New E-book for Beginning Photographers

cover beg

I’ve finally finished my first E-book, Getting to Know Your Digital Camera! This is the culmination of years of teaching my beginning photography classes. I wanted to create a book packed with information in a fun, easy to read and view format for new photographers.  With the help of my wonderful Graphic artist friend, Cynthia Gisiner, I believe I achieved my goal! She created a beautiful format for the book and designed a smashing cover.

I have come to love teaching and hope students find this book useful. My plan is to continue with a series of beginner, intermediate and advanced books. I also have plans to add small video clips to enhance the teaching experience. The book format can support this so I can’t wait to get started on that as well.

So a copy for yourself or as a gift for the aspiring photographer in your life.  I’ve kept the price low, only $4.99! It’s available through the Kindle store on Even if you don’t have a Kindle, most any device will support the Kindle reading app. Use this link to access my book on Amazon: Getting to Know Your Digital Camera

I appreciate all of the students that have made this book possible and everyone in my life that supports what I do.

Below is the full description of the book:

Learn the basics of your digital camera in a fun, easy to read manual with plenty of practice exercises so you can get shooting! Cameras help us capture the moments of our lives; so don’t miss out on learning how to make the most of your camera. We’ll start at the beginning with a digital primer. In it we’ll demystify megapixels, file size, file formats, and types of cameras. Then we’ll address basic navigation of the camera and learn some terminology. Once we have the basics set up we’ll learn a little about how the camera works. Understanding a few key features will make photographing so much more enjoyable and then you can move onto the fun stuff – making beautiful memorable pictures.

A solid foundation in photography comes from understanding the basics of how the camera works and sees the world around us. So you’ll get a primer on exposure, light, shutter speeds, and aperture. Then I’ll teach you how to choose the proper shooting mode for the situation, get sharp images by paying attention to how much light you have, avoid unwanted colorcasts, control how bright or dark the image is, know when to use the flash and when to avoid it, and so much more. Don’t worry; I will not force you to learn full manual control of the camera, yet. If you have a desire to move on, I’ll have a book for that in my Intermediate Shots series.

This book is also great for those of you unsure what type of camera to buy and for those of you looking to upgrade. Get an overview on camera types and the variety of shooting modes and what they can do in various shooting situations.

This guide, the first in a series, will give you a solid foundation in photography. These books are drawn on 12 years of teaching photography to people like you and me. Continue on to learn about composing the image and seeing great light in my next Beginning Shots e-book, Create Beautiful Images. Want more? I plan to take you to the Intermediate and Advanced levels as well. Stay tuned!

Some testimonials from former students:

“In reflecting on earlier workshops and private lessons I took with you I realize how much you provided me with inspiration and instruction for photograph. Please continue your classes and workshops to positively influence others. As you know good teachers are rare and you are one.” Morris L.

“Fantastic and fun learning experience – as I’ve come to expect from Victoria! Love the humor!” Dana T.

“I enjoyed the class and was a true novice with my camera and I’m not so afraid of it now. “ Connie H.

For more testimonials visit

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Canon Camera Errors

I have owned Canon cameras since I began shooting in the 90’s. I still have my old film camera and occasionally break it out, but mostly I use my digital versions. I have owned the 10D, 20D, 1D Mark III, Mark IV and 5D Mark II. They have all been great cameras but as with all equipment they eventually start to break down.

I remember my first encounter with the dreaded error 99. What did this mean? Not much, just that something was wrong. Canon equates it to the check engine light on your car. The camera detected some issue but there’s no way of knowing where the problem lay. You usually turned the camera off, cleaned the battery off or changed it out, changed out the media card and wiped off the contacts between the body and lens. FYI Don’t use an eraser to clean these connections! They may ruin the coating and cause you real problems.

Now Canon has a variety of error codes. Just this past week I got the Error 20 code on my 5D Mark II. So what does that mean? I could hear the shutter sticking or lagging. Canon says it’s an unspecified mechanical error. Well I already got that. The fun part is you try all of things you did with error 99. Change out the battery, reformat the memory card, wipe the connections and see what happens. After my shoot with frequent error 20 displays I changed out the battery and now it is working fine again. For the moment anyway. I can’t imagine how the battery would affect the shutter unless there is a power fluctuation. Anyway we’ll see what happens.

So the bottom line when you get an error? Change out the battery, reformat the media card and wipe down all connections with a soft cloth, no eraser! Pray some and see what happens. The camera may work fine for a while and then have a recurrence or you may be lucky and it’s all better or you may end up sending it back to Canon to be repaired. Pretty vague I know, but here is a link to Canon’s own article on the error codes:

Good Luck!

Panasonic Lumix GX1

So I have been looking for a small good quality digicam for years now. Most point and shoots are too slow and have terrible quality at ISO 400 and above. This past weekend at Bill Allard’s workshop I noticed he is using the Panasonic Lumix 4:3 cameras. I was impressed by how compact and lightweight they were, the amount of features and control and hey, Bill Allard is using them!

So I went home and did some research on They did a nice job outlining all of the features and comparing it to other top contenders. I was seriously considering the Sony NEX 5N and the Olympus EP3. They both have faster fps but Sony had issues with the video, the Olympus was rather pricey and both have more limited lens choices. I read a lot of reviews and decided on the Lumix GX 1.

How is it? I’ve had it less than 24 hours and I’m in love. It’s compact and lightweight even with the 25mm Leica lens I got for it. I am impressed with the detail and lack of noise at all ISO levels, even 3200 is good. It’s pretty fast, not like my 5D Mark II, but not bad. One drawback is how to hold the tiny thing. I have really small hands and it’s a bit of a challenge to get your grip just so and not accidentally press buttons on the back.

Check out these images below and judge for yourself. I will have more on this camera later once I’ve explored all of it’s features and read the manual!

ISO 160 at F 1.4
ISO 3200 F 1.8








ISO 3200 F 1.8
ISO 200 at F 1.8










ISO 1250 F 8
ISO 3200 F 2.8


Lightroom 4

The newest version of Lightroom is out. I just purchased the program and had no problems with installation. Opening the program for the first time seamlessly updated my current catalog. If you have been considering getting Lightroom now is a good time. The full version is $149 from Amazon and the student/teacher version is $79 from Amazon. Amazing prices for this program.

New features for LR 4 are expanded controls in the Basics Tab. You now have highlights, whites, shadows and blacks replacing brightness, recovery and fill light. This combined with the new process version 2012, which renders a file for editing in Lightroom, helps you recover information in dark and bright areas and define the black and white points with more precision. If you have no idea what I’m talking about I will try to expand more in a future post. There are other new features to talk about!

There are 2 new modules, Maps and Books. Create books and export them to PDF or have them directly printed via Blurb a popular online printing service.  The map module lets you utilize GPS information from the camera, if you have it or apply GPS info via Google maps once you mark the location of the images on the map.

For printing there is a soft proofing control. This gives you an idea of how the image will look printed.  For video buffs there are controls to edit and organize videos. I doubt these are very high end but if you are new to getting into video this may be a good starting point.

So should you upgrade? If you are into editing images and enjoy the process by all means! If you already have Lightroom 3 and are new to the interface, stick with it for now unless any of the new features really grab you or you have to have the latest technology! For a really in depth review of Lightroom 4 and the features it offers visit:

If you don’t have Lightroom at all, well now is the time!

I can’t recommend this program enough. The combination of a friendly interface and variety of editing tools far surpass any other program out there. Photoshop does not have the friendly interface and few programs that come with your camera or iPhoto can match the editing options. Make editing and organizing easier by jumping in with Lightroom 4. To get going take a class, I offer several! Or get a book by Nat Coalson and/or Scott Kelby to help you get started.