Category Archives for Beginning Photography

Learning Photography? Master your DSLR Camera – starting now!

I’ve had a lot of questions lately from people learning photography and who are interested in doing my “Master your DSLR” course but weren’t clear on how it works so I thought I’d write a quick blog post to let them and anyone else who’d like to know what’s involved.

Who is it for?

Well,  Master your DSLR  is for anyone who wants to get the most from their DSLR camera.  From those who have just bought a new DSLR camera and have shot only a few frames to those who might have had a DSLR for a wee while but just don’t really know how to use it to it’s potential – you’ll find lots of value in this course.  I’ve been teaching in person for over 12 years and most recently here in Atlanta I’ve helped hundreds of newbie DSLR users get going with their cameras – figuring out the buttons, explaining the terminolgy and basics of photography in an easy to understand way.  I love teaching one-on-one and seeing my students walk away from our sessions confident in their ability to now make the camera do what they want it to do.  The feedback I’ve gotten from my online classes has been equally rewarding.

“Ingrid’s course is well thought out and organized, which my busy lifestyle appreciated.  I found myself excited to practice each week and found the homework inspiring, growing more and more assured of my camera and its functions. Upon completion of Ingrid’s course I hold my camera with ease, knowing what each and every button is for and how to use them as well as noting a definite improvement in the photos I capture.  I would recommend her course to anyone who owns a camera but especially those who desire to move out of that ominous Auto Mode and truly dive into the world of photography.” Melanie, Utah

Can I learn online?

My main concern however was; how was I going to retain that personal touch that I have in my in-person classes online.  It’s very different teacing online than it is in person.  It’s difficult to asess to see if the student is “getting” the material or if it’s over their head. To counteract this, I’ve tried to make this course as basic as possible.  There is probably some stuff in there that you already know.  If you’ve done any kind of research you’ll definately know some of the terminology but I promise you I’ll put it together for you in a way that will finally make sense.

How do I access the course?

The course material is in written form, with lots of explinatory photos and laid out a bit like a blog or website.  You will recieve access to the course as soon as you sign up.  Here is what it looks like on your dash board inside your course:

MAster your DSLR



The basics of Photography aren’t a secret.  Anyone can figure it out by reading Blogs (like this one!), books and just by trial and error shooting.  But what I know from my students’ feedback is that you want all the information that’s relevant to you all accessable in the one place and laid out in an easy to follow way. This is why I have relaunched my Master your DSLR course on a new platform which is super easy to flow through.  Here is a screenshot of some of the course content.  You can see that each of the Modules are further broken down into easy to digest chunks (accessible from the sidebar.)



The course is also self-paced, which means you can take your own time working through the material.  I figure it should take you about 5 weeks to adequetly go through the material, do the Action points and do the weekly assignments but if you haven’t much else going on, you could power through the material if you like.  Conversely, if you’d like to take your time, or if your schedule is pretty full, you’ll have access to the course material for 6 months from the time of sign up.

What if I get stuck?

So what is the difference between doing my course and simply reading a book?  Well, first off, you have me! Well, access to me at any rate.  I’ll be here to answer course related questions within 48 hrs of reciving them Mon-Fri, and each month I am going to be doing a live Q and A call for all students.  This will be your opportunity to chat to me about any difficulties you might be having and for me to give you a more in depth answer to your questions. (or just for us to hang out and chat!)

Secondly, you will have lots of Action Points so that you can be sure that you know how to put into pratice the things we are talking about.

Thirdly you’ll have assignments to do that will solidify your technical knowledge and stretch your creativity a little bit.  These assignments will be critiqued by me, if you’d like.

You’ll also have the support of others that are doing the course in our Private Flickr Group.  That’s been invaluble to past students and I love to see the friendships that have formed as a result of doing my classes.  Makes me so happy 🙂

I truly want anyone who signs up for my course to go away knowing the basics of DLSR photography and to have a good understanding of how their camera works.  It’s really not that complicated. Honestly!

Don’t let your camera get in the way of making a great photo.  Learn how to use it!  Become its Master and make it do what you want it to do!

Happy Snapping



P.S. If you are interested in Signing up for my Master your DSLR course I have reduced the price to $99 for a limited time so now is a great time to sign up and get started.  You’ll also be well underway and armed with lots of questions for the live Q and A call with me on September the 27th.



Would a photo canvas brighten up your world?

What do you do with all those photos you take?  Do you carefully edit them and file them away on your hard drive?  Perhaps you go to the local drugstore or use an online service and print out bazillions of 6″ x 4″s which then ultimately sit in several (perhaps well organized) shoeboxes.  Are you a Facebook Fanatic and share everything with everyone?

The bigger the better

Me? I’m a print girl.  Actually I’m not just a print girl. I’m a blow it up big and frame it type of girl.  If it’s worth looking at, then you might as well make it big – right?  I guess this comes from my background as a print lab owner.  For years when I lived in Ireland I had the luxury of cheaper prints and discounted framing at my disposal.  At home my walls were always adorned with beautiful 16″ x 20″ fully matted and framed images of my latest trip.  These days, as you know, my subjects are just as beautiful but a little more challenging – my 1 and 3 year old.  I take so many photos of these little ones but I rarely get around to enlarging, never mind framing these prints.  Custom framing is not cheap and neither is making high quality prints – and I have got to be the world’s pickiest printer.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I was approached by Canvas on Demand who offered me a complementary  photo canvas in order to do an honest review of their site. Firstly, putting your photos onto canvas is like killing two birds with one stone – a beautiful enlarged photo print that doesn’t even need framing. Secondly,  I absolutely love Canvas prints because they truly make your photos into pieces of artwork.  I love the gallery wrapped look  – the way the canvas is wrapped around the frame.  It is really polished and helps to bring life to an otherwise two-dimensional piece. So I agreed to do this review only if it would be fair and honest (have I mentioned that I am picky?) so you can be assured that I put it to the test.

The procedure – How to get your Photos onto Canvas

Fist up I had to choose an image that I would like printed.  I have an album of “for framing pics” so it was easy to choose the one I was going to print right away.  I choose this shot of my 2 girls and my nephew that I shot this summer.

Photos onto Canvas

Full frame images work really well for canvas printing, so crop your picture to eliminate any unnecessary background.

Once I’ve cropped my image to get it the way I’d like it to look, I do any other necessary editing such as blemish removal and exposure adjustments in Photoshop Elements and then save it to my desktop so that I know where it is when I need to upload it.


Then it’s over to the Canvas on Demand website.

The site is clearly laid out and really easy to use.  You can see from my video below how you will  have your order placed in a matter of minutes.


And here is the finished Print:

I decided to get a 16″ x 20″ Canvas with a 1 1/2″ wrap and a black edge and I am super thrilled with the results.

You can see from the close up detail that it is expertly finished and the reproduction of the colors is spot on.  This was my one big concern because like I said before – I am picky about my colors, but they were exactly as they were supposed to be.


The canvas shipped to me in about 3 working days after I placed my order and it arrived expertly packed via FedEx.  A simple nail in the wall and voila I can now smile up up my 3 favorite little peeps all day long – definitely brightening up my world 🙂

So, if you think you’d like to give Canvas on Demand a whirl, tell ’em I sent ya and get 20% off your first order by using this link.

Let me know how you get on  – I’d love to hear your experiences.



Disclosure: I did receive a 16″x20″ Canvas Print so that I could adequately review this website’s product quality and service.  If it hadn’t have been up to scratch you can be sure I would let you guys know.

Nikon Coolpix P510 – A Superzoom Bridge camera

When I was back home in Ireland last month I was lucky enough to get my hands on the new Nikon Coolpix P510. This is a Bridge Camera (not quite a DSLR but bigger than a point and shoot) with a powerful zoom lens.

Click on the video below to here my thoughts on this camera and check out the photos below to give you an idea of the strength of the Optical Zoom lens.

Thanks to my Auntie Jean and Uncle Pete for providing the beautiful garden for my test 🙂 .

Nikon Coolpix P510


Sample shots of the Nikon P510 Super Zoom

PS You can check out more reviews of the P510 on Amazon.


How to choose the right DSLR Camera

Over the last few months I’ve been getting more and more questions emailed to me about all sorts of photography queries.  It’s been taking up a lot of my time writing each person back – which I try to do.  But I had a thought.  Many of these questions are very similar and so, in an effort to help ya’ll I’ve decided that I’m going to try to answer you questions in a new video series called CameraShy Q & A.

So here’s the first one – Emily from Arizona asks me which DSLR she should buy.


Recommended in this video

The Canon T3i 

The Nikon D3200

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, please email me ingrid {at} CameraShy{dot}info

Hope to hear from you soon!


(Apologies for the poor video quality – I’m working on it!)

Card corrupted – happens to the best of us…

Memory card corruptedAs a photography instructor I try to be a good role model when it comes to things like photo organization, backing up my photos and taking care of my equipment.  I do try  – honest I do, but last night I lapsed.  I am constantly telling students that they must properly eject their memory card from their card reader before pulling it out when they are downloading their pictures.  If you are on a Mac this means “ejecting the disk” and if you are on a PC you need to “Safely Remove Hardware” the icon for which will most likely be found at the bottom menu bar depending on which operating system you are using.

Did you know you are supposed to do this?  It is crucial that you do as there is a very good reason for it.  If you remove your card without doing the above there is a chance that you can corrupt your card and loose your images on there.  Late last night I was trying to upload my Easter pics as well as a bunch for my #Take 52 Challenge that I haven’t posted yet and in my sleep deprived blur I inadvertently pulled out the memory card from the reader without ejecting it first.  I thought that I had inserted the wrong card so I was quickly about to change it over but midway I realized that it was in fact the correct card and a horrible sinking feeling was accompanied by an error message on my computer screen telling me that my card needed to be formatted.  Ugh.  Teacher FAIL –   Rookie mistake!

So I spent a few hours this morning trying to recover the lost images by downloading various software and running recovery programs but alas no joy.  I am totally bummed.  Being Easter both my girls were looking as cute as could be in their Easter dresses and for once were cooperating on getting their picture taken.  I also had a bunch taken of the whole family when we got together in the afternoon.  All gone bar a few like the one of my niece above on the swing.  I will just have to try and recreate and thankfully I can.  I realize this happens to many of you when you can’t go back and do a do-over.

So folks – be warned!  Do not pull out your memory card from your card reader without first ejecting it and while I’m at it, don’t take your card out of your camera without first turning it off either.

I will spend some more time trying to recover the card when I get a chance.  If this has happened to you, there are some free card recovery programs avalable.  Nothing there helped me unfortunately so it looks like we’ll all be getting dressed up again soon…

Has this ever happened to you?  Please share in the comments below and make me feel a little better.





Music Time

This week’s Take 52 Challenge theme was Music.  My two girls are always shaking or banging something which in their mind is making music so this week I had an easy task.

Change your Angle of view

I’ve been playing around with my speedlite lately, trying to get better exposures inside my house.  This shot was a combination of natural light coming in from the side and a bounced flash off of the ceiling above Mollie.  I’m working on some blog posts about using your speedlite (external flash) so more details to follow.

Week 9’s Theme: Growing

Feel free to jump in on the Take 52 Challenge at any time.  You’ll find us over at the Flickr Group and on Facebook too 🙂

Til next week





Do you need a Nifty Fifty Lens?

nifty 50 lens


A what you say?  Where have you been hiding out!

What is a Nifty Fifty Lens?

The Nifty 50 refers to a 50mm prime lens which is considered a portrait lens on most entry level DLSRs such as the Canon rebel series or the Nikon D3100 or Sony Alpha range.

Do I need it?Mollie nifty 50

If you are a beginner photographer and your main subject is your kids you will undoubtedly compare your pictures to those of the pro photographers that you have paid in the past to come and photograph your kiddos.

You want to be able to recreate those same types of photographs with your own DSLR.  You can get junior to smile and pose and look super cute but what you you REALLY want to know is how to get that BLURRY background like the pro did.  The lovely creamy background where it doesn’t matter whereabouts you shoot, your subject stands out, pin sharp against a soft out-of-focus creamy, dreamy background.

Well over half of my students come to me with this woe – “How to I get a blurry background?”


All about the f stops

As they learn a little bit about shooting out of auto mode they discover the concept of Aperture and learn that by controlling the Aperture, they control the depth of field, hence they have the ability to create a blurry background!

Nifty 50 aperture shot

Hurrah!  They’ve cracked it.  They’ve discovered they key…that is, until they try to shoot at a wide aperture with their camera’s kit lens – i.e. the lens that comes with the camera.  No matter how wide the open the aperture – usually f/4, the cannot achieve the blurry backgrounds they dream of.  Their photos still look flat compared with those shot by the pro.  Sound familiar?

So what gives?

Well, the main big difference between your shots and the Pro’s shots is most likely choice of lens.  And that’s where the  so-called nifty 50 comes in to play.  The nifty 50 is a 50mm Prime lens i.e. it it has a fixed focal length of 50mm and therefore doesn’t zoom.  If you want to get closer you gotta move your feet! This focal length of  50 mm is a nice distance for portraiture photography on entry level DSLRS and you’ll often hear it referred to as a portrait lens. But this is not where the secret lies.  The best thing about the nifty 50 is that is has an extremely wide open maximum aperture which means it will give you a much blurrier (is that even a word?) background than your standard kit lens.

Consider my fancy slide below:

Aperture slide for nifty 50

Aperture ratings

Most kit lenses can only open the aperture to somewhere between f/3.5 and f/5.6, depending on the focal length in use.  In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a wide open aperture at all.

Our friendly nifty 50 however comes in 3 versions with a f 1.8, f 1.4 and f 1.2 maximum apertures for most camera brands.  These are considerably more open that the kit lens, allowing you to photograph inside in natural light with out the aid of flash, and more  importantly for this discussion, rendering a beautiful creamy blurry background.

That’s the key!  Use the best lens for the job and you’ll get the results that you are after.  The camera is only half the story…

I need to get one!

And the other awesome thing about the nifty 50?  It’s probably the cheapest bit of photography gear you’re likely to purchase.  Most pros shoot with either the f1.4 or the f1.2 but you can nab a f1.8 (like me!) for about $100. (Be sure to check out your own camera’s compatibility with any lens before you buy)

And trust me, you will blow yourself away with the results. Pin sharp, works in low light with beautify blurry backgrounds.  So what are you waiting for? Go grab one today!

Happy Snapping


P.S. The nifty 50 is such good value that it is one of the only lenses I recommend buying new – your can check it out on Amazon for the best deals.

It’s ok to admit your failures…

Ok I have a confession…I’ve fallen behind.  I’ve been so super busy over the last few weeks it’s been really challenging taking an image every week for the Take 52 Challenge (How on earth does anybody ever so the Project 365?)  Anyways, all is not lost.  The cool thing about this Challenge is that it’s mine so I give myself permission to keep on going!  I have actually been taking the images just not having had the time to post them, so now you get to see a mini collection all at one time.

Week 5: Shadows

This week I finally got my 50mm lens replaced so I spent some time playing with it wide open.  If you haven’t yet invested in a 50mm wide aperture lens then make it a point to do so soon.  I LOVE mine and I especially love that it is so lightweight and compact.  It makes a nice change from the heavy zoom lens that I usually have on my camera.  It gives such an interesting field of view and of course renders beautiful creamy backgrounds.  This shot is of Sam’s glasses and I love the way the shadows created by the glasses almost look like a reflection in the book.


Take 52 Challenge

Week 6: Shiny

I found Shiny a little tough – probably due to the lack of shiny surfaces in my house – I have 2 kids, a dog and a hubby who loves bringing the outside in you know!  And as my mother says I’m NOT a natural housekeeper.  So for SHINY I decided to photograph my newest Shiny object – the necklace hubby gave me for Christmas.  I used the little bell (also shiny) as a backdrop as it is a favor from one of our wedding showers way back when…

Shiny Take 52 Challenge

Week 7: Love is…

Awh, this week was an easy one right?  We were surrounded by love and lovely things all week so I used my iPhone to snap this shot of my brand new coffee tea travel mug from my hubby.  I was seriously excited about this mug – I mean it – I never had one of my own before and I need my tea in the mornings while carrying out my chauffeur duties for the little ones 🙂  Love is tea I guess! (oh and not forgetting the heart shaped peppermint patties)

CameraShy Take 52 Challenge

So I’m reinvigorated and planning to keep up from now on.  The crowd in the Flickr group is amazing – you guys inspire me!  It’s not too late for you to jump in – just get going this week and don’t even try to catch up.


Week 8:Theme: Music

Have fun 🙂







Take 52 Challenge – Week 4

Phew!  The weeks are flying by and we’re at week 4 already.  Doing this challenge has made me acutely aware of the fact that right now, there is no way I could cope with Project 365!

Last week’s theme was “Play-Time”



Despite the fact that I spend my days surrounded by toys my kids – like most kids – are difficult to photograph because they never stay still!  So I gotta say I was pleased with shot shot as I didn’t use any flash and just bumped my ISO  – waaay up to 1600 which on my camera is a lot.  It is grainy but I think it kinda adds to the shot.


This week’s theme is “Comfort”


Let me know how you are getting on!


Happy Snapping

Help me with my resolution

Wow! I can’t believe January is flying by so fast.  It seems like no time since we were getting ready for Christmas and then making New Years Resolutions.

My main resolution this year is to get as many Digital SLR owners Out of the Auto mode on their cameras as possible.

So many people have these great (expensive!) , powerful, digital cameras but yet they have no idea how to operate it out of the Automatic setting.  It’s such a waste!  Seriously, you may as well just be using a heavy point and shoot camera if you are stuck on the little green square or smiley faced man setting…

But I know why you are stuck there…

DSLRs can be confusing

There are so many buttons to figure out.

The manuals are written in double dutch and use hieroglyphics!

If only someone could TELL you what you need to know

If only someone could show you what mode to be in for each shot

If only someone could just explain some of the terminology!

Well it’s time to be stuck no more.

It’s time to Get out of Auto!


Join me live, online each Tuesday evening at 8pm EST, beginning Jan 24th, for this 4 week course designed to Get you Out of Auto

It’s going to be fun!  To get the details click here and start using your camera to the max.

See you in class!


P.S. This is a very unique course delivery and class size is very limited so hurry up and register right away!