Tuesday, December 27, 2011


And I get to cross another item off my 40 X 40 list:

1. Get a Camera!

This is SO exciting! I keep seeing my FB friends saying that this was the "Best Christmas Ever!" and I'd have to agree! Between the Nutcracker and the camera it was awesome! It's also the first Christmas where we somehow managed to have fewer presents AND happy children. That is truly wonderful when that happens.

OK, back to the camera...

I got a Canon Rebel T3 which is Canon's entry-level D-SLR camera. This is absolutely perfect for me because I'm not just a D-SLR newbie, I'm also a photography newbie. If you read this post, you'll see just how awful new I am to this whole photography thing. I also got some pretty accessories to go with the new camera, which I have photographed with the new camera, which I will show you while I tell you about using the new camera... (How's that for a sentence?)

My new B-Hobo camera bag from Kelly Moore Bags (they don't appear to have this color anymore)
 and strap from Jodie's Camera Straps, I happen to love embroidered ribbon!
First, indulge me while a brag just a little. I am proud to say that despite being a photography newbie, I have only shot in manual mode since getting the camera! Between the instructions that I got from Leslie in Blogging Your Way, the textbook from my upcoming class (more on that below), and the Understanding Exposure book (also below), I have felt very comfortable shooting in manual mode. So much so, that I may never try the auto settings.

A close-up of the strap. Those are some of my favorite colors...
 Using all of that information, I have been fiddling with the combination of ISO, f-stop and shutter speed while learning to use the light meter on the camera. According to the Understanding Exposure book, you should try to use the lowest ISO possible and make the adjustments with the aperture and shutter speed. I've been playing with the combinations to try to get decent indoor shots with lower light and no flash.

The interior of the bag is not only adjustable but purple. It's doubly awesome!
The higher the ISO, the more "noise" you get in the photo. Photo-noise is bad and should be avoided. However, when you slow the shutter speed to let more light into the camera, you also give yourself more time to shake the camera and blur the image. When the shutter speed is really slow "shaking the camera" can mean you were breathing while you're holding it. In other words, you either need a tripod or you have to keep the shutter speed relatively fast.

Blue and purple together... Kelly Moore is a woman after my heart.
The slowest shutter speed on the T3 is thirty seconds... yes, as in half a minute! Naturally I had to try that. I found the Christmas tree in the view finder and clicked and waited.................... and waited................. and waited............. (and breathed), finally my mom said "That's the longest I've ever waited to hear the click!" then we waited five more seconds before the shutter clicked. The tree looked like a bright, colorful blur. The fastest speed is 1/4000 of a second, so I switched to that setting and snapped another pic. Since it was inside in the evening, the photo was black. What can I say, it's fun to play "I wonder what would happen if...?" with the camera.

Two zippered pockets on the front. Since my kids are older and I no longer have to haul all of their
"schtuff" around with me a bag like this is perfect! I wouldn't recommend this bag
to a mom with small kids trying to consolidate camera stuff and kid stuff. 
I love the light meter on the camera! You adjust the ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed until the light meter reads zero and take the picture! It takes the guess-work out of the lighting. Since using the light meter, I haven't had to edit any of the images in Photoshop! I've cropped some of them and changed the size to 500 pixels wide, but aside from that, the pictures you see in this post and the Nutcracker post, came out of the camera exactly how you see them! I have never been able to use a picture straight out of the camera before. It's an amazing change!

She has a lot of nice details on the bag. That's one of the reasons I went with it.
I put "Take 2,000 pictures" as # 35 on my 40 X 40 and I'm realizing just how unambitious that number actually is. I've had the camera for three days and I've already taken 238 pics. I knew that you have to take lots of pics to get one decent one, but I didn't know how many "a lot" actually was. 10,000 might have been a better number, but I'm not changing it now... Live and learn.

In order to learn how to take good pictures, I've enrolled in Nicole Hill Gerulat's Photo 101 class on Nicole's Classes. Below is the textbook for the class. It's only 7" x 7" but she manages to cram TONS of information into that space! Class starts on January 2nd and runs for four weeks so I'll report back and tell you how it went.

I'm also enrolled in her Tabletop Photography class in March. I want to learn everything possible about how to take Leslie-esque color stories. My dad is actually paying the fee for this one because he has big plans for me to photograph all of his pottery. I'll let you know how that goes too. I'm expecting great things!

Finally, if you want to know more about exposure, I highly recommend this book:

I've been taking photos for three days and the difference between my current pics and the "I Stink at Photography" pics is huge! I have learned so much from this book and I haven't really delved into it at all. I was really excited to see that he has TONS of online courses too! I can see myself taking some of these down the road.

So there you go. I can say unequivocally that I recommend the Canon T3, with an 18-55 lens, as a beginning D-SLR camera! It will be a long time before I have exhausted all of the possibilities with it. I also recommend trying to shoot in manual mode starting right now if you aren't already. BELIEVE ME, if I can do it ANYONE CAN!!! 

I am loving my new hobby! I'm hoping that the quality of the pictures here will increase exponentially! This was the best Christmas present ever!!!

Until tomorrow,


  1. How exciting! I've read about the Photo 101 course on Making It Lovely and have considered taking it too, so you'll have to let me know how it goes. I have a similar camera (XSi) and just got a new 50mm 1.8 lens for Christmas.

  2. hooray heather! i'm so happy for you! isn't it wonderful to learn new things and to be able to take the art shots that you want. merry christmas!! i look forward to seeing your 2000+ photos!

  3. what a great gift! I'm sure you will have lots of fun with your new camera. I want to learn about photography too, so I might pick up some tips here in the future??? :-)

  4. Heather - that's where I read about the class too. I'll be happy to give a full report/recommendations after I'm done.

    Noreen - Thank you! I think art shots are a ways out, right now I'll take well-lit and not blurry ;-) I can't tell you how excited I am about learning this! Merry Christmas to you too!

  5. Maria - I apologize! I've been calling you Jamie!

    I will be happy to share what I learn as long as you promise to keep in mind that I have virtually no idea what I'm talking about ;-

  6. I am a fellow BYW student and I also got a camera over the weekend. I'm so excited for you to learn about yours! I can't wait to dive into mine, I got a Nikon D80. Looking forward to your photos! Congrats!!

  7. Back at you Rachel! You can bet I'll be checking in with you often!

  8. heather, i am so excited for you i can barely contain myself!!! yay!!! a camera is on my wish list too!!!
    the kelly moore bag is yummy! so happy for you. enjoy clicking away xxx

  9. I got the same exact camera for xmas! Thanks for the tip on the class, I'm going to check it out. Still deciding whether I'll do an online class or a live class on Maui.

    I'm really anxious to try all of the BYW tips we learned too.

    Pretty camera bag btw...I received your generic black nylon type. I'm longing to cover the camera strap in something pretty.

  10. Maui sounds so warm... Lucky you...

    I'd love to take an in-person course but there really aren't any here in East Cupcake Maine ;-p Nicole of Making it Lovely reviews the class here: http://makingitlovely.com/2011/04/20/nicole-hill-gerulats-online-photo-101-class/ so I'm trying it based on what she says.

    I can't wait to see your progress! I've been reading your blog :-)

  11. No problem Heather, you are not the first one to call me Jamie :-) I didn't want a blog name like "Maria's blog" or something boring like that, so I chose Jamie says dream from an artwork that inspired me to try do what I dream of, where I am and with the resources I have now. Not to wait until things are better. Like blogging - why not if I think it's fun?


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