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Do you ever wonder how so many newborn photographers seem to have perfect blankets and beautiful blanket fade in their images? I am going to share some tricks that will show you how to achieve that beautiful blanket fade.
It’s all about the blanket!
Good newborn blanket fade or blur (bokeh) is achieved with correct blanket placement. Like many, when I started out photographing newborns I used to hang my blanket directly behind the baby.The results are not bad using this method but pulling the blanket back and away from the baby you are more likely to achieve beautiful blanket fade. Simply pulling that blanket back will dramatically improve your ability to create a creamy blanket blur.
Many people ask why it is necessary to use so many layers. When posing newborns I use socks, burps rags, wash clothes, receiving blankets or anything that I can roll up underneath a baby. I place these items underneath all the layers between the beanbag and the blankets. This helps hide what is being used to prop the baby.
There are many good beanbags out there. I use a vinyl puck beanbag. I like this style of beanbag because it is easy to wash between sessions. It is also easy to slide layers onto the vinyl beanbag when posing newborns.
Choosing the right blanket
I am addicted to fabric and blanket shopping. I try to choose blankets that have a great deal of texture but are not going to over power the baby. I choose blankets or fabric with some stretch as well as ones that are soft. I do not use fabrics that may scratch or irritate a newborn’s skin. One of the most important things to consider when shopping for blankets is to make sure they are washable! I wash everything that touches a newborn’s skin and if I can’t wash it, I don’t buy it!
Used in this project and related actions:
Newborn Necessities™ Photoshop Actions$129.99 Sold By: MCP - Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets
Baby Steps™ Newborn Lightroom Presets$149.99 Sold By: MCP - Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets
It’s a Boy, It’s a Girl: Birth Announcement Card Templates$49.99 Sold By: MCP - Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets
I use two light stands with a backdrop pole attached to the stands. I have weights/sand bags on the light stands so that they don’t tip over. I have them set low to the ground (about 2.5 feet off the ground) and I pull them back to the front of the beanbag. I make sure that my blankets are very tight and have no wrinkles. I usually run them through the dryer prior to using them. This allows me to take the wrinkles out and also makes them nice and warm for the baby. Many times I have my assistant or a parent pull the blanket tightly on one side to avoid getting any wrinkles.
Getting the best bokeh
After my blanket is set up, the next goal is to choose my settings. I shoot with studio lights and when photographing a newborn on a beanbag I use one light and a reflector. I set my light to a very low power and shoot at f/2.0-f/2.2. With a nicely placed blanket and these settings it is easy to get beautiful blanket fade SOOC.
Remember, if you take the time to set it up right you will get great SOOC results and save yourself a ton of time with editing.
*Image edited using MCP Newborn Necessities Photoshop Actions
Memories by TLC is a fine art portrait studio specializing in newborn and child photography. My photography aims to capture brief moments in time that families will cherish forever. Website | Facebook