Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Photography Post

I get asked about photography all the time lately.  What gear do I use? How do I edit?  How did I learn?  And many of you have asked for a photography blog post of sorts.  So finally, finally, I'm delivering.  Sort of.  I'm going to try and keep this super basic; I more want to share about the tools I've used to get to where I currently am.  I still have plenty to learn and am improving constantly.  Even photos from just 6 months ago can make me cringe, let alone the ones I used when I first started blogging.  There are amazing online classes & tutorials all over the internet!  I'm just here to nudge you all in the right direction.

50mm 1.4    ISO 200  f/3.5  1/500

The Gear

I shoot with a Canon Rebel SL1.  The SL stands for super light, which is a huge huge perk!  I almost always have my camera in my bag, so I really appreciate that it's not one of the heavier cameras on the market.  And I am completely smitten with the white color; it's so me!  But keep in mind that all lenses (besides the kit lens) will still be black.  Otherwise, this camera is just your pretty basic beginner DSLR, but I seriously love it.  And I'll probably won't upgrade until I am ready (can afford...) the mack daddy of Canon cameras
My 50mm 1.4 lens is on my camera 99% of the time.  And I totally think it's worth the extra money to get the 1.4 instead of the 1.8 (nifty fifty).  I also have a 24mm 2.8 which is an inexpensive lens that is nice to have on hand for indoor shots, but is by no means necessary.  I really want a 35mm, but I'm saving up for that lens!

50mm 1.4  ISO 800  f/2.8  1/500

The Editing

I edit my blog photos & my instagram photos differently.  For the blog, I currently just make minor edits in "Photos".  I may straighten, crop, brighten, and/or sharpen.  Occasionally I'll mess with the contrast & the saturation.  I have Photoshop Elements (I wanted to start with something simple & basic), but I have yet to even attempt to use it.  I really need to take the time to watch some youtube tutorials and figure it out, because I know that I am missing out on plenty of post processing potential in my photography.  And once I feel like I have a good grasp on editing, I'll finally start shooting in RAW.

50mm 1.4    ISO 100  f/2.5  1/800

For Instagram, I do quite a bit more with editing.  I like that my feed flows & that my photos have the same style & feel.  I always start my edits in VSCO.  I use A6 (at +6 strength) for every single photo (or B3 for my black & whites).  From there, my editing totally depends on the photo.  I do plenty of playing around with various settings and apps.  It's all about trying different things and seeing what feels right and fits you.  The other apps I use are FaceTune (for details & light filters), Snapseed (to brighten shadowy faces or increase saturation on a mountains, water, or sky), Tough Retouch (to get rid of that rouge rough patch of sand or random dark corner), & Lens Distortions (to add a little sun flare, but only if it already naturally exists).  Keep in mind that every time you edit a photo, and with each new app that you use, you are losing photo quality.  This is why I only use these apps to edit Instagram photos.  (Note: while pulling photos for this post, I have realized how really terrible my blog photo edits are.  I'm making it a priority to learn Photoshop and to start finding and tweaking actions that fit my style!).
50mm 1.4    ISO 400  f/3.2  1/200

How I Learned

From the minute I bought my DSLR, I have been constantly practicing and trying to learn more.  Just using my camera daily has taught me the most.  The biggest improvements came when I started only shooting in manual.  If you are not, just do it.  Not shooting in manual is the biggest thing that is holding anyone back.  I didn't sit down my camera's manual, I just read a few basic tutorials that I found on Pinterest and made the switch.

50mm 1.4    ISO 800  f/2.8  1/200

Looking at beautiful photos daily is also going to help spark your creativity and provide inspiration.  I was seeing the types of pictures that I wanted to be able to take myself, so that gave me the drive to figure out how.  I follow tons of photography accounts on Instagram, some of my favorites being Childhood Unplugged, Candid Childhood, Camera Mama, & Moms with Cameras.  But by far, the most influential account for me has been Momtog.  Different photographers are featured each week, and they all answer questions and share their tips.  I would carefully read over each word in my beginner days.  I will know that I have finally made it and come full circle when/if I am ever asked to be a featured momtog for a week!

24mm 2.8    ISO 800  f/3.2  1/250

Because of my love for Momtog, I decided to take Drew's online class.  I've had the class since January and have barely dove in.  Again, time is the issue.  If I stopped blogging, I could dedicate my evenings to learning my editing software and finishing her class.  And I may actually do that at some point this Fall, we'll see.  If only there were more hours in the day that I could commit to all my little hobbies.   But I will say, the parts of this class that I have completed were super easy to follow, and I have loved it thus far.

50mm  1.4    ISO 100  f/2.5  1/1250  

I feel like I didn't really cover all that much here, but I'm not sure what else people want/need in this regard.  Feel free to ask any questions.  I truly believe it's all about just picking up your camera.  Google and Youtube can be your best friends.  For many people, finding their style is one of the hardest parts.  I feel like I fell into mine rather naturally, but my editing has changed a bit over time.  There is no right or wrong style, as long as you are passionate about what your choosing to capture!

50 mm 1.4    ISO 400  f/1.6  1/1250

 The Accessories

I use a TimBuk2 camera bag but cannot find a link to it anywhere!  But honestly, I mostly just use it for traveling or transporting.  I don't actually put my camera in it when I'm out & about.  I'm really really rough on my camera.... there is room for improvement there!  Right now, I carry a diaper bag, so it gets tossed in there.  But my plan is to buy a super pretty camera bag/purse when the diaper bag gets retired.

50mm 1.4    ISO 400  f/3.2  1/400

I really want a fun camera strap.  And while Bloom Theory has so many beautiful options, Conor is not on board with them.  Since I love that Conor will often take a turn with my camera, I want to make sure he likes it too.  Instead, I'm drooling over Fotostrap's options.  I love the leather with a pop of color.

50mm 1.4    ISO 400  f/3.5  1/500

A few other fun things to consider would be a lens cap holder for your strap (since I am constantly losing my lens caps), a reflector (which I am personally against, since I want to capture how the light truly was at the moment, even if it's darker than I would like), starlight filters (super fun around Christmas time), and UV filters.  UV filters will protect your lenses, so get one for all of your lenses!!!

50mm 1.4    ISO 400 f/1.6 1/125

Wow.  This is already longer than I anticipated.  And I'm not sure that I covered everything I wanted to.  Or said the necessary things.  But this is my first attempt.  Perhaps if there are enough questions, I will toss another post together.  Please let me know!

 Now switch your camera to manual right now!  And start shooting!


  1. Thanks for sharing what you do girl. Your photos are always so beautiful. Course you have pretty great subjects. :) Love seeing your photos on IG daily.

  2. I love all your photos!!! Yes to manual and I think you'd rock at shooting in RAW! I recommend getting Lightroom and watching some YouTube tutorials and you'd be set! Christmas will be here before we know it... Perfect gift to ask for ;)

  3. Thanks for this post! Mike bought me a 50 mm lens for our anniversary last year, but it didn't my camera so I had to return it. I really need to buy one now :) Your IG feed is always so inspirational. It makes me want to be a kid! P.S. Funny you mentioned the lens cap, I just lost mine again!

  4. Seriously I've always loved your blog but your pictures just keep getting prettier and prettier and I swoon over your instagram feed. I just pulled the trigger on a lens for the nice Nikon we got for a wedding present five years ago. We never use that camera because I always felt the pictures were so dark. Now I understand why! Bought a lens and I can't wait to capture bright white pictures of my two girls! Thank you for this post! Also thanks for all the breastfeeding tips and tidbits and encouragement. My baby is self-weaning at 14 months and I could cry, I only made it 9 months with the first. Totally hoping to make it longer, but she is just not interested. WAHH!

  5. Your photos are some of my favorite in blogland & on IG! You have such a talented eye.

    I have PSE, where I edit the majority of my photos. I highly suggest shooting in RAW. Your photos will be that much crisper & cleaner. I'm so happy that I made the switch because the post processing results are stunning!

    I need to look into a camera bag, a nicer one than my diaper bag, too. ;)

  6. Your photos are always so gorgeous. Thanks so much for sharing your tips! I usually throw my camera in whatever larger bag I happen to be carrying, but I also have a fun bag from Jo Totes - check them out! They have such cute camera bags!

  7. Your photos are so gorgeous! Thank you for sharing a bit as to how you get them. Or shoot them rather. When I finally have the time and the money, I'd love to get that camera that you have to start with. I'd start on auto and then hopefully eventually change to manual.
    Oh and I won a giveaway for Drew's class online and she sent it to me probably a year ago and I still haven't had a chance to look at it. Probably because I don't have a real camera so I've been putting it off but her mom tog IG is so helpful because sometimes people shoot with their iPhones as well!

  8. Your photography has improved so much in such a short time and it inspires me to buy a camera and give it a try. Do still feel like you can enjoy the moment when you are behind the camera? And WHEN do you have time to look through all your work! This family raising stuff is time consuming

  9. Yay for photos :). Random fellow photographer rant. The 6D is fantastic......but always buy good glass. The 35mm is quite a bit slower than the 50, but another great lens. Lightroom is a much more streamlined format to edit photos. Should you go that route, make sure you buy ($10) a plugin called "the fader"stronge as they are all strong. CreativeLive is another great resource!! :)

  10. Ok I am always so impressed with your photos! I figured you were an expert who had been taking manual photos your whole you had me fooled! Love this post, love all your tips! I love reading what other "momtogs" have to say and this post was full of great info!! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Your tips are always the best!!
    We have PhotoShop Elements, too. And I rarely use it. The whole program seems so intimidating and... clunky (not sure that's the right word)? If you find some good YouTube tutorials I'd love for you to pass them along. And, if you find more hours in the day I'd love a few of those as well.
    Bummer Conor doesn't like the Bloom Theory straps, but I totally get it. Scott hardly ever has the "good" camera, but if he used it more often he'd totally be down for those Photostraps - they are AWESOME!!

  12. I could read you photography posts all the live long day!!! So 1.4 and 1.8, whats the difference besides price? I would love to see edits you do before and after style. And for sure you will be featured on Momtogs!!

  13. Love this post! Your photos are some of my favorites and I loved learning a bit about your gear and processes. And I am sure that it will not be log before you're featured!! You're amazing at photography.

  14. Great tips/info, thanks for sharing!!
    My few questions - do you use an eyefi memory card? Or what's your process from camera to phone/IG?
    Would you talk about your method/how you compose/'set-up'/capture images? I can't imagine you 'set up' much (compared to some I've seen), which I love, but I often feel like my life must just NOT be as picture perfect, so I'm curious how you do it (does that make sense?).
    I'm NOT technical so this may be a stupid question, but do you shoot f/1.4 often? If not, what makes that lens so much better than the 1.8 (I need to be informed so I can convince Dan we need it..) ;)
    Love your photography and love how you've pushed yourself to get/be better, you've definitely inspired me to see things differently and work to improve. Way to go, ma!! Now about finding that extra time...

  15. This post totally inspired me to switch my camera to manual. I just took some pics of Ben outside and played around with the camera. I'm hoping I can stick to it and teach myself a few things!


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