Saturday, March 8, 2014

my photography essentials



I have always loved taking pictures. When I was in junior high, I used to make my friends scrapbooks for their birthdays. Of course, when I was 13 years old the only cameras I used were the disposable ones that were sold at every grocery store. 

My first real camera was a gift from my father when I about to head off on my first grand adventure to Europe. It was a point and click and it used rolls of film. I was 17 years old and made good use of this camera by taking thousands of pictures of England + Scotland.

My second camera was another gift from my father for my second grand adventure to Europe and was a point and click digital camera. I was 22 years old. This camera captured England, Italy + France and all of our SE Asia backpacking trip, not to mention a few U.S. road trips and an east coast adventure to Boston.

My third camera was a gift to myself and it was another point and click digital camera. I was 26 years old. Recently, that one broke and I am so happy it did because it led me to an electronics store where I bought my first real, real camera: a Canon EOS M. 

1. Canon EOS M w/ 22mm lens
Since I have always been an avid photographer + scrapbooker, purchasing this camera was a big deal for me and in the past month I have taken more photos than I know what to do with! Truly though, you get what you pay for. I was able to take some stunningly beautiful photos with all of my first three cameras but those type of photos were the exception and not the rule. Most of the others were simply okay. With the Canon EOS M, there is so much going on and so many ways to style a photo that a poor quality photo is the exception. There are two qualities of the EOS M that I really appreciate:

First, there is room to grow. Right now I live mostly in the Creative Auto setting, which allows me to have a high degree of influence over the quality of the photos while auto takes care of other important features like white balance and exposure. There is a fully manual setting that I will work my way up to as I learn more about shooting in manual. It is the perfect training wheels camera!

Second, I can use more than 60 Canon lenses with this camera due to an adapter. Right now I am only using the 22mm lens, which is good for close ups and fine details!

2. Adobe Lightroom Photoshop 
My camera came with two kinds of editing software but I found that one was too technical for me to use and the other was simply too limited. As I had never used photo editing software before, I sampled a few different options before settling on Lightroom.

This editing software is so user friendly, which was very important to me because I can get easily frustrated + discouraged, especially when dabbling in something new! The program was a little pricey at $100 but I love how easy it is to manipulate different aspects of my pictures and the unique features it offers. For example, Lightroom has healing brush features (remove aspects from a photo), tilt corrector and highlight and shadow recovery!

I have been mostly using Lightroom to fix up older photographs from my point + click digital cameras.

3. VSCO Film [packs 01 + 03 + 05]
This feature is compatible with Lightroom and I am in love with it! VSCO offers archetypes of past film roll presets and is the finishing touch I am learning to use on my photos. Depending on the preset selected, your photo will take on the quality of a beautiful printed picture. I have always loved this look and I'm just beginning to dabble in this; I still need to learn a lot before I can use this feature to its potential. There are literally one hundred presets to choose from. You can also create your own presets by playing around with the VSCO tool kit that allows you to alter a picture and preset's grain, contrast and color saturation among many other qualities.

For the pictures below, the left hand copy is the before picture and the right hand copy is post VSCO treatment. These photos were my first go at applying VSCO presets to older pictures. As of right now, I do not have one preset I like the most. I am still trying them all out. One thing I know I have to keep in mind is to use just one or two presets for one album so the look isn't all over the place. I am still at the experimentation stage of using VSCO. I know it will be an integral part of my future photography, I am just not exactly sure how I will use it yet.

Keep in mind that all of the photos below were taken with my point and click digital camera and were JPEG files while VSCO works best with RAW pictures.















 Dabbling in higher quality photography + editing has been really rewarding for me. It's given me a fresh perspective of so many places I pass daily without ever thinking much about and it's also given me something new to learn about and study.

We have so many exciting travels coming up to America and New Zealand [and there has been talk of Iceland, too] and I am so excited to have equipment that is worthy of the stories I want to tell and the people + place I want capture!


What about you? What are your photography essentials? 



15 comments

  1. Great post! Just like you, I love photography, but it was only something I became really infatuated with when I got my first 'proper' camera, a Panasonic FZ47. I'm planning to upgrade my equipment later this year, but it basically taught me all I know about shooting in manual. I think Bridge Cameras can teach a Beginner so much about photography, maybe even more than proper DSLRs because they force the user to not only rely on a great auto-feature! :) I barely edit my pictures, but I've become more and more interested in Lightroom and maybe that will be my next photography purchase - what do you mainly use it for? And did you teach yourself how to use it or did you take some class?

    xx
    Melanie

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    1. I've only been using Lightroom for about one month so I'm still not entirely sure how I will end up using it five months down the road with a little more experience and vision. Currently, I use it for two main purposes: organization + basic edits. I did not have a systematic way to store my hundreds of thousands of photos from all of our trips so Lightroom has been great. It has a very easy to use and ultra organized library with key words, ratings, maps, etc. For basic touch ups, I mainly correct: exposure, red eye, titled pictures and do crops [I use VSCO via Lightroom to give my photos a certain quality I want them to have, for example that of old printed photos of Polaroid pictures]. I am still learning Lightroom + VSCO and each weekend I spend a fair amount of time viewing Lightroom's video tutorials and just learning by trial and error.

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    1. Thanks friend! I just went on a two-hour Internet frenzy looking at all the filters for my Canon! What kind of camera do you have Kate? You may have to teach me to use manual this summer!

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  3. So cool to read what other people are using! I'm in the market for a new camera as my Canon 1000d is really feeling its age! I like the idea of having a smaller camera next time, though, so it's easier to lug around.

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    1. The EOS M is super travel friendly. It's small + light and is not cumbersome to walk around with for long periods of time. The only thing that I noticed about the camera is that its battery life is really poor, which can be a bummer if you are out and about all day and it dies. I have two extra batteries that I carry when we go on a long day trip!

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  4. What a great post! We have a cannon rebel t31 and we really love it. Right now my husband is slowly learning on how to really use it and get off auto mode. I'm happy we have a nice camera while on our journey here in Korea. Right now we are looking at go pros for when we go on our more crazy adventures.

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    1. I want a go pro for our scoot adventures! My brother has one for downhill mountain biking and it looks fantastic!

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  5. Ohh lovely! I'm not the best photographer but good with photoshop so that's always been my go to :P

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    1. Thanks! My photos have improved so much but it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with my camera. I don't really believe it when people say you can achieve anything with any camera as long as you know what you're doing. I wonder when they last used a $50 point and shoot and got the same quality as a higher up camera. I think photoshop has actually helped me refine how I use my camera because I found myself having to do the same kind of edits so now I am more intentional when I take pictures to try and avoid those problems in the first place. When I was researching Lightroom + VSCO, I found so many online rants about their use and the loss of "real photography" but I think whatever floats your boat is just fine and photoshop + VSCO totally float my boat :)

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  6. I love lightroom. Thank you for linking up for Travel Tuesday. x

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    1. Me too! I've only been dabbling in it for a month and I mostly use it so I can use VSCO but it's been a lot of fun! I'm still learning but I find it so user friendly compared to other programs I looked at!

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  7. Glad I found this post. I recently purchased Lightroom but haven't even began to use it yet. I've heard it is really user friendly like you mentioned. I am in love with photography as well. I'm in the process of building a portfolio right now. The edits you did on your photos were great! I'll have to look into VSCO. Never heard of it.

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  8. VSCO will change your life!!! It's a little intimidating at first because there are so.many.choices but once you find a few looks that you love, it'll be so easy to edit photos in bulk and they will look great!

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  9. I recently did a 30 day trial of Lightroom and fell.in.love. I'm so sad my trial is over but I have to wait to purchase it I just spent a pretty penny on moving my blog to WordPress and for a custom design. But, in time I will have it! Off to go research VSCO!

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