Photo FAQs

I am in no way, shape, or form a professional photographer, but I carry a camera with me almost everywhere I go. I've picked up a few tips on my own and from my much more technologically savvy husband over the past few years. Since starting this blog I've gotten a bit more ambitious with my photo taking, and now I'm asked about our camera all the time. I think a good camera is the best investment you can make for your family's memories, so I hope this answers your questions!

What camera do you use?

Eric and I use a Canon EOS Rebel XTi. It looks like this:

But you can't get one of these. Sorry. Haha. You can get a BETTER one. Ours is older and isn't made anymore. Here is the newer equivalent:

But if you really want to get a great new camera, get this one:

Eric and I will upgrade in a couple of years. Any of these cameras are great, and if you can buy used, go for it! We bought ours used on Craigslist as our Christmas gift to each other several years ago. Once you have a good digital slr camera, it's really all about the lenses. When you buy a regular dslr camera, it comes with a "kit lens" out of the box. This is just fine for beginners, but the more you play with your camera, the more you'll appreciate better lenses.

What lens do you use?

We use the Canon EF-S 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens.

Let's break that down. :)

Canon has two major lens lines. The EF-S lines (for normal budgets) and the L-Series (for professionals)

18-200 mm describes the zoom capabilities of the lens. The smaller the diameter of your lens, the further away your picture appears. Anything lower than 20 mm is better for landscapes and large rooms. 50-80 mm is ideal for portraits. And everything over 100 mm is considered "close up territory." So our lens encompasses all of those things. We chose one lens that would work in all situations.

But there is a trade off! The more flexible your lens is, the less precise it can be. So if you had three separate lenses to do the job our one lens does, you would get even sharper pictures. However, we are satisfied with the quality of pictures our lens takes, and it is definitely more budget friendly than buying multiple lenses!

f/2.5-5.6 describes the aperture of the lens. The lower your aperture (or "f" number) the more shallow your picture's depth of field can appear. The lower the better! Depth of field is what makes those visually appealing photos that are focused in the foreground and blurry in the background. Like this one:

IS stands for "image stabilization." And it means just that. If you take a picture and your hands are a little shaky, this lens will be a bit more forgiving - very forgiving when photographing little kids running around!

Zoom lens means that the lens can zoom, like any camera you've probably ever used. The opposite of a zoom lens would be a "prime lens" which is a single function lens. Many professionals like to use prime lenses because they are more precise and offer more creative flexibility. We plan to make a prime lens our next camera purchase. We have our eye on the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens, known as the "nifty fifty."

What flash do you use?

We use a Canon Speedlite 430 EX II. We primarily use a flash for darker indoor shots, but I prefer no flash at all. Natural lighting, in my opinion, almost always looks best.

Do you edit your photos?

Heck yes.

What photo editing software do you use?

I keep it very simple. I take loads of pictures, and I don't have time to sit and edit hundreds of photos every single day. So I edit in iPhoto by simply upping the exposure, contrast, and saturation on most pictures. These are simple fixes you can do in every photo editing program. I also use a fun little app for Mac users called "Flare." My favorite presets are called "Night Life" and "Mr. Blue Sky."

How do you make those pictures with words?

I use the free online website picnik to make these photos. 

Do you have any tips for taking interesting photos?

I started having a lot more fun taking pictures of my kids when I learned to take pictures from different angles. Don't be afraid to turn the camera sideways, to get down on the floor at eye level with them, or even stand directly above them. Rarely in real life are we directly across from someone when we're looking at them. Keep this in mind when taking your pictures!


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