Newborn Photography: How To Achieve The Blanket Fade In Camera

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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.

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Layering blankets

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.

Beanbags

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!

Hanging Blankets

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.

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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.

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*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

 

 

 

 

 

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22 Comments and 1 Replies



  1. 1
    Erica says:

    Could you elaborate more on where/how you position your light and reflector? I’m trying to decipher from the photos above, but it looks like there are 3 different lights set up, even though you said you only use one. Thanks for this great post!

  2. 2
    Tracy Hoexter says:

    Thank you for these great tips! Would you give us more details on the size and type of softbox you use? As well your reflector… looks like you have one of the large ones!
    Thanks!

  3. 3

    this is a great tutorial! makes it so easy =)

  4. 4

    Thank you for the tips! I have everything except a proper backdrop stand (have been propping blankets over the backs of chairs) and I think that would make a world of difference.

  5. 5
    Annette says:

    Would love to know where you got the adoreable hat and props. Thanks for sharing.

  6. 6
    Elizabeth C. says:

    Great article! Definitely gave me some ideas– I don’t have my blankets directly behind the baby, but I also definitely don’t use as shallow of an angle as you suggested. I’ll have to try it out!

  7. 7
    Laurel says:

    Thank you for the article – it was so helpful – where do you put your reflector? What kind of studio lights do you use?

  8. 8
    Alice C. says:

    That’s super helpful! I haven’t shot newborns, but if I ever get the chance I am definitely heading back to this post!

  9. 9
    Samantha says:

    I am totally guilty of pulling the blanket straight up behind the baby, but I honestly never knew that this shot was achieved by pulling it back and away, I feel like such a dork for not realizing it on my own! Thanks for the tips, please keep them coming!

  10. 10
    Mindy says:

    pullbacks are always so helpful, thank you!

  11. 11

    Thank you! The soft box is an extra large soft box placed on an AB800 powered very low. The reflector is a large white reflector.
    Stay tuned to MCP’s blog for more articles on newborn props, lighting techniques etc!

  12. 12
    Christina says:

    Thank you so much for the pullback details and about how to get it correct in camera, VERY helpful!

  13. 13
    Jane Ball says:

    Cheers for the insight into Epiphanie and the chance to win one of their fabulous camera bags. If I’m lucky enough to be a winner I would like “Clover” in red please !!

    Many thanks,

    Jane Ball

    P.S I find MPC Actions extremely helpful and informative. I shall be adding a link to my website ( I already “like” you on Facebook and subscribe to your blog.

  14. 14
    Ivana Lane says:

    I would love BELLE bag, looks like I could fot everything in it! Beautiful!!!

  15. 15
    Cari Chee says:

    Jodi, I’ve been following your blog for over a year now, and I just had to comment after your last few posts. I’m constantly inspired by your positive attitude and your dedication to teaching. I love your photo challenges, and I’ve learned so much from your tutorials. Thank you for taking the take and effort to better the industry. You’re very appreciated!

  16. 16
    Jean says:

    Thanks!

  17. 17
    A. Rose says:

    Thanks for the tip! I’d love to see more articles about studio shooting. So much of the info out there is about lighting with your patio door or windows, etc. which I think is super great but for those of us who don’t have that option so we decided to go with studio lights instead it’s nice to have someone help us out with topics such as feathered lighting and camera settings. I’m still working on my settings. I seem to get blown out images with anything wider than f5, I have a 300watt JTL with a 60″ Octobox so I am still figuring out if I have my light too close or my settings wrong. I’d love to shoot wider on my f stop but still lookin’ in forums for studio help. What a great resource your site it! Thanks for sharing!!!

  18. 18
    Jennifer says:

    what is that white screen you have in one of the pics?

  19. 19
    Ryan says:

    What size puck bag are you using? It looks like 40″ diameter. Can a beginner get away with a 30″ regular bag? Obviously, the puck is better, but for the newbie… can you get away with a cheap smaller bag first? Thank you!

    P.S. Where are your favorite places to shop for blankets? I see great stuff at IKEA, but there is no IKEA in my state.

  20. 20
    Helen says:

    Hi! Thanks for this…. Just a quick question….. What size is the blanket you are using? X

  21. 21
    sarah says:

    This is FANTASTIC! I am a beginner photographer and will be doing a newborn shoot this week. A couple of questions that anyone is free to answer… How long/wide should the blanket be? Is the back drop really only 2.5foot high at the back????? and How far away from the baby should you be standing whilst shooting with a 50mm (non zoom) lens? I seem to have to stand so far back that I get all the behind the scenes stuff in the shot just so I can fit the baby’s entire body in my viewfinder.???? Sorry if the questions are ridiculous but I am SOOOO eager to learn how to shoot properly! :) Thanks in advance

  22. 22
    Erin says:

    Hi there. I layer my blankets on my posing ottoman but find that things start out smooth when I am on my top layers but when I flip to a bottom layer it is no longer smooth and you can more easily see the outline of the blankets, towels etc I am using to prop the baby. How do I keep that smooth look? Thanks



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