The eternal quest for the best Digital SLR Camera Bag

Digital SLR Camera Bags

Crumpler Digital SLR Camera Bag

So I’ve got the diaperbag, I’ve got the laptop, I’ve got my purse and I’ve got my Digital SLR camera bag.  How on earth am I going to get all of this plus my 18 month old on a transatlantic flight to Ireland this summer?  Well, careful packing will get me so far but the ever changing regulations on baggage allowance are so tight I’ve decided that I’m treating myself to a new digital SLR camera bag from Crumpler.

I’m going all out and going to splurge on the 8 Million Dollar Home bag which has room for a full size Digital SLR, big zoom lens, my laptop and loads more extra space.  I love the Crumpler range of camera bags mainly because they don’t look like a camera bag!  They have a whole variety of shapes and sizes so there’s bound to be one in there to fit your requirements not to mention style.

As the name suggests, the 8 million dollar home does not come cheap but when you’ve spent serious money on your gear it’s worth spending a little extra on a good quality bag to haul it around in.

Plus these bags are really comfortable to wear and if you’ve ever used a bag that’s not comfortable you’ll know what a pain it is – Frustrating and can sometimes put you off taking your camera with you.  Not Good!

Digital SLR Camera Bag

Digital SLR Camera bag

The same can also be said if your DSLR camera bag is difficult to access, to close or just doesn’t have enough room from everything.  These bags have heaps of space and lots of dividers inside so you can customize the interior to suit your needs.  The outside is made of a water resistant Nylon which will be great in the lovely Irish weather!

It looks like I will meet the hand luggage requirements on my flight after all as my new Crumpler digital SLR Camera bag even has room for a few diapers and a sippy cup!

Happy Snapping

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PS You can find the complete range of Crumpler Cags here.  They have every size, shape and almost every color!

Check out Digital Frame HQ

Digital Frame HQ

So you’ve figured out how to use your camera.  You know how to make your pictures pretty using Photoshop.  Now what do you do with all your photos? Share them of course!  And where best to share your pictures then in your living room using one of the latest Digital Frames?  I’ve recently discovered a wonderful resource for buying digital frames –  www.digitalframehq.com It really has a wonderful selection of frames at every price point from all the big manufacturers such as Sony, Kodak and Hewlett Packard.

The website is so easy to use  – you can choose your frame based on size, brand or price.  You can check out a really great image of the product your interested in too.

And one of my favorite things about Digital Frame HQ is their Learning Center which is a section of their website devoted to explaining all about their products and how best to use them.  You can find out how to get your images onto your frame,  wireless frames and how to set up your frame.  Pretty cool stuff!

So don’t forget to check Digital Frame HQ here and do your pictures justice and frame those bad boys in a digital frame!

Happy snapping

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What’s that spot? – DSLR Cleaning

DSLR Cleaning

DSLR Cleaning

I just had an email from a student of mine who has started to notice some blurs and spots on her images.  She’s cleaned her camera lens and her filters – where can this dirt be?

Well the fact of the matter is that there are tiny specs of dust inside her camera on the actual camera sensor.  A DSLR’s sensor or CCD is an electromagnetic device and because of this, dust particulars are easily attracted to it.  It’s a bit like the way dust attracts itself to your TV screen like a magnet – same concept.

Does my DSLR need Cleaning?

If you want to see if your camera has sensor dust try the following:

Set your camera’s aperture to f22 in the Aperture Priority mode.

Then take a few shots of a plain white piece of paper or if you have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements take a picture of a blank white canvas on your computer screen.

The result will look something like this:

DSLR Cleaning Sensor Dust

DSLR Cleaning Sensor Dust

Ugh! Black spots! that’s one dirty sensor!

The can be removed in Photoshop but it really is a pain to do lots of shots like this.

What you need is a little sensor cleaning!

DSLR Cleaning Tips

The problem is that cleaning this sensor can be a tricky job one and having been in the business, I never recommend doing it yourself.   In my opinion, unless you are very confident and know precisely what it is you are attempting, leave this job to the professionals.  Find your local camera service centre and ask for a service quotation which should include sensor cleaning.  Then shop around till you find the best deal.

The best thing you can do is try to avoid this problem in the first place.

  • Keep your camera body attached to a lens at all time.  There is no need to separate the lens from the body unless your are changing lenses.
  • When you are changing lenses do it as swiftly as possible and try not to do it in very dusty/sandy windy environments
  • Store your camera in a specific camera kit bag link
  • Vacuum out the inside of the bag on a regular basis
  • If you do have to get your camera senor cleaned try and go to a local service centre where possible so that you can have a faster turn around time than mailing off your camera body back to the manufacturer.

If you are interested in cleaning your sensor yourself this is a really great website which goes through the procedure step by step.

Be warned though this is not my recommendation and if you mess up your sensor – bye bye warranty and sometimes byebye camera….

Best idea – keep it clean people!

Happy snapping

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Image thanks to  petar_c http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceklic_petar/1208075186/

My interview with LadyT

Lady T and Ingrid

Last Wednesday was March 17th which as everyone knows is St. Patrick’s Day, our Irish national holiday (and also one of my favorite days of the year!)  As my regular readers already know I’m Irish through and through – no  really –  I was actually born there and lived the majority of my life there so it really is a special day for me!

Anyways, I just thought I’d let you know that I spent this glorious St Paddy’s day morning being interviewed on Blog Talk Radio on “For Powerful Women Only” about Adapting and Changing (to my life here in the US) and entrepreneurship and all sorts of other chit chat.  The interview was such fun and was with Lady T “The Business Coach for Moms.”   She an awesome coach!  Even through the course of the interview, she was able to pull out of me some really interesting and thought provoking insights.  Being a work from home/homeschooling/ mom of 5, she knows a thing or two about all the trials and tribulations that moms have while endeavoring to run a business.  I am, as ever, a huge fan of hers and recommend her highly.

So, if you are interested in finding out a little about me and my background you might want to give the interview a listen here

And don’t forget to check out LadyT’s blog here for really awesome tips for women starting their own business.

Happy snapping

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Canon Powershot S90 Review

One of the coolest things about my job teaching people how to use their cameras, is  that I get to play around with all the latest camera gadgets and gear.   This week I had the pleasure of meeting a new student and she wanted to learn how to use her Canon Powershot S90.  I was so impressed with the camera that I wanted to share my thoughts on it with you guys.

Canon Powershot S90

Canon Powershot S90

Firstly, if you are looking for a camera that’s advanced enough to allow you to shoot in RAW, control your Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO, shoot in low light conditions but without the bulk of of a DSLR then the Canon Powershot S90 is the camera for you.

It has a super bright f2.0 lens and a high ISO rating of 3200 which essentially means you can shoot in really low light conditions without having to turn on that nasty flash or worry about motion blur and camera shake.  With such a wide aperture lens you’ll also benefit from a nice shallow depth of field (otherwise known as a blurry background!) in your pictures which is great for stunning portrait shots.

The Canon Powershot s90 is so small and compact it will easily fit into a purse, diaper bag or pocket.   I think that this is a great camera for women as it really does just fit nicely in my hand.  I found it really easy to access all the functions but I could see this as being a problem with bigger man hands though, as the controls are set quite closely together.

It also features a brand new design feature namely the Control Ring on the front of the camera that can be set to control ISO, Focus, exposure or White Balance.  This is something unique to this camera and kinda gives it an old school feel for me.  I like it!

Canon Powershot S90

Canon Powershot S90

One more thing that you can do with the Canon Powershot s90 and that is go diving with it. That’s right  –   the addition of an special underwater casing turns the Powershot S90 into one of the best waterproof digital cameras around allowing you to shoot fantastic shots as you scuba, snorkel or just when your messing about in boats. Because of that bright f2.0 lens it’s a fantastic underwater camera.  That’s one of the main reasons why my student bought it and I can’t wait to see her pictures from her diving trip.

S90 Underwater Casing

S90 Underwater Casing

Overall I was really impressed by the level of features and flexibility packed into the Powershot s90’s compact body.  I would definitely say that this camera is an excellent choice if you want to begin to move out of Auto Mode, without having to make the jump up to a DSLR.  Or if you already have a DSLR and you’re looking for a handy point and shoot camera, you’ll find that the Canon Powershot S90 will not disappoint on features or picture quality.  It’s no wonder that this is the compact camera of choice for many professionals out there.

If you’re on the look out for a new camera you can check out the Canon Powershot S90 here from my friends over at B and H Photo and get free shipping if you are here in the US.  I’m thinking this will be my next buy…


Happy snapping

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P.S. If you already own the Powershot S90 or end up buying it, please comment below and let me know what you think of it.

How do I Back Up My Pictures?

What was that I hear? “ I save them to CD…When I remember” or “ I print everything” hmmm or the best – “I don’t back up my pictures!”

Well, I’m not hear to judge you. I admit I’m not the world’s most organized person but I do try. I’m currently trying to gain control of my hard drive and it’s contents. Mostly my pictures. I couldn’t believe it when I opened Picasa last week and realized how much stuff is on there. I have so many photos on my hard drive! Especially since having my daughter. I’ve probably taken more photos this past year than I had in the previous 3 years. And they’re all just sitting there…waiting…until someday, I burn them onto DVDs and file them away, possibly even delete them to free up some space on the hard drive. Oh a girl can dream…

Now, I teach all my students the importance of a good “workflow”:

Take Pictures – transfer to computer (my choice – use Picasa) – delete Pictures off memory card – Edit –

Print or Share – BACK UP.

I’ve got to be honest. I’m great at the taking, uploading and could use a little improvement on the “share” but when it comes to remembering to Backup my pictures, I have failed miserably.

It’s constantly on my list of things do.

Or should I say it WAS constantly on my list of things to do. Now I don’t worry about it thanks to a cool online back up service called MOZY! For $4.95 a month they back up my entire hard drive . That’s unlimited storage. Pictures, documents – EVERYTHING! How awesome is that? It works away in the background, uploading any new files and storing them on their servers and I can honestly say I don’t even notice it doing it’s thing.

They’ve just recently redesigned their website and it’s super easy to use.

  • Just sign up and give them your info. They even have a free service where you can get 2GB without paying a dime. I decided to go for the MozyHome Unlimited Plan though – for less than $5 a month for unlimited storage.  It walks you through the necessary steps but basically you just do the following:
  • Download MozyHome
  • Then select the files you want them to back up (they give you a suggested list.)
  • Over the next few days or weeks, depending on the size of your files, they back up your entire hard drive. (it took me 2 weeks).
  • After that they periodically backup when your computer is idle.

Cool or what? No more CDs no more external hard drives No more “long finger.”

So go check it out before you regret it!

Remember: It’s not IF your hard-drive fails, but WHEN it fails. Don’t loose all those memories. Check out Mozy here – Trust me – you’ll sleep better at night!

Use this link and the coupon code AUGUST to get 10% off annual and biennial Mozy Unlimited or MozyPro

Happy snapping!

Ingrid

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Stuck for Creative Photography Ideas?

Sometimes it’s hard to get creatively charged to get out and take some pictures.  I know I’ve felt it  – how many more photos can I take around the same environment!  I’ve completely exhausted all the possibilities  – right?  Creative photography ideas just are not jumping out at you right now?  It’s a bit like writer’s block, except its photographer’s block I guess!  Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way – I’ve found a few ways to over come it!

First of all,  I’ve been participating in (and helping to present) an awesome telecourse with Sheila Finklestein.  You can check out her course info at Through and From the Lens.  Sheila teaches how to see your world through fresh eyes and hence rejuvinating your photography skills.  I’ve certainly found that I’m starting to look at things a little differently.  Check out the faces I found in the trees in our yard.  I’ve been inspired to create a whole series of them.  (these guys have been around forever!)

Man Blowing Smoke

Man Blowing Smoke

I’ve been reminded to look at everything from different angles, close-up and at a distance.  Looking at color, texture and thinking more about light.  In these pictures I was looking for faces in nature.

Fishy Face

Fishy Face

Then this morning I discovered this new site thanks to the ever cool Photojojo –  Noticin.gs (see what they’ve done there?)  It’s a game really, played on Flickr.com.  “Noticings are interesting things that you stumble upon when your out and about”  You post your pics on Flickr and tag them with “noticings” and Geotag them with where they were taken.

You get points for noticing things like noticing the first thing in a neighborhood or noticing the same thing for a week.  Seems like a great way to get into the habit of taking pictures on a regular basis – one of the key ways of improving your photography.

So I’m headed out to get creative and find some noticings before the snow hits Atlanta 😉

Happy snapping!

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PS If your not on Flickr you really should be!  Connect with me there by adding me as a contact.  My Flickr Stream.

White Balance – Learn a Mode Mode Monday

It's All About Balance

It’s All About Balance

What is White Balance?

The White Balance setting (WB) on our digital camera controls the overall color cast of the image.  The reason why there may be a color cast on our pictures is because this is the way that digital cameras react to light temperature.

Every light source- the sun, light filtered through clouds, a bulb inside or florescent all have a different light temperature.  And each temperature results in a different color hue.   Our eyes naturally filter out these color differences and in most cases all light appears the same.

Digital cameras however do see the differences in different light temperatures and hence different “colors” of light.  The White Balance setting adjusts to counteract these color casts.

Just use Auto White Balance?

In most cases our camera’s Auto White Balance does a pretty good job at setting this mode correctly, however in some scenarios we are going to have to adjust this setting manually.  This is especially true if we are shooting without flash and in a particularly unusual lighting situation.

Here are some pictures I took without flash to demonstrate.  My subject’s dress is supposed to be snowy white:

Auto White Balance

Auto White Balance

As you can see in the first picture, by leaving the camera’s White Balance setting to Auto, the light inside gives an overall yellow hue or cast to the picture.

White Balanced adjusted for Tungsten

White Balanced adjusted for Tungsten

In the second picture I changed my White Balance setting to compensate for this by changing the WB to Tungsten – Much better and definitely more realistic!

Experiment

You can experiment with the White Balance Setting on your camera.  Look for the WB symbol either on the back of your camera as a shortcut button or in the functions menu.

Most types of light are preset for you there

Daylight

Cloudy

Fluorescent

Tungsten (which just means a regular bulb)

Check your camera manual so that you can decipher the WB icons and play around with the settings to see the different effects that you get.  This works best if you take a series of the same shot, especially if your subject includes something white so that the effect is really obvious and shoot without flash.

You’ll see how by changing this one small setting on your camera you can achieve very different results.

Happy snapping!

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A little late but none the less – Happy New Year!

CameraShy Student at work

CameraShy Student at work

So how many of you got a new digital camera for Christmas? Judging by my inbox  – a lot of you!  That’s my excuse for not being blogging as much lately.  I’ve been out helping my clients around Atlanta get to grips with their new DSLRs.  It’s been great fun but I just realized that I had gone a month without posting here and I’ve been neglecting my readers.  So from now on I promise to write more regularly, with more tutorials, recommendations, reviews and all round great photography advice for beginners and anyone else who wants to listen!

So for this post I’m just going to try to encourage you to get out and start shooting and make 2010 the year when you really learn how to move out of Auto mode, get creative and really master your camera.  I’m planning on learning a few new techniques myself and I’m challenging myself to improve my skill set to bring my photography to the next level.  So let’s learn together  – it’s always more fun that way, isn’t it?

If you are in the Atlanta area and would like to book a One-to-One private instruction lesson with me email me for my availability and more info at ingrid@camerashy.info

Happy snapping!

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