Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Photography Lessons

I've been posting a LOT about cameras, photography, and birding lately, so I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to mention a free resource that I've been taking advantage of lately.

I'll start with a little background.  Almost four years ago, when I started my job with the restaurant group I currently work with, they supplied me with a DSLR camera.  I was taking photos with my camera, and mentioned in passing, that the company might be served better on the web and on social media if we had a camera that took nicer photos.  I was given a budget and researched a good camera.  The choice was narrowed down to a Canon Rebel T3i and a Nikon 6000.  I chose the Rebel, because I also saw that there was a Canon Rebel for Dummies book available.  And let me tell you, I was a dummy for sure regarding DSLR cameras.  

Fast forward four years, and guess what? Still a dummy.  I barely cracked the book.  I fiddled with the camera, found a few good settings that resulted in some great photos and I just never looked back.  I should also add though, the material I have to photograph at work is simply gorgeous.  It is not that hard to make it look good!!!

So basically, I managed quite well for nearly four years.  Well, I managed well, except not at night or in anything remotely dark.  At the restaurants I have a spot at each property that I can take a good photo after the sun goes down, but forget it, if I am anywhere else on the property and need to get a shot after the sun goes down.

BUT THEN, a few weeks ago, I had to take a picture that was going to be in the Boston Globe.  THE BOSTON FREAKING GLOBE!  

I experienced some pretty major anxiety as the days led up to the morning I planned to take the photo.  I gave the chef full warning: "dude, we need to do this in the morning when I know I can get decent light in the restaurant. Please, I'm not a professional and I"m freaking the *#$& out about this.  Please can we shoot this steak some time between 10am and noon??"  

He obliged; the photos came out well; and the photo was featured in a HALF PAGE of the printed Globe and online.  

Again, I got lucky with a great shot (but I had to work for it, I staged about 15 shots in 15 different areas of the restaurant before I found this decent location and then I practically started crying as the light began to change as I waited for this tasty Steak Frites to come out of the kitchen!!!) 

So yeah, I told myself it was definitely time to learn more about how to use the camera.  But a few weeks went by and I STILL DIDN'T!!

Then winter birding kicked into gear.  And i just didn't feel like I was getting close enough with my zoom lens.  So I started looking into a higher power lens.  I started eyeing some pretty fancy lenses....anywhere form $1000-$10000.  Most definitely not in my budget, but maybe the lower end lens would meet my needs.  When suddenly one day, on a Facebook birding group I follow, one of the members said they used a Canon Powershot sx50.  And his photos were amazing!  And a discussion ensued on the post about the difference between a point & shoot with high power optic zoom vs. a dslr equipped with a high power zoom. The consensus was that if you knew how to use your camera, it actually shouldn't make a huge difference (for a hobbyist) which type of camera you use.

And so, I bought the Canon PowerShot sx60 bundle, and started looking for lessons online.

In one of the product reviews, I saw someone link a tutorial specifically for the Canon Powershot sx50 s I decided to check it out, and it totally changed my photography life!!!!

This photographer, Marius West, gives THE BEST lessons.  They are easy to understand and they come in wonderfully bite size segments.   So there is never  a huge commitment to start watching.  I am up to the 8th lesson in Season 1 and it has made a HUGE difference for my photography abilities already and how I use the camera.  Check out this before and after:

BEFORE - bad lighting too bright!

AFTER - just right!
I saw that the first photo was lit up much too used the exposure compensation feature to make an adjustment and it came out great!  I can't even believe I'm using sentences like "I used the exposure compensation feature"!!!!!  

So I must extend a HUGE that you to Marius West of MWest Photography!!! Another great feature of his lessons is that he also references how to apply what you are learning about the Powershot, to a DSLR.  So even though I started taking the lessons to learn about my new camera, I am also applying this new knowledge to my work camera!!  Thank you Marius West! 


  1. That's so awesome! Congrats on the pic in the Globe!!!! I got a T3i rebel the summer of 2013 and it's not taking good pics anymore at all. I've probably taken 30,000 or more pics since I got it. Everything you see of mine on FB or my blog has had to have the colour, etc tweaked by the photo editor on Windows 10. I have a couple cameras saved to my wish list on Amazon if I ever get the money.

  2. this is such a great post Amy! I book marked it to encourage me to dive in on some photo lessons that are so very needed!!

  3. As per your suggestion, Dave has been watching the videos and learning a whole lot, so thank you!!!
    And all I really want to say is : THE BOSTON FREAKIN' GLOBE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are a Star, my friend, a Star!!! CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you enjoyed that wine after the shoot.

  4. Hi Amy,
    The beginning of your post made my mouth water! Then I got to where you were published in the Boston Globe! Awesome congratulations! I have been wanting to get a new camera so thank you for sharing your findings and also thank you for sharing the on line classes, because I defiantly do not know what I am doing when taking photos.


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