6 Unexpected Reasons to get a DSLR

There are tons of technical reasons why owning a DSLR camera is a great thing, such as “better photo quality” or “flexibility with settings”, but above and beyond those obvious reasons, there are a ton of others!

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Here are 6 unexpected reasons I think you should get a DSLR if you don’t already have one:

1.   You preserve memories

Is there really any other reason needed?

Time goes by way too quickly, especially for parents. I’m sure every mom has wished that they could freeze or slow time because their kids just seem to be growing up way too fast. Since we can’t, being able to capture these moments through photography is a way to preserve memories so that we can look back and remember them fondly. This is not only something you’ll love to look back on, but important for your kids who will one day cherish the photos of their childhood.

It’s never too early or too late to start preserving the beautiful memories you and your family are making.

2.   You’re more intentional about the photos you take

Remember back in the days of film cameras when there were 24 shots on a roll, so if you were going to an event, you’d make sure to get the best 24 shots you could? You wouldn’t take 15 of the same thing, you’d take one and hope for the best. Because you had a limited number of photos, you’d put more thought and intention into the photos you chose to take. Nowadays it’s so different with digital photography because we are able to take hundreds of photos at one event. While this is convenient, I think it also takes away the thoughtfulness that goes into taking a photograph and we may not get the same quality of photos.

That’s one thing I love about bringing my DSLR with me. When I know I have it, I am more thoughtful about the photos I want to take. I set it to the side, and then enjoy myself while keeping my eye out for moments I think would be great to capture.

3.   It gives you a creative outlet

Using the creative part of our brains is something that can get difficult when we are balancing a million things at once. For anyone who enjoys being creative, photography is an amazing way to have a creative outlet, while enjoying our day-to-day activities AND reaping all the other benefits, many of which are listed in this post. J

You don’t necessarily have to take photos of your kids, you can take photos of nature, your home or whatever interests you or catches your eye. This also leads me to my next point…

4.   You’ll see beauty in things you didn’t before

Once you learn the basics of photography and how to use your DSLR, you’ll start to look at things differently. You’ll see beauty in things you may not have before. You’ll have an appreciation for good lighting, certain colours or find yourself looking at a scene as if through your lens. You’ll notice the small curls of your daughters hair, or the way the sun hits your sons face as he’s eating dinner.

This is something I love about photography, I feel like I see beauty in things that I wouldn’t have noticed before.

5.   You can put your phone away

Having a phone connected to our camera is handy in many situations, however there are times it’s important to put the phone away.

When we have our phone in our hands, we’ll end up checking texts coming in or even hopping on our email, Facebook or Instagram out of habit. I always feel rude having my phone out when in social situations so being able to keep it in my purse and just have my camera handy for photos is really nice.

6.   You’re more likely to print them off

This one is still a challenge and something I myself need to get better at. I wish I printed off more photos or made more albums and vow to do so as soon as we have kids. But the reality is, when your photos are only on your phone, they’re mixed in with a bunch of random photos of who knows what, and you’re less likely to load them onto the computer to create albums or prints.

With a DSLR, the only way to share and enjoy these photos is by uploading them to your computer. Once they’re there, it’s much easier to send through to the print center or put onto a USB to take in for printing. It’s also great to have them all in one place, so that at the end of a year or end of a trip, you can sit down, pull out your favourites and make an album on Shutterfly or whichever album printing company you use. :)

So have I convinced you yet? :)

One other thing I want to say is that if you do make the leap, don’t worry about getting a camera bag! It’s our instinct to want to protect the camera, however when your camera is safely tucked away in your big camera bag, you’re less likely to have it handy when you need it. I don’t use a camera bag but instead toss it right into my purse whenever I’m going anywhere I think I may want to take photos.

Do you have any unexpected reasons to add to the list?

How to Choose a DSLR Camera

Interested in getting a DSLR but not sure where to start?

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When you’re in the market for a camera, the choices can be overwhelming. For beginner photographers, the best camera should be easy to use, provide useful features, and help you learn the ins and outs of photography.

To keep it simple, here is a list of features to consider

  • Auto focus (highly recommended) – The more focus points in the viewfinder the better, cameras range from 9 to 50 and the more you have the easier it is to properly focus on the area you wish to capture. This doesn’t mean you NEED a lot, you only really need a few.
  • Low Light performance (aka, good/high ISO capabilities)
  • Size, Weight or Grip feel – If you don’t want anything too big or heavy, factor this into your decision.
  • Flash option – Many cameras have a spot to add an external flash which is handy if you want to get into flash photography later. The on camera flash is something very few photographers use on a regular basis.
  • Video performance – Most cameras come with video recording capabilities, but if this is important to you, you may want one with the best video capabilities.
  • WiFi – A handy feature but not something I use.
  • Full frame or crop sensor - Beginner cameras are typically crop sensor and don’t have as great of performance in low light, or to get to as high an ISO. More expensive professional cameras are usually full-frame.
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In January 2018, Reviews.com went out in search of the best DSLR camera for beginners. They consulted professional photographers, read photography sites, and then tested four highly regarded cameras to find out which DSLR offers the best user experience.

I will summarize their findings for you here.

The Winner:

Nikon D3400
A built-in guide will help beginners learn the basics of advanced photography, and its lightweight design and variety of lenses makes it a great camera to practice and grow with. Plus, it’s relatively affordable at only $650.

  • Best for: A high-quality, entry-level DSLR that helps you learn.
  • Price: $750, including an 18-55mm lens.
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Others to Consider:

Canon EOS Rebel T6i
A microphone port and adjustable display screen makes this camera a great option for shooting video. But in terms of technical specs, it won’t perform as well as the Nikon or be as easy to use. It’s also an investment at $750.

  • Best for: Excellent video capabilities with little instruction.
  • Price: $750, including an 18-55mm lens.
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Pentax K-S2
A surprisingly solid camera with technical specs that outperform our top pick. It’s also slightly cheaper at $600. However, it has a much steeper learning curve and won’t be the best fit for beginners with little experience.

  • Best for: A solid camera for those who have mastered photography basics.
  • Price: $600, including an 18-55mm lens.
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There are new camera models released every year, and the quality continues to get better and better. One thing that some people don’t know is that the quality of your lens means a lot more than the quality of your camera body. Of course it’s always great to have both a high quality camera body and lens, but as a rule of thumb, they say that you should spend 1/3 of your budget on the camera body, and 2/3 on the lens.

Many camera bodies come with what they call a “kit lens”. This lens is fine to start out, but for higher quality photos, you’ll eventually want to upgrade. If your budget is small, you can always start with your camera body and kit lens, and then purchase a better lens once you’ve figured out your camera and saved up for the lens that best suit your needs.

8 Birthday Photos Not to Miss

Planning and executing a birthday party is a huge undertaking so I’m sure the last thing on your mind are the photos you need to capture. But these special occasions deserve to be documented, and not just one quick photo of your son or daughter eating cake or opening presents. It’s important to capture the images that tell the whole story.

These are the photos your kids will look back on one day with a smile, laugh or tear.

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If you have a plan, it won’t seem overwhelming and I’ve broken these down into photos you can capture before the party starts and the ones you should remember to capture as the party is happening.

Here are 8 photos not to miss at your child’s next birthday party.

 

Before the party starts:

1.   The outfit

I remember exactly what I was wearing at many of my childhood birthdays because of the photos. I look back and find some of the outfits so adorable, and others so awkward that I have no choice but to tease my Mom for allowing me to wear such an outfit!

I’m sure you’re little one is going to look fabulous, so make sure you get a shot of he or she in her outfit before the party starts.

Even if it's a candid photo of them playing like this one. Cameron didn't want to wear her pretty shoes, she wanted to put on her sneakers and play soccer in the yard before her guests arrived and I love how it completely shows her girly yet tomboy personality :)

 
 
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2.   Sentimental details / decorations

I love when moms incorporate sentimental details like photos into the event or décor. This takes a lot of time and effort, so be sure to take photos of your hard work.

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3.   The cake

Of course the cake is the main event of most birthday parties – so be sure to capture a photo of the cake before everyone dives in.

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During the party:

4.   Blowing out the candles

This is always the Kodak moment of any birthday party and never gets old. You obviously have to get that money shot of the candles being blown out.

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5.   Eating the cake

This is mostly the case for younger kids, particularly the first birthday which is always an entertaining moment.

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6.   With loved ones or friends

The people who are at the party are a big part of the story.

I love looking back at photos of my childhood birthday parties and remembering the friends I used to play with but don’t see anymore, or seeing friends who were there who are still there today. It’s pretty special.  

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7.   A shot with you / family shot

Moms always forget to get in the photos. Even though you’re busy with ensuring everyone is taken care of and entertained, you have to make sure you get into at least one photo. Make sure you ask someone to take a photo of you with your babe, or the whole fam. 

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8.   Birdseye view of the party

These candid photos taken from afar are always great and really show the feel of the event. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular or over thought, just stand back and take a few photos as everyone enjoy themselves. :)

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If you don’t feel like you’re going to have time to take some of these, ask a friend or family member to take them for you. They don’t have to be perfect, but having these 8 different photos will really help you tell the story of your little one’s special day.

5 editing tips that will make your photos pop!

Thanks to photo apps like Instagram and VSCO, filtering and photo editing has become very popular. It's also one of the topics I get asked about most, and I truly believe that post-processing (i.e. editing) is part of the creative process of photography. 

Editing allows you to enhance the photo and give it your own look and feel. If you look at a photographers portfolio, you'll be able to tell that all photos have the same look and feel. This comes from both the types of photos they are taking but also from their lighting and editing styles. 

I am going to demonstrate how I used 5 basic editing tools to enhance one of my images:

1. Straighten

The straightening tool is probably one of the most used tools of any photographer.

Straightening lines or objects within a photo is a subtle change that makes a huge impact. For me, I can be pretty obsessive about straightening and if lines in a photo are off, I can’t focus on anything else.

Straightening photos is especially important when there is a clear line in the background, such as a horizon line. 

The straightening tool can be found in any good editing app or software and is usually located with the cropping tool.

In the before and after below you can see that the difference is subtle yet important.

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2. Exposure / Brightness

Increasing or decreasing the exposure or brightness is relatively the same thing. Depending on which program you’re using to make your edits, you’ll likely only have one or the other.  

Sometimes there may not be as much light available as you'd like to make your photo bright, or alternatively there may be too much brightness and your photo looks washed out. By increasing or reducing the brightness, you can create the lighting that works best for your photo.

In the following example, I wanted to increase the brightness. You can judge how bright you want to go based on what looks most visually pleasing to you.

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3. Contrast

Contrast refers to the difference in tones, from the lightest (white) to the darkest (black).

High contrast means the blacks (dark areas) are really dark and the whites (light areas) are really bright.

When there is low contrast, an image can appear like it has a gray tone to it.  

Increasing the contrast can really sharpen an image and add drama by making a strong distinction between the light and dark tones.

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4. Shadows

Shadows are the areas getting the least light.

You can play with the shadows on each photo to see what looks best to you. It's also another way to add or reduce light to an overall image. 

By increasing the shadow light, you are adding light to the shadows which brightens the image, and also as a result reduces the contrast because there are less dark areas. Because it takes away the contrast, it can give photos a softer look.

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5. Temperature

White balance is a photography term that refers to the colour temperature of a photo. The goal is the have the white balance look closest to how we see it with the naked eye. 

Sometimes your image may look a bit cool (blueish tone), or a bit warm (yellowish tone). By adjusting the temperature you can change the photo to match how it looked in real life, or how you think looks best. 

In this photo, I added some warmth as the blue lake was creating a cooler tone, but I want it too feel like the warm summer day it was. 

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I hope that these 5 basic editing tips help you make your photos pop! You may not need to use them all on every photo, but you can play around with these settings to create an image that you love. 

Here is the before and after from these 5 editing tips. 

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