Taking my new camera for a spin

by | Aug 31, 2013 | Master Bedroom, My House, Photography, Running a Business | 42 comments

I shared a couple of days ago that I finally took the plunge and bought a professional camera – a Nikon d800.  I wanted to share a bit about how I made that decision.  It all started with seeing spots on my pictures.

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See those two black spots in the sky?  Now, those are just spots on the mirror that need to be cleaned.  It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the camera or that I need a new one, but it got me thinking more seriously about getting a new camera and a new lens.  I’ve been thinking about upgrading for a long time, but not seriously.  This gave me a little nudge.

Then, my dear blog friend, Maria of Dreamy Whites, started sending me product and lifestyle shots of my Milk Paint line.  I asked her if we could work together, since I felt like I needed a fresh perspective on the products and needed to stop DIYing everything, for goodness sake.  I knew her brilliant photography would capture the heart behind my products and she did not disappoint.

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 …and looking over her gorgeous photos made me realize that it’s time for me to grow as a photographer.

 About a year an a half ago when I was shooting for my book, I really worked on it.  I actually read my camera manual, took more time on shoots, read up on techniques, watched tutorials and upgraded some of my equipment.  Since then, I’ve just been content to hang out on a plateau.  I’ve gotten a little bit lazy and I often rush through blog shoots.  I even realized on my vacation that somewhere back in May, I had changed the white balance setting and picture quality and I never changed it back to my preferred settings!

Now I’m ready to hone my skills.  I didn’t need a new camera to grow as a photographer, but I felt ready for an upgrade.  I knew my camera, it’s capabilities and limitations pretty well.  A new camera would, in a way, force me to grow.

Let me be the first to tell you that a fancy-schmancy camera does not automatically mean better pictures.  I remember when I upgraded to a d7000 from a refurbished d50 and thought my pictures would instantly look more professional.  I was so discouraged when I had to actually take the time to learn the camera and sharpen my skills.  So, this time, I went into buying a new camera with realistic expectations.  I knew there would be a learning curve.

As I started hunting for the new “bread and butter” of my business, I knew I wanted to get a full format, pro camera on the lower end of the price spectrum.  I poured over reviews and agonized and talked over my husband’s head about ISO and noise and tethering and RAW format.  The photography world is so overwhelming to me, because it’s so technical AND so objective at the same time.  People want cameras and lenses that do different things well, so they’ll give a camera that may be great for me poor reviews, because it’s not a good camera for sports photography.  Some of the technical speak flies way over my head and leaves me glassy-eyed and uninterested, but concerned that I’m missing something important.  After many hours of research and waffling, I settled on the Nikon d800.  Since I already have several lenses, I bought the body only.

When it arrived and I pulled it out of the box, I was so nervous.

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I had just spent a lot of money and now the pressure was on.  Could I handle a big-girl camera?   Would the quality of the pictures justify the expense?  I took some quick snaps, but didn’t really have a serious shoot until yesterday after I cleaned up and “played” with the accessories in the master bedroom a bit.

Here are some of the shots I took…

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There’s my Opa’s rug!  I loved the “marshmallow” rug from HomeGoods, but it felt too big for the space and was honestly hard to vacuum and made massive hairballs.  I think I might turn Opa’s rug the other way, but I’m living with it for a few days as is.

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I also added the striped pillow behind the bolster…

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…and an antique quilt at the foot of the bed.

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I love how the colors in the rug work with the blue and white in a very classic way.

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(Yep, there’s the leg of my tripod!  Ha, clearly I didn’t take too much time on this shoot.)  Anyway…the needlepoint chair against it?  Yes, it may be a little old fashioned, but I love it.

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I shot with the d800 on a tripod (as you could see), using a remote shutter release and a 35mm f/2 lens.  I only used the natural light in the room.  I bumped up the brightness, fill light, contrast and clarity on the pictures in Lightroom, but not dramatically.

So, what are my thoughts on the camera?  I love it. I still have a lot to learn about it, but after the first shoot, I think the colors are move vivid and the d800 handles the light better than the d7000, specifically when shooting towards the window.  I’ll share more when I’ve had the chance to take some more pictures.  I just took it for a little spin around the block, but I need to take it out on a road trip, so to speak to really get to know it.  I will definitely do some comparison shots with the same lens/same positioning, same subject, etc.  I am also looking forward to shooting tethered to my computer when my computer is back from HP with it’s new drive.

More on the camera, my agenda and all of the goings-on in the MMS household soon…


  1. robin yates

    your opa’s rug looks like “apron strings”!

  2. Frances

    I have the exact same “Opa Rug” from my OMA I’m so shocked to see it there and I also have the same quilt (blue and white) but not blue edge trim or line border. Pictures look terrific!

  3. Courtney

    Your photos look amazing and I have been loving everything that Maria has been sharing too~ loving the whites she shared next to each other on the doors – gorgeous. I am getting ready to upgrade on the camera as well. I love my Rebel- but I think I need to move up to a more pro camera as well for working with print as well as my blog- so I hear you and am excited to hear more about how you like your new camera! Love love love that rug- perfect choice!!

  4. Sadie Udy

    Boy am I a greeny when you talk about knowing the photography language. I am just starting my blog and I have a Nikon Coolpix S6500. Serious stuff I know but it gets the job done for now. To tell you the truth I was lost to know what camera to buy. I need to research a little more and put something good on my list for Santa. Any suggestions? I love how you are continually progressing with your photography skills. I’ll get there someday 🙂

  5. john

    Checkout kenrockwell.com for some tips and tricks with your d800. Shooting in full frame (fx) now with the d800 your field of view will be greater. An small issue I have noticed with my d3x is lens sharpness and vignetting – because FX utilizes a much larger area than DX (d7000) in the lens, corner performance on lenses might become an issue, although Nikon has been updating their lens line and releasing new lenses that deliver outstanding corner performance for FX sensors.

  6. Meg@OliverandRust

    I am excited to see your pictures grow and know exactly what you mean about reading camera reviews. There are so many opinions and so many different uses for cameras. I just picked up my new camera yesterday and am having a blast learning all the new ways to take photos and grow my blog/brand with photography. I have always thought your photography was great but there is always so much to learn and sometimes it is so technical.

  7. Sharon in Chicago

    It’s all relative, isn’t it? I just got a Canon Rebel T3i and feel like it’s MY big-girl camera. If that’s the truth, then your new camera is a fully-grown-woman-in-her-prime camera! Love that you share your growth, photographically and otherwise.

  8. Gwen, The Makerista

    I think these photos look beautiful! I love the pops of color in the rug and the chair as well. They really add to the space!

    After making a similar camera upgrade, I just love the ISO capabilities more than anything. It’s great being able to bump it up a bit more with no grain.

    I really enjoy when you share your photography knowledge. You have such an eye for it, Marian! It’s amazing how it’s such a mix of science and art, isn’t it? Not nearly as easy as it appears.

  9. Carolina

    Hi Marian,
    congratulations for your new great camera!

    I am sure you will enjoy it a lot 🙂


  10. Rita C

    I love seeing your home, always, but I also love learning about new tools – I always read buyer reviews, Consumer Report test reviews before buying a major item. I look forward to others’ comments too. Thanks for the perspective.

  11. Kristin Smith

    Can I give you a couple of tips for using your camera?

    First, for interiors, pay attention to the time of day when the room you want to shoot is getting the most light. For example, my master bedroom is on the east side of my house, so I would photograph it in the morning light. West in the afternoon.

    White balance every time you photograph. Shoot a target each time to make sure your levels and white balance are right for the light. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/429982-REG/Photovision_DT14010_14_Pocket_One_Shot.html

    I would also shoot at f11 or f8 for the wider shots to make sure your photos are sharp. Wide open is better for detail shots.

    Hope this helps!

  12. Soiledrotten

    You are going to love the camera! That rug and striped pillow just pull all the awesome-ness in the room together so well! Beautiful job.

  13. Kristin Smith

    Hi! Congrats on your upgrade!

    Here are few tips for shooting interiors:

    Photograph the room when it has the most natural light: east facing rooms in the morning, west facing in the afternoon.

    Shoot is f8 or f11 for full room shots to maximize image sharpness. Shooting wide open looks great for detail shots.

    Custom white balance every time the light changes. Using a target really helps to make sure your levels and white balance are right. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/429982-REG/Photovision_DT14010_14_Pocket_One_Shot.html

    Enjoy your new camera!

  14. Jo

    The photos seem perfect to me. If you are this good first time out the shoot, I can only imagine how good you will be in a year. Seeing that pillow sham reminds me – are we going to be able to see the tutorial on the making of it?? That bedroom is so beautiful.

  15. Talitha

    Congrats on your new camera! I have nothing intelligent to say about camera’s :-), but the room looks great! I love how the quilt brings so much character to the room, it looks cozy and pretty.

  16. katie near chicago

    I love your Opa’s rug in the room, but I wonder if adding some of the colors of the rug to the rest of the room might make it even better? To my eye, there is a disconnect between the blue and white and the rug — altho I agree with you that the colors in the rug pick up the blue shades, I’d try adding a bit of the red elsewhere in the room. Just a thought on a Saturday morning.

  17. Kristin

    Love your blog!

  18. Brittanymakes

    Beautiful shots!!! Much brighter and cleaner than the first go’round with your room. I was wondering if you could write about your learning on ISO and white balance. Maybe more on white balance, I have a hard time understanding web to change it from auto. I want pics like yours and Marias!! I feel bad asking since people tend to hold their photo tips close to their chest like a trade secret. But I must learn!

    • Cindy Weston

      I love the red rug! I really do, especially with the needle point chair. The primary colors are softened by the white. Beautiful.
      I was thinking about the white balance as well. I wonder if the whites would show more detail (like the texture of the bedding fabrics) if you raised the shutter speed up just a little. It would allow just a little less light into the camera thus not washing out some of the detail. Just a thought.
      Beautiful room ass always. And I LOVE that rug.
      Have fun Marion. getting a new camera is like Christmas morning. I love a new camera.

    • Kristin Smith

      White balance is easier than you think!
      Each time you are in a new light situation, just shoot a digital target (see link above) and then go to your menu and select custom white balance and then select the image w/ the target.

  19. Linda

    love the rug, love the chair, love the quilt, love the plates, love the wallpaper, love the lamps, love the pillow….LOVE the whole room!!!!

  20. Diane Westbrook

    Oh, I just love Opa’s rug in this room and especially love it by the needlepoint chair! Everything in the room is perfect….love how you mix things together. I have a question…is there wallpaper to match the fabric of the drapes or did you put fabric on the wall? I really love that!

  21. Ashlea

    I love the blue and white… and the linen, and the bed frame! It is all coming together beautifully, and I think your Opa’s rug is a lovely addition. I’m sure it seems like a big splurge, but I think you made the right decision investing in a new camera 🙂 Congratulations on the purchase and the beautiful photographs!

  22. Elaine

    Wow! Those pictures are amazing — it is magazine spread quality. Sooo professional!

  23. Nicole S

    It’s so crisp!!!!! Very nice indeed!

  24. Cindy

    My favorite picture was the last one of the rug and needlepoint chair. Great shot and great color! I love that chair!

  25. sharon

    Okay….here it is…work on YOUR eye. Your eye is the camera’s eye. Be very exact about what EXACTLY you want to convey….is it the ceiling OR the chandelier? My father was a photographer. I grew up “seeing” everything different. I am also an artist..my inside “sees” the beauty of things differently. Learn lighting. …this will be your best friend!

  26. wendy

    I agree about adding small touches of the red. I think that will add to the overall look and make the rug a strong fit for the space. Love the rest!

  27. Deborah W

    good choice on the Nikon, I have a Canon and my d-i-l has a similar version Nikon and hers takes much clearer photos. She is now our family photographer.
    You younger girls are so inspiring! ( I am 60) and just started painting furniture after studying many of your blogs and Facebook pages.
    I too want to step up my photography skills and want to start looking for local class to take.

    Thanks for be inspirational.. Oh Yeah, turquoise has always been my fav color but lately I am falling in love again w BLUE!!!

  28. Bernice

    I am so happy you kept the chair,(if it is the same chair you were doubtful about. I haven’t heard since the post about who was taking what. ) Ihad suggested if you didn’t want the needlepoint,to replace it with other fabric,and frame it. That would still give you the history part. Iam so pleased you kept it! Nice job on rising to the photography challenge! Huggers!

  29. Joy Schumann

    Marian: Your room and pictures look really great: suggest you add a little red in 2 places in your room and place the rug perpendicularly under the foot of the bed a few feet. Leave at least 2/3 of the width exposed at the foot of the bed. Right now, from the pictures the rug looks detached from the main focal point in the room…the bed. It is beautiful and the rug adds a nice “anchor” to the whole room.
    Always enjoy your posts!

  30. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch)

    Marian, I go through the exact same thing when buying a camera. There’s usually a period in there when I feel completely overwhelmed because you read so many contrary statements. Your new camera sounds amazing! Always love your beautiful photographs…you inspire me to work harder on my photography. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend! XO

  31. DeAndrea

    Photos are beautiful. Love the quilt at the end of the bed!

  32. Joan

    I have been reading for blog for several years and have to say, as so many others have said, “truly inspirational”! Your new Nikon story spoke volumes to me as I JUST entered DSLR world and it has been so much fun to watch your progression. Thank you for all you share – it has meant a ton over the past couple of years.
    Thank you,

  33. Susan Dingman

    Seeing the rug made me think for you to call your new MMS milk paint coral color “Opa’s Rug”.

  34. Edith

    Wow, what an improvement. I used to think that your nightstands didn’t really go with your wallpaper but now I see they are a grayish blue and not green. Same for the lamps.

    Great job.

  35. peggy Shor

    I am pleasantly surprised to see a camera review on your site! PLUS, I have been recently reading up on the Nikon D800 as well!!. I look forward to hearing more about it, and seeing some of your photographs. Have fun with it!

  36. katiebean

    These photos are brilliant. I was a little confused with the master bedroom reveal – I thought my computer was showing colours wrongly, since the scheme looked like blue and cream, not blue and white – much prettier now. I think the rug looks great against the warm wood tones of the floor too – oh to be rid of my bleurgh beige bedroom carpet!

  37. Mitzi Curi

    I’ve always admired your photos so much, so I can’t wait to see more now that you have your new camera! Als, I’ve learned a lot about photography from you, so thank you!

  38. MaryS

    REALLY like the addition of the darker blues/reds. Makes the wallpaper pop too. And I think every room needs a little touch of red… Very nice –

  39. Christine

    As soon as I saw the color of your Opa’s rug it immediately made me think of your new “coral” paint color! I know you already picked a name, but just had to mention it…

  40. Denise D

    Hi, Love the pictures taken with your new camera…very sharp and crisp. I wanted to tell you that I have the same needlepoint chair (only in light green with flowers). It was my great grandmother’s chair. I just love it and it sits in my bedroom.
    Love your BLOG!!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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