Sunday 23 September 2012

New Camera & Blog Photography

You may have already heard me harping on about it but I have a new camera! I have just upgraded from a Canon 400D to a Canon 650D. I've had my 400D for over six years now so it was definitely time for a new one. I've been saving up since rumours about the new camera started floating around the internet in January and its finally mine! I bought my camera with the 18-135mm STM kit lens. The 650D is the latest addition to Canon's entry level range of digital SLR cameras. It has several upgrades over the 600D that was released last year. It has the same 18MP resolution as the 600D but with a Digic 5 processor, full HD video but with auto-focus and the vari-angle LCD screen has also been upgraded and now features touch screen. It was quite strange going from fiddling about with dials for exposure & aperture to using the camera like an iPhone. The vari-angle screen is brilliant because you can see exactly whats going on in the frame. Its really helpful when using the self-timer for outfit photos because I can make sure the part I want to focus on is actually on screen. The HD video looks excellent. It also has some creative modes so you can add things like fisheye effects to your photos. Its such great quality and I'm so happy with my purchase.

I figured this would be a good time to address some of the questions that I get asked about blog photography. I'm not a professional photographer or anything but I do have a keen interest in the subject. I don't think my photos are particularly good but other people seem to, so heres my photography kit in full & details of how I prep photos for blog posts.

So the old camera body I had was this 400D. Before I had this one I also had a 300D so I've been using Canon DSLRs for the best part of a decade. I originally bought my 400D when I was about to start my art foundation course. If you're doing a design related course or degree, its a good idea to buy a proper camera. You need good quality pictures especially when it comes to putting your portfolio together. I used mine constantly throughout my foundation course & graphic design degree for research and photographing my work. I've never had experience of another make but I've always been more than happy with Canon. They do a vast range of compact & bridge cameras so if you can't afford an entry level DSLR like mine or their professional level ones you can still get a great camera. You don't need an expensive camera to blog with. You can get away with just using an iPhone if you know how to edit your photos properly. If you want a camera just for blogging, you're probably better off with a regular camera unless you're super rich or want to start blogging professionally.

I only have three lenses because they can get really really expensive. I have the bog standard 18-55mm EFS lens. I got this in a kit with my 300D so its very old. It doesn't even have image stablisation like most Canon lenses do these days. However this is probably my most used lens because its a good size with a basic focal range. Pretty much all of my blog photos up to this point were taken with this lens. I also have a 50mm f/1.8 II lens for macro shots. It has a wide aperture which produces a shorter depth of field. A lot of professional photographers use this type of lens to get that nice blurry background in their photos. And of course, I have the 18-135mm STM lens that came in the kit with my new camera. This new lens is so amazing. It costs a lot more than the other kit lens but its definitely worth it in my opinion. The focal range is brilliant for the price so its great for things like landscape shots as well as everyday photography. The STM lens means that it has silent auto-focus making it perfect for filming videos. Hopefully I'll be making my YouTube debut soon now that I have this new camera setup!

I don't have any special lighting at home, mainly because it costs a lot and I don't have room for it. I just have a cheap flash gun that I bought off eBay. This is essential for Winter when the lighting is pretty much terrible 24/7. I never use the flash that is built into the camera body because I hate how it makes photos look. A flash gun lets you bounce or diffuse the flash so that you get better lighting without that horrible flash effect. I don't use any lens hoods or filters mainly because I don't know what they do haha. Told you I wasn't an expert! I did buy some cheap lens filters off eBay but they didn't do much so I don't bother with them.

Another very important piece of kit is a tripod. If you're planning on doing outfit posts and you don't have anyone who is willing to take your photos for you then a tripod is a godsend. I bought my one off eBay. I used to have a different one that was a lot smaller. When I first started blogging we lived in a tiny apartment and I had to put my tripod on the bed in order to make it tall enough. Then when we moved house there was room to put it on the floor and I had to keep bending into weird positions to fit into the frame. It was really annoying so definitely check the height of the tripod you're purchasing. One that extends to a similar height to your own is preferable. That might be difficult if you're 6ft or something but at 5'4" a 67" tripod is ideal for me. If its too short you could probably just put piles of books underneath the legs. In conjunction with my tripod I use a Canon RC-6 remote control. This means I can use the self-timer when taking outfit photos without constantly moving back and forth to press the shutter. It also makes it easier to auto-focus as you'll be in the correct spot for your photos.

For product shots I place the items on my pillows. The lighting in my house is pretty shoddy so by using pillows I can move them to wherever a good light source is located. Since a lot of people ask, my covers are from Matalan but I don't think they sell them anymore. I like the patterned background for product photos as they add an extra something and help make your posts a bit more recognisable. Plain white backgrounds or dressing table shots also look great, its just down to personal preference really.

I edit my photos using the Camera RAW plug-in from Adobe Bridge CS5. Here I adjust the white balance, brighten & de-saturate certain colours and increase contrast. I then move into Adobe Photoshop CS5 to crop, re-size, collage and fiddle about with Curves. If you don't understand Curves you can just download tons of free ones from DeviantArt. I always save my images using File > Save For Web & Devices. This makes sure that the colours in your photos display correctly on different monitors. It also makes the file size smaller so the images load up quicker. When I'm scrolling through Google Reader nothing makes me ignore a post faster than one where the images take 10 minutes to load up. Its a shame, especially when you know a blogger takes nice photos but they take forever to display. Just make sure you don't compress your images so much that they become pixellated! If you don't have Photoshop then Pixlr is a brilliant online photo editor.

So I hope that was helpful for some people! Like I say I'm not an expert so I've probably missed out loads of necessary info haha. Just leave a comment, tweet me or email me if theres anything else you want to know.


  1. Very helpful! I love reading the cameras people use and how they improve/edit their blog photographs. Always something new to be learned.

  2. I love the 50mm lens! :D and congrats fgor your new camera ♥

  3. Congratulations on your new camera! Love the tips and I also ignore posts with too large images.


  4. Interesting reading, thank you! And congrats on your new toy, I just invested in my first DSLR, trying to figure it out now!

    Sam x
    Sam Muses

  5. I'm saving up for a canon-my very first- I can't wait to get my hands on it!

  6. So glad you did this post, I've been thinking about getting the new Canon to upgrade for better quality photographs... I think I'm convinced :)

  7. Exactly what I need to buy, you always take lovely photos anyway, the lighting always looks amazing

  8. Definitely taking on board that saving photos tip, I just hope mine don't take ages to load - I also hate that (: xx

  9. This was a great post - thanks for the information and tips. xx

    Endometriosis my life with you

    1. all went over my head!! I'm such a technophobe eeek. Going to invest in a tripod though, wont need to pester anyone to take photos for me then xx

  10. YAY! I am sooo jealous. Desperate for such a cool camera for my blog. Oh one day.....

  11. Thanks so much for this post! I'm no photography expert myself, but I would definitely call myself an enthusiast who's very interested in it. I've always been a Canon girl myself and started off with an ancient 350D! I have the 600D now and I'm so in love with. I own the same lenses as you. I absolutely adore my 50mm f/1.8 lens, but the 18-135mm is amazing too, especially for travelling because you get most of the scene in the lens. It does get heavy though. I've always hated how my images don't come out vibrant on the Internet as they do on Photoshop, so now I know to save for web! Thanks for that! I absolutely adore the images on your blog. :)

  12. I'm so very jealous, I'd love a new camera! Mine is about 4 years old, it'll just have to last a little while longer. I also really ought to get to grips with photoshop, I don't really do much editing to my photos at all.

  13. Ah you don't know how much of a godsend this post was for me! I am putting some money towards a DSRL for my birthday so this post has been mega helpful!!xx