Melissa T.

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one.

The Accidental Photographer - Sony Winning Photography Story

The Accidental Photographer - Sony Winning Photography Story


Just for fun I entered one of my photographers in Sony Stories.  Although Dvilla pretty comfortable with Canon cameras.  He loves shooting with Sony A7RII.  Here of the sample of his images check out the rest on the link below:

Sony Stories

Check out how he got his start in Photography, maybe you'll be inspired to start DSLR Photography as well.  

Check back every few days as I am often adding to this story for the entire month of May.  In addition i'll add some tips.

6/8/17 so i made my finally touch up to my story... and my profile.   Added a few pictures.  Hope you guys like it.

Sony Stories

I wanted also to correct that that the best sony entry level camera if price point isn't an option would be a6500.  You still have the crop sensor like a6300... but you get inbody image stabilization.   Also a bigger buffer if you shoot continuous.  Touch Focus! like the Canon EOS line.  

Stay tuned i'll test one of these 6500 tell you if its worth the extra $400.00 over A6300.


Well i won and got featured!!  

you can check it out


I am really happy my story connected with all of you readers.  In the end i really want you guys to just do something you love, it might not be photography, but just give it shot.

I wanted to cover a few loose ends.

How do i tell if the lens i have is good?

I can go into all the complicated details.  Prime (fixed lens) vs zoom lens, chromatic aberrations, etc.  You guys don't want that.  The easiest way is go to  and search for your lens, anything between 40-50 is good lens. 50 being the best. The highest i seen was 49 which sony-zeis FE 85mm/ f1.4 scores.

In sony world, the zeis-sony lenses are usually the best. Tamron lens are good.  

So summary to start:

  • Find a friend with a DSLR
  • Easier to get the same manufacturer hes got so he can show u the basic settings.  
  • Stick to Canon, Sony, Nikon
  • I would start with a lightweight model.  If its to heavy you wont use it, you'll end up using your iphone.
  • Weight and easy of use are important!
  • Go mirrorless (its the future and lighter)


What Starter Sony DSLR should I get?


We talked about the Canon, lets discuss Sony Entry level DSLR.  I would probably go with the:

Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Lens

You can get it for $379.

For a good prime lens, to get those crisp professional looking shots.  I would go with the

Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens (Black)

You can get it for $248.00.

Best place to get it is BH Photo, cause of hassle free return policy.

For $626 you get a decent DSLR camera that can take great looking pictures at f1.8.  I think 50mm a good lens, I really like that focal length it’s a good general lens and good for taking portraits too.

But its only 20 megapixels?  megapixels vs Image Quality.

Don't get hung up on megapixels, its all about image quality 50mm f1.8 gonna take some really nice pictures.  The lens is more important then the camera body.

Sony Stories

The lower the f-stop the better.  1.4 would be more expensive lens then 2.8 in general.

Remember one thing that really annoying and confusing with Sony.  When looking for lens.  You first need an E- Mount.  also make sure it mentions E-Mount Lens/APS-C Format.

APS-C Format is the one you want to match your sensor.  At the start just keep things simple.

Start shooting in natural light.  Natural Light is the best, its free and it’s a good way to learn DSLR. 

In fact, I didn’t even use a flash for a month or so, till I got good at natural light.

The Best Entry level Sony

I think is the A6300.   Its a little price at around $948 just for the body.  I like the fact you can put a real flash on it, not just a pop up flash on a5000.   Pop flash is sort of useless if you want nice professional looking images.   It gives a more selfie, iPhone look.  

Ideally you want a real flash to bounce around walls, ceiling to light your subject in faltering manner.

So the pros and cons... Sony your going to get really portable, mirror-less lens, light camera.  Canon what I love is the really nice high contrast LCD. and touch focusing.  I think touch focusing is really helpful when you get started.  Just makes things easier. Also the great LCD its easier to see if you got a great picture without having to know how to read a histogram.

Sony you need to be able to focus and recompose which something i guess that needs to be taught to you.

Sony Stories

5/17/17 Shoot in Central Park

I think one of the most beautiful places to shoot is Central Park. In the heart of NYC.  You have this great park with all sorts of details, ponds, bridges, paths.  The park is surrounded with these amazing towering buildings.

I decide to shoot this girl Kat, that I met in the streets of NYC.  She had no modeling experience whatsoever, but she was eager to try.  She has this great edgy look, that I normal don’t shoot.

I had makeup and hairstylist Melissa Tran, do her hair and makeup.  Kat looked amazing afterwards.

Sony Stories

Conditions were not ideal. It was 7pm the sun was going down fast. Cloudy.   I decide to light her with portable LED rather than a strobe.  My strobe transmitter was malfunctioning, so I had to improvise.

I think when your starting out its better you use continuous light like LED. Flash and strobe, can get time consuming, you should manually meter.  Otherwise it becomes like 10-15 min trial and error disaster getting your exposure right. In addition you need a light modifier on it.  My motto is keep it simple at the start.  

If your in a studio, its fine use strobe once you’re getting good.  But if you got tourist watching you, joggers, a newbie model.  Continuous light is the way to go.

You want to keep the stress level of your newbie model down, and she needs to be comfortable.

Here a preview shoot.  You can check the rest of the photos on my Sony Stories link.  I think its best to look at the images on your computer rather then your smartphone.  Sony A7RII 42 mega pixels and full sensor pulls out so much amazing details.

Sony Stories

I have a Samsung 32” 4k LCD to work on my post production.  I am continually impressed by the details.



Initially I started this blog entry to show off the pictures on Sony Stories.  Looking at the responses I think people really want to know what camera to get if I want to get started?

What camera to get?

Sony Stories

Do I get Canon, Sony, Nikon?  I think the best thing to do is go to place like BH Photo and test them out.  Secondly, if you have friend who shoot Nikon, it’s much easier to learn that brand because he can teach you how to setup the camera.

Me I learned from Melissa Tran, so she’s a big canon fan.  I can’t argue, a lot pros use canons and they take amazing pictures.  My first DSLR was a Canon EOS Rebel T6i with 18-55 kit lens.   It’s a really great camera, touch screen.  Feels great in the hand.  You can get it with a kit lens for $649 or less.

Why not get T7?  Well because it basically has the same sensor and that’s the most important part of the camera.  Camera models change so often, and really the quality doesn’t change that much.  You’re much better off spending your money on a good lens.

With a canon you have so many lens options.  You can use a full sensor EOS lens on the T6i and really great crisp professional looking shots.   After I got used to shooting with T6i, I got full sensor lens on it:  Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens for Canon EF.  The Tamron is image stabilized.  Since you’re putting on a crop sensor the effective focal length is 56mm at f1.8!  55mm is great focal length to start with in my opinion.

At F1.8 you can get really creamy backgrounds and isolate your subject matter.  

If you really excited, I am mean excited and you want expert to teach you the basics you can reach me at  subject: dez I need help.   For the next 2 months I’ll help out the first few people get started in DSLR Photography.

I love photography so much, I want to give back and help people get into it.

But Dez your primary camera is Sony A7RII?

Indeed. But this post is about how to get started in DSLR Photography.  I want to take the complication out of getting started.  Canon and Sony are both great cameras. Both have their pros and cons.  In the end I like them both.  Film making I definitely would go Sony.  Low-light shooting Sony.  

However, there isn't as many lens options at the moment for Sony.  The hi-end Sony lenses tend to be really expensive.  

Honestly for studio work, I am fine shooting Canon.  Now if you’re on vacation or walking around. A Full frame Canon with a good lens is pretty heavy.

How to get started Shooting?

  • Start in A-Auto Mode
  • Go Start shooting in natural light outside.
  • Shoot right early in the am or when the sun starts to set.  The light isn't as strong or harsh.
  • Take an Intro DSLR classes to get the basics down.  There nothing more frustrating fiddling around with all the option on your fancy new DSLR.
  • Shoot in JPEG at the start.  Instant reward, leads to more drive to learn more.  I use to shoot for the longest in JPEG.  I didn't want to get into RAW, or post.  I wanted to shoot my images, loaded them on my smart phone via wireless, then upload to social media.
  • In Short keep simple at the start.

Follow these things and you'll be amazed how many great interesting outdoor shots you'll take.

Sony Stories

In the picture below:  

I try to keep my subjects off center.  It just makes for a more cinematic effect and interesting picture.  However,  when I shot, this I had two LED Lights lighting them up from both sides. Since the apartment was pretty much made of glass, it was casting a harsh reflection off camera right.  So, I picked this shot.  Otherwise if I left the harsh reflection off the glass, your eyes would have been immediately drawn to it. It might blown out the shot or underexposed the subjects. 

Photography is more art then a exact science which makes it special.  Your taste, your decisions.  I often compare 3 pictures at time.  I ask myself: Which one seems more interesting?  What story am I trying to convey?

Secondly this was a risky shot I was all the down to F1.4 could have easily blurred out one of them.  I was at F1.4 because apartment shots can get really boring.  The background wasn't really that great. Being the secondary photographer, I can go for the risky shots.

Her bff on camera right, I really like the nice exposed jawline.  Dr. Nadia Afridi direct look at the camera is more engaging to the viewer. Make the picture a little hotter.  If you want to soften up the look have your model point there nose slightly away from the camera like her bff.  It softens up the shot.

I also like the brightening effect the LEDs produce on their eyes.  You can also get this effect with a cheaper flash or speed light.

dr. nadia afridi columbia mba graduation with bff

dr. nadia afridi columbia mba graduation with bff

Sony Stories

5/14/17 I added some pictures of my friends Columbia MBA Graduation. Unfortunately, it was rained out, so we ended up taking pictures in her NYC Apartment.  Melissa was the primary photographer.  

I was the backup photographer.  The great thing of being a backup photographer, I get to take the risky shots.  I can experiment with lighting and image composure.  Melissa must focus on getting the classic graduation gown shots, etc.  If I am honest, I was just going to help light the shoot and pose the family.   I had just come back from LA, did a few shoots over there. I needed some downtime just to relax.

Since I am still working on my Sony story, I figured I might add some tips to future DSLR Shooters.   The one thing you need to be careful about during these group type shots is your  F-stop or Aperture.   I really like that shallow depth of field so I am usually shooting below 3.5 and lower.  At that wide open Aperture, you can easily lose limb, or family member.  So you need to be shooting at F5 or higher.  Always check your preview after the shot, making sure you don't blur out limb and you’re not underexposed.

Sony Stories

Here is an example of a bad shot.  They were teasing me and getting me to rush a bad lighting shot with no flash.  So I intentionally focused on the birthday boy, to make a great example of what not to do. Always take your time taking the shot, especially if you’re on Manual Mode.  Otherwise just use a semi-automatic mode like A- Aperture Priority mode in Sony or TV (Time Value) Mode in Canon cameras.   You can even just use Auto. I didn't run this image through post.  

Here is my thought process:

It was rushed shot, bad lighting, tight space.  So, I decided to focus on the subject matter the birthday boy, the rest oh well.  This basically going to be a head shot of the birthday boy.

I kept the aperture at 2.5 because of the extreme low light situation with no flash.  I didn't really want to raise the ISO as that introduce noise on most cameras.  I lost the subject on the left do to F2.5.   I should have been at F5 or higher.  The subject to right of the Birthday boy I chopped off his head.  There was a mirror at the back that I was trying to minimize as it would have blown out the image.  I also was using a 85mm.  This was tight restaurant area,  a 55 mm would have been better for a group shot.  

In addition, you typically want to keep your shutter speed above 1/160 sec, so you don't introduce motion blur (if your camera or lens is not stabilized).

You can also see some strange white balance issues cause of dark environment, but that easily correctable in post-production.  This is another reason I shoot in RAW.   You can fix a lot images issues easily in RAW rather than JPEG.  

If I ran this through post the Birthday boy would have looked great, others not so much.


Problems with low Aperture.  F2.5 ISO 3200,  Really bad lighting.

Problems with low Aperture.  F2.5 ISO 3200,  Really bad lighting.

Here a image of fun shot during the Graduation.

For more images of the graduation shots click here:

Sony Stories




5/10/17 I added some pictures of the latest 2017 Maserati.   In addition he discuss his use of A7S which is more suited for moving making.   A7RII is more suited for Photos.   I don't know why S - is for movies and R - Photo?

Any questions DSLR questions you can contact Dvilla at the end of the Sony Stories Post.  I know he owns like at least 3 Sony Cameras from compact to full frame DSLR.

Sony Stories


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