I get a lot of questions about the photography gear I use as well as resources I can recommend for getting started in photography. I hope that this page answers a few of your questions!
Canon 80D – After four years of shooting with the Canon Rebel t4i, I upgraded to the Canon 80D, which is an amazingly solid all-around camera for hobbyist to professional portrait photographers. The Canon Rebel t6i is the newest model in the Rebel line, and I highly recommend it to anyone purchasing their first DSLR camera. When you’re ready to upgrade from an entry-level DSLR, the Canon 80D is a great option. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better camera at this price point.
24-105mm F/4 L and 70-200mm f/4 L – For many years, my default zoom lens was a tiny step above a kit lens. It did the job, but it wasn’t anything amazing. More recently, I’ve upgraded to the 24-105mm F/4 L and 70-200mm f/4 L. I really love this combination of lenses. You get the quality of the Canon L series without the price tag or weight of the high-end L lenses. If you aren’t planning to upgrade from the kit lens but want to expand your focal length, consider picking up the 55-250mm F.4-5.6.
50mm f/1.8 – If you don’t already own a prime lens and are serious about improving your blog photography, pick up the 50mm f/1.8. It’s a fantastic first prime lens for any Canon DSLR user. For the price and resale value, you really can’t go wrong. The first version of the 50mm f/1.8 has over 4,600 reviews and a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, and it’s not hard to see why. The only reason the newer version of the 50mm f/1.8 has fewer reviews is because it’s much newer, but the ratings are just as high. I use the 50mm for many of my blog posts. 50mm is a very versatile focal length, and the 1.8 f-stop allows for shooting in extreme low light situations (i.e. wedding reception, jazz club). More expensive 50mm lenses do offer creamier backgrounds, but personally, I like the chunkier bokeh that the 50mm f/1.8 produces.
100mm f/2.8 L – The Canon 100mm f/2.8 L is Canon’s flagship macro lens. It’s expensive but well worth the money. The lens is built to last for decades. It’s fast and produces high-quality images with super crisp detail and the creamiest backgrounds imaginable. I’ve been using the 100mm for my product photography and other small item shoots since December 2014. I’ll often use the 50mm for part of a blog shoot and then switch to the 100 for those closeup details. It’s also a great lens for shooting flowers and insects. I love to take it to gardens and conservatories. I know several photographers who love to use this lens for infant photography as well.
Black Rapid RS-7 – Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras come with a neck strap. Generally, these straps are pretty uncomfortable, especially when you wear them for long periods of time. Black Rapid offers a wide selection of ergonomically designed camera straps, including the (newer model). It’s one of their most popular models. I’ve been shooting with it for a couple of years now and really love it.
I use the following items for shooting long exposures: neutral density filter set, Canon wireless remote, and tripod. You do not need an expensive filter set for long exposures. You can use either a wireless or wired remote. I’ve owned a few tripods and have been the most happy with the one I linked here. It’s very simple to use and packs up small enough to fit in a carry-on suitcase.
When I shoot product photography and other smaller set ups, I use a lightbox that I made myself (more about that here) or backdrops that I made myself with two DIY Lowel EGO lights (more about that here and here). I know that there is a lot of controversy about artificial vs. natural lighting. Artificial light has worked extremely well for me for staged shots for many years, and it does for quite a lot of other photographers, too.
The only other notable photography item I currently own and want to mention here is the ThinkTank CityWalker 20. The 20 offers more room than the average hobbyist photographer ever needs while walking around town, and it keeps everything secure, even in inclement weather. Unfortunately, ThinkTank has discontinued the CityWalker line. The SubUrban Disguise 20 is a very similar model. If you own a DSLR, please invest in a good bag for it. After spending thousands of dollars on gear, you need to keep it well protected.
Finally, when I’m talking about photography resources, I have to mention the following three sources, all of which have been critical to developing my photography skills: Photorec.tv, Pinch of Yum, and Instagram. You can read more about these resources over here.
[Disclaimer: All of the products I’ve linked above are affiliates. Using these links to purchase photography gear and other items through the affiliate retailers is a simple way to support my blog without costing you anything extra. Thanks!]
I use Adobe Lightroom CC and Adobe Photoshop CC to post-process all of the DSLR images I use on this blog. Typically, I use Lightroom for photo editing and Photoshop for creating post headers, collages, other “Pinterest-friendly” graphics, and any additional graphics I may need. Sometimes I do use Photoshop for more complex photo editing as well. I have the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. It’s $9.99/month and includes both Lightroom and Photoshop. You can purchase Lightroom and Photoshop Elements software. Subscribing to an Adobe plan ensures you always have the most up to date software available. [Both links are affiliate links.]
Backing up your photos is extremely important. You never know when your hard drive will crash or when one of your backups will fail. I shoot all of my DSLR photos in RAW. When I download pictures off of my camera, I save one set on my hard drive and one set on an external drive. I don’t delete both sets of RAW files until I’ve finished editing the photos and have backed up the finished JPEG files.
Most people recommend three backups, which typically go as follows: hard drive, external drive, and cloud storage. I actually back up my finished JPEG files to the following FOUR places.
- Hard drive. When I export photos from Lightroom, they go on the hard drive in a folder with a date and a name (i.e. 7.15.16 Jenny’s Birthday Party).
- Crash Plan. Crash Plan is an automatic backup system, which periodically backs up your hard drive contents. Automatic backup systems are great because you don’t have to think about them. I pay about $5 per month.
- Microsoft OneDrive. When my husband and I bought our current Office package, it came with OneDrive storage. I think we can have 5 users add up to 1 TB each. When I export photos from Lightroom, I save a copy on OneDrive.
- SmugMug. SmugMug and Flickr both save high-resolution photos online (unlike Facebook and Instagram), which makes them a good option for yet another backup because you could download full-size files again as needed. I don’t feel like SmugMug is absolutely necessary for my backup plan, but it’s nice to have my photos saved in a non-Facebook location for people to view (and purchase).
Here are the resources I’m currently using for this site.
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