My New Camera & the Best Photography Class in the World

You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.

– Ansel Adams

Amongst plenty of very exciting events that have happened recently, I need to announce that I got a new camera, and I’m loving it.

When more than one month ago my other camera broke and I wrote this S.O.S. post, many of you responded with very valuable information. Thank you so much. If you’re reading this you all know who you are. I dwelled over every word, from there I researched every camera, every brand. I wanted to get a beginners DSLRMy head became a complete jumble of information overload until I decided on which one I wanted, which was about one day before I bought it. Even so I walked into the shop open minded and made the guy at the shop show me all the cameras that I had initially been considering and asked way too many questions for his timid self to be comfortable at continuing explaining to me. Finally, after much camera holding, viewfinder squinting and clicking away to find my personal ergonomic comfort, I opted for the one I wanted in the first place. The Nikon D3300.

Now for the second part of the great news. I was in Los Angeles and was able to spend a day with Sue and Patty. Patty actually caught a flight from Sacramento to come and spend the day with us. When we decided this (a couple of months beforehand), I nearly died of excitement.

Me, Patty and Sue

It’s so much fun to meet up with blogging friends and see that we are the real life people behind all that writing, photos and, most importantly, all the chatting we’ve done together. Sue is so incredibly sweet and elegant. More foodie things with Sue in an upcoming post. Patty is so funny and nice, and coincidentally also teaches photography. I think she’s a photography genius. My only regret is that during the fantastic dinner we had, I was beginning to doze off. The end of my jetlag caught up with me, so that all the sleep I hadn’t had in the last few days because of jetlag, well, finally made me sleepy. Sorry ladies!

Anyhow, I showed her my new camera, it was only a few days old and I still had no idea how I was supposed to use it properly. She immediately rolled up her sleeves, told Sue to also get out her camera, and gave us the best photography class in the world.

First she fixed the settings in the camera so that the pictures would always turn out the best possible and avoid graininess. I now call them my Patty settings. I’m so pleased with my Patty settings. Then she explained ISO, shutter speed and aperture. We focused a lot on aperture. Now I’m loving the way I can control the photographs by means of controlling the aperture.

For experimental purposes, here are a few quick close up shots at f/4 with less depth of field. What do you think?

Salad f/4

Close up F/4

Cake f/4

Coffee f/4

Thank you for reading!

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  1. Guillermina Stover 2014-09-25 at 23:59

    Oh my gosh! What a wonderful time you had in the U.S. of A. And the photos you took with your new camera PLUS your new knowledge are gorgeous…thanks for sharing your adventures, Sofia…can’t wait for more…

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:31

      Hi Guillermina, I had a brilliant time, and so thankful for the photo class too! I was thinking that now we were standing in the same country you and me when I was there 🙂

  2. Sue 2014-09-25 at 23:59

    I do like your shots so far!!! Also love the descriptor “elegant” …. Right back at you with that one ! You’re welcome here any time all the time ….!

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:32

      Oh I well I thought you are sooo elegant 🙂
      I’ve made so many photos in NY, just need the time to look through them!

  3. Sunny 2014-09-26 at 00:28

    Great photos, Sofia! So glad you got a new camera, and it looks like you girls had a lot of fun! I love Sue’s blog as well. Both of you make me CONSTANTLY HUNGRY!

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:33

      Oh gosh, Sue is such a great cook. Ok, we ate out but her husband said she is so we can trust that 😉 Have a great weekend Sunny! xx

  4. Jennifer 2014-09-26 at 00:45

    I need someone to give me some Patty settings….love the photos, and congrats on your new camera!

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:36

      Maybe you can ask Patty nicely 😉

  5. Bunny Eats Design 2014-09-26 at 00:46

    Yay! New camera time!!! I have the D3000 which is the older version of this. It is a GREAT beginner’s DSLR. I mostly use the A setting for food photos so that I can play with the depth of field. The S setting is great for low light though. In low light situations, I keep it at S and at 1/30th of a second.

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 14:20

      Hi Genie, yes yay! I actually took very into account our chats about your camera. When you said you have some overexposure when the weather gets very extreme freaked me out a bit, but after much investigation I wanted this Nikon. I haven’t tried the S setting yet, you don’t need a tripod for 1/30th right? (as I don’t have one and don’t intend to get one, lol) I’ll take your advice and try it tonight. I found with my previous camera you had to act like a tripod for too many seconds for night photos. Actually the guy at the shop said that the D3300 has improvements on night shooting with regards to the previous versions, and the night photos I’ve made have been excellent. Actually the salad picture is under very low light 🙂

      1. Bunny Eats Design 2014-09-27 at 02:19

        I find 1/30th is the slowest shutter speed I can go before I’d need a tripod. 1/40th is better if your photos are bright enough.

        I’m looking at a camera upgrade at some time as the technology has improved since I got my D3000. Low light photos are the trickiest thing for my D3000. The good thing is I only need the body (if I buy Nikon again) and can use the same lenses that I already have. One good reason to stay with one brand….for life!

  6. Karen 2014-09-26 at 01:11

    A new camera, meeting with friends and a tutorial on how to use the new camera…as they say, “priceless”.

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:35

      Exactly, you said it: priceless 🙂

  7. Patty Nguyen 2014-09-26 at 02:41

    Ahhhh, I love this, Sofia!!! I have a big, cheesy smile on my face right now! I am so glad we were able to meet in person. I was so excited for so long! Now, when are you coming to visit again? Thank you for teaching me about hair fatteners. I am impatiently waiting for it to come in the mail. 😉 Also, I am incredibly flattered that you have “Patty settings”…I feel special! <3 I can't wait to see what else you create with that new camera of yours. Big hugs!! xoxo

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:35

      I was so excited too and so glad to meet you! Or when you will come to visit 🙂 I hope the hair fattener will work well for you.. Haha I am in love with my Patty settings <3 xoxo

      1. Patty Nguyen 2014-09-29 at 04:29

        The fattener arrived! I can’t wait to try it out tomorrow! Hopefully it’ll still work even though my hair is longer!

        1. Sofia 2014-09-29 at 13:58

          Oh great, I hope it works well for you! 🙂

  8. lapetitecasserole 2014-09-26 at 05:10

    I saw some of those photos on Instagram! It has been great seeing the three of you all together! I’m sure it has been amazing… and congrats on your new camera… I’m going to put mine on my Christmas whilst! I hope you’ll have a great we!

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:41

      Yes we had great fun and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet them. Oh do so, the camera is so worth it! xx

  9. miwa theresa 2014-09-26 at 05:48

    So glad to hear about your new camera! And it looks like you’ve already learned how to take some awesome shots with it too. Can’t wait to see more 😉

    PS. I love that Ansel Adams quote. One of my favorites!

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:41

      I was reading up on all your camera options too that you told me 🙂
      Oh so now I know where I had seen this quote before on a blog, on yours!! By the way, I wanted to tell you that before I had another blog design and when this Cocoa one came out, I really loved it but couldn’t decide. I stalked your blog for a few days before I finally decided to change mine haha. I must have read the quote then.

  10. Ngan R. 2014-09-26 at 07:42

    Omg! I wish I had been there! Beautiful photos, Sofia! The camera is clearly working out well for you. I will definitely go check it out. Can’t wait to see what other foodie things you did with these ladies!

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:43

      OMG yes haha! It would have been even greater should you have been there too 🙂 I’m really busy but will put the other foodie thing as soon as I have the time. You’d love it.

  11. mysimpledelights 2014-09-26 at 09:43

    Fantastic photos! So jealous you all met! Europe next time please ladies!!😊

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:37

      Or more precisely, España!

  12. Mabel Kwong 2014-09-26 at 11:52

    Awesome photos, Sofia. Such clarity in them. It must be very exciting for you, getting your first DSLR, and you’re learning very fast too 😀 I love the close-up for the salad and the cake, now I feel like eating. The three of you girls look so happy and I can’t tell you were the slightest bit jetlagged. Good make-up…but I like to think you look great without it 😉

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:44

      Very exciting everything: camera and meeting the ladies 🙂 Oh I was jetlagged, I was up at 4am every morning thinking damn it!

  13. laurasmess 2014-09-26 at 13:17

    It’s such a privilege to spend time with blogging friends!!! I am so glad that you three had the opportunity to catch up and spend quality time together (despite your fatigue, you poor thing!). Congrats on your new camera purchase too! Yay!! Haha.. the ‘Patty settings’ sound incredibly useful. I am still learning about my camera too… it’s a bit overwhelming when you start using the manual settings. Your photos look amazing xxx

    1. Sofia 2014-09-26 at 17:46

      I feel so fortunate to have the Patty settings 🙂 It is a bit overwhelming at the beginning, I agree. I had read so many courses and seen a few videos (ok the videos are a bit more explanatory) but it’s all rather confusing. There is nothing better than a fun hands on personal class xx
      PS your camera must be letting out steam with the amazing trips you are doing this year.

  14. chef mimi 2014-09-26 at 13:59

    Great shots! I love getting a new camera!

  15. Liz 2014-09-26 at 16:16

    how perfectly lovely 🙂 The photos are great, but I love even more than you met up with blogging friends.

  16. abuchon 2014-09-26 at 16:18

    Congratulations on your new camera! Let the adventures begin! 😉

  17. dedy oktavianus pardede 2014-09-26 at 22:19

    Yeay, conratulation Sofia…
    Good luck with your camere, you did a great job with it!

  18. Pemberley Cup & Cakes by Rosa 2014-09-27 at 20:24

    Muy buena adquisición y muy buenas fotos, Sofia! Espero seguir viendo muchas de estas preciosidades 😀
    Have a lovely weekend! 😉

  19. Michelle 2014-09-28 at 04:05

    How sweet! Oh, how I want a new camera. Lucky girl. Though, camera or not, it’s clear you had a great visit to CA. Hooray!

  20. Dalo 2013 2014-09-28 at 07:39

    Great photos, and congratulations on the addition of a new camera ~ Nikon is a great camera, allows you to someday upgrade to a Canon 🙂

    Yes, I am a Canon snob!

    Wonderful photos, like the one best of you and your friends, all so beautiful…to meet and see fellow bloggers and share things in person. Safe travels!

    1. Sofia 2014-09-28 at 10:20

      Nah, I think one day you’ll upgrade to a Nikon 😉
      I did drive the guy at the shop crazy telling him take out lots of Canons too and tried them all…

    2. Sofia 2014-09-28 at 10:36

      By the way, are you back in Hong Kong? I saw on the news there’s been some democracy protests, whats going on?

      1. Dalo 2013 2014-09-28 at 14:48

        Hi, yes I’m back in HK, and there are many politicians and local people worried about China trying to change the law, but also other HK people don’t really care too much about it. I think now it is not much of a worry… At least I hope so!

        1. Sofia 2014-09-28 at 22:53

          I just wanted to know that you’re safe. That sounds ok then!

  21. pianolearner 2014-09-28 at 18:31

    Great choice of camera. I had to go down the Canon route because of family reasons (to share lenses if need be), I really love mine, but given the choice the one you went for would be the top of my list.

    Meeting up with friends you’ve met via blogs is so satisfying. 🙂

    1. Sofia 2014-09-28 at 22:50

      When we have a meet up I’ll let you try my Nikon then 🙂

          1. Sofia 2014-09-28 at 23:07

            I only have the kit lens though for now.

        1. Sofia 2014-09-28 at 23:07

          Hang on, a couple of months ago I was telling you I wasn’t ready to think about lenses etc, and now I’m telling you I ONLY have the kit lens, hehe….

          1. pianolearner 2014-09-28 at 23:13

            I took a nice image of a small copper butterfly with my telephoto/macro. I’ll send it to you. 🙂

            1. Sofia 2014-09-28 at 23:17

              To make me jealous of your macro lens? 😉 Is this the same photo as in your post?

              1. pianolearner 2014-09-29 at 00:19

                It’s the same lens, but no this one was only taken today. We went to visit a new friend’s garden and it was feeding on the Verbena Bonariensis.

                1. Sofia 2014-09-29 at 00:25

                  The Verbena smells nice, right?

                2. pianolearner 2014-09-29 at 00:32

                  I think that you are thinking of Vibernum. That smells lovely.

                3. Sofia 2014-09-29 at 01:19

                  I had to study botanics long ago at uni, so this is really bad of me…

  22. deepika2387 2015-03-25 at 11:57

    Hey Sofia, would love to know these patty setting pleassseee.. I too own the same camera 🙂

    1. Sofia 2015-03-25 at 12:45

      Hi! I’m away on a trip without my camera at the moment, but I’ll look in the settings and let you know when I am reunited with my camera 🙂

      1. deepika2387 2015-03-25 at 15:41

        Sure please do.. Would love to hear from you. Great blog by the way. Cheers xx

        1. Sofia 2015-03-25 at 17:00

          I will. And thanks! 🙂


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