Category Archives: The Photo Clinic

Hurrah, you have a brand new shiny camera! How exciting! Where should you start? Fear not, Auntie Hales is here to guide you through it all!

camera-005First off, I would take care to not damage any of the packaging. At some point you might want to upgrade your camera and being able to sell it all boxed up beautifully on eBay is a plus for a buyer. Start by charging up the battery. Most have a little charge in them if you REALLY can’t wait but this is an obvious place to start and the battery charger is probably the accessory you’ll use most. While the battery’s charging, I’d attach the neck strap (safety first!) and the lens by lining up the dots on your lens and camera and gently turning until you hear a click. Once you’re charged and ready to go, I’d start by setting up a few menu items. First of all the date and time and there’s an option to set your camera to only shoot with a card in it. This is so handy! It’s so much easier to retrieve the images and of course, you have a lot more memory space too! When I am using a new memory card for the first time or if I’m swapping it from one device to another, I format it first. DO NOT do this if there are unsaved photos or video on there because it will erase them. Formatting your card wipes any fragmented data so that it works more efficiently. When you delete an image from a card, although that free space is now available some data is left behind and so it can take longer to write new data. That’s why you should format, especially if you’re going to be shooting video.



I always adjust the eyepiece or the diopter (I know, I’m so fancy) to my liking by switching the lens to infinity and then turning the wheel until everything is focused the way I like it and check by taking a couple of photos. I find that when I switch between glasses and contact lenses I need to change it .


Next I’d set some menu items so I’m ready to shoot, I usually leave my white balance in auto and I set the image size to large or RAW (you only need RAW if you’re planning to process your images afterwards). When I worked at Jessops there would often be someone who had set the image size to small so they could fit more on their SD card, only to find that the images were so small that they couldn’t print from them. Bigger is better, especially if you want to print your photos. You can always reduce the size to view online later.

What is One Shot, Al Servo, AF-C, AF-S? If you have a Canon, you have a menu option for One Shot and Al Servo (or on a Nikon AF-S and AF-C) which is a focusing method for your camera (you can’t adjust this if you’re shooting on the auto setting). Which is the best to use? If you are using a flash, photographing something stationary, one shot or AF-S is the way to go and when you half press the shutter button, the camera will beep to let you know you’re good to go (I prefer to disable the beep – blows my photo taking ninja cover). Al Servo or AF-C is great for moving subjects (like kids!). It tracks focus as long as you’re holding the button. Newer Canons also have an Al Focus setting which is a combination of the two and a sort of auto setting. I don’t think it does as good a job though, for me Al Servo is the better choice.


As for the rest, I’ve never ever used the TV cables that come with, maybe I should aim to this year? And it’s worth reading the manual too to familiarise yourself with what button is where. I know a couple of people who take their manual with them when they travel incase something happens and they are without wi-fi, I think this is such a good idea! Some cameras have the manual on a CD too and it’s worth taking a look at that CD. Most come with software to help your computer recognise the image files and some even include editing software too so it’s a pretty nifty extra to have.

Hopefully this has proved to be helpful! If you have any suggestions or questions for us, we’d love to hear from you. The next Photo Clinic post will be over on Emily’s blog next month and is all about navigating your camera’s menu so let us know if there’s anything you need to know about that. As always, we are here and happy to help!

Well hello there! I’m very excited that this month, our Photo Clinic posts have a festive twist (and just wait until you see what Emily has planned. I already can’t wait to read it!). Today I’m going to be talking about light – making the best of available light and photographing lights!

If you are a fan of using natural light then this time of the year is the worst! By the time school is finished, it’s practically dark so what’s a snap happy girl to do? First off, I try and take photos as early in the day as I possibly can and I have learnt where all the best spots are in my house and at what time of the day. Whenever I can, I position my little darlings in a doorway or facing a window and stand with the window behind me (I mayyyy have even stepped out into the garden and photographed them through the open door to let as much light in as possible…). I like to use a portrait or prime lens and shoot with a large aperture to let as much light into the camera as possible (usually f1.8-f3.5). If you’re using a bridge camera or kit lens or zoom lens, I’d shoot at the widest setting. I usually shoot in aperture priority (A or Av on the dial). I set my aperture, set my ISO and check the shutter speed. I don’t like to shoot slow if I can help it, I have pretty shaky hands (seriously, my videos are shocking) so I like to keep my shutter speed faster than 1/125 if I can, maybe 1/60 if I’m photographing something stationary. I will take up the ISO until I am happy with the shutter speed, I don’t mind a bit of noise/grain in my images, it really is a personal thing but if you aren’t a fan, I’d keep the ISO below 1600 if you can.

Until fairly recently, I didn’t use a reflector but bought one on sale (mine is similar to this one if you’re interested) and it made more of a difference than I thought. I’d read various tutorials and had tried using white card and homemade reflectors but they didn’t work nearly as well. It also works well to attract a little one’s attention if you need to! You can either prop it against something or even get the person you’re photographing to hold it. I took a few photos of my little duo out in the garden last week. I’d started in the house but the light was just awful (just after 4pm) so I moved them out into the garden with the reflector (Poor kid inherited my uber paleness too, I’m often asked if he’s under the weather…No, we’re just *really* pale!)

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Holding the reflector…it’s a little too bright but as you can see, it really works. These are unedited, I like to warm up photos a bit, especially this time of year.

Better positioned reflector

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photo clinic-001All taken on a Canon 6D with 85mm f1.8 lens –  ISO 2000 f1.8 1/160

I think it’s lovely to take photos in the home, I think it really helps tell the story and I love looking back at old photos and remembering the decor! I love to use lights or a Christmas tree as a backdrop.

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You can also use the tree for a silhouette shot. For this I focused on the tree so that he would be dark.

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And you don’t even need the kids! You can get creative with the tree, try out different exposures and focusing, maybe make a slow motion or speeded up video (take a look at this post from Xanthe on slow motion video!). I made this GIF of my mum’s tree and it was really simple and easy to do (tutorial to come!) and it’s fun to send in an email or for a blog post. (I am kicking myself for not using a tripod for this – see the shaky hands I mentioned?)


Going back to exposures, I set my camera up on a tripod and played around with different shutter speeds. The photo below was taken with a 30 second exposure. I love the starburst.

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If you switch your lens to manual focus, you can try out some different looks. (Don’t forget to set it back after. I had a mad moment of panic when I thought my lens had broken!)




Hopefully that’s given you some ideas! If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!


Today is the first instalment of a new blog series with my good friend, Emily, of The Photo Clinic. Emily and I will be here on the first and third Mondays of each month to help with any photography woes or to offer critique on a photo (all kind, I promise!) or to fix something for you. We have quite a few years experience as professional photographers between us but we will both admit that we still get it wrong sometimes!


I like to shoot with a large aperture (around f1.4-f2.8) so I have to be pretty spot on with focusing, sometimes I miss completely. Sometimes taking a step back or changing position can make all the difference but on this occasion by the time I’d got my focus sorted, I’d missed the apple bobbing and the kids had run off! Admittedly, this was in bad lighting but I wanted to capture this moment and I failed miserably. While things like Photoshop are amazing tools, it’s important to have something good to work with in the first place. No amount of editing can save these!

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This photo of Emily’s, while lovely, is overexposed. Using a faster shutter speed or  smaller aperture could have helped here. Aperture is that F number again. A small number means a large aperture. Confusing I know! That means that you have a narrow depth of field which is wonderful for portraits because you can blur out any distracting background and just keep your subject in focus. A small aperture/larger F number means that more of your image is in focus. To adjust your aperture on a DSLR, use the A/AV setting.


I did some adjustments of the image in Lightroom, which is my all time favourite editing software. You can download a free 30 day trial from the Adobe website if you’re looking to try something new out. Anyway! I reduced the exposure slightly and darkened the highlights to try and bring some of the lost detail back into the picture.

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Photo Clinic-007Back to Emily again for a bit of photo critique (it’s my turn in two weeks, eek!). I actually love this photo and his little scrunched up face! I would perhaps try some different positioning, maybe have him lying through the tyre or sitting in it? And perhaps take a few steps back so the whole tyre is in the picture. I think the circle would add a bit more interest to the image.

Lauren submitted photo she wasn’t happy with for us to make some adjustments to. Sometimes cameras can’t get the white balance quite right, especially indoors with the lights on or shooting in snow. Lauren sent us this photo. We promise she didn’t fake tan her son!

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Now you could set your white balance before every shot but when you’re photographing kids especially, that doesn’t really work! I opened up the colour channel and pulled back the orange and red channels until his skin was a more realistic colour.

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Or you could go for a quick black & white edit instead. Simples!

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Thank you for visiting The Photo Clinic, Lauren!

If you’d like to submit a photo or have some questions, you can email Emily or email me. If you love photos, we’d love to hear from you!