Shooting in RAW

Have you ever been so excited about an image and uploaded it to your computer only to be disappointed? No matter how much you try to fix it, editing just can’t help it. I know something that could have!

Shoot in RAW! Most cameras by default write images to your memory card in JPEG (or JPG) format. The camera does some post processing of the image. You don’t want it to do this. You want complete control over the image.

If you switch your camera to RAW mode, the camera will not process the images and will save it as a RAW file. RAW files make higher quality images and are often called digital negatives since you can do so much more with them. For my Canon the RAW file format is .CR2 instead of .JPEG.

Since the camera has not processed the image a RAW file is bigger. It contains more information which means there’s more you can adjust.

An underexposed RAW file

Edited using Adobe Lightroom

A disadvantage of using RAW mode is that you need software to read the image files and to convert them to a printable format. Programs such as Adobe Lightroom and GIMP (an open-source program) can read and edit RAW images. There are also some brand-specific programs out there.

Another concern is that is takes the camera longer to record the RAW file than it does to record the JPEG. The camera will need to buffer (or take a breather) after so many continuous shots sooner in RAW mode than in JPEG. For example, you may be able to hold the shutter button and record 60 continuous images in JPEG mode but only 25 in RAW mode.

I don’t find the disadvantages inhibiting. Memory cards are cheap if you buy them online, so the larger files should be no excuse. I also don’t need to shoot 60 frames consecutively so I don’t factor that in when I decide whether or not to shoot RAW.

If you’re uncertain about whether you will want to process the images you can shoot in RAW+JPEG mode which creates one of each type of file on your memory card. This will need memory space for both files so it will even further decrease the number of images that can be stored. However, you may wish to use this option while you are learning to shoot in RAW mode.

Feel free to share your RAW & edited images with us! I’d love to see them.

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Exposure In a Nutshell

Photography and exposure go hand in hand. You cannot have photographs without it. Exposure is the amount of light that is allowed to fall on the photographic medium (a sensor in digital cameras & film in a film camera).

Aperture, shutter speed & ISO are the three main parts of photography. By changing each you can change the exposure and affect the resulting photograph.

Aperture is the opening through which light travels up the lens. A smaller aperture value means a larger opening. It is represented by f-stop values, such as f/1.8 which is a smaller aperture value and larger opening.

A larger value, such as f/8, will give you a smaller opening restricting light flow.

Smaller f-stop values are preferred for portraiture as they allow a large amount of light to pass through the lens. They have a shallow depth of field and a nice “bokeh”. Bokeh is a photographic term that refers to a blurred background.

Bokeh refers to the blurry background.

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter remains open, allowing light to pass through. The faster the shu

tter speed the smaller the amount of light that is allowed to pass through. You want fast shutter speeds for moving kids & sporting events, but if not enough light passes through the shutter the photo will be underexposed and quite dark.

A slow shutter can make some interesting photographs.


ISO is how sensitive the image sensor is to the light. A higher ISO, like 1600, means it’s quite sensitive. A lower ISO, such as 100, is less sensitive. Higher ISO settings can result in grainy pictures. This is called noise.

A high ISO setting can make your photo look grainy.

By turning your camera to manual mode you can manipulate all three of these settings. By practicing you will come to learn which settings to use in specific situations.

For example, an ISO of 100 or 200 works best outdoors. And, you will need a shutter speed greater than 1/60 second to freeze your little one in a photograph. I need greater than that to catch my wild toddler in a sharp photo.

Get out there & practice! I’d love to see what you’ve been shooting.

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Love It or Hate It?

I’m going to start posting pictures with my camera settings. I want you to tell me why you love it or why you hate it.

Photography is a skill that is learned over a loooooong time. We all can learn to shoot better through receiving feedback on our own photos, giving feedback to others & reading feedback posted by others.

In addition, please feel free to post a link to a photo that you would love constructive criticism on.

Here it goes…

Canon 50mm lens
Focal Length = f/1.8
ISO = 100
Shutter Speed = 1/800
No Edits

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What Camera Should I Buy?

That is the million dollar question.

It really depends on what you want to do with it. If you’re truly a MWAC (mom with a camera) chances are you want gorgeous pictures of your darling babies. You don’t need a professional dSLR to do this. Entry level dSLR cameras with decent lenses will allow you to take stellar pictures.

I am a Canon girl all the way. I’m shooting with the first camera the husband and I purchased, the Canon Rebel XT with the kit lens (the lens it comes with). We don’t use the kit lens though.
CNET has an article on entry level dSLR cameras. Your most difficult decision will likely be which brand to go with.

The great debate of Canon vs Nikon can easily be settled by going to a store and handling both. Figure out which one you like best. You can Google this topic to death, but it’s really all about what feels right to you.

My recommendation for a beginner is the Canon Rebel XSi, but I would skip the kit lens. For nice portraits you want a fast lens – a prime. We currently shoot portraits with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens which will not break the bank. You may also want a zoom lens which can come in time if you’re mainly shooting portraits.

Nikon also makes a nice “starter” camera, the D3000. This is the camera listed in CNet’s article linked above. I have no experience with Nikon, but I know some people love them.

If you have more to spend check out Canon’s T2i. It’s an 18mp camera that takes high def video. It will cost approximately $750 without a lens. However, this kit lens is an image stabilization (IS) lens. I would consider springing for the kit lens in this case.

If you want something professional go for the Canon 7D or 5D Mark II. But you will spend $1350 for the 7D or $2250 for the 5DM2 for the body only. I have seen amazing pictures from these cameras, and one of these will be our next purchase.

A nicer camera has the ability to take better shots, but you must know how to use the camera. Learning on something less expensive is perfectly acceptable (and wise).

What’s in your camera bag? What are you lusting after?

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What is SLR?

SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. Most of you are probably looking at or have a DSLR or digital Single Lens Reflex camera. There are film cameras that are also SLR cameras.

The precise mechanics involved in digital SLR cameras are described in detail on Wikipedia. SLR now translates into lenses that are interchangeable and less shutter lag time. SLR cameras also give you more control over the camera.

DSLR cameras are preferred for numerous reasons. Even people who are not professional photographers notice the difference between pictures taken with DSLRs and point and shoot cameras. The sensor in a DSLR is much larger and more sensitive as well.

The ability to change lenses makes DSLRs popular because you can choose the lens to suit your shoot. Available types of lenses are zoom, prime, and macro. There are also special purpose lenses, such as the fish-eye lens. You will want to choose lenses based on whether you want wide angle shots, “normal” pictures, portraits, or shots at varying depths.

Most books recommend beginning with 3 lenses – a prime lens for portraits and 2 zoom lenses, a short and a long telephoto.

Most people begin with the kit lens (the one that comes with the camera) and that’s just fine. Later we’ll discuss other lenses and their benefits.

Do you have a SLR camera? Which one?

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Mom With a Camera

You’ve discovered the old point and shoot just isn’t cutting it to catch your little bundle on film.

Eyeballing cameras as you pass the electronics department and scoping out deals you’ve finally settled on a SLR. It has tons of settings, buttons, a huge screen, and this big lens. You can even buy different lenses.

You bring it home and start shooting. Wow! These pictures look great on the auto mode. But do they? Not really.

This blog is for moms with cameras, especially digital SLR cameras. Join me to learn how to use all those great features and get great shots of your family, friends, whatever!

Because the only time they’re standing still is in these memories you’ve captured on film.

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