Photography 101

With Christmas around the corner, several people have asked about the camera equipment I own.  While I am by no stretch of the imagination a “real” photographer, I am, in fact, slightly obessed with taking pictures of my girls… and now baby boy too {depsite the fact that 9 times out of 10 the final shot isn’t what I had envisioned}. Type A’s aren’t exactly the most creative folks on the block, ya know.
Like a computer, or a car, there are many buttons, gages and dials- most of which I don’t know how to operate on my camera. I’ve driven my car for 5 years and only recently realized there is a mute button on the radio. All this time….
My camera manual sits in my Kelly Moore camera bag in hopes that I will have down time to study the 182 page black and white manual for the 80th time and have an Ah Ha moment- some little tweek that will make my photos suddenly amazing. That has yet to happen.
I finally sat down without children, husband, or animals- and searched various websites, YouTube videos and blogs, over the weekend, to figure out some more of the in’s and out’s of my Canon 50D.
I started with the Canon Rebel, which is a great starter camera. Last time I was at Costco, I saw that they sell it now with two lens.  Currently, I have a Canon EOS 50D. - which I love.
Where to Buy
The most reputable and knowledgeable sources are B&H Photo and Adaroma.  I bought my camera body and lens separately. I also buy refurbished when possible.
I use a 50mm 1:1.4, 55-250mm, and a 20mm. There are a few more I want, but this covers zoom, wide angle and macro (close up). I like the macro lens for my girl’s faces, babies toes, etc. The zoom is great for sporting events, beaches, etc. 
The quickest and easiest way to instantly improve photos is, whenever possible, don’t use your flash. Natural light is the best and most flattering- it’ amazing what a difference it makes. Period.
Using natural light isn’t always possible, so you have to learn to control your ISO (light).
Another key component is to use your focal points. With the rights lens, this is how you achieve a clear image, with blur in the background for instance.
Which brings up aperture- which basically the size of your lens opening. The bigger the hole (aperture #), the more light comes in and captures more of the background. The smaller the hole (aperture #), the less light coming into the lens which blurs out the background.
I usually shoot in the AV mode which allows me to control my ISO, focal points, and aperture. There are probably lots of other adjustments to be made in the mode, but I only use the basics.
I started dabbling in the Manual mode this weekend, which allows me to control my shutter speed. Can’t say much about shutter speed, because I don’t know much about it. This mode is what I call ‘high maintenance’, but as far as I can tell, it’s the only way to control the shutter speed with the 50D. I have a feeling it’s going to take me a long time to get this one down, but half the fun is the challenge.
Google offers a free, online tool called Picasa- you can crop, change to b/w, etc. I use Adobe Lightroom, and again- it’s much more advanced that I am, but eventually I hope to get around to learning how to really navigate inside that tool because it’s pretty darn neat all the things it can do.
Learn, learn, learn
Check out youtube videos {there is a wealth of info out there}, photographers blogs to study composition, books, your camera manual {essential} and forums.  Best of all, snap away because you can erase the 99 shots you didn’t like and keep the only ones you do.

Blog Books
For the past several years, my Mom has printed the blog book for my girls using the website.

Again- by no means do I know what I am doing- but…. this Mom doesn’t want to miss a minute of my babies so I keep on snapping away.