My Favorite Things: Photography Edition

5.02.2012

When I first got my DSLR last January, I knew absolutely nothing about photography. I read the manual a few times and even read a book, but I was still too confused to dare to take the camera off of auto mode.

After Emerson was born I became frustrated with how so many of my pictures were turning out. While I would have loved to have professional pictures taken of her every month, it's just not feasible! And the whole point of buying a nice camera was to be able to take nice (not professional) pictures. So, I turned to the trusty internet and started reading, reading, reading. I was amazed at the wealth of knowledge out there- FOR FREE!
After months of reading and practice, I am finally happy with how the majority of my pictures turn out. I am still no professional. Not by any means. But I do feel like I am able to capture Emerson's personality in somewhat decent pictures. That was my whole aim when I bought my camera.

One thing I remember when I was searching for tutorials was that I often became overwhelmed. I wished that someone had just listed a few basic, beginner tutorials that I could access! So that's what I'm going to do today. This list is very basic and obviously does not list even a fraction of the tutorials out there, but these are the ones that really helped me feel comfortable putting my camera on manual mode.

I started here and learned SO, SO much. I definitely recommend both of these series:


31 Days Photo Series

Within this series one of the best things I learned was how to set white balance and why it's important. I never knew why my photos had a yellowish or gray cast. When I learned to adjust the white balance and set my own custom white balance it changed my pictures dramatically. You can read more about it here.

The following two sites helped me learn about in-camera metering. (Who knew your camera will tell you if your photo is properly exposed!?!)


A Very Beginner's Guide to Manual Mode in Low Light Settings

And I think one of the very best tips I read about getting great pictures in natural light was to open the door and put your subject in the doorway. Doing this has allowed me to get some really pretty and natural shots of Emerson, especially when there just isn't enough light inside. I've also found that I get the best outdoor pictures in a shaded area at around 4:00-4:30 PM.  (I honestly can't remember where I learned either of these tips but they have been SO helpful for me.)

Of course, I cannot talk about photography without telling you what I personally think completely changed my photographs: my absolute favorite lens!


This lens is very reasonably priced and allows you to get that nice blurry background that you see in so many great pictures and it is perfect for shooting in lower light. I also have two kit lenses and I do use them occasionally but I use my 50 mm 98 percent of the time. I just love it and highly recommend it.

So that's it for my favorite beginner photography tutorials. I hope that someone out there finds this list helpful. And please keep in mind that it's a huge learning process! There are still some days when my pictures turn out horribly and I can't figure out why. That's when I go back and read through the tutorials I've listed above to see if I can find out where I went wrong. 

And, of course, I can't write a photography post without sharing some pictures of my most favorite subject. Not perfect in any way, but such an improvement from where I started! Online tutorials are a wonderful thing, my friends!



(These are some of the photos from her 9 month photo shoot that I never shared. I think she's grown just a little bit since then!) ;)

Now if I could just learn how to use Photoshop Elements to it's maximum potential, I would be one happy girl. But that's a post for another day...


Ashley Marie said...

great pictures!!!

Lyndsey said...

I love how blurry your backgrounds are, that's one main thing I get frustrated with! I'm thinking a new lens may be in order :)

I love those pictures of E, I can't believe you never posted them before!

Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing these great links and tips! Your pictures look great!

Joeylee said...

I'm still trying to figure my DSLR out, so I might have to check out those links. Those pictures of Emerson are adorable, good job mama

Natalie said...

Your pictures are beautiful! I really want a DSLR and have been reading up on photography stuff online too! How did you choose your camera? We are torn between canon and nikon. My husband thinks he likes canon a bit better but I have no idea yet.

Emily Powell said...

I wish I could use my camera better. I find most tutorials are for canons though and I have a Nikon and a lot of things on them are different! I also took a photo class in college but film is also very different than digital. I'm thinking I am going to take a digital photo class this summer at the local community college.

Melissa Knott said...

I LOVE how your pictures turned out! We are due in October and just bought a nice(r) camera (canon rebel t3i) so we can take pictures of the little nugget. I will definitely be looking here for advice : )

New follower!

Lindsay said...

Great pictures!

Jenny said...

I love your pictures!! I have a Canon Rebel Xsi and have had it for over 2 years. I've taken classes on how to use it and got so overwhelmed. To this day it is still on Auto because I am too scared to try anything else. Hopefully these tutorials will help me. I have the same 50 mm lens and love it! Even when using Auto mode. Thanks for sharing.

KellyDiane said...

No need to pay a photographer- you are doing a fantastic job. Thanks for sharing the links- I could definitely use some help!!

Natalie said...

You really do take great photos...I really need to some research like you to learn about how to set my white balance. I love those pics of E!

Allison said...

I'm so very happy that you made this post! A few days ago I started searching for dslr tutorials because I got a digital camera that I don't know how to use. It's great to know that you can teach yourself through the internet if you have the right resources. I'm excited to check out these challenges!

Mallorie said...

LOVE your pictures!!! :-) I need to get a different lens, that's my next big purchase. I have a super intense high quality lens from when I did sports photography but I'm never that far away from Emma Claire ha! ;-)

ajs {of MN} said...

your pictures of your GORGEOUS subject are always so good! love the tips, i wish i have the patience to read read read and take better photos. but i am such a visual/hands on learner that i just need a class! :) i hope to take one some day.

allie-mac-fallie said...

HI! Just found your blog through a friend of mine who linked up with your weekend rewind :) Love this post and have to say... I am right there with you (or should I say where you started taking pictures ...) I am so excited to check out these links... THANKS so much for sharing! You have a beautiful daughter-- I love all of the pictures. Our little girl is 6 1/2 months old :)

Mom said...

Love your photo tips. The pictures of E are awesome. You need to give me some tips when you get here.

Mrs. Mama said...

great pics love! and yes, learn your photoshop... my {photography} world completely changed once I figured out lightroom! you will LOVE taking picgtures even more... if that's at all possible ;)

-Lauren said...

Love this! Thanks Tam!

Traci said...

I'm hoping to get a dslr soon, I will have to come back and read this post. I do love the blurry backgrounds, I want to be able to do that.

The Jeffcoats said...

Your pictures are always incredible my friend!! You'll have to teach me this summer what all you've learned! ;) Love the adorable pics of E from her 9 month shoot!! She is such a doll!!

BlessedMama said...

I got my "fancy" camera in July and am still trying to figure it out. You are right it is so overwhelming. Thank you for the tips. I will definately be reading these :)
Your pictures turned out great. E is so precious :) XO

the workaholic momma said...

Your photos are always so amazing...thanks so much for sharing all of the tips you use to take such great pics - I need to read through these:)

Hope you guys are having a wonderful week:)

Kate @ Daffodils said...

Thanks for sharing! I will have to check these out!

Kelli Kegley said...

I'm so glad you did this post! I have got to figure out how to use my camera instead of taking 20 of the same pose and finally settling on One even though it's still not what I wanted. And if mine can come out anywhere close to as good as yours do, then I'll be happy!

Anna & Kirby said...

I love love love your pictures, so I'll be saving this post to review and learn from soon! Thanks!

Kelly said...

I'm going to try your websites this summer while I'm off of work!!! I have a great camera and really need to learn how to use it!

Stephanie said...

I just came across your blog and love your photos! I too enjoy taking photos of my daughter, but am nowhere near a professional. I'll have to check out the websites you posted.

Copyright © Little Moments Like This
Made with Love by The Dutch Lady Designs