Save Your Money, Buy a Cheap Camera

Wow, what a tagline! Not clickbait, I promise.

When it comes to photography, there’s a lot of debate about the quality of cameras vs. composition and skill.

Having a ridiculously nice camera does help, but understanding composition (including color, light, movement, and focal points) is the most important aspect of photography, and art in general.

I use two different cameras, the Canon 5D Mark III, and a cheap Canon Rebel. I use the Rebel for most things, (as it’s the camera I actually own) but the Mark III I request to borrow when I know that I need to shoot in low light, or I’m doing headshots and the resolution has to be better.  The Mark III will cost you an arm, and a leg, and probably a few organs as well. So save your money as I prove that skill is worth more than a camera.

Now I am going to show some of my old, and I mean OLD photography. Before I knew anything about the rule of thirds, exposure, color, contrast, etc. All the old images were taken with a cheap Nikon.

Let’s start with a landscape.

Where is the focal point? Is there one? What was I thinking?

This was on auto. I just pressed  button, and posted it on Facebook.


The image below was taken a few days ago. There is a clear focal point, movement, contrast between the subject and the background, and a balance of color. I took this on manual with a 50 prime and focused on the house. I framed with the rule of thirds in mind, and kept my aperture and shutter speed set according to the effect that I wanted.

This next image was taken when I was… 15ish.

The list of things that are wrong! The over-editing. The obvious smoothing of her skin. The yellow light on her skin. The over contrast. The framing has no thought whatsoever. She’s not even wearing shoes!

I did try to set up a “scene”, but… I failed.

So when choosing this image (below), I tried to find one with a similar pose. She is clearly framed according to the rule of thirds, and even the golden ratio would apply. She is in front of the light, giving her this halo behind her and a glowy feel. The white balance is perfect, and there’s no weird shadows on her or her face. This is edited, but you can’t tell.

This is just PAINFUL. The vignette, why the vignette. 

It just looks like nothing. Nothing is happening here.

The perspective is the same as if one was just looking down into a creek. Maybe this would have been interesting if I had gotten on the ground and taken the picture from a worm’s eye view.

Now, I really don’t enjoy taking landscape pictures, but if you are going to take landscapes, the trick is to use perspective to your advantage. This image below is only unique or interesting because it’s taken from a lower level. If I had stood up and snapped a picture, there would be nothing there except a field that you see every day.

In a later post I will address specific issues and how to fix them, but for now that’s as much embarrassing old photos as I can take.



I read this quote today I thought was cool, “Every creative person has that period of years where their work is not as good as they want it to be. They have incredible taste, and in having that taste they know that their work is not great, and that’s normal, everyone has that. Most people quit at this stage, thinking they’ll never make it, but every successful artist I know has pushed through it and just kept going.”

This is especially true for me. So far I’ve never gotten my work to look as good as the quality I have in my head. Or if I do, that feeling lasts for a few weeks, until I see all the mistakes in the piece and realize it stinks. However, this piece I was proud of for quite a while before I grew tired of it.

-Charcoal on paper
-Charcoal on paper

So I took a bunch of progress pics with this one. Click on the photos for details on how I created the drawing and what I used. I finished this in May 2016, and won Best of Show in my school’s yearly art exhibition.


Last month I found out drawing was published in the Summer 2016 edition of Celebrating Art, and won a High Merit award. I’m proud of this piece but it’s time to move on. I know I can do better now.


Once Upon a Time…

I know, I know I haven’t posted in 5 months. Sorry. I have lots of material though so let’s dive in.

Last year I did a post on my love for chalk pastels, that can be found here. This year I was challenged to draw a character from a pop culture film very very big with chalk pastels. The end result is a project I happen to be quite proud of.

I started out with a huge piece of paper. I don’t know the exact dimensions but it filled the table I worked at. I projected a drawing of the figure onto the bigger paper and traced it. Here is the initial drawing.

IMG_2940 (1)

To see more progress pictures you can look at my Instagram. Below is the reference photo and the final result. Obviously my drawing holds nothing to the reference photo,


IMG_2931 (1)



I will take a better quality picture of this soon. The drawing isn’t even finished here, I see so many things that I fixed later! I’ll try to get a new photo ASAP. I’ll write more about the learning experience later but I just want to get this posted for now, more to come!