What Camera Gear Do I Use?

What was the subject of the last photo you took?  Was it your child, your pet, your great Aunt, or the meal you had while on vacation?

Was it using your camera phone, a point and shoot, or a DSLR?

If you like to take pictures,  I have a fun giveaway (giveaway is OVER) for you no matter what type of camera you use to record your life events or, if you are a blogger – your blog contents.   I wish I could be giving away a camera, but that is not in the cards.  I do however have a fun and stylish just published book.  It is filled with inspiring ideas for photographing your friends, your world, and yourself – along with how to make decorative accessories for your home using your photos.

After reading this book, you will never just snap a photo with your phone to use on Instagram or Facebook without wanting to do a “little styling” first.


I love Elsie and Emma – sister bloggers. If you have never been to their blog, A Beautiful Mess, you are missing out on the fun. They are passionate about all things – Lifestyle. Their blog is filled with food, fashion, DIY, and more – all done in their signature style.


I have learned a lot about improving my own photography from reading their blog for the past 4 years.   I love the photo on the upper right of Elsie with her first camera.  Little did she know then, that she and her sister would be the authors of a book about inspiring others to take interesting photos, how to store them, and use them to brighten their lives.

Many of you have written asking me what camera I use and I thought this would be a good time to tell you.  I have never written a post about it before, because I do not consider myself a good photographer  – yet!  But it is my mission to try to get better every day so that I can rock every shot and not just some of them.

I started blogging with a point and shoot and then upgraded when blogging became full-time.  I purchased a Canon 60D with a 50 mm 1.8 lens.  I no longer have the 1.8 lens because I dropped it and it broke.  I learned my lesson the hard way and now am very careful when handling them.  It cost more to have it fixed, so I upgraded  to a 50 mm 1.4.

I have taken many classes online, read many manuals, and spent hours looking over photography web sites to better understand all the concepts of using a camera from light, lenses, to the best  equipment to use.

The more I have learned, the more I have invested a portion of  money I make from my blog, back into my blog, by upgrading my camera gear.  I figure it is a good investment since I hope to be blogging for a long time.

Earlier this year, I purchased a “used” Canon 5D Mark II which is a full frame camera. I could not afford to buy it new so I bought the camera for a fraction of the cost as well as some of my lenses at KEH camera.  They have a 2 week return policy so if something is not working, or you are just not happy with the purchase  – you can return it.

I have been very happy with it.


I have found I like to use prime lenses more than zoom lenses. They are sharper.  I have tried to give myself a variety of lenses so I can cover most situations – far away to close up shots.   My favorite lens is #3 – 50mm macro.

1. Canon 35 mm 2.0
2. Canon 5D Mark II with a 50mm 1.4
3. Canon 50 mm Macro 2.5
4. Canon 100 mm Macro 2.8
5. Canon 16-35 mm 2.8
6. Photoshop Elements 11
7. Shoot Remote
8. Slik Pro 700 DX Pro Tripod w/ Panhead

 I take most of the photos for my blog in my house and use my iPhone when I travel.  The only other equipment I have is the DIY photo studio I set up in my studioffice.  I use a vinyl roller shade as a backdrop and a dollar store white foam board to bounce the light.


What I Have Found The Most Important Elements in Getting the Best Photos

  • A good eye – to look at all the angles and choose the most interesting one. This might mean getting down on the floor or climbing a ladder.
  • It is not only about the camera – a good one is going to help, but you can rock a photo on a lesser model of camera or even an iPhone if it has a great lens on it or you have the light just right.
  • You have to find the best light and the time of day that works for the style of photography you want. I aim for light, sharp, and colorful images. To get these shots in my house, I have to take them in the late afternoon between 4 –6 PM.  Right when I need to be making dinner ! 
  • Good post processing photo enhancing software  will help fix almost anything.  Knowing how to use these programs is a skill all on its own, but is worth learning as it can take a ho-hum right out of the camera shot and make it exceptional.
  • A solid tripod and a remote will help you get sharp images. When you hand hold the camera– you can get blurry photos.   When you put the camera on a tripod, then use a timer or a remote to set off the shutter when the camera is absolutely still – you will get sharp images. Even if you have the camera on a tripod alone, if you press the shutter button with your hand, the camera moves slightly – when you use the timer or a remote control, the camera stays still.
  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Read the camera manual. It is sort of boring, but will help you learn all the bells and whistles your camera offers.

Online Sites that Have Helped Me

  • Shoot Fly Shoot Classes – Taking the 101 class made using manual mode click for me. After I took this class everything changed for the better in the quality of my photos.
  • Kevin and Amanda.com – Amanda has written many posts about photography on her site from DSLR’s to the apps she used to better her iPhone photos.
  • YouTube.com – Just type in whatever it is you want to know about your camera or photography in general and a dozen or more tutorial videos will show up for you to choose from.  Since I am a visual learner, I have found these are the best for learning not only about my camera, but Photoshop Elements, too.
  • Exif Data – If you see a photo you like online, you can read its metadata. Some photos do not have it, but many do.   To use it, copy the url of a photo you like (right click, a pop-up will open, choose copy image url, or view image url,)  Paste this into the exif data site and if metadata is available for that photo a list will appear that will tell you everything about how the image was taken from what camera was used, aperture, mm of lens, f-stop, shutter speed, and what software processed it.  Doing this to photos I like has really helped me to figure out what works and what numbers to dial in to my camera to  experiment with to see what works for me.  There are exif data add-ons for most browsers.  Just type in find exif data in the search bar to find one you like. I like using findexif.com.



This Giveaway is OVER


The winner is Jeanette – Comment # 98 – Congratulations!  


I have one copy of the book to give away.

To enter:  Leave me a comment telling me what was the last thing you took a photo of using your camera or camera phone.

Contest open to continental US only.  Winner will be chosen by Random.org

I will announce the winner on Friday morning 8/23/2013.

Good Luck!





  1. says

    The last photo I took with my camera was a picture of my mom and my youngest daughter. We were at a picnic for my mom’s work.

    Thank you for the change to win a really cool book!
    Love your blog! <3

  2. Michelle M says

    The last picture I took was my kids playing outside on a tire swing. They start school on Monday and I needed to remember the moment of them having a usual summer day while I sat on a blanket happily watching.

  3. Amy M. says

    My last picture was two days ago of my kids at a water park. Trying to squeeze in a little more fun before school starts up next week. :)

  4. Connie says

    Photo of my 2.5y/o daughter eating kale–i made her eat it by saying kale will make you happy if you eat it! Hehe.

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