Category / Photography

My Photography Gear

recommended camera gear | www.lifeinyellow.com

I’ve done a LOT of purchasing, experimenting, selling, and swapping my gear out since I really started to get serious about photography a few years ago. A huge piece of getting the right gear is figuring how and what you like to shoot. For me, I photograph families, my own included, and a few interior stills here and there. (I’m also a Canon girl from the start, so I’m sorry, I can’t answer many questions about Nikon or other brands!)

Here’s the rundown of my camera gear:

Canon 6D // My very first “real” camera was a Canon Rebel with kit lens (my model is no longer available, but the equivalent is here) and it’s a wonderful camera with which to begin. If you’re just starting out, this dSLR is plenty powerful as you learn the ins and outs of shooting in manual mode. The 6D, my current body, is a full-frame camera (as opposed to the Rebel which has a cropped sensor), which means the sensor is larger and able to “gather” more information from an image. For example, it performs better in lower light (wonderful for me, as I love to shoot without flash when possible). In my mind, the “ultimate” that I’ve never quite been able to justify is the MarkIV, whose most noticeable difference is the ability to shoot images onto two SD cards simultaneously. For photographers who shoot “unrepeatable” events (births, weddings, things you can’t recreate later), this dual-slot feature is a must-have, in the awful instance an SD card malfunctions, the images are backed up on a second card. There are of course other bells, whistles, and improvements in performance, but I’ve found for what I shoot, the 6D is the perfect “mother size” bowl of porridge.

85mm lens // I began with various zoom lenses and quickly learned I’m a prime lens girl. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, meaning you can’t zoom in and out — you use your feet to get closer or farther away from your subject.  It’s a personal preference and prime doesn’t always fit every need, but they are tack sharp lenses and let in more light (always the ultimate goal!). I LOVE my 85mm for portraits — it creates beautiful background blur and a comfortable shooting distance (not TOO in baby’s face, but not so far away I’m yelling directions at people).

(Honorable mention: the uber-popular “nifty fifty” (50mm) is a FANTASTIC, budget-friendly prime lens with which to start. It’s also nice and compact, ideal for travel. Newborn cutie, above, was shot with this lens!)

28mm lens // This is the best lens for capturing a wide scene (like this family and the cityscape) and it’s ideal for when I need to shoot a group of people in tight spaces. I also think it’s fun for the whimsy of slightly distorted close-ups of children (not as flattering on adults, FYI!). This lens is also great for interior shots, although some prefer to go even wider, I don’t personally care for the shots of interiors that are SO distorted they feel fake and every wall is curved like a fun house. Must-have lens in my book.

200mm lens // I use this the least, but I’m still so glad to have it when I do. I envision using it even more now that Crew is getting into sports and activities where I can’t be quite so close but still want to capture detail. (In the shot above, Page was at the bottom of a pretty big hill, several yards away.) It captures beautiful, crisp detail, and in part because of the length, creates gorgeous background blur. My first telephoto (long) lens was HEAVY and HUGE. I like that I can be more discreet in a crowd, but still photograph from a reasonable distance, with this one.

430 speedlite // Gorgeous light just isn’t always available. I rarely use flash, but this one has been working for me from the beginning. It’s nice to have just in case a room is less well lit than I hoped when I show up to an in-home session, and the ability to bounce the light in other directions (aka NOT right at your subject — hello, deer in headlights!) allows for more flattering final images. (Budget note: If you don’t think you will use flash all that much, I’ve heard from several photogs that they have been very pleased with cheaper, off-brand alternatives like this one.)

Gary Fong diffuser // I’ve had this on my list for a while and after seeing a photographer bust his out recently at an event I attended, I asked for it for Christmas. I had to know if it was all it was cracked up to be as a complement to my speedlite — and it totally is, as I used it on the above interior shot on a VERY gloomy day. To me — it’s a nonnegotiable now, and I love that the images don’t scream “I used my flash in this one!!”. If you’re going to buy a flash, don’t buy it without this counterpart.

wireless remote // A must if you want to get IN some pictures! You can set the timer all you want, but sometimes it’s nice to just know exactly when that camera is clicking. You can easily hold this discreetly in your hand while cuddling up to your favorites and snap away. (Tip: posing yourself without showing the remote takes a little practice — but it’s small, and in the above shot, it’s hidden in my left hand.)

Other Notes:

Camera bag — I don’t have one! I’m that risk-taker who throws a spare lens into the pocket of my vest and goes — for now. (I HAVE tried and discarded a couple options so far. If you have suggestions, please send them my way!)

Editing — I shoot in RAW and edit in Photoshop ACR (although Lightroom is another great option).

Online storage / Business website — For my rather simple needs (ClickSmith is a small part-time gig for me), Zenfolio has been my vendor of choice.

Photography Classes — Online, I loved the 101 and 102 courses at Shoot FLY Shoot when I was first getting started. If you’re in the Des Moines area, I HIGHLY recommend ALL of the classes at Christian Photo in Urbandale.

ETA: Crew does not yet have his own camera (the one pictured came in a happy meal!) — but I’m looking seriously at this one to get him started!

*Post contains affiliate links.

happy Oscar day!

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This year, I don’t have the excuse that I have a new house OR a new baby…but still just couldn’t get it together to throw an Oscar bash. Next year. 🙂 Too many projects and other priorities, including this handsome little date of mine. May your popcorn be buttery and your kids’ bedtimes early…counting down to the Red Carpet!

Happy Oscars Day!

home from key west.

 

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We were blessed to take a very relaxing four nights in the Florida Keys and get away from it all — day jobs, second jobs, homebuilding, and apartment living. We love to be busy, and we truly enjoy working, but once we nearly forced ourselves to schedule a little time away, we realized just how much we needed it. Lots of sun (and humidity!), lots of laughs, lots of food (I may have eaten my weight in gelato!), and lots of quiet, smiley moments, as we focused on what’s to come as we start the third trimester in the coming days. _MG_0782-Edit

On the eve of our seventh wedding anniversary, we shot some maternity pictures. Little One stole the show of course and I’m beyond thrilled we have these rare, slowed-down, moments captured in photographs, as a way to remember this special time in our lives that is fleeting for sure. (Little One officially has his name by the way…it’s incorporated into a picture we took at this session that I’m dying to share later after he’s made his arrival.)

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Big thank you hugs to the awesome Harmons duo for a photography session around the island that felt more like a double date with friends we’d known for years. I will treasure these photos for years to come.

I’m looking forward to writing another post more specifically about the trip and the sights we saw and places we ate and stayed that we’d definitely recommend. But for tonight, I’m just reliving this perfect past Sunday night with my main guy, and my little guy on the way.

maternity picture planning.

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Navy polo: Banana Republic | Coral pants: Southern Tide | Navy maternity maxi: Old Navy
Necklace: Unknown | Hair flowers: Claire’s | Polish: Beauty.com

While taking our anniversary trip-turned-babymoon in September later this fall, we decided to capitalize on the location and take maternity photos while in the sun and sand. I am so excited to be working with Matt + Michelle for an evening shoot along the beach! I spied a beach portrait recently where the guy had on some sweet coral chinos…and the look above just spanned from there.

At the encouragement of the photogs, we are planning a second outfit as well – still nailing down the details, but we’re going for a dressier “post-date-night-walk-along-the-beach” kind of vibe…and I’m planning to carry the Loubs in hand for a couple red-sole shots. 😉

Can’t wait to take these pics in anticipation of Baby S’ arrival!

Happy Thanksgiving!

ClickSmith Holiday

I can’t help but giggle to myself when I think of all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes I love to watch this time of year…I can hear Phoebe saying in a chipper voice, “Happy Needless Turkey Murder Day!” 🙂

I am overwhelmed by the things we have to be thankful for this year – health, happiness, friends and family, a roof over our heads, careers that challenge and reward us, and so much more. I’m grateful to each and every one of you that follow along with my creative endeavors – both readers here at Life In Yellow and the families who have welcomed me into their lives as ClickSmith Photography clients.

Thankful for each and every one of you and wishing you all a fabulous and safe holiday with your loved ones. 

refocus.

In the coming few weeks I’ll post here from time to time, but my energy and excitement is all focused on this new life step

I’m in the midst of shooting ten portfolio-building sessions in the coming few weeks, and between shoots I’m working on a web site, marketing material for new and potential clients, taking more classes, scouting locations, shopping for props and equipment, and editing, posting, and delivering photographs to sweet families like this one who’ve trusted me with their time to capture some moments.

ClickSmith Photography | Des Moines, Iowa

 

It’s exciting and happening faster than I would have planned, but I’m more than happy to roll with the pace. Just know that for the near future, my focus (pun intended) is on this little journey and wherever it leads me. I’d love it if you’d follow along with me here. 🙂

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I’ve been interested in photography for the longest time. At an early age, I would set up “studios” in our basement to photograph my bossed-around brothers willing subjects against such riveting backgrounds as wrinkled bed sheets and hastily-hung blankets. I dug and dug for examples of these artistic gems last weekend while home at my parents’ house, but the next best thing I could find was this page from a middle school autobiography project, detailing that I want to run my own photography studio when I’m older:

8th grade autobio

In college, I had my first exposure to some real photography classes as part of my journalism degree. I was more into the layout/design career path, not taking photographs, but I still have fond memories of the early exposure (pun intended) to shooting in manual mode and developing film in the darkroom.

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When my first job out of college centered around the scrapbooking industry, the interest in photography took on a new level, and I was rarely without my point-and-shoot capturing some over-flashed, poorly composed (but still recorded!) moments of my twenties. (PS – I reallllly liked dramatic tilt, can you tell? — That would be Lake Michigan in the background – and apparently there’s a tidal wave happening.)

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Two years ago, I finally bit the bullet and with birthday cash from family to help me, I purchased my first “real” camera, which I didn’t take out of Auto mode for a whole year. But all the while, I was following photography blogs, subscribing to newsletters, and taking a class here and there. In the shot above (party prep for my first Oscar party!) I was clearly still getting the hang of tack sharp focus.

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Photography excited me and scared me all at once. It was overwhelming to simultaneously think about aperture and shutter speed and ISO and lighting conditions and exposure…and that was without anyone in front of the lens to direct or pose at the same time. I worked on a LOT of still life shots over the following months — controlling the scene and the subject while figuring out all the other mechanics. The last of these to learn was clearly white balance…as seen in the yellow cast birthday cake slice (Happy birthday, Lulu – 2011!) shot above.

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I’m not usually a self-doubter, but in this case, I wondered if I could ever really get the hang of this. I decided to just start by learning more and more so I could get a better self-assessment. I took more classes at a local shop, purchased online video training, joined webinars, and read, read, read every book or blog I could find. And slowly, but surely, things started to click.

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I started taking impromptu shots of friends and family and putting them on facebook. A couple friends asked me to take family pictures for them. I was still very focused on getting all the camera settings right and not very good at doing any amount of directing or carrying on conversation with the people in the shots to make them feel comfortable while doing so. But I was thrilled for the practice, and fell in love with the fact that I got to be an observer of awesome moments between the people I was shooting. It wasn’t long before I realized I may have more practicing to do, but I was in love with photographing people.

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Love aside, the fact remained that I was quickly becoming aware of the mounting investment I was making in the equipment and the time it takes to shoot and edit each session. And yet with every round of photos I did for friends and family, I wanted to do “just one more” to further practice before making anything “official”.

After several “just one mores”, I finally feel confident and consistent enough, and like I’ve found my style, to start making this a bit more than a hobby. 🙂

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A huge THANK YOU to the encouraging friends and family who’ve helped me get this rolling! I’m excited for this new endeavor more than any other project I’ve taken on. For anyone interested, please visit me over at my facebook page (website coming soon!).