Monday, August 30, 2010

Everyday Details

Have you ever wanted to take pictures of details: books, favorite things, meals, etc? This is especially important if you are a blogger and want to post the best photos you can take on your blog.

To achieve great detail shots you'll need:

1) Good light - the quality of light can make or break an image.
In my piggy bank photos, the subject is illuminated by a nice bright window (facing the window.) 

2) Shallow depth of field - using a wide open aperture will focus on the subject matter and leave the background nice and creamy.

3) Shutter speed - to achieve sharper detail images, I generally do not let my shutter speed drop below 1/80. Ideally I like to shoot at 1/100 or faster.

4) Post processing -  I try to keep post processing to a minimum.  However my favorites are a mix of Totally Rad Actions and Kubota Actions. The following images feature: Boutwell Magic Glasses 40%, Midbright 20% and Smarter Sharp.

Time for some photo examples, with my cute little piggy bank.

camera: 5D Mark II
lens: 50mm 1.2 L
settings: f/2.2, 1/100, 50mm, 1000 iso

The above image of Piggy was captured with my beloved 50mm 1.2 L glass lens. L glass is top of the line, professional quality and it's expensive. The good news is there are three different 50mm lenses to choose from. A 50 mm f/1.2 L, 50mm f/1.4 and 50 mm f/2.8 will allow you to have a wide open aperture and background blur. The quality of each lens will affect the end result.

Also, the more expensive the camera, the better the results. The examples below show how the lenses performed on a Canon 40D and a Canon 5D Mark II.

Here you might be able to see the difference in quality between the 50mm 1.8 and the 50mm 1.4.
Both images shot with Canon 40D, f/2.2, 1/100, 50mm, 1000 iso

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beginner Lenses for Photography

Ready to branch out from your kit lens?  Here's a little look into beginner lenses and man oh man, the choices you have!

If you're standing at Best Buy staring into that little display case, the options are pretty limited. But start digging online at or BH Photo Video and suddenly the options become overwhelming. When it comes to photography, the better the glass (aka the lens) the better the picture.  But not everyone has a ton of money to spend on super expensive glass. Not to mention, not everyone needs super expensive glass. 90% of the lenses I use are L glass lenses (top of the line) but there are several more affordable options for beginners.

Here are my recommended lenses for beginner and hobbyist photographers. Note: these are all Canon compatible lenses. If you shoot Nikon or another camera body you'll need to do a google search for Sigma lenses for your camera, etc.

1.  The Sigma 24-70mm 2.8 opens wide to 2.8 for low light situations.  Meaning, you'll be able to capture lots of ambient light with this lens.  The zoom is great for practicing portraits as well as capturing mountain vistas, a super excited labrador and just everyday life.  It's a great all purpose lens for aspiring pros, beginners and hobbyists.

2.  The Sigma 10-22mm 4-5.6 is a great ultra wide lens that captures fun landscape, scenery and wildlife photos.  The only downside is this lens is only compatible with crop-sensor camera bodies. Which means:  it is made to work with crop-sensor cameras like the EOS Rebel but not a full-frame camera like EOS 5D Mark II.

3.  The Canon 50mm 1.8 is a great starter lens for beginners or aspiring pros on a super budget.  This prime lens (meaning, it does not zoom) is great for learning low light photography, night photography and portraits.

4.  The Sigma 50mm 2.8 macro lens... we love it so much.  This is THE lens we use for our ring shots at weddings.  It's perfect for capturing ring shots, flowers and other itty bitty things up close.  Best of all, it won't break the bank.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Beginner Cameras for Photography

One of the most often asked questions I hear is what kind of camera should I buy? Canon or Nikon? Fixed lens or interchangeable? Manual capability or fully automatic? And that's just questions about the camera body. What kind of lens? Well, that's a whole other round of questions! So let's calm down and be one with nature. Find our photography zen shall we? Ok... so here are some basic tips for picking out the right camera for you.

Canon or Nikon? I shoot with Canon. I started shooting with Canon because my mom had an old Canon camera from back in the day and it was a great reliable camera.  Some people like to say that one feels better in their hands than the other. Others will point out specific technical flaws between the two and choose one over the other. Honestly, I believe the choice between Canon or Nikon is solely a personal preference. I love my Canon camera and it works for me. You might like Nikon, or even another brand.

Fixed Lens or Interchangeable Lenses?

A fixed lens is just like it sounds: the lens is fixed. You can't change the lens and it's the one you have for life. All point and shoot cameras are fixed lens cameras. That being said, a fixed lens camera has major limitations. If you ever want to learn how to use your camera creatively to the fullest extent or start a photography business, you will eventually need a camera with different lenses.

Interchangeable lenses are changeable depending on your creative needs. For this reason I recommend getting a camera with the ability to change lenses. You can start out with one lens but you will want the option to add more lenses later down the road.

Fully Automatic or Manual Capability?

All point and shoot cameras are fully automatic. A few higher end point and shoots also have manual capability (but still have a fixed lens.) The obvious benefit of a fully automatic camera is the camera does everything for you. You get to point and shoot. The camera decides all the settings to capture the image. The downside to this is you have no creative control over the image. The camera will never understand when you want to capture a silhouette photo or if you'd like to capture ambient light and not use flash. The only thing you can truly control is composition.

Manual capability gives you full creative control of your camera. Learning to shoot in manual at first seems overwhelming, but with practice it will soon feel like riding a bike and become second nature.  With manual capability you are able to choose the different outcomes of your images and control all aspects of the camera. I always recommend choosing a camera with manual capability. I shoot in manual 100% of the time unless I'm shooting with my iPhone or point and shoot camera.