About the author: Jane Burkinshaw is a professional photographer and passionate about all things photography related. Jane specialises in portrait photography and runs photography courses.

Family photo shoots for precious lasting memories

Gosh I really am late posting about this fantastic photo shoot aren't I?! You can probably tell from the thick carpet of leaves that this was shot in the Autumn (early November 2016 actually). 

I've been meaning to share the images for ages as all the elements came together to produce some gorgeous images; the sun was shining and gave us one of those crisp autumnal days that drives us out into the fresh air, seeking leaves to kick around. And the afternoon light was stunning, flattering and kind to faces and creating golden backgrounds.

This family of five are enjoying some of their last years as a unit dwelling under the same roof. Soon the eldest daughter will be off to university, followed in a few years by her younger siblings. It was the perfect moment to capture them all together and create some lasting memories.

To find out more or to book your family photo shoot contact me (Jane) for a chat.


Tell your brand story in pictures and stand out

I did a photoshoot for a client recently that gave me pause for thought and helped me to resolve a problem I'd been struggling with for a while. I knew I wanted to take my photography business in a slightly different direction but was finding it difficult to shape into a clear story.

In my head and, importantly, in my heart it's crystal clear. I want to work with people who are their brand - passionate individuals who have built up their businesses based on their love for what it is they do and out of values that guide them in their lives. I've made some progress already steering my business in this direction, working with artisan bakers, artists and florists, photographing not only their products but also their work place and them as the heart and soul behind the business. 

This is Emma, the driving force behind the Cheshire Flower School.

And this is Jenny of Parsley Pie Art Club Hale
(read more in my blog about this shoot)

These photographs can all be classed as commercial or business portraits but they are actually much more than that, incorporating clear signs of what the person does and also an insight into their personality.

When Naomi of Branching Out Online asked me to do a series of photographs of her that she could use throughout her marketing materials I was delighted. I know Naomi really well and am a big admirer of her ability to maximise businesses' online presence.

Naomi doesn't sell products that I could photograph beautifully for her, she sells her skill, knowledge, experience and passion for online marketing. She's certainly not alone in offering these services but she does stand out in how she "puts herself out there": she is her brand. She is bright, bubbly, friendly, open and insanely enthusiastic about what she does. That's her point of difference.

One of Naomi's trademarks is her use of vibrant colours and she put a lot of thought into how to make this come through in the photo shoot. All the way through we used props and colours that reinforced her branding and her vibrant personality.

Having a great online presence using apps like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope.

Using appropriate props to allow you to get maximum use out of the images. This is how Naomi is using the images on social media.

Naomi also employs positive messages as a way to motivate and make images talk and I loved the props we used to convey this.

We were also very conscious of leaving space in the images to put marketing messages.

If I go back to the "light bulb" moment I had when I worked my way through these images, it was that I knew that I wanted to be more than a commercial photographer taking head shots for LinkedIn profiles... I want to tell people's story in pictures, capture what makes them and their business unique. Naomi knows the power of telling her story and uses it to build trust and loyalty, to make a powerful emotional connection with her target customer base.

She isn't afraid of sharing the low points as well as the highs and 2016 was a very tough year personally. We did some shots that reflected that and will allow her to share how she turned things around and has moved forward in a very positive way.

Have you thought about your brand story? It gives your brand a very powerful voice, makes it stand out, makes people want to connect with YOU. Why do you do what you do? If you can communicate this in words and then in pictures there'll be no stopping you!

If you are interested in booking your own photo shoot to tell your story get in touch


Pampering, Posing and Prosecco by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw

Once the new studio was completed I wanted to organise a shoot that would be fun for friends and allow me to try out the space before I started using it for real. So two weeks ago I invited four friends over as guinea pigs and another friend, Sue, who sells a range of skincare and make up products (Arbonne - promised her a plug!). Our numbers grew when we decided to add a make up artist, Claire  and then Mhari with her gorgeous Stella and Dot jewellery (plugs all done for now!).

The girls - Debbie, Nicky, Kaarin and Lucy arrived with changes of clothes and nervous smiles. We gave them a bit of a pamper with some face cleansing and face pack products (always good for a funny photo!) and then they all had their make up done and jewellery chosen to complement their outfits.
Pampering and gossiping time!
Time to add the stunning bling.
We gave some advice on how to stand for a full length shot as no one ever knows how to do it and what to do with their hands! This pose, demonstrated by Sue, shows how it's much more flattering to stand at an angle, weight on the back leg, front leg forward. I call this the Cheshire Ladies pose as everyone always does it at weddings and events!
Cheshire Ladies pose. But make sure you're facing the light for best results. We turned Sue to face the other way for the actual shot.
I love Nicky's more casual take on this pose. Looks really natural and relaxed.
Everyone had a go at a full length pose, including Mr T - what a posasaurus!
As you can imagine when eight women get together it's very noisy and at times very silly. Nicky might not ever get a job as a reflector holder!

None of them normally enjoy having their photographs taken but all did extremely well, with lots of different poses - standing, seated, lying down. I still haven't had time to edit them all but here's my favourites of the four models.

Sue Cobb of Arbonne, modelling Stella & Dot jewellery.
Huge thanks to Sue Cobb and Claire Fulton of Arbonne and Mhari Oakes of Stella & Dot for giving their time and skills on the day. Thanks to the four models for their sense of humour and willingness to do something out of their comfort zone. Boudoir shoot next time, ladies?!

Thanks to Nic Burkinshaw and Abii Burkinshaw for the catering (a lovely spread of quiche, home made bread, salad and home made cookies, accompanied by Prosecco for a little extra sparkle!)

Almost forgot to mention the star of the show - Bella, Lucy's daughter and my great niece.

Make up (none), clothes and accessories all model's own!


5 things you must do if you're asked to photograph a wedding at the last minute

Chris and Maria 
1.     Say "yes" and rearrange anything else you have on, I promise you it will be worth it. On Saturday I got a call at 12.30pm to see if I could stand in for a no-show photographer at a big wedding. After a moment's hesitation (we were just about to go out for the afternoon for my daughter's 13th birthday), I agreed to do it and asked "where" and "when?". "In Chester in half an hour!" 
      I think the bride and I set off for the church at the same time, the bride in a chauffeur driven vintage car and me in a husband-driven Subaru. The bride looking radiant in a stunning dress and veil, with beautifully styled hair and flawless make up; me with barely dry, un- straightened hair, no make up (!) and a top I had regretted buying but was clean and not creased. Not my usual wedding photographer "uniform".

2.     Be prepared! Every time you finish a job, put your batteries on charge and format your memory cards, just in case you ever need to be an emergency wedding photographer! This is now a new rule of mine as it would have saved me a lot of stress on Saturday! 

      Whilst I panicked over the state of batteries and cards in the car, my three companions made helpful comments to keep me calm; Sam: "you'll look like Mad Eye Moody running into the church late..." This is a character from Harry Potter, but you don't need to know that to get the idea! Nic: "you should always keep your batteries charged and cards formatted just in case…"

3.     Keep calm and do what you're good at. I've done enough weddings and events now to know what I'm doing, despite not having time to do any preparation, never mind not having even met the bride and groom. They were quite easy to spot, in front of the alter, quite spruced up, talking to a guy wearing white robes. As I started shooting, I was picking up information on the hoof: 
  • this was a wedding attended by a lot of people from Spain (the priest kept dropping in the odd Spanish word);
  • it was a Catholic wedding (we were still there after 20 minutes);
  • it was a very big wedding (both sides of the church were packed);
  • this was going to be a lively gig (lots of laughter and spontaneous dancing and singing after the service, especially Y Viva Espagna!). This meant it was a delight to photograph, with so much Latin emotion and expressiveness, unlike us reserved Brits.
"A lively gig" with lots of spontaneous dancing

4.     Don't be afraid to ask for help. At the first opportunity I had a quick word with the videographers (Tom & Tom from Silk Wedding Films) and sorted a lift to the hotel and got a quick view of the schedule for the day. TomTom were great all day, making sure I knew when things were happening, especially when we would get fed! 

      When we arrived at the hotel everything was happening so fast, the light was fading and I hadn't had chance to suss out how to pose the bride and groom in the car. So I asked the chauffeur for his advice. He was more than happy to help as he wanted his car to look great in the pictures.

Great pose in the car

5.     Put the bride and groom's needs first above everything else. It must have been awful for them to have the stress of the photographer not showing up, but I just assured them that they would still have amazing pictures by which to remember their wedding. I tried to find out if anyone had been taking pictures prior to the church service, as I knew that the happy couple would want a complete record of their big day in the album. I've now got a great selection of photos of the bride getting ready before the ceremony and I'm going to pick the best ones and give them a professional makeover so that they can be included.

Chris and Maria with Mark, the hotel General Manager - the man who made the call at 12.30pm

I really enjoyed being an emergency wedding photographer and would do it again in a flash. I didn't have any time to get nervous and it was really rewarding to be told umpteen times that I was a super hero and had "saved the day". I always knew those Wonder Woman pants would come in useful one day! I really can't wait to show the final photographs to Chris and Maria, as they were an amazing couple, so laid back, lots of fun and totally in love, of course.

By Jane Burkinshaw, Emergency Wedding Photographer

Baby Harriett's first photo shoot (by Cheshire baby photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

I photographed Harriett back in October but couldn't share many of her pictures until now, as her parents were giving framed images as Christmas presents. The lucky grandparents had no idea that Harriett had even had a photo shoot and were bowled over by the pictures. I'm really happy to be able to share them now as she is a beautiful baby girl.

The name Harriett means "lord of the manor" and this was certainly true of this little lady in the first few weeks. She wasn't easy to settle, preferring to be held in her mum's arms all the time. And when she wanted something she knew how to shout for it! My daughter was exactly the same in the early months and I knew that we were going to have to be patient to get those angelic, sleeping images.

Whilst mum fed and settled Harriett I made cups of tea and photographed the sort of details that also make amazing memories. This is my favourite - the family's slippers lined up in a row!

Mum was also happy for me to take discreet pics of Harriett breastfeeding - I love the way she is soothing her daughter by stroking her temples.

When babies do take a while to settle, which is more often than not, I like to take pictures of mum and dad interacting with their baby, often catching very intimate and natural moments that reflect what it's like to be a new parent.

And when Harriett finally fell asleep the magic really started to happen. With the aid of a screen and fake flooring I'd created a simple backdrop with a lovely comfy bed for her in a vanity case and we'd got the heating set on tropical. Harriett's parents couldn't believe how it was possible to get such lovely images without them having to tidy up their lounge!

If you're expecting a baby and would like to enquire about a newborn shoot in the comfort of your own home, then please get in touch. I'd love to hear from you.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

So you've had a lovely new D-SLR camera for Christmas - what now? By Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw

Santa has been very generous and has given you your first digital SLR camera for Christmas. You've taken it out of its box, charged the battery, inserted a memory card and attached the strap - all pretty straight forward so far. You've even worked out how to set the time, date and language. Then you've turned to the next section in the manual and probably lost the will to live after about 5 minutes! Do the manufacturers not realise that manuals are mainly read by relative beginners who don't yet know their f-stops from their focal lengths?! The manual goes back in the box (with the CDs containing some software stuff that you don't think you need) and you switch the camera to the familiar green Auto setting. You take some pictures that seem to turn out all right - isn't it nice to have no delay when you take a photo and to be using something that feels like a proper camera.

However, after a little while you get frustrated. Some of your pictures are blurred and the flash fires when you don't always want it to. You had thought that by getting a decent camera you would be able to take much better pictures. You know that you're not using it to its full capability, settling instead for the "safe" Auto setting. You also think you might need another lens too, as the one you have doesn't zoom very far, but you don't know where to start and worry that you could make an expensive mistake.

Well, don't despair, as you are far from alone and help is at hand! The quickest way by far to get to grips with your new camera is to book on a course. You don't need to embark on a year long evening course, a half day or full day workshop will get you off to a great start and you can always book another at a later stage as you progress. There are lots of courses available now and you just need to shop around a bit to find one local to you, at the right level and concentrating on the right photographic subject.

If you live in the Northwest of England then look no further! I've got a full programme of courses for 2014, including courses for parents, bloggers, flower enthusiasts, as well as general beginners. I also offer bespoke sessions tailored to your skills level, camera type and preferred area of photography. I offer advice on what kit you need and what you don't! Although the magic is made in camera, you also need to know how to edit your pictures and I can share my expertise on that too.

You can also learn a great deal from reading books and browsing the internet. Personally I've found that this is only really useful once you've done a course to understand the basics, as many books and blogs assume you already understand apertures, shutter speeds, focal lengths etc.

In the meantime, whilst you decide what is best for you, here are my top tips on how to get started with your new camera:

  • Shoot in natural daylight as much as possible - it's much nicer than flash. If indoors, open blinds & curtains and sit people so they are facing the window light.
  • Use the P (Program setting) instead of fully automatic, as it still does all the important stuff for you, but won't fire the flash automatically.
  • Look up in the manual how to see how fast your shutter speed is. To avoid blurred pictures it should be at least 1/125th of a second.
  • If it's slower than this then all you need to do is increase the ISO number. Look up how to do this in the manual and then increase it until it gives you the shutter speed you need.
  • If you have to use your flash then make sure you are no closer than 1 metre to your subject and no further away than 3 metres. Don't use the red eye setting, fix it later in a free editing programme like Picasa.
  • Have your camera out and ready to use all the time so that you get in to the habit of taking lots of pictures. And do take lots at this stage, as you will learn from your mistakes.
  • Look at other people's photographs  - in books, magazines and on forums like Flickr and Pinterest. Don't be afraid to copy their ideas in order to learn.
Good luck with your new gadget - with a bit of practise it will soon become your new best friend!

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

What sort of camera should I ask Santa for? (By Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

If you are thinking of asking for a camera for Christmas from Santa (aka a generous loved one), you may well be a bit confused about what exactly to ask for. I'm going to try and simplify it a little for you, based on my experience of buying cameras. I currently own 2 compact cameras, a bridge camera and 3 DSLRs, quite a few lenses and a mountain of camera bags (I seem to have an inexplicable weakness for these and can always justify buying a new one!). Running workshops has also given me insight into what people are typically concerned about and confused by.

Your choice of camera depends on what you want it for - nothing like stating the obvious - and it's very difficult to recommend one option. It may be your first camera, or an extra to be used alongside existing cameras or you could be considering trading up to a more sophisticated camera. Hopefully this summary of the options available will help you decide. I've recommended a few models based on my personal experience but always read independent reviews before you buy.

Compact camera or camera phone
Image borrowed from http://www.all-things-photography.com/digital-compact.html

Both these formats offer convenience and ease and use. We can carry them with us all the time and quickly take photographs on a variety of AUTO settings. Images can be quickly edited and enhanced - often in camera / phone - and quickly shared with friends and family. Beginners and professionals alike use them on a day to day basis but they do have their limitations - here are some:

  • Delay after pressing the shutter.
  • Poor performance in low light.
  • Poor in camera flash.
  • Can be difficult to get soft focus backgrounds.
  • Despite their positioning as "point and shoot" cameras they can have incredibly complex and hard to navigate menus.
Briefly this is how I get the best results from my compact camera or camera phone:
  • Shoot in good natural daylight.
  • Avoid photographing subjects in bright sunlight - too much contrast with harsh light and dark shadows.
  • Shoot without flash whenever possible - even at night. If you increase the ISO value you can get a faster shutter speed. 
  • Think about composition as this is one element you can control.
  • Use apps such as Instagram and Retro Camera to take funky, creative shots.

Taken with Instagram or Retro Camera on Android Phone

Why buy a compact camera when you can use the camera on your phone?

It's a great question with the latest camera phones giving good images. The main disadvantage of the camera on phones is that most don't offer optical zoom, so any images taken with zoom are poor quality as they use digital zoom (just magnifies the pixels). You'll notice I say most as at the time of writing several manufacturers now offer a zoom lens built into a camera phone. With this recent development some are predicting the death of the standard compact camera as all its functionality is captured within the camera phone, or soon will be. I certainly wouldn't be considering buying a new compact camera at present, but I will be reading with great interest reviews of new phone cameras with optical zooms.

Image borrowed from http://www.photographyblog.com/category/Camera%20Phones
 Enthusiast Compact Cameras

I didn't make this category up, it does officially exist and describes more sophisticated and more expensive compact cameras. I own a Fujifilm X10 that falls into this category and I absolutely love it. The image quality is superior to any compact cameras I've owned, it does superb close up shots, I can get great soft focus backgrounds and it performs well in a wide variety of light conditions, including low light. It's only downfall is lack of significant zoom - only 4X, but I accept that and take it into account when I use it. If I'm going to the zoo and want to photograph animals in enclosures I don't take the X10!
Taken with Fujifilm X10
This camera and others like it are ideal as a second camera (to their DSLR) for the enthusiast or professional who demands a bit more from their compact camera and isn't frightened of exploring all its settings and capabilities.

Image courtesy of http://www.kenrockwell.com/fuji/x10.htm
Bridge Camera, Compact System Camera or DSLR?

Typically if you are considering upgrading from a compact you will be faced with deciding between a bridge camera or a camera with interchangeable lenses (compact system camera or DSLR).

Let's look at bridge cameras first. These are so called because they bridge the gap between compact cameras and cameras with interchangeable lenses. A bridge camera offers more sophisticated performance than your average compact and usually has a very powerful zoom lens. It's ideal for people who don't want the inconvenience of carrying and changing lenses, not to mention the expense.

There are some excellent bridge cameras available, with image stabilised lenses and lots of the features and controls of SLR cameras. I always recommend Panasonic if asked as I've never had a bad experience but there are lots of options and as ever I suggest you read the reviews. Here are some of the limitations versus DSLRs (I'll come to Compact System Cameras in a moment).

  • Still a slight delay after pressing the shutter.
  • Such a long zoom range (sometimes up to 60X) cannot possibly produce the image quality of most DSLR lenses. Having said that they will be perfectly good enough for the amateur photographer.
  • Poor performance in low light vs DSLRs as the camera sensor is smaller.
Compact System Cameras

Image borrowed from http://www.photographyblog.com/category/compact_system_camera/P20
These are a similar size to compact cameras but with interchangeable lenses and similar performance to entry level DSLRs. If you want the convenience of a small camera but the creativity and flexibility offered by having different lenses then this could be the ideal option. I've never used one and can't really justify getting one but It looks like they could have their place based on size alone . As they are a relative newcomer the range of lenses may be limited in the short term. I have also read that their autofocus system is not as  sophisticated as that of DSLRs, meaning that they may struggle to focus on rapidly moving subjects.

Digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras

Image borrowed from http://www.slrhut.co.uk
In my opinion and experience the performance of a DSLR cannot be equaled or beaten by any other camera type and if you are serious about photography - a keen amateur or considering going professional - then it's a no brainer. Yes, you have to spend money on lenses (the kit lens that comes with your DSLR body will have a disappointing zoom) and you will have to be prepared to carry lenses around and change them "in the field". But this comes at a small price when you consider the advantages of a DSLR:
  • No delay on pressing the shutter.
  • Better performance in low light than compact or bridge cameras.
  • More sophisticated auto focus and metering systems
  • Wide variety of lenses and accessories, offering unparalleled image quality and creativity.
DSLRs aren't for everyone, they are less convenient to carry around and it can prove expensive investing in lenses and accessories. But for some the barrier to trading up from a compact or bridge camera is because they think they'll be difficult to use, when in actual fact entry level DSLRs offer several fully automatic modes similar to those on compact cameras, as well as the more manual options.

To reiterate what I said at the beginning it's a very personal choice and you have to go with what feels right for you. Where possible borrow cameras from friends and try them out before you buy. If you're buying online make sure you've had chance to check the camera out in a shop first and held it.

I hope Santa is good to you - I'm not expecting too much this year as I had a very large lens from him last year and he's already warned me to only submit a small list with a price ceiling this year! :-(

I hope this was useful. If you have any questions please let me know. If you live in or near Cheshire why not book onto one of my courses and learn lots more!

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!


5 reasons why you should do a photography project (by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

All 366 images taken during my photo project in 2012
(Click to enlarge)
I love babies and (most) kids and for some crazy reason I like to earn a living by chasing them around with a camera, capturing natural photos of them and selling them to their parents. Newborn babies are my favourite subjects as they don't get about so much and because they are without exception extremely cute.

In 2011, however, I started to feel the desire to photograph something in addition to little people. I looked back fondly to my days as a mature photography student, when I worked on projects that made me explore different photography techniques, use various forms of lighting, photograph everyday mundane objects and create striking images. For an assignment called "Silhouettes" I even photographed a Barbie doll being chased down a dark corridor by a wooden mannequin!

During yet another evening of browsing online photography forums I came across the concept of taking and posting a photograph a day for a year. I was immediately hooked and 1st January 2012 I began my 366 project with a shot of empty bottles from our New Year's Eve party. I posted the image on my Facebook page for Picture It Big and on a website called The 365 Project (www.365project.org). As each day went by I got more support and comments on my images and was spurred on to keep posting. I even felt as if I would be letting people down if I didn't. This played a big part in ensuring that I stuck at it for the whole year. 14th December 2012 was my only major fail when I completely forgot to take a shot and uploaded a picture of our calendar with a big red "F" for fail scribbled on it.

A friend presenting my photo book at a networking event
I've just got round to completing a photo book containing all the images, a truly rewarding task seeing all my hard work presented over 98 pages. It struck me again how much I gained from this year long project and I want to share with fellow photography enthusiasts seven reasons  why they should take up some sort of photography project or challenge.

1. Get out of a rut 

If you feel like you are shooting the same old stuff all the time and not feeling very creative, then an exciting and challenging project is just what you need to make you feel a renewed enthusiasm and creativity. Before long I was digging lenses out of my camera bag that I hadn't used for months or even years. I had been shooting kids on the Av setting for years and it was fun to start using Tv and experiment with  long exposures to blur movement or to capture the sky at night. I started to use different effects in Photoshop - selective colour, filters. I played around with still life on different backgrounds, reflective surfaces, using natural light, reflectors and continuous light. I tackled street photography and photographing strangers - way out of my comfort zone. Some days I used a DSLR, other days all I had was my camera phone or a compact. Some of my favourite images were with my phone where you are forced to work really hard getting the composition right.

2. Improve your photographic skills

I am amazed at how much my photography improved over the course of the year and what I had learned. It's easy to stick to what you know especially when you are working to deadlines but but we can all learn new stuff if we put our minds to it. I started to shoot on Manual for the 365 project and before long I was doing it during all my professional shoots too. I learned how useful Live View is in making sure your focusing is spot on.

3. Train your eye to see images everywhere

At the risk of sounding like a geek I was getting out of bed in the morning already thinking about what that day's image would be. I'd turn my breakfast plate around wondering how to capture bacon in an interesting way or stare at ripples in puddles as I walked the dog. You can find a creative shot anywhere when you put your mind to it.

4. "Meet" like-minded people

I've already said that without the support of people on Facebook and The 365 Project I would probably have given up, missed days out. It was so rewarding and motivating to get comments from people in countries on the over side of the world and to see their images, which opened a window on their worlds - exotic flowers and birds, different cultures, amazing scenery. People's pictures and their commentary could be quite personal and revealing about their lives, as we often use our cameras to mark significant life events. During 2012 we lost my husband's mum and then our boxer dog died of cancer a few months later and we received a great deal of support from the online forums.

5. Create a visual record of a period in your life

What I didn't expect out of the project was to get such a great visual diary of a year in our lives. Inevitably I took pictures of the everyday, the mundane as well as celebrations, holidays and special occasions. I never tire of browsing through the images, seeing the seasons change, remembering what we doing and where we were when I took the picture. It was a good year for Britain with the Golden Jubilee and the Olympics and this is reflected with a shot of the Olympic Torch in our local town and lots of union flags in other shots.

If you'd like to see the photobook I created and had printed click on the link.


I hope you are inspired to start your own project. It doesn't have to be for a year and it could be on a particular subject. I've recently been doing 50 days with a 50mm lens (not quite so successfully!). I also bought a book called "Photocrafty: 75 creative camera projects for you and your digital SLR" by Sue Venables and there's definitely some inspiration in there.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

50/50 project. Day 31/50 !Yo Sushi (by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Day 31 !Yo Sushi

50 days with a 50mm lens

I've finally given up on my 50mm f/1.8 lens which has been struggling since I dropped it (it was knocked out of my hands by a boisterous puppy!). Focusing has been hit and miss and it's been making grating scratchy noises. With my birthday imminent I've been treated to the Canon 50mm f/1.4 today - a more grown up version - faster, quieter and with even more bokeh! So here's the first shot taken at my birthday lunch at !Yo Sushi. I had to wait ages for the conveyor belt to be full of dishes on both sides and almost had a Miranda moment with my scarf!

I thought the new lens deserved a try out on a serious camera so this was taken on the 5D Mk II.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

Life, loved ones & lenses

There just aren’t enough hours in the day at the moment! How on earth did I used to hold down a fulltime job and run a family?! The truth is that I didn’t really – I stumbled from one day into the next, prioritising whoever shouted loudest, at home and at work. I used to dream of having the sort of freedom and pressure-free existence that I supposedly now lead. Surely running your own business from home should give a better quality of life and ease the juggling of home and work demands? In many ways it has - writing presentations to pointless deadlines, attending endless meetings and commuting (read "crawling") along the network of Manchester motorways is a thing of the past – thank goodness. I now spend my “workdays” either at the computer editing photographs, printing out jobs, updating the website, emailing (presumably a valid verb these days although it’s arguable whether it’s a valid use of time...), or nipping to see customers, running errands and fitting in walking the dog somewhere in between. This should all be squeezed in to the school hours between 9.15 and 3.00 but somehow time always runs away from me. Lunchtime seems to sneak up on me when I’m convinced it’s still only about 11.00, and then it’s a mere blink of an eye until 3.00 is here and I rush out of the door to collect the little peeps. Then the other part of my day starts, with after-school activities, tea and homework filling the slot from 3.30-7.00 every day. If I’m not falling asleep by 9pm then I’ll do a bit of work or blogging in front of the TV before collapsing into bed. Somewhere between 9.00 & 11.00pm Nic & I are supposed to find some quality "us-time".
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not bemoaning this new way of life – I just need to get a better handle of it. I’ve been used to a very structured working week for more than twenty years and I need to be a better mistress of this still relatively new freedom. (Here I am now in Costa at 11.15 writing my blog off-line as I can’t get a signal on my supposedly mobile broadband to go online and write some emails!)
As a change of subject, I’ve added to my collection of lenses this week. I’ve read lots of write-ups on the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, all of which conclude that it’s a must-have in any portrait / wedding photographer’s kit bag. And at around £90 RSP it’s without doubt my cheapest lens – and I got it for £75 on ebay including p&p. I’ve not had much time to play with it yet – just a few shots of the dog and the kids, but I’m already excited about the difference it’s going to make to my portrait shots, especially in low light / indoors. I’ve also fallen back in love with my telephoto lens, although I’m looking forward to the day when I can upgrade it to a lens with a lower f-stop and better quality all round, especially now that I’ve seen the potential of my recent purchase. But I still got some lovely shots of Sam, who was at his absolute posing best on Mother’s Day, when we visited Dunge Valley Hidden Gardens nr Macclesfield. Despite the fierce arctic winds he explored the gardens with me, claiming he didn’t want me to have to do it on my own on Mother’s Day and that he would be my model. So, whilst Nic and Abby huddled in the campervan, cooking chilli and rice for lunch (the tea room was closed due to flooding), Sam and I had a blast of fresh air and a blast in general, with me laughing at him for most of the walk as he tried to hold his trousers up to prevent me taking shots of his builder’s bum (Sam suffers from this no matter what he wears, having no waist and a tiny behind!). Dunge Valley will be well worth a visit after Easter, when the Bluebell walk and the Rhododendron Trail will both hopefully be in flower (and the tea room open and flood-free). The hellibores were magnificent, by the way, hence the opening shot (another great use for my telephoto lens).

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!
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