Thursday, July 5, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: A New Camera Lens!

If you've been reading this blog for several years, and/or have known me longer, you'll know that one of my former supervising attorneys nicknamed me "PH" - which stands for Perfectionist from Hell.

I think it was supposed to be a compliment.


Dress ~ Loft Outlet 50% Off Dress Sale $19.99
Nine West Wedges ~ Ross Dress for Less earlier this year
MMD Button Flower ~ Megan Mae Daily
Fox ring ~ thrifted on business trip to Wilmington, NC

I'm Not Vain, Just Showin' that Older Women Love Style, Too

You'll also know that for years I've been making recommendations for reasonably priced conservative career clothing within legal and office staffers' budgets, initially spurred by Corporette's clothing recommendations for "overachieving chicks" with MBAs and JDs. I love the guidelines and inspiration for office fashion, but many of the daily personal shopping recommendations are for items of clothing that cost more than my mortgage or car payment.


Fox ring thrifted from A Second Time Around in Wilmington, NC

Then I started looking for more realistic style blogs to follow, seeking real women showing their daily work wardrobes, sharing re-mixing tips and suggestions to stretch a clothing budget. I quickly discovered it was real hard to find women past their 30s blogging about their daily office style. That's when I decided that maybe I should put my budget career clothing recommendations where my wardrobe is, because maybe other older recessionistas were looking for style bloggers more like themselves.

I also discovered thrifting from other style bloggers, and learned that much of the time my entire work outfit could cost less than $50 - and feature items of clothing that while still conservative-office appropriate, are much more interesting, well-made, and from designers and labels I previously could not afford.


But the Old Camera Wasn't Up to Snuff

I started taking outfit photos with my older Canon PowerShot (look at all the hair in this post, sometimes I miss it so much!), but quickly realized that I wasn't getting the image quality I wanted. Not that I'm a model or the most stylish middle-aged woman on the planet, but I've always loved art, both looking at it and making it. Photography is just another artistic media for me. I also realized that the style bloggers I enjoy the most have pretty good cameras, and take pretty good photos.

My family is on a limited budget, but last fall, Dear Hubby, the technological genius and Absent-Minded Professor, agreed we could upgrade to our first DSLR camera. After setting a budget and doing the research, we bought a Nikon D3100 from Best Buy, which came with the standard 18-55mm VR lens.


But what should have been an oh-happy-day experience turned into buyer's remorse. I still wasn't getting an image quality consistent with the new camera investment. Close-up photos were great; people pictures not so much. Part of my style blogger limitations include having to take photos on the fly, often inside during cold or rainy weather. Much of the time, the whole process takes less than 10 minutes, setting up the tripod and grabbing a few pics in my actual office. Low light was not my friend, no matter how many blinds I opened, or lamps I turned on. There was visual distortion in most of my pics that drove me bananas, even though my family insisted they couldn't see what I was seeing.

What this Middle-Aged Recessionista Needed Was a New Lens



After about ten months of pure frustration, I went back to the drawing board. I felt like we'd made too much of an investment in the Nikon D3100 to give it up. I started asking people who were technologically-inclined, and/or better photographers what they recommended. Everyone recommended a new lens specifically for portraits and people pictures, but some of the lenses were in price ranges that cost as much or more than the camera.


My gorgeous mom striking a style blogger pose.

I did some more research online, especially about Nikon lenses preferred by wedding photographers, and then noticed that one of my favorite bloggers, Kasmira at What I Wore 2 Day, often uses a AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens, and gets consistently beautiful pictures. (Of course it helps that she is also stunningly beautiful.) This lens is also in the lower end of the price range, and I had a Best Buy coupon for an additional discount.


I was sitting in the recliner, and Sasha Jane was on top of it when I took this.

I picked up my new camera lens yesterday, and took a ton of test people and cat pictures while the family was over celebrating the holiday. The improved quality of the photos was the equivalent of fireworks for me. I am thrilled with the purchase. Not a single photo in this post has been edited, other than cropping. The artist in me is happy, and the budget career style blogger is pleased to take this blogging venture to a new level.


Sasha Jane is beautiful, and she knows it.

What do you guys think? Can you see the difference between the standard kit lens and the 35mm f/1.8 lens?


Related Posts:  Practical Paralegalism's Top 20 Style Blogs; Three Paralegal Style Bloggers You'll Love

11 comments:

  1. Total dress of gorgeousness. I love how the button flower looks like part of the dress - one red flower of happiness!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love, love, love omg LOVE this outfit. This is really what I was thinking of when I first put together buttonflowers. Something to add a pop of color and detail to simpler basics, but you take them to the next level!

    I think you look so much younger right now than you did in those older photos. The shorter hair, the colors and prints in your wardrobe, and the happiness that comes through has definitely shown your change.

    I can tell a difference with the new lens. I didn't know what you were talking about before, but I can now. It creates a sharper look on the subject than the other lens, which is the whole point in portraits. I think it was a good purchase and I hope you're satisfied with your splurge! Congrats on the new lens, may you take a million brilliant photos.

    Also omg Miss Sasha Jane! Her eyes are finally the same color as the boys. I don't know which daddy cat had the brown eyes, but they've turned up in every kitten! How funny.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can absolutely see the difference that the new lense has made! And the photo of your mother is incredible! (Oh, and Megan's flower looks fantastic on your dress)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh I can totally tell a difference! Yay for you Lynne! I have wanted a new lens and/or camera too. I currently use a Canon (not sure the name, but it's not a point and shoot) because it is easy to use. I am not sure if there is a lens that goes with it, but I would love to find out. Maybe I'll do some digging . . . or wedding registry-ing. ;-)

    I LOVE hearing you talk about finding other reasonable blogs for older women in the professional field. That is exactly how I felt when I first started blogging and it kept me from starting for a long time. I was like "what's the point? I'm in my 30s now, I'm in a professional environment (i.e. no purple hair or ripped boyfriend jeans) and I live on a very modest budget." But after finding blogs like yours and Megan's and Christine's (Future Lint) and a few select others I thought that perhaps I could! I really am glad that you blog. I think your style is amazing, your paralegal information is WONDERFUL (I never knew I could even meet another paralegal style blogger!), your humor is so entertaining and you are the sweetest little lady ever!

    Congrats on the new lens Lynne! So glad to see you happy! And the kitty is too cute! Growing so much!

    ReplyDelete
  5. haha, yes most good lenses can end up costing you more than the camera!!
    but you have to think of them like investments, because they will never depreciate (unless you break it...) and what is the point of having a high quality camera with poor lens?

    I upgraded from the 1.8 to the 1.4 and i love it, and i really love shooting with it wide open, who doesn't appreciate some good bokeh?

    Chic on the Cheap

    ReplyDelete
  6. You look so brilliant in that cute dress.
    You are maturing like the good wine, looking youngres and more stylush every time.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can see the difference! A new lens can really help. I keep thinking I should upgrade to something better than my little point and shoot. One of these days I will.

    I love the top outfit with the dress and button flower! And I love your fox ring!

    And Miss Sasha Jane sure is getting big!! So cute!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love the outfit! The splash of color from the flower against the black and white of the dress... wonderful.

    I guess I'll be the dissenter in saying that I noticed a difference with the new lens, but I didn't like it. I see more detail, but to me the images look slightly compressed from top to bottom, shorter and wider than in previous photos. At first I thought you'd changed the angle they were taken from.

    Maybe I just need more time to get used to it? lol

    ReplyDelete
  9. I want one! Your photos with the new lens look great.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Megan ~ I think that MMD button flower takes the dress to a much more memorable level :)

    @MeganMMD ~ I look younger? THAT's what I've been striving for...lol. I still have many miles to go to master this camera, but so far, I think the lens is my fave - until the next lens :P

    @Terri ~ I love the pic of my mom, too. The colors in her shirt are so pretty with her hair.

    @Robin ~ Your photos are terrific. We researched the comparable Canon, and didn't buy it. It's probably similar to yours, and you get lovely images.

    @Lydia ~ I know what bokeh means, but how to get it? Got my eye on photography classes :)

    @SARAMENTO ~ "Stylush" is my new fave word!

    @Beth ~ The thrifting Gods were smiling the day I found that fox ring, and it fit my scrawny li'l fingers!

    @Sherry ~ I see your point, but I think the lens accurately reflects my true shortness and wideness...lol. Next time I'm gonna ask for the "tall, thin" lens :D

    @Lauren ~ I never see you at wrok anymore because everyone's so busy, but I hope you'll pose for the new lens soon :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh!!! So where are these paralegals who are making the big bucks, then? They are certainly not here in Connecticut. Lol! Funny, I started my blog for the same reason although I show more casual than I do work related stuff now. I was actually working at another firm last year and their code was very specific. At my current....the dress code went COMPLETELY out the window. Last Friday someone wore shorts in. This Friday there were more shorts in the office. I know some of my own choices are questionable, but good grief, shorts? I am trying to stick to Mondays and Wednesdays but the other days, I don't even bother dressing up for work anymore.

    ReplyDelete

We love comments here; we feed them, hug them, and name them George :) Seriously, your comments make my day.