Thursday, August 22, 2013

Journey of Blogging Photography: Part One

First, I want to thank everyone who has been giving me their input about what they love and want to see more of here on the blog. And if you missed that post and want your voice to be heard, here is the link.

*Note. All photos in this post were taken before I purchased a DSLR camera. 

My first decent picture of Pallo

One of the most common things you guys said is that you love the pictures of the dogs, and want to see more of them. Thank you! I love taking photos of my dogs, and I love sharing them with people who don't think I'm crazy for a good 9 out of every 10 photos on my computer being of my dogs, or someone's dogs.

Koira as a puppy. Is she not the most adorable thing ever?
I started out taking photos with the camera on my phone. I enjoyed taking pictures and I thought (modestly, to myself) that they really were pretty good. When I did get a camera, it was a point and shoot. Very basic. But so much more versatile than my phone camera. I didn't want a camera where I had to adjust all the settings all the time. I wanted something I could just take with me and use. Quick. Easy.

Koira laying on the beach. I believe this photo was taken with my phone.

Eventually, I wanted more. I still wanted something that was quick and easy, but my focus became more on getting good quality photos. After going through a number of cameras, I decided to finally make the plunge and purchase a DSLR.

Here we are, over three years after I started blogging. I can now honestly say that photography is one of my passions now. I sincerely believe blogging is what led me to it.

I totally loved this photo when I took it. 

So, what would I recommend for the blogger interested in improving their photos?

If you can afford it, get a DSLR. I used to be totally convinced that the camera didn't matter, just the person behind it. To some extent, that is true. You can have a really expensive camera but get nothing but bad or so-so photos if the person running the camera doesn't know what they are doing. But, the camera really does have a big impact on what the best photo you can possibly take will look like. Yes, you can get an awesome photo with an iPhone, or a point and shoot. But that same photo could be just that much better if taken with a DSLR.

Pallo used to always look shocked and horrified if I made him wear things

If you aren't sure about a DSLR, about how often you will use it, whether you will like it, or if you simply don't have the money to afford a brand new one, by all means, go for used. I picked up my first DSLR (a Canon Eos Rebel XT) used at a great local camera store. The store had a great reputation, the people working there were super helpful, and they offered a guarantee even on a used camera. The big benefit is that you can try out a DSLR before making a huge investment in equipment.

Get just the essentials. Don't blow a huge amount of money on equipment right out the gate. As you learn and grow as a photographer, you will learn what style suits you. Until then, don't make any big purchases. Instead, save up so that when you DO know what your style is, you will have the money to afford the equipment that will work the best for you.

My recommendations for starting equipment include just your camera body (a good condition used one is fine!), a 50mm lens, a battery, and a memory card.

Koira with her magic ring

If possible, don't get the kit lens that comes with the camera body. Most kit lenses are really poor quality, and you would be better served with a cheap but better quality lens like the 50mm. You can get a 50mm 1.8 lens for under a hundred dollars used. Another good starting lens would be either the 40mm pancake lens or, at a slightly higher price tag, the 35mm 2.8. All of these are fixed focal length lenses, meaning they have no zoom. I honestly believe that not having a zoom makes you learn faster. You will learn to move yourself into the best position to take a photo and in the process will learn to take a better photo. It may take a little getting used to if you have a point and shoot and zoom all the time, but I promise, it is not that painful!

Bounding like a bunny

My only other recommended purchase at this point would be Lightroom. If you already own Photoshop, that would work as well, of course! Lightroom, though, is a relatively cheap program that can give you simply amazing results in editing. It does not come with all the bells and whistles that Photoshop has, but frankly, most people don't need or use all those bells and whistles. And you can always spend more money later for Photoshop if you decide to down the road! Lightroom will really get you through the beginning, so you know if it is worth the investment.

I put off purchasing Lightroom for a full year after I bought my first DSLR. And to be honest, my photography suffered because of it. I believe I have come a long, long way since purchasing Lightroom. That is why I highly recommend that it is your next purchase after your camera and first lens.

And then, start shooting! You only learn by practicing. Remember, even great photographers shoot a lot of bad photos.

Pallo's badonkadonk 

That is about all I have to say about starting out at the very beginning. Make the plunge.

I would like to ask- what do you want to see in part two? Would you rather read about the basics of using your new-to-you DSLR, or about the basics of starting out with Lightroom?


  1. I didn't see the previous post before but just want to chime in...I love your photos!! Would love a post on using lightroom? I have photoshop elements but have been considering changing to lightroom for awhile now.

  2. Koira the puppy melted my soul...

  3. Great post! I too started getting into photography just because of the blog.My photos are definitely better with the DSLR because I can control so many more things. I'm still learning a lot about Lightroom, but it took me awhile to even learn about that. And it is amazing the difference it can make.

  4. I'm no help, I'd find anything to do with photography and LR interesting:)