No more point and click – getting started with photography

Owning a camera does not make me a photographer – I have no illusion about that. But what I do want is to learn more about photography.

Let’s face it – most cameras are sophisticated enough nowadays that anybody can use them by pretty much pointing and clicking to get a good image. But I started to want more than this.

I wanted to take beautiful images the way that I saw them and the only way I was going to get there was by learning about photography.

To do that, I started off by buying my ‘tool’. A DSLR to start me off (a Nikon D3300 if you wondered…), but I didn’t have the confidence to move past that auto function which defeated the point of me having one. So I booked onto a photography course.

Georgia holding book

-Georgia holding a book, taken with aperture as a priority to blur the book and focus on her face-
-Nikon D3300 | f/4.5 | 1/400 sec | ISO-3200 –

I booked onto a one day course by a Northampton based company called Wildcard Photography run on a Saturday.

It covered everything from the working parts of a camera to the different settings and how to get past auto. Of course, it didn’t make me an advanced photographer overnight (I’m WAAAYYY off that!), but it did make me appreciate my camera a bit more and know how to start using it properly. It’s starting to help me to capture those moments that mean the most. The small things that would otherwise go unnoticed like the look in her eyes when she’s showing me a book, or when I’m pushing her on the swings.

It’s breathtaking for me to be able to bottle these moments. Moments that are gone within a split second, but when captured by a camera can be admired forever more.

Below I’ve gone through a few settings that can help you move past auto – I hope they’re helpful but I’m by no means an expert.

Holding a sticker

-Georgia holding a sticker with two hands, taken with aperture as a priority to blur everything but the hands –
-Nikon D3300 | f/5.3 | 1/250 sec | ISO-3200 –

Camera settings you should know about

Okay… so I’m going to talk about these with my “GO NIKON” hat on. I don’t talk Canon as I don’t own one, so the buttons will be called different things (apparently they don’t believe in a collaborative world of calling things by the same names…).

So if you’re looking to improve your photography, the first thing you need to do before you even touch your camera is to think about what you want the picture to show – Do you want to show depth of field (blurry background or everything in focus) or how to show motion (blur or stop motion)?

Depth of field? You’ll want to swing the setting on the top to A for aperture. This is best for still objects (or at least still/slow moving people). It’s measured in F/NUMBER as a ratio where the lower the ‘NUMBER’, the smaller the depth of field (and  the more blurry everything else is that you’re not focusing on). The bigger the number under the F (and so the smaller the fraction), the bigger the depth of field meaning that more is in focus.

I tend to like photos with a small depth of field, so I choose an aperture with a large fraction – such as F/5.6, whereas a landscape picture would look great at a smaller fraction, such as F/16.

In this mode, the shutter speed is amended automatically by the camera to suit the aperture you want. Cool huh?

Motion? Swing to setting S for shutter speed. This is great for moving objects… such as toddlers on the run. But how do you want to show that motion? Choose a quick shutter speed to freeze time, or a slow shutter speed to blur everything that’s moving. You know those ‘cars on a motorway’ pictures with the zooming red and white lights? They are made using a slow shutter speed. But, it’s important to know that when you’re holding a camera, you can only hold it till 1/60 seconds shutter speed without needing a tripod. Anything slower and just by breathing you’ll inadvertently blur the image. Not great. So, if you want to make those snazzy pics, use a tripod.

Don’t worry about aperture on this setting – it’ll automatically be amended. Just be warned that in this setting, you’ll need a high sensitivity to light at night or in a dark room else your camera may show it as being too dark to take the picture confidently. But how can you adjust that?

Brightness. Brightness of an image can be dealt with in a number of ways before you take a picture. One is the ISO setting which adjusts the light sensitivity (can be found in the settings). The higher the ISO, the brighter your image will be. I love bright images so I’ll push up  this setting at pretty much every opportunity as it saves me doing it post-edit. Even days with just cloud cover could need an ISO setting of about 3200. You can also amend brightness via exposure compensation, which can double the amount of light hitting the sensor by increasing the number by one ‘stop’.

Georgia on the swings

-On the swings, taken with shutter speed as a priority to account of movement of swing –
-Nikon D3300 | f/11 | 1/200 sec | ISO-1600

Constantly learning

I’m not going to lie – it is all a bit confusing. There are a LOT of numbers and I don’t know everything. I’m still only a beginner.

But, I learnt a LOT in that one day – but it’s just that. One day.

Photography is about more than technically being able to use a camera – it’s about thinking in a different way. Thinking about not just blindly snapping away but thinking about what you really want to show people and how you can show them through taking a picture. The camera is just a tool so when people say “I love your camera”, they really just mean that they love your photography… which is a much nicer compliment!

I’ve not even scratched the surface with what I want to do… so please come and follow me on Instagram to see what new pictures I’m taking 🙂

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What pushchair can fit in my boot?

After struggling to fit my pushchair into my boot for well over a year, I thought it was high time that we try to find one that actually fits. It’s a perfectly good pushchair and I love its big wheels which are great for country walks – it’s just that the bulky frame is not so good for my boot.

Every time I have to lug it into my boot I have to turn it on its side and take off my parcel shelf. After it’s in, there’s not really much room to fit anything else in other than her change bag. I thought my Punto had a fairly standard sized boot – sure, it’s not as big as an estate, but I could comfortably get my weekly shopping in before we had Georgia so didn’t think twice when purchasing a pushchair.

So now I was on a mission to find a pushchair that is smaller and lighter without costing the earth. One that I don’t have to feel like a champion weight lifter to heave up into my boot.

Armadillo City unpacking and assembly

Umbrella fold pushchairs

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BeatBelle Boogie review

Beatbelle BoogieWhen it’s raining outside and I’m stuck inside with a toddler, minutes can feel like hours. I constantly struggle to find things to do that can keep us active inside.

Try as it may, TreeFu Tom just doesn’t quite cut it with his intermittent stretches. So when I was asked to review BeatBelle Boogie by Fisher-Price*, I was up for the challenge.

It’s a new activity toy and sibling of the BeatBo which was named as one of the ‘must have’ Christmas toys in 2015.

I have to admit, I saw the BeatBo last year and was VERY tempted to buy it. I think other toys just won out at the time for a 9 month old as I felt it was a bit too advanced at the time.

But now Georgia is a bit older, I think it’s time that she can really appreciate the BeatBelle.

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How to be a powerful woman

My best friend Jessie has been going through a tough time. When I say tough, I don’t just mean the usual sleep deprivation and teething woes of her beautiful daughter, no.

About a week ago she lived through a nightmare. She looked at her husband’s mobile and found naked photos of another woman. Not porn, a real woman that he’d met. One in a bath. One in a bed.Pinky swear

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The truth about perfect mums

Truth about perfect mumsI recently saw the film Bad Moms and it got me thinking about my own parenting. About that unreachable bar that’s set for parents that we can never quite grasp – the strive for perfection.

Nearly every parent at some point or other will feel that they are a bad mum, or a bad dad. But does the perfect parent even exist?

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Getting back into baking – Bakes Box Review

I love baking. But in a world full of nappies and clothes smeared with goodness knows what, I struggle to find the time. The time to find a recipe that interest me. The time to work out whether I have all the ingredients to make it. The time to go to the shops because invariably I don’t have all the items I need. The time to swear when I get home and realise it was in my cupboard all the time or that I didn’t buy enough.

So, baking has been put on the back-burner. Until now.Bakes Box

I found a brand called Bakes Box that sells a monthly subscription box full of all the dry ingredients you need to bake something new and exciting. It’s delivered through your letter box, so you don’t even need to be in.

I asked them if I could review one* and they kindly accepted – they’ve even agreed to give away 3, so if you like the sound of it, pop to my Bakes Box competition at the bottom of the page and enter by 09/09/16.

Unicorn cake by post

They sent me the August subscription box and to be honest, it scared me a little when it arrived.

Sure, I love baking, but I’d never baked anything quite like this before. Inside was a leaflet and instructions to make a unicorn birthday cake. It was tiered. It had marbled icing.

Bakes Box leaflet and box

The contents of the box had been beautifully wrapped in tissue paper, individually packed in their pre-weighed, sealed and labelled plastic bags. It made the box feel like an extra treat – not just a box of dry ingredients but something that promised a bit of a surprise.

I was in the deep end. Sure, I love to bake, but it’s been a while. Could I really pull it off? The finished cake on the picture looked amazing – so much so that if I saw it in a book, I’d probably flick past it and think it was too complicated to make.

Luckily the instructions were really simple to follow. They’d have to be for me to follow them to be honest. I’m the sort of baker that likes to read the same instruction 5 times before acting on it. Just in case I’ve missed something.

Baking the cake was the easy part – it was a light and fluffy sponge (and delicious!)– as all I really needed to do was bung the ingredients they supplied together along with butter and eggs in a bowl and mix to my heart’s content. That’s my kind of baking!

Developing my cake decorating skills

white chocolate unicorn hornIt was the decorating part where my skills were needed. Or more accurately, where I’d learn a few new skills.

Once the cake was cooled, I had to cut it into 4 equal squares, stack it and pop a dowel in to support it while icing.

I’d never used a dowel before (other than the ones you get in an Ikea set and definitely not in a cake) with the biggest cake I’d previously made having just two layers like a Victoria sponge.

Sure enough, by following the instructions, I ended up with cake that mostly resembled the picture. That’s a success in my opinion.

After I added the final flourishes it actually looked pretty darn good – and not bad after taking a sabbatical from baking.

I did it!

Sure, I took a LOT longer than you probably should over it *cough about 2 hours cough* but I did it.

I loved the challenge it set me to try something different, to think outside the cake tin.

What I loved most was that my husband asked me how I made certain parts – like the swirl in the white chocolate. By making this cake, I’d inadvertently developed new technical baking skills. What would normally put me off from a recipe in a book actually taught me that I can do it. I just need to trust in myself and get on with it. It’s helped me to start to become a better baker.


This Bakes Box got me back into baking and I’m actually quite proud of what I made. Sure, there are a few bits I’d improve if I did it again, but I made it all by myself, from scratch.

As they send an A5 recipe card with the box, I can easily keep it for another day.

Usually when I bake, it’s for a purpose – somebodies birthday or an event, so the idea of challenging myself monthly on a new sort of baking is really exciting for me. It’s also not just cakes, so I’m sure it’ll allow me to rekindle that baking spark and reclaim my wooden spoon.

If you’re interested, Bakes Boxes sell for £11.50 for a one off box to £10 per box if you pay annually with 3 and 6 month options available too. Is it worthwhile? I think so. Sure, I could buy all the ingredients myself for less, but I’ve proven to myself that I haven’t got the time for that else I would already be doing it. What it does give me is inspiration in a box and teaches new skills each month.

You can find out more about Bakes boxes at

Want to have a go for yourself? Why not enter my competition and win your very own Bakes Box?


I’m giving away 3 Bakes Boxes! If you’d like to win your very own (although I can’t guarantee it’ll be the same recipe as mine as that was the August box), then enter my competition via Rafflecopter below.

This competition will close at midnight on Saturday 10th September.

Please note that by entering this competition, you are agreeing for your email address to be passed onto Bakes Box for marketing purposes. Further terms and conditions apply:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Terms and conditions

  1. Three Bakes Box prizes are available.
  2. Entry open to mainland UK residents only.
  3. Only one prize available per person.
  4. By entering this competition, you are agreeing for your email address to be passed onto Bakes Box for email marketing purposes.
  5. No correspondence will be entered into regarding this competition or the winner.
  6. The winners name will be publically announced once they have been informed via email.
  7. Bakes Box registered address is: Bakes Box Ltd whose registered office is at BAKES BOX LTD, THE HIDE , SHEFFIELD, S3 7AA
  8. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  9. Closing date for entry will be 10/09/16 at 12am (BST). After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
  10. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
  11. The rules of the competition are as follows: Entrants must submit entries via Rafflecopter link above.
  12. The promoter and blogger reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
  13. The promoter and blogger are not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
  14. No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
  15. Winners will be chosen: at random by Rafflecopter from all entries received and verified by Promoter and or its agents.
  16. The winner will be notified by email within 10 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
  17. The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be delivered.
  18. The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  19. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  20. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.
  21. The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
  22. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
  23. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to Bringing up Georgia and Bakes Box and not to any other party.

*I contacted Bakes Box for the review and they provided me with one Bakes Box and three prizes to give away to you! No other payment was received and my views and baking are impressively my own.

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See where I live!

Having recently moved house, here is my first installment of our new house tour – starting with downstairs!

If you’re a bit nosy about where I live, then you’ll love this video. It’s not too tidy but to be honest, is probably the best it gets.

Other reasons to watch include:

There’s a reoccurring appearance of a moaning cat born for stardom. There’s macaroni cheese. I look a bit hot… but not in ‘that’ way. There’s corny jokes.

Take a look, and let me know when you’re ready to pop over for a cuppa (or an ice lolly). 🙂

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Dear Newlyweds – I’m sorry

As a parent, I'm just trying not to spoil your special dayDear Newlyweds,

Thank you for inviting us to attend your wedding yesterday. I’d like to tell you that it was a beautiful day and made me feel emotional, but to be honest, I can’t really remember much of it and I’m really sorry about that.

Not because I drank too much or because it passed in a whirlwind because frankly, I didn’t and it didn’t.

What was a magical day for you, was in fact our first wedding with a fully-fledged toddler. We’d attended two weddings before with our daughter when she was 10 weeks old and 6 months old but neither experience prepared us much for your wedding.

I wrongly assumed that it would be an easier affair as she got bigger, but no.

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