In college, I inherited my great aunt's Kodak Retina Automatic III camera. I'd always been fascinated with photography and grew up with a dark room in the basement, set up by my father, the photographer. I messed around with that camera but never really took the time to learn it or photography, aside from knowing what was aesthetically pleasing to me. I still have this camera, by the way. My great aunt, Sister Marion, purchased it in 1962 for $103.95, the equivalent of $800 today.
In the mid-90s, I moved on to a convenient point-and-shoot but still wanted to learn photography. I was gifted a Canon Rebel (film) but, again, didn't take the time to learn how to properly use it. That camera was replaced with a Nikon N65 after it was stolen during a car smash-and-grab in New Jersey. I moved on to the digital world with a Nikon D50 some time before the girls were born.
I started off on Auto just like most everyone else but soon found myself wanting my photos to look different than they were. After reading Understanding Exposure and a "field guide" for my camera, I moved from Auto to Manual and never looked back. The key for me was constantly practicing. I took photos of anything and everything. If there was something I didn't understand, I searched online and read everything I could find. I am completely self-taught.
After mastering how to shoot in manual, I upgraded to a Nikon D7000 mainly due to the limited ISO functions of the D50. I eventually decided to move to full frame and purchased a D750, which is the camera I use today.
Here's a list of my current camera equipment:
Nikon D750 camera
Nikon 14-24mm, f/2.8 lens
Sigma Art 35mm, f/1.4 lens
Sigma Art 50mm, f/1.4 lens
Nikon 85mm, f/1.8 lens
Nikon 105mm, f/2.8 lens
Nikon SB-600 Speedlight
Learning to shoot in manual mode? I have three posts walking you through the process while explaining ISO, aperture, shutter speed and how they all work together.
Shooting in Manual: Part I
Shooting in Manual: Part II
Shooting in Manual: Part III
Looking for general photography tips?
How to improve your photos
Here are photography posts with a specific topic:
Shooting in Full Sun
Portraits and Sharp Tack Focus
Vacationing with your camera
Taking your camera to the beach
Beach Photography Tips
Photographing in the snow + Creating a holiday card photo
How to set up professional looking photos of your kids/family
Christmas Card Photo Shoot (with little ones)
Love photography and heading to Disney, check out these posts:
Disney photos with settings and why I chose those settings
Photographing your (Disney) vacation - A lens discussion
Disney photography Q+A
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