Learning to Use My New Canon Rebel SL1: My Arizona Desert Photos!

Although I have had a lot going on lately, I was able to use my new camera this week during a few hikes through our own "backyard".

I took about an hour watching the video that came with my bundle and read through the manual before I was ready to get started. Little did I know that taking photos is quite a complex, and often, frustrating process! It took me a while to learn how to use the different lenses and how to set just the basic settings for taking photos. Although I only have a few photos to show you all.. I am still proud of say the least.. haha

I finally had a chance to view the photos from my computer and I was amazed at the difference from the photos I took with the Canon from the photos I WAS taking with my Galaxy PHONE!! Yes... my phone was also my "professional" camera...

Above is the Canon Rebel Sl1 bundle - similar to the bundle I got. I KNOW so many people recommend the Canon Rebel T5i, BUT {in my defense}, I am a creative person and I LOVE white technology! I chose this particular model because the Canon Rebel T5i did not come in white...hahaha  AND I love it, but the way!!

I actually had NO idea I was getting this for Christmas. In fact, my husband told me that the giant box by the side of the tree was a Squatty Potty. What is a Squatty Potty you ask? Well, it is a stool for the toilet that allows you to put your feet up. I am short and I always have a little stool in the bathroom. EVERYONE in the house makes fun of me, but I don't care... a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.... right?  We first saw the Squatty Potty featured on Shark Tank and the kids and hubs all laughed and said that I should get one. I actually did want one... hahaha!! Any who, I never did get one, but I did get the camera I have been drooling over for some time now!!

Now I don't know about you all, but we are not in a position to drop this much money on a camera so my husband ordered it and was able to choose the easy pay option to break it into smaller, more manageable payments!! SCORE!!!

Now that I have it.. and I am making payments on it for the next couple of months, I have a ton of great plans to use it to add new products to my shops!!! AWESOME-SAUCE!!

After getting a little bit used to the camera, I took photos of different plants, textures, animal habitats and more to use for some great new resources for both teachers and designers!! I just finished up the first set of textures this evening, but they will not be completely ready for a day or so... I am working on how to organize and bundle these the best and most efficient way possible. I really do LOVE how most of them turned out and now I just need to get another external hard drive for all of the pictures I will be taking. I am thoroughly excited about this whole new adventure!! Who knew taking photos could be so fun!!

Here are some of my first photos... and I don't think their all that bad for a beginner!! If I choose to include a few of the ones I took of Charlie playing fetch in the backyard... PLEASE ignore my ugly backyard... it is HIDEOUS!! I don't have a lot of time to garden and I have pretty much let it all go to "the place I shall not mention". So... I apologize ahead of time and will work on trying to work on my yard so my grass looks like grass and not... well.. I don't even have a word to describe what it looks like, but it feels UNLIKE any grass I know of {except mine, of course}.

My neighbor across the street just had fake grass installed.. which I think is cheating.. but hey... if you have the money.... Charlie actually was ABOUT to trample on it when he realized it wasn't real and literally freaked out and pulled me back to our side of the street to walk. Even dogs aren't that amused by the fake grass... although I do have to say that the fake stuff looks pretty darn REAL!! I will have to take a pic to show you time.. haha

I am sure my neighbor would REALLY appreciate that.. haha

My Photos...

This is the VERY first picture I took of Charlie... and NO.. that is not my backyard behind him. That is one of the MANY beautiful parks in my neighborhood that we like to walk to. As you can see from the image below... I completely cut out the top of his ears.. DANG!! It is still a cute picture.

Okay... so the actual picture below I know is terrible, BUT Charlie looks so funny that I just couldn't pass this one up!! {Yes... this is a small bit of my backyard..sorry} I will be using this photo next week for a really fun linky challenge. I hope you all join in!

I did not forget about our Chubby Chihuahua, Roxie. She is an old lady and pretty much just finds a place as close to my feet as possible to snore all day. Sometimes, she can be quite annoying and I have been known to scold her out of the office. I only have to give her "the look" and she knows it's time to snore somewhere else for a while. Most times, she will plop about a foot directly outside of my office... hahaha...

Just so you all know, I was NOT planning on getting her tongue in the shot... it just happened and I find this picture absolutely hilarious!!

Here are a few of my very first close up of FLOWERS... OOOOH... AAHHHH!! haha
AND YES... I DID walk onto someone's front yard (just a little bit) to get a picture of this beautiful rose... I just hope no one was watching... But don't worry.. the next flowers are all my own...

AND... last but not least.. hear are a few of the Arizona Desert... This next one is not about the photo, but more about the cacti. When I saw these two cacti, I imagined they were having a conversation, so I created a little cacti humor for you to accompany this photo...

What did one cactus say to the other?
Give up??

No need for applause... I already know how awesome that was.. haha!!

There are always so many interesting looking Saguaro skeletons in the desert! I,ove how much personality they all have... I won't tell you what I thought of when I saw this one below... but isn't our my Arizona sky just AWESOME!!!
I did not go alone on my hike, but every time I wasn't paying attention, my little explorer wandered off and could seemingly get to the top of the hill within seconds! I always get nervous with him running around the pricklies ever since he ended up getting "attacked" by a Jumping Cholla Cactus last year. I had to use my mouth to remove the spikes... one at a time.... from his leg, socks, and foot!! We had hikes out pretty far that day and Joe and I had to take turns caring a 12 year old on our backs the entire way back. The poor guy was all red a swollen on his foot for a few days, but he seems to have forgotten the pain he went looking at the pic below...

Now here is a picture I took of a Jumping Cholla Cactus. I wish I had noticed that darn branch in the middle before I took the photo, but oh well... I am a beginner.. haha. These grow little prickly balls that fall off and land around the ground of the cactus... they move around when it's windy and if you aren't paying attention while you're hiking, you could get caught in a mess!! The little balls stick to everything... clothing, skin... you name it! We pay close attention to watch out for these now.  The one below is about to flower... I think.

The next one is called a Fishhook Cactus and THIS is the one with the stick in the middle of the photo... haha.. I wanted to share the image with you all because they get the most beautiful bright coral pinkish-purple-ish flowers in the Spring! Who knew something so ugly and dangerous could produce a flower so beautiful!? I can't wait until they begin to bloom, so I can show you the flowers!

It is AMAZING that I can find almost every species of desert plants right in my own backyard... well... about a hike away.. but still close. 

I even managed to get a couple of shots of my husband... getting cozy on the couch {lookin' delicious with his new suave hair style} while Charlie is sleeping in HIS corner spot.. haha.. AND YES... my husband DOES, in fact, own a Harry Potter Cloak... AND YES, it is draped over my elliptical machine in the background... It might as well be an invisibility cloak since that machine RARELY gets used. Actually.. I have been using it every day for the last several weeks after my knee injury. It is a great warm up to TurboFire and gets my muscles warmed up and ready. I tore my ACL and was down and out for nearly two weeks straight... 

And here is my little Missy {actually, she is a senior in high school this year.. YIKES}! This was the ONLY photo that I added any filters to...and I did because she is always posing in her Korean pop music style and I thought the black and white added to the drama... bwahaha!! I actually have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to photography... this just happened....

Well, I hope you enjoyed seeing my photos and getting a little glimpse into my weird life..  until next time my friends!!


WAIT... I just realized I didn't get a photo of myself.... oh well, I will give you one last one of Charlie... that will do for now (-;  


  1. Wow - you are terrific at photography! I can't believe that you call yourself a beginner! My pictures always are the top of someone's head, their eyes are half closed, and my pups have always moved and are blurry. Yours are great - congrats!

    1. Thank you so much!! It took me a while to figure out how to take the action shots because the first few were turning out a bit blurry.. haha..

  2. I had an incredible surprise under my tree as well - - my husband got me a Canon Rebel for Christmas (I'd been hinting around for months that I wanted one, but never in my wildest dreams did I think he'd give it to me for Christmas!). I've taken some great and horrible photos, but the quality is so awesome, even the bad ones look better than my iPhone! I need to follow your lead now and watch the video and read the manual…. Enjoy, and thanks for the inspiration!

    1. CONGRATS!!! I am amazed by the quality of the photos, but I don't even know how you knew how to operate it without the manual!!?? I had to use the manual just to figure out how to get it ready to take a picture.. haha

  3. I'm also just starting out with photography! I haven't posted any photos to my "teacher" blog yet, but I did post a few to my personal blog ( I'm using a Nikon D60 and have been using Picasa to edit since I can't fork out the money for Adobe Photoshop at the moment :P

    1. I didn't realize how fun it was to take photos!! I am having so much fun with mine. I just checked out your blog post and I am wondering if the photo with you and your {husband?} was taken using a self timer? Mine is too big to take a selfie with my little fingers. I am not familiar with cameras, so I will have to see what the Nikon D60 looks like..haha

      Did you know that picMonkey is a FREE online editing software that has a very similar interface to Photoshop? I always point people in that direction who need to edit photos or create create an image, but can't afford the Adobe programs. The Adobe programs are my life source, so I would be broke without them... haha

      I will be working on a workshop solely focusing on paid and free programs and how they work next month. I will be setting up my camera to video tape the session... that is next on my list of things I have to learn this year.. I am crazy! I just can't stick to any one creative outlet... I need and crave them all.

      Thank you for stopping by & I hope you do post more pictures!!

  4. The picture of my husband and I was actually taken with my iphone. I used Picasa to edit the photo. As crazy as it sounds, I forget to take my Nikon with me on the Honeymoon so all the pictures from there were taken with either my iphone or my Canon Powershot.

  5. Thank you for sharing Michelle - AMAZING photos! I am also interested in learning more about photography. Being in the Keys a lot - I want to take pictures of the beautiful landscape here. I love your desert pics!! It does not look like you are a beginner at all! I have been looking into buying a new camera - I am so happy I saw your post. :) Thank you! I hope you continue to share your photography tips and ideas!!


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