Quick tips to improve your birthday pictures

August 27, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Everyone one wants to snap a few great birthday photos of your little ones on their special day!  It can be a daughtning task especially if you are hosting it at your house.  There is just so much to do cleaning, decorating, baking the cake the list can go on and on.  After all that work you want a few great pictures to remember the day.  Especially of the big moment "blowing out the candles."  How do you go from this:

 

 

To this:

Let me give you a few tips and they will be easier then you think.  First, both are cute pictures of my little man on his birthday.  However, the second picture is better for three main reasons.  Lets list those reason to help you analize photos so you can develop your artistic eye.  The camera is a lot closer to the subject in the second image.  The second image only includes elements that help tell the "story" of this moment. Lastly, but most importantly the lighting.

So, the first issue of proximaty is an easy fix.  Get closer to your subject. The second issue of story telling.  The only physical elements in the second image are the ones I choose.  The Birthday Boy, cake with candles and the toy fire truck.  The toy fire truck was intentional, since that was the theme for the party.  I also created a little bit of bokah to blur the background further forcing your attention on the subject.  What is bokah and how do you do it?  Great questions!  Bokah is simply a blurred background.  How do you achieve it?  Well you need a more then an iphone or a point and shoot.  You need to have a low apature number on your camera mine was 2.8 in this shot.  This creates shallow depth of field.   Depth of Field is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a photo that is sharp or in focus.  This dream like type of photo has a shallow depth of field.  So the child in the image is in focus, but the background is blurry.  You achieve a shallow depth of field by having a low aperture number on your camera.  A weird fact is that the lower your number the more light you are actually letting in to your camera.

The last element of this picture and most important, lighting.  Really interpating and manipulating lighting is key to any good image.  In this image we have one main source of lighting, the candles.  We do have some secondary background light from the room next door.  I turned off the lights and closed the blinds in this room.  If I could have I would have gotten rid of the background light.  However, my dinning room is open to our great room, so that was not an option.    Back to our main lighting source, candles.  Candles are the lighting source for the face.  Candles provide such a unique, warm, and flattering light source.  When people kid around about wanting to always be lit by candle light they are on to something.  Candles do not provide a ton of light, so this is a low light senario.  Since this is a low light shot, I up my ISO on my camera to 1200.  As a general rule you always want your ISO number as low as you can, while still getting the shot.  A high ISO number can cause "grain" on an image.  Since we were dealing with candle light a high ISO was nessasary.

One last tip, I took my artistic photos before the party event started.  I set the room, called over my little guy and sang "Happy Birthday" to him without any other people or distractions.  It made a a great picture, but an even greater Mommy and me moment.


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