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I'm sure I'm not the only one who has brought a camera and given up on it for being too complicated. If you have an unused camera I invite you to read on.


Before shooting I recommend doing a bit of background work.

If you haven't already print or buy a manual for your camera, it's easier than skipping back and forth on line .

OTC Manuals is a small company offering spiral bound manual copies at a reasonable price (around £13).


First steps

If you are complete beginner stick with Auto until you are comfortable with holding the camera and getting to know your way around all the buttons etc .

For my portraits in this blog I used the SCN Mode . This is a setting that gives categories like People, Indoors, Landscapes, Night etc. A more tailored version of Auto. No worrying about Aperture, ISO or Shutter Speed.

Or you may like to give ART Filters a try to make your shots stand out from Phone Shots straight from camera.


Choose a location

Natural light is best for beginners . Outdoors will be an advantage.

Indoor shots, I would choose a room with light walls if possible.

Turn off any electric lights which can give unwanted yellow, orange or blue tones to your shots .

If you have a window you will have to consider where the light is falling, as it will create shadows which can be both flattering and unflattering depending on what way the light shines on your face.

Consider reflecting light, bouncing it off light source can work well without expensive props.

A piece of white card, or a white bedsheet will work. You could use a dark reflector to create shadow , a jacket or jumper even work. Play with the light to see how the shadows fall and what works best for your face.

I shot these below an over head window . This gave an even light without shadows.

Girl taking selfies in mirror wearing Gap Jumpsuit and Bandana . Sepia effect . Self Portrait with DSLR vintage style  shots and retro style camera .

Art Filter - Gentle Sepia soft and really flattering for portraits and gives a great mood by drawing out shadows and softening the overall image .


The Vintage Filter II is in the above shot, this creates a nice moody shot and would be good for Instagram. The cool tone and soft focus are flattering .

Coffee shop shots would look really good with these ones .

Choose between three variations .

Use for everyday shots to create vintage tones using printed film discolouration .


Pin Hole Filters

Reminisent of 1920's and 30's movie shots, three variations .

Gives look of old or toy camera by dimming the perimeter .

NB edge of the mirror adds to this effect.


SCN Mode - People.

Creates a natural looking result, great for highlight and detail.

45mm lens gives close perspective without standing too close to your subject.

The 1.8 aperture is great in low light and gives shots a professional feel .

Bokeh is beautiful with this lens.

I now use this regularly for family shots.

And this one too ...

I was surprised by the detail of the dog's fur from this lens , and great blur on the background.

All portraits posted straight from camera , no edits and shot with 45mm lens.


Using a camera instead of phone for photography can be daunting if you are unfamiliar with the settings I would recommend just working with Auto or SCN. mode if your camera has this option .

You-Tube is great for free tutorials, I just put my camera or lens into the search bar .

I find I can get so interested in these that I don't take photos myself.

Because of this I prefer reading my Manual , as I find this far less distracting



Useful links ~

Hive is an online seller that gives back to independent book shops. A percentage of each sale goes direct to an Independent Book Shop, you can even choose which from a list .

The link below is for the book I mentioned in this blog post . A good guide to basic photo techniques and settings on any camera.

Olympus Image Space is a hub for blog, events (lots are free) , photography tips and tricks

Printed Camera Manuals

Olympus shop, watch out for seasonal offers

I was gifted the 45m by Olympus but under no obligation to post anything.

All views are my own and unbiased.


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Nov 23, 2020

Loving all those poses and filters, Lois. I would really like to find the time to learn how to master a camera properly one day.

Nov 17, 2020

It’s definitely investing in one Catherine. So much easier to navigate than the online versions.


Nov 17, 2020

I need one of those printed out camera manuals, top tip thank you Lois

Nov 16, 2020

Good Afternoon Ashley ! Your photos always look really professional I am not surprised you’ve been using a DSLR for them. I am really pleased you found the post useful , happy snapping with the Olympus. I hope you enjoy playing with the filters too.

Nov 16, 2020

Hi Lynne. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post. I hope I’ve inspired you to get that antique out and start taking some shots !

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