apple orchard chesapeake family photography

New Family Portrait

A lovely surprise!

I am so excited about my new family portrait.  Sometimes as photographers, we forget to capture our own family memories.  Or to at the very least have one, maybe two complete family photos in our homes.  It’s easy to get individual portraits done.  Or to have one of the children, but it’s difficult to do a self family portrait!  Believe me, I’ve tried!  Which is one of the reasons I love my tribe.  I have been so lucky to have made such incredible friendships during my time here in the UK.  I have met so many talented photographers, and worked with some incredible people during my time here.

A few months back, some of my favorite photographers got together for a group session.  It was a farewell session for our good friend Heidi, who was moving to Scotland.  We were all in the same photo club out in Oxford, which is where we all met each other. Since then, our families have all moved away from Oxford so it isn’t easy for us to all meet up.   We decided to all get together at an apple orchard in Iver.  We all had our families with us and brought along a few little models.  It was a perfect day and for us; a perfect way to spend it.

I had a lovely surprise today in my inbox from the oh-so-lovely Rachel Tennant of Hazelnut Photography.  She happened upon a photo from that day and sent it to me!

Family portraits ARE important.  It’s not just a picture on the wall.  Its the moment you were in.  Its the memories you create with the people you love.  It’s documenting your family history for the generations to come.  When was the last time you updated your family portrait?

If your answer is too long, I can help.  Send me an email by clicking here and I will get in touch with you and we together we can create some memories for your family.


Photo of the super moon

Super Blue Blood Moon!

Tips for photographing the Super Blue Blood Moon!

On Wednesday, January 31st, there will be a rare Super Blood Moon!  Now sadly, it is unlikely that we will see it here in the UK.  However, for my friends in the US and Canada, you will get the opportunity to wake up early to see this incredible celestial event!

What is a Super Moon?

A super moon is when the moon is at the closest point in its orbit to the earth.  They call it the perigree.  As it is the closest to the earth, it also makes the dark side of the moon closest to the sun.  With its positioning and reflecting the suns light it appears 14% brighter than it would any other night.

A Blue Blood Moon too?

Did you know that the second full moon of the month is referred to as a Blue Moon?  This is where it gets really cool.  The super blue moon, will pass through the earths shadow giving us a total lunar eclipse! (Depending on where you are in the world).    The Blood Moon happens during a lunar eclipse – its the red tint that the Earth’s shadow casts on the moon.

Check out this video from NASA!

How can I get great pictures of the moon?

Since there are still a few days until it happens, you still have time to scout out a good location to shoot from.  Plan out your shot.  Do you want a picture of the moon by itself, or do you want something in the foreground to give a frame of reference.  If you take a shot with the moon on the horizon or with some buildings in the shot, your image will look a lot larger than it would by itself.

Photographing the moon is different that photographing the stars.   With the night sky you want to use a long exposure so the light from the stars can reach your cameras sensor.  However with the moon reflecting the light from the sun, if you were to use a slower shutter speed you will overexpose the shot and will lose the detail in the craters and shadows.

Stars
Long Exposure using my 50mm f1.4, 25sec, ISO 200

Some basics to get you started

Whether you have a DSLR camera, a point and shoot, or even if you are using your camera phone, you will want to use the widest focal length your camera or phone will allow.  In other words, you want to be as zoomed out as possible.  That will allow you to have a interesting foreground in the image.

You definitely want to use a tripod or something sturdy to mount the camera on.  The slightest shake of your hands will give you a blurry image, using a tripod and either a timed release or a remote shutter will give you the stability you need. If your camera has a Mirror Lock Up feature on it, enable it.  Even the internal mirror of your camera can blur a shot like this.

Start out by setting  your ISO to around 100 to start.  In Manual mode, set your f-stop somewhere around f-11 and your shutter speed to at least 1/250.   From here, it is trial and error.  Look at your photo on the display. Is your shot too bright or is it blurry? Try using a faster shutter speed.   Too dark?  Slow your shutter down or try bumping your ISO up a few notches and see how that affects your shot.

Last but not least, set your focus.   If you try to focus in auto focus, your camera will not be able to lock on. Set your camera to manual focus, and turn the barrel to infinity and adjust from there.  Another way would be to use the live view mode and zoom in and adjust your lens manually that way.

 

Photo of the super moon

My biggest disappointment about this post would be the fact that I won’t be able get shots of my own.  It will be daytime here in the UK, but I would love it if you would share your photographs with me!

Find out when the best time will be for you to get out by visiting NASAs website here.  https://www.nasa.gov/feature/super-blue-blood-moon-coming-jan-31

Would you like to learn more about how to use your camera?  Sign up for one of my beginner camera courses here!  Camera Basics Course

or

To sign up for exclusive offers and access to VIP mini sessions click here!


London Transport Museum

Looking for a fun day out with your kids in London?

Try the London Transport Museum.

It's a fun place for kids and adults alike to learn about the history of transportation in the UK.

It's a great place to entertain your kids on a rainy day, or even just a fun place for a meet up!

https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/family-learning

 

The London Transport Museum is a great place to take your kids for a day out in London.  If your children are anything like mine then they love planes, trains and automobiles!   Located in Covent Garden, the Transport Museum gives a hands on “all aboard” view of the history of transportation in the UK.  The exhibits of the transport museum include everything from the old rail cars to the iconic double decker bus!

My boys absolutely love trains; and while my experience with girls is somewhat limited, I’m pretty sure most little girls love trains too! This place is full of trains and busses to climb in and out of! We had a great time bouncing on the seats of the antique train cars. There is quite a big difference in the amount of cushion from todays rail and tube cars to the trains of yesteryear!  You feel nostalgic sitting in those trains with the feel and intricacy that the wood trim and the musky smells.  Train cars were built for comfort and luxury as opposed to profit back then.

The kids received a ticket to stamp as they go through the museum to keep their interest piqued throughout. I personally loved the fact that there are interactive play areas throughout the museum to appeal to the little kids, while at the same time providing rich history that people like me enjoy learning about. Kids can pretend to be the train conductor, or a ticket operator in addition to drive the double decker buses!  There is a little cafe on the ground floor where the littles can push trains along on the wooden train table while parents can have a cup of tea all the while keeping a mindful eye.   There are also train simulators that let you learn to drive the train, which really appealed to the older kids.

All in all, you and your kids will most certainly enjoy your visit! Tickets to the Museum are £16 for adults (if you book in advance, I believe they are £17.50 at the door).   Good news is that children get FREE admission to the museum! Additionally, one more bonus is that your ticket is good for a year. If you decide you haven’t had enough you can save your ticket and come back another day!  Getting there is really easy too.  Just take the tube to the Covent Garden stop, from there walk down to the entrance of Covent Garden and go around to the left.  Follow it around the corner and you run right into it. However, you can also walk straight through and out of Covent Garden, the entrance will be to your left.  Here’s the address for you Google lovers, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB.

You can find more information on the London Transport Museum at their website  https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk

 

There are so many fantastic places for you to explore in London with your children.  I love finding new places that my kids will enjoy.  I would to hear what your favorite places are!  Drop a line with some of yours below!


Camera, photographer, chesapeake family photographer, cheap photographer

Get a New Camera for Christmas?

Did your partner do a really great job and get you a fancy new camera for Christmas? You certainly have a good one ;). Christmas is the most popular time of the year for one to get a new camera.  I love to hear when someone gets a new camera for Christmas and how excited they are about it.  You are probably really excited to get some new pictures of your children and I don't blame you. Your kids are only little for a short time. You should want to have some nice pictures of them growing!

I have a few tips to get you started with your new camera. I really hope that it inspires you to learn more about your new toy. To start, your camera probably already came with a kit lens, and hopefully a memory card, but most people have them lying around the house if yours didn't. That's all you need to get started! If you're thinking about getting a new lens to go with your kit, I recommend you learn the basics with what you've got first. Realistically speaking, you can drop hundreds of dollars upgrading your gear. However, you won't get those professional quality photos until you know how to use your gear.

1. Fully charge your battery before using it for the first time. Then go through all of your menu settings and properly set up your date and time/along with what file size you want your camera snapping pictures.

Yes, I know it sounds a bit simple minded, but it's important to fully charge the battery before using it for the first time. Camera batteries are not necessarily expensive, but they aren't too cheap either. I wouldn't want you to diminish the life of your camera just because of a battery.

2. Learn the basics! I cannot stress this enough. Your DSLR has so much power and control behind it. There is a lot to take in and learn, so go at your own pace, but the best thing I ever did was learn to take my camera out of Automatic and learn how to use the different functions.

Most DSLR cameras have these basic settings. Automatic, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Program Modes. Automatic is great for those point an shoot moments, but if you want to get better pictures, the first step would be to get out of Auto and into Aperture Priority to start.

3. Understand the "Exposure Triangle" The three factors that affect your camera's exposure are ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. Adjusting one of these settings will require the other settings to be counter adjusted to maintain a proper exposure for your photos.

  • ISO is the cameras sensitivity to light. You want a low ISO if you are outside on a bright sunny day, and you want a higher ISO as the days grow long and you may need to keep a higher shutter speed to keep your subject from being blurry.
  • Aperture is amount of light the cameras lens lets through to the sensor. This is the first step to learning how to take great pictures. (In my most humble opinion, of course.). A lower aperture number with a close subject will give you more of a blurred background, while a higher number will put more of your frame in focus.
  • Shutter Speed is just that. It is how fast or slow your shutter opens and closes letting light into the sensor. A faster shutter speed will freeze motion and a slower shutter speed will open the cameras shutter for longer. So for example if you are taking pictures of kids, you will want a faster shutter speed. (As kids typically move around a lot) and if you are takin pictures of the stars, you will want an extremely slow shutter.
Understanding Exposure
Understanding your new camera settings

4.  Practice, Practice, Practice! I tell my children all the time.  It takes time and work to develop a talent.  Start out with something easy.  Take an object and start shooting with different apertures.  Adjust one stop and take a picture.  Adjust again, and again until you get the desired result.  Practicing with the different settings in real time  will give you a better understanding of how it all works together.

If you are looking to buy a lens to go along with your new camera, I suggest you invest in the ever so popular "nifty fifty".  It is a relatively inexpensive lens that gives you a much lower aperture than you will get with a kit lens.  That in turn helps when looking to get a nice blurred background in your photos.

I also offer 1-2-1 as well as group training on how to use your new camera.   Click here to find out more!

Hope you had a Merry Christmas! Happy Shooting!

 


The Haag Family - Outdoor Family Portraits

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Outdoor Family Session and Christmas Pictures

I’ve been chatting with Kerra about updating her family photo for a while now, and we were finally able to link up schedules.   We recently met up at Oxhey Woods in Northwood for a quick run around the park. Being that they are from the Seattle area, they are big fans of the Seattle Seahawks.  Kerra and Alex had such a fun idea, having photographs of their family in their  favorite team’s gear.  I was really excited to see them all decked out.  When I saw them I thought “that is a great way to coordinate family outfits” – provided you all support the same team!  It’s not something my family can get away with. My husband a Dallas Cowboys fan while my boys and I are NY Giants fans (The kids know what’s good for them). I would never let Josh wear that awful jersey in our family photo, LOL!

Since it is the end of November, the temperatures are dropping fairly quickly and today was no exception. It was extremely cold out, and the girls were really feeling it.  Especially Iris.  Her nose was red and her little fingers were like icicles! Our walk was not as long as we wanted it to be, however, we did manage to get some really lovely group portraits.    When we made it back to the beginning of the park, they came back to mine for some Christmas photos of the girls in the studio.  I do like working in the studio, but I love working outdoors. I love the special interaction of a family when they can run around and play in a more natural setting.

Adele and Iris loved being in the studio.  They felt like they were little models and I really saw their personalities open up once we were indoors.  Their dresses made them look like little princesses.  While Freya wasn’t as interested, Adele and Iris were posing and looking at the camera like they knew what they were doing.  Every little girl I have ever met loves to dress up like a princess.    I love how happy it makes them, and I love capturing that moment for them.   I wholeheartedly enjoy making those dreams come true.  Even if they are only a princess for the day, that photograph will make the memory last them a lifetime.

If you’re interested in seeing some more of my outdoor work, please click here.  You can also check me out on Facebook by clicking here!  


Getaway, Scotland, Meredith Hodge, Northwood photographer

Getaway to St. Andrews

Hello from Scotland, our weekend getaway to Leuchars!

My family and I are currently up in St. Andrews, Scotland visiting friends for a quick getaway this weekend.   We hopped on the Virgin train going up to Scotland from Kings Cross in London. If you don't know it just happens to be THE Harry Potter Kings Cross Station.  If you happen to ever book train tickets going out of London on a Friday afternoon, make sure you reserve seats....you don't want to end up spending the travel time of your getaway sitting on the floor of a train while people walk over you every other minute.  Lesson learned.  As a result of not reserving seats, we sat on the floor until we got to York.  That's a story all in itself.  We arrived in Leuchers around 730 and my very good friend Heidi was there waiting for us at the train station.

If you don't know, Heidi is the owner at Heidi Hayward - Northern Angel Photography and is one of my favorite people to talk shop with.  We've done countless photography events together.  From trainings to retreats and seminars, trade shows, you name it, if we are there, we are most likely together.  Since she recently moved up to Scotland a few weeks ago, I needed to pay her and the family a visit!  Our family loves a good weekend getaway.   I am so happy we've decided to come.

We went out to St Andrews today.   Once we parked we walked through the city centre down to the castle.  It still astonishes me to be in a castle, still standing from hundreds of years ago.  To think architecture from so long ago could withstand as much as it has. Well, I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded with such rich history.  We made way our out of the castle walking down along the river Tay (the North Sea).  We took the kids down to the beach so they could play for a while.  Josh and I always try to carve out fun time for the kids when we travel.

Now, parents would agree that when you put kids on a beach, they are going to get wet.  It's only 2 degrees out and extremely windy here.  One can only imagine how cold the water is!  We were extra careful with the kids making sure they didn't have too much fun and "accidentally" fall in. Or purposefully jump in!  Chasing 5 children around and keeping them out of water on the beach is not an easy feat by any means.  Thankfully, they were really well behaved and we did not end up with any frozen, wet boys!

On the way home we stopped into Thai Teak's Tea Room for some tea and cake.  Everyone was frozen and hungry so hot drinks and food was next on our list.  To the person that recommended Thai Teak to Heidi, thank you.  It is a gorgeous tea room where you can see into the kitchen where they make the food from scratch.  The food was fresh and so good, you couldn't stop eating it!  I only wish I left more room for scones. They looked absolutely delicious.  We were so full by the end, I think we all needed a nap!  Back to the house  we put a movie on for the kids to hang out and relax.  Heidi and I had a wives Christmas party to go to, so we were ok with letting the husbands and the kids take it easy.

There was only a little time as we had to get ourselves together for the party once we had the kids settled.  However, the sun was coming down and I had asked Heidi if she wouldn't mind taking a few head shots for me.   When you are the one with the camera, it's not very often that you have your picture taken.  In fact, I rarely step on the other side of the lens, unless it's for a selfie! Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! It was a bit awkward standing there to be honest.  I always think I would like to have my picture taken. However, it's bit different when you have someone there doing it.  It gets awkward when someone is telling you "bend this, tilt that, or turn this way".  *I will keep that in mind the next time I'm out on location.*

So, without further adieu, here is my new headshot.    Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!  Check back to the blog soon to hear more about the trip!  Tomorrow is a day in Edinburgh and then back to England!

Headshot of Meredith Hodge, Northwood photographer
Thank you Heidi Hayward for making me look good!! ;)

 

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Little Miss Ava

A day in Amersham with this little beauty

I had the pleasure this week of getting to know little Ava out in Amersham. A sleepy little village outside of London,  Ava is a very spunky little four year old with the smarts and personality of someone much older.  Sure, she may be little, but that doesn’t stop her from doing and getting what she wants!  She has an older brother and sister, but she is definitely the one in charge in that house.

This past week we went for a walk out in Amersham near her home and were able to visit a neighboring farm to take her photos during the golden hour.    She had just gotten home from her first day of reception and was really excited to tell me all about her new school and her new best friend – even if she couldn’t remember her name!  She loved giving me all kinds of over exaggerated modeling poses, which I couldn’t help but laugh at.  Are all little girls that dramatic?  I am a mom of boys, and a sister of three brothers. I never had the experience of living with a little girl.  Even with all of the “Top Model”  poses and kissy faces, the camera plain and simply loved her.

The holiday season is upon us!

The month of November is usually a busy one for everyone, especially for photographers. Holidays are coming up, families are coming to town, there’s food to be made and cleaning to be done! Don’t forget this is the best time of year to update the family photos on your walls. The leaves are quickly falling off of the trees, so if you want those beautiful reds and yellows as your backdrop, now is the time.  Did you know by the end of the month here in England, the sun will have set by 3:55 in the afternoon?  It’s so strange to me. I am not ready to wrap my head around it being dark so early.  I am looking forward to winter though!

Light and Love,
Meredith


Tips for taking pictures - with your phone!

After a debacle with some unnamed gentleman taking a group photo recently, I decided to try and pull some tips together for people who want to take better pictures with their phones! I am a selfie queen, I can almost always get everyone into one shot. However, I wanted to give you something better than "angle the phone up high and angle it to get everyone in", so I got in touch with my dear friend Nicky Maxey of Maxey Images and asked her what she would tell someone looking to get better phone pictures. Nicky takes incredible pictures with her phone, and had some great tips to share with you. Follow Nicky on Facebook and Instagram here!

https://facebook.com/maxeyimages/
https://www.instagram.com/maxey_images/

Nicky tells us:

The first thing I would tell someone would be to just snap away, if you like what you see, then take a picture. Just like with any camera, if you don't take it you won't ever know how it could turn out.

Don't over do the zoom - the camera on your phone doesn't zoom too well. Your photos will come out pixelated and won't look right. Get closer if you can, or just take it wide. The quality will be much better.

Find a good editing App and find your own style with it. Play around with your photo. Adjust the brightness or the vibrance. Try the radial filters or go black and white! Most good App's will still leave you with the original photo, so even if you hate your edit you can have another go!

If you want to turn your life of taking pictures into a small business then become active on social media. Instagram is brilliant for photography, follow the big Hubs, hashtags are important, more people will see your work. If you # a big Hub like @explore_britain , @photosofbritain etc if they like your work they can re-feature your work and you will get more followers, put a link to a Facebook page, a Facebook page for your photos. There are quite a few hubs that arrange Instagram meets check out @igersbristol @igersbath @igersoxford, they arrange meet ups for people to get together and take photos, normally with a lunch somewhere lovely. A chance to make new friends and explore new areas. Ive made some really good friends through Instagram.

The most important thing is take the photo..... don't miss the world around you!


Family photographer in Chesapeake

The Benders

There are times when I feel like I’m on top of the world. Looking at the photos from this session puts me right there. The Benders were celebrating Parker’s first birthday and I feel so blessed to be able to help them capture the memories of the day! It wasn’t without challenge though. We had booked this session months ago, and with the lovely weather here in London this time of year, you never quite know what it is going to be like from one hour to the next. It had been drizzling all morning, and it was not looking pretty the morning of. We finally decided to go for it, and I am so glad we did!

When we all met up at Chorleywood Commons, the weather was still looming about, but within minutes it was completely unnoticeable. No rain, no mist, and the sun even peeked its head out for a few minutes giving their photos a beautiful warmth to them. Parker and Caroline were complete angels and just loved running around outside. I absolutely loved working with this family and am so happy they love their photos as much as I do!

Check out some of their photos below!


Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

So many things have been happening lately. I have made the decision to rebrand the business and relaunch it under my own name. I love having hodgepodge as the name, I thought it was cute and quirky, like me! However, I found that people who did not know my name, did not understand the correlation between me and my brand. For those of you that still don’t, my surname is Hodge ;).

My first big announcement is the launch of my new Introduction to Photography course! This course is going to be great for mums and dads with a camera, that want to learn more about how their camera works. I know when I got my first real camera (and second, and third) I kept telling myself I was going to figure out what all of those settings on the dial were for. It took me a lot of research on my own and some help from a good friend, to really begin figure out what I was doing. Thank you Jean. If you read this, I hope you know you’re a star. This course is in the works and should be ready to move into a permanent residence with Meredith Hodge Photography in the next few weeks! What I would ideally like to accomplish with this would be to help others develop their love for their camera and really see how it can work for them!

My next big announcement will be a Christmas announcement, and while most photographers I know are all ready doing their Christmas sessions, I have been busy with the rebranding and the relaunching of the website, my clients, and traveling! Even now as I am posting this, I am in Bosnia, visiting with friends.

I am really excited in the direction that things are moving for the business, and I can’t wait to get all of my ideas out to you!!

Light and love!
Meredith