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My friend Kelle from Maggie Stone blog, likes to share what they’re reading that week. It’s one of my favourite features so I thought it’d be fun to steal it share a few of my favourite photography books at the moment.

First up, believe it or not, is a Dummies guide for the model of camera I use (they do lots of models including fairly new ones). My aunt got me this for Christmas (Thanks, Auntie Karen!) and when I opened it I was a bit “Um, what’s she trying to say?” but it’s actually brilliant. I’m familiar with all the modes and what most of the buttons do but it’s still been SO handy and explains things in much simpler terms than the manual (which I quickly got bored of reading). It’s a real “Oh, so *that’s* how I do that!” read.

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Linda McCartney – Life in Photographsphotography books-009

photography books-010Linda McCartney is one of my favourite photographers so I just adore this book. The only downside is that it is so bloody big. It features a lot of her best work, Rolling Stone covers, backstage with Jimi Hendrix, a lot of the Beatles (of course!) but also photographs of her family which are my favourites. Really beautiful timeless images that I could look at again and again.photography books-011

Kevin Meredith – Hot Shotsphotography books-004photography books-005Last up, and my favourite of the bunch,  is Hot Shots by Kevin Meredith, the guy who helped make Lomography cool. It’s full of photography inspiration as well as instruction, tips and tricks. Kevin shoots everything and anything, uses all kinds of cameras, films and different processing to capture everyday life. I’ve bought this book as a gift for some of my friends and they love it just as much as I do!photography books-006photography books-007photography books-008

What are your favourite photo books?

If you love a bit of camera geekery, read on! I’m letting my camera geek flag fly today.

One of the questions I get asked the most is “What camera should I get?”. I spent two years working in a camera shop (an amazing job for someone like me) and am always happy to chat cameras! There are so many options available that it can be confusing and it’s so easy to get caught up in all the technical jargon and end up with something that’s full of features you won’t use or even worse, a camera that sits on the shelf untouched. The things I think worth thinking about when looking for a camera are:

*What you’re photographing

*What you want to do with your images. Are you after family snaps to share with friends and family on social media or are you interested in photography and wanting to learn more about it?

*How much you want to spend

*Size and weight of the camera. If you want something you can slip into a pocket, it doesn’t make sense to invest in a DSLR.

Digital cameras fall into 3 main groups – compact cameras, bridge cameras and DSLRs.

Compacts 

A compact is simply that – compact. It’s the perfect choice if you’re after something small and a more price friendly option if you’re on a budget. They are really easy to use, and here are some fantastic options available including cameras with wi-fi (so handy if you love to edit your photos with photo editing apps or to share on social media) and lens style cameras which work with your smartphone like a Sony QX10. It gives you the option of a zoom and better image quality, it’s absolutely perfect if you’re a happy phone snapper. Wi-fi is one of my favourite features on a camera ever, I think all cameras should have it! It’s great being able to instantly share photos with friends and family and I love that a lot of the Sony Cyber-shot cameras have that feature AND they come in a range of colours. I know it doesn’t make any difference to the photos you’re taking and sharing but having a camera in pink? Yes please!

Bridge Cameras

A bridge camera is a great choice if you want a little more control over your settings but don’t want the bulk and investment of purchasing a DSLR. They offer great image quality ( a bigger body means room for a bigger sensor) and usually have amazing zoom capabilities although there are some you can use inter-changable lenses with, making them like a smaller DSLR. The Sony a6000 is a perfect in between, it has all the best bits of a DSLR – great image quality, good low light performance, fast focusing, interchangeable lenses but in a smaller package.

DSLR

DSLR stand for Digital Single Lens Reflex. Put simply, it’s the one you need to change lenses for. It’s not always necessary to buy a selection of lenses if that’s something that’s putting you off but it’s part of the fun! Most come with a standard kit lens to get you started, usually with a focal length of 18-55 mm which gives you a wide angle and a decent focal length for portraits. If portraits is your thing, I can’t recommend a prime lens enough. When I first became interested in photography, I’d look online at these amazing, bright portraits and wanted to be able to do the same thing. The more I read, the more I realised I needed a prime lens to take the kind of photos I wanted. I bought a 50mm f1.8 and was IN LOVE. I’m not joking, this one lens changed my photography completely. With a prime lens, you can take photos in lower light, use faster shutter speeds and they’re amazing for portraits because you can control the depth of field (what’s in focus) and blur the action behind or in front of your subject so you’re drawn to the person or thing in the photograph. Sony have a fantastic range of prime lenses, from affordable lenses for an enthusiast, right up to lenses used by pro photographers. I’d love to take some photos with the Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm f1.8 (what a mouthful!). It’s such a flattering length for portrait photography and fast enough to capture busy little ones and I’ve used Zeiss lenses before and have to say, the quality is amazing. The colours and sharpness that these lenses produce is out of this world (told you I was all about the geekery).

What else do I need?

You’ll need a memory card or stick for your camera. I am a little paranoid about losing data so prefer to use a few smaller sized cards of around 4 or 8GB, rather than a 64 GB. If you’re planning on shooting video, you’ll want a larger card. I also think it’s worth getting a spare battery and a protective case or sleeve to stop your camera getting scratched and if you’re using interchangeable lenses, then I’d get a UV filter  to protect it. One of my lenses very nearly met a nasty end at the hands of an inquisitive toddler but it was OK thanks to the UV filter which took the brunt of the damage and wasn’t expensive to replace.

 So you’ve chosen your digital camera…what’s next?

The internet is a fantastic resource for a budding photographer. There are so many sites around offering tips and photo sharing sites, blogs and communities to really make you feel inspired. On the Sony Community site you can read tutorials, research more about the models you’re interested in or already have and share your photos. They have monthly photography competitions which is a great way of getting feedback for your photos and of seeing what other people are up to.

These are some of my favourite images from the Sony World Photography Awards. There are some really amazing photographers out there.original-4Tor Birk Trads, Denmark, Finalist, Student Focus, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

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Kacper Kowalski, Poland, Contemporary Issues, Professional, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

original-2Anastasia Zhetvina, Russia, Shortlist, Culture, Youth, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

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Chin Boon Leng, Singapore, Shortlist, Nature & Wildlife, Open, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

The Sony Community team have put together 25 of their favourite images from the entries that were shortlisted by The World Photography Organisation. You can see all 25 HERE and if you have a minute, you should take a look. They make a selection from 4 categories so there’s something that will appeal to everyone, whether you love landscapes, nature, portrait or sports photography. The 2014 Sony World Photography Awards Gala Ceremony will be held in London on 30th April. Good luck to everyone who’s taking part!

Sponsored Post

On Monday morning a group of local bloggers and myself will be talking part in the Team Honk Relay. Team Honk was set up by 3 fantastic bloggers (Annie, Tanya & Penny) to blog and tweet about last year’s Comic Relief. They ended up raising almost £10,000 by chopping all their hair off (Annie),climbing Snowdon, bike riding (Tanya), cake sales and lots lots more. And this year Team Honk is back! In the name of Sport Relief, around 200 bloggers are going to swim, run, walk and scooter to pass a baton person to person all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats. As soon as I read about it, I wanted to take part and before I knew it, we were making plans to include a Woburn Safari Park elephant…(yes, really). The Milton Keynes team is made up of myself, Gemma, Sandy, Claire and Missy B. (and I need to say a huge thank you to my amazing friend Caroline who is lending us her “unicorn” for mine and Gemma’s part of the relay).

20140202-142818.jpgYou can see photos from the relay over at teamhonk.org or take a look at #teamhonkrelay on Instagram and Twitter

But we need your help, and more importantly, your cash. To donate £5 to Sport Relief, text HONK to 70005 or you can visit the Team Honk MK Sport Relief page. WE HAVE *AN ACTUAL ELEPHANT* people! Surely that’s worth a quid?

Want to be involved? The first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. Anyone can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world. You can sign up to take part here  – www.sportrelief.com

Thank you so much! Stay tuned for elephant photos. Eeeek!

 

(Screenshot of photos from the Team Honk website)