Dude, How’d She Do That…A Basic Photography Set-Up on a Budget

One of my most beloved bloggers, MommyTime, asked for a little ‘how I did that’ series on my photography… And as I am loathe to deny her anything, I thought I’d try my hand at it as well as incorporating a few basic web design tutorials to help you do simple things like change the size of your banner space and whatnot.

Please note that this is a "how I did that" series and not necessarily a "how to do that" series.

As I am self-taught/self-teaching, I can almost guarantee that somebody out there has a better method- mayhap a right method- but then that pretty much goes for everything, now doesn’t it?


I thought for my first post in this series, I’d tell you a little about the equipment that I use, why I use it, where to buy it, and how to do it all on a "I’ve got three kids, two dogs, and a mortgage" budget.

As I am not a professional of any sorts and have no aspirations of becoming one any time soon, my wants and needs are very  different from those who wish to be able to make money from their work and/or the hardcore amateur.

In other words:

I take pictures of my kids.

And my dogs.

And occasionally my naked husband. :)

All I need is the basic stuff that’ll do that- and do that well.


I have a Canon Rebel XTi DSLR (around $600 -700) and a good ol’ Sony
Cybershot DSC-H3 Point & Shoot (around $300).  Sadly, my P&S
pretty much spends the whole game sitting on the bench and handing out
towels since I purchased the XTi in February, but I wanted to stress
the fact this this is an equal opportunity series (sort of).

While a DSLR allows you more control over your your capture, there’s
much to be said about a good point and shoot camera. So if you can’t
afford a DSLR just yet, no worries! You’d be amazed by what you can do
with what you already have.

These three images (some of my favorites) were all taken on my basic point & shoot:





18-55mm Zoom

This is the lens that came with my camera.
It’s great for most basic types of shots including wide-angled (a broad
view of the scene in front of you) and the basic macro (close-up). It’s
a great lens to begin with and doesn’t cost you anything extra if you
buy the kit. Woot.


75-300mm Zoom (around $175)

This is  my "get ’em playing and not posing" lens.
It’s perfect for when you want to get great pictures of them running
about the yard without getting in their faces to do so… Or for when
they’re flying. Whichever.



50mm 1.8 (less than $100)

I love this lens because it allows me to open the aperture up wide (let
light inside the camera) enough for me to shoot indoors without a flash
while retaining image quality. I’d really love the 50mm 1.4, but it’s not in the budget and therefore not in my bag.



My "Not Really" Lenses

Close-Up Filter Kit (around $20-35)

I like macros. I really
like macros in the springtime when there are flowers everywhere just
begging for their five minutes of fame. What I don’t like is the cost
of a macro lens… Which is why I bought a cheap set of close-up filters
(little lens-like things that screw on to your existing lens) that
allow you to focus much closer to the subject than just by using the
lens alone.




I keep both a small table tripod and a
large tripod. Both were purchased in the sad little camera section of
my local WalMart for under $40.

Camera Bag

Okay, so this one’s a cheat… I use an old diaper bag.
The bottle holders are perfect for my lenses,  and my camera sits
neatly in a larger pocket on the inside just to the left. The mesh
areas that were originally intended for pacifiers work great for little
things like lens caps and extra memory cards,  and the large mesh part
designed to hold blankets or clothes is perfect for my camera
books/cords. OH! And it even has room for a couple of diapers too. :)


Photoshop CS2
Lightroom 1.4


  • Make the best of what you have and what you can afford.
  • Take a lot of pictures. A LOT OF PICTURES. The perfect shot is found in a pile of 100 that look just like it- but don’t.
  • Photoshop (in whatever form) is your friend. Trust me.
  • Learn Japanese. (No, not really.  But reading camera books is like
    learning a new language-  confusing as all hell. You’ll need patience.
    Lots of it.)

And there you have it! If you actually made it through all of that,
I’d love a little feedback on what   equipment you  use  and/or covet
and maybe even a few suggestions on what else you may like to see in
this series (or the web design one).

Oh! And MommyTime? I’ll be borrowing those shoes now.

May 20, 2008
Categories: Daily

1.©2008 by Courtney Hebert as Judith Shakespeare.
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3.Blog title courtesy of Oscar Wilde, pseudonym Virginia Woolf, design JudithShakes.