Recently, I’ve been getting a few questions about my photos. Seeing as how I often don’t have a clue what I’m doing (at least in technical terms) and tend to stick to the same set-up, I thought I would ask my husband, Aaron, to write a guest post about it. Aaron works as a graphic designer and occasional photographer, and was kind enough to write up a little background information on what equipment I’m shooting with and how I’m setting up my photos. He’s also offered to try to answer any specific questions, either in the comments or in a follow-up post, if anyone is interested.
I’m paying him in ginger spice cookies. Seems fair.
Amanda uses a Canon 5D camera with a Canon 24-105mm lens. I highly recommend this lens for anyone who just wants a good all-around, all-purpose lens. It’s expensive (about $1,000), but totally worth it if you like taking pictures and want a “walk around” lens for everything from food, to people, to architecture.
Most of the time Amanda simply sets up a little still life near the window in our kitchen. This is as much a practical choice as an aesthetic one. There is more natural light available compared to the amount of light you could get with incandescent bulbs in your house, which makes it easier to take a good photograph. Also, shooting pictures with natural light nearly always looks better than with incandescent light, especially when it comes to food. With that in mind, it’s usually best to try and shoot when you have the most direct sunlight available – so morning or late afternoon (when the sun is low in the sky).
Amanda does very minimal editing, or “Photoshopping,” of the images after she’s taken them. Most of the time she corrects the White Balance (which is just a fancy way of saying that she makes sure things that are supposed to be white look white, things that are supposed to be neutral grey look neutral grey, etc…) and then she crops the image to focus more on the subject.
The Camera and Lens Settings:
A few people have commented that the images look like Amanda shoots with a “Prime Lens,” which is a fixed length lens that is less versatile than the lens she uses, but produces better quality imagery. The images look like this because Amanda shoots nearly all of the pictures with the 24-105mm lens locked at the 105mm length, which is almost a Prime lens length (the closest Prime lens length is 100mm). The reason for shooting like this is that the longer the length of the lens (called Focal Length) generally the shorter the area of focus is for the picture. Basically, this is what helps make objects in the foreground look sharp, but ones in the background look blurry, even though they are only a foot away from each other.
There are certainly more than a few details I’ve left out for the sake of keeping this brief, but I would be happy to expand on any of these aspects if people are interested or have specific questions.
Thanks, Aaron! I should also acknowledge that I am extremely fortunate to have access to Aaron’s camera and lens. They’re a significant investment, and I’d probably be taking photos with my iphone/instagram, at least initially, if it weren’t for him. Definitely something to save towards if you’re just starting out and not sure how frequently or in what capacity you’ll be using your camera.
So, do you have any questions that you’d like to ask Aaron? Would anyone be interested in a photography 101 series with explanations for things like aperture, shutter speed, focal length, ISO, lighting, etc? Essentially, a “what the hell do those numbers mean on my camera?” series. I ask Aaron about this stuff at least once a week. Might be a good idea to get it in writing.