_How to find perfect presents for the children in your life

How to find perfect presents for all the children in your life

Trying to find the perfect presents for the children in your life can be so tricky, especially when the children you’re buying for are all different ages with completely different interests.

And this year it’s probably going to be even trickier, with it being harder to head out to the high street and shopping centres to browse for gifts.

Don’t panic though, with the help of online shopping (honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without the internet!) and a bit of creativity you can find perfect presents for all the different children in your life that you need to buy for.

 

One of the first stops you should make online is Wicked Uncle.

Honestly this site is amazing for finding fun, exciting, unique presents for kids.

The biggest problem I tend to have is trying to find things for children that are different ages from my own children.  My two are 9 and 6 at the moment, so I don’t really have a clue what to buy for a 12 year old, for example.

This is where Wicked Uncle comes in.

On the home page you can select the age of the child you’re buying for and then you get presented with a whole load of suggestions for toys, games, books, and fun educational kits that are suitable for the age you selected.

If there are too many ideas for you to choose from and you feel a bit overwhelmed, you can click to see the most popular gifts for the age you’ve chosen.

You can also browse ideas in categories, like engineer, role play, and sensory, if you know the type of present you’re looking for.

There are so many different ideas on Wicked Uncle, you could easily get all the children on  your list ticked off in one go.  And if you really want to save yourself some time you can even use their gift wrapping and card writing service, and get everything taken care of all at once.

 

If you’d rather get a bit more hands-on when it comes to present-buying but you’re not sure exactly what to get, then a child-friendly hamper is a really fun option.

You could fill it with all sorts of little gifts, each individually wrapped to make it special and exciting for the child to open up.

Things like sweets and chocolates, bath bombs, hair clips, key rings, card games, magic tricks, sticker books, fidget toys and blind bags are all pretty much guaranteed to be a hit and can be adapted for different ages and interests.

 

If you want to stay away from ‘stuff’ altogether then you could look at giving an experience as a gift instead.

We might not be able to do very much or visit many places at the moment, but you could still give a gift voucher for something like a horse riding lesson, or a trip to the zoo, or the cinema that could be used when things (hopefully) start to open up again.

You could even go the home-made route with this, and make your own gift voucher for something like a home spa day that you could then put on and enjoy with your nieces and nephews.

What I love about this idea is that you can completely tailor it for each child you need a present for, so it’s perfectly suited to them and what they enjoy doing.

 

Hopefully this post has given you some ideas for where to look for the perfect present for all the children in your life.

How many children do you normally give presents to at Christmas?

Do you find it hard finding the perfect gifts for them or do you enjoy the process of hunting for something they’ll really love?

 

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post

How reduce the stress of selling your family home

How to reduce the stress of selling your family home

Selling a house frequently tops the polls for “most stressful life event”. From the hassle and emotional turmoil of repeated viewings to broken property chains and failed sales, selling a house in the UK can be a minefield.

Throw in the trauma of parting with a much loved, memory-filled family home and it’s enough to prevent even the most dedicated house seller from putting their property on the market.

But does it have to be this stressful?

 

Some things will be out of your control.

You can’t magic a dream cash, no-chain buyer out of thin air, right? But there’s plenty you can do to make the house-sales process one that doesn’t leave you tearing your hair out — yes, even amidst a global pandemic and a national recession

 

Decide whether to sell or buy first

With the exception of first time and cash buyers, most people need to sell their current property to finance the purchase of a new home.

This leaves many people in a quandary that causes undue stress. “Do I sell first and then look for my dream home? Or do I wait for the perfect property to pop up, get an offer accepted and then start trying to sell my house?”

Selling your current property before buying a new family home makes you a chain-free buyer. This means that you can act fast when the right house goes on the market, and you’re likely to be top of the list of desirable candidates (unless every other bidder is chain-free too).

But, if you don’t find a new house you’re keen to buy after accepting an offer on your current home, there’s a risk of losing the sale — your buyer won’t wait forever — or spending months shelling out for a rental property. Renting is expensive and you could quickly become priced out of the market when you’re no longer building equity in a property and benefiting from any increases in house prices. 

 

If you wait to find your new dream home before marketing your current property, there’s a risk that you’ll be pipped at the post by a chain-free or cash buyer who can come up with the cash right away. Demand is currently outstripping supply making it a buyer’s market — why would someone wait for you to sell your property if they have a queue of people who can set them on the road to completion tomorrow? 

Property expert Sarah Beeny recommends researching your target area to decide which option is best for you. If your next family home is going to be (you hope) in a highly desirable area, selling your house first will put you in a much stronger position to beat the competition.

If you plan to move to an area where there are plenty of houses for sale that meet your needs and budget, you can probably afford to wait for a buyer before making an offer on a new home. 

Once this decision has been made, that’s one stress factor checked off the list.

 

Avoid the most stressful aspects of house selling

A family home is filled with memories.

You’ve seen your children take their first steps in the lounge, marked their height next to the fridge and watched them ride their first bike in the garden. There has probably been blood, sweat and tears shed over creating the beautiful home you see before you today.

Selling a well-loved family home can be an emotional experience. Give yourself a break, and seek out any opportunity to avoid the most stressful aspects of the house selling process.

If inviting a stream of strangers into your home for viewings sends a shiver down your spine, don’t do it. If waiting months for the right buyer to come along is likely to set your stress-levels soaring, find a quicker way to sell.

Quick house-sale companies often get a bad rap, and there are some unscrupulous businesses out there — as there are in any industry. 

But if you do your research and find a reputable company — such as one approved by The Advisory — that provides impartial expert advice for house sellers, this is a hassle-free option that allows you to sell your house fast. House buying companies have the funds to buy your property and complete in as little as a week or two.

There’s no need for viewings, and you will avoid estate agent’s, solicitors’ and surveyors’ fees. 

 

Find the right professional help

Whether you choose to sell via the traditional route with an estate agent or to a cash buying company, finding the right professional help will go a long way in easing the stress involved in selling your family home. 

Homeowners are spoilt for choice when it comes to estate agents. There are high-street agents, online agents and even “hybrid” agents that combine online services with face-to-face meetings.

Shop around, ask people you know for recommendations and pick an agent with a solid reputation who offers a clear plan of action for marketing your property. 

Choose someone you will get on with — selling the family home is a huge step, and you’re within your rights to seek help from someone who’s not only professional but is also on the same wavelength as you.

The same goes for finding a house buying service. A reputable company that provides an honest and transparent service will make the sales process much less stressful. 

 

Selling your family home is never going to be easy, but planning ahead, eradicating unnecessary stressors and finding the right professionals to help you will make the process much easier to cope with, allowing you to focus on the next chapter in your family’s life. 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Freeze the action photography challenge

5 minute photography challenge – freeze the action

No matter where you are on your photography journey, taking 5 minutes now and then to focus on one particular element can help you either really start to understand that particular aspect, or help get your creativity flowing again.

This particular challenge focuses on shutter speeds, and will hopefully help beginners understand how different shutter speeds can either freeze or blur movement.

And if you’re familiar with all the technicalities of shutter speeds, then this little challenge will hopefully spark your creativity as you look around for different moments in your life to capture.

So, here’s the challenge. 

Grab your camera and freeze the action.

 

If you’re new to photography and aren’t entirely sure what shutter speed is and how you can change it to create different types of photos, then take 10 minutes to read my ‘all about shutter speed‘ blog post and then come back here to try this challenge.

It’s a really simple challenge, but it’ll help with understanding shutter speed if you’re just starting to get your camera off auto, and it’s also a fun creative challenge if you’ve been taking photos for years and are feeling stuck in a bit of a rut.

 

The challenge is to freeze the action of your children playing.

It’s up to you what activity you want to photograph, but make it something that involves a decent level of movement.  This is a great challenge to try at the park where you can have a go at freezing the action as your child explores all the different play areas.

 

All you have to do is put your camera on shutter priority mode and set it to a nice, fast shutter speed.

The exact shutter speed you use will depend on the light conditions you’re taking photos in, but somewhere around 1/250 to 1/500 will  be good.  When you use shutter priority mode the camera will select the other settings for you, so your photos should be nicely exposed without you needing to do anything else.

 

Then let your child run and play as you snap away.

You’ll need to be careful with your focus as your child moves around, and it’s up to you if you want to set your camera to auto focus or if you prefer to select a focus point yourself.  Don’t worry if a fair few of your photos aren’t in focus, that’s the beauty of digital photography, you can take a whole series of pictures and choose the best ones to keep at the end.

If you do head to the park for this challenge, here are some ideas for moments you can try and capture:

  • Climbing up the steps or rope ladder up to a slide
  • Coming back down the slide
  • Laughing as they go back and forth on the swings
  • Simply running from one end of the play park to the other
  • Swinging on the monkey bars
  • Sliding down the fireman’s pole

 

You can, of course, try out this challenge anywhere you want. 

If you’re out for a walk you can try photographing them running towards you, or jumping in autumn puddles.

And if you live somewhere near the water you can get some great action shots of them throwing pebbles into the water, like this one I took of Nerys in our local woods a few years ago.

 

Have a think about the things your child likes to do that involves movement and action, and then give this challenge a go and see if you can freeze the moment with a fast shutter speed.

Don’t worry about the photos being perfect, just have fun getting to grips with adjusting your shutter speed and understanding how a fast shutter speed lets you capture so much detail of that one moment in time.

Just like with the 5 minute aperture challenge, there are no right or wrong ways to do this.

If you try a shutter speed of 1/250 and you’re still getting motion blur in your photos, then gradually increase the shutter speed until you find you’re getting the nice, crisp, frozen-in-time moments you’re after.

Above all though, have fun with it!

5 habits to develop at the start of the new school year

5 habits to develop for the new school year

I meant to write this post over a month ago.  I was all organised back then and created the graphics to go with it and everything.  I just didn’t manage to actually write the thing.

So the title feels slightly off given the fact that we’re now almost at the autumn half term.  But I’m just going with it.

The way things are this year, I suppose we could all use any help we can get on getting on top of things and making life easier for ourselves.  Especially when it comes to juggling everything involved with having school-age children.

So, better late than never, here are 5 habits that you might want to develop for the new school year.  Or for any time in the school year!

 

Get things ready the night before.

This is possibly the best habit you can get into to make life easier during term time.

Get as much as possible packed and ready to go, the night before.

Make up packed lunch boxes.

Get clean school uniform laid out.  This is particularly useful at the moment when, if your school is like ours, the children need to wear a fresh set of clothes each day, as well as wearing PE kit to school on PE days.

Pick out clothes for yourself and put them out ready to throw on in the morning.

Gather any homework folders and reading books that need to be returned and pop them by the front door.

Basically get as much as possible done and ready to grab and go in the morning, so you don’t have as much rushing around to do before the school run.

 

Designate a homework day

Pick a day that works for your family for homework to be done and then stick to that day each week.

You might find that what works best for you and your children is to get all their homework completed on the day it’s sent home from school.

Or you might find that designating a different day for each piece of work is better.  In our family, for example, the homework folders come home on a Thursday so we might do maths that evening, reading on Saturday and then practice spellings on Monday evening, before it all goes back to school on Tuesday.

 

Get (and use!) a family calendar

There is so much to keep track of and remember when you have school-age children, and a big family calendar is one of the best tools you can get to keep on top of everything.

You can get calendars that have a column for each member of the family so you can write everyone’s different activities and so on in their own space so it’s nice and clear.

Now, at the moment there might not be the usual after school clubs, playdates and extra-curricular activities going on that would normally fill up your family calendar.  But there are still so many things you can note on there to make sure you stay organised.

You can note down the days that homework folders need to be returned to school, the days that the children need to go to school already dressed for PE, as well as reminders about changes to drop off and pick up times and different routes you might need to take around the school.

 

Find a regular time to talk about your day

Things can be really manic on school days as you rush around making sure everything gets done and nothing gets forgotten, but one thing really worth making time for is talking to your children about their day.

It can be ridiculously hard to get some children to talk about what they’ve done in school, but if you start to build a routine around chatting about your days at the same time, or in the same place, each day they should start to open up.

You might find that the best time to talk is on the way home from school.  Or it might be at the dinner table if you all sit and eat together.  Or you might find that your child finds it easiest to open up at bedtime.

The time you choose doesn’t really matter, just try and make it around the same time each day.

And if your child is really reluctant to answer the open-ended question of ‘what did you do today?’, then try my ‘3 things’ trick.

I ask my children to tell me 1 thing they learnt about, 1 good thing that made them happy and 1 not so good thing about their day, and most of the time this really helps me find out more about how their days have been.

 

Eat well and sleep well

Life during the school year is so busy, we all need as much energy as possible.

So little things like making sure everyone eats something decent for breakfast are really quite important.

Another thing that can have a big impact on keeping energy levels up is staying hydrated, so encourage your children to take a water bottle to school with them and to keep drinking through the day.

The last habit that’s worth developing for the school year is setting up a good bedtime routine.  We all need some sort of routine to help wind our minds and bodies down ready for sleep.  So think about limiting screen time after a certain time in the evening, giving your child a warm milky drink before they head upstairs, and reading together or encouraging them to read in bed for a bit before turning off the light.

 

 

Hopefully if you can build these habits into your life they’ll help make things just that little bit easier during the school year and help the whole family feel a bit calmer, happier and more organised.

How many of these things do you already do?

Are there any other habits that you would recommend or tips you have for making life easier during the school year?

How to photograph your family and life - All about shutter speed

How to photograph your family and your life – All about shutter speed

If you’re looking to learn a bit about photography, to be able to take photos of your family that you’re proud of, and finally get your camera off auto mode, then you’re in the right place.

This post is part of a series that will give you the basics you need to feel more comfortable with your camera.  The series will give you the information in a way that’s (hopefully!) easy to understand, as well as suggesting ideas to try out to put your new skills into practice as you go.

Each post in the series will focus on a different aspect of photography, so you can get to grips with one thing before moving on to the next.

This time the focus is on shutter speed.

 

In a previous post in this series I explained about aperture, and how we can use it to control how much light enters the camera.

The other setting we can use to control this is shutter speed.

Shutter speed is, basically, the speed at which the camera’s shutter opens and closes again.

In photography shutter speeds are measured in seconds/fractions of seconds.  Each camera is different, but shutter speeds often range from a slowest possible speed of 30 seconds to a fastest possible speed of 1/4000.

 

A faster shutter speed means the shutter opens and closes really quickly, and this means less light gets into the camera.

On a bright, sunny day you’ll most likely want to use a fast shutter speed to stop your photos being overexposed.

A fast shutter speed also lets you freeze movement, which is so useful when you’re trying to photograph life with children who never sit still.

This photo of Nerys on the beach was taken with a fast shutter speed.  This meant the photo was nicely exposed and not blown out, even though it was a really bright, sunny day at the beach.

Using a fast shutter speed also froze the action of the water pouring out of the spade.  You can see lots of individual drops of water, rather than them all blurring together.

 

On the flip side of this, a slow shutter speed means the shutter opens and then closes again slowly, so much more light is let in to the camera.

This can be useful if you’re taking photos in low light conditions and don’t want your pictures to be really underexposed.

The main issue with using a slow shutter speed is that it’s really hard to hold a camera steady for anything more than a fraction of a second.  So the slower the shutter speed you use, the more likely you are to need to use a tripod to keep the camera still to avoid shaky images.

Where a fast shutter speed lets you freeze movement in your photos, a slower shutter speed lets you capture really lovely motion blur.

This can create some really beautiful, creative images of things like waves coming in at the beach, or water flowing down a river.

This photo used a slow shutter speed and you can see how the water moving over the rocks is really soft, and almost misty.

 

How to adjust shutter speed

So now you know a bit about what shutter speed is, you need to know how to adjust it on your camera.

The controls can look slightly different depending on what camera you have, so it’s worth digging out your manual for this.

You might need to go into a digital menu setting, or there might be a dial on the top of your camera that lets you select different settings.

On my Nikon there’s a dial that looks like this:

 

If I want to be able to adjust the shutter speed then I would select either manual mode or shutter priority mode.

When you’re just getting started it’s best to go for shutter priority mode.

With this setting you can just adjust the shutter speed and the camera will automatically select the other settings for you to create the right exposure for the light conditions.

Once you’ve put the camera into shutter priority mode you can change the shutter speed by moving the dial on your camera.  This dial will normally be on the top or the back of your camera, but again if you’re not sure which dial to use take a look in your manual to find out.

When you’re ready to take a picture, decide what you want the image to look like.

If you want to freeze the action of your toddler running around, then set the camera to a fast shutter speed like 1/250.  Or if you want to take a creative photo of the water rushing into the moat around a sandcastle they’ve built at the beach, then choose a slower shutter speed like 1/30.

 

So, now it’s time to start putting things into practice.

Here are some ideas for things to try with your camera on shutter priority mode to help get to grips with how it works and the different effects you can achieve by adjusting your shutter speed.

 

Take your camera to the park

If your children are under the age of about 11, you probably spend a fair bit of time at the park with them.  And this is a great place to practice taking photos with fast shutter speeds, because there’s so much movement and action to have fun freezing in time.

With your camera on shutter priority mode set a nice, fast shutter speed of around 1/250 and then follow your child around as they play.

It can take a fair bit of practice to get the focus right, but keep at it and you can get some beautiful shots of them on the slides, see-saws and swings.

Get out the bubbles

If you don’t want to venture beyond your front door to practice, then let your child loose with some bubbles in the garden and have a play around photographing the action.

You can get so many different images just in the space of a few minutes with a bottle of bubbles, and it’s such a classic childhood activity to capture.

If you select a fast shutter speed you’ll be able to freeze the movement of the bubbles as they float through the air.

Depending on where you focus your camera the bubbles can be the main feature of the photo or a layer of interest around your child.

You could then also have a play around with slower shutter speeds, and see what creative effects you can produce with the bubbles.

 

Hopefully this post has given you a great start in understanding shutter speed and how you can play with it to freeze the action of your busy family life or to show movement by including some motion blur in your photos.

 

If you have any questions please do leave me a comment and I’ll try my best to help!

Naan bread pizza

Quick and easy naan bread pizza

If you need a quick and tasty meal for a midweek dinner then naan bread pizzas are the perfect solution.

They’re so simple but brilliant for the whole family because you can change up the toppings you put on them to suit everyone’s different tastes.  And they’re ready to eat in under 20 minutes.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 naan bread per person.

I tend to use garlic and coriander naans, but you can use plain if you prefer.

  • Tomato sauce.

You can use a jar of tomato pasta sauce, a jar of pizza sauce, or make a quick sauce yourself by cooking some passata with some salt, pepper and mixed herbs.

  • Cheese.

You can slice up a ball of mozzarella, or use grated mozzarella from a packet.  Or if you prefer you can grate some cheddar and use that instead.

  • Toppings.

You can keep the pizza really simple with just the tomato sauce and cheese, or add your favourite toppings.  I used red pepper and pepperoni on mine.

 

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to around 180 degrees.
  2. Put the naan breads on a big baking tray and then spread them with the tomato sauce.  You can go right up the edges or leave a bit of a crust, it’s up to you.
  3. Add the cheese over the top of the sauce.
  4. Add on your favourite toppings.
  5. Cook the pizzas for around 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to bubble a bit.
  6. Cut up and serve.  You can have these by themselves, or serve them with salad or chips.

 

And there you go, a tasty dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes.  We sometimes have these for lunch too, when we want something a bit more filling that a sandwich.  They’re so quick to put together and feel like a real treat.

 

Have you ever made pizzas with naan bread before?

What toppings do you love most on your pizzas?

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Quick and easy naan bread pizza

A delicious pizza made with a naan bread base, perfect for mid-week meals or a weekend treat.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins

Equipment

  • Baking tray

Ingredients

  • 1 naan bread per person use plain naan bread or garlic and coriander, depending on personal taste.
  • tomato sauce use tomato pasta sauce, a jar of pizza sauce, or make a quick sauce with passata and herbs.
  • cheese use a ball of mozzarella, or a handful of grated mozzarella or cheddar per pizza.
  • toppings choose whatever toppings take your fancy

Topping suggestions

  • mixed peppers
  • sliced onions
  • sliced mushrooms
  • pepperoni
  • ham

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to around 180 degrees.
  • Pop the naan breads on a large baking tray.
  • Spread the naan breads with the tomato sauce. You can go all the way to the edges or leave a bit of a crust, it's up to you.
  • Top the tomato sauce with the cheese.
  • Add on any toppings you fancy.
  • Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to bubble.
  • Cut into slices and enjoy!

 

All about aperture

How to photograph your family and your life – All about aperture

If you want to learn a bit about photography, get your camera off manual mode and take photos of your family and your life that you can be proud of, then you’re in the right place.

This series of posts will give you the basics you need to feel more confident with your camera, in a way that’s (hopefully) easy to understand, with ideas for putting new skills into practice as you go.

Each post will focus on a different aspect of photography, so you can get to grips with one thing before moving on to the next.

This time the focus is on aperture.

 

There are 2 main reasons you would need to adjust the aperture when you’re taking photos.

The first is to adjust the amount of light coming into the camera.

A lens’s aperture is a set of blades that open and close to let more or less light in to the camera.

Think of it like an eye.

The pupil dilates (opens up) to let more light in when it’s dark, and gets smaller to reduce the amount of light coming in to the eye when it’s bright.  The aperture in your camera’s lens does the same thing.

When it’s dark you want to use a wide open aperture to let more light in.  And when it’s nice and bright you can use a smaller aperture to reduce the amount of light coming in, so your photos don’t end up overexposed.

The only thing that gets a bit confusing is the fact that aperture is also referred to as ‘f stops’ which are numbered, but the numbers are back to front.

So a high f number, like f/14, is for a small aperture.  And a low f number, like f/2.8, is for a large aperture.

Don’t worry too much about it for now though.  Just remember that the higher the number, the smaller the hole, and the less light there is getting into the camera.  And vice versa, the lower the number, the bigger the hole, and the more light there is getting into the camera.

 

 

The other reason you would need to adjust your aperture is to change the depth of field in your photos.

Depth of field is basically the amount of an image that is in focus.

A shallow depth of field is where only a small amount of a photo is in focus, while the rest is blurry.  While a photo with a deep depth of field will have pretty much everything in focus.

You can control the depth of field by changing the lens’s aperture.

A wide open aperture (low f number) will give you a shallow depth of field.

The photo below was taken at f/1.8, which is as wide open as the lens on my camera will go.

I set my camera to focus on the child in the yellow and green top.  See how that figure is in focus, but all the elements that are in front of it and behind it are soft and blurry.

That’s the effect you get with a shallow depth of field.

 

This next photo, on the other hand, was taken at f/9 which is a much smaller aperture.

I focused on the same child again, but you can see that more of the photo is in focus, and the things that aren’t are still clearer to make out than in the first picture.

 

So now you have an idea of what aperture is, you need to know how to adjust it on your camera.

The controls can look different on each camera, so you might need to dig out your manual for this.

You might need to go into a menu setting, or there might be a dial on the top of your camera that lets you select different settings.

On my Nikon there’s a dial that looks like this:

 

You can adjust the aperture by selecting either manual mode or aperture priority mode.

When you’re just getting started with learning about aperture, it’s best to go for aperture priority mode.

With the camera in this setting you can adjust the aperture and the camera will then automatically select the other settings for you to create the right exposure for the light conditions.

You normally change the aperture by moving the dial on your camera, on mine the dial is at the back of the camera, at the top, so I can adjust it with my thumb.  Again, if you’re not sure how to adjust the aperture on your camera, dig out your manual and have a go at changing it a few times to get used to how it works.

 

Right, now it’s time to start putting things into practice.

Here are some ideas for things to try with your camera on aperture priority mode to get to grips with how it works and the effects you can achieve by adjusting your aperture.

 

Start with something stationary

The ultimate goal might be to take great photos of your family, but when you’re learning a new skill it’s quite often best to start with something that doesn’t move.

And doing this exercise might also get you thinking of ways you can photograph your family’s life without actually photographing your family.

Think about something that your child has a little collection of.  It might be the toy cars that they love pushing around the floor, or the set of Peppa pig books they ‘read’ over and over again.  Think about the things that make up the fabric of your life right now.

The bottles lined up on the kitchen counter.  The playmobil people dotted around the house like borrowers.  The make up brushes and products left in the bathroom by your teenager.

Whatever it is, grab a selection of them and line them up somewhere in your house that has a nice amount of natural light.

Then start by setting your aperture so it’s as open as it can be (so the f number is as small as possible with the lens you have).  Chose your focal point and take a few photos of your collection.

Then adjust the aperture so it’s much narrower (a higher f number), and see how different the photos look.

In this photo of reels of thread I used a wide aperture, so only the red and orange threads are in focus and the rest get more and more blurry across the image.

Being able to adjust the aperture like this lets you have so much creative control over the photos you take.

If you want a photo that clearly shows all 5 of the coloured cars that your child plays with, then you want to set a smaller aperture to get them all nicely in focus.

But if they have a favourite car that you want to highlight in the photo, then you can select a wider aperture and set the focus point on that particular car so it’s nice and sharp and the others are softer.

 

Hide the mess (or embrace it)

Another time you might want to have things in the background a bit blurry is when that background is your messy, cluttered house.

If you want the focus of your photo to be on your child, and not all the ‘stuff’ behind them, then try using a wide aperture and setting the focus point on them.

In this photo I wanted the focus to be on Nerys’ little fingers playing with the play dough, and her facial expression.  You can still make out the rest of the room behind her, but because it’s soft and blurry you’re not distracted by it.

 

Sometimes though, you want to include all that ‘stuff’ in your photos.

So often I think we edit the life out of our photos by cutting out all the clutter, when really all the bits and pieces in the background are what will bring back so many memories when we look at the photos in the future.

Try taking some photos at home with a smaller aperture, so the whole room is in focus, no matter how messy it feels to you right now.  In a few years time you’ll love looking at the pictures and spotting all the things that have changed.

One little trick though, these kinds of photos can look a lot better in black and white!

This photo of me and Nerys in our kitchen is a brilliant snapshot of our life at that time.  Her height in comparison to the kitchen counter.  The bottles waiting on the work surface.  The slow cooker sitting in the spot that’s now being filled by our toaster.

None of it’s pretty, but I love how the photo takes me back to those toddler days at home.

 

Use a wide aperture to focus on the details

Our children change so much over the years, taking photos of the little details and changing features is so important (in my opinion!).

Things like their big eyes and long eyelashes.  Their tiny fingers and toes.  Even the pictures and details on your favourite items of clothing that you dress them in.

Using a wide aperture to focus on these details and let the rest of the image be soft and blurry is a brilliant way to capture the things you really want to remember.

In my case, I always loved seeing Nerys’ double crown as her hair first grew in.  The way her hair swirled from the two distinct points always made me smile.

So I took a few photos from above her, with the focus on the top of her head.  Using a large aperture brings the focus to her double crown while the rest of her body is soft and blurry.

So think of the details and features you want to capture and try photographing them with a wide aperture to really get the photo focused on them.

For you it might be the first few teeth peeping through your baby’s gums, or your child’s gappy smile when those same teeth first fall out.

Whatever they are, have fun playing around with aperture to create photographs of those details that you’ll love in years to come.

 

Hopefully this post has given you a great start in understanding aperture, and the ideas of how to use it to capture your family life have got you excited to pick up your camera and get creative.

If you have any questions please do leave me a comment and I’ll try my best to help!