Photography tips for beginners

Photography is one of my favourite parts of blogging and although having a DSLR and macro lens helps, I'm always looking for ways to improve. Having recently attended a photography workshop where I learnt about some of the more technical aspects I thought I'd put together a little guide for taking the best photos and getting the most out of your camera:

 1. Natural daylight is best
Starting with the most obvious, but whether it's for beauty, fashion or food, natural daylight is always best. I find the light most flattering in the afternoon although strong sunlight can also work for a brighter more contrasted photo. Coming into Winter though it's not always possible to have natural daylight so it's worth investing in some lighting or playing around with different camera settings (especially in somewhere like a restaurant where lighting is not always possible). 

 Low apertures for a blurry background

2. Aperture for a blurry background
Aperture is one of my favourite settings to change for a more professional looking shot. Think of all the beauty and fashion blogs where the subject in focus and the background blurry - it's called 'bokeh' and the best way to achieve it is with a low aperture (expressed as a 'f' number). It can be achieved with a kit lens but for a really professional looking photo I'd recommend investing in a macro lens. I have this one which goes down to a f1.8 and has made a huge difference to the quality of my photos. It also helps to have the subject of the photo as far away from the background as possible. 

Playing around with shutter speeds and angles for the best photo

3. Shutter speed to control the lighting
This is all about how quickly the camera takes the photo (expressed as a fraction of a second) and therefore how much light it lets in. For daylight a fast shutter speed eg. 1/200 is fine but at night time you'll need to decrease the number eg. 1/20 for a well lit photo. Anything lower than 1/60s and you'll most likely need a tripod to avoid hand shake and therefore a blurry photo. This is also the setting you need for those cool moving light photos although patience and a tripod is definitely needed!

To control aperture and shutter speed simply change the circular camera dial to A or S respectively then use the little thumb dial on the right to increase or decrease. 

4. White balance for a more colour accurate photo
This is particularly useful in warm lighting situations or if you want to go for a particular effect - think yellow lighting for warm cosy feel or blue lighting for a colder more wintery effect (apparently a common trick used in films). The automatic set up is usually good enough for daylight hours but for a warmer or colder effect there are also several pre-set options on a DSLR. Most useful though is the option to set your own white balance and tell your camera what is true white for the most colour accurate photo (instructions here).

5. Play around with different set ups
I'm guilty of relying on the same few set ups for my blog photos but sometimes experimenting and taking a shot from a different angle can make all the difference (particularly with food and drinks). Flat lays will always be popular but a zoomed in shot with a blurry background can be just as good. It's also fun to play with the rule of thirds and white space in a photo can be just as effective if not more visually striking.  

I hope you found these tips helpful and a big thank you to Currys and Nikon for such an informative and useful evening!

Do you use these settings regularly ? What are your top photography tips?

Currently loving...nude/baby pink nails

I've always loved experimenting with bold statement nail colours but recently I can't seem to get enough of nudes and baby pinks and have built up quite the collection! There's just something so effortless chic about barely there nails and today I  thought I'd share a few of my favourites:

 Essie ballet slippers, Essie vanity fairest, Bourjois rose satin, No 7 blissful, Review, Swatches
Currently loving...Nude/baby pink nails

Essie ballet slippers, Essie vanity fairest, Bourjois rose satin, No 7 blissful, Review, Swatches
L-R: Essie ballet slippers, Essie vanity fairest, Bourjois rose satin, No 7 blissful

Essie ballet slippers - A classic baby pink which although sheer at first can be built up for more of an opaque creamy finish. It's one of those timeless suit all shades that every girl needs in her collection and the wide Essie brush makes application so quick and easy.

Essie vanity fairest - A really sheer pink with a fine shimmer running though. Even with three coats the nail bed still shows through but this is actually my favourite of the four as the colour is just so gorgeous yet subtle. A really good one for everyday wear especially if you like the naturally polished look.

Bourjois rose satin - A petal pink shade which again can be worn sheer or layered up for more of  an opaque look. I actually prefer to wear just one coat for light wash of colour but even layered up it's fast drying and has a nice glossy finish. Works really well as part of a French manicure too.

No 7 blissful - This is more on the peach spectrum but it's the most pigmented of the four and I can easily get away with just one coat. It has a gel like finish and seems to go with just about every outfit for a subtle understated look. A really good colour for work too, especially if you work in a more professional or office environment.

Have you tried any of the shades above? What nail colours are you loving this Autumn/Winter?

Autumn/Winter skincare essentials

It seems that a lot of us struggle with our skin during Autumn/Winter. The combination of cold winds, hot showers and central heating can leave it feeling dry and sensitive and as a result a new routine is often needed. Through trial and error I've found some real gems and today I thought I'd share the 5 products I'm relying on this Autumn/Winter:

Autumn/Winter, Skincare, Beauty, Kiehls, Hylamide, Dr paw paw, Dove, Dove derma spa. Kiehls ultra facial cream, Review,
Autumn/Winter skincare favourites

Kiehls ultra facial cream review

Kiehls ultra facial cream - This product has been raved about so much and I'm kicking myself for not trying it sooner! With ingredients from sea glaciers and the Australian dessert it's well equipped to protect the skin from harsh conditions and achieves that magical combination of being super hydrating yet at the same time still feels very lightweight and non greasy. It leaves my skin feeling comfortable and balanced and is now my go to day cream. It can be used at night too although having got on so well with this I'm tempted to try their midnight recovery concentrate next.

Hylamide low molecular booster serum - A serum is a must have during Autumn/Winter and at the moment I'm really liking this. Unlike most hyluronic acid based products, this contains different molecular weights so that it absorbs into the deeper layers and increases hydration from within as well as targeting the surface layers. The serum is quite viscous and feels almost gel like although it's quick absorbing and soon disappears into the skin. I also really like the pipette as it keeps the product nice and hygienic and allows me to dispense the exact amount each time.

Dr PawPaw original balm - This reminds me of Vaseline (although there's no petroleum in the formula) and has a multitude of uses including for the face, lips, nails and elbows. I was initially hesitant to use such a rich product on my face but it doesn't seem to have caused any breakouts and within a day or two my stubborn dry patches had completely disappeared. Because it leaves an oily sheen on the skin I tend to use it overnight and save it as a lip balm only during the day.

Dove derma spa body lotion and hand treatment - Finally it's important to also take care of the skin on your hands and body. I was actually told by a therapist recently that my arms felt dry after a few days of not moisturising. Since then I've been slathering on the Dove daily! The derma spa range is slighter thicker than their usual body lotions but it was the scent that really sold me on the product. A really heavenly blend of florals, it just smells so amazing and lives up to the spa name, turning an everyday chore into a bit more of a treat. The hand cream isn't as scented but it does the job well and the small tube nice and convenient for my handbag.

Do you also struggle with your skincare during Autumn/Winter? What are your beauty essentials?

DIY beauty ideas

Since joining Pinterest I've become rather obsessed with all things DIY, be it for beauty, home or even a special occasion. So when Mira Showers and Midas touch crafts challenged me to put together a few recipes I thought it would be the perfect excuse to get creative and have some fun in the kitchen:

DIY peppermint sugar scrub

 DIY beauty - the essential ingredients

1. Scented body scrub
DIY body scrubs are one of my favourites to make as they're just so simple yet effective. Essentially you need some sugar or oats to exfoliate as well as some olive oil or coconut oil to bind the ingredients together and to gently moisturise. I then like to play around with essential oils depending on what mood I'm in. Today I really fancied a detoxing peppermint scrub but lavender is good for relaxing and citrus flavours never fail to uplift and brighten. 

2. Olive oil eye make up remover
Another really easy recipe is to mix together two parts water with one part olive oil for a DIY eye make up remover. I remember back in the day there were endless articles dedicated to using just olive oil as a cleanser but I found that it was quite difficult to wash off and I much prefer an emulsifying balm cleanser instead. This works really well though as it removes any heavy eye make up first and any residues are easily washed off after using my usual cleanser. 

3. Baking soda detoxing shampoo (source)
This is a new one for me but apparently baking soda works really well at removing build up and detoxing the hair. All you need to do is mix a teaspoon of the powder in with your usual shampoo. A cheap and easy alternative to the much loved Bumble & Bumble Sunday shampoo and a great one to try if like myself you use a lot of dry shampoo or styling products in your hair. 

Have you tried any of these recipes before? What are your favourite DIY beauty creations? 

Disclosure - Ingredients provided for blog post

Bare Minerals make up brushes

As I've gotten more into make up I've really come to appreciate the power of a good brush, especially when it comes to base products such as foundation and powder. Bare Minerals have recently expanded their collection and for the last few weeks I've been putting a selection of their new face and eyebrow brushes to the test:

Bare Minerals, Tools and accessories, Make up brushes, Contouring, Powder, Blusher, Eyebrows, Foundation, Review

Retailing at around £15-25 each the brushes aren't cheap, but with their sleek black handles and soft fibre bristles they remind me rather of NARS and are amongst some of the nicest in my collection. The brushes are made with a mix of natural and synthetic fibres (depending on the brush) but despite this I've not had any problems with shedding and they seem to hold their shape well after washing.

From left to right:
Supreme finisher - a fluffy rounded brush designed for a sheer application of products. I tend to use this as a last step sweeping on my face powder or to soften any harsh lines. 

Complexion perfection - this is the least used of the 5 as I prefer a buffing brush instead. Designed for liquid foundations and concealers it gives a medium to full coverage but I find that it takes a little longer to blend in and I tend to save this for special occasions only.

Brow master - if you like to fill in your brows then this is a must have. The angled brush picks up just the right amount of colour and allows for a precise application. I like that it comes with a little spoolie too as I always like to brush through at the end getting rid of any extra pigment and allowing for a more natural look.

Precision face - a flat top kabuki that makes foundation application a complete dream. The bristles are so soft and I can do my entire face in less than a minute. It gives a really flawless finish and is one of my favourites from the entire collection. 

Seamless shape and finisher - if you only buy one brush then let it be this one, a domed fluffy brush which makes contouring and sculpting so easy. Compared to a traditional angled brush it gives a softer finish and can double up as a blusher or powder brush too. A great one to own if you're new to contouring or if you are looking to build up your brush collection. 
Have you tried any of the new Bare Minerals brushes? What are your favourites for a flawless complexion? 

Two new Soap and Glory favourites

For someone who loves make up it's taken me a while to get into primers. It never seemed to add anything but after discovering a good one last year I've started to incorporate them into my daily routine and now thanks to Soap and Glory I can add One heck of a blot primer to my list of favourites:
Designed to control shine for 12 hours, it also helps to smooth over pores, prolong the wear of make up, even out the skintone and generally leave you with a more glowing complexion. I find a pea sized blob the perfect amount for my skin and although like all primers the effect is subtle, my skin does feel smoother and make up seems to last longer too. What I really like though is that it helps to control shine without being at all drying. I've spoken many a time about how my skin tends to get dehydrated and sensitive this time of year but I've not had any problems with One heck of a blot and it really does help to balance out my shiny T-zone during the day. 

Soap and Glory have also recently launched a new night cream in the form of Speed plump overnight miracle moisture mousse. Designed for tired, dry skin it really couldn't have arrived at a better time. Unlike traditional night creams which tend to be on the heavier side, this is whipped up into a light airy mousse. It's still packed with hydrating ingredients though and come morning my skin always looks plumped up and well rested. I've got one particularly annoying patch of dry skin which only the most nourishing oils seems to help but otherwise this is a good overnight moisturiser and if you also struggle with dry skin but hate the feeling of anything heavy then this is well worth a try.

Soap and Glory One heck of a blot primer and Speed plump moisturiser, both available instores and online at
Have you tried either of these 2 products? What are your current skincare and make up favourites?

The weekend - Cocktails, Lobster and Chanel Mademoiselle Prive

After a particularly stressful week we decided that a day to ourselves on Sunday was just what we needed to relax and unwind. The plan was originally to get lunch in Soho before going for a wander in central London however with it being the last day of the Chanel Mademoiselle Prive exhibition we decided to go for a short walk across Hyde Park, followed by Burger and Lobster in Knightsbridge instead:

 Burger and lobster cocktails

 Burger and lobster Knightsbridge

I'm not sure if I mentioned it on here before but Burger and Lobster is one of my favourite restaurants. They only have 3 items on the menu and I always go for a whole lobster steamed then lightly grilled, served with a herby butter dip, golden crispy fries and side salad. Despite the huge expansion across London you can still expect to wait around an hour for a table but trust me it's worth it for the delicious lobster. They do a great selection of cocktails too and both our choices were fruity, refreshing and light, the perfect accompaniment to the meaty white shellfish. On a little side note, whilst the food was still good in Knightsbridge, for the best tasting lobster I'd suggest visiting Soho or Mayfair instead.

 Chanel Mademoiselle Prive exhibition

Mademoiselle Prive - the origins of Chanel

Lunch done, it was a short walk down Sloane Street to the Mademoiselle Prive exhibition. I'd been expecting a traditional exhibition but actually it was more of a digital experience with each room having different focus on the history of Chanel. Unfortunately the exhibition has now finished but hopefully these pictures will give you an idea of what it was like if you didn't get the chance to visit. 

 Mademoiselle Prive - The fragrance room 

 Mademoiselle Prive - Karl Lagerfield's casino themed AW haute couture show

 Mademoiselle Prive - Feature film showing a fictional meeting 
between the ghost of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfield

 Mademoiselle Prive - shadow show

I think my favourites were the scented perfume room with the huge vats of fragrance and also the introductory room which gave a fascinating insight into the start of the Chanel empire. It was cool that they had a downloadable app and in various rooms there were behind the scenes footage as well a unique virtual 360 tour of the Coco Chanel apartment. 

Did you get a chance to visit the Chanel Mademoiselle Prive exhibition? How was your weekend?
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