3 Pieces of Photography Advice for a DSLR Newbie

If you have been following CrunchyVTMommy for a while then you have seen my slow photographic progression. I have always loved taking pictures. I admired those who could capture images flawlessly and (seemingly) effortlessly but up until recently I was clueless about the technicalities behind photography and the images I admired. My cluelessness has little to do with a lack of interest in photography it was due to a lack of motivation to improve. Once my son became a toddler everything changed. Every photo was a blur and it frustrated me to no end. I bought a DSLR. End of story. Happy mom right? Wrong.

I am a bit obsessive when it comes to the things I enjoy. I like to be as informed as possible and make every attempt to achieve my personal best. Unfortunately that usually means that I am up in the middle of the night reading books about photography and practicing my post processing skills. The good news is you don't have to. : ) I will share the fruits of my late night labor with you.

Here are the five things I have learned during my short career as a mom with a (big) camera.

Take your time choosing your first lens.

I had taken note of the advice to buy any lens but the kit lens but I was so desperate to get my children back home once we arrived to the camera store (it was one of those car rides) that I went with the shiny new package. I regret it. A little.

A camera is only a tool but without the proper lens you will face great difficulties in getting the shots you want. Want to take a picture of rose with early morning dew on it? You can take this picture with your kit lens but once you realize how much detail is lost in your shot you are going to want a macro lens and it is going to cost you. Looking to take beautiful pictures of your surrounding landscapes? Good luck with your kit lens. And so on.

The kit lens is definitely not all bad. I have learned a ton using it and am definitely not junking it but it is not the solution to all my problems. Definitely a great starting point but if one's goal is to take primarily portrait pictures then why not start with a portrait friendly lens. Makes sense right?

Keep the camera white balance setting as "Cloudy" 90% of the time.

I read this in "Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson" and it has served me well. I take the majority of my pictures outdoors and this setting seems to consistently provide the look I am going for. I sometimes take pictures indoor and have tried using the proper "Tungsten" setting but am not always pleased with the results.

Take a look below:



See the difference? These are straight out of the camera and have not been processed. Which do you prefer? I prefer the "Cloudy" setting picture. If you are just messing around the house, snapping away and want some candid pictures that do not need post processing you might want to experiment with your white balance settings. You too might find that "Cloudy" works best in most situations.

Beware of unbridled enthusiasm and excessive spending

It always starts innocently enough. You are minding your business reading a blog when suddenly you fall in love with the photographs. You learn a little more about how the look was achieved during post processing and next thing you know you are the proud owner of hundreds of dollars worth of Photoshop actions. Don't do that. There are plenty of freebies floating around the internet that you can have fun playing with. There is no reason to spend a ton of cash on actions, textures, and programs if you haven't yet mastered your camera.

There is no benefit to owning a hundred lovely hazy actions if you have a hard drive full of blurry and out of focus pictures to use them on. Work on your picture-taking skills first. Set a goal for yourself (mine is to have a folder of 25 "perfect" pictures) and then as a reward buy yourself a treat. Sort of like dieting but you still get to enjoy your bacon.

baby teeth

I hope this helps some of you. If you have any tricks or tips you want to share with this eager beginner please send them along. Thanks for reading : )