Be warned, this one’s a long one but it’s only because I’m actually so passionate about this and hope that it will be useful for any newer photographers that read this! I come home from work each day and tell myself that I can’t sit in front of a computer screen for another minute. And then I log into Facebook and see a post from a photographer that I follow and then hop onto another post in which they detail helpful tricks that they use and before I know it I have fifty tabs open with photography education & tips. This happens just about every day. The amount of free online education for photographers is such a blessing and I have spent a countless number of hours soaking as much of it as I possibly can in & trying to implement what I’ve learned at just about every shoot, every blog post and client I’ve ever dealt with. Here’s the top three pieces of equipment I’ve invested in & learned about over the past year that I wish I’d known about earlier in my photography career!
1. White Balance Filter:
White balance is the camera’a measure of how “warm” or “cool” the temperature of light is. In other words think of how orangey, red the light gets around sunset versus how at dusk everything looks blueish. Instead of using the camera’s auto white balance (which does a terrible job both indoors & outdoors once the sun is set), you can preset the white balance using a white balance filter. After reading about it from the famous Amy & Jordan, I decided to try out a cheaper version of the ExpoDisc, which can be found here, and started using it at shoots to calibrate the white balance whenever I would change location. This has saved me HOURS & lots of frustration while editing my pictures since it gives me nice & neutral tones to work with despite the original lighting. My only complaint with my filter is that it runs a bit on the warmer side and the size runs a bit larger than the ExpoDisc. There’s a smaller cap version I found after I bought mine that might be useful if you’re looking into getting one!
Probably one of the best $100 you can spend on equipment starting out (besides the 50mm f/1.8 if you’re looking to buy your first portrait lens). I would actually recommend getting one of these after your second or even first lens purchase. It allows you to light darker receptions or events or even portraits with more flattering, directional light than the built in camera flash. The built in camera flash has a tendency to make everyone look like they’ve sweat more than they have and flatten images. What I’m looking for is to preserve the depth of the image while using flash. That being said, I don’t always carry my flash for personal work but I have definitely found that bringing the flash is well worth the extra bit of weight. I almost never point the flash directly at my subjects. The swivel head allows you to bounce the light off of walls to your side which help create beautiful diffused & directional light that really separates your subject from the background. Also there is a diffusing cap that goes on top of it to soften the light so that it isn’t harsh. Here is the one I invested in. Also two key tips that I’ve learned from other blogs (such as MJ & Justin & Mary who are like the industry’s flash experts you could say) are keeping the shutter speed slow (1/15) & under exposure by about 2/3 of a stop. Check out Justin & Mary if you’re interested in learning about using flash!
This software saves me HOURS at a time. I used to edit all of my pictures individually with a software similar to Photoshop called GIMP. It would take me about ten times as long to edit a photo shoot since I would have to individually import photos, run them through a secondary software if I was editing RAW files (as opposed to JPG ones), edit only using the red/blue/green curves and then rename files individually upon export. It took so long & looking back I don’t quite know how I had the patience to go through hundreds of photos like that! This doesn’t even encompass pulling in pictures only to realize there were two people blinking and the next, next photo was the one I actually wanted to edit! Lightroom allows you to import pictures quickly, it renders previews for RAW files, allows you to view multiple pictures on the screen at one time to pick the ones you want to edit, has soo many sliders to edit a photo to precision (as well as a decent clone stamp tool if needed!) and makes resizing/sharpening/exporting a breeze! You can also create presets within it for editing & exporting which saves even MORE time! There’s nothing I love more than being efficient so Lightroom was DEFINITELY worth the investment. I saved some by buying an older version and haven’t had too many issues not having the latest and greatest.
If you’re just starting out and looking in to investing in some places that will save you time & up your photo game, I definitely recommend these three! They’re not all too expensive compared to lenses and have made a big impact on my work within the last year. If you have any questions about any of what I said above feel free to leave a comment or even shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope these were helpful!