Spring photography tips, hints and inspiration

As we leave Winter and head into Spring, there is a collective sigh of relief from professional photographers all around the country. As the temperature begin to warm, we are able to utilise the abundance of floral and green backdrops and start embracing the golden hour again.

With this in mind I thought it would be useful for me to write a Spring photography blog, with my thoughts on how to tackle some of the challenges we face when shooting at this time of year.

As well as sharing some of my own Spring photography, I also wanted to take an opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic images which I have seen from other professional photographers for inspiration – enjoy!

  • The qualities of Spring light

As we leave Winter and the number of hours of sunlight begins to increase, we can be faced with a harder/crisp light at certain times of the day.  (Now for the science part!) This occurs because the seasons change according to the Earth’s tilt as it orbits the sun. Wherever you live in the world, Spring/ Summertime means the sun is shining directly overhead and the light quality will be like a splash of brightness. When summer turns to Autumn/Winter we see the golden light because the earth has tilted, now the rays of light we see are longer, slanted beams that cast long shadows.

Ideally, all of my Spring photo shoots would begin 2 hours before the golden hour, but as we know this is not always possible or practical. Those of you who have trained with me will know I encourage shooting later into the day so you can offer your clients a wider variety of images but if this isn’t possible you will need to look modify the light.

 

To do this you have a number of options.

1. Modify the light using what you can find on location. Look to use what you have around you to break up the light (make it less harsh/bright) such as trees, buildings or walls. This is my preferred method as I like to travel light whilst shooting. This also means if you chose your location wisely you can naturally backlight in the middle of the day and not have blown highlights.

2. Use a scrim to soften the light. Most reflectors allow you to unzip and remove the reflective cover, leaving you with a translucent white material which you can use to soften the sunlight. The only issue here is you require a second set of hands to hold it in position whilst you shoot. If you don’t have an assistant on the shoot with you (which I don’t) you can always recruit the parents or even older brothers and sisters to help out. As a side note, I do not purchase expensive reflectors as I have found some children like to use them as giant frisbees 🙂

3. Use on or off camera flash to overpower the sun and light your subject to balance the light. When I’m shooting, I like to move locations and run with the kids, so this is a little at odds with my personal style. That said I think it’s an important part of your repertoire to know how to use on and off camera flash well when shooting outdoors. If you are interested in learning more then I would advise looking up Gary Hill here.

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Spring photographing in the blossom
Hemel Hempstead children's photographer
  • Location scouting in Spring

    The good news is to create beautiful portraits in the Spring you don’t need a great deal of space. If you plan to utilise the blossom as a backdrop,  then you only need a small tree and some clever framing. If you are shooting in the daffodils or bluebells you just need a small dense patch and a considered perspective.  Fiona from Little Love Photography sent me a great behind the scenes example which is shown further down the page and below there is an image of me at the location of a recent blossom shoot.

    For larger groups of children or family images, I would look for areas with lots of lovely greenery behind, knowing that they are dressed in a way that ensures they stand out in the image.

 

Spring photography Nina Mace
  • Clothing colours when shooting in the Spring

There are 2 options I consider when it comes to advising families what to wear for their Spring photo shoot.
If I am likely to move locations and change the colour in the backgrounds I lean towards a neutral palette with a hint of colour. My second option uses the colour wheel where I introduce some brighter colours using an analogous or complimentary colour strategy.
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Either way, I know its most likely my backgrounds will contain green, so this is what I will use as my start point.
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Below are a couple of examples of potential Spring colour schemes. The first is based on neutral tones, the second more vibrant (note I would still brief the clients to wear a neutral base with a pop of these colours in accessories). If you would like to generate your own colour palettes then visit the Coolor website here.
Colour palette for photographing in Spring
Complimentary colours to use on Spring shoots
Children spring shoots
  • Creating Spring tones in more urban spaces

    Over 2017 I plan to embrace local urban spaces more and here clothing colour choices can really affect the overall feel of a shot. Below are a few images taken during a recent 1-2-1 mentoring session and you can see how the pastel palette works really well with the white washed and coloured houses. The aqua green colour the little girl was dressed in also popped really well against the red letter box.

Spring photography colours

 

  • Editing challenges specific to Spring photography

The biggest challenge when it comes to editing my Spring images photography I have found to be Green colour casts. With a family of children sitting on the ground you can get a lot of green bouncing onto their skin, (especially in the shadows under their chins, noses and in their eye sockets). If you have a global colour cast (the entire image is green) then I can just correct the white balance in Adobe Camera Raw. If the green is only appearing in the shadows I would first try a magenta photo filter painted over the affected areas at a low opacity. 
  • My lens of choice and shooting perspective

Spring to me is all about beautifully blurred backgrounds and a light bright feel when I am shooting. I am using my longest focal length lenses including my 135 and 70-200. I use these longer focal lengths in any natural environments such as woods, fields, in the blossom etc. I am shooting at the longest focal length I can with the lowest aperture usually around 2.8.
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If I’m shooting in a more urban environment I will also use my 85 1.4mm as I find this handles particularly well when shooting straight into the light (better in fact than my longer focal lengths). The end result is less grainy than my 70-200 and I like having the lower aperture to create additional bokeh.
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When I am photographing flowers on the ground I am most often lying down and shooting through them to create a carpet of flowers. The only time I might position myself a little higher is with daffodils as they have such long green stems.  Blossom on the trees can create a wonderful framing opportunity and also fun for the children to try and catch the falling blossom.
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Finally, something I try very hard to avoid is any blown sky or very bright patches in the background of my images. Ideally, I want my subject to be the brightest part of my image so I am looking to get this right IN CAMERA, rather than deal with this in Photoshop.  To do this I am often changing my shoot position and will have my camera as close to the ground as possible to remove any bright patches of grass.

Spring Photography: A UK collective

Inspirational Spring images from photographers all throughout the UK

Children’s Photographer Nina Mace

 

 

Press play to watch 2 and a half minutes of Spring inspiration from photographers from all over the UK.

Includes a selection of images utilising daffodils, bluebells and blossom. Maternity, baby, child and family portraits, this video illustrates how different photographers can create such varied images from a similar background.

To see the individual images, and to see details of how these shots were taken see below.

Inspiration corner: Spring photography from around the UK

A really great example from Little Love Photography from Fiona Norman of how you don’t need lots of space to take successful Spring images!

Amanda Dalby Photography

These images were taken by Amanda Jane Dalby Photography shot on her Canon 5D Mark III.  Floral images taken with my Canon 85mm F1.2, and the sun flare was shot with my old nifty fifty.

Little girl in blossom

This image, taken by Amanda Powell Photography, was shot on 70-200mm, f2.8 during golden hour (around 5.30, pre clock change).

Spring Greenery

Taken by Dandelion Photography a different perspective on Spring as “Spring is little more moody up north in Cheshire” 🙂 Both shot on 85mm lens @ f2, last week both very close to 6pm.

Helen Hoffman Photography
Johanna Birch Photography
Johanna Birch Photography
Little girl in pink flowers child photography

Images taken by Katie Lister Photography shot at 4pm on the Canon 135mm and f/3.5

Scotland wedding couple in bluebells

Images taken by Ayrshire Photographer Kellee Quinn Photography  

family photographed in daffodils
Photographed with the Canon 70-200mm at 200mm f3.5 by 4 ever Photography by Linda Casey 
family photographed in daffodils
girl in yellow flowers
Image taken on the Canon 135mm at Golden hour. What you can’t see on the yellow rapeseed shot is that we were all wearing wellies and ankle deep in mud…but anything for the shot eh? I must spend hours driving round looking for pretty fields! Louise Dobson Photography
Girl in daffodils

Taken mid-day on the 70-200 by Jo of Lunaria Photography

Girl in daffodils
Kids in Blossom

Taken by Children’s Photographer Nina Mace shot on the 70-200 at 2.8 approx 30 minutes before sunset.

Kids in Blossom
Sunflare images
boy in flowers
Girl in red dress

Taken by Elaine Rolfe Photography. Shot at about 4pm, in a lightly wooded area with a Canon 135mm f/2  and Canon 5D Mkii

Helen Hoffman Photography

Helen Hoffman Photography

Jess Richardson Photography
Jess Richardson Photography
Judy Laing Photography
Judy Laing Photography
Estelle Hughes Photography
Estelle Hughes Photography

Karen Wiltshire of KW Photography

Spring maternity shoot
Spring maternity shoot
Spring maternity shoot

Little Love Photography by Fiona Norman

maternity spring shoot
maternity spring shoot

 75mm, ISO 200, F2.8 1/640 by Traci Habergham Photography

I hope you have found this blog of use and look forward to seeing many more Spring images from you all :-). If you are interested in learning more about becoming a children’s photographer I offer 1-2-1 photography mentoring or group workshops.

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