I'm starting a new series on the blog - a sort of work-in-progress-how-I'm-teaching-myself to take pretty photos.  I do not claim to know everything there is about photography, but I'm learning.  So... I thought I'd bring you a long for the ride with a behind the scenes look at what I'm doing to produce the images I post.  First off - My Cameras.

Most blogs and books I've read about Photography say that you don't need a fancy camera to produce attractive images.  I believe this to an extent because I worked without a DSLR (aka, fancy camera) for such a long time and still produced some pretty photos.  I made it work with using natural light and favorable composition.  It worked, but it was a struggle to so some of the things that I wanted to do.

My First : The Canon G11

The first camera I purchased (a year and a half ago, about $500) was a Canon G11.  I describe this as a hybrid-DSLR.  It is not just an ordinary point-and-shoot, but it is not a full-blown DSLR.  It gives you the ability to change all of the settings, has a pretty high quality sensor and built in lens.  It is not as bulky as a DSLR and is great to travel with.  I used this camera on our honeymoon to get some amazing images.  In fact, when I was researching starter cameras, I learned that many 'real' photographers use a Canon G11 as a travel camera because it has all of the functionality of a DSLR without the bulkiness or the hassle of multiple lenses.

Here is a photo I took using the G11.  I took this on my sun porch with natural light that is filtered by white curtains.

The G11 was a great starting place for me to learn how to use the settings of a camera to make the images look good, but I struggled with the built in lens for some of my food photography.  I mainly struggled with the lack of control of focus - most point-and-shoots put the entire frame in focus, instead of having the ability to focus in on one aspect of the image, which is how the human eye 'sees' things.  When I did finally make the move to the DSLR it was a whole new ballgame for me.  I was able to control everything I'd struggled against - being able to focus in on exactly what I want to focus on and blur the rest of the frame.

My Second : The Canon Rebel T2i with 50mm f1.8 Lens

Just this past Fall I made the move from a Canon G11 to a DSLR, the Canon T2i (about $700+lenses).  I only have 1 lens for it so far - a 50mm f/1.8 (about $100).  The 50mm lens is known to be the most natural 'human' eye lens.  It is what allows you to focus on one particular part of the frame and then gives you the the ability to control the focus.  You can set it it shallowly or deeply from the object on which you have it focused.  

I've learned that the term for this effect - the focus on an object (or objects) with a blurred background of foreground is called bokah.  So, now you know what I'm talking about when I talk about the bokah.

This photo is a good example of my focused in on an object, then the rest of the photo is blurred.

It is an appealing image for our eyes to look at because it tells us where to focus - the bowl of eggs - and tells our brains to put all of the other objects secondary.

Those secondary objects are important, though, because they help to tell the story of the photo.  If the plate and flower in the background were also in focus, they would be fighting for our attention.  With the blurred background, it helps us to naturally focus in on the eggs, then 'see' the other objects as sensory objects to take it subconsciously. 

As you can see, the background objects in the muffin photo are not as blurred, making them more of a distraction. 


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