greetings from sunny (and foggy) los angeles, ca


Hi, I'm heather. I like taking pictures. I take a lot of them. I stay up way too late. I wake up with my kids way too early (for me). Though slowly I'm learning that sleep is good.

I love photographing newborns, toddlers, kids (I've got two of my own), families, pets...you name it! Large groups and weddings make me way too nervous, but I'd be happy to refer you to other photographers in the area.

I love to hear your comments, so feel free to add to my blog by posting. Having a hard time remembering "umami?" Well, I wanted a name that would be easy to remember, spell and find, but apparently I did none of that, so if you'd like to get emails when I post, just add your email to the "subscribe here" box... you'll be the first to find out when I'll be offering mini sessions and other specials!

have a happy day... heather

1.12.2009

I got an SLR, now what?

So I seem to get this question all the time. Or something like, "I've got really fast kids and my point and shoot is too slow. I want something that takes the picture when I push the button. Should I get one of those SLRs?"

Okay, I'm no expert, but this is the advice I've got for you (now I'll just point everyone to this blog post).

First question. SLR or Point-and-shoot?
Well, I've got a couple SLRs and an old point and shoot (Sony Cybershot circa 2003...wedding gift from my Uncle Craig... I was still anti-digital up until this point but decided to take it on our honeymoon and have never looked back to film). Oh, our wedding was shot all with film but now I see some of the advantages of digital wedding images (photoshop manipulations, magazine style albums and the ability to share the images online with friends).

The Cybershot worked great until I had kids. That's when the second or two delay really let me down. I got pretty decent at anticipating a shot, but still I'd have to take a zillion pictures to get a good one. So on to my first DSLR purchase, the Canon Rebel XT. So for the most part I've been lugging that bad boy around with me everywhere the last few years (kind of a pain) and there's no hiding this guy in your pocket at a girls night out dinner. So for Xmas this year I asked for a new point and shoot. I let my husband do most of the research but told him one of those small Canons would probably be good or there's this Olympus that's waterproof that I though would be a fun feature to have. So he got me the Canon Powershot SD770IS. For sure there is still a delay, but it's not as bad as on my old point and shoot.

Here's the thing, point and shoots for the most part, try to get everything in the picture to be in focus. Stuff in the foreground, stuff in the background...it's all in focus. So when you get your pictures back from Costco, you're like, "Hey, these are all in focus, they look great." You can run into problems if there's not enough light, but you get that with all cameras. If you have a DSLR, depending on which settings you choose, you can get lots of pictures that are not in focus or are over/under exposed (ie. pictures that look worse than what you'd get with a point and shoot).

If you want a handy dandy camera that you don't have to wear around your neck, you want pictures that are in focus and the delay doesn't drive you nuts, then a point and shoot is what you need. There are tons of great ones out there. If you want one of the top of the line point and shoots with almost as many options as a DSLR, you might want to check out the Canon G10.

Picture me yabbering on and on about this at all the holiday parties... aren't you glad you can just scroll down to the pictures?

Okay, so if the delay on the point and shoot is causing you to miss all your 2 month old's quick smiles and you're just going crazy about it, OR if you want to try your hand at photography and learn how to make your pictures even better, then pick up a DSLR. Nikon and Canon are the two most popular brands, though Sony, Olympus, and uh... other companies (can't think of any right now), make great cameras too. Main thing with Canon and Nikon is that they both offer lots of lens choices and you can buy/sell used gear. Once you pick a brand, you will probably want to stick with it since the lenses are not interchangeable (you can't put a Canon lens on a Nikon body). I don't really know much about Nikons other than I have friends that have them and love them, but I just chose the Canon route.

Which DSLR to get?
3 years ago I got the entry level DSLR - the Canon Rebel Xt. For about $1000 I got the camera, the kit lens, and a 1GB memory card. Canon has come out with a few different versions of the Rebel since then (so many I can't keep up), but the Rebel is usually the one I recommend to people who want to get a DSLR. If you look at my blog, I shot all my pictures with that camera up until about Nov 2008, when I upgraded to a gently used Canon 5D. You can usually find the last couple of Rebel models for sale... the older model will save you some cash, but read up on the features to see if the newest model has some improvements that would be worth the extra cost.

One of the reasons I got the Rebel was because it was the smallest and lightest DSLR available. There are pros and cons to being small and light... the best thing to do is to go to a store and hold the camera, play around with it and see how it feels in your hands. Some people with bigger hands feel it's too small and uncomfortable. It worked great for me until I started putting big lenses on front... it just wasn't as balanced as it is on my new heavier camera body. The next step up from the Rebel series is the 30D, 40D, 50D series - heavier and geared more toward semi-pro and pro photographers.

I bought the camera, now what?
Scenario 1. I just want to take pictures of my kids, cats, whatever...most important this to me is that when I push the button, the picture has been taken. I don't really care to spend time learning about shutter speeds and apertures. Hey, isn't ISO short for "in search of"?

You can use your DSLR as a glorified point and shoot. Just set it to auto and it'll work just like a regular point and shoot only it'll get you the picture you want a bit faster. I'd guess that auto will get you a decent picture 85% of the time. It won't get you the best picture (for that, some circumstances require you to shoot on manual), but you'll usually get a picture that's in focus and exposed well enough. Some things you may want to add to your shopping cart: a zoom lens so you can get in closer at soccer games and an extra battery (good to have a backup so you can still shoot if one battery is charging).

Scenario 2. I want to take pictures of my kids, cats, whatever... and I want to learn more about how to get a better picture. Like how do you make it so your kid is in focus, but the background is blurry... so the kid really stands out.

So this is a bit how I started. I had taken a few photo classes in high school and after college so I had a basic understanding of apertures, shutter speeds, depth of field. But the more I learned, the more I realized how much I didn't know. If you go online, there are tons of resources that can help you in your quest to learn. Here are some suggestions...

  • Just go out and take a lot of pictures... all the time.
  • Read some books. I read through a couple of these Photo Workshop books at the book store and they were easy to follow and had pictures to illustrate their points. They also have an online group and assignments you can do if you buy the book... sounds interesting, but I haven't tried it yet.
  • Take a class through your local community college.
  • Post your pictures in an online forum for people to critique (some of the comments may be tough to hear, but it can be very eye-opening).
  • Search out online forums for the type of photography you're interested in (landscape, portraiture, wedding...). Here's the Canon forum.
  • Find photographers you like and follow their blogs. Many photographers will post tips (like this) and some answer questions if you post on their blogs. Visiting blogs are great for inspiration and for learning (I like to try and figure out how they got certain shots).
Want to be inspired? Some blogs I frequent:
If you want to learn enough so that you can take a photo in manual (instead of auto), this 50mm 1.8 lens is a good (and affordable) one to use when you're trying to learn the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO. A 50mm lens has a fixed focal length... your feet are the zoom. We've gotten so used to all our our point and shoot cameras having bit zooms, that we've forgotten what's it like to NOT have a zoom. Well, this is it. Pop it on your camera and get walking... run forward if you want to get closer, step back if you want to get further from your subject.

So that's my intro for now... go out and take some pics. I'll be doing that tomorrow afternoon!
Hope I didn't put you to sleep. I think I deserve to go watch the rest of Season 3 of Entourage now! Thanks for hanging out on my blog. And be sure to join me over at facebook since I seem to be attached at the hip with it now that I can upload pictures from my iphone to facebook from the road. I love to hear your comments and will try to answer any questions.

I'll be back soon! Here are a couple quick pics of my handsome nephews and one of crazy kaylie from our trip to the Phoenix Zoo.

recycle girl



finn



mason



christian

1 comment:

Sawah Ryan said...

I saw your post this morning. So helpful. I've been eyeing the Cannon Rebel that's at Costco. It's only $550 so I'm thinking I'll take the leap. I HATE that I miss his great shots because of the delay. i just didn't realize that that was a big deal for everyone - I thought I just had a slow camera!