Friday, January 29, 2010

Photo Friday: Lenses

At Bad Girls Weekend I was asked several questions about photography. I took several notes of questions some of the woman had and hopefully will start doing Photo Friday again to answer them.

Fingers crossed.

Today: Lenses

People email me all the time about camera recommendations. I usually tell new-er photographers to grab a Canon Rebel XTi but stress that your lenses are really a more important part of your camera. Most of the time the lenses that come as part of a camera kit are crap--I recommend buying the camera body by itself and then adding lenses.

So how do you pick a good lens? First, you have to think of what you'll be shooting. Do you want to shoot your kids playing outside on the playground? A newborn snuggled up? A flower garden begging for a close-up? Once you know what you want to shoot, it's easy to pick a lens based on focal length (how much you can zoom in) and aperture (how blurry you want the background to be) Don't zone out on me--I'll explain!

Focal Length

Every lens has a focal length. That is how close or far away from your subject you can shoot. Grab your camera and look at the lens - on the front where the glass is, there are some numbers and the letters mm.

If your lens has two numbers, like 18-55mm, that means it's a "zoom" lens. With a zoom lens, you can shoot things close to you and farther away. Many beginning lenses--especially if you got it with a kit--are zooms.

If it has just one number, like 50mm, that's called a "prime" lens. I love to shoot with prime lenses, mostly because they make me move around and I get new and different angles than if I shoot with a zoom. You can't zoom in and out, but that's what your feet are for!


Aperture is one of those things that scares people! It sounds confusing but it's really not that tough to figure out. Trust me, if I can do it--you can do it!

Apertures are the same thing as F-Stops, so if you see an F before a number (like F8), we're talking about your aperture. The simplest way to explain apertures is this: the smaller the aperture number, the blurrier your background will be. The bigger the aperture number, the more in focus everything will be.

Think about what you want to shoot. Do you want a photo of your baby's toes, up close with the background blurry? Set your aperture on it's lowest number and zoom in close. Are you trying to take a photo of all the kids and the dog in front of your house? Set the aperture on a higher number to keep it all in focus.

An exercise: Change the dial on your camera to A or AV mode and change the aperture to the lowest number it will let you (check out your camera manual on how to do this) Shoot something still and see how it looks. Now change your aperture to a bigger number and shoot a few more. See how everything looks more in focus? Play with it and you'll start to understand it better!

A fantastic lens is the Canon 50mm (focal length) 1.8 (aperture) which is around 100 dollars! Nikon makes a 50mm too!

I use my 50mm 1.8 all the time! See in the picture of Kate below--just part of the picture is in focus? That's the 1.8 aperture. If I would have had it at a higher aperture (like 4 or 6) more of her body and background would be in focus.


Does that help at all? If you have any other lens questions, I'll answer them in the comments!

iPhone Pictures







*all pictures using ShakeItPhoto for the iPhone.

Vacation Pictures: North Carolina

After Seattle, Jen I went to Bad Girls Weekend. That alone deserves it's own post (coming soon) It was (as has been recounted on MANY other blogs) AMAZING!



And, oh the babies! So many chubby, gurgling six-month old babies. I might have gone a little baby crazy if I hadn't been puked on several times. Instant birth control.


We visited a house there called WhaleHead Club. Some crazy duck-shooting woman and her husband lived here. Together they were rich and shot and skinned ducks. Somehow I think the tour guide there wanted us to get more out of it. We did sneak off into several dark spots during the tour--which just ended up being basements.


More coming soon!

Vacation Pictures: Seattle

Seattle was AMAZING! We stayed with our good friends the Eggers. It was rainy, cloudy and cold--in short, PERFECT! I loved being able to wear pants without sweating, seeing snow on the mountains and showing the kids around Seattle.

We went to the Experience Music Project downtown and had a family jam session. Let's hope the CD of us yowling singing never makes it into public circulation.


Saw the local tourist traps. Colin didn't believe the throwing fish at Pike Place Market was an actual thing--we showed him!



Viva Seattle!


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