November 17, 2010

using a camera

After my last post I got a lot of e-mails and comments asking about my camera. So, to save time, here's my information and thoughts about photography.
my dad at the ranch. taken by Stephen.
First of all, my camera is a Nikon D60 and I use 18-55mm and 70-300mm lenses. If I had the money, I would also love a 35 mm lense for portrait taking. I like my camera but there are tons of great cameras out there. I just chose the one that I could get the best price on at the time and that was a good, reliable brand. I suggest either a Nikon or Canon (Costco usually has great deals, especially at Christmas) but that's just my personal opinion. The thing about taking good pictures is really not the kind of camera you have. It's about knowing your lighting, settings on your camera and knowing how to capture your subject's best poses. I suggest you read whatever manual comes with the camera to figure out all the settings and features your camera has. You can also take a class but I find the best thing to do is take LOTS of pictures. That's the great thing about digital - if you don't like it, delete it and try again.

My brother, who is a fantastic photographer (and is also referred to lovingly by my family as a "technology nerd"), has a very nice Nikon camera. This summer he also had access to some of the best cameras in the market during his internship and he brought one to the ranch. My whole family was "oooh"ing and "ahhh"ing over it and talking about how he could take such good pictures with this camera. He said something that really resonated with me and made me kind of change the way I thought about photography and cameras. He said, "When people say that you take good pictures because of your camera it's like telling a chef that their food is good because of the pots and pans they used." There is something to be said about the level of quality when it comes to cameras and what they are capable of. You generally aren't going to get as good a shot using a small point and shoot as you would most SLRs but it's really a personal choice. Don't spend the money on a camera that you won't learn how to use and/or don't want to lug around. The point is though, that lots of people don't use their cameras to their full capacity. If you want to take great pictures you need the technology but you also need knowledge.

Other things I recommend:
- a good case for your camera and lenses. I have this one and I don't hate it but I don't love it. It's definitely convenient, comfortable and fulfills all my needs but it's not cute. Lowepro is not known for fashionable camera carriers but they are good quality. Some cute ones are this, this and this.
- Lightroom 3 by Adobe. Trust me. If you are a normal person (and you probably are) you don't want Photoshop. You want Lightroom. If you can't afford it, Picasa 3 is a great free software.
- don't use your flash except in rare instances or if you have an amazing external flash (I'm really jealous).
- a cute camera strap. Not necessary but a fun accessory.


  1. totally strange ... but i was having this exact conversation with nathan last night. i was just saying that i hate when people say "sorry i took this with my point and shoot so its a horrible picture"
    a) you can get good pictures with a point and shoot. its not ALL about the camera - its about your ability to shoot a subject. (but of course there are differences im just saying there is something to be said for - oh i dont know - composition?)
    and b) if its a picture of your kids playing in the backyard ... why are you apologizing? are you hoping to be featured on the front of parents magazine?

    i just think that with the fad of photography comes people who feel like they have to spend lots of money for a camera and apologize when they dont use some fancy thing.

    apparently this subject grinds my gears. haha ;o)

  2. Love that line about pots and pans.
    And your thoughts on Lightroom and Picasa. (I still think Lightroom is complicated even though it is a TON easier than Photoshop!)

  3. girl... You take fabulous photos. You are super creative and ultra talented... good camera or not! I feel so insulted when people suggest it is all in the camera. It is like when guys gracefully explain that they will "let" me cut their hair. I will "let" them pay me $45.


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