My Big Fat New (but cheap) Tripod

Well, today I found out there is a whole lot more to photography than just My Big Fat New Camera and I will be talking a lot about that over the next few posts. Today, I used a tripod for the very first time, or…ummmm…at least I tried to use a tripod for the very first time. You would think this is a simple no brainer thing to use, but it wasn’t. (My Big Fat New Camera wasn’t harmed in any way – only what’s left of my pride!)

So, I decided that I’d take out My Big Fat New Camera and take pictures of birds in my backyard and of course I thought the tripod would be the best thing to steady the camera on, and of course I would “look” like a “real photographer” too!  (Feel free to laugh out loud – it’s ok!) Sadly, I would not look like a real photographer today. If you were here in my living room watching me try to put the camera on the tripod I think you would find that I looked more like I Love Lucy trying to prove to Ricky that she could be a photographer, because really now, who doesn’t know how to put a camera on a tripod?  Apparently I don’t. Let me explain.

Now, I know there is a little screw thread that fits into the camera itself. Check…ok…I get it…easy schmeasy. How hard could this possibly be? Not hard, but HOW do I do this? Do I screw the camera onto the tripod or do I screw the tripod onto the camera? I set up the tripod got the camera, set it on the thread, and kind of walked the camera around onto the tripod. Awkward, but I got it done. The camera is now firmly on the tripod! Hooray!

I gingerly released my grip of the camera to feel how steady it was, but I could tell if I let go the camera would flop over. Hmmmmm. Ok now I figured I had to tighten the various joints of the head so the camera would sit straight on the tripod. Well, no matter how tight I made the joints, the camera still flopped over. Well, there is a simple reason for this, it’s a Big Fat Cheap Tripod.

So NOW, I have to get My Big Fat New Camera off the tripod and (surprise, surprise) I can’t do it. So I pick up the tripod with My Big Fat New Camera still attached and I sit on the couch, hold the camera and turn the tripod upside down with its legs sticking up in the air and successfully unscrew the camera from the tripod. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

I read about how awful the tripods included in camera bundles can be and this certainly felt like a cheap tripod, but I didn’t want it to be awful! When I first unpacked the tripod I thought (or hoped) perhaps it was sooooo lightweight because it was a superior quality. (Yeah, sometimes my own thoughts make me laugh too.) Cheap is cheap and this tripod is not going to work for My Big Fat New Camera.

Oh, by the way here’s my first tip from user experience for all you wanna-be photographer’s out there. There is a lever on the platform where you screw the camera onto. When you pull that lever, it releases the part that contains the screw thread so you can screw that piece onto the camera and THEN place that piece onto the tripod. Yup…it’s that simple.


My Big Fat New Camera Is Here!

Well, today is the day I received a REAL camera. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve owned cameras before, but this camera is different. It’s not the box camera I had as a child in the 60’s, or the Polaroid I had in the seventies, or the flat Kodak pocket camera I had in the 80’s. This is a DSLR with lenses that I actually have to screw on! This is the Christmas present I received from my husband – the camera of my choice!  (Yeah, I have a GREAT husband!)

The camera I received today is a Canon T5i and although everything I read said not to get a “camera bundle,” I just couldn’t resist, and bought a camera bundle! It came with so much “stuff!” Let’s see, it had the Canon T5i camera body, 4 lenses (2 Canon lenses), a nice camera bag, 64 GB card, extra battery, and a lot of accessory items. I actually bought it on Ebay after doing MUCH research with my husband, of course! I bought it from a reliable Ebay-er, with excellent reviews and return policy. I also made sure the camera had a USA warranty and was not gray market.

Why did I choose the Canon T51? – Well The Camera I had prior to this one was also a Canon Powershot SD 1000.  It’s a great little camera, easy to use, and produces great pictures. Granted, the Powershot is not in the same league as the T5i, but it’s a nice little camera. I also watched a great review of the T5i on YouTube by a guy under the name of Faymusmedia:

So, when opening the box and looking at my first DSLR, I was kind of nervous! The grip of the camera is fantastic, it feels like a natural extension of your hand and the controls are logically laid out within the natural reach of your fingers. I charged the battery (approx. 2 hours for full charge), put it in the camera, turned the switch on AND…nothing happened. Turns out a DSLR has to have the lens screwed on in order for the camera to turn on. (I told you I was a newbie!)

Putting the Lens On – I was once again nervous. (Lord, don’t let me drop the lens!) I delicately took the lens out of the bubble wrap and took off the lens caps and screwed the lens on. (This was seriously a big deal to me!) Once I was sure the lens was securely on the body of the camera, I nervously turned the camera on and…it worked! (WOW!)

I unfolded the screen from the back of the camera and saw the screen light up! I looked through the eyepiece and depressed shutter button half-way and saw a bunch of little red lights through the view finder! (Far out, right?) I pushed the button further and took a picture! It was lightning fast! Holy Moly! I saw my first photo flash on the screen for 2 seconds…and disappear. I did it! I decided to try to take another picture. I took a picture of my dog Buttons…ok, 3, 2, 1, click.  Good Lord, I think I blinded my dog! It looked like I “flashy-thinged” her like the guys from Men in Black!  I saw that picture flash on the screen for 2 seconds…and it was kind of bad.  I need to get to the next step and read about how to use the settings. But, that didn’t matter at that moment because “I” took my first step into the world of DSLRs!

What an exciting day…I put a lens on a camera body (first time ever) and took my first DSLR photo on my very own DSLR camera. Wooo-Hooo! This doesn’t make me a photographer, but it makes me one step closer to perhaps being one!

My Big Fat Love of Photography!

I’ve been in love with photography since I was a little kid all the way back in the 1960’s! I found one of the very first pictures ever taken by me. A pigeon on the streets of Jersey City. I took this photo with what I can only describe as a box camera that probably was new in the 1940’s. As you can see, my photo is very out of focus, but I remember being thrilled with it as a child! I TOOK THIS PICTURE!


Little pigeon. Photo taken in late 1960s. Jersey City, NJ.


Below is a photo I took in the early 1970’s.  It’s a brand new World Trade Center taken from the rooftop of our apartment building on Kennedy Boulevard a few blocks away from St. Peter’s College. I watched the World Trade Center go up and saw them fall. My heart broke that day. I took many photos of the WTC over the years and I’m going to try to find them to post here. The domed building you see on the right hand side of the photo is St. Aedan’s Church on Bergen Ave in Jersey City. It’s a very beautiful church and I have many fond memories of my time attending that church. The large red building on the left hand side of the picture was known as the Goodman’s building. Goodman’s was a popular furniture store at that time. (I still have a small cedar chest from Goodman’s that they used to give to all the high school kids who visited during one of the senior class trip days.)


World Trade Center early 1970s. View from Jersey City, NJ.


Both of these photos bring back really good memories and that’s one of the reasons I love photography! The wonderful snapshots of moments in time that bring back wonderful memories of days gone by. Events, people, family, friends, history, news, all recorded in colors and shapes on paper! Those shapes and forms are meaningless to some and priceless to others. It all depends on who’s doing the looking!

My new camera is on its way and I’m going to learn to use it like a pro! This blog will detail my journey from long time photography novice to an experienced Pro. I can’t wait to hear from folks who can impart their knowledge to give me the best tips to become the best photographer I can be!