Lifestyle Photography

Guidelines for Buying Your First DSLR

Guidelines for Buying Your First DSLR

Owning a DSLR camera is the eventual conclusion for people interested in photography beyond the casual selfies and puppy picture. Making the big purchase of your first DSLR is not simple, because of the amount of choices available, with varying degrees of sophistication and price. If you are a first time buyer, here are some useful things you have to look out for when you want to buy one.

Camera size

Camera size is very important. The days were gone when people opt for smaller cameras, because they were more portable. When it comes to DSLR cameras, people have discovered that it’s better to buy bigger sizes, because apart from producing superior quality photos, there is enough body there to handle them without worry or inconvenience.

ISO Range

ISO range of the camera you want to buy is also very important. The range you select will depending on the things you want to do with your digital camera when you buy them, but it is always better to go for the ISO range of 1600 and more, because you can use it to take action photos without blurring the images.


Megapixels are important, but not a major issue when you want to buy a digital camera. The assumption that the more megapixels a camera has determines its quality, is no longer true, because cameras with more megapixels are smaller in size and this is not the best, because it could make more noise and take inferior photos.


Price of DSLR camera determines the quality you have to look for. Consider all the deals on the market and think of ways you can buy a higher quality at cheaper prices. You should make out your budget before you start shopping for one.

Camera Choices

Battery Life

The battery life of the camera you want to buy is very important. You should check the battery lifespan and ensure that it would not disappoint you at the most critical period. It is not advisable to go for a product with a short battery life that could not perform when you are engaged in a serious photo session. Check for long lasting and rechargeable battery packs for the best results.

Ease of Use

For your first DSLR camera, it is advisable to go for brands you can easily use. If you buy products with many buttons and dials, it will take some time before you master all of its operations. Look for a camera with pre-settings that you can use immediately after taking it out of its box. You do not need to be a technical guru before you can use the camera, so pre-settings will help you get started, and then you can learn and grow into the more advanced modes of use.

Picture Settings

Finally, you have to look for DSLR cameras with different picture settings. This would enhance the quality of pictures you can take with such cameras. Many picture settings help you in achieving various photo effects. You can set the pictures in such a way that images would be very sharp. Picture settings would also help you to prevent taking blurred images with your digital cameras.

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5 Best Photo Printers for Photographers

5 Best Photo Printers for Photographers

If you’re into photography and you want the convenience of making a lot of high quality prints, or even if you’re an everyday photo-shooter and you just want quality without racking up exuberant fees from the store, you might want to invest in one of the best photo printers for photographers.

While photo printers used to be large, expensive to maintain and kind of obsolete, modern dedicated photo printers are the exact opposite. They’ve been streamlined to provide exactly what you want without high prices so you can get all the quality you want without sacrificing anything to get it. They come in wide varieties to fit any need, for anyone from an amateur to a professional.

Finding the Best Photo Printer

There are a wide variety of printers out there, so it’s important to do your research before you purchase a printer. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you actually make a purchase:

How Will You Use It?

Modern photo printers are very specific and can print 6, 7, 8, 9, or 11 inch pictures. While this is great for small pictures, if you’re a professional you might want a printer that provides options for printing larger pictures because sometimes you want be able to print a 13 or 15 inch print right there in your workshop. If this is the case, you’re going to want a more high quality printer. You simply cannot get high quality out of a regular type of printer, so you have to do the research here if you want larger pictures.

Types of Printer

There are four basic types of printers to consider: Color Thermal, Solid Ink, Color Inkjets and Dye Sublimation. Generally speaking, laser quality printers are some of the lowest quality printers out there, and they’re optimized more for speed of print than the overall quality. Depending on the brand and the ink technology, you’re going to want to look into the price of refill on your ink colors, especially if you plan on printing a lot.

Special Features

Some printers these days are packed with features, many can print pictures straight from a CD, while others have integrated USB drives or SD card readers, and some even have fully automatic document feeders. Looking at all the specs offered gives you a great idea of what kind of printer you should be purchasing- especially when you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck. Without any further ado, here are my Top 5 Photo Printers:

1. Epson PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition Photo Printer

With a 2.4 inch photo viewer you can select and view your photos to edit and select different ones, as well as print them without even using a computer.

Prints from this camera cost around 29 cents a print, and come in great quality with speed that allows you to print multiple pictures quickly and easily. Plus the prints last a long time- 2-4 times longer than other types of solid ink printers.

It’s easy to use and the screen makes for an excellent feature on this one.

2. Canon PIXMA iP6000D Photo Printer

This Canon PIXMA delivers around 4,800 x 1,200 drips of ink per inch, and you can link your camera directly into the printer to get the easiest high quality prints out there. With 2 sided printing and 6 individual tanks for ink, you get the colors you want without mixing a wide range of color- which gets expensive.

This Canon printer is highly compatible and has great color quality, with fast printing speeds and a great control panel to make selecting pictures easier. Plus, you can print photos directly from your smartphone through Bluetooth, making it completely compatible.

Cheaper than an Epson, it delivers good quality pictures with its dual printer heads, and the cartridges for Canon printers are consistently cheaper than other models of printer, making this printer a safe choice for your needs.

3. Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II Inkjet Photo Printer

This bad boy delivers almost twice the ink drops as the iP6000D and prints large, lab quality 11×14 inch prints in less than a minute and a half. It automatically corrects light quality in your pictures, brightening them as necessary, and matches color output to make your pictures high quality without you actually having to do the work yourself.

This model has all the connectivity options of the iP6000D too- with a slightly higher price tag for the upgrade in quality. Print in any style you want, or load photo papers in the front or back to completely customize how your print job is completed without the hassle associated with cheaper models when you’re changing photo qualities.

4. HP Envy 4500 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner and Copier

This HP product does it all- it prints in black and white or in full color- and it also connects directly to your wireless network so you can work without wires or adapters.

With extremely high resolution, and 2 sided printing, the HP Envy is a great product for someone entering the photography market. With a 100 sheet input tray and 30 page output, it makes printing quick and easy at a very affordable price.

While it doesn’t compare to the Pro9000- if you don’t want to spend $400 or more, you might as well get the Hewlett.

5. Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Color Professional Inkjet Photo Printer

The PRO-100 model brings two more colors to give better black and white quality than its predecessors, and it’s not that much more expensive than the Pro9000.

Optimized for reproducing vibrant colors with various hues of color, this printer is perfect for someone in the market for a top-end printer. Get professional quality 13 X 19 inch prints for even someone in with a professional photography business, and be ecstatic with the results you get for a very affordable price.

How to Make a Photography Studio at Home

How to Make a Photography Studio at Home

If you are a photographer, having a studio in your home can be very beneficial.  You may be shocked to find that it is not nearly as complicated to set up as you might have thought, so let’s look further into how to make a photography studio at home.

Have a Designated Room

Although it doesn’t have to be a huge room, it should have enough space for all your equipment, props, etc. Also, remember that you will need the space to move around without distorting the image. A room that is 20 feet deep is usually considered ideal for taking full body shots, although you can make it work in a room that is 15 feet deep. Never use a lens wider than 50mm when shooting in your home studio to avoid lens distortion.

When you are between shoots, you can close the door and not have to worry about anyone accidentally breaking anything. Not only will this make your clients see you as a true professional, but they won’t feel awkward or uncomfortable like they would if they were right in the middle of your family’s living space.

To set the best atmosphere for photo sessions, I like to have a soundproof treated room. Even if you can’t remodel, there are techniques like using acoustic curtains and panels that you can hang on the walls to create a quiet setting for you and your subject.

Whether you use a door, privacy screen, or curtain, make certain that the room can easily be closed off to the rest of the house when shooting. This not only keeps your focus on the photography job at hand, but it will also prevent your client from becoming distracted by something else going on in your home.

Lighting, Windows, and Ceiling Height

Your ceiling will act as a large reflector and can add light to your photos that you hadn’t even considered, especially if it’s a low ceiling. Before you settle on a room, perform several test shots to assess any potential lighting effects. This gives you the opportunity to determine if there is anything you can do to prevent light from bouncing off the ceiling.

Low ceilings can also inhibit your ability to use a hair light. While you may be able to use it with a person sitting down, it will not work for anyone other than children who are standing. The general rule is that you should have 3 feet between the hair light and your subject for the best results.

As you become more experiences, you may decide to purchase lighting equipment for your studio. Most home studios are large enough to include a good overhead light, as well as 2 fill lights.

Finally, consider the placement of any windows in the room. While sunlight can be beneficial in certain locations because it can provide even, soft lighting (if the window is north or south facing) and eliminate the need for a flash, it is also harder to control and can potentially limit how you use the room. Keep in mind that the extra light and noise can be shut out with good acoustic drapes.


There are several backdrop options, but make sure you have adequate storage space. They include:

  • Seamless background paper is an option that is available in huge array of colors (from solid to graphics) and quickly and easily creates an even, smooth background for photos. To use seamless background paper, you will need to purchase a wall mount to hang the paper from. When you are finished, you use the chain to roll it back up.
  • Curtains, blankets, and throws make a great backdrop. You have the option of purchasing a backdrop stand to hang them from, pinning or taping them to the wall, throwing them over a door or the back of a chair (if you have a child sitting down), clamping them to a bookshelf, or even stringing them up in the doorway.
  • You also have the option of purchasing a white background and using gelled lights to alter the color or using Photoshop to edit backgrounds and colors into place.
  • When photographing babies, place a pillow, cushion, or beanbag on the ground and cover it with a textured throw. A throw is also perfect for baby that is more difficult to keep still. Simply have a parent sit in a chair and cover him or her with the throw (or a large blanket). Sit the baby where it is propped on the top of the crook of the person’s elbow. Wrap the blanket around the baby in a manner similar to swaddling. The adult can hold the baby’s legs and arms still without it being seen in the picture.


If you have room for a few props, they can bring a whole new element to a simple photo. You can find some creative and amazing props at thrift or antique stores, garage sales, and even in your own closet.


If you have worn carpet or scratched floors in your studio, don’t despair. You have inexpensive options that will leave you with the ability to change out your flooring on a whim.

For example, if you prefer gorgeous wood floors, head to your local flooring warehouse and look for “wood” vinyl options that have been cut down from their full size. Choose several sheets in different shades. Look for sheets that are around 6 feet wide.

If your floor is carpeted, purchase a few pieces of plywood to put down before you put the vinyl down. This will prevent a “sunken in” look. Now, you can easily change out the flooring without spending a ton of money.

I hope you found this mini guide helpful, and that you feel ready to tackle your own home photography studio. Not only will you get great photos out of your project, but it will put a professional feel to your entire operation that your customers will appreciate. If you’re a visual learner, the video below is very helpful.

Beginners Guide To Taking Long Exposure Photographs Of Stars

Beginners Guide To Taking Long Exposure Photographs Of Stars

photo credit: Carefully Positioned via (license)

A long exposure shot on a particularly starry night can produce stunning light trails. Star trails are created as a result of the planet’s rotation during a long exposure shot. Here are some useful tips on taking better long exposure photos of stars.

Proper Equipment

To begin with, you want to make sure that you have the proper equipment necessary for the photo. You will need a tripod with a cable release, (as any bit of camera shake will RUIN your photo!), a remote intervalometer that you can program to take the exposures for you, a camera with a B Bulb shooting mode, and something to keep you warm.

You will be able to have the exposure take anywhere from fifteen minutes to several hours, so you should be prepared for temperature drop. Ensure that the tripod is shielded from the wind, and that you have a fully charged battery.

Find a Prime Location

Next, you want to make sure you are in the correct area for getting great long exposure photographs of stars. The curvature of the trails depends on which part of the night sky you are shooting. The closer to the pole you are, the tighter the trail arcs will be.

Obviously, this works the other way around, since all stars travel in a complete circle around a fixed point every 24 hour period. So, the further you get from the pole, the further the stars have to travel across the sky.

You can find out where the pole is fairly easily with a compass, as long as you know your latitude. The compass should point north if you are in the northern hemisphere, and south if you are in the southern. The pole is at the same height as your latitude (if you are 15 degrees north, the pole is 15 degrees high and pointing north). Alternatively, you could find Polaris if you know how.

Long Exposure Photo Church

photo credit: Església Beniarrés via (license)

The Shot Setup

Finally, you should know how to set up your shot. Frame the image by including an element of interest in the foreground, such as a big boulder or a tree. Place your camera on the tripod and focus the lens to infinity. Use the cable release to eliminate camera shake.

Know the technical aspects of taking long exposure photos of stars. The longer the focal length, the longer the trails will look. With a wide angle lens, you will need to take really long exposures in the order of minutes, or the trails will not be noticed. If you opt for a telephoto lens, the trails will show up in a few seconds, but the composition becomes more difficult. That part will be covered in a moment.

Technical Stuff

Now we get to your image composition. The key for taking long exposure photographs of stars is finding that perfect composition for your purposes. Remember that you need a landscape, or foreground object to make the photo interesting. Some of the best photos have some sort of scenery visible for comparison.

Don’t forget about the noise reduction! If you take multiple shots, you will want to ensure that you have your cameras built in noise reduction turned off. If you don’t, you will have gaps in your trails. If you go for the single exposure approach, however, you can turn it on. If you opt for this option, though, the photo will take double the amount of time. If you have long lasting batteries, then the choice is up to you.

Noise reduction also becomes relevant during the post-processing part of your long exposure photographs of stars. When using post-processing software back at your home workshop, start with noise reduction. Then, work on the saturation and contrast. Finally, sharpen the image to suit your preference.

These tips should help you out when taking long exposure photographs of stars. Don’t forget your jacket and hot coffee!

Take Stunning Sunset Photos with a Smartphone

Take Stunning Sunset Photos with a Smartphone

Smartphone Sunsets

Everyone loves a beautiful sunset. Unfortunately, you may not always have your digital camera with you to capture the beauty. Luckily, in most cases you will likely have your smartphone with to take the photo, but can you take a good one?

Every Day is a Good Day (But Some are Better for Sunsets)

Every sunset is an opportunity to take a beautiful photo, but not all will turn out the way you want it to.

The best way to get the perfect sunset photo with a smartphone, is to have a perfect day. Most people think that the best time to take a sunset photo is on a clear day. This is not necessarily true.

The best time to take a sunset photo with a smartphone is when there are some clouds outside. While you cannot take a photo on a completely cloudy day, a little bit of clouds adds character to the photo.

Taking the Photo

If you are taking a photo of a person in the sunset, you should press the shutter button several times. This will help you capture the photo at just the right time, and the photo will not come out blurry.

It is a good idea to take your photo from different angles, until you find the one that works the best. If you have a subject in your sunset photo, you should take it from a very low angle. This will allow you to have just the sky in the background.

If you are taking the photo near the beach or water, you should keep the phone about an inch above the water. When you get close, even the smallest waves will look larger. The only way to take a photo so close to the ground, you would need to use the volume button on your smartphone to take the photo.

When you are taking a sunset photo with your smartphone, you risk lens flare and white blown out areas. The best way to prevent this, is to keep the sun out of the frame. If that is not possible, have your subject blocking the sun.

Editing the Photo

After you have taken the photo, you can make it look even better in post processing. The good thing about taking a photo on your Smartphone, is that there are apps which can enhance the photo.

One excellent post processing app is Snapseed. It is available on iOS and Android. This app is great because you have true control over the adjustments that you need to make, in order for your sunset photo to be perfect. If you have color in your photo, you should use the True Image module in Snapspeed. This allows you to increase the color of the sunset. For a more dramatic look, you can try the black and white module.

If you have Adobe or GIMP on your editing computer at your home studio, you can always save the photos for editing on a later date.

Taking a sunset photo with a Smartphone is much different than with a professional camera. As long as you know what you’re doing, when taking the photo, and in post processing, you should be able to take a gorgeous sunset photo.

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Taking Action Photos Without the Blur

Taking Action Photos Without the Blur

You can take action photos without blur with any camera, if you know the major causes. There are two major causes of blurred pictures: the first cause is when the digital camera lens is out of focus and when the speed of the subject is faster than the shutter speed of your digital camera. If you overcome these major causes, you can take action photos without motion blur with your camera. Here are some useful guides that would help you.

Type of Camera is Important

The types of digital camera you want to use play a significant role. You can look for a camera that shutters or a manual priority mode camera. If you do not have a camera with this mode, then you have to set your camera at sports mode. This is the place to set your camera if you want to take action photos. When you set your camera, you do not need the subject you want to capture to come into the camera’s viewfinder, you can pan for it as well; you can follow the action with your camera. Shoot the picture when it is the right time to do that. The importance of this is that it reduces or prevents a blur motion.

Sensitivity Settings

Secondly, you have to increase the sensitivity of your camera by increasing the ISO setting. You can increase it from 400 to 800. The importance of increasing its sensitivity is that it increases the speed of the camera. This reduces and even prevents blurring of the pictures. You can increase the sensitivity to 800 to enhance the image quality of the picture.

Better Action Photos

Shutter Speed & Ambient Light

Thirdly, you have to set the ambient light if you want to achieve a blur free picture. Ambient light increases the shutter speed and this is very important in shooting action photos. You can set it to 1/500th per second as the minimum; you can increase this if your camera can support it. However, there is a note of warning here; you should know that if you increase the shutter speed, you are at the same time decreasing the amount of light coming into the image sensor in the camera. This is not good. This is always a major concern when the action is taking place in an enclosed environment like a gym, or even your personal photo studio. You can handle this challenge in a few ways; this includes increasing the ISO speed, using a flash, as well as increasing your aperture size.

Proper Aperture & Flash

Furthermore, you can change your camera aperture. You can open it wider by selecting lower f-stop; this would allow more light inside. When you have more light, you have an opportunity to use a higher shutter speed. You should try to prevent reduction in the depth field of the picture you take.

Make use of a flash. Flash is recommended, because it could easily illuminate the subject that you want to photograph. The major advantage of flash is that it makes for a perfect combination of a higher shutter speed and aperture. This is the perfect solution for indoor photographing. However, you should know the perfect way to use the flash so that the photo would appear natural. You can minimize this problem by bouncing the light to some other surface to avoid focusing them directly on your subjects.

These are the ways you can take action pictures without any blur using your digital camera. Do not forget that the quality of the camera you want to use for this purpose matters a lot.

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How to Improve Your Close Up Photos

How to Improve Your Close Up Photos

The art of photography is not always as clear cut as putting a paintbrush to a canvas. If you want to know how to engage in awesome close-up photos, you need to learn a few things beforehand. Don’t worry, though, it’s not as difficult as you may think. Here are some tips on how to take good close up photos.

Gather Your Gear

The first step is to gather your supplies including a tripod, your camera’s instruction manual (if you don’t have the paper copy, you can usually find it online), a close up lens (optional), and the subject you want to shoot. If you will be doing a lot of close-up photography, investing in a close-up or macro lens for your DSLR camera can be helpful, however, if you are just playing around you’re more likely to want to choose “macro mode” on your camera.

Macro mode is designed specifically for close-up shots. After putting your camera in macro mode, you’ll want to set the Aperture to either close-up on everything in the shot or just the subject you’re focusing in on. Sometimes cameras don’t have this option, but if you’re able to adjust the Aperture settings, it can be beneficial for the finished product.

For example, if you’re shooting a single flower and only want the flower in focus, chose a large Aperture (small number). If you want a close up of the entire shot, choose a small Aperture (big number). Use your instruction manual to locate how to put your camera in macro mode. Macro mode is usually signified by a small flower icon.

Better Close Up Photos

Practice Shoot

Once you have the camera set to your preference, it’s time for the fun part of shooting the subject. Select manual focusing (if your camera has the option), and focus in on the subject. Try to choose a shot where the main focus is the subject and there isn’t too much background noise. Also, try to choose a time of day with the most natural and available light source. If you can experiment with your subject at different times per day in different lights, you can choose which type of light is best for getting a close up of your subject.

To get a clear and concise shot, you’ll want to set your camera on a tripod. Even if you think you can hold the camera steady, having a tripod can reduce blur that would have happened with even the slightest movement.  A good idea is to practice shooting in your home studio with a variety of object and lighting.  This will give you great ideas that you can apply to the rest of your photography.

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