Silverleaf Photography: Blog en-us Silverleaf Photography LLC [email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) Mon, 22 Apr 2024 22:34:00 GMT Mon, 22 Apr 2024 22:34:00 GMT Silverleaf Photography: Blog 80 120 Tips: Gear for New Photographers 2024
Are you just starting out in the world of photography? Overwhelmed by the enormous variety of cameras, gears, lenses, and other products to buy to start your photo journey? I got you covered!!

Please note: These are my personal recommendations based on my own experience with 15+ years of being a professional photographer. This is what I feel works for me OR what I wish I knew when I started out! Also, I primarily use Canon so you will primarily see Canon products as my recommendations. For information on other brands, feel free to reach out to me and I'll do my best to answer your questions!

✨ = If you see this, that means it would be my top choice if I was starting out!


The Camera Body

The camera body is only as good as the photographer holding it! Personally, I feel the lenses are more important for the quality of your work. So if you had to put your money somewhere, lenses > camera body. The other thing to consider is Mirrorless vs SLR. I use an SLR camera (I started before mirrorless was really a thing!), but mirrorless is that new hotness and I highly recommend going the mirrorless route! I will specify what is Mirrorless vs SLR with each product.

High end options:

Mid-level option:

Budget options:

The Lenses

I always recommend starting out with at least 2 lenses. The kit lens that can come with some cameras is... okay. But I would recommend buying the body without the kit lens to save money! There are 2 categories of lenses: general purpose zoom and prime lenses.  

General Purpose:

These zoom lenses can be used for all types of photography (especially busy events and landscapes) and they give you more versatility. They tend to be heavier but more convenient in a pinch!




Prime lenses have a fixed focal length and are known to be crisper and create better quality images. I use these 99% for all my portrait work! Since you cannot zoom, I think prime lenses can help you be a better photographer since you have to move your own body to capture the composition you're after.



Other Gear to Consider


Great for low light situations! This is a great flash for starting out that will fit Canon cameras:


Camera Straps


Tripods are useful if you are photographing still life, nighttime scenes, and landscapes. And of course, for taking selfies or group shots that you want to jump in!


I always get lots of questions about camera gear, so I wanted to take the time to sit down and get all the info in one place! I sure hope this article was helpful to you! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out. 

There are affiliate links throughout this post. If you use my links, you pay nothing extra but I will greatly appreciate your support! <3

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) amazon bag bags body budget camera canon DSLR flash gear high-end lens lenses links mirrorless new new to photography photo photographer photography prices recommendation SLR strap straps tripod what gear should I get Mon, 22 Apr 2024 20:24:16 GMT
Engagement Session: Brandon & Rae I had the immense pleasure of photographing Brandon & Rae for their engagement photos! They chose Downtown Poulsbo for their session location since they recently moved out there! And we couldn't have asked for a better setting on a more beautiful day...

Gear from this shoot: Canon 5D Mark IV, 100mm lens, 35mm lens  Edited using: Lightroom & Photoshop

I can hardly handle how sweet and gorgeous and romantic these images came out!

These heart are so fun! What a cute idea!

Gotta show some love for that impressive ring...

After those already super sweet images, we made it even sweeter... with some Ice Cream!

And in the only appropriate Washington style, we ended the shoot with some coffee!

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) coffee cream cute date date ideas engagement ice kiss love loving outdoors photo photography pnw pose poulsbo ring romantic session shoot spring sunset sweet washington Wed, 03 Apr 2024 20:28:16 GMT
Couples Session: Tinnel & Matthew I am now back in Washington!! My husband is in the Navy and we have to move every few years, and we are so lucky to now be BACK in Kitsap County again! I missed all our friends out here, plus the beautiful state as a whole. From camping to photo session locations... this state is one of my favorites I've lived in! And for my first session back....

This past October, I had the MOST fun shooting this fantastic couple with pumpkins on their heads! We threw this all together in my backyard of all places and used lights, a fog machine, and more!!

Gear from this shoot: Canon 5D Mark IV, 100mm lens, 35mm lensFog Machine

Meet Matthew! Emerging from the misty depths of this forest enclave...


Meet Tinnel! These whimsical, witchy vibes though, amirite?


I feel like these next look like something out of a horror movie!


Then to bump up this shoot to a new level... it turned into an engagement pumpkin head shoot!!
Between the time of booking and the shoot date, Matthew proposed to Tinnel. So obviously we had to get some proposal and ring shots...

We did a few fun shots with a light stick of mine as the evening got darker...



Lastly, we ended the night with some romantical scenes. Gazing at each other by the light of a lit lantern, shot through a wreath... swoon!

Would you ever do a couples shoot with pumpkin heads?
After seeing these photos, I hope you'd consider it!! It was an absolute blast and I can't wait to do another one. 

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) autumn bremerton canon couples sessions engagement fall fun halloween kitsap kitsap county kitsap photographer love october photo photography pnw portrait proposal pumpkin heads pumpkins romance shoot spooky washington Mon, 20 Nov 2023 23:33:20 GMT
Event Photography: Military Ceremonies Silverleaf Photography is now offering to shoot military ceremonies!
If you have a promotion or retirement ceremony coming up, I would be honored to shoot your special day. I have experience with both Air Force and Navy ceremonies of all types.
You get quality photos from all parts of your ceremony and group photos after the event if desired. 

Thank you to all military members and families for serving our country! Feel free to contact me to shoot your upcoming ceremony!

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) ceremony kitsap military navy photographer photography washington Wed, 25 Jul 2018 20:17:29 GMT
Family Shoot: Kortney, Lloyd, & Lliam This photo shoot was taken just a few days before the husband and new father deployed! I'm so honored I got to photograph this sweet family!

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D, 100mm lens, 35mm lens  Edited using: Lightroom CC2015 & Photoshop CC2015.
Location: Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) baby babyboy canon dayton family love ohio photo portrait shoot Wed, 12 Oct 2016 16:00:45 GMT
Family Shoot: Chelsea & Fam I have gotten a bit behind on my blog posts. Time to catch up! :)
I had two shoots with Chelsea and her family in the past year (and two more before that)! Let's show you the photos from the last 2 shoots...

Gear from both shoots: Canon 60D, 100mm lens, 35mm lens Edited using: Lightroom CC2015 & Photoshop CC2015.

Fall 2015 - Maternity Shoot

Location: Carriage Hill

Summer 2016 - Family Shoot with New Baby!

This shoot was on Father's Day! 
Location: Cox Arboretum

Congratulations to this beautiful family!
It is always such a pleasure to see you all for each photo shoot and watching your family grow! <3

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) Wed, 13 Jul 2016 19:27:10 GMT
Behind the Scenes: Before and After Photo Editing Every photographer has their own style of editing. Some don't even believe in editing and try to get their photos perfect as possible in camera (that's the dream!) and I don't think there is necessarily a right or wrong way to edit. But here are a few before and afters of mine.

The before shots are straight out of the camera and shot in RAW.
The after images were edited in Lightroom and Photoshop. 

A few notes on how I shoot images:
I tend to shoot in Aperture Priority Mode, usually with a wide aperture, letting the camera set the shutter speed itself. This usually lets me shoot pretty fast. But sometimes requires more editing. Some of my photos are so dark to begin with, and would not have been if I had shot in Manual mode. Though I do prefer a photo being underexposed rather than overexposed as it is usually easier to bring back details in blacks more so than whites.


The above two photos were sort of combined together and then edited to create this photo: 

Happy editing!


[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) after before before and after behind the scenes photo editing photography photoshop Mon, 14 Dec 2015 18:16:25 GMT
Model Shoot: Brielle This was one of the coolest shoots I have ever done! I had the idea in my head for these photos for a long time. I just needed a model to have the "look" I was interested in... and to obtain a bunch of weapons! It's not every day you ask a stranger to bring swords, nunchucks, etc to your garage studio. :)

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D, 100mm lens, 35mm lens24-70mm lens, 580EXII, 430EXII, light modifiers, black background, fog machine 
Edited using: Lightroom 4.1 & Photoshop CS6.

Meet Brielle!

Badass, right?

For the shoot, I used a large black background. Two lights: 580EXII to the right of the model through a softbox and a 430EXII through an umbrella to the left and behind model, but I took the umbrella off for some shots. And a fog machine (yay! never used one before!) - which was to the right of the model and aimed between her and the background. The robe she is wearing is something I picked up at a thrift store years ago and thought it might work. And it did!

I took the following set-up photo before we got it just right so things were slightly adjusted for different shots.


More photos...

Afterwards, we took some other different-style photos for fun. 

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) b&w black and white dayton examples fog home studio model ohio photography portrait set-up strobes strobist studio tattoos tips tutorial walk-through Fri, 02 Oct 2015 19:09:05 GMT
Tips: Smoke Trail Art

These photos look so pretty and are surprisingly easy to achieve! Follow my easy guide to get some smoke trail photos of your own. 

You will need:

  • Black Cloth or Foam Board for the background
  • Tripod for your camera
  • Off-camera flash (I used a Canon 430EX II back then, but I recommend the Godox V-1 these days)
  • A way to trigger your off-camera flash. The pop-up flash on my Canon 60D acts as a master flash and can trigger off-camera Canon speedlites. If your camera does not have this capability, you will need a transmitter/receiver (like the Godox trigger - this one is for Canon) or cables to make your flash go off.
  • Incense plus a holder for it
  • Lighter



  • You want a well-ventilated room that is somewhat dark and not too drafty otherwise any slight change in airflow can disrupt the smoke.
  • Put up your black background.
  • Set your incense up on the holder. At least 1 foot in front of the background.
  • Place the flash off to the side, behind the incense. Try not to let the light fall onto the background. 
  • Place your camera sturdily on your tripod, 2-4 feet away from incense depending on your focal length and how you want to compose your shot. I used a 100mm lens so my tripod is set up farther away, but ANY lens should work.
  • Set the following settings on your camera:
    • Camera Setting - Manual
    • ISO - 100 (or the lowest number your camera can go to). This reduces the graininess of the photo.
    • Shutter Speed - 1/250. You want it fast to capture the movement of the smoke.
    • Aperture - Somewhere between f/8 to f/22. I used f/22 with my 100mm lens which already has a very shallow depth of field. Keep your aperture small (meaning a larger number) to get as much as you can in the depth of field.

Taking the Shot:

  • Focus. I focused on the incense stick to start but adjusted depending on where the smoke was blowing. I suggest manual focus as needed.
  • Light the incense.
  • I like to lightly fan the incense using my hand to create some interesting shapes. You can also place an object like a spoon above the incense stick.
  • Try out some test shots! Adjust as needed. You are aiming to get the background underexposed to a pure black and the brightest part of the smoke should be white.
  • When you're happy with it, shoot away! 


Bonus idea: Create different color smoke by adding a gel to your flash or select "Multiply" on a colored or gradient layer in Adobe Photoshop! The examples at the top of the page where used with a rainbow gradient layer. Example of a colored layer:


[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) black background camera dayton example examples flash indoor photography photography smoke smoke trail tips trail tutorial Wed, 02 Sep 2015 01:04:34 GMT
Anniversary Shoot: Nik & Preet My first indoor couples shoot in Dayton! We chose to use the lovely Dayton Art Institute for the location. It was Nik & Preet's One Year Anniversary. They were such a sweet, adorable, fun couple to work with! Check out the beautiful images from the shoot... 

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D35mm lens, 85mm lens  Edited using: Lightroom 4.1 & Photoshop CS6.

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) anniversary art canon couple dayton indian indoor institute love ohio photographer portrait pose Tue, 07 Apr 2015 19:10:22 GMT
Family Photo Session: Chelsea, Mia, & Will If these guys look familiar, it's probably because I did a shoot for them last year as well! And this year, they are looking as wonderful as ever!! 

We decided to have the session at Wegerzyn Metro Park. It was an absolutely gorgeous day!

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D, 85mm lens, 35mm lens Edited using: Lightroom 4.1 & Photoshop CS6.

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 2014 canon dayton fall family fun gardens gear ohio portrait wegerzyn Tue, 03 Feb 2015 15:24:46 GMT
Maternity Session: Chelsie & Brandon Chelsie & Brandon were told to dress up and that they were going out... the photo shoot was a complete surprise for them! What a great gift from the family. :)

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D, 85mm lens, 35mm lens Edited using: Lightroom 4.1 & Photoshop CS6.

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) baby canon couple dayton love maternity ohio outdoors photo photographer portrait pose poses pregnancy pregnant session shoot summer Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:37:28 GMT
Family Shoot: Huffman Had so much fun with the Huffmans at The Cox Arboretum! Such a cute little family with such a great energy. 

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D, 85mm lens, 35mm lens, Reflector Edited using: Lightroom 4.1 & Photoshop CS6.


[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 35mm 85mm baby canon dayton family flowers fun gardens happy love ohio photography portrait pose poses spring Fri, 21 Nov 2014 20:07:58 GMT
Family Photo Session: Martyn Family The Martyn Family were the winners of my 2013 Annual Photo Shoot Giveaway! We finally got the chance to meet up when I was visiting Washington in April! The shoot was by the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I had a blast photographing this beautiful family! And we even got to see a pod of Orcas during our shoot!

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D, 85mm lens, 35mm lens Edited using: Lightroom 4.1 & Photoshop CS6.

And here's the best shot I got of the Orcas! :)

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) canon daughter family family photo session family photo shoot father free photo shoot giveaway love mother orca orcas outdoor photo session overcast photographer photography pod of orcas portrait pose washington Wed, 06 Aug 2014 15:08:24 GMT
Couples Photo Session: Danielle & Jacob Danielle and Jacob decided to do a photo session for their One-Year Anniversary! Well, Danielle decided.. and it was a surprise for Jacob. He was a great sport about it! :)

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D, 85mm lens, 35mm lens, large white reflector. Edited using: Lightroom 4.1 & Photoshop CS6.

It was a fun day!! Glad I get to see & photograph you both! Hope you guys had a great anniversary!

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) anniversary canon couple couples couples photography dayton photographer happy couple love newlyweds ohio photographer photography photosession portrait portrait photography Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:59:27 GMT
Newborn Session: Laith If you had a look at my last blog post, you will have seen mother-to-be Taleah about to pop!! Well now baby Laith is here and in wonderful health! Alhamdulillah. 

This was my first real newborn shoot. I did attempt to take "professional looking" photos of Laith a couple days before this but he was very fussy. Even on this day, he wouldn't hold still! I see so many newborn photos out there where the baby looks so peaceful. I think "Wow! That photographer must have had an easy time molding that baby into that position." But nope. Every time I went to position Laith's hands or feet, he flailed them for a sec and settled back into the position he preferred. 
But I got some cute pics anyway. =)

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D, 85mm lens, 35mm lens, large white reflector. Edited using: Lightroom 4.1 & Photoshop CS6.



[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) adorable baby baby hats canon cute dayton father feet feet" hands hats heart love mother newborn newborn hats newborn photo shoot newborn poses newborn props newborn session ohio photographer photography pose poses props Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:24:30 GMT
Maternity: Taleah & Michael While visiting my pregnant sister in WA, I had the chance to do a maternity shoot with her and her husband! She had a fabulous dress! We chose a few different locations to get some different looks and even had the sun poke out a few times. :)

Gear from this shoot: Canon 60D, 85mm lens, 35mm lens, large white reflector. Edited using: Lightroom 4.1 & Photoshop CS6.

View my blog post from their Newborn Photo Session!



[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) baby background belly canon damask dreary dress field flowers hands happy heart hijab hijabi love mama maternity mom mother mother-to-be muslim outdoor outside photo photographer photography portrait pose pregnant seattle session shoot sunny tummy washington water Tue, 03 Jun 2014 16:43:19 GMT
Couples Photo Session: Joe & Anna My first photo shoot in the snow! It was around 20 degrees out, but Joe & Anna were real troopers through out the session.
We had a fun time and got a bunch of great pics! Location: Eastwood Park in Dayton, OH.

Thanks for letting me photograph you cuties! :)

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 5 rivers metroparks canon couple couple photo session couple pose couple pose ideas couples dayton dayton photographer eastwood park engagement fun happy love ohio photographer photography portrait pose posing ideas for couples snow winter winter photo session winter photo shoot Mon, 05 May 2014 20:54:13 GMT
Dayton Wedding: Candace & Zach I had the pleasure of getting to know Candace & Zach during their engagement photo session. Such a sweet, happy couple! Shooting their wedding was a blast! I love outdoor weddings! The location was beautiful, the fall decorations really looked great, and the ceremony was very lovely. Congratulations you two! :)

Thank you to my husband Julian for being my assistant and second shooter... we got some great images! 



For this wedding, I used all Canon products.
Cameras: Mark III, 60D, Rebel xTi. Lenses: 10-22mm, 24-75mm, 35mm, 85mm. Flashes: 430EX II on camera (for only a couple of shots), 580EX II on stand, shot through umbrella (for formals after wedding).

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 2013 wedding bride canon dayton dayton wedding photographer fall wedding fall wedding decorations formals gear groom outdoor wedding pavilion photographer photography wedding wedding decorations wedding formals wedding photography wedding photography gear Thu, 01 May 2014 18:38:37 GMT
Business: New Flash Drives from Nadia Martinez Photography is excited to now be offering flashdrives in place of CDs for all photo sessions, weddings, and events! 

I purchased my flashdrives from After a lot of researching, I decided offered the best prices for the quality, not to mention the wide variety of products and the ability to purchase as few or as many as I want at a time. I would also like to note that their customer service is quick to respond and very helpful! I absolutely love the products I received! They look fabulous and the quality is outstanding! Definitely will be ordering from them again.

Here are some pics of my fancy new drives! The vintage black box & flashdrive set is for weddings. The maple square wood drives with the blue paper box are for photo sessions or small events. 


Can't wait to give one of these out in my next session!

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) dayton photographer flash drive flash drive set flashdrive lifestyle photography ohio photographer photoflashdrive photography photography business portrait photography thumb drive thumbdrive vintage wedding photography Wed, 19 Feb 2014 16:22:54 GMT
Family: Chelsea, Mia, & Will It was a beautiful day at the Cox Arboretum for a shoot! This family photo session was tons of fun! Little Mia dressed herself (you may note the rain boots). Here are a few from our session...



[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 2013 85mm butterfly canon child Cox Arboretum Dayton dayton photography dayton portrait photographer family fun kid metropark Ohio ohio photographer outdoor outdoor family photo session outdoor portraits photo session photographer photography photoshoot portrait rain boots rainboots tower Mon, 02 Dec 2013 21:12:28 GMT
Engagement: Candace & Zach I was so excited to shoot this engagement session because #1 it was my first photo shoot since moving to Dayton! And #2 I was looking forward to meeting this awesome couple whose wedding I will be shooting in October!

We had a fun session! Despite the fact that it was a hot, humid summer day in Dayton and we had a lot of walking to do too. But thankfully, there was a breeze! Not to mention all the shade from trees at Eastwood Park, the couple's chosen location for the shoot. River, bridges, trees, fields... it was beautiful! And Candace & Zach looked great wherever I put them. ;)

Congratulations on your engagement, you two! Good luck with your wedding planning and I am looking forward to your big day! 

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 2013 5 85mm canon couple dayton eastwood engagement green happy lake lifestyle love loving metroparks ohio outdoors outfits park photo shoot photographer photography portrait pose poses river rivers session summer Wed, 21 Aug 2013 16:27:09 GMT
Tips: How to Photograph Fireworks
That time of year is upon us again! Instead of a bunch of grainy, blurry instagram shots of fireworks, let's see some beautiful shots of those colorful splashes in the night sky.

Step 1

What You Need

  • An SLR camera. Or a point-and-shoot will do if it has a manual mode option.
  • A tripod. This is a absolutely necessary if you don't want camera shake ruining your photo.
  • Remote release OR use the self timer. Again, this is because of camera shake from touching the camera.

Step 2

Set your ISO low as it can go (usually 100 or 200). 

Step 3

Your aperture should be good around f/8 to f/11.

Step 4

For shutter speed, try 4 seconds. If you have a bulb option and a remote/cable release, you can press the shutter down for the entire burst.


And there you have it! Other things to think about...

  • Your positioning. You want to make sure that you are upwind so that the smoke from the fireworks won't obscure your shot. Also, be sure there are no power lines, trees, street lights, or other objects in your shot (unless you want them!)
  • Your photo doesn't just have to be a colorful burst on black. Try including building, bridges, a river, spectators, etc. in your shot to make it more interesting!
  • Turn off your flash! It's not gonna reach the fireworks anyway.
  • Take a LOT of shots. The more you take, the better chance you have of getting that "perfect" shot.


Have a happy Fourth of July, all! Have fun and stay safe. :)

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[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 4th America ISO July SLR aperture examples firework fireworks fourth guide help how-to independence photograph photography shutter tips tripod Thu, 04 Jul 2013 16:17:07 GMT
Tips: Blurry Background, Sharp Subject 18mm 9  85mm 1.8

More than any other question, people ask me "how do you get the background to be blurry?" Well, it's easy and possible with any DSLR.
This guide is going to be quite simple. I'll try to just tell you how to do it without being too technical.

If you don't want to read this whole thing, just have a look at the bold, black statements below.


Step 1 

DON'T use Auto. Scary, I know. When I first started learning how to use a camera, I felt so lost when I was told to use Manual. I thought my photos were coming out just fine in Auto Mode! I don't know about you, but hands on learning works best for me.

But don't fret. We're not going into full manual for this guide. Just use Aperture Priority: Av or A on the dial. 


Step 2

Choose the smallest number for the aperture/f-stop/f-number. For kit lenses (the lens that comes with the camera when you first buy it), it is usually f4 or f5.6. Other lenses may go as low as f2.8 or even f1.2. The smaller the number, the greater blur effect you will achieve. 

Step 3

Zoom-in. Step back if you need to.
When you zoom-in, the f-number might change. As long as it's on the lowest number, you're good.


Step 4

Increase the distance between your subject and the background. I always see people taking portraits with the person right up next to the background. I mean, there are times when you want that, I guess. But this article is about blurriness. So get your subject to step away from that background and watch the magic happen.

Some photos examples of what we just talked about. My cat Hermione will model for us.

27mm 4

Look what 100% auto mode did here. Not the worst picture I've taken of this poor cat, but she's not very sharp in the image. Auto is always a gamble. We can do better than that.

ISO 160, 27mm, f/4.0, 1/40sec

18mm 9

This is an example of a sharp background. Nobody wants to see my living room & dining room. Not a good portrait, imo.
This was in Av mode with a large f-number and zoomed out.

ISO 1000, 18mm, f/9.0, 1/50sec


55mm 5.6

Blurry background! There we go. 
In Av mode. Using the smallest f-number with a kit lens. Anybody can do this one.

ISO 400, 55mm, f/5.6, 1/60sec


85mm 5.6

THAT is a nice portrait of her. 
Av mode. Same f-number but a longer lens.

ISO 200, 85mm, f/5.6, 1/20sec


85mm 1.8

Super ultra blurry background
Av mode. Long lens plus a tiny f-number.

ISO 250, 85mm, f/1.8, 1/320sec


That's it! I hope you learned something useful and get some amazing shots. If you want some more tips, read on...


Lenses matter. Some are just more awesome than others. If you like taking landscape shots, you'll probably want a wide angle lens. If your thing is taking pics of animals, a telephoto lens is the way to go. For portraits, and it totally depends on your style, you might be looking for a long-ish lens with an aperture you can open wide up (aka a small number for your f-stop).

My favorite lens for portraits these days is the 85mm f/1.8. I used that lens for the last 2 portraits of Hermione above. It's a prime lens. No zoom. Usually a better price than zoom lenses and I really dig the quality. The small f-number is really something.

One of the most affordable lenses to get amazing bokeh/blurriness in the background, is the $110 50mm f/1.8. It's pretty bamf. Also available: 50mm f/1.4 (~$400) and even 50mm f/1.2 (~$1600)!

Now if you want an all-around zoom lens for daily use that features a smaller-than-usual f-number, it'll cost ya. The 24-70mm f/2.8 is around $1600. It's a fantastic beast of a lens.


Camera Settings - How to take a sharp photo

So you may notice that even though you followed the steps above and now you can make the background blurry, your subject sometimes ends up blurry too! Not what you wanted at all. Well, now we shall delve slightly into the technical end of the pool.

I told you to use Av mode. This only controls one of three major settings on your camera. There is also ISO and shutter speed.
To keep it simple, you want the lowest ISO number that won't let your shutter speed drop below 1/60th of a second. 
So... put your camera in Av mode. Set it to its lowest number. Change your ISO to its lowest. Now meter (press the shutter half way down, like you're focusing) on something you want to shoot  and what is your shutter speed at? If it's above 1/60th, you're good to go. If not, raise your ISO until you can get your shutter speed in the correct range.

You may notice I did not follow those guidelines at ALL on my photos of Hermione. But I'm just doing this article for fun and she wasn't cooperating very much, so I said "screw it". Now... if you were charging someone for photos, you better keep an eye on your settings.

Some other things to check to make sure your subject is sharp:

1. Make sure you are focusing correctly. Make sure your lens isn't set to manual focus if you're trying to autofocus.
2. If you're subject is moving, that can cause motion blur. If you can't control your subject, you need to raise your shutter speed. 
3. Your hands may not be steady at 1/60th of a second, try around 1/100th or 1/200th of a second instead.
4. Not enough light? If your ISO is too high, the graininess can effect the quality of your image. A flash or letting in some window light or something else may be necessary. 
5.  Maybe there is not enough contrast on your subject and the autofocus may not be able to pick it up. This can happen on a plain wall or in extreme darkness. Try focusing on an area of contrast such as the edge of an object.
6. Try taking multiple photos while refocusing in between each shot. I usually do this in just about any circumstance anyway.
7. Still having issues? There are a lot of factors that go into creating a good, sharp image. Maybe you didn't check your settings. Maybe your lens is messed up. Play around, experiment, go get your camera/lens checked if needed.


And... that's all I've got to say about that. Go forth and take beautiful photos full of sharp subjects and blurry backgrounds.

Thanks for reading! Some photos with blurry backgrounds for you to consider...

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 50mm 85mm animal aperture aperture priority av mode background blurriness blurry bokeh camera canon cat guide help helpful hints in-depth kitty lens lenses pet photography portrait prime pro professional tips useful Fri, 17 May 2013 16:57:10 GMT
Thank you, Oklahoma! Just wanted to thank everybody in Oklahoma who let me take their photos in the past few years (2009-now)! I learned so much, made new friends, and had tons of fun! In just a few days, I will be moving from Oklahoma to Ohio where I will be for at least the next 4 years. I am planning to continue my business there once I get settled in. So look forward to new photos soon!

Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorites I've taken in Oklahoma. Enjoy!












[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 2009 2010 2011 2012 babies baby bride CAIR canon devon flowers friends fun goodbye happy hijab islam kids masjid maternity memorial model modeling muslim okc oklahoma photography senior smiling thank thanks vintage Sat, 23 Mar 2013 16:51:54 GMT
Model: Hallie

Thanks to, models and photographers alike get to trade skills (model's time for photog's prints/CD) to expand their portfolios. This is especially beneficial to those starting out with model photography... like me!

Hallie is one such model that I got to do a shoot with! We had so much fun exploring different areas around Norman from skate park to amphitheater to abandoned factory. Then we did a shoot indoors at my home studio where we played around with lighting and different looks.

This was also the first shoot with my new assistant Shagoofa! She was a great help and I am SO glad to have had her with me.





For the following indoor shots, I used only one or two speedlites, sometimes with umbrellas, gels, and other fun stuff.




[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 24-70mm 60D abondoned blonde canon factory fashion flash flowers lighting lights model modeling modelmayhem norman oklahoma photography pose poses posing reflector silhouette strobe strobist studio sunset website woman Wed, 23 Jan 2013 17:33:05 GMT
Tips: Flash, Brackets, and Diffusers I have recently received a new toy! A flip flash bracket + softbox. 

Flash brackets are used to reduce the effect of red-eye and create more natural shadows. Normally, I try to bounce my flash off ceilings or walls (if they are white!) but quite often events are held in banquet halls where there is nothing close enough to bounce off of. 

Here is my old on-camera flash setup:

It consists of a small L-shaped flash bracket, cable, and an omni-bounce diffuser on the flash head. The bracket has a nice enough grip, but doesn't provide very much height. The diffuser does very little, in my opinion, but is better than nothing and was only about $3. For photo example of this setup, see #5 below.

Behold my new setup:

Talk about a big upgrade, eh? It includes the ALZO flip flash bracket softbox kit. Aside from the fact that it's so heavy that I'm sure I'll never need to lift weights again, it does pretty good! For photo example, see #6 below.

My darling husband allowed me to use him to compare some of the different ways we can use flash and diffusers.

1.   2. 

3.   4. 

5.   6. 


So here we are. Seven portraits, each with different lighting. And sorry, Julian, that some of these look like mugshots. lol All of these were shot on Auto. No need to be artistic. Just showing you something. No editing except tweaking the exposure on some of these in Lightroom.

Please note that you should try to place your subject much further away from the background if possible. Julian is close just so you can see the differences between lighting techniques. 

1. The pop-up flash that comes with your camera. Flat-looking, a bit of red-eye, and harsh shadows. Not flattering on anybody.

2. My flash unit: 430EX II. On camera without any diffusers. Ever so slightly better quality than #1, but hardly.

3. Same flash unit, but with an omni-bounce diffuser on. It looks... yellow? Hm. Easy enough to fix in Lightroom, but I just want to show you what happened without editing. Aside from that, hardly a change from #2. 

4. Same flash unit, bounced off of the white ceiling. Brighter, which I like. Shadows are not as dark, but still have a harsh outline. Much more natural looking since the light is coming from above. Another benefit of a bounced flash is that it can light up a small room so if it's very dark, your subject won't like so bright with a nearly black background.

5. When there is no ceiling or wall available, I use my flash unit on a flash bracket. Compare to #2. Shadow has moved a bit, which is a bit more natural looking, though still not "there" yet. 

6. Check it out!! My new toy in action. The bracket extends much higher than in #5. Then the softbox creates a much softer shadow. WAY better!

7. Of course... off-camera flash is best. This one was shot with the same flash, but shot through an umbrella on a light stand, camera left. Triggered with my Canon 60D's pop-up flash.

What have we learned here today, kids? If you are using on-camera flash: bounce when you can, bracket when you can't. If you do lots of events, investing in a softbox is not a bad idea. You could even get a small softbox to place directly on the head of the flash rather than on a bracket if you want to ditch the bracket. If you can get your flash off the camera though, DO IT.

Edit: After using the ALZO flip flash bracket softbox kit a few times, gotta say that I feel really silly carrying that huge thing around. The bracket without the softbox needs the ability to tilt as it does with the softbox. The softbox though... is awesome. Great quality. I actually use it on a lightstand instead of an umbrella at times.

[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 430EX 60D alzo bounce bounce flash bracket cable canon ceiling compare diffuser effect event example exposure flash flash bracket flip flash flip flash bracket flip-flash help how-to II info light light stand lighting lightroom omni photo photography photos portrait pose shadow shadows shoot soft box softbox stand tip tutorial umbrella unit Tue, 05 Jun 2012 23:09:13 GMT
Senior: Eloisa First, I would like to start out by saying congratulations to all 2012 Seniors & Grads out there!! You did it! ;)

On Saturday I got the privilege of photographing sweet Eloisa for her Senior Portraits. We chose the Duck Pond by OU campus but it was just so windy (her lovely hair kept blowing in her face!) that we moved it into the nearby Devon building on campus which has a nice balcony on the 5th floor. Here are some of the photos from our shoot:


[email protected] (Silverleaf Photography) 2012 art campus fun girl graduate martinez moore nadia norman okc oklahoma ou photo photographer photography pics portrait pose poses preview senior shoot sunshine Mon, 23 Apr 2012 01:24:50 GMT