I have a confession to make…. I don’t know how to use a DSLR camera. Or maybe I should say I didn’t know how to use a DSLR camera. Okay, more acutely, I kind of know how to use a DSLR camera.
For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. They are those big, sophisticated cameras that professional photographers and bloggers use.
I have been admiring these cameras for years now. But they aren’t as simple as the point-and-shoot variety. They are pretty intimidating….you have to know stuff to be able use one; things like aperture, f/stops, focal length, ISO, and depth of field. Plus, did I mention that one of these babies will set you back several grand?!! And that is just for the body! These cameras require separate lenses that cost just as much or more than the body of the camera, and don’t even get me started on accessories…..
Before I spend my mortgage payment on a camera, I want to know how to use it (duh). So last week I enrolled in two online Digital Photography classes: Discover Digital Photography and Secrets to Better Photography both are taught by Beverly Richards Schulz, an award-winning photographer who has more than 15 years teaching experience under her belt. The classes are helping me understand what I need in a camera, how to use it, and how to develop a “photographic eye” to take better pictures.
Pretty much all of the pictures on this blog have been taken with my cellphone. And while I know my photos can improve, it is hard to rationalize making such a huge purchase when my tiny phone is getting the job done. Is a DSLR worth it? Are its pictures that much better? Now that I had learned some basics from my classes, I decided to borrow a DSLR camera from work and perform a little test.
The results are pretty stunning. The photos below are un-edited. The only difference between the two is the camera.
Amazing right? The camera lets in so much more light. As a food blogger who mainly cooks after work when light is scarce, this is a game changer.
What I noticed was it was so much easier to get a good shot. Usually it takes me forever moving food from window to window trying to find the best light and position things in a way that looks appealing. With this camera I was able to shoot in lots more places with greater ease. Here is another comparison:
When I shoot with my cellphone I take about 5-10 photos of the exact same shot. I can never tell If I have it. With the DSLR I knew I had the shot with only a couple of photos. This was a huge time saver when it came to editing. Instead of sorting through dozens of similar shots finding the best one, I just chose the best positions and compositions.
Okay, so after all this photo evaluating I bet you’re starving. What in the heck are we looking at? It is Fiesta Chicken – semi-spicy chicken with onions, red bell peppers, black beans, tomatoes, rice, and avocado. It is delicious. Plus it’s a one pot meal and a Simple Weeknight Meal.
I got the idea from Amanda at Kevin and Amanda. Knowing I wanted to do this photo test, I wanted something that was quick to make, used things I already had, and would stand up to me experimenting with my camera for several hours. This recipe did the trick. Not only was it ready in under 30 minutes, but it reheated beautifully when I finally decided to eat.
I made a few small changes from Amanda’s recipe, seasoning the chicken after I browned it (enabling me to get a nice sear on the chicken and create more of a sauce) and I used fresh red bell pepper instead of frozen.
So what do you think about the Cellphone photos vs. the DSLR ones? Is it worth the investment? Should I go ahead, bite the bullet, and purchase one?
Also, if you have questions about cameras or my digital photography classes let me know. I’m still a newbie, but I’m happy to share what I have learned!
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups diced onions
- 1 whole red pepper, diced
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 envelope taco seasoning
- ¼ cup water
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
- 1 (10oz) can petit diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 avocado, diced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- In a medium-sized pan bring rice, water, salt, lime, and butter to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a medium-sized skillet and set over medium high heat. Add chicken pieces and sauté until brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then toss in the onions, bell peppers, and corn. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add chicken back to the pan and sprinkle in the taco seasoning. Add the ¼ cup of water, black beans, tomatoes, and rice, stir to combine.
- Serve with pieces of avocado and cilantro. Enjoy!