Adventures in photography

In my last post, I mentioned that I’d finished the sample for my most recent design and would be photographing it. And I did. The toughest challenge was taking pictures for a spring publication that didn’t look like they were taken in the middle of winter…when they were taken in the middle of winter. I thought I had some pretty decent shots, although they weren’t as great as I would have liked. Fortunately, there’s a long enough lead time that I could send them in for evaluation and retake if necessary.

And a retake was necessary. They just didn’t have quite the look that was needed, and I got a lot of great suggestions in the critique, involving mostly location and placement. One thing that wasn’t mentioned was the quality of pictures…but I wasn’t as happy with them as I could be. So I responded to the critique, mentioning that I’ve been considering upgrading to a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, and asking if that might be a good idea. The answer was an enthusiastic yes.

Prior to this I’ve been using my little Nikon Coolpix P&S (point & shoot). It’s a handy little camera for carrying around, and it does have some adjustability, but not as much as I would have liked. I certainly didn’t have the capability to get some of the great portrait style shots I’ve seen others produce, with the shallow depth of field where the model is crisply in focus and the background nicely blurred. Probably the weakest point to the camera is the slow shutter speed, even in good light–and bright sunlight isn’t a good option for the pictures I want.

When you design knitting patterns for children, slow shutter speed can be the kiss of death for a good picture. They just move too quickly!

So, since I was already planning to upgrade to a DSLR, I simply moved up my timeline for doing so. After a research trip to the store, I had my choices narrowed down to two: the Canon EOS Rebel XS, and the Nikon D3000. Both came with the same kit lens and they seemed to have fairly similar characteristics. I decided the best thing to do at this point was look for advice.

The natural place to look was Ravelry. I knew there were photographers there, and I knew they’d have experience shooting the exact same things I would be: yarn and projects. I also knew I had an ace up my sleeve: a brother-in-law with professional photographer experience. I wasn’t sure where I’d get the best advice, so I posted in the new Adopt-a-Topic group. The Yarnographers group adopted me–er, my thread–and the resulting discussion was quite illuminating.

I was given a lot of advice on characteristics that were important for me to compare. And I got advice from proponents of both brands, which was great. All of the characteristics of importance were identical (or near enough not to make a difference), so, as I was advised, it largely came down to feel. Everthing about the Canon fell natural to me, as far as holding the camera and button location, and the menus all made sense to me. Oh, and the fact that my brother-in-law owns and loves Canons. Decision made.

I bought the camera on Thursday, and did some practicing on Friday:

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I am in love.

The pictures aren’t great…but they’re a lot better than I could do with the P&S, and that was from my first day of practice. That’s also with the kit lens, and I’ve ordered the 50mm/f1.8 lens, which both my publisher and brother-in-law recommended. I can’t wait to try round 2 of my sample photos…as soon as the weather cooperates!

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6 Responses to Adventures in photography

  1. flstarlady says:

    With those models you couldn’t take a bad pic anyway! I love Canon & Sony.

    • Jen says:

      Sadly, you’d be surprised–when the models are in a mood, I can take some truly AWFUL pictures! :-) Jeffrey proved that today.

  2. ria says:

    Pictures look good. I can’t believe your snow is gone. Even with 18 hours of rain we still have over a foot.

    • Jen says:

      Well, we stopped getting it long before other places. And there still some sticking around. Oh, and guess what’s forecast later this week? Ugh…

  3. Meghan says:

    I am so jealous. My camera is a from 2003 and has 4.2 megapixels. I didn’t think I wanted a DSLR because they are a bit large to carry around, but after seeing those pics and how good they are makes me want one really badly!! The models are pretty cute too ­čśë

    • Jen says:

      Well, I’m pretty sure I’m going to need some practice for a while…so I was hoping I could talk you into a photo shoot when we stop by on our way cross country… Not the same as having it all the time, I know, but it would be something. :-)