The Non-Photog’s Guide to Blog Photos: Equipment

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Disclaimer: Let’s get this out of the way. If you are a professional photographer, I you might wanna avert your eyes and turn back now. Go back to whatever you were doing before coming here. What’s about to happen might make you cringe. I am not a professional photographer, I have never taken a photography course…but I did skim through a photography book once, but I got bored and decided to go watch reruns of RHOA. I’ve also read my fair share of blog posts about photography. Mostly, though…when it comes to blog photos, I go by the “looks-like-a-good-photo-to-me” school of thought. So, consider yourself warned.

If you’re still reading, I’ll assume that you accept that I am not an expert!  That said, I have gotten quite a few emails about how I take photos for this blog. Now mind you, these emails have only started coming in recently because if you take a trip into the recesses of Damask Love, you will see some photos that look like they were taken with that old-school camera thing…you know…the one where the guy goes under a black curtain and holds up a flash and smoke comes out of it. Yeah…that thing. That’s the quality of my older photos.

This office hours will be series of posts over the next few weeks and in this first installment I’ll be covering equipment. Each Thursday, I’ll take you on a walk-through of each component of a typical photo shoot for any given Damask Love post. Given the amount of photos and graphics that will be included in each of these posts, you’ll need to click through to see it all!


Equipment I Use: Canon Rebel T3 | Damask Love Blog

 

I shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel T3. It’s one of the entry level DSLR’s offered by Canon and I purchased it last Thanksgiving via Amazon and got a really great deal. This particular camera body works great for me but it’s a far cry from my dream camera…the Canon 5D…but a girl can dream, right? I couldn’t be happier with the investment I made in this camera last year. I use it every single day. I’ve also learned that the camera body is the least of my worries when it comes to the expense of photography. Shortly after owning this camera, I learned that I’d need a few additional lenses to really capture the type of photos I wanted.

 

Equipment I Use: Kit Lens 18-55mm | Damask Love Blog

 

 

If you purchase the Canon Rebel T3 kit, it will arrive with one lens in the box, an 18-55mm kit lens that I first thought was useless. Not the case at all. While I do not use this lens for any of the main beauty shots or close-ups, I do like to pull it out for overhead shots, which I use a lot for capturing the all the supplies needed for a particular project. This lens is able to capture a large field even if I’m very close to the subject. This is perfect for overhead shots, when I’m only a couple of feet above the subject I am photographing. The kit lens is great for capturing a clear photo for this purpose.

 

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Photo: Damask Love Glitter Pumpkin Tutorial

Equipment I Use: Canon 50mm 1.8 | Damask Love Blog
The first lens I purchased after getting my camera was a 50mm f/1.8. Best investment I made! For the money you’ll pay, I think this lens will take you far when it comes to blog photos. Since I shoot in a small, confined space this fixed lens (i.e., non-zoom lens) is perfect for the tight, close photos I take. The 50mm takes beautiful photos and potraits. It makes everything look…well..pretty. It gives you a crisp foreground with the blurred background, which I love. I use this lens for all the “beauty shots” on Damask Love. All the main photos you see at the beginning of each post are taken with this lens.

 

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Photo: Glimmer Twine Tutorial via Damask Love

Equipment I Use: Canon 60mm Macro | Damask Love Blog

 

For Christmas, I got a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. I probably never would have purchased it on my own simply because I didn’t realize how great this lens is for the types of photos I take. Like the 50mm, this lens gives beautiful blurred backgrounds but it also has magnification capabilities that let you get very close to the subject and capture beautiful details. I use mine to capture close-ups as well as detail shots in tutorials.

How I use my Macro Lens | Damask Love Blog

 

Photo: DIY Paper Pine Sprig Tutorial via Damask Love

Canon Speedlite 430EXOf course, the Canon T3 comes with it’s own on board flash, but I quickly learned that the harshness of that flash is somewhat unappealing in the photos I take. I opted for an external flash, specifically the Canon Speedlite 430EX. Instead of directly additional light straight onto the subject, the swivel head makes it super easy to bounce light off an adjacent white surface (e.g a wall or a piece of white foam board). I still don’t know how to use the full capabilities of this flash, but I love what I’m able to do with it when taking photos at night.

The Impact of an External Flash on Blog Photos
Equipment for Blog Photos: Tripod
I put off the purchase of a tripod for a long time. I have a pretty steady hand and was able to get by without it. Recently I purchased this inexpensive Polaroid 72″ Tripod for use in photographing photo tutorial step outs and the difference is major! By freeing my hands, I’m able to include myself in more step-out photos rather than simply taking a photo of the supplies. The tripod also stabilizes the camera cutting down on the blurry photos that result of slight hand-shaking. This is especially useful, when I need to slow down the shutter speed to let in more light.

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Photos: Rustic Winter Packaging Tutorial & DIY Paper Ribbon Banner both via Damask Love

And so ends “Lesson One” of my non-photographer’s approach to blog photos is done! Next week, this series will return to discuss lighting and set-up. If you have any questions or have topics that you’d like to see covered in this series,  feel free to use the comments section to post them! I’ll be sure to answer you back!

26 comments

  1. Woohoo!!!! LOVE this blog post!!!! I’ve recently become SO interested in photography and been religiously watching/subscribing to amazing tutorials on YouTube and I’ve learned a great deal!!! I’m saving up to get my first DSLR camera and I’ve been advice by the photographers around me to get the Nikon 5100, because of the image quality. Like you, I’ve contemplated the extra lenses (including the macro lens), but was trying to convince myself that I don’t need them, because those are just wants. Well, after reading this post, it looks like I’m gonna have to get the extra lenses afterall!!! (; OMG, I’m SO looking forward to reading your future blog-photography posts!!!! :D Thanks SO much for sharing this!!!!!! :D

    • There are excellent camera in all price points by both Canon and Nikon. Be sure not to limit yourself to just one brand when you finally buy.

  2. SueB on said:

    Great info, Amber. I’ve wanted a Rebel for a long time. I have a Kodak that my son spent hours and hours of extra work to buy it for me, so it holds special meaning. It is limited in what it can do, though, and someday I really want to get a Rebel. I appreciate all of this info. Amazing difference between the non-flash shot and the one with the flash.

  3. These are the lenses and camera I use. I am not a pro either so I look forward to your lighting lesson which is what I struggle with. I need better lights so badly. My lights have too strong of a tungsten colour cast which white balance only corrects partially. Hard to find good but cheap lights!

  4. Why…..why!? Why do you make me want EVERYTHING in this post!!??? My husband and credit card will thank you later :-)!!!

    YAY! Great Office Hours post! LOVE IT!! Can’t wait for the next installment! :-)

    HW Assignment: buy new camera……I’ll just tell Scott, my instructor told me! :-)

  5. Jean on said:

    Yay! I’ve been waiting for this post!!! Thanks Amber!!! Can’t wait for the next installment! :) I really, really want to get that Speedlite!!!

  6. Thank you for sharing this information. Those before and after shots really helps to visualize the need for those items. I totally agree with the other ladies that you made us want it ALL! I also struggle with the lighting, but I think I will invest in the extra flash, but after your next post!

  7. Ruza on said:

    My husband got my Rebel from Amazon just like you. I truly love the camera, and the information you’ve provided. I will live with the Kit lens that arrived since I already had to buy a replacement since Katie broke the original lens, and that put a dent in our pocket book.
    Will keep the other details in mind for the future, the far future. :)

  8. Bridget Weed on said:

    Bless you, bless you, bless you my child! You must be psychic! Not 2 days ago, I told my daughter I’d like to get a DSLR camera – an inexpensive starter one – because I’m tired of my 12 megapixel Kodak & my cell phone. But I had no idea which would be a good one to start with. I also know nothing about lenses, flashes, etc. Bam! This morning I’m checking emails & there you are! A series on the basics of equipment & photo taking! I don’t have a blog, but will still learn tons from this series. With Instagram & Facebook (I follow you there, as well!) these tips will still be useful. Thank you SO much for being so generous with your knowledge. Not everyone SHARES what they have learned. You rock!

    • amber on said:

      Bridget!! We are clearly on the same camera wavelength!!! Here’s hoping you get lots from this series!

  9. Thanks Amber for a great post. I have a Nikon and also a 50mm f1/8 prime lens – I usually use it to shoot people, not my cards, may try it out now. The in built flash is not good, I always use my speedlight.

  10. Megan on said:

    Great post! I have the t3i and a 50mm lens, but I think the 60mm macro sounds amazing. I am frustrated by how hard it is to get details with the 50mm. I also hadn’t thought of an external flash for bouncing light. I’m still tied to doing my shoot at high noon next to a big window. Ha! Thanks for the advice!

  11. yes yes yes!!!! So excited about this series! I can’t wait to see what you take your pictures on/ where you take them, as well as where you store all of these photography must haves! I don’t have my new camera yet, but I’m fairly certain I am getting a Cannon xsi with some lenses so these tutorials will totally come in handy since I know NOTHING about the DSLR world! Thanks!

    • amber on said:

      I love that you’re excited for this, Lisa!! I hope you get lots out of this! Please feel free to leave your questions here in the comments section if you find there are portions of the series that you’d like more information about!

  12. Tanis S on said:

    Great timing! I just started a blog to post pics of papercrafting, and could use some pointers on photography. Luckily, I have a Rebel T2i which is quite similar to your T3, so am looking forward to your input.

  13. Sandra on said:

    Good first items for non-photographers. My only addition would be considering a tripod that has a fixed arm that would allow you to do overhead shots.

    Love showing how each lens achieves a different result!

  14. janet on said:

    Brilliant, Amber – my daughter has the same camera and does amazing things with. I am very lazy and use my iphone! I do feel very encouraged after reading this post, can’t wait to read the next installments :)

  15. Kathy Mc on said:

    Great post, Amber! I know I’ve always had good luck with Canons in the past but nothing quite as fancy as yours. Pays to ask around and read reviews before making the big investment though as everything changes so quickly. TFS!

  16. Ruth Allmart on said:

    Fabulous info Amber and perfect timing as I’ve just started an Etsy store and I know a huge part of a successful store is good photography. Looking forward to your future posts :)

  17. Great great advice! I’m not the best at taking photos but it’s something I love to do dearly.

  18. JOAN on said:

    WOW!! I really love your non professional but down to earth course. Thanks for explaining the different lenses, I have a better idea now of what to look when buying my next camera. Hugs, Joan

  19. Keya C on said:

    This post is worth it’s weight in gold!!! Thank you for sharing how you achieve such clean & crisp photography! I recently purchased an EXR only because I wanted to ensure that I was prepared to USE any further investments. You certainly took some mystery away from the DSLRs. Thank you! :-)

  20. Terri Dye on said:

    Love it! I will admit I started with Lesson 3, then on to Lesson 2 ending here with Lesson 1….it was like learning in a FABULOUS countdown kind of way! lol Enjoyed VERY much!

  21. I’ve got a 50 mm f/1.4 lens that I use to take blog photos with. Best investment ever! Thanks for the tip on the external flash. I had never considered it, but it makes sense if you can bounce the light somewhere else.

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