Until I became a mom, I was a point and shoot girl. However, when I had my baby girl, suddenly blah-blah snapshots weren't good enough and I found myself longing for the image that would catch for me the essence of who she was. Ben, definitely the techie in the family, bought the first digital camera, a step up from a point and shoot but not an slr. I started learning, I read books, I made tons of mistakes but when I managed to get a great shot, I studied what I did to try to repeat it. I went just about as far as I could with that camera. Then, two and a half years ago, my love of a husband spent hours researching and bought me a way better camera than I would have ever bought myself. I learned more and more. And now, six and a half years later, I have come a long ways. Confession: as far as I have come, I often look at a great shot that I have taken and think, "MAN, that was LUCKY!" There definitely are moments like that, but the reality is also that I have learned a lot about the principles of what goes into making a great shot. I have read some fabulous books that pushed me creatively and taught me how to get the look I want. I also have had to force my non-technical self to soldier through the technical information too. I am a work in progress.
I've had a lot of questions in the last year, and especially in the last few weeks from friends who are looking to buy a camera and want a little advice. I am far...far....FAR from an expert but I can tell you what I have.
First of all, to give myself a running start at the basic concepts of photography, I read these books which I highly recommend for beginners:
Both of the following were fabulous for a get-your-feet-wet approach:
Then when I got my digital slr (single lens reflex)...basically camera with removable lenses for those of you who don't know :), this book was SO HELPFUL to help me learn the functions of what this camera had to offer. I have read it several times over. Love. Love.
The other good read is my manual...not as fun...but important.
Also Big Picture Scrapbooking offers great courses at different levels with Elisha Snow and other photographers. This is the only class I have ever taken.
50 mm f/1.4- This is a portrait lens and I LOVE it...probably used it 90% of the time until I got the following lens. It's a prime lens (doesn't zoom...I have to run back and forth). Clear, crisp, great aperture (strong focal point and then great blur).
24-70 mm f/2.8L USM- This is my new zoom and I love it and am learning it. I read lots and lots of reviews before I bought it this summer.
85 mm f/1.8
28-135 mm f/3.5-5.6- my old zoom which was great but I don't use it now that I got my new zoom...thinking about selling it....
Speedlite 580 EX II- my fancy flash...although I really, really try to not use a flash and just use available light.
SanDisk Ultra II 4 GB compact flash memory cards-2
Crumpler Six Million Dollar Camera Bag
Tripod- never remember to use it.
Buying a Camera:
Basically, there are mainly two brands that people mostly fall into, Canon or Nikon. They are very comparable in many ways. What you want to remember if you are buying a slr, is that the bodies of camera change and upgrade as technology advances, so investing in your lenses is what you want to remember to do. If you have been using a point and shoot, and go to a digital slr, you will notice a huge improvement in quality, even if you just shoot fully in automatic.
Research, research and read reviews. You will learn a lot that way.
If you are wanting to get serious about photography and are starting to look at slr's, a good place to start looking is at the Canon Rebel series camera, great cameras at a good price.
Also, if you have decided on a product and want to compare prices, check out this website.
There's a lot of fancy schmancy post processing equipment out there and a lot of people who are far more qualified than I to talk about it so I will just say that I work to get the very best image I can on camera and then use Photoshop Elements. I am hoping to learn more about Photoshop.
In the end, I truly believe that the best expressions of art in my life....are the people in my life. Here is Theo under the canvases that I just had delivered last week. Big. I like big. I love them...the canvases and the kids on them.
A good camera does not necessarily make a good photographer. However, having a good camera...and learning some basic photography principles can make a HUGE difference in the way you record the ones you love.