What I Use To Take My Photos – The Tech and The Techniques

A walkthrough of the programs, apps and equipment that I use to shoot photos for my blog and Instagram (for all those who have ever asked!)

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I am going to preface this post by saying that I – by no means – am a professional photographer. Heck, I don’t even let people mistakenly call me a photographer; I just enjoy the process of taking photos. Getting behind the lens and creating is a wonderful feeling.

The good news is, you don’t need, or need to be a professional photographer yourself, to have fun in the blogging and social media space.

I get a lot of questions from readers and followers about what equipment I use and my photo taking process, so I thought I would compile as much information about it as I could in to the one space. So for anyone who was ever curious (or who ever asked), here is what I shoot with, how I shoot and some insights in to my editing process.

Like I said, I am no professional, but I make this my profession. I hope what I have said below gives you some idea of how I manage my visuals, and inspires you to give it a go and start learning more about photography!

Warning: Strap yourselves in, it is a long one! 

THE EQUIPMENT

THE CAMERA BODY

At the moment I am shooting with a Canon 6D with a 24-70mm F4 lens. Before that, I was shooting on a Nikon D3200 with a 35mm 1F1.8 lens (the updated model is the D3400). I don’t know if other people can tell the difference in my photos pre and post upgrade, but I definitely can.

For the record, the Nikon D3200 with the 35mm lens was not a bad kit at all. It is the first DSLR I purchased and it served me well for the 3 or so years I had it. I upgraded earlier in the year, purely because I had outgrown the D3200. My 6D is a full frame camera, with more advanced functionality than was unavailable to me on the Nikon.

If you are just starting out with DSLR photography, the D3400 (the Canon equivalent is a T6) is a great place to start. It has a smaller body than something like the 6D (the equivalent in the Nikon range is the D610) so it is easier to hold; and it is a good introduction to learning the manual settings. If I started out on a 6D, I think I may have been a little overwhelmed! The D3400 and D610 are crop frame cameras though, so you are effectively shooting at a closer focal length than what your lens says.

In saying that, upgrading to the 6D was the best thing I ever did. There are a heap more buttons than on the entry level models, but now I understand the different settings on a camera, these extra buttons are incredibly useful. The LCD display and quick menu make it so easy to navigate and change settings. I also love the extra focal points that it has; and the ability to choose your individual focal point.

But, as any photographer will tell you, it isn’t as much about the body as it is the lens. Sure, upgrading to a full frame from a cropped frame is a notable difference, but the differences in photo quality mainly come from the lens used.

THE LENS

As mentioned, I am currently shooting on a 24-70mm F4 lens. My decision to go with this lens was purely based on the versatility it has. I love shooting wide angle shots as much as I love portraits with gorgeous depth of field, and this lens allows me to do it all. Sure it doesn’t have an F-stop as low as a 50mm lens does, but when you use it the right way, you can still get amazing depth of field. I feel as though I can do a whole lot more with my zoom lens than I could with my fixed lens.

The only limitation I find that this lens has is that it doesn’t perform so well in low light. My next purchase is going to be a simple 50mm F1.8 lens to help combat this issue. If I could afford the F1.2 I would be jumping on that, but alas, I have other things I need to purchase too!

FYI – Most reviews quote the 24-70mm as being one of the most versatile all-rounder lenses.

THE ACCESSORIES

TRIPOD AND REMOTE

You may or may not be aware that 95% of my photos on my blog and Instagram are self portraits. Yes, that means I go out to cafes alone and shoot photos of myself sometimes. Whatever it takes to get the job done! I find I actually get through far more work when I work on my own agenda and shoot looks myself. Plus, it is far less stressful for me than trying to tee up times and relying on friends, blogger catch ups or an Instagram husband to assist.

All I need to be my own photographer are 2 things – a tripod and a shutter release remote. At the moment, I am using a Canon sensor remote control for most of my shots. You can pick them up from any camera store for around $30.00. There are other options on the market that allow you to be further away from your set up when you release the shutter, but I find they are too bulky to be able to hide in most frames.

Yes, in all the shots I take of myself, there is a remote hidden somewhere!

Sometimes I have to resort to the Canon app on my phone to shoot photos too. Because the 6D has the inbuilt wifi function, I can connect to my app on the phone and use it as a remote live viewing. I only use this function when I want to shoot from further away and when I have somewhere to hide my phone!

Next up: my next accessory purchase will be a UV filter to cut glare when shooting in sunny situations.

THE PROGRAMS AND APPS

COMPUTER

Once a photo has been taken, you can do almost anything with it with post production. I always shoot my images in RAW (as opposed to JPG) so that the quality of the photo is maintained as you edit it. There is so much more that you can do with a RAW file than a JPG. But, be warned – RAW files are only compatible with certain software.

At the moment, I use Adobe Lightroom for all of my editing. I used to use Adobe Bridge and then Photoshop, but the batch editing capabilities on Lightroom make it far easier to manage multiple photos. You can also save your favourite editing presets to keep a more consistent style across all of your work. This becomes particularly important for people who like to play around with colours and tones more.

When it comes to editing my own photos, I prefer not to purchase other people’s presets, just because that is their editing style and not my own. For some people, this is an easy place to start and that is completely fine! You can find free and paid presets to download with a quick google search.

Once shot, I don’t really like to interfere with my photos too much. I have always preferred my photos to look bright and natural over something with a heavy coloured overtone or mega contrast. As a general rule, I play around with the curves, whites, clarity and vibrance of my photos; even boosting certain colours where I feel I need to (i.e. the purples in the jacarandas in these images). Aside from that, I don’t do too much else to my photos! No face shape changing, no total removal of particular colours from the frame and no cutting together of images.

PHONE

To be honest, there aren’t really all that many apps that I use to manipulate photos on my phone.

My favourite app is Snapseed. There are many of the same functions on the app as there are in Lightroom. The wand tool is one of my favourite tools, as it allows you to edit select parts of your image (i.e. saturating the sky of a beach sunset but not the sand). Essentially, it is a more basic mask tool. There are some presets on Snapseed too, but I avoid using those too much for reasons stated above.

For the most part, I edit my imagery in Lightroom, and then save it to dropbox so I can access it on my phone to post on Instagram.

Before posting images I edit on my phone on Snapseed, I often have a bit of a play around with the Instagram editing tools too. The tools have come a long way since Instagram was first launched; and for a quick edit they actually do surprisingly well. Once upon a time, I also used VSCO, however I find it too clunky to use these days. There is a better range of filters on VSCO than Snapseed, so if you are like using filters as a starting point for your edits, VSCO may be a good app to try!

Phew, that was a long one! I hope that answers some of the questions you guys have for me about my equipment and photo taking process! If you do have more questions, feel free to hit me with them in the comments below.

 

3 Comments

    1. Reply
      Little Miss Mon Bon Post author

      Thank you so much hun, that means a lot to me! I appreciate it <3

      And yes, it did take a bit of confidence building hahaha! The first time I used my tripod and remote I was SO embarrassed. I remember trying to hide away down a quiet street to shoot. But now I really don't care who sees and who laughs at me. I just turn around and say 'yeah, well if you could make a living from doing this too, I bet you would leave your desk job'... whoops! 😉

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