Adventure: Canada’s Wonderland

Last weekend I visited Canada’s Wonderland for the first time with some friends. Although roller coasters and scary rides terrify me, it was still fun! I went to the water park, got a sunburn, and enjoyed the amusement park atmosphere. Best of all, I brought my camera with me and got to explore while my friends rode said scary rides. A bonus of living in Toronto is going to this place!


Technique Tuesday: What to Look For on the Streets

 

 

What is Street Photography?

Street photography–or what I also like to call documentary photography–does not necessarily have to take place on the street. It’s sort of a colloquialism that has grown out of the early 20th century when photographers traversed their cities and took discrete photographs of people living their lives in the city. It’s a way of capturing the candid world around you; people, buildings, relationships, quirkiness, sadness, humanity, and so on. I find that what many would call street photography also fits into other categories: documentary, candid, photojournalistic, etc. These are all along the same line and I use the term street photography to generally talk about photographs of the world around us. However, there is some debate that street photography can be more artistic than documentary-style… go with whatever works for you!

Despite not really marketing myself as a street photographer, it is one of my favorite things to do and I absolutely love it. It’s a passion project, for now. ūüôā

PSA

HOWEVER.

There is a debate about the merits of street photography. It is seen as voyeuristic, preying upon the obliviousness of people on the street to snap a photograph you then use for your own reasons: in a show, in your home, to sell for commercial gain, etc. This is actually a concern and something photographers need to think about. The days of no ethics are gone; one must try to be as responsible as possible. I find that asking people for permission for a photograph does not necessarily take away from the ‘candidness’ of a moment; you can still get a great photo, a laugh, a dour look, etc. It does feel a bit weird though. I also know that I don’t like even my friends and family to notice my camera; you can instantly tell a shift in how they are holding themselves and acting. Unfortunately, this is a battle I cannot answer. Every photographer just has to try and do what makes them (and their subjects!) comfortable.

 

 

My Street Photography Woes; and Yours Too?

I have a crippling fear of being called out in public. I try to discreetly lift up my big ol’ camera and snap photographs from the shadows. Then I will try to look away inconspicuously, shuffle around, fiddle around with my camera. It is scary stuff, and I’m still learning. That’s why I wanted to make this post: what do YOU do to take successful street photography photographs? I would love to hear more tips!

So how do we get over this hump? My first suggestion would be that if you are interested in pursuing street photography ONLY, to grab a smaller point and shoot camera: such as a Ricoh, a Canon G-series, or Fuji. It’s still a goal of mine to grab one of these little babies. I am jealous of the Brownie era, when one could walk around with a camera box discreetly hanging from your side and take great street photographs. I mean, some of my favorites have been on my iphone!

Another is to just take photographs CONSTANTLY. Get used to taking your camera out in public. People may look at you and wonder what you’re looking at. They may avoid you. That’s fine. Just keep doing it! Take photographs of everything. I have usually 1 photograph I actually really like to every 150 photographs I throw out. That’s the magic of the digital era. Take them all of the time! Soon you will get comfortable and have no problem whipping out your camera when you see a great shadow falling across a group of people.

 

 

Another suggestion is to use an old film camera. I am blessed that my dad gave me his old SLR Nikon. These cameras are very discreet (well, more than the new DSLRs) and with a 50mm attached they take beautiful film photographs. Go out and try! I am a huge fan of film. Something about knowing there is a set number of exposures makes you really think about the positioning, angles, shapes, and expressions in your photographs. Nothing helps you perfect what you are looking for like film (sorry, interjected personal opinion).

 

 

 

 

What to Look For

So what do I look for on the street? Here are just some ideas to get you going!

a) light and lack thereof: shadows and shadow shapes make great photographs. Look up Henry Callahan for some beautiful examples of light and space in street photography.

 

 

 

b) angles. Building corners, leading lines, symmetry, poetry in shapes.

 

 

 

c) people. This is sometimes the hardest one to do. The thing is, many think you have to take photographs of people doing something interesting. That’s not the case. Many of the best street photographers of the early 20th century took photographs of people walking across the street, turning a corner, or talking to others. The ones with people looking directly into the camera are a bit of a different story: in the past, when people had brownies and other similar camera, they would often take a photo just at the moment the person looked at them and noticed the camera. We never see the moment after, which may include people getting angry, or asking questions, or leaving. It’s that second of realization. Again, today, it has to be a bit different. So how do we as photographers take street photographs of people without stepping on the toes of privacy? Questions, questions…

 

 

 

 

d) composition. Composition is SO important. Street photography is not just random snapshots of the street. Well, it kind of is! But out of the 200 photos you take, not all of them will work. The best ones are the ones that have a composition you like, whether it’s quirky, different, or the standard rule of thirds. Composition matters and the best way to get better at it is to just keep practicing! But I really do think composition and taste is so subjective. What I may see as a lovely stark shot someone else might see as boring… it really all depends, so just go with your gut!

 

 

 

 

e) action. I know I just said they don’t have to be doing anything, but sometimes they are. Try to capture those moments.

 

 

f) on that note, emotions of one kind or another. This delves more into the photojournalistic/documentary style of photography. However, I see them as two halves of one whole. They are different words and frames for telling stories of the candid world around us.

Those are just some of the things I look for. Try them out or try taking photos of what catches your attention: a used candy wrapper on a sidewalk, two people chatting on a park bench, the architecture of a particular street… Try to come at it from a photographer’s eye and just go for it! I am definitely still learning, so let’s all go get better together. ūüôā

Summary

I love street photography: I love looking at it, studying it, learning about it, and taking it. The reason I love it, even with all of its problems, is that it’s a second snapshot of the world around the photographer. It can show viewers glimpses of cities, shadowed back alleys or graceful highway lines. It can show the dusty streets of prairie towns or the eclectic pile-on of urban streets to people that might not know it’s out there. We see people wearing clothes or expression we might not see elsewhere. I love just witnessing the world. When I walk or travel I am always staring, trying to absorb everything around me. Street photography is way to capture the world in a certain time period that wouldn’t exist otherwise. I can envision American cities in the 40s and 50s because some of my favorite street photographers are from that era. That’s the gift they’ve given us photographers today. I find that the more I do street photography, the more I start to see the world around me as possible photographs; a weird byproduct!

 

 

 

So go out, try to be a little sneaky (but not in an evil way), and take some photos of your city, your town, your community, your world! The first step to understanding photography is to take as many photographs as possible. And many of my favourite street photographs have not been the picture-perfect photograph. That’s the best part about street photograhy; everything is something.

 

Now go out and explore!

 


My Favourite Photographers: Vivian Maier

Welcome back to the blog!

Some exciting news. Along with my Technique Tuesday posts, I will also be starting up two new columns: My Favourite Photographer, where I go over some of the influences and inspirations I carry around with me, and Exhibit Visits, where I will be visiting photography shows throughout Toronto and writing about them. Since I now live in such a vibrant arts city I thought it was about time! I will be posting at least once of each per month, so expect to read a lot more of me! I am also mulling over a third, but it’ll be a surprise…

Along with these, I will also continue my standard blog posts about shoots, travels, and so on.

So let’s get started!

Why Favourite Photographers?

So why would I want to start something like this? Well, all photographers find inspiration in others’ work. When I lived in England about four years ago I took a class on American Photography, which encompassed many of the greats. I was amazed at the history of photography and how influential some of these photographers were without me even realizing it. It was sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, sometimes tragic, sometimes hopeful, but all of the photographs told me one thing: that photography, at its core, is inspiring. And even to this day I frequently look back at old photography to try and really feel it. My copy of The Americans by Robert Frank is one of my most prized possessions. THUS, I thought it would be fun to write up about and share the work of some of those I love the most. Maybe it will encourage all of my fellow photographers to think about their influences and the type of photography that truly captures them!

Who is Vivian Maier

I heard about Vivian Maier probably five years ago or so when I saw a giant book of her photos on display at the bookstore I used to work at. Once I heard about her life and gazed at her photos for hours, I knew I was hooked. I frequently look through her photos just because it is such a treat. The main thing was: no one saw her photographs until close to her death, when rolls of film were found hidden away in a storage unit and sold to several buyers; however, none really evoked reactions. Only after her passing in 2009 did she reach popularity as one of the great 20th century street photographers.

Since her death, her photographs have reached international acclaim.

Vivian Maier was born in 1926. She worked most of her life as a nanny, which is evident in some of the photographs she would take of children and on walks with them.

Most of her life is a mystery. She moved back and forth between the USA and France. When she was in her 30s she took a world tour on her own and photographed the journey. Not only did she collect the rolls of film and photographs she produced but also piles of newspapers (some precariously high) and audio recordings of conversations with people she had photographed; a journalist if there ever was one!

 

 

 

 

Her Photographs

Maier had a sense of architecture, light, people, and the relationship between these three characters. Her photographs are some of the earliest that show what could be seen as the “woman’s world”, a world that–at the time–was not well-acknowledged. Her most well-known photographs depict the streets of Chicago in the 50s and 60s. I also like to think she developed some of the best first selfies. She played with the idea of people and the built environment, and also seemed to be interested in those who were down-trodden: many of her photos depict people begging or the working class.

 

Her work has been compared to the likes of Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, or Harry Callahan (some more of my favorites!).

If anyone is interested in learning more about the mystery that was her life, watch the 2013 documentary Finding Vivian Maier, which also helped generate buzz about her talents.

Why Vivian Maier is a Favourite

There is something absolutely timeless yet completely caught in time in Maier’s photography. What draws me in is her gaze, wondering what she saw and how she saw it. Knowing about her mysterious life and the sad slow decline it reached in the 90s and 2000s, it makes a person even more curious about her. She had such an eye for detail, such a natural ability to capture people and places, and yet to never publish or even make it known to people is such a heartbreaking detail in her life, especially as she grew poorer and poorer as she got older. Why not? Why not share these photographs?

Perhaps that wasn’t what was important to Maier. Perhaps just the act of photographing was enough. The people she stopped to photograph and talk to stay in your mind long after looking at the photograph. They all somehow manage to look suspicious, bemused, at ease, and bored all at once. Maier captures the humanity of her subjects, and the children she cared for make frequent appearances. In these instances we get to see familiarity and comfort. The streets of Chicago have their own personality, and I absolutely adore her use of light and shapes. Maier is a constant source of inspiration I keep going back to. I admire her for her bravery, her creativity, and also her ability to keep this quiet. No one needed it but her. And that makes them all the more magical and real to me.

Camera of choice used by Maier:

First: Kodak Brownie box camera with 1 shutter speed, no aperture

1952: Rolleiflex (throughout 3.5T, 3.5F, 2.8C, Automat, etc.)

 

 

 

 

 

All photographs are taken from the Vivian Maier website: vivanmaier.com

More resources on Vivian Maier:

-documentary Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

Books:

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer

Vivan Maier: A Photographer Found

Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits 

 

 


What’s In My Bag?

So it’s fun as a photographer to snoop through the Internet to see what others keep in their bags. This intrigues me so much and I’m not quite sure why. Probably for the same reason I love doors and what they tell us about the people inside (but opposite… I guess?). Seeing what other photographers take with them on their travels allows me to see what types of tricks or hints or fun stuff people use in their art. I was thinking about this one day when someone commented how I always have fingerless gloves in my bag. Well yes, I thought, of course I do! Then realized how weird it actually was… which got me thinking about all the other stuff I carry around, some all pertinent in its own odd way.

Tonight I took all of my stuff out of my 2 bags and laid it on the ground. I was pretty lazy when it came to photographing it, I apologize. So I’ve numbered things, in case anyone cares! If not, just look at what a hoarder I am (although to be fair it is split between the 2 bags… sometimes. I have managed to fit it all in my Lowe pro bag. Not ashamed).

 

1. Writing utensils

I seem to carry a pen, pencil and highlighter… You never know when you’ll need them

2. Fingerless gloves

I shoot a lot outside and in all types of weather. I have found even if it’s slightly cold my hands get useless. With these gloves my hands stay warm but my fingers are a lot more dexterous than if I was wearing full gloves. LITERALLY a life saver.

3. Think Tank Camera Bag

This is the bag I usually use in cities as it’s a bit more discrete. Here’s a cool story: I bought both bags at the same time from Beau Photography¬†in Vancouver. They were having a deal that was buy one get one for like half price. The Think Tank bag is gently used, and I got it for like 50.00 instead of (at the time) the usual 200. What a steal! It’s great and has lots of nice hidden spots. The best is the velcro that keeps it closed, you can cover it up for silent shooting so the bag doesn’t make this obvious noise when you open it to change lenses etc.

4. Lowe Pro Camera Backpack

This is my heavy duty bag. This is the one I take on shoots out into the woods. It has moveable compartments inside, fits everything, and is comfortable on my back. It has buckles too! I don’t care how dorky people think buckles are, they save your back when you have so many pounds of camera gear on your back. I also like that it’s rather discrete so you can’t really tell what it is. And it has a rain cover in the bottom!

5. Speedlite 430 EX III-RT and Accessories (stand, filters)

My external flash is one of my newest additions to my team and I am still practicing with it. Suffice to say, I already love it. I also carry the filters around and the stand for radio shooting.

6. Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 prime lens

My precious prime lens that I use for portraits and other fun photo stuff! I always have this one. It has quickly become my favorite for more intimate shooting.

7. Canon EOS 70D

My camera! I am in the market for the Mark series at the moment, but I love this little guy despite the lack of full-frame. Takes beautiful photos, is very sturdy, and great menu system that is intuitive. Love the quick menu on the LCD sooo much.

8. Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4.0 zoom lens

My other go to lens that fits the 85 mm portrait length as well. It’s pretty heavy but worth carrying it around!

9. Canon EF 75-300 mm f/4.0 zoom lens

This one I don’t always take with me, but I do if I plan on using a tripod + shooting wildlife or other things I need to be far away for. I loved this one a lot in high school and I recommend a 300 mm if anyone can get them.

10. Sigma DC 18-200 mm f/3.5 zoom lens

This is my 3rd must have lens. Mine is getting a little worn out but the wide angle is so necessary for variety in your shots. Plus, I have gotten some of my favorite landscapes on this lens. Yes, it’s not a Canon, but younger me could not afford the Canon version! Suffice to say, this has served me well, all over the world. This is such a great lens for when you travel because it allows you to get such a wide variety of shots.


My lenses! The one thing that gets compliments in my bag is my camera strap from Capturing Couture; I bought it probably 4 years ago and it’s still in great shape! The only thing that’s somewhat problematic are the metal bits that hit the camera, although they don’t actually do anything. One time I pinched my finger and it hurt like crazy for days. So I guess… be careful, unlike me.

11. a) polarizing filter 77 mm b) UV filter 52 mm

This polarizing filter fits my 24-105 lens and I love it! Polarizing filters help to get rid of reflection in things like glass and water. It darkens your shots a bit (you can adjust the level by spinning the filter) so sometimes it can be a bit misleading and you have to double check your shots. So fun for nature shots that involve water though! The UV filter is just an extra that fits several of my lenses. ALWAYS have a UV filter on your lens. It helps to not only protect from sun’s rays but also if you drop your lens or something, let that get dented and scratched instead of the lens! Will save you so much $$

12. Rain Cover for Think Tank bag

This came off the clip, so I put in the photo… but really it clips inside the Think Tank bag and sits in there all of the time. Not sure why I put this in here?

13. Fortune from a fortune cookie

There’s an old fortune from a fortune cookie I keep in my bag. It’s good luck. The message is a secret.

14. PRAIRIES toque

Along with fingerless gloves, I find I like to shoot with a toque. It keeps my brain warm. I switch between my beloved PRAIRIES toque from my sister and my Hudson Bay toque. This one makes me feel like I’m back home though and reminds me of where my love affair with photography started: the prairies.

15. Memory Cards

ALWAYS bring extra memory cards!! Cannot stress enough!!

16. Battery Charger

Also a charger. And an extra battery if you have one. Oddly enough, I have 2 chargers and I have no idea how I have two. I never bought another one. And yet here is an extra. I should probably get an extra battery, on that note.

17. Hand Mirror

I used to carry this around just to make sure my face/hair was normal, but it became handy as a backup reflector when I had to use the installed flash  on my camera. Just by sticking this in front of the flash it allowed the light to bounce off and hit the ceiling instead of the subject. I still use this trick!

18. Nikon N2000 (film)

My dad gave me his old film Nikon several years ago! I have taken some of my favorite prairie shots on this guy. It’s definitely pretty heavy but so much fun. If you ever want to learn more patience in your photography, I recommend practicing on a film. We are so spoiled by digital cameras; we can delete whatever we don’t like and retake again and again. However, using the film camera really teaches you to be selective and careful with your shots. It forces me to take my time, mull over what story I want to tell, what shot actually speaks to me, and I don’t take (as many) useless photos. it’s a great exercise in creativity. And when you go and develop the roll, nothing beats that excitement of holding fresh prints in your hand, a whole roll to explore…! It also teaches humility, as most of the time I can only salvage 1 or 2 shots from a roll that I actually like (the photographer’s life).

19. Cleaning Supplies

I cannot count the number of times I’ve had to sit in a field, on a dock, on a beach, in the woods, to clean my camera or lens. Yea, it’s sketchy and dangerous. Before I had proper cleaning tools I used to just open it up and blow on the mirrors as hard as I could. OOPS. What I have is a) a little bag to hold it all 2) cleaning cloths for the lenses 3) an air pump that has ADJUSTABLE nozzle. That is literally the best. When you have a piece of weird dust or lint on the mirror inside the camera and you cannot get in and see it, this nozzle comes in so handy to get it out. It’s a life saver. And 4) a cleaning brush that has a brush on one side and the pad on the other. I brush the lens off first with the brush, then rub the pad in small circles to clean off smudges. This also works for filters. Don’t think just because you clean your camera before you leave your home you’re safe: you’re not! When you’re changing lenses on the fly, dust and other particles can sneak their way in and get trapped inside the camera. Be prepared! Also, take your time when cleaning. Be meditative. And do it regularly. You’d be surprised what builds up that you don’t notice.

Also, since I forgot to number it, my remote shooter is on the bottom, below the cleaning supplies. I got this for free with my 50 mm lens and I LOVE IT. It’s so magical!

20. Insignia Collapsible Reflector

This thing is so fun. I love it. It’s also new. It’s not tinfoil! It’s great.

 

And there you have it! Aside from the 300 mm and the Nikon, I tend to travel with all the rest in a bag. Whew! No wonder I have back problems. What do you carry in your camera bag? I’d love to see it!

PS: Here’s a closeup of the buttons on my Think Tank bag. Each one has a special importance and story behind it.

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Engagement: Sarah and Mark

Grande Prairie Engagement

Well 2016 ended (literally, the last day of the year!) with an engagement session for Sarah and Mark in my hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta. It’s a bit of a neat story. Sarah and I have known each other since we were probably 3 years old through play school and our older sisters being Kindergarten pals in school. We grew up making elementary art projects together, gallivanting around school playgrounds, and swimming in the pool (Sarah, being an actual pro swimmer, made her lap around the deep end much easier than me, flailing and bobbing like I did).

As time passed, we went our separate ways and haven’t really spoken for many many many years. So what a pleasant surprise to hear from her about photographing their wedding in 2017! I was so touched and excited and managed to meet up with them over the holiday, which was great! Sarah and Mark are so cute and lovely and were game for anything I suggested, even being jacketless in crazy falling snow and jumping on the spot to stay warm, sitting in the snow and wandering around in the forest. They bounce off of each other so well and are both so sarcastic which is honestly the funniest. They had me laughing like crazy! Hearing them tell me their stories was the best because I could really see and feel their love for each other and did my best to capture that in their photos. Here are some shots from their December 31st engagement session.


 

 


Adventure: Toronto Islands

Several weeks ago I managed to get a day off to take a few hours to go to Toronto Islands! Toronto Islands are a chain of islands just off of the shores of Toronto itself! You have to take a ferry to get out there. It has an airport, summer amusements, beaches, yacht clubs, and get this, some pretty cute old squashed houses! I wasn’t expecting them, for some reason.

I decided to go on one of the chilliest days in late October. I took a ferry across at 3:30. Despite the cold I made sure to stand outside and watch the wake of the boat and the giant city behind me getting a bit smaller as we got closer to the island. Because it’s the off-season, there isn’t much shelter there. So after 3 hours of wandering a bit (I only got through half of the eastern islands because I was taking so many photographs!) I was so cold it was time to hop on a ferry back! I wanted to make sure I got the sunset, and I definitely did. The Toronto skyline is a gorgeous site, I took too many photos! I will definitely be back to the Toronto Islands to check out all the sites I didn’t get to see.

The best part: walking around the back of the island and seeing Lake Ontario look like the ocean, a peaceful still mirror of the sky with giant maple trees dropping their leaves gently into the water.

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Adventure: Kensington Market in Toronto

This past weekend I decided to go outside with my friend Tamara and take a break from schoolwork to take photographs, explore, and learn new things about my neighborhood. I live not too from Kensington Market, which is this crazy neighborhood in Toronto. It originally started as a Jewish neighborhood where small shops started out of the houses; an influx of Caribbean and Chinese presence occurred after WWII and ¬†it has now grown and evolved into a mish mash of great dining, cool little shops, vintage clothing, and intriguing bohemian Rastafarian-inspired places of enterprise. It can get crazy packed but it’s so fun to wander and just stare at people and stores and eat food! For example, I had the most delicious takoyaki (octopus balls) I’ve ever had, just from a little temporary stand in an alley. We also wandered down alleys, found cool graffiti, and all sorts of stuff! I’m excited to get to know this city better. ūüôā Any recommendations for places to go take photographs in Toronto, feel free to let me know!

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Technique Tuesday: Choosing a Lens

Hello! Long live Technique Tuesdays! It has been awhile since I’ve been able to post one; I spent the summer absorbing my last few months in Vancouver before moving to Toronto a month and a half ago. Suffice to say this last month has been CRAZY trying to get used to school again! But being here has sparked my work ethic (haha) so I want to make sure I keep putting these out there for everyone!

The number one question I get asked the most is:

What type of lens should I use?

This is always an intriguing question to me. Lenses can be versatile, but my number one reply to this question is:

The lens is not as important as the person!

I don’t say this with a passive aggressive undercurrent of being like “oh, haha,¬†lenses?¬†How absurd. I am above them.” The only reason I say this is because I want people to know that THEIR eye is more important than the lens eye. A creative angle, thought, or light choice can happen no matter what the lens. I cannot express how important this thought is:¬†depend on yourself and your eye and not your technology.

(I might also say this because I can’t afford new technology… but that’s beside the point!)

OKAY. So you’ve asked me that question and I’ve responded with the above.

The next thing to consider is:

What do you want to take photographs of?

Lenses can be very situational OR they can be very versatile. Here is what I mean:

Most affordable lenses these days are zoom lenses, otherwise known as telephoto lenses. What I mean by that is that it has a ring on the lens that lets you change your distances (or mm). For example, my favorite of these is 18-200 mm, meaning it can go wide and zoomed out at 18mm all the way up to 200 mm, which is closer to your subject. This is very handy and I LOVE my telephoto lenses because they are versatile. Downside: their image quality is not as good as a prime lens.

What is a prime lens? A prime lens is a lens that focuses on only one distance. An example of this is my beloved 50 mm. These lenses are often more expensive, but their image quality is gorgeous.

giphy-2Oh George! Buy an SLR! Source.

The NEXT thing to think about is¬†image stabilization (IS).¬†This is your camera’s/lens’ ability to stay still when taking photographs, even when zoomed in (which is tougher). Some companies have IS in their camera body, like Sony. More often than not it will be in the lens (such as Canon and Nikon). This is lame, because the lenses with IS can cost 500+ more than their non-IS version (for Canon L lenses for example). This frustrates me because I feel IS should be in every camera no matter what–common sense? Otherwise, say you have an 18-200 mm zoom¬†with no IS; you zoom in to take a photo of a bird–snap snap–and then it’s fuzzy! It will always be fuzzy unless you have a tripod.

Therefore, it is worth saving that extra bit to get a lens with IS; it will make all the difference! If you do not need this and can deal with never zooming in, always using a tripod, etc etc than you are fine getting a cheaper lens with no IS.

The NEXT thing to think about is f-stop. I discussed this briefly in my Depth of Field Technique Tuesday, however it is worth going over again with my handy very professional graphic:

 

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The circles in the image above show the f-stop on the box. The smaller the number, the blurrier your background will be a.k.a the more “bokeh” your image will have. People love this for portraiture, food shots, insects/plants, basically anything close up where you need your subject to be the main focus.

This is something to consider when buying your lens if you are looking into portrait photography. It may be cheaper to buy the 17-85 mm with the f/4.0, however that means your backgrounds will not get as blurry as say a prime 85 mm with f/1.4, which is a great one for small focus points and blurry backgrounds. So consider the f-stop number you may want when purchasing your lens ESPECIALLY if you think you will be taking portrait photos!

OKAY. So, three aspects of a lens to think about:

  • the zoom/prime
  • the IS or no IS
  • the f-stop number

you may want. These are 3 things I usually think about when purchasing a lens.

To go back to the main question though, you must answer yourself:

What do you want to take photographs of with it? 

This is important because if you go out and buy a 2000 dollar wide-angle lens and then NEVER use it because all you do is take photos of plant leaves and people’s faces, that’s a bad thing. A very bad thing. When you buy a lens you want it to serve a purpose. All of my lenses are integral to my photography. I constantly carry most of them with me because they all do different jobs that I actually utilize. This is key.

This does not mean you have to buy a unique lens for every single situation you may be in. This is the DREAM of course, but we are not all that rich (now I’m just thinking about all the new lenses I want!). All it means is that you have to think about the type of photography you enjoy, the type of photography you want to work on, and the type of photography you think matters to¬†you.

Below I’ve made a general list of the types of lenses and what their most common uses are. REMEMBER: you don’t have to fit inside this box! I’ve used my 50 mm for nature or landscape photos; I’ve used my wide angle for close-ups; all sorts of fun stuff!

CANON NOTE

I am a Canon user, so I’ll leave a tidbit for my fellow Canonites, just in case. There are two main types of lenses: EF lenses, which are lighter and have plastic components. They work well but they are cheaper and therefore not professional quality. Then there are L lenses, which are heavier, have metal components, and take high-end photos, particularly for enlargements. They tend to be more (by quite a bit) but depending on what you will use it for it could be worth it to save up!

Lenses are super fun and creative and amazing and constantly changing with technology to be better and better. However, in the end the really fun and creative stuff is on your end!

Happy shopping, and feel free to comment with any questions! ūüôā

PS: Because I am a Canon photographer I will be focusing on Canon lenses because that is what I know best. However, if you have something else just googling it with your camera type will often give you the equivalent!

REMEMBER: most telephotos can be used to get the prime lens ranges; the only difference is that their quality may not be as good. Also, using a prime is fun because it forces you, the photographer, to move your body around! Sometimes this is fun, also good exercise.

LENSES AND MOST COMMON USES

PRIME LENSES:

35 mm (f/1.8 etc) good for portraiture shots and low light situations

50 mm (f/1.8 or f/1.2) have to be a bit further away than 35 mm if taking portraits (can get about 2m from subject) — similar look though

85 mm have to go even further than 50 mm! up to 4m however a bit of a different focal length than the above (get more of surroundings around your subject)

100 mm¬†although this is technically a macro lens it makes for great portraits! If you get one with f/2.8 or around there you’ll get a good background blur.

**NOTE: I’ve never noticed a HUGE difference between these; they are the standard prime lenses for “portraits” but as I’ve said before, they can be used for different purposes. So many people love 85; so many love 50.

TELEPHOTO LENSES:

17-55 mm is thought to be a good focal range for beginners, often the mm used the most in other telephotos! Canon has a good one with f/2.8 and IS.

18-55 mm  this is the one your camera normally comes with! Utilize it!

70-200 mm starting to go into the long end of the zoom but this is useful if you like getting a bit closer shots!) good for event shooting (concerts etc

18-200 mm I use a SIGMA lens for this; I like it for more wide angle landscapes which make for great dramatic shots

24-105 mm¬†my favorite all-purpose telephoto if I don’t need that wide angle!

10-18 mm for wide angle shots¬†only. If you’re a newbie I wouldn’t recommend this, only because it has such a narrow and specific range. Of course, if you LOVE wide angle and it is your PASSION then go for it!

MACRO LENSES: I know this is up for debate a lot, but Tamron makes the best macro lenses, pretty much. I am not sure about specs because I don’t have one myself and don’t do a lot of macro photography; this is worth researching more!

PPS: When you go into a camera store, don’t be shy! Ask them if you can test the lens out. This is important! Sometimes they hover which can be awkward. I hate looking at cameras or lenses. I get all anxious. But if I’m going to spend money, then you bet I’m going to try it out first. Think of it like buying a 2000 dollar coat; you wouldn’t NOT try it on before buying it, right? Have this mentality when you go! Even when just looking. You do not have to commit right away, remember. I usually float into a store 4-5 times before I buy something. No pressure, my friends.

NEXT POST: will be about camera bodies and WHAT IN THE WORLD that tiny writing even means on the labels in the store. I know I’m going a little bit backwards, but that’s okay!¬†Just keeping y’all on your toes.


Adventure: Scarborough Bluffs

Well I recently moved to Toronto to complete my masters degree, and after taking a few weeks to settle in and get used to this new hectic pace I have (hint: I’m still not used to it) I decided I needed a day off! So I transited for 2 hours to the Scarborough Bluffs, which is part of a series of cliffs that run along the edge of Lake Ontario. I went to two parks: Cathedral Bluff Park, which is the high view, and the Bluffers Park Beach, below it (but it took an hour to get to!).

I discovered several things:

a) It’s beautiful!

b) There are still like four parks over there I want to explore

c) Life without a car is weird to get used to again. I ended up walking for about 4 hours altogether! Phew!

I hope you enjoy!

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Portraits: Nathalie

This past week I went out to Delta in BC for a photoshoot with my friend Nathalie, who wanted to take some photos in her old high school graduation dress before she donated it! I love this dress. The way it looks with sun behind it and its material! So good!

It was great to see a¬†familiar farming landscape in an area so close to were I live! Unfortunately I don’t think that it appears much in the photographs, but I just have to say there are treasure spots in this area!

My favorite location from this day was when we just took a random road and ended up at Deltaport, a huge port where trains and trucks line up for kilometers to deposit their cargo that gets shipped out. The tide was low and we explored out on the mud a bit. The best thing about photos is exploring new areas and seeing how they can add to the person in the photographs. All elements are important! I had a bit of trouble with the placement of the sun at 4 PM, but I got to try out my new external flash and it was incredibly helpful. ūüôā

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