As you know, I am a beginner when it comes to photography. So naturally it came as a huge surprise to me that so many of you have left comments and sent emails asking what camera and lenses I have, what I use to edit my photos, and for advice when it comes to shooting photos. Afterall…I am definitely not a professional. Let me repeat that…I HAVE LITTLE TO NO KNOWLEDGE WHEN IT COMES TO PHOTOGRAPHY. I just know what I like and what I think looks pretty. And sometimes I get a little lucky.
So first let me tell you about my gear. I own a Rebel XSi. My darling boyfriend bought it for me as a first anniversary present. Little did he know that he bought me my ultimate accessory. Now I rarely leave the house without it strapped around my neck or tucked into my purse. I chose this camera because it was an easy to use beginners DSLR. A DSLR basically means that it is a digital camera that can handle different lenses and can give the photographer accurate framing at the time of picture taking. The Rebel XSi is a 12.2 megapixel camera…so basically it takes big quality photos perfect for printing. And being a beginners DSLR doesn’t mean that it is exactly cheap. They usually run around $500 so this is definitely an investment.
As far as lenses go, I own two lenses. The first is the lens that came with my camera – it is the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 ISO (pictured above). It is great as far as cheap lenses go especially since I can get pretty wide angles on the thing and it goes down to f/3.5 (which in my opinion is okay for outdoor pictures and well-lit areas). Here are some examples of photos I have taken with it:
I also own the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. Since the f-stop on this lens goes all the way to 1.8, it can produce those fuzzy backgrounds that I love and does some pretty amazing portraits. Also, it works much better than my other lens in low light situations. I think that it is the best piece of equipment for a Canon for a tight budget (it costs less than $100!).
The bad part is that it is a fixed lens (meaning you can’t zoom in or out…well…you can but you do it with your feet.) Also, it is loud when it focuses…so it’s not exactly appropriate for your kid’s school poetry reading but perfectly fine for a choral recital. Here are some pictures that have been taken with the nifty fifty:
My last little piece of photography equipment is not actually mine. It’s a wide angle lens adapter that screws onto the 18-55mm lens. I ordered one after borrowing my little sisters and it is a really FUN little ditty to play with even though it doesn’t produce the best quality of photos. It does do quite a bit of distortion and vignetting but can capture super wide angles without the hefty pricetag of a real lens. Speaking of pricetag, did I mention it is like $8 ?! Yeah. I’ve paid more for bacon. Here’s a link to one site that sells them.
And here is what some of the photos look like when you use it (keep in mind that these are all-the-way-zoomed-out so basically I am right up on top of the subject when shooting!):
Also, every photo (and I mean EVERY SINGLE photo) that makes it onto the blog is edited. I wish that I were that good to produce flawless pictures with the correct exposure and perfect focusing that I didn’t have to edit them but alas, I am not that talented. Therefore, I download all my photos and they go through the editing process in Photoshop.
There could be a million and a half editing questions out there so I will just give you the basics. A couple of Christmas’s ago, my darling boytoy bought me Photoshop Elements. I would have been perfectly happy with that. But my photo editing software story doesn’t end there…I was able to score a free copy of Photoshop CS4 (which is part of the Adobe Design package) from a friend. CS4 allows for actions. Actions are like shortcuts to editing quickly and efficiently. Many of the actions that I use are free curtesy of The Pioneer Woman and Coffee Shop.
Now onto education. Everything that I have learned about photography and editing has been from online reading of other blogs, googling and personal experience. I have read my camera’s manual about four times cover to cover but that is the only book I have ever read when it comes to picture taking. I have been able to subscribe to several natural light photog blogs and they teach me something new every time the author posts. Since I modeled a bit after college, I learned how to be in front of the camera and that experience has definitely helped me in the areas of lighting, texture and angles. The rest has been from shooting, shooting, shooting.
When it comes to actually shooting pictures, I only shoot in manual mode. As I was learning I started out with my Aperture Priority setting and then moved on to manual. Shooting in manual forces the photographer to learn how to adjust their ISO, f-stop and shutter speed to capture their image with the right amount of lighting. And speaking of lighting, recently I started shooting in RAW (versus previously shooting in JPEG). This option allows me to adjust the exposure after the fact in Lightroom. This is a program that came with my Adobe package and I love being able to quickly change the lighting and clarity and individual color saturations and hues.
Finally, there is my wish list. Like any self-taught photographer, I definitely feel like there is tons of room to grow. I also realize that I have learned how to use my camera to the maximum. And a hunter is only as good as the spear he carries. So therefore I would like to graduate to a more advanced spear. Namely the 50D. Or the Canon 5D Mark II if I was feeling especially generous toward myself. According to my research, I have found that the 50D is the next step for advanced amatuers. Also, I would very much like to get a Canon Speedlite 430EX II after reading about how effective they can be when shooting in lower light. Of course, I would be mistaken not to mention that it would be cool to have a Tamron 28-75/2.8. Lastly, I would like a Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 lens…so that by the time Will is playing soccer I can capture his kickin’ skills.
So there you have it folks…everything that you need to know about my photography brain cells. Anyone else out there with a camera on their wishlist? Or maybe you are like me and just wanna upgrade? Perhaps you just need a little push to snag a DSLR and this is the post that pushed you over the ledge? Jump ya’ll. It’s really fun to fall for photography. heehee…the cheese continues 🙂