My present situation as I put together this blog post; to my left is a (rather large) slice of freshly-baked-and-still-warm pumpkin bread and to my right is a steeping cup of Harvest Apple Spice tea and I have the windows wide open letting in the crisp air. Autumn in Memphis, you have taken too long to get here!
There is something about Autumn that wells up childhood magic, joy and anticipation and I can quite literally smell the change in the air. I wish I could make my excitement accessible to download but something tells me that you feel the same way :-)
Capturing the first year has been about learning to appreciate the small things; what I see everyday as my baby grows, the seemingly monotonous moments. But, with such a love for all things Autumn, how could I not include this seasonal change in this year long project? My intention is NOT to produce a holiday card, however the goal is to bring a little seasonal twist in a mini series of shots in keeping with the tone of Capturing The First Year.
(*For a similar session, I’d recommend using a prime lens.)
Firstly, lets just break down some expectations…
I recently ventured out over Fall break with the three boys to choose some pumpkins from a local orchard. I’d hoped to get a few decent shots of the boys picking apples from the orchard on a nice chilly, cloudy day and envisioned me happily clicking away while the older boys ran wild and free, enjoying the nature and baby contently sat in his stroller. Well they definitely ran wild and free! But that was about the only thing that happened :-\
Fields and nature are no doubt beautiful to shoot in, but having spent years of not being able to easily access such areas and knowing how limiting the climate can be in a certain locations (especially across the pond!) I specifically wanted to provide examples of how you can achieve beautiful pictures of your baby without the glamorous backgrounds or perfect weather conditions.
So, …after *enjoying* the nature we headed back to the store front to choose the pumpkins to carve. I had the boys pick out a little pumpkin and a carton of apples for Mattheus and he was a happy little camper to say the least of these newfound objects. So I took advantage of this new opportunity.
A WORD ON PROPS
I’ve said it before, but I am not a huge fan of props! However, I am definitely not against including objects that highlight what your baby can do or that spark curiosity, especially objects from nature. I prefer to keep it simple so color or objects are not fighting for attention. Simple really can be more! You may also notice that when you have such a neutral background, such as the gray concrete in this series, a pop of color such as the orange pumpkin or the crimson apples will bring your picture to life and help focus the attention on beautiful details such as those chubby, grubby hands!
In the previous post I touched on open shade. I wasn’t happy with the direct, overhead sun in the orchard. I couldn’t find enough shade at that time of day so eyes were squinted, skin washed out, white balance off and the exposure was a challenge to compose. The store front on the other hand was a covered outdoor area, nothing magnificent, yet it worked perfectly. In open shade the light is well diffused and plentiful, blocking the harsh sunlight that makes you want to squint. Eyes are bright with beautiful catchlights and I also find that the tones and colors produced are richer. See below for how to look for open shade.
For the beautifully blurred background, have you baby far away enough from a background/wall and have the aperture set to a lower f-stop. (f/1.8 on my lens.)
GEAR AND SETTINGS
For those interested, I had my camera set to manual, ISO 200, f/1.8 and varying speeds but the majority were 1/640 sec.
If you’re new to shooting in manual or would like to know how to make this step, you may want to read over this intro. I certainly could have afforded to lower my ISO to 100 as the light was more than adequate but I found a happy shooting spot and had to work fast around the older boy’s enthusiasm to weigh ALL the pumpkins in the store :-) Luckily there is not a huge difference between the quality of image with ISO 100 and ISO 200.
Just look at the gorgeous crimson pop from these apples and what it adds to the photo! No stunning location, no stunning outfit or bells and whistles; just a bit of clever use of position, light, a cute baby and seasonal color to highlight the tenth month.
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