Photography Progress Report: Ready For The Next Phase!

Remember how I told you all about Beyond Snapshots? Well, I’m halfway through the class, and I am loving the new confidence I have with my camera! I’ve had my Canon T2i on manual for over 2 weeks now, and I finally had an AHA! moment last week about the exposure triangle. NOW, it makes sense. I read and read and looked at charts and tutorials, but it never really *clicked* until I just put my camera in manual and made myself take a lot of pictures.

I had to show off a little for you today. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near perfect. I haven’t even begun to grasp post processing, so these are straight-out-of-camera in the truest form. But, these were all shot on manual! So, for that little victory, I celebrate.

Such a fun moment of impromptu play!

Gotta love the colorful background the baby jail provides.

This girl is all smiles.


This was one of my assignments for the class. The topic was "reflection."

Had fun with some setting summer sun. Kendall’s practicing his batting while watching a baseball game here.

Now that I feel comfortable navigating the settings on my camera, I can’t wait to dive into post processing! We’re just learning about it now in class. I’m trying out a Lightroom free trial, but I’m wondering what programs others use and love. Keep in mind, I have no ambition of becoming a professional, so I don’t think I need Photoshop, but I’m interested in hearing people’s thoughts on Photoshop Elements vs. Lightroom. Do you have either one? Love it, hate it?

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  1. Lightroom for overall editing….pshop for details…picasa for quickness. Love your reflection picture jill! Good job!

  2. I bought PS Elements a few months ago on Amazon. It was on sale and had a rebate which made it pretty affordable. I am just getting into photography with my DSLR and haven’t taken full advantage of all the bells and whistles in Elements yet. I have been impressed when I apply “Actions” to my photos in Photoshop. That’s about all I know how to do at this point, but it does make a big difference in post-processing. A lot of photography sites I found through ClickinMoms offers these actions for free.

      • Most of the ones that I found work with both, you just have to make sure you download the one for Elements (if that’s what you go with).

    • Uh, this is literally the EXACT COMMENT I was going to leave, right down to the rebate and sale on Amazon. I love the free actions – The Pioneer Woman has some great ones that were converted to work with Elements!

  3. Love those, Jill! You’re great! I don’t shoot on Manual. Because I’m a wuss.

    Okay, so Lightroom and PSE are completely different, and if I had to pick one for the shooting you do it’d be Lightroom, hands down. Shoot in raw and you’ll get some ridiculously amazing pictures out of Lightroom. Plus, with presets, you can do some awesome stuff really fast.

    PSE is great and cheap, and yes, you can get actions for it (The Pioneer Woman has some great ones), but you just don’t have the flexiblity for photos in Photoshop that you do in Lightroom. Photoshop is more for creating – I use it a lot for digital scrapbooking and graphic design.

    If you can afford it, go Lightroom. No doubt.

    • See, that’s another reason I’m torn. I’d sort of love to be able to create graphics for the blog and other projects, too. I’ve been using Power Point for that, and there has to be a better way.

  4. I’ve found that a paid account with meets all my photo editing wants and needs in a super easy UI. My biggest beef is having to upload and download, though. I do wish they’d make a standalone version available.

  5. That smile in the very top picture is just priceless. I get that smile too when I see shoes on sale. For me, it’s an illness. On the baby, it’s just sheer bliss.

    I’ve been working up the nerve to take pictures that don’t involve my iPhone. And by working up the nerve, I just mean I think about it when I’m sitting in front of the tv or microwaving our dinner. So, I haven’t even grown the balls to actually take a class, but this has inspired me. Thanks, yo.

  6. You go, Jill! Your photos are definitely getting better. I really wish I could have signed up for this class. But I just bought a new $400 lens (yikes!) so I’m at my limit.

    Although I did see a local photographer class for half off on groupon. It was $50 for one night of learning DSLR functions. I’m looking forward to it.

    I really love that close up photo of Leyna. I like how you can see the sparkle in her eyes! Great shot!

    Also? I am thinking of getting elements so I’m gonna come back and read what everyone has to say!

  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Lightroom. I’m too cheap to buy the full version of Photoshop and Elements is still hard for me to use. I really like what I can get out of Lightroom.

  8. LOL, gorillas probably take better picturs than I do so I won’t comment on the tech aspects of things. I will say though that I really enjoy your pictures Jill & visit here
    often just to see your newest shots.

    Btw, that chubby baby, gah! the cuteness, it never stops with her 🙂

  9. Photoshop CS4 and CS5 are really great! If you are considering going the photoshop route – Photoshop isn’t as user friendly UNLESS you learn how to create actions or just buy them off of websites – and there are some free ones out there .. have you checked out pioneer woman’s blog? She has free photoshop actions – these are nice to even learn how to make your own actions after using the many she has created … for FREE… FREE is the best word ever 🙂 Goodluck on your photography adventure! 🙂

  10. Hi Jill,
    The pics of the kids are so great! Love all the colour and of course the priceless expressions 🙂 I use photoshop elements (I have the latest – 9) and I do like it and find it pretty easy to use SINCE watching a two day seminar for beginners on how to start using it. I haven’t given lightroom a whirl but wondered about it. Maybe I’ll download the trial. Elements 9 does come with “camera raw” so you can convert your raw files with it. Shooting raw is totally new to me so I don’t really know the pros or cons of either for that. I have to say though that elements is just so darn affordable even if you started with that and moved on to lightroom after a while it’s not a big loss. I think after rebate I paid $99.00 for elements and as a beginner it has suited my needs.

    I love your blog. I’ve been reading it since we’ve been in class together!

    Thanks to other posters for reminding me about Pioneer Woman’s free actions! I remember when she came out with the elements versions and I was SO bummed because I had elements 4 at the time and I think they were compatible with v. 5 and up.

    • Hey Sandy! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Yeah, after pricing out LR, I think I’m going to have to start with PSE. It sounds like I can still use it for other functions, like creating graphics for the web and print, even if I move up to LR at some point. Hopefully it will be a wise investment. Thanks for the advice!

  11. I feel pretty confident you’ll find it useful. Again, I have no experience with lightroom so I can’t compare but just from a $ stand point I felt like elements was good bang for the buck.

    If you feel like you really want to get the nitty gritty on elements9 (I am SO not a manual reader) you should check out the 2 day course on taught by Lesa Snider. It can be purchased for 79.00 and worth every single penny of it.

    I purchased it after catching bits and pieces of it live as it aired and it was just the best thing ever. I learned stuff I never, ever would have picked up on my own. Just awesome.

    Check out creativeLive in general. So much amazing photography information, free, live… I’m so happy I stumbled upon it.

  12. Photoshop elements! Not expensive and endlessly useful. I love the quick edit feature, crop, adjust colors, DONE with the option to go to full edit erase zits, whiten teeth, apply filters to make the image more interesting. Huge time suck but worth it now that you’re a photog : )

  13. Not sure what you are looking for as far as editing, but there’s a program called Paint.NET that has the basic functions of photoshop & its FREE. I typically use it to crop/resize easily, but I can also create basic graphics, things I’d use as borders, etc. Kind of a blend btw Paint and Photoshop.

    Worst case scenario, you download it, find it’s not what you are looking for & have to uninstall the program.

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