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Photography

I grew up in the midst of photography.  Some of my earliest memories are of my papa showing slides at night against a sheet hung in the living room.  Since then, there are several accomplished amateur photographers in the family.  
I got my first SLR in college.  I had fun.  But it largely gathered dust after I entered the work force.  
Many years passed.  
Many many years passed.  
Decades in fact.
When we were about to travel to VietNam for our adoption, I wanted to purchase a good, new camera to preserve the memories.  I waffled back and forth between a DSLR and a point-n-shoot.  Ultimately, I got a pricey point-n-shoot because I couldn't see lugging a big ol' DSLR all around VietNam.  And ultimately I regretted my decision not to get a DSLR.
I got my first DSLR in 2009.  'Cause you asked, (OK, you didn't really ask did you, but humor me) it was a Canon Rebel T1i.  All the photos on the blog from June 2009 through May 2012 were taken with by little Rebel.  I had so much fun with that camera, and it re-ignited a love of photography in me.  Canon's Rebel line is kinda the best non-professional camera that they have, and thus the Rebel has a non-professional price tag.  I recommend it for anyone who want to "learn" digital photography.  My Rebel was just perfect camera to start with!  
And just recently I finally sold everything not nailed down in my home saved enough money to buy myself a Canon 5D Mark II.  I'm still learning how to use her and hope that she likes me as much as I adore her.

My first lens was a 50mm 1.8.  It is a great first lens, and if there is one bit of advice that I'd give to a first time owner of a DSLR, it would be to buy a 50mm.  My thoughts on my 50mm lens are here.  It's a great all purpose lens that teaches how to use an SLR yet still produces great images relatively easily. And did I mention that it can be cheap!  I now have a 50mm 1.4, and it is often the lens that I stick on my camera and just leave it there until I want to do something special. 
Then there is my 24-70mm 2.8.  It was my first big purchase.  It is my other work horse and sometimes it stays on my camera the vast majority of the time. 
I also have an 85mm 1.8 that is great for portraits and incredibly sharp, but not very good at covering larger areas, like a room shot, or sports, or landscapes.  
Then Papa recently splurged (read-scrounged on Craig's List for months and finally found a awesome deal) and bought me a 100mm macro.  It's a dream to play with and finally allows me to capture images really up close.  On top of that, it's a great portrait lens too.  I would say it's a really fun and great lens to add to your bag, but again it's not a lens to start with.  
Nearly every photo you see from me has been post-processed, i.e. tweaked after the fact, brightening, cropping, correcting white balance, etc...  I still have so much to learn with photography, and post processing can erase many flaws (sometimes literally) and can cover a multitude of photographer sin. The two basic types of post-processing that most all photographers use are Photoshop and Lightroom.
I have a cheap basic version of Photoshop Elements, but unless I'm creating a project, I don't use it.  I've taken a several classes to learn the in's and out's of Photoshop, and I appreciate the incredible endless possibilities it offers.  If I want to be super creative or have a fun project in mind, I will reach for my Photoshop.  BUT for me, Lightroom is still it when it comes to editing a photograph.   I love love love my Lightroom to help "fix" photos, and it is my main editing software.  In my opinion, compared to Photoshop, Lightroom is far faster and easier to use, and is designed for the way photographers think.  
I really don't have any special skill or talent.  On the contrary, I am an amateur photography hobbiest at best who is humbled by how much I don't know!  I have so much to learn and try to get better all the time.  I love to take photographs, and I love to practice.  And if I can do this, anybody can.

27 comments:

  1. So beautiful! I love love love beautiful pictures and although I'm not a pro, I do like taking at least reasonably good pictures. I think it's especially nice/important when you have a family--preserving memories, times and places in an artform so amazing as photographs is a modern wonder I'm very grateful for! Your kids are blessed!
    Love your blog! New follower from MBC!
    Angelina

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  2. You're photography is absolutely stunning! Puts all of my pictures to shame lol

    Mystikafaith (www.monstersgonewild.ca)

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  3. Ever consider post-processing mentoring? I need someone to take me by the hand while I go RAW with Lightroom.

    nilesjess@gmail.com

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    1. Funny you should ask...
      Hopefully soon. I'm working SO hard to make it happen!
      I just emailed you.
      nancy

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  4. I love this page. I am in the process of searching for the right camera, and this page was very helpful.
    Thanks!

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  5. I am just dreaming of owning a 24-70 2.8 but I can't afford it right now. What are your thoughts or advice on buying used lenses? I heart a horror story of my friend who got a used camera that was near its end, and I don't want that to happen to me with a lens!!!! I have a 50mm that I LOVE, but I'm so ready for a zoom lens.
    Thank you in advanced!
    Marta

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    1. Marta- Oh the 24-70mm 2.8 is a wonderful wonderful lens! I don't think you'll be disappointed. It is a heavy lens though, especially if you are used to your 50mm. So be prepared for the extra weight.
      And I totally recommend used lenses (and cameras too) IF they come from a reputable place. I've purchased refurbished equipment off of Canon's refurbished site and been very happy and they also came with a 1-year warranty. There are other well-known online photography sites that sell refurbished lenses that I would trust.

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  6. Thank you! I actually just placed my order for a refurbished 24-70 2.8.
    My entry level Canon is a crop frame sensor. I love my camera but am so ready for an upgrade. The crop frame doesn't bother me, and I have never touched a full frame dslr before. I love how full frame cameras respond very well to higher ISO's, but it concerns me that my 50mm will baisically turn into a 35mm. I don't want to buy an 85mm so that I can get the same "focal legnth" as my 50mm is on a crop frame. What wisdom could you pass onto me about moving from crop frame to full frame?
    Thank you in advanced!
    Marta

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    1. Marta-I can not image you would be disappointed in a 50mm lens on a full frame camera. It is a pretty standard setup for many many photographers. That being said, Canon's 85mm is a wonderful lens, usually for portraits. the advantages of going full frame are numerous. I would recommend that you wait until you get a full frame camera and then decide what types of lenses you want to add to your bag.

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  7. Nancy! Help! My first DSLR was a Nikon D5100 and I bought a 35mm lens to go along with it. My new D800E came today, but I suddenly realized that my 35mm is not compatible with my new camera because it is meant for DX format. I'm a little frustrated because I really do not want to spend another chunk of money on a new lens. Do you know if there's a such thing as a converter that can make my 35mm lens work on the new full frame camera? Doubt there is.
    Thank you

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    1. Oh Mollie, that has to be frustrating! Things are constantly changing in the photography world. Better to ask the source. Give Nikon customer service a call. Every time I've talked to them, they've been extremely helpful!

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  8. Do you have a 70-200 2.8? If not, have you heard good things about it?

    Jessika

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  9. One more question I forgot to include in the last comment.
    I am a newbie to the camera world. I got a 50mm 1.4 because the friend that taught me to shoot in M sent me the link to the one I should buy. I am looking on Amazon right now for a new lens, but I am not sure which one to buy because they have AF and AFS. What's the difference, and which should I buy?

    Jessika

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  10. Not sure if my last comment went through or not.
    Do you have the 70-200mm 2.8 lens? If not, have you heard good things about it?

    Jessika

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    1. Yes, I so have the 70-200 2.8 and I do love love it! It's a wonderful lens and so fun to use. All the powwow pics this year were taken with it. If you look at the video in the "Turtle Release" post you can see me using it. http://nancyvnjourney.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-turtle-release.html And all the pics at the powwow this summer were taken with it, http://nancyvnjourney.blogspot.com/2013/07/powwow-in-pines-faves.html It's a wonderful piece of glass and I highly recommend it. Except it is SOOOOO freakin' expensive! I saved for a long while for that one!

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  11. My husband got laid off last week and I am expecting twins in April. They won't be little forever, and I want to be able to capture great pictures of them. I can already shoot in Manuel mode, but I do not own a DSLR. Just a nice point and shoot. Since I can't afford an expensive DSLR and I need an upgrade from my point and shoot, I am searching for the most inexpensive DSLR on the market. Do you know which Canon or Nikon entry level DSLR is the cheapest right now?
    Many Thanks~
    Megan

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    1. Megan--CONGRATS on not just a new baby but TWO of them!!! I will add, ERGO. Saved my sanity more than once.
      Okay re cameras, I will speak re Canon since that's what I know. The Rebel T5i is that latest cheaper entry-level DSLR. But if you're okay going used, try Canon's online refurbished site for an older model, like a T3i or T2i. Canon offer a guarantee on their refurbished stuff so that's awesome too. And if you live in a large city, find the great reputable camera store and what they offer for used DSLRs. If something goes wrong with it, you have them to go back to. I'd highly recommend the Rebel line, and an older one to keep the price down from a reputable source. And a 50 or 35mm lens of course.

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  12. I shoot with my Canon 5D and my only lens is my 50mm 1.2, which has been wonderful to me. Which lens should I get as a second lens? It has been almost two years since I got my 50mm and so I can buy a more expensive lense this time. I've narrowed it down to the 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 100mm macro, and the 16-35 f2.8 (I adore the distortion it creates in the sky). I just cannot decide! Too many choices!

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  13. Do you have any other lenses that are not listed here?

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  14. Is the VietNam Temple of Literature pic from your trip?

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    1. Yes, but it's from our first trip in 2008. The camera mentioned is actually wrong. It's was actually a point-n-shoot. I don't even remember what kind.

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  15. Hi Nancy,
    I think I have learned as much as I can from my 50mm lens and Canon 5Dmk3. From my observations, my next lens needs to be a wider angle than the 50mm. I tried out the 24-70 f/2.8 and the 35mm f/1.4. I love them both. The 24-70 is more versatile, but I am worried I would miss the higher aperture values that the 35mm 1.4 gives. Do you ever wish you have them? I would have to get one or the other today because our local camera shop just got in both refurbished from Canon. They sell quickly; I can guarantee you that this time tomorrow they will both be gone.
    Thoughts on which I would be happier with?
    Thank you:
    Dana

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    1. Dana, I have the 24-70 but not the 35mm. So know that's my experience. I used to LOVE LOVE my 24-70 and it's flexibility, but I took it to VeitNam in it only came out of my camera bag once and I wan't happy with it then. I came home and told hubby that if it just went down to f/2.0 I'd LOVE LOVE it and never want another! But it doesn't so it's getting very little use these days. I'm not sure where this is going long term. I also have a 16-24 f/2.0 that I LOVE and use as my primary wide angle lens, although I really don't consider myself zoom lens gal, so go figure! So... I say the 35mm 1.4! You'll need to be careful that your DOF doesn't get too short when you're shooting close ups. I may be all wrong.

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  16. Is this the first issue you've had with the limited aperture values? Its a tough trade off between flexibility and aperture. I know I could do so much more with the 24-70 than with the 35mm. BUT, the whole reason for it is because of the wider angles. Most of the times I want a wider angle, its in low light.
    A 24mm 1.4L also came in, refurbished from Canon, but I assume that is maybe too wide?

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  17. Dana,I don't tend to have many issues with limited ap values since the lenses I purchase tend to have low ap values in general. My 24-70 and my 70-200 have the highest (low) ap value at f/2.8. All the others are lower. But the f/2.8 doesn't bug me since I can get farther away to shrink my dof. It's not a low light issue for me. It's a short dof for me. I low to shoot with with a short dof. I don't think 24mm is too wide, especially if you're on a crop frame camera. Oh wait you said Mark iii, but no matter I still don't think it is. If I want to go wide, I want to go wide! Thus my love of my 16-35mm which I still think is very sharp for a zoom.

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  18. So, I just called the camera shop and placed them both on hold for pickup and purchase tomorrow. There is a four business day return policy, so I will play with the two and return whichever I do not prefer. With 35mm, though, is a shallow DOF really possible? I cannot see getting much bokeh on it.
    Thank you for your help, Nancy!

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