Introducing CameraShy’s Online Photography Courses

Online Photography Courses As you may or may not know I’ve been teaching Photography Courses in the  offline world for many years.  This year actually I’m celebrating my 10th year as a photography instructor.  Wow!  I hadn’t really thought about that until right now but that’s a LOOONG time!  Here in Atlanta I have the privilege of teaching students on a one-on-one basis and although I love doing this, I also wanted a way to share all the stuff that I teach with everyone, including people like you!  So over the last 6 months I’ve been creating my very own CameraShy University over at www.CameraShyClasses.com.

Access Material Online – Anytime!

So now you don’t have to be located in Atlanta to benefit from my training material.  By visiting www.CameraShyClasses.com you can check out some of the courses I’m currently offering (more being added all the time!)  You can take these courses online at any time that suits YOUR schedule.  If you like to access lots of information quickly, then all the material is available for you right from the point you sign-up.  Conversely, if you would like to absorb the information slowly, and take your time with the Action Points and Assignments, the material can be accessed for up to 6 months.

One of my most popular online photography courses is “Master your DSLR” which teaches you how to get a handle on your Digital SLR camera so that the basics of photography become second nature to you.  This is perfect for any beginners in photography or someone just starting out with a Digital SLR for the first time.

The material is designed to be completed in 5 weeks, each week comprising of a different topic.  Each week is further broken down into smaller sections so that you can learn the information in easy to manage, bite-sized chunks.  I’ve included several Action points throughout, which will help you put the theory into  – you got it – action!

Weekly Assignments

At the end of every week I’ve created an assignment for you to complete so that you can demonstrate what you have learned.  These pictures can be uploaded to the Flickr group so that the can be critiqued by others in the group and by me.  And of course,  I’m here via email to answer any questions that you might have throughout your course.

So if you’ve got a Digital SLR (DSLR) camera, and you know your only using about 20% of it’s functionality, if you want to move out of Auto mode and start shooting in Manual or if you want to begin to take your photography to the next level check out www.CamerashyClasses.com and sign up for a course today!

Happy Snapping

P.S. If you have questions about any of the courses, feel free to shoot me an email to ingrid [at] CameraShy [dot] info

Buying the Best Tripod for your DSLR

Last week I did something I’ve never done before…I faced the crowds and the stores in search of a bargain.  Well, actually, I was working with a client – helping her choose some new photographic equipment.  Amongst other things she was looking for the best tripod and was totally overwhelmed by the choices available to her.  While shopping with her I could only come to the same conclusion that it is bewildering to even the seasoned photographer when buying a tripod and trying to figure out the best tripod for your needs.  So I decided to put together this short guide in case any of you guys are heading out to shop for this vital accessory.

Best Tripod

Do I really need a tripod?

Anyone who considers themselves a serious photographer really does need a tripod.  I know, I know!  They’re heavy and awkward to lug around but if you REALLY want that shot, that award winning, hang on the wall, amaze your friends shot, then you need to think seriously about using a tripod.  Especially if you are a landscape photographer or shoot in low lighting conditions.  For landscapes shot with a very high f number eg f/22, you absolutely need a tripod to steady your camera.  In low light conditions, its absolutely pointless trying to achieve slow shutter speeds  (anything slower than the focal length of your lens) without a tripod’s help.  Macro photographers will also

drive themselves slowly insane without using a tripod and even in studio portrait shots its always useful to have a safe place to put your camera during takes.  For still lifes, mounting your camera on a tripod allows you to change various settings while keeping the distance/ focal length exactly the same.  This can save a lot of hassle when your trying to get the shot just right.

Budget

Anytime you go shopping for new photographic equipment you know your going to be dropping some (quite a bit of ) cash.  Tripods are definitely not one of the cheapest photographic accessories but there are a wide variety of price points available.  Your budget will dictate several things such as weight, added features, ease of use and functionality.  One thing I will say is however try to extend your budget as much as possible because trying to use a cheap tripod could well put you off photography for life!  For one, you don’t want to put your expensive camera body and lens on a flimsy  – one puff of wind will knock it down- tripod.  Also getting fingers pinched in difficult to maneuver leg hinges will drive you to distraction.  Be prepared to spend a little more than you though you’d have to.

Is the best tripod, the heaviest?

Not necessarily as a heavy tripod that stays in the closet is no good to you compared with a light one that you are more inclined to bring with you!  That being said you need a certain degree of stability – that’s the whole point right?! You can generally choose from Aluminium tripods or Carbon fibre tripods.  My student ended up opting for the carbon fibre version of a Manfrotto she was looking at which was about $200 more than the aluminium one.  She felt that given the amount of traveling she’d be doing with it, and all of the new weight restrictions on airline luggage limits it would be worth it to save the few pounds.

Aluminium tripods are heavier but can still provide decent support.  If you’ll mostly be using your tripod in the same place then these would be fine.  If your buying your tripod online – I highly recommend Amazon, do a weight comparison and physically get out the equivalent weight of bags of sugar or free weights if you have them, to see how heavy 5 lbs really is.

Separate Legs and Ball Head

Entry level tripods are generally a single unit of legs that are permanently attached to the head, which has a removable plate that can be screwed into the base of your camera.  These are cheap and cheerful and can serve the beginner in photography very well.  As you go up through the models of tripods you will notice that the legs and the heads can be purchased separately.  This is to give the photographer more choice in the type of tripod best suited for his needs.

Legs

Check out the type of hinges on your tripod legs.  They need to be able to released and locked quickly and easily (without pinching your fingers!)  I like the quick release hinges as opposed to the screw-type ones as they maneuvered more quickly.  Check and see how high the legs extend without raising the center column and also how low to the ground they go.  This ability is really useful for macro shots, product photography and shooting sweeping landscapes with a great perspective.  Added features here can be the middle column extending out to the side or inverting so that the camera is almost at ground level.  The Manfrotto 055XPROB is an example of legs that have these features.

The Head

The head is the top part of the tripod which holds the camera and allows you to adjust it’s position.  Again, here you have a few choices to make and again it will depend on the majority of the type of photography you shoot.  If you do a lot of architecture and landscape photography a three-way pan head would be suitable for you.  This allows you to fine tune and adjust each axis of the head individually.  Great for precision but a little slow to use.

I much prefer the Ballhead type head.  These are as they sound, like a ball and socket joint which allow you to manuever your camera in any direction quickly, easily and most importantly smoothly.  My student opted for a grip action or joystick grip ball head which is super easier to manipulate and she loves it! Ballhead

Ingrid’s recommendations

As like all things in the photographic world there are so many choices available and each person has a variety of needs I recommend that you do you research before running out and buying a tripod.

  • Think about the things I’ve outlined above
  • Think about the types of photography you’ll mostly be using it for
  • Think about it as an investment
  • And compare several products till you find the right one for you.

A great place to start is by checking out the Manfrotto range.  I’ve been using (and selling) Manfrotto for 10 years and I find them excellent with a great range suitable for the beginner to the seasoned pro.  You can check them out here at Amazon.com.

Happy (steady) snapping!

Learn a Mode Monday – Digital Macro Photography


Welcome to the first ever Learn a Mode Monday – my new mini-series on learning all about one of those little icons on your camera!  Today we are all about that little flower on your mode dial i.e. Digital Macro Mode.  This is absolutely one of my favorite modes for really making Wow Pictures and one of the easiest skills to acquire in beginners photography.  Want to capture that ickle bumblebee sitting on the azalea bloom?  How about getting that close-up of the detail on your wedding dress?  Digital macro photography is what you need to master!

1. First find your subject – something small like a bee, a bloom, a coin – anything tiny.

2. If you are indoors switch off your flash as it will only bounce back off your subject and the picture will appear blown out.  If you do this you will most likely need to use a tripod or have a very steady hand!  Best option – head outdoors into natural daylight.

3. Next, find the Macro Mode on your camera – it’s usually an icon of a little flower something like this :    Digital Macro Photography

4. Position your subject so it is well lit and that you are not casting your own shadow over it.  Opt for a plain background if you have the choice, something with little or no distractions in it.

5. Rather than using your zoom to get closer to your subject, leave your lens at it’s widest setting and physically move yourself closer to your subject until you have filled the frame with your subject.

6. Slightly depress your shutter button so that your camera finds it’s focus.  If you can’t focus, move slightly back and retry.  Repeat this process until your camera allows you to take a sharp, in-focus shot.

7. Bingo!  You’ve managed to capture the full beauty of that tiny, little flower  Well done!

Digital Macro Photography

It may take you a while to get the hang of this process but once you do you will be hooked.  Ask my mother in law – She turned from a photography novice to a real pro at taking macro shots all over the Costa Rica rain forest!

Please post your best Macro shots below with any questions or just to show off!

Bonus Tip: Compact cameras are usually way better at getting close up macro shots than DSLRs.  If you have a DSLR, and you want to do lots of specific Digital Macro Photography you’ll need to invest in a good macro lens such the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon users or the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR for Nikon users.

If you’re just trying to get the best digital macro shot check out the new Powershot G12 from Canon.  It will allow you to get super close ups with a closest focusing distance of  you a mere 1cm.

For more Learn a Mode Tutorials from Ingrid click here

Your Camera Mode Dial Explained

It’s been a while, I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you guys!  I’ve no excuses other than I’ve been super busy with my new online course “Getting to Grips with your DSLR” So I’ve decided that I’m going to make a better effort to post here at the blog and in particular, make some more videos.  I recently got an email from Katie, in Dublin who chastised me for not making more videos and I really feel like I’ve let you guys down.  So lots more to come – I promise…

In the meantime, check out the video below and leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts.

Your Camera Mode Dial Explained

Fuji Instax Mini 25 Review

Fuji Instax Mini 25

Fuji Instax Mini 25

Return of Film?

Digital is dead hoorah for the return of film! No wait. Sorry.  Only kidding.  Digital photography isn’t going anywhere I’m afraid but for those of you who still crave a little nostalgia, how about the convenience of the old polaroid?  There is still a huge following for instant cameras and you can’t beat the thrill of watching the image appear right before your very eyes, something that us old film users miss from the darkroom days…Anyways, I digress.

Fuji is now the leader when it comes to Instant cameras and it’s latest offering is the cool Instax Mini 25 which takes credit card sized pictures.  The one pictured below is a cool white color, matching perfectly with your MacBook or if you’re very trendy, you can go for the Hello Kitty version for a little extra.

Fun Fun Fun!

The camera is designed for fun usage and even has a little mirror in front to let you take the obligatory self portrait, or one of you and your favorite cuddly toy.

The Instax 25 is super easy to use with 2 chunky shutter buttons for easy picture taking either vertically or horizontally and it weighs hardly anything at all (less than 2 lbs.)  It also has a Landscape setting which means you can take shots that are further away and comes with a detachable close up lens to allow you to shoot close up (of course!)

The camera uses 2 CR Lithium batteries (included) and Instax mini film which is widely available.

Vivid Pics

The pictures are really bright and vibrant and are a really fun way of capturing a party or a special event.  Last week at my sister’s wedding, her friends snapped a poloroid of each couple as they entered the church and then at the reception put them in the guestbook so everyone could write their well wishes alongside their picture.  It’s a wonderful momento of their big day!

Hello Kitty!

Hello Kitty!

You can check out the Fuji Instax Mini here on Amazon and if you want to be the cool Auntie at Christmas this year, get your mits on the exclusive Hello Kitty version while they’re still in stock!

Happy Snapping!

Sig

PS Amazon currently has the Fuji Instax Mini 25 as $30 off the RRP (August 2010)

Free Photobooks from Picaboo until Oct 25th

Just had to let you guys know about this awesome offer from Picaboo. From now  til Oct 25th they’re offering all new customers a free photobook worth $39!  That really is a great deal as Picaboo truly makes quality photobooks.  It’s a great way to try out their services and get all those summer snaps put together in one place.  If you are new to creating photo books online, the process couldn’t be simpler and the Picaboo website is super easy to use.  The key is to have a particular theme or event in mind and do a little bit of organization before you start uploading your pics.

So get cracking and sign up today. I’m working on a book from my sister’s wedding so I’ll be signing up too!

Happy snapping!

Sig

What things do YOU want to learn about using your camera?

Me and DD enjoying being back home

Me and DD enjoying being back home

Hello from rainy Ireland! Yes I’m back in my homeland for a mixture of fun, weddings and workshops (and did I mention fun?!)  I’m having a blast over here, while still working away diligently and FINALLY I’m almost ready to launch my “Getting to Grips with your DSLR” Online course.  For all of you have already asked about it, I promise you will be the first to know the exact opening date.  AND there will be an extra special treat for you since you’ve all been so patient with me!   I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself 🙂

Now I have another wee favour to ask all of you – What specific things would you like to know about using your camera/photography?  Be as general or a specific as you like but please leave a comment below and let me know.  I’m really striving to make this blog a place that is jammed pack with interesting a relevant information for YOU so now’s your chance to let me know how I can help you!

Once this rain stops I’m off out to get some nice landscape shots of the views around my mum and dad’s house.  Funny how I never appreciated them growing up… They’ll make a nice addition to the office wall back home.  I’ll share as soon as I can!

Happy Snapping

Sig

PS – Don’t forget to post your photography woes below 🙂

Have you tried Canvas Photo Printing ?

This week I’m eventually getting around to enlarging and framing my daughter’s first year pictures.  Well, I was going to get some of them framed but the cost of getting large format frames has been putting me off.  So for a lot of pictures I’ve opted instead for getting canvas prints from photos from the past year of her life.  The funny thing is this is actually working out really inexpensive!

Canvas Photo Printing

Many people don’t realize that you can get canvas prints from photos that you already have on your hard drive.  Thanks to wonderful digital printing technology , these personalized piece of art can be yours with a few clicks of the mouse. For my prints I’ve opted to use Canvas People . I’m always cautious about getting prints made online – I guess it comes from my background in printing and extremely high standards!  Canvas People are actually giving away a free Canvas print this month so it’s a great way to try out their quality with no risk.

Advantages of Canvas Prints

Go Big!

One of the best things about canvas prints from photos is that you can go really big with your picture without having to worry about  having to buy and hang a big expensive frame.  Canvases are so lightweight that can be hung on virtually any wall.

Pieces of Art

The canvas wraps around the frame, (sometimes known as a gallery wrap) and gives a wonderful professional finish. They have a look of an oil painting and also have a special protective coating to protect from dust and dirt.

Unique and personalized

Canvas prints make wonderful unique and personalized gifts for those hard to buy for people in your life.

Tips for Canvas Photo Printing

  • I think that canvas photo printing works best for extreme close up shots of kids (think big blue eyes popping off the canvas) and landscape or travel photos.  These types of pictures really lend themselves to this format.
  • Make sure your colors are vibrant and rich.  In my experience, Canvas prints tend to make colors look a little less vibrant, so it’s important that your pictures not washed out to begin with.
  • Make sure you upload a high resolution shot.  Going big means you’ll need lots of pixels so make sure your saving your image in the highest quality
  • Crop carefully – as the canvas will wrap around the frame, make sure that you allow for this when uploading your image.  The software that Canvas People use gives you a great visual on where your image will go around the edges.
  • When your enlarging pictures for display on your wall remember that you probably need to get them enlarged bigger than you think you need to.  This is especially true for Canvas Prints because you wont have the added size of a mat and a frame molding in your finished product.
  • Make groups or themes of prints that go together.  Putting together a triptych (3 pics of the same subject) or several picts of the same theme is a great way of displaying your pictures and canvas prints are an idea way to showcase this kind of work.
  • Consider using Black and White/ Sepia for a different feel for your Canvas Prints.  Use a software program such as Photoshop Elements to achieve this look.

I hope I’ve inspired you to try out some Canvas Prints from photos that you have sitting on your hard drive.  Why not check out Canvas People for yourself and get a free canvas print of your own to get you started!

Happy Snapping!

Sig

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