Dear Da, what camera do you use and how do you edit your pictures?

posted on: Thursday, March 17, 2011

I love love love getting e-mails like this one...

Hi Da
You probably get asked this a lot, but I can't seem to find a post on your blog in regards to what camera and photo editing software you use!
Thanks in advance,

Every time an e-mail comes in where a reader asks me about photography I am immediatly transported back in time, early 2007 to be exact. Christian and I were living in Hawaii and I had my friend Natalie over for dinner with her husband and three kids. My brother-in-law Adam,  a professional photographer, dropped by and had dinner with us. Natalie picked his brain. She asked and asked and asked, and I don't know if she did but she very well could have been taking notes. I think Natalie had just purchased a camera, I don't think it was anything too fancy, yet she was in love with photography and she knew she wanted to pursue it as a career. Today she is one of the most talented professional photographers out there, I kid you not. 

I'm no Adam and I'm no Natalie, and I have no ambitions of being a professional photographer. I just enjoy taking pictures of things I love. So if my pictures create even the slightest curiosity and maybe even the slightest incentive in someone to take pictures of things they love then I'll continue to shoot and post. The world needs more pictures, even bad pictures because eventually if you do it long enough the bad pictures turn out better  and then they improve some more  and then finally you get a picture that you like

Kim, to answer your question this blog is full of pictures shot with a Canon point and shoot and then a Nikon DSLR and now with a Canon Rebel T1i. I have three lenses. I have the kit lens which I never use, a Canon 50mm macro lens that is great for food photography, and a Canon fixed 50mm 1:1.8 that is great for portraits. I mainly use the fixed 50mm because I love taking pictures of the kids with that lens, and I take pictures of the kids everyday.

Yesterday when she woke up from her nap. Notice the crusty crusts around her left eye.

15 minutes later when I was taking pictures to put on his birthday invitation.

An hour later when Enzo was playing with his legos and Maria wasn't trying to eat his creation. In that rare moment of peace I ran to the kitchen and shot this picture. Had I taken the time to switch lens I would have really captured the texture of the lemons with my macro lens. However, 10 second after I took this picture I had to go and break up a fight.

Life doesn't really give me time to switch up lenses very often, or to style my food perfectly, or to get the perfect light, or a million other things. But life gives me lemons. And children. And I love both so much I always want to capture their beauty to the best of my abilities.

This is why I spend over $1000 on my equipment. It was worth it. If you want to get good pictures buy a good camera, invest in a DSLR. Then learn how to use your camera. Like my friend Natalie who asked my brother-in-law a million questions over dinner do the same with photographers that you know. Right now the photographer that lives closest to me that I admire is Gail from Aroha Photograhy. She does some insane things with lighting. I wanted her to teach me how to use the manual settings on my camera so that I could get better lighting in my pictures. This is her craft, Gail earns a living doing photography so I figured it would only be fair to pay her for her time. At first she said I didn't have to pay her. Of course she did. A lot of people are nice like that but be mindful of people's time. Besides I wanted it to be legit, I wanted homework for goodness sakes. So I worked something out with her, got another friend involved, and I ended up having 4 classes with Gail. Now I only shoot using the manual setting and I think my photography has really improved. Thank you Gail!

As for editing I used Picnik exclusivley until November of last year. Picnik is a free online photo editing software. There is a paid version, which I recommend getting, but for beginners the free version is fine. In November of 2010 I purchased Lightroom only because I was able to get an amazing deal on it. I now use Lightroom for all of my editing.

and I still use picnik for all of my collages, text, and other creative things I want to add to the picture.

I've been dying to invest in Photoshop but am scared that I won't have the time to learn how to really use it. Maybe I'll get it after Baby Maria stops trying to eat small lego pieces, and Enzo stops freaking out every time she does. When they're both old enough for that to happen I'll probably be pregnant again. Ha! The good news is I'll have a whole new subject to photograph.

Where to get started:
Digital Photography School is a great website to get information about different cameras and equipments and also different editing softwares. I recommend doing some research before investing in a camera. In fact try to rent a couple cameras before you decide to buy one. There are tons of online camera rental places. I was able to test out the Canon T1i before I bought and loved that it also shot in video mode, I knew it was the camera for me.

Taste Spotting, Tasteologie, and Food Gawker are wonderful sites to get inspired to both cook and to take better pictures.

I had some professional photographers guest post on Kitchen Corners, Jonathan Canlas, Adam Palmer, and Wendy from Foodchic. These are great intro posts to learn about food photography and i'm thankful that these photographers took the time to share their knowledge on my blog.

Take pictures! Every day take pictures of things you love. I guarantee that with time your photos will improve ten fold. Maybe one day you'll be professional and I'll come to you for advice. And as always, my advice for everything these days seems to be ---> HAVE FUN!


  1. Jamie @ CharminglyordinarySeptember 30, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    I cannot wait to check out these photography resources! My understanding is limited to iso and aperture at this point. :)

  2. I have a lot I need to learn as well. I'm glad the post inspired you to learn more.


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