’m happy with them enough and will definitely be framing my favourite!



















And my favourite:

I’d love to hire a studio one day, give it a go properly. If I were ever good enough in the future to go Pro then studio photography I think, is what I’d like to do. Weddings for example will definitely NOT be my cup of tea, I have huge admiration for those who do them. I couldn’t hack the pressure of a different venue every time, different lighting, weather problems, trekking kit around with you, dealing with “the annoying guest with the camera” that every wedding always has, not to mention getting it right first time on a day that won’t happen again. If I have a knack for anything I think it’s studio portraits although I may think differently after I’ve taken my 500th shot in a studio! I would love to shoot a wedding one day for the experience, don’t get me wrong but studio shots I think is my forte. I’d love to know if anyone agrees with me, but of course be nice ;o)

Photos taken at 1/200 and f/5.0 (flash gun used)

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