My Camera + Editing Tips & Tricks

I was blown away by the response on Instagram when I mentioned I might do a post on what camera equipment I use along with how I edit my photos! I am always happy to share any insight I can, but I will say, I am not an expert. Pretty much everything I’ve learned has been through a ton of practice and trial and error.

First things first: I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and I have two lenses — a 50mm 1.4 and aย 28-135mm. I use my 50mm 80% of the time and I am obsessed with it. I’ve heard the 50mm 1.8 is a great option if you aren’t wanting to spend as much on a lens. ย If I can recommend one lens to invest in, it would hands down be the 50mm. It is small and gives great quality photos, can be used to shoot in low light and gives that beautiful blurred background I love so much. I mostly only use my wider angle lens when I’m shooting interiors or for travel photography.

If you’re just starting out and looking for an entry-level camera, I started with a Canon Rebel and it was a great one to use to learn. My biggest advice if you’re just starting out with a DSLR is learn how to shoot in manual mode from the very beginning. This can seem intimidating at first, but you just need to learn the basics — aperture, shutter and ISO — and you can go from there.

This leads me to my next disclaimer. I think you can approach photography from two sides — art or science. Science means you are super knowledgable and obsessed with getting your settings just right — you believe there is a “right” and “wrong” way to shoot and follow all the “rules”. I am more of the art type. I know what I like, and I shoot that way, whether that be right or wrong. I don’t mess with my settings much and I honestly couldn’t even really explain how my camera works very well. I just know from practicing a lot what I’m doing and I am still in a constant state of learning and discovery. So, basically, take what I say with a grain of salt, because I’m far from an expert! And if you’re a real-deal photographer and you’re reading this — it will probably make you laugh and maybe even roll your eyes, and hey, that’s okay. You do you! But if you like the way my photos look and want to replicate the look and feel, that I can help you with ๐Ÿ™‚

Aperture // I really like the look of a blurred background (shallow depth of field), so I rarely put my aperture at a number higher than f/4.5. Of course if I’m traveling and want an entire landscape in in focus, or taking photos of my home, I’ll use a larger aperture.

ISO // Here’s where my non-professional status shows through — I often keep my ISO on “Auto” — GASP!!! The only time I manually mess with it is if I am taking portraits inside in low light, I make sure it’s on a higher number to help let in a bit more light, but sometimes that means sacrificing the sharpness and accepting a little more grain to the photos.

Shutter // I am not ever really overly concerned with my shutter speed, I use it more as the last component to the “exposure triangle” (Aperture/ISO/Shutter). I mostly shoot stationary objects, but when my subjects are moving (perhaps a squirrelly toddler?) I make sure I use a faster shutter speed (higher number).

EXPOSURE // I tend to like my photos to be super bright and light, so I almost always over-expose them on the meter by one or two clicks.

LIGHTROOM EDITING

When I edit photos on my computer, I use Adobe Lightroom. I use the presets in the Mastin Labs Fuji Pro Pack almost exclusively. Which preset I use from the pack depends on what I was shooting — for my most recent photos at the beach I used the Fuji 160NS – C.

One thing I really love about these presets is once you purchase them you get a few videos in your inbox that show you exactly how to use them to their full potential. It was so helpful for me since I am definitely a beginner level with Lightroom!

I don’t do anything super tricky when editing — first, I choose which present I want to use and then I adjust the exposure, contrast and saturation (usually increasing most of them). A lot of times I’ll stop there, but if the photo still doesn’t look “right” to me, I’ll adjust the Blacks or Whites and Shadows/Highlights. And on the rarest occasion I go into the HSL / Color / B&W section and adjust the red and orange tones to fix skin tone issues if necessary. But that is very rare. That’s honestly it! Easy peasy, right?

Here are some before and afters for you to take a peek at. I’ve also included my camera settings as well as the settings for each of the “afters” to give you an idea of where things landed.

Before:AfterCamera settings: f/8.0 / ISO 3200 / 1/8000 sec

Lightroom Settings: Temp 0 / Tint 0 / Exposure +.40 / Contrast +54 / Highlights -47 / Shadows +30 / Whites -53 / ย Blacks +100 / Clarity 0 / Vibrance -9 / Saturation -5Before:After1

Camera Settings: f/2.8 / ISO 3200 / 1/60 sec

Lightroom Settings: Temp 0 / Tint 0 / Exposure +.60 / Contrast +58 / Highlights -63 / Shadows +33 / Whites -41 / ย Blacks +88 / Clarity 0 / Vibrance -10 / Saturation -5]

Before:After2
Camera Settings: f/2.2 / ISO 3200 / 1/500 sec

Lightroom Settings: Temp 0 / Tint 0 / Exposure +.10 / Contrast +49 / Highlights -63 / Shadows -2 / Whites +12 / ย Blacks +91 / Clarity 0 / Vibrance -10 / Saturation +17]Before:After3Camera Settings: f/1.4 / ISO 3200 / 1/3200 sec

Lightroom Settings: Temp 0 / Tint 0 / Exposure +.40 / Contrast +899 / Highlights -90 / Shadows -+43 / Whites -88 / ย Blacks +82 / Clarity 0 / Vibrance -10 / Saturation -13]

iPHONE EDITING

The same company that made the presets I use also have an iPhone app called Filmborn, so it won’t surprise you that I use that app to edit almost all of my iPhone photos. The interface honestly seems kind of complicated, but much like my Lightroom editing, I keep things pretty simple here too. I usually just choose my photo and apply one of their filters — 99% of the time I use one of these three: Fujifilm 160NS or 400H or Kodak P160. I am obsessed with the look of film, but don’t actually know how to shoot film so their presets and this app give me the ability to get as close as I can to that film look without actually shooting film!

Once I’ve chosen the filter, I usually bump up the exposure, contrast and saturation and them boom! done! See — told you it wasn’t hard ๐Ÿ˜‰

I feel like I could probably go on and on about photography, but this should cover the basics of the equipment I use, the editing software and presets I use and then my typical edits. If you want more specifics on anything or if anything wasn’t clear, please feel free to ask in the comments and I will answer!

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4 thoughts on “My Camera + Editing Tips & Tricks

  1. Thank you so much for writing this post! I found it so helpful. I downloaded the Filmborn app and absolutely love it!!

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