Canon Rebel Camera Settings

September 30, 2009

TonjaThe Canon Rebel series has a variety of camera settings. The basic zone, which has full auto mode and 6 scene modes, is a great section of the camera controls everything needed for the picture. The creative zone offers 5 different settings in which the photographer controls the parameters of the camera. This article will discuss the 6 scene modes, Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports, Night Scene and Flash Off that are in the basic zone.

Portrait mode

Portrait mode is useful when you want the subject to stand out from the background. The background will be blurred to help make for a better image of the subject. It is necessary to have the subject centered in the frame. The further the distance the subject is from the background the more blurred the background becomes. This mode softens the appearance of the human subject as noticed on the hair and flesh tones versus when taken in the full auto mode.

Landscape mode

Ideal for taking pictures of wide scenery or night scenes this mode keeps everything in the view finder in focus. The blues and greens are sharper in this mode then in the full auto mode. The built in flash is disabled in this mode.

Close-Up mode

A close-Up mode allows the photographer to take pictures of the image close up. Depending on your camera and your camera lens, you will be able to focus on the image a few inches away to a few feet away. This does not enlarge the image so if you are looking to enlarge the image a macro lens will be needed. Most cameras built in flashes become disabled in this mode since you are so close to the subject that it could create dark spots on the picture.

Sports mode

To catch the fast action of sports or kids playing this mode uses the fastest shutter speed to freeze the images. It is also important in this mode to have your subject in the center of the frame, so it will be in focus. The built in flash is also disabled in sports mode, but the continuous shooting mode can be used.

Night Scene

Night Scene mode is useful when taking pictures of your subject in ample light while the background is lit enough to provide its detail. This mode can be used indoors, for example, during the birthday cake lighting at a celebration. The built in flash will flash if needed in this condition.

Flash Off

Flash Off or sometimes called disabling flash is often used when you are not allowed to use a flash. A museum is a prime example where a flash might be prohibited. The Flash Off mode can also be used when you want candlelight effect in your pictures. Camera shakes tend to be a problem in low light situations so make sure to prepare for this.

All of these settings can be useful in taking your photographs to the next level.

Camera Lenses for Canon Rebel XSi

September 29, 2009

TonjaThe Canon Rebel XSi camera is compatible with all lenses in the Canon line. Canon has over 60 EF and EF-S lenses that you can use with the XSi. This provides a variety of potential opportunities to expand your picture taking ability. A few lenses for your consideration are Image Stabilizer lenses in EF 18-200mm, EF-S 17-85mm and EF-S 18-55mm. The image stabilizing feature helps compensate for movement of the camera which will result in blurry pictures. The Rebel series does not have Image Stabilizing in the body of the camera so having it in the lens is a helpful feature.

EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
The EF-S 18-55mm can be purchased in the Canon Rebel XSi kit, or it is sold separately. When purchased with the kit the 3x optical zoom lens is a win win situation. You receive a basic lens that is a perfect starter lens without the cost that is associated with lenses. The EF-S 18-55mm range is very commonly used. The lens is a delightful basic lens that can be used to shoot portraits and landscapes. This is a relatively inexpensive lens costing around $100.00.

EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM Standard zoom
Weighing in at less than one pound, this lens is another great general purpose lens with an optical zoom range of 5x. The wide angle of this lens allows for the photographer to be close to the subject but still able to obtain the whole subject. The 17-85mm is an excellent choice when upgrading from the 18-55mm lens. The USM in the name stands for Ultrasonic Motor that allows the lens to auto focus quicker than a standard lens. The lens is for general photography and travel. This lens retails starting at over $400.00.
EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

This lens is has the flexibility to allow you to be taking pictures of the landscape. Then zoom in on something else that has caught your eye without changing lens. The lens has a 11.1x super zoom range making it enjoyable to take pictures when you need to be at a distance, like a sporting event. The 18-200mm is not equipped with an USM. Canon uses Image Stabilization on the lenses to compensate for the lack there of in the body of the camera. Image Stabilization (IS) can be turned on by a flip of a switch to counter act the camera shakes that are noticeable with longer focuses. This lens retails for over $500.00.
The three lenses discussed in this article are among some of the most commonly used of the Canon 60 lenses. The lenses all have their advantages, and help you to make the most of your camera.

Personalized Picture Gifts That Won’t Break the Budget

September 29, 2009

The baby and toddler years are a wonderful time for any family. The joy of welcoming new individuals into our lives and nurturing them as they grow is unmatched by anything in human experience. But it can also be a time of stress, anxiety and tight budgets, with the added expenses and often one parent stopping work for a while. With Christmas on the horizon, we look for ways of sharing the joy of our kids with our family, but often can’t afford to spend too much on each gift. The great news is that there are plenty of affordable personalized picture gifts that won’t break the budget. You’ll be able to share your favorite photos of your kids with each member of your family even if you can’t afford to do them a canvas print each.

Meaningful gifts at under $10 seem too good to be true, but with a little planning, research and foresight you can do it. First of all assemble a collection of your best photos of your kids from the year. Spend a while looking through your picture files and choose several different images per child. Pick different expressions, serious and thoughtful, as well as happy and smiling. Get some action shots, some funny ones too. Look at how the photos will crop; it’s good to have a selection that will work well cropped into squares as well as your standard photo format.

Once you’ve sorted out the photos you want to work with, it’s time to pick a personalized photo product to work with. One of the best affordable photo gifts I’ve found is the collage photo magnet from Photoworks. It’s a 4”x8” flex magnet with space for several photos as well as text. The photos use a square format and you can include at least six different images and several lines of text. Make one with pictures of each of your kids and you have a simple and lasting gift for each member of your family. The great thing about this one is that it is light to post as well, so is perfect for family who live far away that want to keep in touch with you and your family. To make each gift feel special, don’t just make the same collage for each person. Move the pictures around, use different images, write a special message for each person.

Another cheap and fun option is creating photo stickers. Kids love stickers and making them a sheet of stickers with loads of family photos is bound to be a hit. Include 15 different photos or have the same one repeated. You can also use these stickers to personalize your gift wrapping in an inexpensive way; with various themes for the borders and a cute picture of your baby peeking out, your gifts will look extra special decorated with your best photos.

At Christmas is always good to remember that it is not about how much a gift costs, but about how much thought you have put into it. Creating your own gifts with wonderful photos of your kids is a great way of sharing your love, even when you are on a tight budget.

Mum and Photographer

Mum and Photographer

In Any Country Putting Photos On Canvas Is The Perfect Gift.

September 28, 2009

Some of our good friends from when my husband and I worked at camp are getting married in Canada this winter. The wedding is actually on Christmas Eve, but thankfully they are having a second reception in New York for all of their state side friends who don’t want to leave their families on the holiday to fly into Montreal. Even so I feel a little bad about missing the ceremony so I’m putting some photos on canvas so at least our gift will be there for the nuptials.

After raiding the camp photo albums I came across a great picture of the two of them cuddling by the lake. The website I usually use charges extra to ship outside the United States, and shipping it to me first seemed silly so I scouted around for a Canadian counterpart.

I found a delightful little one that started a few years ago as a mom and pop store and has expanded on the internet to serve all of Canada. They offer all the services I expected including great brush strokes that made the photo I sent really pop off of the canvas with the depth of an oil painting. They even made the gallery wrapped edge match the hint of sunrise that was in the background of the picture.

I recently read that personalized canvases are rapidly becoming the top choice of people looking for the perfect gift. I can see why, its like taking a memory, making it the best it can possibly be and gift wrapping it. If you happen to be in possession of a photo or image that you want to share with someone you care for, canvas is the way to go. It’s simple, elegant, and easy to display.

With the holidays on their way and everyone I know eager to get a picture of my handsome little boy, my shopping is ninety percent done. I should ask if I can get a discount on large multiple orders. In fact, I plan to get my artificial tree set up right after Thanksgiving so I can prop out some really cute photos for Christmas.

No matter what holiday or event you are celebrating, when family and friends are getting together it is not only the best time to share memories, it is inevitable. Bring some photos with you, it doesn’t matter if it’s a gift or a brag book, words will never do justice to a great picture, not even a thousand of them. Plan ahead, or just grab some off of the fridge, and use your photographed memories to inspire some fresh ones during your special holidays.

Mother and Photographer

Mother and Photographer

Christy Higby

Will You Enjoy The Things Children Do?

September 26, 2009

Last week I wrote about a little boy called Troy that I cared for nearly ten years who is now a young man almost grown. My husband and I hope that our time with him will always be a positive influence on his life and give him strength and direction as he moves through his life and faces the challenges that come to all of us.

Little Troy Playing in the Laundry Basket

Little Troy Playing in the Laundry Basket

When Troy was with us, I kept my camera always ready, and tried to photograph many of the neat things that he did. Some of these pictures will provide him with a window into his world that he never would have otherwise known about. After all that’s what makes us truly unique and human are those many special moments. They all add up to the window to our heart and soul. Troy certainly has one kind and giant heart!

Some of the really unique things that Troy did happened when we took him to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I remember that he carried a little change purse with some change in it for a souvenir. Troy went to a booth with souvenir hats for sale and chose a “Goofey” hat that he wanted to purchase.

Troy with Sock in Mouth

Troy with Sock in Mouth

There was a crowd of people around the booth, and little five year old Troy was somewhere in the middle of all these people reaching into his little change purse to pay for this hat that costs about $15.00. Then I saw his little hand hold up the change as he said “Here, I’ll pay for it!” I remember that I almost had tears in my eyes as he innocently did this. Of course, his Uncle John made up the shortfall.

Toward the end of his trip with us Troy had a special breakfast scheduled with Mickey & Minnie Mouse. He had been really looking forward to this breakfast and spending time with Mickey & Minnie. Our table was on a circular platform that was about two steps higher than where Mickey and Minnie were mingling with the other children. As soon as Troy spotted them, he waved his arms frantically and shouted “Mickey, Minnie, I’m over here!!!”

After Mickey and Minnie finally made their way to our table, and Troy got to give both of them lots of hugs, we asked Troy “Now that we are leaving Disney World soon, what do you think of your trip?” Troy’s answer was: “I think my friends will miss me!!”

Goofy and Troy Compare Ears

Goofy and Troy Compare Ears

It may be a lot of trouble to pack up and take a nice camera with all the necessary accessories on an airplane today. All the additional rules have sure changed our lives and even become burdensome. However, don’t let those inconveniences keep you from recording those special moments with your children. Remember that it’s not about what you will see at the parks, but it IS about the relationships that you will build.

Photograph them to remember and to share!

Best Friends

Best Friends

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer


Make A Meaningful Collage By Putting Those Special Photos on Canvas

September 24, 2009

When you’re celebrating a special occasion and want to give a really meaningful gift it’s great to know that you can turn to your photo files for inspiration. There is no more personal gift than one made using special photos of people dear to you. When you can’t decide on just one photo to print, a brilliant solution is to create a photo collage by putting a whole collection of special photos on to canvas.

When you have more than one child it can be hard to get a great photo of them all looking at their best at the same time. There is always one who blinks or pulls a face or looks around, just at the moment you press the shutter release. With the collage option you can select a series of individual portraits of each of them and have them all printed onto a canvas together. You can include picture of yourselves too and even the family pet, so that you have your whole family captured in one canvas print as a wonderful Christmas gift for the grandparents.

Another fun way to use a collage canvas print is to select a series of photos of your child showing them grow from baby to toddler to school age. It makes a wonderful record and another great way of displaying your favorite photos of them.

When you have a special family get-together for a golden or silver wedding anniversary a wonderful project would be to take portraits of all the family members present, from oldest to youngest and have them printed on to canvas as a collage, to present to the special couple celebrating their anniversary. If there are family members who can’t be there, you can ask them to send a photo of themselves, so they can be included in the collage too. There is something very life affirming at having a photographic reminder of one’s whole family collected together.

Canvas on Demand have four different collage options to choose from. You can include up to 30 photos and choose the style you prefer for backgrounds and borders, and even add some text to your collage. The only difficulty you’ll have is selecting the pictures to include, especially when it comes to picture of your kids. When there are so many gorgeous smiles and cute faces to choose from, it’s hard limiting yourself to just a few. But the lovely thing is that your canvas collage will last for many years, bringing pleasure to the whole family, a lasting reminder of your children’s growing years.

Child Photographer

Child Photographer

Buy the Canon XTi Camera

September 23, 2009

TonjaShould you buy the Canon XTi camera? The Canon XTi is a 10.1 megapixel EOS digital SLR camera. Canon has built upon the solid foundation of the Rebel XT. This entry-level SLR has features from the XT and high-end cameras.


The XTI and XT look essentially the same from some angles. The XTI does have at larger LCD screen. The XTI’s screen is 2.5 inches as opposed to the 1.8 inches of the XT. Canon has increased to a 9 point autofocus from the XT’s 7 point autofocus. The XT uses a smaller independent LCD screen to display shooting information. The XTi displays the information on the large 2.5 inch LCD screen. One noticeable difference is from the 8.0 Megapixels of the XT to the 10.1 megapixels of the XTi. EOS Integrated Cleaning System New to the Canon XTi is the EOS integrated cleaning system with a self-cleaning sensor. The cleaning system uses an ultrasonic vibration to shake the dust of the sensor. If the dust is in not shaken off, then you can take a picture of a white wall. The camera then picks up the dust imprint and stores the information. When you transfer you picture from your camera to the computer to edit you can then the included software to delete the dust.

Picture Style

The Canon offers 6 preset Picture Styles and three additional styles you can customize to the way you take your pictures. The six preset styles are Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, and Monchrome. You can also set these to your liking or keep them at the factory default. You can adjust the color saturation and sharpness of the picture.


The Rebel XTi comes with software to bridge your computer and camera. You receive a program for Mac called ImageBrowser and the Zoombrowser for the PC. This software allows for you to view and edit your pictures on the computer. The EOS Utility Program is designed to download pictures from you camera through the USB cable. The application can also remotely control your camera from the computer when it is still plug in with USB cable. Make all your settings on the computer screen to take the picture you would like. The picture is saved directly to your computer instead of the compact flash. The final software included is the Digital Photo Professional in which you can edit RAW pictures. RAW pictures are the images that are not processed by the camera’s sensor. This is also where you can access the dust cleaner part of the editing. Just press a button to remove the dust from the picture.

The Canon Rebel has excellent features that will not overwhelm the beginner or amateur photographer. The SLR camera is relatively lightweight that weighs about one and half pounds with the lens that is offered in the camera kit.

Camera Flashes For The Canon Rebel

September 22, 2009

TonjaThe Canon Rebel series has a variety of flashes available for the consumer. Canon has four flashes currently offered in the Speedlite series. Each flash has its own characteristics that set them apart. The flashes start from about $160 up to a $500 suggested retail price. The Speedlites series offers the 580EXII, 430EXII, 270EX and the 220EX.

Speedlite 580EXII
Canon has improved upon the 580EX by giving the 580EXII approximately a 20 percent faster recycling time. A built in Auto Focus assist beam is compatible with the EOS series camera’s multi-point AutoFocus. The metal foot makes better contact and is more durable when resting in the hot shoe. The head swivels 180 degrees with stops at 60, 75, 90, 120,150 and 180 degrees. The head also adjusts up and down with stops at 7, 45, 60, 75 and 90 degrees. With certain digital SLR cameras, the flash coverage has automated conversion to allow for the best color and zoom information. This is the most expensive flash in the Canon line up at a suggested retail price of $500.

Speedlite 430EXII
The Speedlite 430EXII is a powerful flash with a fast quiet recycling time. The flash has a metal footing for better contact with hot shoe and a one touch quick locking mechanism. The Flash head is movable up to 90 degrees with five stop positions. You are able to move the head from the left 180 degrees with seven stop positions and from the right 90 degrees with 4 stop positions. The flash can be controlled from the LCD screen on compatible digital SLR cameras. The suggested retail price from Canon is $330.

Speedlite 270EX
The Speedlite 270EX is the newest and smallest of the Canon flashes. This flash uses only two AA batteries instead of 4 AA batteries like the larger flashes. This flash was designed to be used on the Canon Powershot and EOS Rebel series. The flash provides a boost to your lighting condition but will not light up a large room. This is an excellent starter flash for the amateur or beginner photographer. The compact flash suggested retail price is $160.

Speedlite 220EX
The Speedlite 200EX is a compact flash designed to make a substantial impact for its size. The flash is an entry level choice but worth the price at the suggested retail of $200. The head does not swivel or move up and down. What it seems to lack in features it makes up for in ability and its lightweight. This flash does have an energy-saving feature which helps to save the AA batteries.

Each Canon flash has its own features and qualities in its price points that make them worth the purchase. Canon has a complete line up that has a flash for everyone.

Express Yourself with a Photo Printed on Canvas

September 22, 2009

Creativity is important in our lives for self-expression and feeling fulfilled. Everyone needs some form of outlet for their creativity, and often our first thought is that we have to be good at art to be creative. But art isn’t just about tubes of paint and daubing still life scenes onto canvas. Photography is an art form that is open to all of us, even if we haven’t mastered the use of a paintbrush or pastels. By taking pictures of the important elements of our life, we can express ourselves just as creatively and we can even have our prized photo printed on to canvas for our very own masterpiece.

How can you be creative with photography, I hear you ask, when all you are doing is recording a scene? Well, you are doing more than that. You are interpreting the scene from your own perspective. You are choosing the angle you shoot from, the way the light falls on the subject, what you include and what you leave out of your photo. When you are taking photos of your kids it is the artist in you that sets the scene, decides to take photos against a backdrop of greenery or with a view in the distance. It is an art catching the fleeting expressions that cross your child’s face, and grabbing the moment when their personality illuminates their features in a glowing smile.

It is an art to use the light to soften hard angles, to get a halo of sunshine around your child’s head with a backlit photo. Your camera is your canvas and light is your paintbrush. Two different people taking a photo of the same child in the same surroundings will produce completely different pictures. Your own creativity has more effect than you think on your photography.

Of course you can get even more creative if you learn to find your way around a program like Photoshop. Then you can work on your image, reduce or increase the contrast, change the color balance and a whole lot more. But it is still a very creative process taking the photo in the first place and you can be proud of yourself when you capture that perfect picture of your children. Proud enough to want to display your photo on your walls and get it printed as a top quality canvas print, which will enhance the photo even more, giving depth to the colors and preserving it for posterity, just like an oil painting.

Free Your Child To Be Himself For Great Pictures To Enter In A Photo Contest

September 21, 2009

As you sort your scrapbook photos into their themed pages grab a few of those fantastic snapshots and enter them into a free child photo contest. I’ve just been getting around to doing mine as fall rolls in and the evenings get longer. I’ve found a great contest site with monthly themes. I’ve already missed entering some really cute summer fun pictures, but Halloween is my favorite time of year and I am getting ready to load up some truly adorable costumes.

I just love Halloween; the costumes, the decorations, the candy. It doesn’t get much better than make believe on a sugar rush. To sweeten the deal FaerieCon is the very next weekend in Baltimore, so I have even more excuses to assemble fun costumes for myself and my little one. I have more pairs of wings than sunglasses, so the only difficulty is picking which ones to wear and trying to convince my friends to dress up with me.

I had three costumes last year for my son’s first Halloween. I spent hours propping Aiden on the couch in different outfits surrounded by pumpkins and candy. At a mere two months old the challenge was keeping him upright, now the challenge is to catch him. Getting good pictures is a full time endeavor. I may lose my keys on a daily basis but I always know where my camera is.

If Halloween isn’t your thing, there is still a wide variety of other themes to choose from. You can enter those holiday photos at the end of the year and the pictures of your little ones helping you in the kitchen as the year begins. Even if you don’t have more creative display plans for your pictures you can order photo books and other products from the contest websites with the pictures you enter.

In the long run it is actually a time saver, whether you use it to order a quick scrapbook or use the themes to inspire you in more hands on projects. Plus, there is the added bonus of the thrill of the contest with a variety of prizes should your photo win. Enter today, tomorrow, and next year, whenever you have a photo that fits the headline load it up, it’s free, fast, and fun.

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