Sunday, 29 May 2011

Trim Digital Photos

As part of my streamlining this year I am trying to get my digital pics organized and more accessible (enjoyable!).
INVESTIGATING As you can see from the photostream below I am investigating Flickr. I chose Flickr because prints can be ordered from UK and USA and this is a nice option seeing as we have family on both continents.  It seems pretty user friendly but I will see how my family get along with using it.  I found it a lot less taxing than Photobox when it came to uploading but discovered that I can still order from Photobox if I want to by simply uploading from Flickr.
NEED TO KNOW  It would be nice if I could find out how to retrieve the pics for download to my computer if need arises. After losing pics this year I am trying to cover all my bases.
LIKE I set the option for most of the file for ‘family and friends only’ and when I posted the photo stream to my blog it only showed those that were for public use. How cool is that.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Service Interrupted

For the last couple of days I have not been able to leave comments on other peoples blogs (hosted by Blogger) I Googled it and it seems I am not the only one. SO a big apology and hopefully we will be back to normal soon.

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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Race For Life

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Regent’s Park, 21st May 2011. 

5K walk 

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Nine of us walked for Cancer research today.

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Young, old, fit or frail, 1000’s entered

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and we had a blast!

There was a great community spirit and fun was had by one and all. However, pictures and sentiments worn on the back of each walker were a somber reminder of why we were all there

to fight cancer for those we love.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Counterfeit Kit, Time To Take The Challenge.

I have been watching Counterfeit Kit Challenge for a few months after seeing it on another blog and have finally decided to jump in. I used to go to a monthly crop and that would keep me going with inspiration but since I have become more involved in my ‘paying job’ I no longer have the time. Sadly, I have not done much Scrapping for the last 18 months or so.  It’s time to get my head back in the game. SO, each month I will follow the inspiration and will try to put a usable kit together.

Not only do they post a kit to counterfeit but give lots of lovely links for homemade embellishments. 

Here’s my first counterfeit

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Bazill colored card stock, words paper/ striped paper/ circle paper from ‘Road Trip’ sheets by Marcella K,  graph paper by K&Co, ‘Wild saffron’ covered buttons by K&Co, hand made rosettes, free printable embellishments, ‘Collectionz Buttonz’ by Junkitz, K&Co chipboard kit, ‘Tim Coffey-Metal Art’ by K&Co, ‘Wild saffron’ labels by K&Co,

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Alphabet paper/checker board paper by K&Co, numbers paper by DCWV, Fly A Kite Wild Cards by October Afternoon,  Wild Saffron chip board alpha by K&Co., stickers are 7 Gypsies ‘Home’.

Although the counterfeit challenge kit was very school based, boyish and summer oriented, I chose to tweek it towards what I wanted to use it for. I kept boys fun and games, warm weather tones, but brought a little travel in there instead of school house.

My pictures will be arriving soon and I am looking forward to using this.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Happy Birthday Jenna

Made this for my Teacher friend from NZ so that she won’t forget us .

 Happy Birthday Jenna.

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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Light At The End Of The ‘Processing’ Tunnel?

Processing photos after a big event is a lot of work isn’t it.  I don’t know if any of you have any helpful hints but I am just finding my feet on organizing my pics. At approx. 6000 they need a lot of organizing!

I have learned from the past that I have got to start from where I am. I don’t have a huge block of time to go back and reinvent the system for all 6000 but I can organize last months.

I decided that trips or big events definitely demanded some organization. So, the first thing I have decided to do is download daily while I am away. This way I can crop, post, and drop.   post on this process

So, now the event is blogged but I still have 100+ lovely pics in my computer that I want people to enjoy.  Scrapbooking is a must so I uploaded the best of the picks to Photobox (because they are have a 20% sale) and placed an order for prints.

This is where I could use some guidance. (please?)

Here’s the Scenario:- Once I had made three lovely albums, on Photobox, I wanted others to view them. The best I could find was to email family the links.  This way they can order prints also.  I was reasonably happy with this, however, after doing all this work I became frustrated because I couldn’t load the slideshow into the sidebar of blogger so that it would work automatically without being sent to the stills on Photobox. When I decided to get them over to Flikr to have a go there (never used Flikr but thought I would give it a go)  Photobox wouldn’t download them. Urgh! So if I want to have an album on Flikr I have to do the work again.

SO, I thought I would throw this out to you.

Do any of you have a system that you find works for organizing your photos for web display? Do you have a simple solution to cut down on the work involved? I would love to know if you have a way of processing you photos and what services you use.  Have any of you ever blogged about it? Could you send me a link please ?

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Light at the end of the tunnel?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Good Find

Reposting this as it seems that blogger lost it!?

The Photo Junkies wrote, The Art (blood, sweat, Tears) of Blogging.  Besides being a very good article it contains 20 links (and Facebook,Twitter) to Photo related Blog sites.  I thought I would share this find.  My Google Reader is so full it feels like it should come to a grinding halt! BUT it keeps on giving me loveliness!

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Friday, 13 May 2011

Belated Mothers Day

I am late posting this

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Mothers day in the USA is always later than in the UK and my wonderful Mother-in-law always gets neglected. I sent her a Jacquie Lawson card ( love Jacquie Lawson) and made her this. 

Inner Shape made with Nestabilities and patterned paper is ‘Text Prints’, the stack by DCWV.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Me In May

Reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. An amazing book. She cleverly crafts the words and says more  by saying less. Very powerful!  A Holy Experience
Sitting at my desk editing guest posts for the week long series DSLR Photography In Focus
Listening to my friend, she needs prayer.
Checking out Beyond Blogging For Scrapbooker’s.  wew! I think I’m going to be checking this out for a while.
Experiencing  thankfulness as a result of, “1000 Gifts”.
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Taken with Blackberry

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Too Fast

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This train is going so fast.

Yesterday I was celebrating two new teeth

Today we are fitting braces.

Can’t we stop in the station for a while

You and I

Experience the joy and learning one encounter brings

before hurtling toward the next.

 

This train is going so fast.

Just the other day I heard you say, “I love you Mum”

It was the first time.

Now I wave goodbye at the door

As you head eagerly for the school bus.

Its moving way too fast,

This train.

 

This train is going so fast.

Sometimes I don’t breath.

Maybe I can hold time back

Maybe I can put off the destination

And we can linger a while

This train ….much too fast.

Inspired by Ann Voskamp

Sunday, 8 May 2011

DSLR Photography In Focus Day 7

I thought I would put some final thoughts in a post to conclude the week. Although, I know it doesn’t need to end here, as it has peaked interest for more information about DSLR photography.

I have had lots of thanks come my way this week and now it is my turn. I want to thank all my special guest writers for their contributions this week.  We decided last week, as a result of BBFS, that we would like to have a go at guest posting and away we went. Each writers post was their unique contribution to the series and they all fitted together nicely.  Thank you also for you the reader who came back and left comments.  Your comments helped us see if we were generating something of interest to you.  Thank you for those readers that came over from other sites. We are pleased that you joined us. Google analytics told us 45% of our readership this week was referred from another site and my readership tripled. This shows that working together can definitely encourage interest and new readership!  Thank you.

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That all said, what inspiration did I get and what decisions have I made.  First of all I would like to say I was quite overwhelmed with the depth of knowledge that some of my guests had.  Although I am on that road I know that I would have to take a steep learning curve if I was to invest in a DSLR and get good pictures.  I am not sure I would like to sacrifice picture memories whilst I was learning how to use my camera.  I realize I need more time to develop my skills before I launch in with a DSLR.  I also know that I am not in a place in my life that I can afford to give the time and commitment that would be needed. 

Margie helped me to understand how advanced the higher end P&S cameras have become. It seems as if they can do almost the same as a DSLR except have the lens changed (forgive me if I am simplifying this too much).  If I can get the results that I need and have the opportunity to go automatic when it counts  then this would be a good next stop for me. I could learn the skills I need by using the manual settings on the P&S and when I feel I am ready I could add a DSLR. 

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Cost is a big issue for our family and without realizing what a high end P&S could do I didn’t want to consider spending the cash and not get results. I would be out of $500 and still want and need a DSLR.  I no longer feel this will be an issue.  Several people have mentioned, over the week, that they own both and still use both.  Sue remarked that she might consider buying one as she gets frustrated with how cumbersome it is to take a DSLR on vacation.  I can see that this is what I would want to have with me if I were on a day out and not a heavy DSLR and equipment.

So, I announced to my husband yesterday that he was indeed correct and that he could buy me a Powershot Camera. He had that confused look on his face that said, I am glad I was right but why do I get to buy the camera!

Easter 2011 024

We will probably try to make the purchase later this year but I have also been inspired to try to get more out of my current camera. Margie’s comments about shutter lag being decreased in sports mode encouraged me to look into what my Fuji Finepix JSO can do. Valerie encouraged us to read the manual and put our findings into practice. So, that’s what I will do over the next  months,  thourougly explore and exhaust what can be done with this camera.

Please leave your comments and let us know what decisions you have made over this week. What is the next level in your photography. Also, please let us know what sort of information would appeal to you if this was to be taken up again.  Thank you and bye for now.

Friday, 6 May 2011

D-SLR Photography In Focus Day 6

Welcome to our final Day in the week long series on D-SLR photography. I can tell that interest has been perking as the week has progressed and I am happy to hear that a few readers have been inspired to make some decisions for themselves. I think there may be a few more decisions after todays post. Today’s blogger is Margie from Xnomads' Blog.  

Lorraine has been kind enough to invite all of these guest bloggers to help her select a DSLR. In her first post she told us why she was frustrated with her current camera and why she would like to move on to a DSLR. After reading about her frustrations, I am not sure a DSLR is the right answer for Lorraine. Of course she will have to make that final decision, but with all of the amazing high end P&S out on the market now, you can find a lot of camera for a much lower price point than a DSLR kit and don’t forget the cost of those additional lenses!

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Powershot SX10IS 

I have had an SLR camera since 1998 or 1999. My first one was a second hand Pentax my husband bought me so I could take a photography class at my local photography lab/camera store. It was fully manual. There was nothing fancy about it but it was cheap and therefore, affordable. Shortly thereafter, we traded that one in and upgraded to a fully automatic Canon SLR (film) in 1999 or 2000. It was a birthday present from my husband and a group of our friends. In 2000 I took a photography class at my local community college. In this class we shot all black and white film and developed our own film and prints. I got my first point & shoot (P&S) digital camera (small Pentax) for Christmas in 2002 and finally in April 2008 (I think?), I upgraded to a Canon XSi (450) DSLR. I’ve also upgraded my P&S to a Canon Powershot SX3IS and now a SX10IS. There will be a test afterwards to please pay attention! Ha!

Margiekit

I have a TamracI backpack that I love. It holds my camera, lenses and my point and shoot all at once! It is very comfortable, carries many things and helps keep things organized. The other bag is a more decorative camera bag I received for Xmas. It is lightweight and comfortable. Honestly, though, I usually throw my camera into my purse or my backpack. I hate lugging around a lot of bags and things and I take photos of my family (and other things) all the time. 

I also have a tripod that I just bought a couple of months ago. I don't take a lot of still life or super low light photographs, so I don't find I use it very often. I've done some experimenting lately so I finally broke down and purchased one. It is one of those things, until you know your habits, you won't know if you really need one. It's the one thing I could certainly live without.

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DSLR XSi

The two lenses I use with my DSLR XSi (450) are a Canon Mark II 16-35mm f/2.8 (found online for: $1700USD to $2300USD) and a Canon 50mm f/1.4 ($399USD on Amazon.com), therefore the quality of the images will be much higher than the P&S images.

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DSLR XSi

There are plenty of high quality P&S on the market that are perfect training cameras. They allow you to learn about shutter speed, f stop (aperture), ISO, flash, metering, depth of field, etc, etc and still produce fantastic high quality photos. Many now allow you to have full manual control over the camera. They include manual mode, aperture priority (where you control the aperture, the camera chooses the shutter speed), shutter priority (you choose shutter speed, camera chooses aperture), flash control including choosing 1st or 2nd shutter. Of course, there is significantly more potential with a DSLR but the learning curve is higher, the weight is heavier and the cost is significantly more.

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Powershot SX10IS 

If you do not know how to use shutter speed and aperture priority, if you don’t know how to adjust your current camera so it performs better in low light, and if you don’t know how to override it’s automatic settings, I would suggest upgrading to a higher end P&S. It will allow you the maximum amount of control so that you can learn all about those things and when you outgrow that camera and you’re ready to upgrade to a DSLR you will really understand what you need and what you are looking for in a camera.

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DSLR XSi

One common word of advice I hear that I whole-heartedly agree with, is do not upgrade your equipment until you outgrow your old piece of equipment and you know why and what you need next. Exhaust all the features (within reason) on your current camera before you move on to your next.

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powershot SX10IS 

If your camera is not performing correctly, perhaps you are not using it correctly. Open your users manual and make sure there isn’t something you can do to improve the situation. For example, on many P&S you can increase the shutter speed by switching to sports mode. This increases the ISO, turns off the automatic photo review (when you look at the photo on the screen right after you take it) and allows the camera to take continuous photos faster. Of course, many cameras also have a continuous shutter mode (usually indicated by a stack of rectangles), this mode will give you a similar effect to the sports mode.

In the first post of this series, Lorraine told us:

1) She wants less lag-time between photos.

She would need to find a camera with higher frames per second (fps) than her current camera.

2) She wants sharper photos.

There are a list of reason why images are not sharp enough. Some are related to the camera, some to the situation and some to the photographer. From the camera end, she would want to look for faster focus technology as well as better lens quality. She does not need manual focus to get sharper images. Higher ISO (more light sensitivity) and a larger maximum aperture (will let in more light faster) also is a big factor in getting sharper images. The aperture is the number with the f/ in front of it. The lower the number the larger the maximum aperture (lens opening size) – the number is actually a fraction. Think of it like f1/2.8 or f1/15.

Since I think Lorraine should at least consider one of the higher-end P&S before she makes her decision, I will do a quick analysis of the 2 Canon cameras I might consider for myself. And compare them to the entry level Canon DSLR. (I am choosing Canon because I am the most familiar with their DSLR and P&S line.)

Before I begin, I wanted to mention that all of the higher-end Canon P&S’s can be operated in full manual mode. You have complete control of the shutter speed & aperture and can also opt for aperture priority or shutter priority (that’s where you choose one and the camera chooses the other to give you correct exposure). Many professional photojournalists that I have talked to shoot in aperture priority mode most of the time. They are just skilled enough to know when to switch to manual. I should also mention that without the purchase of any additional lenses these P&S also allow you to shoot in macro and can be mounted on a tripod.

The Canon G12 is arguably Canon’s best P&S camera. The MSRP is $499 USD. The zoom lens on this model has a film equivalent of 28mm to 140mm range – this gives you a wide angle all the way to a very decent zoom. The wide angle is wonderful for shots in tight locations and the zoom is great to get the bokeh everyone loves as well as portraits. The lens is quite fast with the maximum aperture at the 24mm end at f/2.8. That is incredibly large for a P&S! My $1500USD pro level 16 -24mm lens has the same maximum aperture! The 140mm end has a f/4.5 maximum aperture which is very good for a mid-range zoom. It’s not ideal for indoor photos without flash, but better than any kit lens I’ve seen or any non-pro zoom lenses I’ve seen.

Its maximum shutter speed is 1/4000 of a second. That is faster than any SLR or DSLR I have ever owned.

In the most optimum of situations it can take up to 4.2 frames per second. That is faster than any DSLR I have seen. Usually this is the big weakness of the P&S as it does not compare with most DSLRs in this area. But you have to be realistic about how fast is fast enough for what you are taking photos for. There are very rare occasions where you will need a faster rate of frames per second than this camera can give you. This camera weighs more than 12 oz due to the large zoom range.

Another P&S of note is the SX130 also part of the Canon Powershot range. This camera is only $229USD The zoom range on this camera is 28mm – 336mm which is phenomenal, however this makes me very nervous. That camera will need one powerful motor making it heavy and also making it a much higher risk for breakage and motor burnout. I have also used a Canon Powershot with a strong zoom like this before and I’ve had an extremely hard time getting it to focus in low light situations much worse than my Powershot SX10IS which is a much older model (but with a less powerful zoom). So, I am skeptical of these cameras with such huge range of zooms. I would read all the reviews on this one and make sure you read reviews from people who have had the camera for at least a year to see if it lasts and to see if they have improved the focusing issues. They have an extensive series of P&S with even larger zoom ranges that look like they are worth considering. I would encourage Lorraine to pour over their comparison page at Canon.com and then read lots and lots of reviews to see how they perform.

http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/digital_cameras?pageKeyCode=65&category=0901e0248006113a&compare=0901e024801f482b&compare=0901e024801cff65&compare=0901e024801f482c

The other thing you can do to see how a camera performs is to go to Flickr.com and search for the camera model you are interested in. You will be presented with pages and pages of sample images. This is a fantastic way to see the potential of your camera of interest.

Canon G12 - http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Canon%20G12

Canon SX130 - http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Canon%20G12

When searching to see photos taken by a DSLR be sure to search by lens including maximum aperture of the lens.

 

 

Rebel EOS XSi DSLR

Powershot G12

Powershot SX30 IS

Cost

$649 USD with kit

$499 USD

$229USD

Max Shutter Spd

1/4000 second

1/4000 second

1/3200 second

Max shots/second

3.5 shots/sec

4.2 shots/sec

3.6 shots/sec

RAW option?

Yes

Yes

No

Max ISO

1600

3200

1600

Self-timer

10 & 2 sec delay + continuous

Up to 10 shots in a row

Up to 10 shots in a row

There are several more P&S in the Powershot line that I would recommend adding to the comparison. I was quite amazed at how these cameras have improved even in the past few years since I last purchased a camera in Spring 2009! I can’t believe how incredible these cameras are!

I have no specific recommendation for Lorraine except to encourage her to keep her options open and seriously consider a high-end P&S before she spends her money.

If you’d like to see some of my photographs, you can see my Flickr photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/74155750@N00/

****NOTE: I would recommend buying a camera that is either a Nikon or a Canon. They are the top companies in the industry and spend the most money on research and development. Cameras by other manufacturers will not have the technology available.

This post has been a real eye opener for me.  I had no idea that a high end P&S was capable of so much.  When window shopping for a DSLR lately my husband made the suggestion that I consider a high end P&S. I didn’t want to listen to him (after all what does he know, right) Wrong! As Margie has proved it actually was a very good suggestion.   Thank you Margie. So as not to crowd out your post, I will leave my comments for tomorrow when I wrap up.

For our readers out there, please leave your comments and questions for Margie or any of the guest bloggers from this week as they are all reading along.  Thanks once again for stopping by.

D-SLR Photography Day 5

Thank you for joining us for another day in SLR photography. Today I am welcoming Valerie, from  Pie For Breakfast...An Approach Toward Life, who will share  her approach to Digital Photography.

When I first made the decision to move from film to digital, I was so excited that I could take one hundred shots and keep only the good ones. But after the newness wore off, I began to dislike the one thing that most point and shoot owners complain about - shutter lag.

I had a chance to shoot with a DSLR owned by a family member, and fell in love with it. No more shutter lag. So I started saving money to get my first DSLR. I purchased the Canon 20D (the current equivalent would be the Canon 60D, which retails for $1,000 US or £800 for the body only). Not having shutter lag was such an improvement. I must admit however, that I never learned to use the camera, and shot in automatic mode all the time. So for me, it was a essentially a point and shoot camera without shutter lag. My husband liked some of the SLR features, so I thought it was probably worth the cost.

In the digital camera world, technology is constantly changing, and cameras are getting better and better. After using the Canon 20D for five years, we decided to move up to the Canon 7D, which is the camera that I currently use. We saved our money and decided it would be our Christmas gift to each other. This camera currently retails for $1,700 US or £1,180 (body only). The features that attracted us to this camera are: a more accurate focusing system, more focus points, a quieter shutter (which is a good thing at recitals, weddings, etc.), a larger preview screen, faster continuous-shoot mode, a higher maximum ISO, and the fact that it also shoots video.

2010.05.04 Church of the Master-17 smaller

But this camera is not for everyone. If you are content to shoot in automatic mode (which is perfectly fine), you don’t need this camera. If you don’t have a good understanding of the exposure triangle, and if you don’t plan to shoot in manual mode, it’s probably not worth the extra money. My husband really wanted this camera, so I made the commitment to learn to become a better photographer

I am not a great photographer, but I am better than I used to be. I understand the camera and many of its settings (although I am still learning). I no longer shoot in automatic mode. I shoot in aperture priority, most of the time. Once you learn how ISO, shutter speed, and aperture work together (the exposure triangle), you only become better by practicing (taking lots of photos). That’s where I am right now.

2010.05.04 Church of the Master-10 smaller

The reason companies manufacture cameras in all price ranges is because photographers have varying skill levels, as well as budget restrictions. If you are considering upgrading to a DSLR, I suggest you first determine how much you want to spend. Right now the prices for DSLR cameras begin at around $500US/£370, and go up from there. Go online (I’ve suggested a few websites below), search for DSLR cameras, and then sort by price from lowest to highest. Take a look at the cameras in your price range. Compare features. Read reviews about them. You can also sort by top-rated or most popular. From what I know, Nikon and Canon are the leaders in the DSLR world. I prefer a Canon, but don’t think you can go wrong with either brand.

2011.04.17 Eryn @ 14-71 smaller

No matter what brand you decide on, I would suggest that you purchase a camera that fits your budget - then learn to use it. I hate to say this, and you probably don’t want to hear it, but you need to read your camera manual. Yes it’s boring and difficult to read, but why purchase a camera if you’re not going to learn to use it? Most camera manuals are available online now. I downloaded mine to my iPad. I went through my manual a little at a time. Then I practiced using the settings. It’s much easier to take in small segments.

Now for the bad news – the major DSLR brands (Canon, Nikon and Sony) are all manufactured in Japan. Since the county was hit by both an earthquake and tsunami, production and shipping have been disrupted, causing the prices to be inflated. I purchased the Canon 7D in November of 2010, and the price is now 25% higher, not to mention the fact that it’s almost impossible to find one in stock. Right now might not be the best time to purchase a DSLR camera, but while the brave people of Japan are getting their lives back, you have lots of time to research cameras and decide what works best for you. Once the companies are able to resume production, you will be ready to support them by purchasing their products.

A couple of bits of information about what I have shared:

• All prices quoted in $US are from B&H Photo located in New York. It is an excellent online store that typically has the lowest prices. Adorama also has comparable prices. 
 All prices in £ are from Jessops.   

• That being said, if you need personalized assistance, I can't stress enough how valuable it can be to establish a relationship with a good local camera store. Yes, you will probably end up paying more for your camera, but it will allow you to hold each camera and see what it does. The extra cost is for the advice, and sometimes that's worth paying for. 


• Even if you plan to go to a camera store for advice, you should still do some research on your own. I like to go HERE for camera reviews. 


• You can rent cameras (and lenses). It's a great way to find out if you really like a camera prior to purchasing it. You can do a Google search for camera rentals in your area.

• A really good book to read if you want to learn more about exposure is Brian Peterson’s “Understanding Exposure”. It’s one of the most recommended photography books.

I've included a few photos that were recently taken .  Now that I've learned to use my camera properly, I almost never use the flash.  Not even indoors.  Not even in low light.  The first two photos were taken in the church where I work, with very poor lighting.  If you know how to adjust for exposure, it gives you so many options.  I'm excited not to have the bad things that sometimes happen when you use a flash.  The third photo is of my granddaughter taken outside in full sun.  I've learned that by turning your subject around, you can eventually find the perfect position to take photos outside without squinting and those nasty shadows under the nose and chin.  Of course you can't always spin your subject, but you, as the photographer, can move and that often helps.  Give it a try next time you're outside in full sun.

I appreciate Valerie’s honesty about her first D-SLR and that she shot in automatic mode. I imagine that is a strong temptation for some who don’t have the time to learn to use the camera features or lack the confidence to use them.  Thank you for sharing your motivation to learn and strategies to follow. 

I am wondering if there is anyone reading this post that needs to get motivated about learning their way around their camera and would like to give feedback. What are some of the things that hold you back?

Please come back tomorrow for Day 6 our final guest post.  Margie will be joining us from  Xnomads' Blog. I am looking forward to Margie’s post because she is going to look at what I want in a camera and explore if I actually need to move to a D-SLR or whether I should just upgrade t a better P&S. Please come back and see what she has to say.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

D-SLR Photography In Focus Day 4

Thank you for coming back for Day 4 of our series. I have been working behind the scenes to deliver these posts to you and I can tell you that each guest has put in a huge amount of thought and work into bringing you their incites. Please enjoy another good read from Sue of  Taylor Tattle.

Thank you Lorraine for the opportunity to post today with an overview of the D-SLR's and lenses that I currently own. 

CAMERA AND LENSES  CAMERA AND LENSES

I recall in vivid detail the purchase of my first D-SLR.  We were on a family outing, which included a boat trip across the Dubai creek, taking us to the myriad of shops that make up the souk.  Here you can purchase items ranging from spices to electronic goods; however we left that day with a Nikon D40x camera (bargaining courtesy of Richard, my BIL!!) as my Christmas present.  I was so excited for Christmas that year!

I have since upgraded to a Nikon D90, adding more lenses along the way, which I would also like to introduce to you today.  I have included current prices taken from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as a guide.  Prices in Dirhams would be confusing, plus cameras are much more expensive over here (sadly).

Choosing which D-SLR to purchase is not an easy task; there are countless models out there which seem to change with alarming regularity.  If you are considering Nikon, I can suggest a few options.  Firstly, if specs are important, there's a cool feature here that allows you to pick different models and compare the specs of each.  It can even be printed as a handy-dandy reference guide.  Ken Rockwell is also a useful resource, since he tests cameras and writes from personal experience.  Ken also provides downloadable user guides for a nominal (although voluntary) donation of $5, which I highly recommend.

I have been very happy with my purchases, and would like to introduce each of them briefly today.

Nikon D40x

The body retails around £250 ($618).  I have found this to be a fantastic little camera.  The photos are very sharp, it is lightweight and small enough to carry around with ease.    My purchase came with a kit lens (18 - 55 mm), which (according to Ken Rockwell) has a far better performance than many of the more expensive lenses.

Nikon D90

Retailing at £600 ($899), this is obviously going to be a more advanced camera.  In my mind, it is worth the extra money as you can see the difference in the quality of shots.  Continuous shooting is faster, it has more in camera image editing, almost double the shots per battery charge, and live view shooting to name a few.  It also has the added feature of movie capability.  Although I have to be honest, this is not something I have yet tried!

For me, the only downside of this camera is its weight, particularly if you team it with the heavier lenses.  It becomes uncomfortable to lug around if you are thinking of taking it on vacation for example.  However, if you are more of an "at home" photographer, then this would not be an issue.

My choice of lenses has been very much dictated by a number of factors, including the class I was taking, what I wanted to photograph and what came in the kit with the body.

 

LENS 18 - 55mm

AF-S NIKKOR 18 - 55 mm

Current retail price: £80 ($120).  As mentioned before this is a truly great lens, staying sharp even with close up shots.  Highly recommend for everyday shooting.

 

AF-S NIKKOR 18 - 105 mm VR

Current retail price: £238 ($349).  One again, a more costly lens (included as a kit with the D90) that produces really sharp photos, but also has the added advantage that it is great for low light.  A rather bulky lens though, which adds considerably to the overall weight and bulkiness of the camera.

 

LENS 55 - 200 mm

AF-S NIKKOR 55 - 200 mm VR

Current retail price: £157 (reduced from £300, wow!); $169 (reduced from $250)

I chose this lens primarily because I wanted an affordable zoom lens to take to Alaska for photographing whales, icebergs and all the wildlife that roams the Tundra.  I love this lens; it takes sharp photos, and creates soft backgrounds effortlessly.  Vibration reduction is also an excellent feature, especially when you are taking shots at these distances. Naturally for closer shots you have to move a distance from your subject, so it can't be considered an all purpose lens.  For the price, I am more than happy to change lenses as I need, rather than paying twice for a longer focal length.

 

LENS 50 mm

AF-S NIKKOR 50mm

Current retail: £439 ($219).  Without a doubt my favourite lens.  Most often considered a portrait lens, however I love it so much for the stunning bokeh effects that can be achieved.  Truly one of the reasons I wanted a D-SLR in the first place!

I hope that I have been able to give you a little insight into some of the choices out there for Nikon D-SLR's, briefly demonstrating what each of the lenses are capable of.  Please feel free to ask questions, and while I am no expert, I will gladly try and answer!

Picture frames were from here

Thank you Sue! I am excited about the links you gave as I think they will be very helpful and I enjoyed seeing first hand what your lenses can do.  What lovely pictures.

Sue is willing to answer questions so now it is over to all of you and don’t forget to join us tomorrow for Day 5 with  Valerie from Pie For Breakfast...An Approach Toward Life.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

D-SLR Photography in Focus - Day 3

Yesterday we heard from Jules about her first purchase of a 
D-SLR and today I would like to introduce Marie Goodwyn from Sky Blog Pink. After you have enjoyed Marie’s fact filled post hop on over to her site and see more of her lovely work.
 
One of the great things about being involved in this set of Guest Posts is that it has helped me to realise just how much I have learned about using a DSLR for the past two and a half years. I hope, in this post, to give you an idea of the things you need to keep in mind when you go to buy your camera. Choosing the right one is just the beginning of the story.
 
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Our Kit - A Nikon D90 with a 18-105mm lens, F3.5/5.6
 
Deciding to change to a DSLR is, financially, a big commitment even if you opt for an entry level camera. So don't be rushed into anything - as Jules mentioned in her last post, get hands on, you can't judge a camera until you can feel the size and weight of it in your own hands.
 
My partner,Brian, and I, after a lot of online research chose to go for a camera that we could share and invest in. Ideally it would be the last camera we ever bought! This led us to look at the mid to top end of the Nikon Range.
 
We had decided on a Nikon because of its substantial feel and the number of buttons on the camera body that enable you to change settings such as ISO, White Balance, Picture Quality, and EV Compensation. These are things you often want to change on the fly and pressing a button saves a lot of time over delving through layers of camera menus.
 
We chose the D90 in the end which has the same sensor technology as the professional camera - the full format D3 (£3,600). Obviously the difference in price was a big consideration but the D3 was a much bigger and heavier camera and for our use slots for 2 memory cards and an extra battery were unnecessary - I have never used a whole battery charge in a session yet and only once or twice, when I was doing a family photo shoot, got through a 4GB memory card.
 
As well as lots of buttons the D90 had an LCD display on top of the camera just behind the on/off switch so you can quickly check and change the settings you are using.
 
We also decided to buy a kit (different retailers may offer different kits). This means we got a camera body and a choice of one of two lenses to go with it. This is a way of getting a lens at a substantially reduced price. We chose the 18-105 mid-range zoom lens. It covers moderately wide angle photos to short range telephoto. We have been really pleased with it.

This is one of the first photos I took with my new camera.
I really liked the control I could get over depth of field and the true colour rendition.
 
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After getting your new,  probably expensive camera, you are possibly thinking that another lens or accessories are the next thing. There are some things that are really useful to have but the first thing to think about is INSURANCE.

This is learned through hard experience - make sure your equipment is covered out of the home and for loss or damage. We took my camera to the Museum of Photography and Film, stopped to watch a bit of 'Blakes 7' (It was definitely a lot better when I was 8) and wandered on without picking up immediately. It next appeared on CCTV footage as a man and his small son walked out of the museum with it. We are all human and when you are carrying a quite heavy bag of kit it is not too hard to forget in a distracted moment or even drop or knock it while moving it around.

Another little insurance policy you will need to invest in is a filter - either a 'skylight' or 'UV' to put on the end of your lens. This will make little or no difference to your photos but will protect your expensive lens from being scratched or damaged.

The next thing to think about is how you will safely carry everything around. I'm assuming that the majority of people who read this are female and probably already carry some kind of handbag around with them the majority of the time. This presents a conundrum: do you change your handbag to one that is big enough to put your DSLR and spare lenses in; do you find a camera bag that you can fit your purse, phone and other essentials into; or something else.

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This is the solution that is currently working for me.
 
I have managed to hone my handbag needs to this small Kipling bag. It is about 9 inches wide, 8 inches high has a long strap that you can use over your shoulder or- more usefully for me like a mini rucksack. I have had this bag for over three years and it looks as great as when I first got it. It has room for all my essentials, including my art journal and some pens in the front pocket.

My camera bag is a Lowepro Off-Trail 2 Belt Pack bought from ebay. There are many reasons why I chose it.
1. It fastens around my waist/hips so that I can have it behind me out the way when walking around, and swizzle it (that's the technical term, you know) when I want to get at the camera and/ or lenses.
2. It also has a shoulder strap - this helps support the weight (one camera and a couple of lenses gets heavy quickly- particularly with my 70-300mm telephoto.)
3. The two lens cases can be taken off - so if I want to travel light I can just have my camera and one lens (whichever one I choose).

The combination of these two bags means that if we are out for the day I can have the camera bag around my waist and my handbag on my back leaving two hands free. I can even tuck my monopod into the belt if I want to take that too.

So now your lovely new kit is all protected, both physically and financially. What's next?

There are two pieces of equipment that can potentially have the biggest positive impact on your photography for a modest amount of money.
The first is a tripod. One of the quickest ways to ruin a brilliant photograph is camera shake - another lesson learned from bitter experience. I imagine, though I could be wrong, like a lot of you; first and foremost I want to capture that great moment in my lens - the image is the key. I have been making art for a long time and generally my composition is sound - I know to fill the frame etc. But however great the composition or perfect the light there is a limited amount you can do with a fuzzy photo.

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This photo was taken at 1/8th of a second as I needed a long exposure to capture the effect of the moving blades.  An ND (Neutral Density) filter was fitted to allow such a slow shutter speed in the bright conditions. This shot would have been impossible without a tripod.

A tripod will enable you to take photos that are perfectly sharp in most situations. Scott Kelby, in his best selling book; 'The Digital Photography Book' says that the most important way to get 'tack sharp' photos is to use a tripod. We spent a lot of time researching and got a tripod with a ball head which gives us lots of flexibility in setting up the position of the camera and the ability to move the camera around for fine adjustments without it suddenly losing grip and slipping around. It also has a quick release plate that we leave permanently attached to the base of the camera. This means that we can quickly remove the camera from the tripod or quickly snap it on.

The final item that I would recommend is a collapsible reflector. You might think that these are just for serious or pro-photographers but they are inexpensive to buy. When we get another one we'd get a squarish one, rather than round, as a square one can be propped some where if you don't have a spare pair of hands. A reflector can be used in two ways: the first is to bounce light into harsh shadows to soften them. Great when you have lovely light coming onto one side of your subject from a window. The other way is when you are trying to take photos in very bright light conditions. You can strip off the cover and use the translucent centre section to diffuse and soften the harsh sunlight falling on your subject.
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I took this a couple of days ago with my 300mm telephoto lens, which is superb for candid shots. I am beginning to work in monochrome more and more. As I develop as a photographer there is always more to explore.
This post has really just scratched the surface of my experience with my DSLR so far. Please ask any questions if I can help you any further. I am hoping to follow this up in more depth on my blog at a later date!

Thank you for that very informative post Marie. It does sound like you have learned a lot in two years and it gives me hope and encouragement!

Thank you for joining us. Marie is open for questions and comments so don’t feel shy . Tomorrow we will hear from Sue of  Taylor Tattle  so please come back.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

DSLR Photography In Focus Day 2

Guest Post By Jules http://scrappingmojo.blogspot.com/
I've always been a big fan of documenting life through photography, but it wasn't until I received a decent point and shoot as a Christmas present in 2008 that I really caught the photography bug. It wasn't long, however,  before I wanted more control over the different settings that my little p&s allowed. I love taking shots of my beloved fur babies, especially photos of my dog running around, so I decided that I NEEDED a DSLR. I started to look into the different makes and models, and soon realised that choosing the right camera wasn't going to be easy!
As budget was a big consideration for me, I knew almost immediately that my choice would be limited to the basic entry level models: the Nikon D3000, the Canon 1000D and the Sony A270 (these are the models that were available 12 months ago when I started looking - I believe they've moved on since though).
I was instinctively drawn to the the Canon as my p&s is a Canon, and I've always found it really easy to use, the menu is reasonably straightforward and it's a comfortable camera to hold. I was fully prepared to give the others equal consideration though - I didn't want to make a rash decision, I wanted to make sure I had the right camera for me.
I looked at reviews for all three, on Amazon and by Googling each model. Quite a few of those reviews mentioned that the range of lenses for the Sony camera was more limited than those for the Canon and Nikon, which was information that I took on board (again, this was 12 months ago, so it might not be the same now!).
Ultimately though, I knew I needed to see the cameras in person, and try them out. I contacted a few local stores and found that my local Jessops had all three models in stock. I explained that I wasn't in a position to buy immediately, but I wanted to try out the cameras to help me make my decision. They were incredibly helpful, and more than happy for me to go into the shop and have a play. I  spent about 40 minutes in there, trying out all three cameras. Once I had held all three models, taken a few shots with them and rummaged through the menu functions, my decision was made - I had to have the Canon. The menu was clear, the buttons were in obvious places and easy to use, the screen was nice and big and easy to see, the range of lenses is wide - but most importantly (to me) it felt right. It was comfortable and easy to hold and I wanted to run out of the shop with it there and then!
Unfortunately it took several months after making my decision to actually get my sticky mitts on one (due to financial constraints), but then my lovely husband took my breath away by surprising me with one for Christmas, and I haven't been able to put it down since!
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I've got a Canon 1000D with the 18-55 kit lens, and have been snapping away for four months now. I've added a Golla camera bag and a Velbon 60 tripod to my kit, and my next purchase will probably be a telephoto lens - I'm not sure which one yet though.
I'd like to share some of my favourite photos with you - please bear in mind that I'm certainly no professional, so these photos are probably miles from being technically perfect, but they're a far cry from anything that I could have produced with my p&s, and I love them!
IMG_2493 55mm, 1/250s, f/7.1, ISO 200

I love the crispness of this image, and the clarity of the colour, both of the blossom and the sky behind. 

IMG_227755mm, 1/15s, f/5.6, ISO 200

It's the depth of field that I love in this photo, her nose is sharp and in focus but there's a lovely softness around her ears and the top of her head.
 
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27mm, 1/400s, f/8.0, ISO 200
 
I actually shot this in black and white, and I love the effect.
 
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33mm, 1/125s, f/4.5, ISO 200
 
I love that I can capture such crisp shots of Mojo in motion - she's in focus and the background isn't which is definitely the right way round!
 
Here are my recommendations if you're looking for your first DSLR:
  • keep an open mind, you're looking for the right camera for YOU and there are a lot of models to choose from.
  • Being able to physically hold each model and try them out was really useful in my decision making process, so I would definitely recommend doing this if you can. Don't be afraid to then shop around online for a good price though!
  • It's worth investing in a good camera bag straight away, it's no good having all that expensive kit and not protecting it.

Thank you Jules. I think you will all agree that was very helpful especially the encouragement to get some hands on experience before buying.  Now it’s over to you. If you have any questions or comments  for Jules please feel free to post and remember drop by and visit her site and say hello here
Please come back tomorrow for Day 3 from Guest blogger Marie Goodwyn  from http://mariegoodwyn.wordpress.com/

Monday, 2 May 2011

DSLR Photography In Focus.

This is an exciting week for me.  Today kicks off the series “DSLR Photography In Focus” which will be six days dedicated to DSLR Photography. What is most exciting is that each post will be written by a Guest writer. I have invited five talented ladies to share about their experience behind the camera. Please join us over the coming days and leave your comments for these lovely ladies.

It’s time to move to a DSLR.

Last Summer I bought a little point and shoot that fits into my handbag and boasts 8mpx. with 5x zoom.  “A nice little camera”, I thought after moving up from a 2.1 mpx with 3x zoom. However, what I found is that although it has more options it is still an automatic camera that relinquishes no control.

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See this little guy on the fence.  He’s doing his mating ritual. Watch what happens when I try to zoom in with shaded natural light.

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I just couldn’t get it. Even with macro.  How frustrating.

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This orchid with natural light is very fuzzy.

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With flash it overexposed and lost all it’s charm.

Another frustration is the time delay.  I’ve clicked many a cute shot and the time delay has let it get away from me.  Small children and animals don’t wait around!

Then there are all the beautiful effects that you can only achieve with a DSLR. Faded backgrounds, amazing close ups, and fantastic images. It is time to move to next level in photography. 

However, where does one start. I know so little about DSLR cameras that I can’t jump into it without help.  There are a lot of great sites out there like this one Click It Up A Notch and Rock The Shop both addresses courtesy of the girls at BBFS and one of my favorites Enjoying the small things.  I will definitely be frequenting these sites for a while. 

Photography is an art especially when you move into manual mode. Each Photographer will have a particular style and have different preferences to suite their particular avenue.  I thought it would be fun to hear personally from DSLR Photographers and allow them to share from their perspective. In the process it will help me along my journey to find the right DSLR for me.

We were recently encouraged by Shimelle in BBFS to invite guest posts. I invited a few bloggers to write some guest posts for me about their experience with DSLR cameras and the response has been great. 

Jules, Marie, Sue, Valerie, and  Margie, will be my guests this week and share their experience.  Please visit their blogs and see some of their fantastic work and then join us tomorrow night for Jules post about choosing her first DSLR.