Agnes Caruso Photography

Photography


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Let’s get started – the basic gear you want to have for your photography needs. Picking a camera.

I have been asked a few times as to what kind of camera and gear to buy for young budding photographers. If the person is serious about learning photography, a phone or a super compact camera is not going to be the best option. On the other hand, choosing the most expensive camera is also not helpful. You can compare this to giving a 16 year old a Ferrari as their first car. While there is nothing wrong with it if you have plenty money, it is probably much more sensible to have them perfect their skills on something more economical.

What features should you be looking for in a first camera?

  1. A viewfinder is a great option, as trying to stare at the LCD display to take pictures can be really difficult in bright sunlight.
  2. Camera that offers manual mode adjustment. Shooting automatic is not something that will teach a user how to adjust ISO, speed and aperture to get light just right.
  3. Good optical zoom for a point and shoot camera. Do you need 50x zoom or will 10x zoom be enough? For a first camera 10x zoom will be just fine. It also depends what kind of subjects is the person likely to be photographing.
  4. If choosing an SLR camera, picking a lens can be a challenge and I will post a separate blog on that.
  5. Ability to attach a tripod is important
  6. Ability to attach a speedlight. While a lot of compact cameras come with a built-in flash, being able to add a high power flash allows you to expand the capabilities of the camera
  7. A nice feature to have is being able to shoot in RAW format, which will allow to save maximum image information. Jpegs are OK for starting out, but they are compressed files and some information is lost.

The next question is should it be a digital or film camera, point and shoot or SLR, how many megapixels are needed for a good digital camera? Which brand should I buy?

Film or digital is a personal preference. Being able to develop film could be the limiting factor here. I shot both, and actually started with film and have no strong preference for either, both have their merits. Point and shoot vs SLR? Again that really is not a critical point for a young starting photographer, a point and shoot could be an advantage as exchanging lenses while not hard may not be the thing for every youngster.

Next, famous megapixels, what is more important is the size of the sensor not just the number of megapixels. A small sensor capturing a lot of megapixels like your phone camera will not deliver the same quality of image as a camera with a larger sensor and same number of megapixels. Most of the 18MP cameras will be perfectly fine to start with. There is definitely no need to buy a 50MP camera for a starting up photographer.

As to the brand, that is a very personal opinion, there are people using only one brand of camera or using multiple ones. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, Leica, Panasonic, Pentax are among some of the most popular brands. The best is to visit a good camera store, such as NYC-based B&H or Adorama, or VA-based Ace Photo, and check out a few different brands.

Here are some images from a point and shoot Canon PowerShot A430, Canon Powershot SX100IS, Canon Rebel EOS3Ti and Canon 5D mark III. Quality of the image is only an issue when you printing large images. The aim of the first camera is to develop the eye and learn how to harness the light. And to do this effectively, you do not need a top of the line camera.

Canon PowerShot A430

Canon Powershot SX100 IS

Canon EOS Rebel 3Ti

       

       

Canon 5D Mark III

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My best images of 2015

I decided to look back at 2015 and try to pick a few favorite images. While doing that I realized that I am not sure which images should I be showing, those I find the most amazing or those which gathered the most response on various social media? So I decided to include a selection in a few categories. All of the images can be found on my Flickr site as I used BigHugeLabs to create the mosaics you see here. Their mosaic tool is easy to use and great fun.

Flickr Favorites of images taken in 2015:

The images were chosen based on number of views and number of favorites.

Flickr Explore, images posted in 2015:

This is a funny category, as the images are chosen by a computer algorithm, however, as you can see some are consistent with some of the other categories.

FineArtAmerica Favorites:

My Favorites:

This is the category, where picking the images is really hard to do. You tend to love all of your pictures or most of them. How to pick just a few? It was not easy.

There is a story behind everyone of those images you see here. Fog in Savannah was just a few minutes when it looked amazing. The three night images all taken with the same camera but only two of them on a tripod and I had a lot of time when shooting just one of them in St. Louis. Portraits shown here are all posed except the last. The little princess shot was just one of the candid moments.

This year, I traveled to some of the most amazing places last year and picking just 4 pictures was hard but decided on the four you see. Why? A sunrise hike to Delicate Arch and being lucky for some 2 minutes was priceless, Sunset at the Windows in Arches was a game of patience till the sun goes low and comes out from behind the clouds so the colors change. This is one of the images while the sun was still high and I took this image lying on the ground. My beautiful panoramic shot would not appear nicely in the mosaic so it is not shown here, but you can see it on my website or Flickr.  Bryce Canyon – a great place to visit, but poor weather can make your plans of taking pictures go out the window. Here is a moment of sunshine caught on the rocks just before it started drizzling.

I am fascinated by bees and this little one was, I think, the best capture this year. They are fast and unpredictable, but really beautiful. Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, MD, was my first. I like shooting action and this was yes, you can guess my first fast action set of pictures at the jousting arena. Then we come to the end of the year, autumn or fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year with colors and light being quite stunning. I picked the picture which showcases the gold color of the fall. Why? I like it but also I set out on a day trip to take some images of fall,, however, the weather decided that rain is the most appropriate thing in the fall. Therefore, when sun was poking through the golden leaves I was quick to take some pictures.

All this brings us to the end of the year and Christmas. The beautiful cards that we used to get at Christmas time long time ago always made me want to create an image as beautiful as they were. Not sure if I succeeded by your standards but I love this golden ball in the tree.

What is coming in the New Year? We will see. My camera is ready and already working hard this year. I hope to see more of you visiting my blog and connecting with me on Instagram, Flickr and Twitter this year. Have a great New Year!


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Night images of the cities

Night photography is particularly exciting, it produces unforgettable images. However, it is also very challenging type of photography. It requires patience and some additional equipment. At a minimum you will need a tripod, while heave sturdy one is always the best, you can use even a small gorillapod.  One plus of a small tripod is that it allows you to take pictures from a low angle, giving you a very different point of view. One additional feature on a camera, that is very useful is a swivel back screen. Together with live view shooting it is a great tool to properly frame the shot.

Both of those shots are low angles shots. The first one – Koeln Cathedral, with wide angle lens Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens. The second, St.Louis, with the Canon EF15-85mm f/3.5-5.6IS USM. I use this lens not just during the night shooting, but also during the day. This is the lens used in all the pictures shown below.

Having a regular tripod made shooting of the following three images really easy. Keep it steady and expose for as long as you need or want, in order to produce effects you would like to create. Not having a tripod when I was shooting the moving carousel was a big challenge but still produced just the image I wanted.

Another way to shoot is to take picture from above. Here are two examples of those. While neither was taken from a great height, they both look down onto the city. Car lights leave light trails in the picture of Koeln Opera House below. A movement of a carousel also produces light trails in the image above.

Night images are always an adventure, you never quite know how it will look in the final picture. If you come a cross the evening or night fog the light dispersal can also be quite unique producing interesting results. Car lights or reflections are always interesting as well. So feel adventurous and explore night photography.