The Designers Chic

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Camera Bags.

For someone like me who had just ventured into DSLR photography as a hobby, I was on a serious hunt for a camera bag. Initially I wanted a roomy, nicely-padded, waterproof bag that could hold a camera body, 2 or more lenses and other accessories. I know that I would eventually invest on better lenses so a big camera bag like the Canon 2400 SLR Gadget Bag for only $32.00 was what I wanted right off the bat. I was quite happy with its price and quality. I love the padded adjustable dividers which allows me to customize it to my equipment. It has a durable shell, with rugged water repellant nylon fabric and a shoulder strap with non-slip, adjustable shoulder pad for carrying comfort. I actually don’t have that much gear and accessories yet but I think the bag is big enough to house all my current gear and probably more should I decide to get more lenses, external flash and what not.

However, I could think of one con with this bag though. It looks too geeky and flashy for me, lol! It screams “Hey, I got expensive stuff worth mugging in here” so I really wasn’t too comfortable lugging it with me wherever I go. I stopped taking my camera with me for a while because there were just too many things to pay attention to in every morning dash to Caleb’s preschool and my work. But now that days are getting warmer and spring is almost here in Montana (not quite but it’ll eventually get here, lol!), I want to carry my camera with me everywhere so I won’t miss any opportunity to shoot good pictures of flowers, bugs, and possibly birds on my break my quest to find me a small, handy but still can give my camera the best protection it needs continues!

I find these holster type camera bags really cute and not too bulky. I decided to get Case Logic SLRC-201 SLR Zoom Holster on Amazon for only $28.00.  I didn't expect much of the quality considering the cheap price but much to my surprise, this cute little thing really exceeded my expectations. My T3i with my longest lens attached to it fit snugly and comfortably. I like how small and easy to carry this bag is.  

The interior has memory foam which serves as a padding and the water-proof EVA base which allows the case to stand up on its own is a bonus. Obviously, I can only carry one lens attached to the camera with this bag and store my extra memory cards, batteries and filters in the three zippered compartments but that's the whole point of getting this bag. I want it to be my perfect everyday easy-travel camera bag.

Another thing that I love about this bag is the hammock system as you can see in the picture below. My camera does not sit on the bottom of the case, it's actually being suspended by this sort of an ingenious suspension system which added a superior impact protection. Ok, I know I sounded like this was a paid endorsement but it's not. I happen to just simply love this purchase and I want to brag about it, lol!

For now, I am really happy with my camera bags. But in all honesty, I am really drooling over the Epiphanie camera bag collection. They look girly, stylish looking camera bags that you wouldn't even think of them as gadget bags. But for $165.00? Nah, that would have to wait! My money would be better off spent on a professional lens than a bag, lol!

Friday, March 28, 2014

I love my Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens!

Photography isn’t exactly a low-cost hobby but it doesn’t have to break the bank either. I think one of the cool things about having a DSLR is the ability to switch lenses. My Canon Rebel T3i came with the 18-135mm kit lens and while this lens performs pretty good for a beginner like me, I know that I’m going to need the 50mm f/1.8 a.k.a. “Nifty Fifty” as part of my “learning curve” arsenal. So just a couple of weeks after hubby got me my new camera, he also bought me the 50mm f/1.8 lens that I was wanting to have. Oh boy, how I love this lens! It’s staying in my camera until hubby can get me the 100mm f/2.8 macro that I have been drooling over, lol!

The reasons why I love this lens so much apart from the fact that every amateur photographer should have a 50mm lens in their bag are the following:

1. It’s cheap!
For $99.00 at Amazon, it’s a no-brainer. Don’t let the price tag fool you. This affordable lens easily outperforms any kit lens offered in the market. It is great value for your money and definitely worth it as a first lens investment.

2. Great for low-light photography!
While I like to practice shooting outdoors, let me be honest by saying that since I’m a working mom, I shoot indoors with my 3-year old son as my subject, most of the time. I love capturing him in his most natural element, that is in his playroom while he’s busy destroying his toys, lol! Or goofing around with his other favorite person in the world, his Daddy! The downside to shooting indoors is the amount of light available to capture great pictures. With the wide aperture of f1.8, especially coming from a typical kit lens which is usually f5.6, this lens gives me 3 stops or 8x more light coming through the lens opening. Basically, what this means is I’d be able to use a faster shutter speed and avoid camera shake. Now if you have taken pictures of your kids, you know why it’s important to shoot fast. Kids at this age can’t and won’t sit still. They are on the move all-the-time! So for me, shooting wide open is a must!

3. It’s lightweight and small!
I like taking my camera with me wherever I go. And I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t too keen about drawing much attention to myself by lugging around a fancy camera with a long and heavy lens. At 4.6 oz., this lens is ultra-lightweight which makes it a perfect walk-around lens.

4. Super sharp!
Prime lenses are lenses that have a fixed focal length like the 50mm f/1.8. Meaning they don’t zoom! Prime lenses are usually inherently sharper than zoom lenses. They say you truly haven’t experienced a tack sharp image until you have shot with a prime lens, especially for the price. I was greatly impressed with how sharp and crisp my photos came out using this lens. I mean, I am not an expert by all means, but I have truly noticed a huge difference with the quality of my pictures when I’m using this lens as compared to my 18-135mm kit lens.

5. Killer Bokeh!
What is bokeh? The term comes from the Japanese word “boke” which literally translates as “blur”. So basically, bokeh is the quality of out-of-focus or “blurry parts” of an image. This is particularly useful when you want to isolate your subject by rendering the unimportant elements of your photograph like the background “out-of-focus”. This makes your photos visually appealing and more professional-looking. Bokeh is rendered by the lens, not the camera. A lens with a large maximum aperture like f/1.8 yield more pleasant-looking bokeh than your regular zoom kit lens.

6. It’s versatile!
The 50mm lens is a great street shooting lens, not too wide, not too long. Mount on a cropped camera body like my T3i, it can also be a great portrait lens, just long enough to remove distortion from your subject’s face. On the more expensive full-frame camera body, 50mm focal length yields a “normal” perspective and field of view similar to what we see from our very own eyes.

7. It’ll make you a better photographer!
Since this lens doesn’t zoom, it forces you to be creative with your shots. It makes you zoom with your feet, walk around your subject and explore different view angles thereby improving the quality of your composition. In short, it forces the photographer not to be “lazy”, lol!

There you go! Now you know why I am in love with this lens. :) As a matter of fact, when it starts to feel springy here in Montana, I’m going to take my family outdoors for a spring family portrait. I am excited! In the meantime, below are some of the shots I have taken of my little boy using the 50mm lens.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Montana State Capitol.

The weekend after I got my new camera, I went on a self-guided tour inside the Montana State Capitol building. I have heard good things about the place and I just wanted to see for myself if this were indeed true. So armed with my brand-spanking new Canon Rebel T3i, I spent quite some time photographing the exterior of the building using my 18-135mm kit lens. The facade of the building speaks highly about this great piece of architecture. I'm not a history buff but the interior of the capitol just screams of so much history. I could not believe how delighted I was to see a real but old Supreme Court chamber. I would say that my favorite room in the building was the Senate Gallery. The wall art in that room was just awesome. The intricate details of the ceiling, walls, pillars and floors are reason enough to be "wowed". I simply love the main dome and the grand staircase was impressive. I had a great time touring the capitol. It was indeed a lovely photo session for me. Below are the highlights of that tour.

Junk mails.

I don’t like getting junk in the mail. I’ve had tons of those pre-approved credit card offers that I don’t even bother to open. Today, for a change, I received an invitation with a nicely-printed envelope to a dinner of some sort. I’m amused that some people would go through the trouble of probably doing envelope printing online just to make their junk look presentable and business-like. But still, I hardly take them seriously no matter how professional looking the mail is. It will just go straight to trash.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Possible furniture upgrade.

After 7 years, our couch seemed to have seen better days, lol! It probably didn’t help that our 3-year old would doodle on it with his favorite markers, jump on it like there’s no tomorrow and use it as an alternative to our dining table. It desperately need some sofa cushions upgrade. But we’ve decided that we would wait until our little monkey is old enough not to do damage to our furniture. If ever we would upgrade, I would love to get sectionals. I can’t decide between leather and microfiber though. The color must definitely be in the brown family though. I just love dark-colored furniture.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A white escape.

Ever since I got my new camera, I have been photographing anything like crazy. They say lots of practice would improve one’s shooting skills considerably, so I tried to take my camera with me and shoot every day. But since it’s still cold, dreary and snowy most of the time, I felt like I am kinda limited to what I can shoot. Surprisingly though, I find photographing wintery subjects fun and addicting.

We had a huge snowstorm last week. We got dumped with about 16 inches of snow. I took that as an opportunity to practice shooting snow. Most of the shots are taken from our backyard. Some are outside my work place. I really enjoyed photographing snow and anything related to it despite the cold weather. Everything looks so white and pristine that it made the experience a lot more fun. For these shots, I dialed the Exposure Compensation up +1 stop to make it look brighter and closely resembles how would snow look like for real which is white. They don't look perfect but for an amateur like me, I'm pretty much happy with it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nearsightedness could be genetic.

I started to feel that there’s something wrong with my vision when I was in college, but I waited too long before I get my first prescription glasses. Once I have them, it made life a lot easier. I know that my eye problem is only going to get worse as time goes by but at least by using prescription glasses, I will be able to live life in a normal way and I think it may also be slowing down the downhill progression of my vision problem. Same is true with hubby. He’s also wearing glasses and I just got a feeling that this could be genetic so my son could have this vision issues in the future. We’re thinking of having his eyes check at an early age. If it turns out that he needs to wear glasses too, I think a family eyewear shop is probably the best way to go.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My new DSLR camera!

I have spent the last two months learning the basics of photography. I must say I am enjoying it a lot. I am not sure why but when my cheap Canon point and shoot died on me, I thought I’d like to know how to shoot beyond the Auto Mode setting. Perhaps to justify my desire to get a pricier DSLR as my new camera, lol! I didn’t want to spend tons of money on an equipment that I wouldn’t be able to use to its fullest potential. That’s just me though. I mean there’s absolutely nothing wrong with shooting in Auto but my reasoning was I can get that feature on a less than a $300 dollar digital camera, so why spend $1000 or more on a DSLR and camera accessories? So basically, that’s what fueled my interest to learn about photography lately.

After doing my research, I have decided that the best entry-level DSLR for beginners like me would be a Canon EOS Rebel T3i. I’m sure there are other wonderful DSLRs out there but I’ve always liked Canon and T3i has features that I have been looking for in my new camera like the vari-angle LCD for low and high angle shots, great video capability, ease of use and the feel and weight of the equipment on my hands. Now the next question was did I have the funds to buy one right away? The simple answer was "No!" LOL! So I have been saving for one while I immersed myself in understanding about Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and how these three important elements work together to create a good exposure in your photos. But an angel came my way in the form of my wonderful hubby and offered to get me my first DSLR as a Valentine’s gift. Phew! That made everything a whole lot easier, doesn’t it, lol! So I ordered one in a heartbeat and lo and behold, I now own a nice DSLR. Yay!

I am loving it so far. It’s quite bulky than what I was used to carry but there’s just some kind of a professional feel to it when I’m holding it, lol! I got mine with the 18-135mm lens kit. It’s a couple of hundred bucks more than the 18-55mm lens kit which I originally wanted to get, but I love the ability to be able to zoom in on my subjects so I think this range would be a perfect walk-around lens for me for now. However, I’d love to get my hands on a “nifty fifty” (50mm f1.8) prime lens so that would definitely be my next lens purchase. I've been taking my new camera with me to work and I’ve practiced with it on my lunch breaks. I simply lurrvvv it! I know I have a lot more to learn about taking great photos but I know that with the right gear and desire to learn and practice, I would be able to take much better quality, more professional looking photos in the future. I am excited with my new-found hobby!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

I'll get one soon.

For someone who loves to take pictures every day of my little guy and just about anything interesting out there, it has been really a torture not to have a good camera on hand. My point and shoot was dropped by accident and now I only have to rely on my tablet camera for picture taking which doesn’t really take good ones. So I am really itching to get a new camera. But I want to try a DSLR this time. Unfortunately, the only thing I knew about photography is how to set my digital camera on Auto Mode but I figured if I wouldn’t take the time to learn shooting outside of Auto Mode, then I don’t really see the point of getting a much bulkier, more expensive DSLR. I thought before I jump in with both feet on the DSLR bandwagon, I would like to learn at least the basics of photography. And I am really surprised on how much neat stuff I have learned so far about photography from the internet. I find them truly interesting and it makes me more motivated to bring my interest in photography to the next level. Not to mention, a DSLR is going to be a hefty purchase so I would like to research thoroughly on what’s a good one for a beginner like me. This makes the anticipation sweeter I think. 

Just like with any other new interest that we would like to try, it’s always best to make an educated decision. What better way to do it is through research, after all, we live in the cyber age when almost every answer you seek can be found on the web. That’s exactly how a dear musician friend of mine found out about keyboard psr710. He wanted to get one as he loves to sing and play instruments. He’s an amateur but highly motivated to learn his craft and hopefully develop it into something bigger.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thomas and Friends Big Boy's Room.

I apologize for slacking off again on my blog updates. I have been busy juggling between work and family. Not to mention all the holidays and hubby and Caleb's birthdays happening on the same month which was December so yeah, I let blogging took a back seat, lol!

But I've missed it a lot. I've always liked to write nonsense, lol! So here I am, trying to be back. :) I would like to feature on my blog my 3 year old's Thomas and Friends inspired big boy's room makeover, lol!

Nothing fancy...just keeping my little avid Thomas fan happy! As soon as we realized that a crib was no longer safe for our curious monkey, we thought of transitioning him to a toddler bed. Thankfully, the crib that I've inherited from my sister for my nephew B do converts into a toddler bed and a full bed. So for a while, we had Caleb sleeping on a toddler bed. But like his momma here, he can't stay in one spot even when sleeping, lol! It kept waking him up because the bed was just too small for him, so we thought it's time to consider a big boy's bed.

On his 3rd birthday, we surprised him with a bedroom makeover. He loves trains especially Thomas and Friends so we thought it will be a great theme for this room. I bought some wall decals and wall border on Amazon and got a new comforter set and a cuddly pillow from Walmart. Voila! A Thomas-inspired bedroom for our little guy! We can tell that he was ecstatic. He can't stop pointing at all the trains and tried to name them one by one, lol! I thought this was the best gift we've given him for his birthday. Definitely, it made the transition to a big boy's room so much easier. He loves sleeping on it and since it's a full-size bed, he can wiggle and squirm all he wants, lol!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Adios to my point and shoot.

I’ve always liked taking pictures of just about anything. But of course, my favorite subject is my 3-year old. I like to capture every little bits of pieces of his day to day life no matter how mundane they are. He was doing something cute and worthy of a snapshot the other day and I reached in to my purse only to realize that I no longer have my point and shoot digi cam. It was dropped on the floor over the holidays so I now only rely on my tablet camera to take pictures. I am not so thrilled with its quality so I am really looking into getting myself a DSLR. I have been researching about it and once I’ve saved enough money to get one, I will definitely bite the bullet and take my interest in photography to the next level. I really wish though that I won’t have to wait very long before I can save up for the purchase because I just don’t want to miss a lot of fun stuff to photograph with my little boy. Easter season is fast approaching and I'm looking at tuxedo vests and ties online. I would like to get a nice set for the little guy. I’m sure he will look amazing in them so I am really hoping I’d have a camera by then so I’ll have good souvenir shots.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas with the Lords.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Christmas is not just for the kids. Well, I'd like to believe that otherwise Santa would not bother to get me something for the holidays, lol! But I do believe that kids should come first on Christmas time. So with the help of Santa, Caleb received all the nice toys a 3-year old could have asked for, lol!

I still miss the way we do celebrate Christmas in the Philippines though, but I now have my own family and I think our little guy deserves all the special things on this day. I cooked some Filipino dishes so I won't have to feel so homesick, lol! Opening of presents was awesome especially for the little kiddo. I thought he had the best day ever. It's a joy to watch him jump from one present to another. I was happy with the presents that I got on the other hand. Hubby did great. I got everything on my wish list. Yay! Below are some photos taken during the holidays. It was indeed a great Christmas for us.

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