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.

Kids portraits are helping me get to Kenya!

The children I've photographed so far to fundraise for Kenya.
Towards the end of May 2015 I am going to Kenya with other volunteers to work in three schools in one of the poorest regions of Nakuru, near the Great Rift Valley. The trip has been organised by Derby County Community Trust and African Adventures, both of whom have been sending volunteers to the region for several years.

I am with a group of 45 volunteers, including my sister-in-law Debbie and her sister, Caroline. As a latecomer to the party I had to raise £1400 very quickly to fund the trip. I decided to offer some mini portrait shoots at a specially discounted price and give 80% of the total made to the charity. I'm really pleased to say that there was such a great take up on the mini shoots that I reached my target in just 4 weeks, with some generous donations from my brothers too.

It's been a real joy to photograph so many children in such a short space of time and it made a really nice change to photograph indoors, using my new natural daylight studio.

Special thanks have to go to my niece, Lucy, who was the first to take me up on the offer and then shamelessly promoted it to her friends! These are Lucy's lovely kids - my great niece Bella and nephew Joe (I'm feeling very old now!).


Bella and Joe

I'm going to post about my adventures in Kenya, obviously with lots of photographs, so I hope you'll follow the blog.

I am a natural light photographer, specialising in children's and family portraits and commercial photography. I have a purpose built natural light studio in the heart of rural Cheshire and I also work on location. Take a look at my portfolios and if you'd like to have an informal chat about booking a shoot please get in touch.
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Afternoon Tea with a Difference by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw

I was delighted to be invited last week to be a guinea pig for a new concept for an afternoon tea at Sakana, a new Pan-Asian restaurant just off Deansgate in Manchester. The food was highly likely to be right up my street and I was also expecting something that would be interesting to photograph too.

As it turned out it wasn't just the food that was visually stunning (more on that shortly); the venue was spectacular too, with a giant steel Japanese maple as the focal point of the two tier restaurant.
The light up steel tree by local artist Sarah Gallagher, with my fellow guests Toni and Mark.
All the food is prepared in sight of the diners and it was great to see the chefs becoming excited about putting together this new Afternoon Tea menu.

Chefs preparing food at the sushi bar.
All the chefs gather round to see the Afternoon Tea presented on the platters. They were all taking photos of the new concept too!
Sue France of Scones, Jam & Cream was diligently making notes about our afternoon tea experience in her notebook (let's not mention the trapped notebook incident and diligent waiter crawling with his bum in the air to rescue it!).

Sue France, event organiser extraordinaire.
Back now to the main event, the Pan Asian afternoon tea of savoury and sweet sushi. When it was delivered to our table we must have spent at least ten minutes admiring and photographing it, as it was so beautifully and skilfully crafted. I'll let the photographs do the talking here.

3 tiers of deliciousness; 2 savoury and the top one sweet desserts.
Matcha Tiramasu on the top and Thai Vermicelli below.
From the top: Passionfruit Cheesecake, Duck, Pomegranate, Cucumber, Egg Roll, Futomaki Vegetable.
Not forgetting the stunning backdrop of the steel maple tree.
I can honestly say I loved all of it, but as I hadn't tasted many Asian desserts before (and having a bit of a sweet tooth), they were my favourite, especially the Coconut Macaroon and the Ginger Brûlée.

"Stop taking photos and let us start eating!"
What better way to round it all off then with a glass of Prosecco!

Cheers!
Afternoon tea at Sakana will be introduced soon at £15 per head including a selection of loose leaf tea. Prosecco is £5. We all agreed that it was well worth it as an afternoon tea with a real difference.
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Using white card to fill in shadows in your product / still life photographs. By Cheshire photographer Jane Burkinshaw

Taken by one of my photography students
Natural light photography is wonderful: it has a beautiful, soft quality about it and it's "free", as you don't have to invest in a studio and lighting equipment. This shot was set up on my dining table near a large window and using a couple of pieces of board with a grey wood grain printed on them. I had these made specifically for the purpose but you could use pieces of wood, card, slate etc that you might find around the house.

Dark shadows on the left side of the vegetable.


When we did the first shot we realised there was a lot of shadow on the left side of the vegetable - the side furthest away from the window. This might not be a problem for certain shots, as shadow can add mood and interest. For the purposes of what we were doing we wanted to reduce the intensity of the shadow. This is easily done by using a piece of white card to bounce the light from the window back onto the subject. You can easily see the change as you move the white card around. You need to ask someone to hold it for you or prop it up against something.

Sometimes you may need 2 or more pieces of card to fill in shadows, as was the case with this flower shoot.



The final edited shot

A few tips to finish off with:

  • Make sure your shutter speed is at least 1/60th of a second to avoid camera shake.
  • If it's too slow, increase your ISO or use a tripod.
  • If bright sunlight falls on your table top set up, move it away from the window until you're in even shade.
  • If you want a really soft blurry background set your f/number as low as it can go.
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! Like Picture It Big on Facebook to see more tips like this.



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