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New Photography Gear & Tips


I think it's pretty safe to say that this blog has created a new love of photography in my life. I've always been a little shutterbug, but until I had a 'reason' to step up my photography game, I simply viewed it as a hobby. In the last year, it has become much more than that. When I purchased my camera, I wanted something I could grow with. I wasn't about to drop a ton of dough on a heavy duty Canon or Nikon when I'd never actually shot anything in manual mode and knew very little about exposure, composition, or editing. So I bought my Samsung (after doing a lot of research), which comes with an 18-55mm zoom lens. The kit lens is great, and I've taken some of my favorite pictures with it, but... I outgrew it. I could have gone out and purchased a new, more advanced camera system, but I still love my Samsung. I think it's a great 'blogging camera'. I opted for a new lens instead (Samsung 45mm f/ 1.8 prime lens). I could get pretty sharp pictures with the kit lens (this one is a good example), but it usually took a lot more work, and I could never get those ultra blurry backgrounds I wanted when I took stills (because of the aperture limitations). I could explain this all day, but I'll just let the photos do the talking. The top photo is a picture of the new lens taken with the kit lens. The bottom photo is a picture of the kit lens taken with the new lens. 

New Photography Gear: Samsung NX 45mm Prime Lens vs. 18-55mm Kit Lens
See the difference? I took these photos in the same lighting conditions, from the same position, and did very little to edit them afterward. There's less grain, the subject is sharper and more focused, and the background fades into a nice blur. I cannot describe to you how much I love this lens. It has taken some getting used to, but it has been so fun to learn. I would say, "I wish I had bought it sooner", but I'm glad I took the time to learn on the kit lens first.

When I purchased my lens, I also knew it was time to get a real reflector. I had previously been using a big, white serving tray when I need to bounce light around. It was so cumbersome and irritating that I usually just skipped it all together. So when I added the lens to my cart on Amazon, I also tacked this Neewer (5-in-1) reflector kit on as well. I would have actually opened it to photograph it, but it's HUGE and I was losing the light, so you'll just have to imagine that this pops out into a big circle. It easily twists back down into its bag, which is great for transport and storage.

New Photography Gear: Neewer 5-in-1 Reflector Kit
My camera also came with a copy of Adobe Lightroom, which I could kick myself for waiting so long to open up and use. What can I say? I was a little intimidated by it, but after I read more about it and watched a few videos, I felt more comfortable. I also knew that at some point, I was going to want to purchase a few presets. The ladies over at A Beautiful Mess have a whole suite of Lightroom and Photoshop presets/actions for sale, and I finally bought the Lightroom collection. I. Am. In. Love. I could spend hours playing with these presets (and usually do). Even if I don't end up using any of them, I love seeing how they can change the mood and dimension of a photo. Let me show you what I'm talking about. From left to right, top to bottom: Snow (my favorite B&W), Naomi, Clover, and Milo. Side note: Stelly girl looks like she's missing a leg. I can confirm she has all our legs as of this blog post. It took a lot to get this photo, as someone was being a diva, so I couldn't be too picky about composition.

New Photography Gear: A Beautiful Mess Lightroom Presets

I also love some of the more 'romantic' presets. Left to right, top to bottom: Clare, Calliope, Roz, and Zola. Additional side note: ABM preset names are also great ideas for hipster baby names, too. ;)

New Photography Gear: A Beautiful Mess Lightroom Presets
The collection comes with a few basic editing presets that are really helpful when you don't want to completely change the look of a photo, but simply polish it a little more (without actually delving into the full editing process). I'm a big fan of the 'Brighter' feature that I used on this photo below. Not gonna lie, I'm super proud of this shot.

New Photography Gear: Test Shots

Just for fun I thought I'd throw in some test shots I took of a few random items laying around my house. Some of these are edited. Some are not. How cute is my unicorn paperweight? 

New Photography Gear: Test Shots
Also, flowers. 

New Photography Gear: Test Shots

Overall I'm very happy with my new 'toys'. Photography equipment, whether it's used for a hobby or profession, can get very expensive, very fast, but I feel like I've made wise purchases so far, and haven't bitten off more than I could chew. There are more prime lenses that I would love to purchase (and I've already got them picked out), but for now I'm just going to enjoy having some fun with this one. 

What's in your photography arsenal? Are you a beginner or a pro? If you're a pro, what was your first camera and how long did you wait to invest in more equipment?

P.S. If you want to read a little more about why I picked my camera, you can check out yesterday's I wrote when I first purchased it (which coincidentally features another ABM product). As I said before, I really think it's a great camera for blogging.


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