Inside My Camera Bag + Some Basic Photography Tips

Sunday, November 9, 2014


I've never taken a photography class and the very little I know has been learned through trial and a whole lot of errors! And also (nearly) daily using my camera. I am about the least qualified person on the subject, but for the ladies who have asked over the last years and then again here for a post on photography, this is for you :)

1. My Camera & Lens: Canon 5d Mark III & Sigma 50mm 1.2 lens. Every photo prior to two months ago was taken with my Nikon d90 & 50mm 1.8 lens. There are a lot of differences between Nikon and Canon and most days I'm still trying to figure out how to really work the 5d! To answer your unasked question, yes, I had to save for a few years but it already has been absolutely worth it!

A good piece of advice I received when Cam and I were getting ready to buy the d90 was that you don't need a camera that is considered "professional" to take good photos; you just need to get to know your DSLR inside and out and push it as far as it'll take you... then if you want to upgrade, upgrade. I think the best way to get to know your camera is to shoot as often as possible and in manual:

2. Shooting in manual requires a balance between the aperture (f/stop), ISO and shutter speed. All three of these control how much light is brought in to your camera. When I first started and had absolutely no idea what those three things meant, I found the blog Click It Up A Notch and specifically this helpful page.

I think everyone has a preference with how they like to adjust the aperture, ISO and shutter speed and it always helps me when I actually get to see what each were set to in someone else's photo.


Here my camera was set to f/1.6, ISO 100 and 1/320 s.  In general, I like to keep a low aperture (anywhere from 1.2 - 2.8) and a low ISO.

3. The three things I love to take photos of the most are travel (seeing another culture and land through the lens is so much fun to me!), John Shea + Cam and food photography. I shoot in manual and always in natural light... I don't ever use a flash. I know a lot of people who do and take lovely photos, but that's my preference! The best times of the day are when the light is softest: early in the morning and especially in the late afternoon/early evening and during golden hour before sunset. I try to avoid the middle of the day when the sun is high and creates a harsh light, or try to find a shady spot.

4. Shooting Indoors: Unless it's at a time of day when there's tons of sunlight streaming in, you'll want to have a lens with a low f/stop (aperture) that goes to 1.8 or lower. I had the 50mm 1.8 Prime lens (meaning the lens is fixed -- you cannot zoom in or out -- you have to literally move your feet closer or further away from the object you're focused on) that cost no more than $100. It was a wonderful lens to learn manual with and every photo on my blog prior to September was taken with it:


Unedited little darling!


(all taken with Nikon d90 & 50mm 1.8 lens)

5. Food Photography: Natural light! I almost always take photos of my recipes outside. When inside, I use our beautiful farm table that is right next to a large window. I pull the white cotton curtain closed to act as a buffer for the bright light and to allow me to set my aperture lower. If you're taking photos of food, your children or whatever your subject is, it's best to have a window or some source of natural light nearby. When I first started photographing and sharing recipes on my blog, I read From Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin, and would recommend it!


6. Editing: I have Lightroom but mostly just quickly use Photoshop Elements. I like to keep my photos as natural as possible, so all the editing I ever do is slightly raise the brightness and contrast with a little sharpening and saturation or vibrance when it's needed. There are a lot of great filters and editing presets out there (if I used one it'd be VSCO!) and I see a lot of photographers doing amazing things with them. I love Shannon's photography and editing! My personal preference for my own photos is the less editing the better. I like fresh, crisp and natural. Haha, or atleast that's what I try to go for! If I don't take a photo that seems to fit that, and needs a lot of editing, I tend to just delete it. Here is an example of straight from camera and then edited:


Straight from my camera, taken outside in the shade (f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/250 s)


Edited: I raised the brightness +10, the contrast +6, the sharpness to 75 and the saturation +7 in Photoshop Elements.

7. Storing Photos & Shooting in Raw: I upload all of my photos directly to an external hard drive and no longer to my computer or into Lightroom. I shoot in raw so each photo is HUGE and before I knew it, after the first year and a half in Okinawa, taking photos every single day, my poor computer was running so incredibly slow, driving Cam insane. He spent hours transferring the obscene amount of photos from my computer to a hard drive and I made a promise to him that I would do the same from then on out.

8. Sizing Down: I size down all of my photos that I put on the blog to 640 pixels wide. I do that to match the maximum width of my post column, and also to act as a kind of copyright or determent to stealing since they're very low-pixel quality.

I hope something in this post was helpful :) Any questions??! Any tips you've learned you'd like to share!?

20 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! I enjoy your photography tremendously and these tips are very helpful! I'm a travel blogger and really enjoy travel photography however I've definitely gotten in the habit of shooting in no-flash manual then making all my adjustments in Lightroom. I'll follow your recommendations though and hopefulllly hop over to manual one of these days. :)

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    1. Thank you, Margo! Haha, yes, do!! It makes all the difference!!

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  2. THANK YOU so so much! I also find that it helps tremendously when I know which settings the camera was on when the photo was taken. It still is a lot of trial and error, but with photography the rewards are just so high, that it really is worth it! I am all up for any other advice you have, even if it's just a snippet - sometimes that's the kind of information I (or someone else!) has been waiting for ;)
    xx

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    1. If you think of any, let me know! And thank you! Sorry- wish I knew more.. but most of the time I have NO idea what I'm doing :)

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  3. love!!!! you have such a natural eye for photography and i enjoy it sooo much! thanks for sharing this, beauty!

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    1. thanks Britt!!! Love your photography and eye for everything!!

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  4. Thank you so much, this is such a helpful post! I use Nikon but I keep seeing everyone switch to Cannon, makes me think I made a mistake or something! Oh well, I do really love my camera it has been perfect for a learning how to use a DSLR. I love your style of photography and also like natural and minimally edited photos. My next hope is to learn how to use Lightroom for those small edits. Currently my photos on the blog are 100% unedited because I don't know how. I'd really like to learn how to give my images that extra edge. Great post :) Thank you! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

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    1. LOVE this post and I need to go back through and re-read it but Theresa, I just wanted to quickly say that I don't think you made a mistake with Nikon (of course I'm a slightly biased Nikon-user as well). However, I'm truly eager to hear why she switched to Canon but I think there are some pretty equivalent advantages to both Nikon AND Canon... unless Amanda knows something that we don't know (and in that case, please share!).

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    2. Hi Theresa! I LOVED my Nikon and the only reason I switched to Canon was because I read about a thousand reviews while researching that the 5d is the best or one of the best DSLRs on the market right now and had better reviews than the Nikon equivalent. The first camera I ever bought was film and it was Canon, and then I switched to Nikon because I heard great things about the d90 and now am back to Canon... and will probably one day (though I hope not for a long long time since this cost us a small fortune!) go back to Nikon. Anyways, all that to say, no you definitely didn't make a mistake! Nikon is amazing. They both are. I really don't think you could go wrong with either Nikon or Canon! There are a lot of videos on youtube and blogs if you google what you'd like to learn in Lightroom. Honestly, that's how I've learned the few things I can do in LR and PSE! And your photos are amazing unedited!!

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    3. Haha, Kara, nope, I know nothing. I love both! If Nikon had as solid reviews for their 5d equivalent, I would have stuck with Nikon - I loved my camera!

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  5. Thanks so much for writing this post! It is so helpful and inspiring! I love love love your photography!

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  6. Ah yes. I'm in the process of upgrading from the D7000 to the 810. I pushed the button once and then I freaked out because of how much it costs. BUT knowing that being a photographer it's part of the biz. I think I'm just gonna have to get over it!

    PS - love your natural editing. I'm the same way. www.amandaenglishphotography.com

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    1. What did you think of the D7000?? I'm sure once you start using it you'll quickly forget how much you paid for it :)

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    2. I loved my D7000. I still have it and plan (for now) to keep it once I get the 810 as a backup. My primary reason for wanting the D810 was ISO issues. With my D7000 it would get considerably grainy when enlarging images at ISO 800. Which of course leaves me uncomfortable with clients wanting images big!

      My favorite lens now is my Nikon 85mm f/1.8 (FX) so I can still use it with the D810. I also have the 50mm f/1.8 (FX) and it's OK. Just depends on distance for sharpness is my issue with it. ;) I also have a 35mm (DX) so I won't be able to use that one anymore with the D810.

      YES, my plunge is going to be before the end of the year. ;)

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  7. This bag looks very expensive. It is an excellent size for books and papers which i will be using for the office. It could also be used for a handbag! Thank you so much.
    top handbag brands

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  8. Thanks for your thoughts, Whether you’re a professional photographer or just a casual shutterbug, at some point you’ll find yourself looking at bags, trying to find the perfect one for a long trip. The requirements for a travel bag are a bit different than a standard bag you’d use to carry your camera and gear to a photography site for an afternoon. Although you’ll still want easy access and lots of room, you’ll be concentrating more on what makes a bag sturdy enough for traveling long distances.

    Camera and Laptop Bag

    ReplyDelete

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