Stella's Photography Tips: Depth of Field


'Depth of field' is the area in your photograph that is in focus from the nearest point to the furthest.

Sometimes we may choose to have an image that is sharp throughout, showing the foreground with the same focus as the background. Alternatively, we can choose to separate the subject from the background by using a shallow depth-of-field to achieve this. Here are my tips to achieve this:

1. Select the correct lens. I would normally chose a 70-200mm - the longer the focal length the shallower the depth-of-field.

2. Use a wide aperture - f2.8 or f4 works best.

3. Position your subject at least two metres away from the background to separate the two. The further away your subject is from the background, the more out of focus the background will be.

4. Adjust your shutter speed and ISO accordingly to get the best exposure. Remember not to go below 1/60th to avoid camera shake.

5. The closer you are to your subject, the shallower your depth of field will be. If you are two meters from a subject and shooting at f/2.8 with your 70mm lens, you may get 10cm of depth to your focus. With the same lens and aperture at 10 meters, you may get 100cm of depth.

6. If you are looking to create soft backgrounds with a less than optimal lens such at a 16mm prime, get really close to your subject to achieve the desired results of shallow depth-of-field.

7. Always experiment with different lenses to achieve a variety of results using different subjects.



Time to Book Your 2018 Meadow Photo-Shoot...


Create everlasting memories in this little piece of floral heaven.

As Mother Nature provides us with a fresh variety of spring wildflowers and grasses, I am looking forward to starting again my beautiful meadow photo-shoots. I truly believe there is no better backdrop to capture family and friends in such a natural and personal setting.

Our Meadow photo-shoots in June are always very popular, taking place in a secret location on private land where wonderful wildflowers are in abundance. Just to reassure any nature lovers, we always tread carefully so as not to unsettle them and stick to the pathway as much as possible.

We know instinctively that family and friends are the most precious things we have in life - in this crazy world of work and commitments it is easy to lose sight of what’s really important.

Make time to photograph your loved ones in a timeless natural setting. I will guide you through your experience and advise you how to display these moments to enjoy now and for future generations to come.

Do get in touch to discuss your ideas and to design your bespoke package.



Out and About: The Beautiful Tulip Celebrations at Hever Castle

It is the time of year when we all start looking for signs of spring - perhaps this year more than any other after such a cold winter! Of course nothing says spring more than beautiful flowers and for the second time, Hever Castle and Gardens is hosting a Tulip Celebrations event from April 18 - 27 with over 20,000 magnificent spring tulips in bloom.

For those of you who have not yet visited, Hever Castle is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and is a stunning backdrop to the beautiful blooms making this celebration a local spectacle, and a personal highlight!

Visitors can enjoy a self-guided tulip trail, or time with Hever’s Head Gardener Neil Miller. I love the vibrant colours, and tulip varieties planted in the Castle grounds, along the stunning Pompeiian Wall, in the traditional Tudor Garden and the ‘Italian Garden’.

Documented for the first time this year is the history of the tulip and this is marked with displays and information in the Castle. I found the global footprint of the tulip especially interesting and its journey from Turkey to Holland in the Sixteenth Century.

I will be at Hever Castle to enjoy this up-lifting time of year over the next few days, of course with my camera. I hope to see some of you there!

For more information please visit Hever Castle here



An Oxted Easter Celebration!

Yesterday, Easter Saturday, marked the start of the Love Oxted Easter Trail. Last year’s event attracted hundreds of families to the town and this year’s promises to be even bigger and better!

I am proud to say that SMS Creative Photography is involved in this lovely event, it gets right to the heart of my business - celebrating fun family time in Oxted, a wonderful place for children, their families and for making memories.

Please do pop in for an Easter Trail sheet, I’d love to pass this to your families, and to help with the clues!

Please share the fun on social media and tag me; @StellaSMS on Twitter and Instagram posts and Love Oxted, who now have a new Instagram feed; @LoveOxted. Please do give them a follow and visit their website to find out more here.

Most importantly, I’d like to wish all of my valued customers and friends a very Happy Easter with your families and friends. I really hope you enjoy this special time together, and hope to see you in SMS Creative Photography in the days ahead.



Stella’s Photography Tips


Introducing....’Stella’s Photography Tips’

If you would like more advice to help you understand your camera one to one, I offer masterclasses tailored to suit your knowledge and ability. Alternatively, you can take a class with a friend.

  1. Get used to operating your camera in manual mode. Once you are familiar with this then you will have the confidence to use shutter priority or aperture priority.
  2. In manual mode you can choose the ISO, shutter speed and aperture to control the desired exposure.
  3. Aperture priority is how the photographer sets the aperture. This is in the lens and operates like the iris of the eye. Make it larger to let more light in and smaller to allow less light in. Once this is set the camera then adapts the shutter speed to allow the correct exposure.
  4. Shutter priority is how the photographer sets the correct shutter speed.  The camera automatically sets the correct aperture for the correct exposure.
  5. On both of the above, automatic ISO can be selected, or set at the desired setting to suit the lighting conditions, such as 200 for bright sunny day, 400 for overcast and 1600 for low lighting.
  6. At Spring time on a sunny day I suggest using ISO 400 - Shutter speed 125 – with the aperture set at f11.  Use this as a starting point and adapt the shutter speed and aperture accordingly to get the desired exposure.



Time to Book Your 2018 Bluebell Photo-Shoot...


Beautiful Bluebell Photo-Shoots

As the bluebells begin to bloom, join me for a memorable photo occasion, with your family and friends.

I am delighted to report that a magical time of year is almost upon us, as the beautiful bluebells begin to bloom in our local ancient Surrey Woodlands.

Each year I use this wonderfully rich backdrop as the scene for exclusive photo-shoots with families and friends. I offer this only when the bluebells are at their very best, and only at certain times of the day to ensure a perfect light. With the right light, it is one of my favourite natural settings.

I am now taking bookings for my bluebell photo-shoots. Please do get in touch to discuss if you are interested on 01883 722282 with further details on our website. This opportunity is only available for a very limited time.


A testimonial from a happy customer last year;

'We booked our first family bluebell photo-shoot with Stella and we were so pleased we did. Stella was so good at putting us all at ease, particularly our 16-month-old daughters. She was able to maintain their attention long enough to capture some fantastic photographs which reflect the girls’ personalities beautifully.

'The whole process was smooth from start to finish and Stella was able to help advise us on photos to combine and how best to display them. We are so pleased with the photos, they are of great quality and are a lovely memory for us all.'