Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This post will be really really boring if you hate photography

I had one of my lovely readers (Hi Heather!) write me the other day and ask me a question. I got to thinking, it was a really good question, and my other four three readers might like to know too!

Heather asks:
"I am a relatively new shutterbug and am becoming more and more obsessed as time passes. Somewhere I read in your blog that you use a Canon. I have a Canon T1i and Paintshop pro Ultimate Photo X2. I have a 50mm 1.8 lens that I love but I am thinking of investing in another lens. What do you use? Do you have any suggestions?"

Well Heather, et al:

I'm going to tell you the stinking truth, because as Jasmine Star says, I'm gonna K.I.R. Keep it real.

I have three whole lenses. No really :p

I have the 50mm f1.8, I use it a lot for portraits and food. Unfortunately I've taken a lot of pics of food lately. lol. This lens is on the low end of the cost spectrum (you can get one under $100), but not a lens that most beginners would have. It has dreamy bokeh (depth of field - those blurry bits in the background). I usually shoot portraits with it at f 2.2, because of that, I haven't thought much of spending $300-$600 for the f 1.4 or the f 1.2 I just haven't. Someday I might realize what a moron I've been, but in the meantime, it serves its purpose to me.

I have the 70-200 f4 USM. It's big, and it's white. Ppl eyeball you when you use it. It doesn't bother me until I'm with the unsavory, and then I just put it away. You can get little wraps for the white parts, I've seen them in black and camo. I might have seen hunter orange too, but I might be imagining that.

I also have the kit 18-55. That's it. Yep, I still use my kit lens, and I use it even at weddings. I think ppl underestimate the kit lens. Having said that, my 18-55 does not even have IS (image stabilization), and those are cheap, so I bought one on eBay the other day for $108. I received it a couple days ago, and I can already tell a difference.

I started noticing that my wide shots where soft up close, and that's bugging me a lot. (especially wedding pics!) and I was hoping the IS would help that. It's gotten really good reviews. If I wasn't saving for a camera, I probably would have bought something different. I've heard people say that they get their camera and never once use the kit lens. I think those people are nutjobs. At the least, for beginners, it's a nice general lens that will work in a variety of situations. Would I shoot a whole wedding with it? heck no. But if I had to choose only ONE LENS, I'm scared to say, this might be the one.

*ducks from egg tossing*

What should you buy, depends on what you love to take pictures of. People? Then maybe a 35 or 85 mm. Personally, I don't like the 85mm, I had to back up so much I felt like it was a huge waste of my money (rental) and the wider aperture.

If you like landscapes, then you might like something wide so that you can get the broad sky pictures.

If you like pics of birds or animals, then you would want a telephoto obviously, and I wish I had the 70-300 but, unfortunately, that money tree stopped growing.

If you want to do macros you might go for the 100mm macro.

Do you want a prime? Or do you like to zoom?
Personally, I prefer zooms. Less running around for me when I'm not in a situation I can run around :)

If I were to buy one lens tomorrow, I would buy the 10-20mm super wide because I LOVE wide shots. Love love love. It's my favorite. People think you only might use a wide for landscapes or buildings, but I like to go really wide, and get in close to a subject, it looks completely different than standing back and just zooming in.

Whatever you pick, get the absolute best that you can afford, even if that means maybe putting it off for a few months so you can save up. Good pictures are almost always the glass, (and the person behind it lol). Rarely the camera, so don't let some snobbish mkII guy tell you that you take inferior pics because your camera didn't cost $3k.

I've seen guys with really expensive cameras that ran it on full auto. OK, well I can do that with a point and shoot. Having said that, I am saving for a new camera. I am going to go to a 50d (I think) for my main camera. I shoot a lot of weddings, and receptions means dark, and high ISOs, so I'm getting a lot of grain with my 30d.I hope that helps you. I know i didn't actually *answer* the question. LOL.

All my Love,

Then Heather had the GALL to actually RESPOND AGAIN.
Good Lord girl. ;)

Among other things, she says: " I am interested in hearing more about your wide angle up close technique."

Excellent follow up, and something I've been meaning to post about.

Please look at the following photos:


A year ago, this is how I would have taken this photo. Basically, stand back, and use the lens to zoom in. This is a perfectly acceptable image, where I stood approximately 1.5 feet from the handlebars shooting at 55mm.

But then I got to thinking, what would this look like if I shot it just a little different.


I stood in the exact same spot, but instead I shot at a much wider 18 mm and approximately 3 inches from the handlebars.

The handlebars are approximately the same size, but the rest of the bike has completely changed. Not only can you see all of the fender, but you can see the shadow of the wheel. Yes, there's distortion, and years ago, old school, this would have been a big no-no.

BUT, this isn't a cover poster for "40-year old virgin" and I like to be a little more "edgy" for this small town.

If you use a point and shoot, zoom out, but move up close. You'll have to experiment with how close you can get to maintain a sharp picture. Try this with people. Imagine huge noses and tiny ears.

You know, how I normally look

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