Hello and welcome! Do you want to learn more about photography but find the whole thing confusing and intimidating? Me too! So let’s learn together – everything I find out, I’ll post for you here in my digital photography for absolute beginners series. I hope you’ll join me every Monday at 9pm (EST) (yep, next post is next week!) for my next installment. It means a great deal to me to get good at this photography thing!
The more digital photography has become accessible – through iPhonography, Instagram, Picmonkey, you name it – the more I’ve wanted to get better at it. I’m a visual person – the way things look, the mood of colour, visual clutter, all affects me deeply. It’s natural that I would gravitate towards photography when I started blogging over four years ago. And so I have.
Actually, thinking about all those fabulous photographers makes me even more scared to be doing this series…
Something of a disclaimer
So, let me get it out there. I am no professional. I’m probably not even qualified to be called an amateur. Matter of fact, without the wonderful support of the gals over on Facebook, I probably wouldn’t have even have had the balls to repub this series on my blog.
What I am is willing to share how it feels to be learning something completely new when I don’t have the time or, frankly, the head space. It would have been so easy to keep going with my little point and shoot, capturing memories as I go. Except, I know I can do so much better. I want my images to be so much better.
I’m hoping to share a few tips on starting out in digital photography that I pick up along the way in the hope that I’ll inspire you to get out there and do something fresh and fun and just for you. It might be photography, it might be writing, it might be your teaching degree – there’s always something new to learn and be. Let’s start with getting better at taking photos and go from there! Getting started
So, the first thing you’re going to need is a DSLR camera. DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex and the benefits of a single lens (rather than two lenses as some other cameras have) is that what you see when you look through the viewfinder (or the ‘window’ as I like to call it) is pretty much what your image will turn out like.
When I first decided I wanted a DSLR for my birthday 2 years ago, I emailed my photographer friend, Tim Coulson and asked him what camera he recommended I purchase. He quickly fired back, “Canon 600D, 60D, 7D, 5D with 5D being at the expensive end. Make sure you buy the body only and purchase a 50mm f/1.8lens. This little guy will change your world.”
So, that’s what I did.
Why a DSLR camera?
Before I started learning more about manual photography, I was taking lots of shots just in the ‘automatic’ mode of my DSLR. Even without doing anything else, the change in my photography was amazing. I had wanted to take two shots for you today, one with the point and shoot and the same shot with the DSLR, but I ran out of time… does that sound familiar? Instead, I’ll show you two shots taken only a month or so apart. Same kid, same photographer.
Now, I actually prefer the little point and shoot image composition-wise (my daughter’s expression and the way she is positioned), but the point and shoot has a really deep depth of field, which means that it can’t distinguish between the foreground (Arabella) and the background (the trees).
In contrast, the DSLR has a shallow depth of field and completely isolates Arabella from the background (which is rocks and shadows, but you don’t even need to know that). This makes her beautifully the subject of the picture and, combined with the larger sensor on the DSLR, most of the ‘noise’ surrounding her fades away nicely. See those freckles!
The colours are also much truer in the DSLR photograph. The point and shoot makes everything more ‘blown out’, so her hair is brighter and her skin is lighter too. We almost lose the freckles in the first shot. Not the freckles!
The other straight-out-of-the-blocks advantage is that I’m able to take much faster pictures on the DSLR. So, if you’re shooting the kids (tempting), you can quickly capture a shot before they make the ‘photo face’ that we all know so well. Either that, or you can happily capture a series of photo faces for prosperity. This is the stuff 21st birthdays are made for.
Here’s a series of Max photo faces. You will no doubt recognise many of them from your own kids… the DSLR takes the shots rapidly and gives me a much wider range to choose that ‘perfect’ shot from.
So, with my fast-shooting, depth-reducing, colour-capturing DSLR in tow, I am ready to experiment. Even if you’ve only got a point and shoot for now, we are still going to learn so much about this photography business and capture our kids in style. Are you coming along for the ride?