Life Thru the Lens 13/52... buying a new camera

I bought a new camera. About a month, or so, ago a reader asked me, "What to look for in buying a new camera?"   

Art Alley, Rapid City, South Dakota

Art Alley, Rapid City, South Dakota

I kind of love/hate that question because I never really know what to say. Investing in a camera is objective, but it really should be subjective as well. I can tell you what specs to look for, but they might not be what you actually need to capture the pictures you are wanting, or the camera you need for your lifestyle. 

Art Alley, Rapid City, South Dakota


1. Consider your lifestyle, and do some research. Are you always on the run, or do you have a more relaxed life? Are you documenting everyday home life, or are you a street photographer? Do you love macro pictures shot in the daytime, or are you a night time star gazer? Sure the lenses you choose to capture all these moments are important, but let's be honest, the camera is important as well. You might want a smaller camera verses a larger camera, so that you can easily fit it into your purse or your backpack. If you are looking at shooting sports you might want an optical viewfinder verses an electronic viewfinder that has a continual refresh rate.  And, some cameras preform better in low light than others. For instance the new Nikon D5, with an expandable ISO range of 3 million (you read that right), is suppose to obliterate any night time photography competitors. 

2. What is your budget? Because while the Nikon D5 is an awesome camera with 153 AF points, and 12 fps, at 20.8 megapixels... okay I'll stop before I have a photography geek meltdown.... it is also $6,496! Yikes! Oh man, that baby would be coming home to momma, if I had the money to splurge on it. Most of us have a splurge value, or we save until we can purchase what we want. Either way, you should have a realistic budget to stay within because you will more than likely need to purchase accessories to go with your camera, unless this is a body only upgrade. 

3. Do you really want, or need, a DSLR camera? Gasp! Did I really just ask that question? You bet I did. DSLR cameras are the epitome of cameras; I have not meet anyone, who is at all interested in photography, who does not salivate at the click of the shutter release, the bulk of the lens, and the girth of the body of a DSLR. However, point-and-shoot cameras have come a long way over the last few years. Take, for instance, the Sony RX 100 III with a zoom lens 20-70mm f1.8-2.8 equivalent, and ISO range of 160-12800, and the ability to shoot in RAW. Now those specs make a great little camera. 

4. Once you have done some research and narrowed down the field, decided your budget, and whether or not you really need a DSLR camera go to the store and hold some cameras. When I purchased my first DSLR camera I really thought I wanted a Canon. I had narrowed down the exact model I wanted and was giddy with excitement to bring it home, until I held it in my hand. It just did not feel right in my hand. And, when I played around with the Canon menu verses the menu of a Nikon I gravitated towards the Nikon. This is where subjectiveness comes into play. Sure we can do all the objective research we want, but in the long run it might come down to... do you like the way the camera feels in your hand and do you like workings of the interface?

"Did you ever have to make up your mind? 

Pick up on and leave the other behind.

It's not often easy, and not often kind

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Did you ever have to finally decide?

To say yes to one and let the other one ride..."

~ Lovin Spoonful, Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind

My new camera is a Fuji Xt1, and I LOVE it. It has met, and exceeded, all the specs I was looking for in a new system.

~ I wanted a compact DSLR system, so that I would no longer be lugging around so much weight when we hike. 

~ I wanted a system that was water and dust resistance, and that would preform in extreme weather. (My current camera does not like the cold)

~ I wanted a mirrorless camera because they produce amazing landscape photos. 

~ I wanted a system that I could invest in without bleeding me dry.


1. Share your life through the lens past, or present.

2. Grab my button and/or link back to this page, so others can find our community.

3.  Visit at least one person and create a community with them through encouraging comments.


~All forms of photography accepted… keep it family friendly please.

~Anyone with any photography skill can participate… we are all learning and growing.

~Any camera you take pictures with is acceptable… the best camera is the one in your hand.

~The link-up will open at 8:00 A.M. Mountain Time. 


{Disclosure: All links in this post are affiliate links. Although I have not used the Nikon D5 or the Sony RX 100 III, I can recommend them based on my Nikon experience and on the recommendation of a close friend who is a Sony enthusiast. After using and owning the Fuji XT1, I can highly recommend it. If you click through on these links I might make a small commission of of your purchase from Amazon Associate Affiliate Program. I will not receive any profit from Nikon, Sony or Fuji.}

Life Thur the Lens 12/52.... This Thing we Do

The Good, The Random, and The Fun....

We started a fun tradition while we were in Europe. I have a slight obsession of taking photos of my people walking away from me. I like to capture whatever it is they are looking at, or are heading towards. My only regret is that we did not start this in time to capture a couple countries... England and Holland









I have to say, this is not the easiest shot to set up. I like the shot to include the view as well, not just our backs. And, of course we always had to find and area where I would not worry about someone snatching my camera once I turn my back on it. But, it was all worth it because these are my favorite shots of Europe. 

We have carried on the tradition since returning to the U.S. because....

"Tradition, tradition! Tradition!
Tradition, tradition! Tradition!"

~ Fiddler on the Roof

I'll be visiting these lovely communities this week... join along... The Good, The Random, The Fun, Trough My Lens MondayImage-in-ing, Our World Tuesday , Song-ography,  Wordless WednesdayWednesday Around the WorldLittle Things Thursday, and Friday Photo Journal.



1. Share your life through the lens past, or present.

2. Grab my button and/or link back to this page, so others can find our community.

3.  Visit at least one person and create a community with them through encouraging comments.


~All forms of photography accepted… keep it family friendly please.

~Anyone with any photography skill can participate… we are all learning and growing.

~Any camera you take pictures with is acceptable… the best camera is the one in your hand.

~The link-up will open at 8:00 A.M. Mountain Time. 

friday randomness... a decade of life and photography

So, today is THE BIG day... I am marching right out of my 30's and into my 40's. And, yes, I have been told I will survive, but still.

I decided it might be fun to celebrate a decade of metamorphosis in my photography journey.


~In 2005, we received the exciting news that we would be starting a grand adventure of living overseas. I'll be honest, although exciting, it was a tough transition and I did happen to ball my head off at a bus stop shortly after arriving in Germany.

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- Kodak DX7590

~ In 2006, the culture shock had merged into delight as we began to explore this new world of ours. I bought my first DSLR, and was so scared of it I refused to use it for about a month.

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- Kodak DX7590

But, then I took this picture, totally on a fluke. The Thinker was exploring and I was entertaining two tired kids by playing paparazzi. When we returned home, and saw the photo, I knew this was my passion. Up until the digital world I had loved photography, but this new ability to snap  a photo and have  the immediate gratification of an image spurred my enthusiasm on.

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- Nikon D50


~ 2007 through 2010, photography became an obsession for me. I began to dabble in editing, I worked on technique, and how to use my camera and l began to look at my entire world with a new perspective. This is when my view of the world turned to landscape mode.

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- Nikon D50/ D7000

~ In 2011, I began to dip into portrait sessions more seriously. I was blessed by people who thought I might have some talent, and they invested in me through their support. We also began our "year of lasts" in Europe. I cannot honestly tell you I wanted to move back to my home country. In reality, I wanted to stay in Europe. After living in Europe during my formative years as a child, I felt out of sink in the US during my middle/high school years. It wasn't until we moved back to Europe, in 2005, that I realized why. Those years in Europe, as a child, molded me into who I am; in returning to Europe I felt like I had returned home.

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- Nikon D7000

~ In 2012, we moved back to the US. Heavy grief, and a world that had shifted into monotonous greens in the summer, and monotonous browns in the winter, left me feeling out of sorts with photography; I felt lost.

I also began to think that my passion was a completely different craft. A dear friend breathed it into me, and I believed it for a bit. I thought I wanted to be a writer, that I was a writer. But, somehow, writing always felt like work, and I couldn't really process that feeling since I enjoyed it.

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- Nikon D7000

~After a year of harsh grief, I decided that 2013 would be the year I would pull up my photography bootstraps and search out the beauty that I knew resided in every landscape. I began diligently documenting my multitudes, and I began snapping away. I also delved into phonography.

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- iPhone 5s

Also in 2013, that dear friend, the one that spoke writing into my life, she treated me to the biggest epiphany of my artistic life. She took me to a blog retreat, full of writers, and creators. However, my time at this retreat left me mixed up and confused. I left there bewildered, and feeling left out, and it took me months to work through those feelings. In processing my emotions I realized... writers are not my people. Sure they are people I am totally inspired by, and I love spending time with them, but they are not my people. You know, the kind of people you can spend hours geeking out with, chatting about your craft. The kind of people that speak "your" language and know your thoughts, because they understand you; they understand your craft. Those people, at the retreat, really, I wasn't theirs either. WHY? Because, I am not a writer. In that light-bulb moment, I was able to realize why writing was work to me, because it is not my passion.

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- iPhone 5s

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- iPhone 5s

~In 2014, I left the cocoon of who I thought I was, and morphed into who I am. I deleted my writing blog; I created a new brand, and a new logo. I began to look for inspiration among my people, and I began making connections across the artistic community of photography. And, you know what..... my world began to re-emerge into a brilliant kaleidoscope of color. Grief began to fade away into the recesses of my heart, and I began to feel like me again.

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- Nikon D7000


~2015... while I am a little trepidations about entering my 40's, I can also say I am giddy with excitement about the future. I am excited to see where this passion of photography takes me. I am thrilled to be building a community of people who can geek out with me for hours chatting about f-stops, and saturation. I'm delighted to sit around the cyber table, and chat with writers and then let there thoughts inspire me to capture beauty in photography; it feels fantastic to be on an all inclusive path, where all forms of creativity can merge into once inspirational world.

For those of you that have been with me through the journey... THANK YOU! For those of you who are just joining in on this crazy trek... WELCOME! And, for those of you on your own journey.... one piece of advice, DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE PROCESS!

Today I am joining Friday FindsThe Good, The Random, The Fun and Little Things Thursday

© 2015 Simply Living Photography- Nikon D7000

{BTW, if you want to go to that fabulous retreat, it is coming up in the spring of 2015. It's called Jumping Tandem. I highly recommend it!! It is a retreat about dreaming, and is full of creatives. I was so immersed in my own thought process that I stuck to the writers in 2013. But, I do not regret that because my time there spurred a 2 year, adventurous  journey, in finding out ,and accepting, my true passion. If it were not for my friend, and Jumping Tandem 2013, I fully believe I would not be on the right path today. I am not going to JT 2015, but sort of wish I was, so that I could introduce the "real" me to all those fabulous writers I met. I'd love to see how their language inspires me in my passion today.}

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a photographer's encouragement... quit comparing yourself to others

improving smartphone photography... an iPhone tutorial

I posted some photos on Instagram, and received a few questions. One year ago, I began my smartphone photography journey. I am amazed when I stroll through some of my earlier photos compared to some of my more recent photos. The improvement is huge, and I do not say that carelessly; I am my own worst critic. I thought I would share with you what I have learned over the last year.

1. I do not use the iPhone camera. The shutter speed is lagging, and I am not a huge fan of the images it produces. Instead, I use an app called Camera+. I have tried out various apps and this one fits what I am looking for, control over light and exposure. By far Camera+ is the best iPhone app, in my opinion.

2. Rarely, and I mean rarely, do you ever see a SOOC {straight out of the camera} shot, even with a smartphone photography. Some editing might be as simply as turning a photo into black and white, and others might be more in-depth with changes in saturation, HDR, and warming up or cooling down a picture. Personally, my go to app for editing is Snapseed. With Snapseed you can manipulate photos in the minor with straightening or cropping –or- in the major with increasing shadows, adding ambiance, or textures.

3. How you take your photo matters.

Hint one: find the object you want to take a picture of, hold down the button and then wait until it is perfectly focused in before you release the button. iPhones take the picture upon release. When you tap the phone button to take a picture it creates shake, which makes your pictures grainy and blurry. Using the hold and release method greatly improves the quality of any phonography.

Hint two: like any camera stability matters. You will often find me in a squatting position with my arms tucked into my legs for stability. A ton of graininess on phone photography is directly related to shake, so find a stable position, that is comfortable to you, and  shoot.

© Simply Living Photography

© Simply Living Photography

Hint three: go to the light. Light is key, and you can create some really stunning smartphone photos with great lighting. I had to fiddle with this a ton, but smartphone photography has taught me how to “read” light better. The more you practice with this the better you will become.

Hint four: When taking pictures of items up close, focus in at a reasonable distance first. With your finger on the shutter button, slowly move your hands towards the object letting the camera focus in with each move. You will know when you have gone too far and your camera can no longer focus. Then simply take it back a step, the camera will focus in, and then release the button.

Too far...

© Simply Living Photography

© Simply Living Photography

Just right...

© Simply Living Photography

© Simply Living Photography

Hint five: if you want your picture super tight, focus in as close as you can achieve manually, and then crop your picture in the editing process to bring the subject in tighter while still keeping it in focus. I use this feature for macros, and sport pictures.

© Simply Living Photography

© Simply Living Photography

Hint six: Play with your in phone camera features. One of my favorite features is the panorama setting. It is not easy to use, and I have to use the iPhone camera for this one, but the pictures I have captured using the feature are worth the effort to figure them out. This panorama is one of my favorites from our trip to the Smokey Mountains.

© Simply Living Photography

© Simply Living Photography

4. Download often!

People, download those pictures!! I couldn't walk away with a happy heart if I did not include this in the process of taking better phone pictures. I know it is nice to have pictures on your phone, but figure out your favorites and download the rest. A phone camera is just like a regular camera, you want to download those pictures and back them up. They are too valuable to leave them hanging around on your phone. The second reason to download regularly, your phone will be much faster. The more images you have stored on your phone the slower it will react.  {I do not back-up my pictures on the cloud because I download them weekly, and then back them up using my procedures all ready in place.}

And, because it is always fun to give gifts, a free texture for you.

Orange Mist by Simply Living Photography

{I did not receive any compensations by singing the praises of any apps in this post}