When I first started blogging, I occasionally came across helpful blogger ‘how-to’ posts on photography, which was great for picking up pointers as a beginner. I’ve been blogging for almost 2 and a half years, and over the last 18 months, had some lovely comments about my blog and media photos. Plus, after running a twitter poll, turns out some of you were interested in what I use. So, even though I’m no photography expert, I feel I qualify a little to share some tips on what I use.
When I first started my blog, I was using a little Canon point-and-shoot, an old Fuji bridge camera (between a digital point-and-shoot and a digital SLR), plus my iPhone 5s. Although as my blogging started to improve, I also wanted my photography to do the same. I felt I needed a camera with the ability to capture more detail, along with light and clarity, so I invested in a DSLR. No, you don’t have to buy expensive equipment when you start out blogging, you can play around with what you have while you grow. I love photography and experimenting, and as a family, we didn’t have anything fantastic, so I saved up for both the cameras I now own. If you have one of the newer iPhones, you can get great shots with them, especially for for Instagram. As for my blog, I felt the need to switch things up a bit when it came to my images.
Pentax K-S1 DSLR Camera
My trusty Pentax gives me some fabulous close-up images. It came with a standard 18 – 55mm lens for near and ‘mid range’ distance images. I shoot on auto quite a bit, but I’m working my way through the settings as its my first DSLR, but I love learning. The image quality this camera produces it outstanding, even though so many bloggers seem to prefer Canon cameras, I don’t vlog (being too much with chronic pain), I have enough to do managing that, along with looking after my home and family, plus working on my blog and media. I also have a tripod, but tend not to have it constantly out due to room, and I am forever moving about when taking images. It can be a pain, but that’s just how I work.
This DSLR is a pretty easy one to use, lighter in weight than many, and can be fitted with an array of different lenses. With good stabilisation built in to the camera body, it produces really high quality images, shoots 1080P video, plus it came with a FLU card, enabling operation from a laptop. It was around £360 for the standard kit, and although available in several colours, I preferred the clean look of the white.
The standard 18 – 55mm kit lens, enables me to shoot from a reasonable distance, not only for products, but for general use and portraits, plus when I’m out and about in the countryside with family, friends and dogs. For long distance, I would need a prime zoom lens, which is something I would love to invest in, maybe in the future for landscape photography.
I also bought the 50mm (f 1.8) pancake lens (below), and I think it cost me around £90 which, isn’t bad for a quality specialist lens! This one allows awesome close up and bokeh images, where the background is blurred out. For a smaller lens it has big capabilities, providing a good depth of field whilst producing amazing shots in low light conditions. It’s my favourite lens and blows me away with the images it produces. The only downside with this camera, is the fact it doesn’t have a flip screen, so not ideal for selfies/makeup images.
Olympus Pen EP- L7 Camera
The most recent addition to my kit, and totally different to a DSLR, a mirrorless camera with endless capabilities that produces some fantastic images, plus it has great portability. I went for this even though the updated model was available, as I had read some amazing EP-L7 reviews. As I am used to using a DSLR viewfinder, this felt strange to use at first, and others who made the change will understand what I mean. Now, my brain simply recognises the difference between the two each time I go use them.
I tend to use the Super Control Menu, rather than the sidebar setting menu, and currently either shoot using Auto, P or occasionally Art. Although the Pen has only been in my possession for a few months, and as it is such a complex and capable camera, I still have loads of stuff to learn. There are some good blogs out there that share helpful Olympus Pen info, then… it is all about hands on learning.
I don’t use the strap it came with, instead I opted to keep with the aesthetics of this vintage style beauty, and bought a tan leather strap. If you buy an Olympus Pen and want accessories, search the web rather than just head for the main site, there are more unusual pieces out there, and cheaper too. Having my Pentax 50mm bokeh lens, I haven’t gone for the Olympus 45mm (f 1.8), although I have seen some amazing results from Pen users), it’s a pricey lens if you’ve not got the funds! I have read photography blogs claiming the pancake kit lens really is enough, it’s just a matter of playing around and getting to grips with the camera.
Thankfully, this has a flip screen, which flips down not sideways (be aware if you want to attach it to a tripod). The screen is great tilted at an angle for shooting flatlay images, and ideal for makeup-look selfie shots. The Pen has solid build quality and is definitely a thing of beauty, plus with its endless capabilities, I am looking forward to my journey of learning and discovery. One thing is for sure, I won’t need another camera, as the two I have are amazing ‘bits of kit’ that I am really satisfied with.
Natural daylight is your best friend when it comes to most photography ~ fact. Although, if you don’t have huge windows, or for winter when the sky is dull, lighting is needed to avoid grey tinged images. I don’t like using flash photography much, so during my first winter of blogging, I bought a pair of table top light box lamps. Mmmm.. they were okay, but I would recommend going for a large light box light, unless you only shoot really small items.
I bought mine a couple of winters ago, and it does the job. Ring lights are fab, and perfect if you are vlogging, but this was a third of the price at around £60, simply shop around online for a half decent brand. This one came as a complete kit, comprising of stand, box and filter, with a daylight bulb. Great in the winter if you feel the cold.. with the heat that comes off this baby, I end up stripping off a layer when I’m rushing around around doing a batch of photos!
Props, Apps & Image Editing
For most flatlay images, I use a large white paper board or, one covered using a sticky back paper roll in marble print, plus a white sheet for style shots. I shoot many an image on my Malm dressing table, and outfit shots outside.. as long as the weather is good! There are many different props I use, flowers real or fake, beauty tools, jewellery, books, makeup bag, etc. Basically, let your creativity and imagination flow and play around, depending on what your flatlay is based on.
I load my Pentax shots by memory card on to a MacBook, and use the Olympus app on my iPad to send the Pen images across. All images are then stored in iCloud, so I tend to edit images using the MacBook Photos app, rather than pay out for Photoshop!
If I need to adjust images further, I use Afterlight, usually for a little more light, and for a collage or similar, I use Photogrid. When it comes to my Instagram feed, I prefer to use their adjustment settings rather than a filter. I guess it depends what kind of look you want, but the main thing is to play around and experiment. Even though it is handy picking up tips from others, it’s better to try and be original and put your own stamp on things.
There you have it, a bit of info on what I use, and hopefully it might help some of you wether starting out on a blogging journey, or wanting to make some changes.
What cameras do you use and are you impressed with what they produce?