Finding the Pretty
(or what to shoot when
you can’t leave home!)
Hi there – it’s Pam here!
I’m a mum… I have a job, 3 tonnes of washing per week, and 1278 pieces of stray lego to pick up before I vacuum. I also have a cat that sheds white fur like she’s trying to make more cats, and 3 meals to cook every night because no one likes the same thing and it truly is easier this way (and it’s an excuse to drink wine).
I have 27 school notes (I may be exaggerating a tiny bit) to sign every morning 12.6 seconds before we leave the house because both of them forget to bring them to me in a timely manner.
I make 10 lunches per week that will largely go uneaten. I could just stop making lunches but I care… I care that the teachers might think I’m a bad mother if they come to school with only pre-packaged lunch box treats and nothing of substance or nutritional value.
I spend approximately 650 minutes per week in the car, taking Thing 1 and Thing 2 to their… things. The only time I like doing this is when I’m driving them to school camp. Please don’t judge me!
The Secret Life of a Mumtographer
I also have a hobby. I love to go places and find stuff and take photos. But there are not enough hours in the day left for me to indulge that love. How frivolous!
I used to drag the kids along with me, and they were my subjects. They used to be enthusiastic… that lasted about 3 days. Then the bribes started.
Once upon a time I could bribe them with a piece of chocolate. Then they upped the ante and I had to promise a packet of Mighty Beanz (anyone remember those?).
Eventually they wanted cash, and if I was desperate enough, I was known to pay the odd fiver in return for some portraits. But they upped the ante yet again and I refuse to pay big dollars to photograph such reluctant subjects.
I had to learn to love shots like this one, or move on.
When You Can’t Leave Home
It’s not that I need to photograph faces… I’m happy to photograph anything at all. But I don’t like to leave my kids at home alone for long… Thing 1 is 15 years old, so it can be done… but Thing 2 is “a climber”, “a risk taker” and a “food stealer”, and a little too much for Miss 15 to cope with for long without killing him or seriously maiming him.
What to Photograph
But all of these challenges doesn’t mean I can’t shoot. My house and garden is bursting with opportunities to create some art. From very ordinary, unassuming subjects. Even weeds or dying blooms can be art, if you can just find the beauty in their colour, shape, texture… my point being, sometimes pretty is not what or where you expect it to be.
So today I headed out to my “garden” (I use the term lightly believe me!) to find some pretty.
The Set Up
Each shot is accompanied by a wide shot to show how I didn’t have beautiful scenery, a studio, or lights. But I still made something out of very little, using all natural light.
Keep it simple and use whatever additional elements are on hand. All of the objects in the shot below live on my back porch. In fact, those elements came first, and they helped me choose the subject to go with them.
Pink Dragon Bloom: 50mm f/1.4; Aperture f/6.3; 1/200; ISO 800
Look for open shade, or shoot during the golden hours (2 hours after sunrise or 2 hours before sunset).
In this shot I found a tiny pocket of soft light in the middle of the day, under the small verandah near my front door. You can see the hard light surrounding the pot, which I simply framed out.
I use a Canon 5d Mk3 and for these shots I used a Sigma 105mm macro and a Canon 50mm f/1.4.
Remember when you’re in this close, shooting something this small, you have a much smaller depth of field. So in order to get a lot of the subject in focus with a nice fall away, you need apertures of at least f/6.3 and beyond, depending of course on what you’re shooting and how close you are.
Experiment and take lots of shots of the same set up because the LCD screen is not a great indicator of sharpness when shooting small and close.