Annie’s Favourite Books, Age 5


Annie is a total bookworm, I love that if she goes quiet it’s because she’s curled up somewhere reading to herself.

As soon as she gets in the car she pulls out a book, she’ll even start reading on the walk home from school some days!

I thought it would be useful to compile a list of her favourite books, in the hope that if you’re searching for something new to read with your kiddo, you might get some ideas.

favourite books for 5 year olds |

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Fantastic Mr Fox
Roald Dahl is a firm favourite with Annie, his books are funny, dark and often include a fair dose of mischief! I think she really loves the fact that the child is the hero and triumphs over the mean, bullying headteacher, or gets to meet the queen. 

Zen Shorts
A panda called Stillwater moves in next to three children and through their growing friendship three zen parables are introduced.

The artwork is stunning, beautiful watercolour pictures that wouldn’t look out of place framed on the wall.

Both children love this book, and Annie often reads it to her brother. It is a book I never tire of reading and it results in some wonderful discussions.

We Are All Born Free
Annie’s guide parent bought her this when she was born. Honestly I expected it to stay on the shelf until she was much older but she really enjoys it. Each page has one of the human rights on it, illustrated by a different artist.

Some of the drawings are quite, ‘near the knuckle’, referencing slavery and torture but they are done in such a way that they don’t come across as patronising or scary.

Annie is young enough to assume that all of these things are true and I hope that she will bear this book in mind as she grows.

Disney’s 365 Stories for Girls
We read these every day last year and she enjoyed each one. The stories came from a range of movies so introduced her to new characters, as well as some firm favourites.

I’m not keen on the whole ‘for girls’ tag, as Ezra enjoyed the stories too, and I know Annie would have enjoyed reading about Lightning McQueen or Baloo the Bear, from the ‘boys’ version.

Disney’s Wonderful World of Reading Series
Annie was given a massive collection of these when she was tiny and they have become some of her favourite books. Each one tells the story of a Disney film in a bite size format and is the perfect length for a bedtime story.

I will often go in to her in the morning and find her in bed with a pile of these books, working her way through them.

Frozen, Book of the Film
There’s not a lot to say, it’s the book version of Frozen, so it had to be one of Annie’s favourites!

The Wonderful World of Knowledge – Dinosaurs
This was a random charity shop find and has been a huge hit. A lot of the language is too advance to Annie to read on her own, but we read it together and then get to talk about what we’ve just learnt.

I hope you found at least one new book on this list that appeals

What are your kiddo’s favourite books?

Posted in category: review, the kiddos

Silent Sunday – 25.01.2015


Silent Sunday Tiger Face Paint |

Posted in category: Silent Sunday

Make the Move to Manual – Priority Modes


The 3 components of the exposure triangle work together to create a ‘perfectly exposed’ photograph. If one changes than this must be balanced by the other two points.


Choosing a larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) lets more light reach the sensor so you need to use a shorter shutter speed.

Equally, using a long shutter speed (to capture motion), will mean you have to reduce the size of your aperture.

olympus trip 35 camera | Make the move to manual photography tutorials |

The Next Step

The next step away from automatic mode is to take back some manual control by trying out either aperture or shutter priority mode.

Most digital cameras have these ‘semi-manual’ modes, they allow you to control one of the settings and force the camera to change the other settings to compensate.

Aperture Priority

Usually represented by the A or Av symbol.

You’ll remember that the aperture controls the depth of field, so this mode gives you control over how much of your photo is in focus. It allows you to separate your subject from the background while your camera changes the shutter speed to compensate.

Just bear in mind that choosing a smaller aperture will result in longer shutter speeds. If the shutter speed drops below 1/60 you would probably want to use a tripod to avoid camera shake.

Also a longer shutter speed would result in motion blur which you may want to avoid. Bear this in mind when choosing your aperture setting.

Shutter Priority

Normally represented by a Tv or S symbol.

This is the mode to use when you want to control how much motion you capture. You can choose to freeze motion with a very short shutter speed, your camera will open the aperture up further to allow more light to reach the sensor, reducing depth of field.

If you want to show motion in your photograph then choosing a longer shutter speed will allow you to do this. This will force your camera to close the aperture, which will bring more of the scene into focus.

Remember though that longer shutter speeds increase the risk of camera shake so a tripod is a useful tool in the situations.

Go and Experiment

The best way to get to grips with these two shooting modes is to play with them. Experiment, see what happens when you alter a setting and the more you do this, the more sense it will all make.

Don’t get down if your photos don’t turn out like you expect they would, keep shooting and having fun with your camera and you will get there.

If you have any questions about the photography tutorials to date, feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

Best Camera For Holidays


If you’re going on holiday and wondering is the best camera to take, you have a number of options.

You can pack light and stick with your camera phone. The best reason for doing this is it’s small and pocket-able, if it gets lost or stolen then the cost to replace it is low and you’re probably taking it along with you any way.

The cons of only taking a camera phone is that the zoom on them tends to be minimal and if it gets stolen or broken then you’re left without a phone as well.

When we went to Vancouver before Annie was born I took my big DSLR with a couple of lenses. I managed to get some gorgeous photos and was able to capture images I’d not have been able to as well with my point and shoot.

Vancouver at night from our hotel room 2008 |

The downside to packing ‘the beast’ was that it was flipping heavy and I ended each day with an aching neck and shoulder. Also my professional set up was expensive and I spent a lot of my holiday worrying about theft, breakage or the x-ray machine in the airport wiping my CF cards.

The other choice is picking from the range of superzoom cameras. This is a camera that has a massive optical zoom, much preferred over digital zoom. Digital zoom isn’t technically zoom, it simply enlarges the centre portion of the image, whereas optical zoom uses optics to bring the subject closer.

The pros of a superzoom camera is that they pack a fantastic optical punch but in a pocket sized camera, perfect for taking on your holidays.

Nowadays I would probably choose to take a second small camera along with me on holiday, either a film camera or an instant film camera, so I’d definitely end up with ‘actual’ photographs at the end of the trip as well as digital ones.

What camera do you take on holiday?
Do you take more than one so you have a camera for ‘every occasion’?

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Make the Move to Manual – ISO


Today’s post introduces the final corner of the exposure triangle, ISO.

In traditional film photography, ISO is the measure of the film’s sensitivity to light, in digital photography ISO refers to the sensitivity of the sensor.

The higher the number, the more sensitive the sensor is to light. Higher ISO settings are traditionally used in darker settings, the pay off with this higher sensitivity though is that images get grainier the higher you push the ISO.

Make the Move to Manual ISO | Photography Tutorials | Make the Move to Manual ISO | Photography Tutorials | snowingindoors.comISO 3200        |          ISO 200

In the two pictures above you can see that the photo on the left is far grainier when viewed at 100% than the shot on the right. This is down to the ISO being so much higher in the first photo.

Different cameras will produce different levels of grain at the same settings. My Canon 50d DSLR is awful for producing grainy photos at low ISO settings, whereas my Fuji X100S handles low light much better and produces ‘quieter’ images at the same ISO setting.

The lowest ISO your camera provides is called your base ISO, using this will produce crisp, clean images of the highest quality.

The important thing to remember is that each step between the numbers doubles the sensors sensitivity. So ISO 400 is two times more sensitive than ISO 200, which in turn is two times as sensitive as ISO 100.

Stepping up your ISO from 100 to 400 will allow you to shoot at higher shutter speeds and with a smaller aperture.

For example if an image took a second to capture at ISO 100, changing the ISO to 800 would allow you to take the photo at 1/8 of a second. This is a massive difference when it comes to photographing children or any other moving subject!

I rarely use flash so always try and shoot at the lowest ISO possible to keep grain to a minimum, I only bump up my ISO when there isn’t enough light for me to capture an image clearly with the light available, and then, only as far as I need to go.

Key Points

1) The sensor sensitivity doubles with each step up in number

2) The higher your ISO, the grainer your image will be

So there you have it, the three corners of the exposure triangle explained. When you understand how the three of these work together it makes moving to manual so much easier.