February 3, 2009
An old friend (we met in pre-natal class 10 years ago and still keep in touch)
recently some time ago left this comment on my blog:
I would LOVE to take pics like yours, but I don't know where to start. Did you take a class? What kind of camera would you suggest as a good starter camera? [Husband's name removed for privacy] is picking up on my interest for Christmas, but I don't even know what to tell him!
Oops... I guess this advice comes a little late for Christmas. Maybe a new camera for Valentines Day? That would be one nice Valentine's Day gift by the way!
Anyway, it's late but I still wanted to answer these questions and point to some resources I have found helpful as I fumble my way to better photography.
Did I take a class? Nope, although I'm sure there are lots of out there. I've just read... lots. Mostly photography blogs, but not the super technical kind. The photography blogs I like tend to be written by women and mothers (like myself), who know something about photography (unlike myself) and are kind enough to share it with us all.
I have gleaned different tips from different writers. When I started reading I didn't understand all of the photography lingo, still don't, but I apply what I can, leave the rest and in this way move slowly towards taking better photos.
Photoshop & Editing
You didn't ask about this but as you read photography blogs Photoshop will come up often. My personal goal is to take better photos Straight Out of the Camera (SOOC) so I don't pay much attention to the Photoshop stuff on some of these sites.
I use Bibble for my basic editing like cropping and changing white balance (adjusting the white in your photos to really look white and not yellow, blue or some other color depending on the type of ambient light when you took the shot).
Refuse to Say Cheese and Beyond the Green Box Maybe I should of started with this instead of listing the blogs first. Because if I had to recommend one get-you-started resource it would be this. Except that it costs money whereas reading blogs is free!
I discovered these DVD's last fall and got them for a birthday gift. By that time I had actually learned on my own a lot of the technical information presented in the videos but I still learned new stuff, especially with regards to photography as story telling. Story telling does not require a spectacular camera by the way but an eye to look for and capture the "story" of that moment. The video explains this much better and was very inspiring. Story telling is a direction I'm trying to travel in. Refuse to Say Cheese inspired the creativity behind this shot, one of my favorites of Brienne from last year.
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera is a good book, a tad more technical and definitely geared for an SLR camera but the photos are so inspiring. I'm slowly working my way through it.
I started my journey to better photography with maxing out the features of my old point and shoot. When I reached the limits of that we started to investigate our DSLR options. Late last summer a familial gift largely expanded these options (thank you, thank you, thank you Mom & Dad).
We made the choice to buy the best gear we could with the money we had because my goal is to become a very good photographer. Damien did most of the research so I couldn't necessarily tell you all the specs on this camera but I LOVE it.
I also can't really recommend a different camera because I don't know enough cameras in general. I'd check the sites I referenced above for some gear recommendations. My old point and shoot was a Canon and it took pretty good photos. Here's one of my favorites from years ago.
When we were looking at cameras we decided to get a Nikon and were looking at the D60 and D80 before choosing the D300. But now that the D90 is out with video options that sounds kind of cool.
That's about all I have to say on the subject, except go for it! Photography has become a huge creative outlet (bye bye crochet - I was never very good anyway) and has the potential to move me in a professional direction I never would of planned. I love it and so might you. At the very least, learning a few tricks of the trade (natural light being the biggie as far as I'm concerned) together with a basic DSLR will help you better capture those beautiful everyday moments of your family's life.
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