First off, a huge thank you to those who commented. I loved reading your comments. Some of you really cracked me up! I'll be sure to check out your blogs too. Chelle and Paige, I'm so sorry I haven't gotten to your memes yet. Thanks for tagging me!
Back to the title of this post. Recently, I've been asked about my camera quite a bit so I thought I'd answer your questions in a post instead of in the comments. I got a Canon Digital Rebel XTi for Christmas last year. Wait, I guess it was the year before now! I love my camera! This is my only experience with a dSLR camera, so I can't get into the Nikon vs. Canon debate. The only reason I got a Canon instead of a Nikon was because the price was right. I did buy it with the kit lens, but if I had to do it over again I'd just buy the body. My other lens is a 50mm f/1.8. This lens lives on my camera. The wide aperture (the f/1.8 part) is essential for me since most of my shots are indoors, and it's what gives pictures that blurry background that I love. Best of all, it was extremely cheap compared to pretty much every other lens out there. I'm fortunate that I have a lot of windows that let in a ton of natural light in my house, so I never use the camera's built-in flash.
I just got Photoshop CS4 this Christmas (the big guns! Because I'm a student, so I got it for 80% off retail! Yes, EIGHTY percent off! Squee!), but I'm still learning to use it, so the majority of the pictures I post are SOOC (straight out of the camera). Before I got Photoshop, I'd been using Paint Shop Pro for several years. I've never used Photoshop Elements, but from what I've read, Paint Shop Pro does a lot more for the same price. Paint Shop Pro has features like layers and masks, which I don't think Elements does? If you're just starting out, or don't want to spend your child's college fund on Photoshop, I highly recommend Paint Shop Pro. The only drawback is that you won't find nearly as many tutorials and books on it as you will Photoshop. One big reason I wanted Photoshop was to be able to use some of the great actions out there.
For Nicole, who emailed me that she recently bought an XTi, or anyone else who just bought a dSLR and wants to learn how to use it, I love Digital Photography School and Pioneer Woman's photography section for tutorials. Diary of an Air Force Wife recently started posting some great tutorials as well. The most important things to learn are
One of the best tips I found a while back was to the use the camera's meter to get proper exposure. I had no idea what that little ruler thing was before! I always adjust my camera's settings until I'm one or two notches to the right of what my camera says should be proper exposure. This should make my pictures overexposed, but they come out too dark if I listen to my camera. The best way to learn is to put your camera in Manual and shoot shoot shoot! Play around with the settings until you're comfortable. I also love browsing the discussion boards at Digital Photography School and various flickr groups for tips as well.
What did I miss? I'd love to hear your tips or photography sites you'd recommend in the comments.