Tag Archives: photography

3 rules for better portrait photography (and when to break them)

9 Feb

Portrait photography tips

Last weekend I headed north with a group of friends to explore the Scottish Borders. We might not have experienced weather as relentless as that which has been battering Bethan down in Somerset, but we had our fair share of extreme precipitation! I was hoping I might be able to share some dramatic landscape photos with you, but as the snow closed in we were struggling to see more than a couple of meters in front of us it became quickly apparent that it wouldn’t be a weekend of magnificent vistas!

Portrait photography tips

Photography is all about capturing light, and sometimes to get the best out of a session you need to adapt to the conditions you are presented with. Often it’s bright sunshine which makes for a dramatic picture with shadows creating texture and definition, but when you’re taking pictures of people it can create shadows on the face which can be unflattering. So when you’re faced with overcast weather, it’s a great opportunity to look for people to use as your subjects as the clouds will effectively act as an oversized light diffuser. On Saturday we battled through eye-stinging blizzards to return back to base and I thought it worthy of taking my camera out to grab a few snaps.

Portrait photography tips

Rules to follow:

  • Get closer: the mantra of “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” is certainly one which is overused in photography, but it does have its merit when capturing photos of people. Getting closer to the subject will also increase background blur which pulls the focus of the image to the subject.
  • Use the right lens: The difficulty with getting close is that you will need a lens with a longer focal length. If you are buying a lens for an SLR camera then this is one with a larger mm number. Compact cameras will normally boast a wide angle lens which is great for taking expansive panoramas, but will give close up photos a “fish-eye” effect which you want to avoid when taking portraits. This doesn’t mean shelling a lot of money. I bought a manual focusing 50mm lens for my Nikon for under £85.
  • Spot Focus: if you set your camera to portrait mode it will probably do this for you, if not change your camera from area auto focus to spot focus. This will allow you to focus on the eyes of your subject using a single point (usually the centre) of you camera. Left on auto mode, your camera will usually focus on the nearest point: the nose!

Portrait photography tips

Rules to break!

Sometimes if you want your photos to stand out, you need to do something a little differently. A perfect, smiling portrait shot might be perfect for a school photo or holiday album, but in my opinion a great portrait is one that captures the essence of the subject or situation.

  • Portraits don’t have to be portrait: this might seem a controversial tip, but there’s no reason to take a portrait photograph in portrait orientation. The pictures here were taken in portrait before I cropped them into a square, or experiment with landscape images with the subject off-centre.
  • Get even closer: To take this a step further, get so close that you crop the top and/or bottom of the face. This will really focus in on the eyes and can make for an intriguing composition.
  • Stop smiling: It’s almost an in-built instinct to smile when a camera is pointed at you, and there’s nothing wrong with this. However, you can add some intrigue to a photo if your subject relaxes their face and mouth to a neutral position.

scotland photography

{all photographs by Joe John for Decorator’s Notebook}

House Tour: the house that dreams (and $500) built

23 Oct

Light is my number one priority when deciding where I live. I love big windows – for looking out to watch the world go by and for the sunshine they allow in. Nick Olson and Lilah Horwitz felt the same, but took things one step further when building their getaway home in the wilds of West Virginia.

house of windows built for 500 dollars

house built from reclaimed windows

Their first date was a walk in the mountains and, while watching the sun set (awww), they mused about building a house entirely of windows so that nothing could come between them and the view. Less than a year later they left their jobs and set off on a roadtrip around Pennsylvania, collecting hundreds of old windows from junk sales they passed en-route. $500 dollars later they returned to the mountains and began building their dream getaway.

glass getaway in forest

exterior of glass house made from old windows

view from house made from windows

These pictures don’t give much clue as to the inside, but you can have a really good look around (and hear more about the couple’s story) in this Kinfolk-esque video made by Half Cut Tea. It’s well worth a watch to see the beautifully rustic wooden interior.

glass house at night

{Photographs & Video: Jordan Wayne Long / Matt Glass / Half Cut Tea}

If you could build a dream house anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Mood of the moment… Atlantic breakers

4 Oct

Blue moodboard Decorator's Notebook

The Mother We Share - Chvrches

{LIVE / EAT / WEAR / ESCAPE}

{LISTEN CVRCHES The Mother We Share}

What a week it’s been! Our new shop went live on Tuesday and the support has just been overwhelming for us – thank you so much to every one of you who helped us spread the word with your Tweets, Facebook Shares and Instagram likes and especially all those who sent us messages. When you work so hard on something that means so much to you, releasing it into the public gaze is a pretty scary thing, so the positive reponse we’ve had has been amazing. THANK YOU!

We hope you enjoy today’s Mood for the Moment and find some time to yourself this weekend to gaze and ponder. Isn’t that blue paint dreamy? See you next week!

Bethan and Joe

Nature Table: red

26 Sep

Everywhere I look now, vibrant autumnal reds are catching my eye…

We've been photographing lots of our products for the new shop on a slate backdrop. It's a bit different to the usual white background you see in most online interiors shops... and it does something lovely to colour.

Red apple Decorator's Notebook blog

red leaves Decorator's Notebook blog

rosehips Decorator's Notebook blog

rowan berries Decorator's Notebook blog

{all Decorator’s Notebook Blog}

We’ve been photographing a lot of our products for the Decorator’s Notebook Shop against this slate background… it does something wonderful to colours and gives quite a different mood to the bright white backdrops you often see in online interiors shops.

What autumn shades have been catching your eye?

Down to earth drawing by artist Natasha Clutterbuck

23 Sep

While at Yeo Valley this summer I picked up a leaflet advertisting workshops run by Somerset artist Natasha Clutterbuck, who uses charcoal, mud, rocks and tea to create fantastically expressive drawings of just-picked vegetables. I loved the idea of trying my hand at a natural pigment drawing of my own but was sadly too slow off the mark to snag a place on the course. I put the leaflet to one side, hoping there might be another chance next year.

Anyway, last week I was looking for something completely different when I stumbled across Natasha once again, this time the beautiful photographs Andrew Montgomery took in her studio for Gardens Illustrated. It reminded me of the raw, natural quality I’d loved about her work and it was a real treat to see inside her workspace.

Natasha Clutterbuck studio by Andrew Montgomery{Andrew Montgomery}

Natasha Clutterbuck artist by Andrew Montgomery{Andrew Montgomery}

beetroot by Natasha Clutterbuck artist{Natasha Clutterbuck}

Vegetables Andrew Montgomery{Andrew Montgomery}

charcoal Natasha Clutterbuck studio by Andrew Montgomery{Andrew Montgomery}

shallots and bay by Natasha Clutterbuck artist{Natasha Clutterbuck}

vegetables drawn by Natasha Clutterbuck Andrew Montgomery{Andrew Montgomery}

artist Natasha Clutterbuck by Andrew Montgomery{Andrew Montgomery}

squash drawn by Natasha Clutterbuck artist

{Natasha Clutterbuck}

I love discovering new local artists and Andrew’s photographs really bring Natasha’s work to life… he really is one of the most fantastic photographers around in my eyes. I’m embracing the natural beauty of autumn right now and these drawings perfectly capture the colourful bounty we should be enjoying and preserving for when the nights draw in!

If you like what you see here, click to see more of Andrew Montgomery‘s stunning portfolio and more of Natasha Clutterbuck‘s drawings.

On the Road: St Davids, Pembrokeshire

31 Jul

At Decorator’s Notebook we love visiting new places and we’ll be sharing our travel stories with you. But to kick off our ‘On the Road’ series we’re starting with an old favourite.

Every summer of our childhood, Bethan and I would go on family holidays to St Davids in Wales. We’d stay on the campsite that our Mum had gone to with her parents when she was a girl, overlooking Ramsey Island and the Celtic Sea.

DSC_25872 (700x460)Last week I got a chance to return to St Davids for the first time in nine years and had a fantastic week revisiting all of our old haunts in the glorious July sunshine.

picmonkey-collage1

DSC_20522 (700x467)

DSC_21432 (700x467)

picmonkey-collage-700x700Going back to such a familiar place, I felt bound by our old annual traditions. Fig rolls on the beach,  crabbing from the lifeboat station, welsh cakes with a cup of tea and fishing from St John’s Point. Trying my hardest to stick with tradition, I did my best to lose as much tackle as possible without catching any fish, a feat which I’m glad to say was achieved!

DSC_2466 Stitch (700x271)DSC_2418 (467x700)Not for the faint-hearted (particularly with some of the lowest tides of the year), we also found time to visit the Blue Lagoon at Abereiddy. Though we didn’t quite match the efforts of the Red Bull cliff divers, it was certainly high enough to get the heart racing and the legs wobbling!

2{all Decorator’s Notebook}

What better way to calm the nerves than a trip up the hill behind the campsite to watch the beautiful sunset accompanied by a glass of something warming. Hopefully I won’t have to wait another nine years before my next visit.

Golden hour

15 Jul

In the 13 years our parents have owned this house the field behind has always been for sheep, but for some reason this year it’s been planted with wheat. Last night I took an evening stroll through in the still-wilting heat with my camera in the hope of capturing the golden hour.

wheat field in summer

trees edging wheat field

hands holding wheat

furrow in wheat field

wheat

wheat field

wheat close up{all Decorator’s Notebook}

The light was a gift. It was still so warm the wheat smelled grassy-sweet in the sunshine and the red Wiveliscombe earth was baked red beneath my feet. I couldn’t resist lying down in a furrow made by the tractor’s wheels, looking up to the blue sky and breathing the scent of a British summer all around me.

Mood of the moment… Midsummer daydream

12 Jul

midsummer photo collage decorators notebook

decorators notebook listen

{LIVE / EAT / WEAR / ESCAPE}

{LISTEN First Aid Kit King of the World}

Pictures curated by Bethan, music selected by Joe. We hope you enjoy it and it gets you in the mood for a sunny weekend x

Ten days of hellos and goodbyes

10 Jul

A lot has happened while I’ve been away from here…

east london line

… farewell Gingerline commute

camera strap

… farewell day job colleagues

labour and wait

… farewell favourite shop

liberty london

… farewell other favourite shop

london skyline from millenium bridge

… farewell Southbank skyline

Crystal Palace Park

… farewell Crystal Palace Park

my first home

… farewell first home sweet home

packing labels

… farewell lovely belongings

packing boxes

… hello ice cold beer

cleaning products

… hello four day cleanathon

tea revives you

… hello well-deserved tea break

view from my bedroom window

… hello waking up to this

the cleave pub dartmoor

… hello Granny, happy 80th birthday

scones

… hello Wimbledon final day (woop!)

to do list

… hello new life!

Missed all this? Follow us on Instagram @DecoratorsNotes

Food Week II: Whole Larder Love

28 Jun

You probably all know by now that in less than a week I’m shipping out of The Big Smoke and heading back to rural Somerset to camp with my parents for a while and get the Decorator’s Notebook Shop off the ground. In the midst of packing up Le Flat I have started daydreaming about getting back to my countrygirl roots. I think all this has a good deal to do with why Whole Larder Love makes such a fitting end to Food Week.

Rohan Anderson Whole Larder Love

mushrooms cooking on open fire WLL

eggs whole larder love

Ever since I was tiny I’ve been interested in wild food. My Granny taught me too look for a dark red dot in the centre of lacey cow parsley flowers – the signal that a fragrant wild carrot could be found under the soil below. In autumn we’d pick miniscule bilberries and gobble them straight from the bush and in summer Dad would take Joe and I mackerel fishing off St David’s Head. I still think there’s no better breakfast than quiveringly fresh fish cooked under a gassy caravan grill. Growing up, I never thought anything of it. I thought this was how all children spent their weekends and holidays. But after seven years living in London I have an enormous appreciation of – and nostalgia for – those early culinary adventures.

crab apples whole larder love

whole larder love wild cookery

cooking pot whole larder love

Rohan Anderson’s Whole Larder Love blog is more about discovering, hunting and gathering ingredients than the recipes you can make with them. I adore the idea of being led by what you can find and coming up with something good to eat afterwards rather than starting with a cookbook. His photos are so perfect you can almost smell the damp earth and woodsmoke drifting up from your screen.

enamel mugs WLL

camp bed in cabin whole larder love

gathering walnuts whole larder love{all Rohan Anderson for Whole Larder Love}

If I lived just a little bit (!) nearer to Australia I’d sign up for one of Rohan’s foraging workshops in a heartbeat. Not for the squeemish, the dropdown booking form offers the choice of “I’d like to skin a rabbit” or “No thanks, I’ll just watch.” Love it.

As soon as I discovered Whole Larder Love it went straight on my Feedly and I’ll be putting the book on my Christmas list too. I hope you enjoy exploring this blog as much as I do.

Have a great weekend everyone x

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