February 1, 2011

first things first

Oh boy, now I'm nervous.

It's one thing to think about sharing photo information and tips, but it's a whole nother ball game to actually put it out there on the internet for all to see. While it's true that I've learned a lot about photography over the last couple years, I am still very much flying by the seat of my pants on a regular basis.

That said, I am happy to share what I do know. For now, I think I'll try to do a photography q & a post a week and if nothing else, this little series will no doubt serve as a high form of entertainment for any real photographer who happens to find their way here.

So, since you have to have a camera before you take a picture, it would seem that photography equipment is the logical place to start.

Up until a year ago, I was shooting with a Canon Rebel XTi. It came with an 18-55mm lens which I used for a while, but before long, I knew I wanted something better. After much research, I decided on the Canon 50mm f/1.4. I love this lens and still use it most of the time. I eventually also added the Canon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. This lens is always on my Rebel, and most of the landscape shots you see on my blog are taken with this setup.

Like this one....

Last January, my hubby was kind enough to buy me the Canon 5D Mark II. It is an amazing camera. I am head over heels in love with what this baby is capable of. I also recently bought the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. I'm still getting used to this lens, so I'll keep you posted on my thoughts there.

The latest Canon Rebel is the T2i. If you are looking to upgrade from a point and shoot, that's where I'd start. My Rebel has served me very, very well. I learned so much with that camera. I understand Nikon has something in the same range as well. There are many, many comparisons online and I would check out as many as you can before you take the plunge.

So, is that all clear as mud?


Shall we re-cap? Yes?


Canon Rebel XTi - my secondary camera
Canon 18-55 lens - came with my Rebel and I never, ever use it
Canon 18-200 - always on my Rebel and used for landscape shots

Canon 5D Mark II - my best friend
Canon 50mm f/1.4 - use this most of the time
Canon 24-70 f/2.8L - need to get more comfortable with this lens

I have a tripod and I hate using it. However, on a rare occasion, I will haul it out to get still - not people - shots in the house on a gloomy day.

A couple last thoughts.

First, read as much information and as many reviews as you can possibly absorb before you make any camera or lens purchase. Here is one of the review sites I used each time I made a new purchase. There are many more out there.

Second. When purchasing lenses, buy the highest quality your budget allows. I'm sure that's stating the obvious, but lens quality makes a huge difference in your photos.


Well, how was that for information overload?

Let me rephrase that. How was that for very dry and somewhat boring information overload?


Next week, we'll chat about the picture taking process.

Prepare yourselves to be totally underwhelmed.


  1. You need to be nicer to yourself, my friend. :)
    I look forward to the q&a's. Sometimes breaking up lots of info. is the very best way.


  2. Thanks! I can't wait to purchase my first big girl camera! This information really helped! :)

    Kirby @kirbyathome.blogspot.com

  3. You don't give yourself enough credit. What you do with that camera is amazing. I can't wait to learn more from you in the coming weeks.

  4. Go easy on yourself, darling. You are a true talent. You live in a gorgeous place and take gorgeous photos. It doesn't get much better than that!

  5. Here's how I look at it... I have a Canon 50D - best I could afford; bought a book to go with it, a good book. Between the book and my husband who had a photography class in college, I'm just not getting all the mechanics of this photography thing, so I figure, someone like yourself is probably EXACTLY what I need to help me get my brain around things like:
    • f stops
    • aperatures (are these the same thing? I don't even know!)
    • lighting
    • iso
    • etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...
    Do you see what you are dealing with Teresa? It's no wonder you're shaking in your boots. You're dealing with the likes of me, but oh so gracious to do so. Thank you in advance for these posts!!

    So, here's my first question... I have a 28-135mm lens. I'd like one that will do macro photography - real close up. Any recommendations?

  6. Hi..
    excellent post!!
    very understandable for the novice..
    clear and concise.
    the one thing you forget to mention..
    with all your research, go and handle the actual choices available! one has to be comfortable with the camera itself.. weight , shape.. this will become an extension of you..just like your right hand. your eyes sends instructions to your finger when to press the button! this should become second nature..
    lastly, have fun! digital photography allows one to play without fear of costly mistakes..
    I look forward to this series!!
    warmest hugs from frigid Denver!

  7. Hi Teresa- firstly, thanks for being the first (and only) person to comment on my blog -- I should have had a giveaway :) Secondly, this may be an obvious (read dumb) question, but is your camera "digital". I love photography but with my baby digital, I find I don't carry or want to use my big girl camera. Sigh.
    Thanks for the great photos.

  8. You don't see your talent...my goodness those lemons almost made my eyes water, I could have sworn they squirt into my eyes! BEAUTIFUL pictures as always...and that mountain shot is etheral.
    Enjoyed coming here...

  9. Your pictures are gorgeous & I am looking forward to learning more!! I recently for my birthday in December got a Canon Rebel T1i..it came with a 18-55mm lens & a 75-300mm lens. My husband bought them in a bundle package deal. I love the camera, but still have lots & lots to learn. I took some pictures of my son this weekend & really happy with how they turned out. I have them on my family blog if you wanna check them out http://diehlfamily2005.blogspot.com

  10. I only have one photo question...

    Will you sell me that last picture? It would look fabulous hanging in my kitchen!


  11. The best camera advice I ever got was to read the manual. That was huge for me. I had the camera for at least a year before that!!

  12. I had to laugh when I read this because I too am shooting with the Rebel XTi, and although I love it to pieces I'm ready for an upgrade. Last weekend when I was visiting my daughter we popped by to see the Canon 5D Mark II, it is just what I want and I really wanted to hold it in my hot little hands, but alas no one had it! I also want to get some L series lenses, so I'm saving my pennies and I hope by this spring I'll have the same set up you have!!! So timely that you posted this!

    Kat :)

  13. Well I'm using a Nikon Cool Pix 6400 I got last year, a point and shoot. One thing I want to get that depth of field you get for instance you top photo where the roses are out of focus in the background and I can't do it. I fool with the aperature setting but still my backgrounds are clear. I guess I need to go back to the book. Your photos are just lovely and I adore the color combos you use.

  14. Your photos are truly magnificent! I do know that for sure!

  15. This is right up my alley lady. I use my husband's camera which is a Nikon something or other. It has the letters M or D in it and the numbers 80 or 90 or something like that. I just pick the silly thing up and start taking pictures...like 500 of them. Of those 500 I usually get what I call at least one happy accident. That one I keep, the rest I delete. In my previous life I worked as a sign language interpreter at a college and for some reason was always put in photography class with deaf students. They were using film cameras (ever heard of them?) and I don't remember much except for alot of talk about composition. That is my favorite part. My eyes like to come up with unique stuff when seeing through just that little view finder. I don't understand lenses...why do we need different sizes, what do the different sizes do, when should we use what for what? Shutter speed vs. fstop vs. iso vs bla bla bla...at this point I tune my husband out and ask him to just fix his camera and hand it back to me because he gets all numbers and vocabulary and I'm a very visual person and so the talking doesn't mean so much. I love that you are doing this, sharing with us something that you really love, THANKS!!!

  16. I really need to get a new camera....and learn how to use it. To me, you sound like a real EXPERT....but then again, I impress easily.......

  17. I have always loved your phots and am very intimidated by good picture takers. I have a Nikon digital and if I ever read the book and learn how to really use it, then I will think about a big girl camera. I do enjoy reading about your thoughts, though, and seeing how the real world of photography works.

  18. Oh how I wish I had money for a new lens. Really looking forward to the rest of your advice. You don't give yourself enough credit- I think lots of people will listen to what you have to say. And it - speaks volumes about your character that you are willing to share your knowledge with the rest of us! Although I think we will still ooohh and awhh over your photos- you just have natural talent!

  19. good info. keep playing with that 24-70. i love mine. you will too when you get used to it.

  20. Can you let us know if your pics are SOOC (straight out of camera) or you do any post-editing on them (even minor color saturation tweaks.)
    I would love for my next camera to be a Canon, I love my Nikon but mostly went with it because it was a cheaper package deal.

  21. Wish I knew more so I loved this post. My next camera will be a Canon. Right now I have a Sony a100...love it but am so ignorant. I love photo with Boeka (sp?) but again, don't know settings. Am so enious of really good shots...ie YOURS! Beautiful!!!

  22. I will read anything just to gaze at your gorgeous pictures :) You rock the boat, girl!

  23. Would you ever sell your pics? e.g. Etsy shop? I covet your pictures :)

  24. Thank you Teresa for your willingness to share what you know (which is a lot!).
    Your generosity is such a blessing-

    White Spray Paint

  25. It was great! You take beautiful photos--they always have such a fresh, ethereal look to them. I also have the Mk II and love it!

  26. A good start. I'm looking forward to more!
    I recently bought a new camera and one website I used was flickr, actually. I spent many hours looking at pictures other people had taken with the body and lenses I was looking at, to see what they could do. I don't know how I stumbled on that idea but it really helped me narrow down my lens choices.

  27. Inspirational. Like a Hollywood movie fantasy. You are a master director but I'll barely qualify for an "extras" part! Still, you make the lessons beautiful, so I'll keep coming to class and taking notes!
    You won me on your Costco fuzzy sheet review. (Lurve 'em) The lentil/sausage soup is on for tonight!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  28. Thank you so much for sharing... you take amazball pictures!!!!
    I am trying to learn to take pictures I am awful hahaha one day and reading your blog will help.

  29. OK, Teresa, you take amazing photos, and you write wonderful words. So don't keep apologizing for your photo info.

    Interesting? YES.

    Relevant? YES.

    Underwhelmed? WHAT? Your photos overwhelm every time. We all want to know how you do it.

    THANK YOU for doing this. I love the once a week thing. Little chunks at a time make it easier for you and us.

    Down the road...I'm interested in your post processing.

  30. Great post. I would love to learn more about photography. I occasionally take my camera off the auto mode and I need to do that more often. Looking forward to more informative photo posts.

  31. Oh, how I *LOVE* that you are posting this info! I need help so badly, I just know I should sign up for a real class! I am glad you mentioned the 50mm 1.4, I am seriously considering that one and have heard so many great things about it from fellow bloggers.

    I am having a giveaway today, so stop by! My sister is having a baby today and I am celebrating! ;o)


  32. Loved it..love your blog and I would love that 24-70mm lens..if only......

  33. I loved this post and am looking forward to more to come. I still use a point and click type camera, maybe someday I'll take the training wheels off and get a big-girl camera. Until then I plan to soak up all the tips you'll be handing out so I'll know what to when I get one! LOL

  34. I was expecting lemonade at the end. :)
    Can't wait until next week! Please don't be so hard on yourself. You're an amazing photographer!

  35. The day I stumbled onto your blog was a very happy day for me. I have enjoyed it so much and now you are going to share your amazing photography skills. You are now my new best friend whether you wanted one or not. I was wondering if you would mind if I posted about you on my blog and used a few of your amazing photos of your herb garden.
    Want to know something crazy ..... you and I could be sisters as we have a striking resemblance.
    Looking forward to your reply.
    So good to have found you sis...lol

  36. You did wonderful! Don't be shy, you have a gift and it is incredibly nice of you to share it with us. I have yet to buy my first lens but have fun playing with my Canon Rebel. I was wondering if you would mind posting a shot with the lens the camera comes with vs the lens you use on your Rebel. You know, one last push to get me to spend that much $$ on myself ... I've got a tax return coming in that could go to something like this :)

  37. I was lucky enough
    to play with my brother's
    Canon 5D Mark II over
    Christmas and fell madly
    in love with it.....But,
    after talking myself down
    from the ledge, decided
    to go with something less
    pricey as my "beginner"
    camera and to spend money
    on lenses. My first was
    a 50mm 1.8 and it is my
    most favorite. I've got
    the 18-200mm on my wish
    list : ) I also bought
    an external flash, which
    has been great when a flash
    is absolutely needed. Thank
    you for sharing your info ~
    so great to know what, besides
    an excellent eye, is behind
    your fantastic shots!
    xx Suzanne

  38. Some day I hope to graduate to a big girl camera... I've been using Nikon forever -- anything in particular that made you decide on Canon? Thanks for all of your expertise, looking forward to more of these posts. As long as the have pretty pictures with them. :-)

  39. I agree with everyone here, your pictures are beautiful and I am very interested in what you have to say. I would love to take photos as lovely as yours are. I don't understand the numbers assigned to the lenses you mentioned. Could you explain them, please?

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  41. Thank you, thank you...I am the proud new owner of a Canon Rebel T2i...so I am soaking up any and all camera advice I can...So excited for the next installment of photo tips...and tell me you are going to do a post on editing, pretty please?

    P.S. the pictures in this post are nothing short of dreamy + divine!

  42. I love this post Teresa. I am ready to learn and think you are doing a great job with this post--very informative if you ask me :) I wish I had a Canon Rebel. The hubs bought me a panasonic luminix for Christmas--I need to get to using it. I kinda wish I’d gotten a Canon but I would never tell him that as he is too wonderful :)
    Have a great weekend

  43. This is EXACTLY the information I needed! Thanks sooooooooooo much! I am going to start researching now so I know what prices are, so I'm ready to buy something as soon as we get the the states in May.

  44. I can't wait to read more of your tips. You obviously have this photography stuff really figured out. I'm still learning so much, but hope to get better.

  45. Teresa, I love the bowl the lemons are in. I have some just like it in the same color and also orange, They were my moms and I love them. Love the tips, thanks! I am a point and shoot and wish me luck kinda gal...lol

  46. This post was extremely helpful! I am using a Nikon D40, which is quite basic and I really want to upgrade eventually, so keep the q&a posts coming. :)

  47. Wow!!! Thanks so much for sharing all this great info. The 'review link' was great too.
    Have a good week,

  48. I would also like to buy the last picture in your post.... a really big one for my kitchen....it would make me so happy!!

  49. I'm so excited to hear anything you have to say about photography. I just did a bit of a whine boohoo is me I can't use my Nikon D90 on my blog today. I really just want to be able to take a picture of my cards I made. I don't want them to be washed out. I want them to be decent and I cannot get any good result. Frustrated for sure!

    I was reading all the comments and I totally cracked up at what Valley Girl said (on Feb 1). So funny and so true. So me.

  50. Hola Teresa, I too have the 5D and I´m learning to use it, but believe me reading you has helped me a lot, specially about de 50mm 1.4 lens which I knew I was needing it!!! I used to have a B&W lab many years ago which was lot of working in the dark and a long time to get one picture on the paper, and now technoligy is beyond my understanding, but as you do, I´m trying and learning a lot.
    Thank you so much for your very interesting learnings about photography.

  51. oh, and thank you so much for sharing!!!
    p.s. excuse my english, I try my best

  52. thank you for your photography posts!! i really love them and right now i'm trying to absorb all info i can to learn how to take better pictures. i just read my manual so now it's just more reading and practicing. btw, you are so funny and entertaining....i love your whole blog, but i would love to see more pictures of your home and decorating. i LOVE your kitchen and dining room...they are total inspiration for me since i am getting ready to do some kitchen and home makeovers this summer. okay, i guess that's all. :)

  53. Any chance you could send me a higher resolution of your bowl of lemons (at top of page)? My wife is wanting to paint them and would like to print it out.