The awesomeness that is the Fuji Instax camera!

Hello Lovelies,

It has been a while since I’ve shared a camera so I thought it would be fun to do another camera-related post! Today I am discussing the adorable Fuji Instax!

cameras

I actually have two of these cool little cameras. About four years ago I received my first for Christmas from my parents. Going through security with all of the film was a ton of fun, let me tell you!

photo album

My second Fuji Instax was purchased for my wedding. I thought it would be fun for Fletch and I both to have one as we got ready to take some fun photos with. To tell you the truth I mostly just wanted the pink one but it ended up coming in handy!  What I like about these cameras is that they produce instant photos, like a Polaroid! The cost is a lot cheaper then buying the newer Polaroid-like film made by the Impossible Project.

instax photosIf you are thinking about getting one of these awesome cameras then I recommend you buy from Amazon. You can find super good deals on the camera itself and on the film. You can also find fun accessories at Michaels. That is where I got that adorable photo album. I also purchased one strictly for the photos we took on our wedding day.

Buy them HERE.

What do you think?!

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Adventures in Astrophotography

Hello Cutie Camera Followers!

Dayton here – Hilary’s dashing camera-friendly brother. Hilary asked that I reach out to the blogging world and write about a recent camera-related passion of mine – astrophotograhy! If you’re like me, taking pictures of mountains, sunsets, and rivers can get a bit drab after awhile – so why not point your camera at the sky and take amazing pictures of the stars, moon, or planets? This entry will provide an introduction to those of you who may be interested in basic astrophotography, but have not yet taken the leap.

Cassiopea 1Cassiopeia Constellation – Canon 50mm lens, 10 second exposure, f/2.0, 800 ISO

Equipment and Basics

First off, some requirements – you’ll need a decent DSLR camera capable of modifying your exposure times, ISO, and white balance (I use a Canon Rebel T4i). A tripod is also a necessity – you can use a cheap portable one, but I recommend a large, sturdy one such as the Dolica Proline. At the basic level, this is all you need to create some pretty amazing shots of the night sky. Lenses with larger apertures are also exceedingly helpful, but even stock lenses are capable of some excellent photos. For the price-conscious individual, I recommend the Canon 50mm (~$100, f/1.8) as a general use lens, or the Rokinon 14mm for wide angle purposes (~$350, f/2.8).

Before you walk outside and start blindly snapping photos, let’s chat about the basic science of astrophotography. When you look up at the night sky in the city, there is usually so much light pollution that you’re only seeing the really bright stars, which are just a small fraction of the stars that are really there. When you move out to more rural areas with much less light pollution, particularly those at higher altitudes, thousands of stars that were previously hidden to you are now fully visible. The magic of a DLSR camera is the ability to take long exposure shots, which bring in a lot more light over time and exposes those dim stars that were previously unnoticeable. As with all long exposure shots, you’ll need to make sure the camera is steady and unmoved, hence the need for a tripod. Another great feature of DSLR cameras is the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the camera sensor to light, otherwise known as ISO. By increasing ISO, you can increase the amount of perceptible light (though this comes at a cost of increased noise). Now that we have level-set, let’s go take some pictures!

First Star Shots

Okay, let’s start off by just taking a nice view of the night sky. When you have a clear night (i.e., no clouds) and perceptible stars, take your camera out and aim it to a portion of the night sky. At this point, avoid the Moon as it’s too bright to take long exposure shots. I personally enjoy shots of constellations, such as Orion, Cassiopeia, and Ursa Major (the “Big Dipper”). Once your camera is pointing in the direction of the constellation on a stable tripod (VERY important), set your camera to manual and select the following settings:

  • Autofocus OFF (located on the lens itself)
  • Flash OFF
  • ISO 400 – 800
  • Shutter speed 8 seconds
  • Shutter delay of 2 seconds
  • If you are in the city with heavy light pollution, select the white balance to “tungston”, which will offset a bit of the light from cars and streetlights.
  • Select an f/stop about one or two settings above the lowest possible on your lens.

With the autofocus OFF, you’ll need to focus the lens manually. If your lens can be set to infinity, then that works great, but if not, you’ll need to learn to focus manually. The method I found most useful is to utilize the LiveView mode of the camera (on Rebel t4i and higher), and then use the digital zoom (x5 or x10) to focus in on a bright star. Then, simply adjust the manual focus on the lens until the star is a small, focused pinprick of light. Now, push the shutter release button and viola! Stars! With any luck, you’ll get a pic like the one below.

Orion 1Orion Constellation – Canon 50mm lens, 8 second exposure, f/2.0, 400 ISO

Improving Star Shots

So, you may be looking at your first photos and thinking, “Shucks – this sure is neat! But how can I make this even cooler?” My recommendation is to play with your camera settings and experiment with lots of different shots. A few things you can try:

  • Lowering your f/stop will increases your aperture, allowing more light into the camera. This is typically a good thing for astrophotography, so I recommending trying to go one stop above the lowest setting possible on your lens.
  • Increasing your ISO will increase the sensitivity to light, which is a great thing when you are not in an area with heavy light pollution (though it will increase the noise). If you’re in the city, I recommend keeping it around 400 or 800, as the photo is usually whitewashed at higher ISO’s.
  • Increasing your exposure times will bring a lot more light into the shot. The only issue with this is that the earth is actually moving in relation to the stars, so any exposure longer than about 15 seconds will begin to show star trails, which is the movement of the stars while the earth moves. If you have a wide angle lens, you can do longer exposure shots. Similarly, telephoto lens will show star trails with very short exposure (1-2 seconds). If you want really long exposure shots, you’ll need to get a motorized mount or telescope which will rotate in accordance with earth’s rotation (note: no good options for this are cheap, but will expand on this in future posts).
  • Get out of the city and avoid all the light pollution. Ideally, try to get to high elevation areas, where precipitation is low. This allows for a clear sky that can reveal some amazing stars and, if you’re lucky, views of the Milky Way galaxy.
Big DipperUrsa Major Constellation – Canon 50mm lens, 10 second exposure, f/2.0, 400 ISO

Okay, that’s all for this first entry. Go out and grab some interesting shots – you’ll be amazed at what you can come up with! In future posts, I’ll expand more on taking shots of the Moon and also some discussion on post-processing techniques that can really make your photos shine.

Hilary here! Here is a big THANK YOU to my older brother, Dayton for sharing his new love; astrophotography. I hope to soon go out with him and take some awesome photos too!

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January Wish List: DSLR Accessories

Hello Lovelies,

Today I am changing up my Wish List! I am focusing on some awesome accessories for you photography lovers! These accessories are pretty neat and are all things I would love to add to my gear set. I currently shoot with a Canon Rebel T4i  DSLR which is why all of the items below are Canon brand. So here goes!

January Wish List

  1. Canon wireless remote control This guy would be great for taking group shots, long exposures, and all of those outfit photos you want but can’t find anyone to take for you!
  2. Siena leather camera bag from Jo Totes This bag is beautiful! I love that it looks like an everyday purse so you can take it whenever you want to bring along your camera. This is an awesome camera bag for my fellow fashionistas.
  3. Canon battery It is always good to keep an extra (fully charged) battery in your bag just in case.
  4. 60mm macro lens This lens would be great for macro photography!
  5. 10-18mm wide angle lens I would love to get a wide angle lens for landscape photos!
  6. Camera strap I love this strap!! It is stylish and practical!
  7. Flexible tripod
  8. 16-35mm wide angle zoom lens This again would be great for nature photography.
  9. Hufa lens cap holder I always struggle with where to stick my lens cap. I wear dresses most frequently so this little cap holder would really come in handy!
  10. Abby camera bag in lilac from Jo Totes Another adorable bag!! This one is a little bigger than the Siena but again very fashionable and perfect for a day around town.

Are you a photography buff? What do you shoot with?!

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Another camera to check off of my vintage camera wish list!!

Hello Lovelies,

As you may know, I am a bit of a camera fiend. My collection has grown over the past few years from a few old cameras that I used as decoration to an entire bookcase filled with cameras and others displayed around our apartment.

I know that I have a lot of cameras but there are still so many that I want!! Maybe I just need a bigger home.. anyways. Today I want to tell you about my newest additions to my collection. You may remember my vintage camera wish list that I created a while back. So far I have got two of the cameras off of the list! Woo!

Argus

I previously did a post about the super awesome Kodak Rainbow Hawkeye Vest camera that was on my list and now I am sharing about my two new Argus cameras!!! My super awesome sister-in-law sent us a package and I started screaming when I opened it. I held the camera bag close to my person and silently “wooed” (yes that is a thing). I had been wanting an Argus for a long time and I got not one but two along with a ton of accessories, cases, AND a camera case. It was an amazing box to open.

I am so thankful to have so many wonderful people in my life that will encourage my collecting habits. Thank you so much Shelly for my amazing gift and I can’t wait to share them with others in the future!

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