Photography, photo editing, my gear, and resources

Photography is my hobby, passion, and sometimes part-time job (I also work full time as a web designer and IT/computer lab manager). I'm completely self-taught and happy to be a lifelong learner in this topic. I  purchased a digital SLR in 2009. I like to share the things I learn and the shots I take along the way.

Note: All photos on this blog are taken by Kristi and Rob, unless otherwise noted.  

Visit my photography site here
View gear 

Photo editing
Besides taking photos, I also love to edit them. I share tips and tricks and how-to articles on this blog. If there's something specific you are wondering about, just email me. I have listed some options for free photo editing software below in the resources section.I use Photoshop CS5 primarily, but I am also a big fan of GIMP or when I'm on someone else's computer and need some free editing software. I recently fell in love with Lightroom for editing RAW image files.

Some popular posts about photo editing:
If you follow me on Twitter, I often post links to editing freebies like Photoshop actions, brushes, Lighroom presets and so on. I am also currently developing my own set of Lightroom presets. In addition, I have purchased, use, and recommend the following. I am not compensated in any way for this endorsement. I just honestly think they are quality products and give them my full endorsement:
    My gear
    If I had a million dollars to spend on photography equipment, I probably could. Ok that's an exaggeration, but there are a lot of cool things out there. Here's what I have currently.

    Sony Alpha a500 12.3 megapixel digital SLR

    I used to shoot with an advanced point-and-shoot. In late 2009, I finally purchased an entry-level D-SLR. Besides the kit lens, all of my lenses are around 20 years old and came from my father-in-law, who had an extensive collection of old Minolta film cameras.

    Why I chose Sony instead of Nikon and Canon

    Breaking news!! I recently upgraded to a more professional level camera body. I'm still using my old Minolta lenses but am loving my new camera.

    I have the following lenses:
    • Minolta 70-210mm f4
    • Minolta 50mm prime f1.7 prime (favorite)
    • Tamron 28-74mm f2.8
    • Tamron 19-35mm f3.5-4.5
    All of the Minolta lenses are around 20-years-old. We got them from Rob's dad from when he had a Minolta film camera. The advantage to the Sony SLR cameras is that they have the autofocus motor in the camera itself, not the lens (like some comparable models by Nikon or Canon). So you can use really old lenses, and it works just fine (better than fine, actually). I also have a Sony F42 external flash.

    Prior to the Sony, I took most of my pictures for the blog with this:

    Canon SD1100

    This is an AWESOME little camera that retails for around $150. Canon makes the best pocket cams, and I carry this with me wherever I go. I insist on having a camera with me at all times! It has a nice wide angle lens and a decent macro setting too. I've taken some good shots with this one. Master the manual settings for this camera, and you won't be disappointed.

    I have a Sunpak tripod:

    and a Manfrotto 681B monopod with 234RC swivel/tilt head:

    Like I said, I'm learning as I go. If I can help someone else in the process, even better! I've compiled some useful resources for all the photography enthusiasts out there. Hope you enjoy.


    General - Bernie's Better Beginner's Guide to Photography
    General - Photography Basics by Andy Lim
    General - Short Courses - The Online Library of Digital Photography
    General - Digital Photography School
    Aperture - Quick Guide to Understanding Aperture
    Aperture - Aperture, F Number, and Depth of Field Explained
    Megapixels - Why More Megapixels isn't Always Better
    Camera reviews - Detailed camera and lens reviews
    Camera reviews - Choosing a Digital Camera
    Resolution - Understanding Image Resolution for Print and Web (a must read if you print photos)

    Free photo-editing software:
    Photoshop Express (web-based)
    Pixlr (web-based)
    Picknik (web-based)
    20 online photo editing websites to have fun with

    My tips
    These are my everyday photographer tips. First, learn the ins and outs of your camera, no matter what kind of camera you have. Yes, read the manual. Expensive doesn't automatically mean better. Some of my favorite photos were taken with my $150 pocket Canon. Know your camera so well that operating it comes naturally and with little thought. You want to capture moments as they happen, not lose great shots because you're messing with your settings. Practice, practice, practice.

    Study composition. Spend some time looking at photos that catch your eye. What do you like about them? Why are they visually striking? How are the elements in the photo arranged in the frame? Start incorporating these things into your own photos. Look for interesting angles. Don't be afraid to get close to your subject to capture detail.

    Lighting is everything! Whether you are inside or outside, pay attention to your light source(s) and how the light is hitting your camera lens. If your light comes from the side, you can play with dramatic shadows. A good trick for learning - go outside in the morning when the sun is coming up, and take photos while turning in a circle. Then look at your photos and see how the sun's light path affected your photos. P.S. Slightly overcast days work well for capturing true and realistic colors.

    Most importantly, have fun, even if it means breaking the rules. I do a lot of things that more traditional photographers might criticize. For instance I enjoy purposely under or over exposing a shot when I have an idea for some post-editing I want to do. I usually don't make the background perfect or take the time to set up a tripod. But you know what? I always have fun. Bottom line - enjoy what you're doing.

    someone else's words

    "Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others." - Buddha

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