Monday's post has resulted in a lot of questions about the camera I use so I thought it would be worth discussing that crucial piece of equipment for a moment.
Obviously, a quality camera is going to make a difference in the photos that you take but I cannot stress enough that even the best camera in the world will be worthless in your hands if you do not understand how to use all of its functions. I say this from personal experience!
While I was pregnant with the peanut, my mom decided she wanted to buy us a new camera for when the baby arrived. I love photography but the verbiage in most camera descriptions is way over my head. I assigned Handyman Tim the task of finding me a camera with the following criteria, described in my own absolutely technically clueless terms:
1. Little to no shutter lag (the delay between pressing the button and the photo being taken). I knew that baby expressions were fleeting and the delay was my number one complaint about my previous camera.
2. Large capability for zooming in. My friend Zina counseled me on this one. As a mom to two little girls, she knew from her own sessions that standing far away from the child and zooming in when they are unaware of it results in more candid and natural photos.
3. Stability protection. I had read that some digital cameras are super touchy about vibrations that stem from being held in your hand. Some cameras have a built-in feature that helps correct that issue.
4. High amount of pixels. This stems from the zooming feature. I wanted to be able to crop a photo even closer for enlarging while still maintaining the quality of the image.
Armed with this information, Tim decided to recommend a Sony digital camera. While looking up the link for you I noticed the price on the camera has significantly gone up in the 2.5 years we've owned it. Go figure.
Mom promptly ordered it so that I had several months to practice using it before the baby arrived. (Great idea for any expecting parents out there! Sleep deprivation is not the time to be learning a new piece of equipment!) I did learn a fair amount about it's features, but I loathe camera manuals. I think they are super difficult to understand the majority of the time.
My knowledge of the camera got us through the first 1.5 years of the peanut's life. I'm proud of the photos I took during that time but as the winter of her second year approached and the natural light I so depend on started to fade, my photos started to become increasingly blurry and horrible. It was a perfect storm of horrific photo taking elements:
active, busy, very mobile toddler + horrible lighting = a solid 6 months with not a decent photo to show for it
If you don't believe me, here's the "best" photo from last year's Christmas season, taken with the very camera that everyone is asking about:
I could almost cry when I look at the photos from last Christmas. An entire holiday with nothing but blur and grain. Her face is in focus, but it literally hurts my eyes to see the rest of the photo so blurry.
Finally in a fit of desperation, I did what any self-respecting girl might do. I cried to my daddy. My dad has always been supportive and encouraging of my interest in photography. He bought me my first camera, set me up with a dark room in our basement, and loves to give me tips on all those technical things that seem to go over my head. After 10 minutes with my camera manual (the same manual I refused to read the year prior!) he figured out the setting on my camera to help me in low light situations.
Without him, I never would have been able to get this shot, taken in our very dimly lit bathroom:
That was my wake up call. This spring I sat down with the manual and read it cover to cover. I now understand at least 60% of the features on my camera but I'm still pushing myself to figure out the rest of it.
So before anyone rushes out to buy a camera based on any perceived recommendation from me, I want to be very clear that it was only with a ton of practice, reading, and help from my dad that I have learned to use my camera properly. And the rest is a lot of help from Photoshop. I do love my camera and it does take a very nice quality picture when I know what I'm doing. That's the part that still needs work!