Newbie help please!

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Newbie help please!

Postby njnectarine » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:37 am

Wow, I just found this whole thread and I am amazed with your work girls! Amazing!
I am no professional photographer but I take tons of pics of my kids. I have a Canon Rebel XSi with a standard lens 18-55mm. I like the shots but I wanted to upgrade to something more 'prefessional' looking. Anyhow, my hubby got me 50mm 1.4l and to be honest I can't figure it out. First of all I can't get used to no zoom, and then the pics don't look that much different to me. I am about to return it but I am still undecided...should I keep it and practice or get something else?
Are there settings I should be using it with? I am lost and frustrated at this point :(

What I want to do is capture those special moments of my 2 toddlers (and a baby due in 4 months:)... Please , any advice would be appreciated!
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Postby laurab007 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:34 pm

The thing that's nice about that lens is that you can really open up the aperture and use it in lower lighting situations. Also, you get a really nice blurred effect in the background with it when you open it up.

I love the pics I take with my 35mm 1.8. Not having the zoom takes some getting used to, but experiment with it a bit, especially w/o using a flash and you may be surprised.
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Postby Babydreamer1326 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:26 pm

Play around with it more ;) I LOVE LOVE my 50mm 1.4 :D
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Postby anxious-annie » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:25 pm

definitely play around with it more. If you can, try to find a class or workshop nearby that you can go to to learn about all the various settings on your camera (sometimes photographers/studios will do one day workshops that you can pay to attend or the community college will have classes). It will really help.

I would also bet that a lot of the "professional" look you are thinking about has a lot to do with the processing of the photos after they've been taken. Most photographers will process their photos in photoshop or Adobe lightroom, adjusting the contrast, sharpness, etc. There are some who don't, but they are very rare. In today's world photoshop is the digital darkroom so basic edits and processing are like using the darkroom to enhance photos (this is what made Ansel Adams famous...not his photos, but the way he processed them). Try loading a couple of photos into a program like photoshop or photoshop elements and see what you can do with them there (there are a couple of free editing programs listed in one of the stickied posts in this forum).

However, no program can give you the really nice bokeh (blurry background) that your lens can get all on its own so practice with the lens and see what it can do!

Good luck!
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Re: Newbie help please!

Postby blue-eden » Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:21 am

njnectarine wrote:Wow, I just found this whole thread and I am amazed with your work girls! Amazing!
I am no professional photographer but I take tons of pics of my kids. I have a Canon Rebel XSi with a standard lens 18-55mm. I like the shots but I wanted to upgrade to something more 'prefessional' looking. Anyhow, my hubby got me 50mm 1.4l and to be honest I can't figure it out. First of all I can't get used to no zoom, and then the pics don't look that much different to me. I am about to return it but I am still undecided...should I keep it and practice or get something else?


That is a STELLAR lens. I use mine a lot with my Nikon. My latest thread below this one was taken with my 50 mm 1.4.

No zoom takes a lot of getting used to. You "zoom with your feet" and don't worry, you WILL get faster! Just be careful not to trip on a rock. ;)

The pics won't look different if you are not shooting differently.
In other words, if your exposure, focus and settings don't change, then you won't see much of a difference. Your kit lens is actually not a bad little lens either.

I'm not sure how advanced you are, but the best thing to do is work on getting your settings right first, for the kind of picture you want.
Like, if you want a nice portrait with the background blurry, you'll have to do what Laura said, which is really open up the aperture to like F4 or less. Then aim your camera at your subject's face and see what the in camera meter says. You want your meter to read zero, right in the middle. To get this, adjust your shutter speed until you get it in the middle. Then adjust just a little more, so your meter reads just one point to the right of the middle. This will get you good exposure on your subject.

Set your white balance to "cloudy" in your settings menu ("auto" if you are shooting outdoors will be ALL over the place and look really inconsistent, and the images will be too bluish/cool. Cloudy gets you really close to nice, warm skintones.)


If you want to make sure you don't get motion blur with your toddlers, make sure that your shutter speed doesn't fall below 1/200. If it does fall below that at the aperture you chose, open up a wee bit more if you can without losing focus (shooting wide open takes LOTS of practice) or increase your ISO from 200 to 400 or more.

Processing has something to do with it, but a well taken image needs little photoshop work. If you get the right light, the right exposure and have focus down, then you will hardly need to do any post processing.


From here, it's just practice! :)
Can't wait to see what you get! Post them here!
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Postby Christie2007 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:31 pm

I absolutely LOVE my 50mm 1.4. I could tell a huge difference in my pictures when I first bought it and started using it as well. I just noticed the sharpness and clarity in my pictures.

I prefer prime lenses over zooms, but for some people there is a learning curve and some people still prefer the convenience of a zoom. My sister tried the 50mm 1.8 and she just didn't like not being able to zoom in.

I personally use my 1.4 anywhere between 1.8 and 2.8 (sometimes higher) depending on what I am shooting, how much light I have, etc. The great things about primes is just what Laura said, that ability to really open the aperature. That being said, I have to agree with the other ladies on here and say keep it and play around with it more!
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Postby njnectarine » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:53 am

Thanks so much girls. I realized I need to take a photography class since I don't even know what some of you are talkign about with regards to light/ zoom/ blur etc :oops: ...

As far as Photoshop software- is there a version I should buy...TIA
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Postby Christie2007 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:37 am

I have CS5 that I use, but the program I started with was Lightroom. My sister just got her first DSLR and she bought Lightroom as well and even she has been able to use it with no trouble! It has some nice features to help improve your photos.
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Postby njnectarine » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:33 pm

Thanks Christie- will look into that :)
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Postby Babydreamer1326 » Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:29 pm

if you are a student or know a student you can use...you can buy photoshop software from journeyed.com at a great discount!

Hubby is a graphic designer so we have the entire CS5 collection ;)
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Postby MarriedtoaBaritone » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:06 am

Just wanted to suggest Me Ra Koh's DVD series for learning how to use your camera. YOU HAVE AN AWESOME LENS! Now you just need to learn how to set up your camera to get the shots you want.

Me Ra's blog is here: http://www.merakoh.com/blog/ You can order the DVDs from the "Store" tab. Beyond the Green Box will teach you all the basics of your camera. (I was lucky enough to go to a MRK workshop in November--but the DVDs are the next best thing!)

What setting do you use for most of your shots?
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Postby blue-eden » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:53 am

My BIL is a graphic designer as well, so I use Creative Suite, but I prefer Lightroom 3.3 honestly. I do the vast majority of my work on LR.
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