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.