How I take photos: Camera, lenses and resources

24 November 2015

Evetopia - How I take photos: Camera, lenses and resources
Let's talk about my photography gear today. Not that I have much experience to share, nor do I have many gadgets compared to the real photography enthusiasts. I just want to share with you what I use.

Sometimes I got questions about skills and techniques, and strangely, some people ask me for advice to buy a camera. Thank you for thinking that I am capable to give you any advice, but the truth is... I have no idea about camera models and the latest technology. As for the techniques and skills, I learn from these books:

Evetopia - How I take photos: Camera, lenses and resources

CAMERA

My camera is Nikon D3100, 4 year old. I called it Michael, isn't it a lovely name? He has been travelling with me everywhere and witnessing all the important moments of my life. He is my soul mate, my companion, my love, ha ha.

So why this particular model? Well it's an entry level DSLR with a reasonable price. My father chose it simply because he had the misconception that a DSLR takes better photos than a compact camera, though he only uses the Auto mode every single time. Little did he know that a DSLR can only unleash its full potential if the user knows how to operate it. So the camera arrived before anyone of us was interested in photography, let alone knew how to use it. You can imagine our surprise when he first showed it to us.

I did spend a while to pick up the terminologies and understand the few buttons on the camera, but it's totally worth the time. I've become very fond of Michael and our relationship is getting strong. 

LENSES

1. Kit lens 18-55mm f/3-5-5.6G VR My trusty kit lens has done its job perfectly. I use it basically  for everything - landscape, portraits, videos etc. 

Evetopia - How I take photos: Camera, lenses and resources
Evetopia - How I take photos: Camera, lenses and resources

2. 35mm f/1.8G My first splurge. They are right - for many DSLR users, buying a new lens is inevitable because soon you'll notice the limitation of your kit lens. Naturally the more you photograph, the clearer you'll be of the subject that you like. Some people are more interested in nature and landscape, some choose macro, product or portrait (me!) photography. Kit lenses usually have limited functions so you'll need to get a lens that suits you.
For my case, there is one drawback of my kit lens. Its aperture is not large enough for portraits and object close-ups. Hence, I got this 35mm lens in July and since then I rarely use my kit lens anymore. This 35mm baby is awesome for portraits because it creates a blurry background, which is really helpful for outdoor photography where the surrounding is usually messy. I've used it for events, objects and portraits. You can see how the subject really stands out against the rest:

Evetopia - How I take photos: Camera, lenses and resources
Evetopia - How I take photos: Camera, lenses and resources

EDITING
I use Picmonkey, Pixlr Express, Fotor or Mei Tu Xiu Xiu. Nothing fancy here. To speed things up, usually I only crop, adjust brightness, saturation and contrast. It's pretty easy. Here's an example of how I normally edit a photo, with a before-and-after comparison. You can see how the mood of the photo can be changed in less than 2 minutes. I did this using Picmonkey, which requires internet connection. You can use other softwares or application to do it too.

Evetopia - How I take photos: Camera, lenses and resources
Before and after. That was a cloudy day. - Paddy field in Sekinchan. 

TUTORIALS
Many websites and blogs are teaching photography. Some of my favourites are:
1. A Beautiful Mess This is one of my favourite blogs. Not only they teach photography in a friendly and less geeky way, they have developed a distinct style and layout which I truly adore! Their photos exude happiness and vibrance.
2. Pinterest Needless to say, Pinterest has the most extensive collection of tutorials and DIYs. Just search "photography tutorials" and there will be a bunch of good stuffs. Basically it is a bookmark system where users save websites that they think are helpful. In some ways I think searching in Pinterest is better than in Google because the results are more focused and not heavily affected by sponsors and SEO. The search results in Pinterest will lead you to some good blogs too.
3. DigitalRev TV The most popular Youtube channel about photography with basically everything you need to know from choosing a camera, a lens, tips and tricks.
4. Photoblog.hk This website is in Chinese language. It has all the latest news about photography and of course basic courses about techniques.

RESOURCES
Some websites are not tutorial-based but they share amazing photos. We can learn so much about composition, lighting and styling from them. 
1. Fire and Joy The author and photographer, Nirrimi has a personal style that I really wish to imitate. She has an artistic eye for faces and bodies. 
2. Local Milk This food and travel blog is very useful if you like to play with lights and shadows. They seriously know how to beautifully arrange a million things in one layout. 
3. Searching For Tomorrow Run by two young people born in 1990, this blog has the prettiest photos of landscapes, animals and travels.
4. Decor8 I like the way they arrange items in a frame. Their photos are calm and crisp.

Evetopia - How I take photos: Camera, lenses and resources
Taken with my Nikon D3100 and 35mm f/1.8 lens. 
This man was sitting next to our table, waiting for somebody that didn't turn up. - Bentong, Pahang.

Hope this post is useful to you. With all being said, a DSLR is very useful but it is absolutely not a must if you want to venture into photography.  You do know that the phone cameras nowadays are super robust, and the mobile apps can do mystical wonders right? Do not be limited by machinery, just use the gadget in your hand and do the magic!

Have fun capturing those precious moments!

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