Using A Compact Camera?

It’s time for another little challenge!

I have a decent little collection of cameras at home, ranging from very old film cameras from around the world, to small compact cameras that fit in your pocket, to my current DSLR (Canon 7D Mk ii).

I decided to take one of the tiny compact cameras out for a spin! I keep being tempted to call it a point-and-shoot camera, but this one does have manual mode. So I still have control over the settings and am not letting the camera make decisions for me. I was using the Canon S120.


However, using such a tiny camera was definitely a challenge! Getting used to looking at the screen rather than a viewfinder, having to touch the screen to focus and fire the shutter, and not being able to take multiple shots in a row… all very different from my usual DSLR!

But Azalea was a wonderful and patient model while I fiddled with this little camera, and I think these photos are pretty adorable! The field of view was also wider than I’m used to with my lenses, so the photos have a different look to them than my usual work. :)

What do you think of ‘em?

Do You Need A Better Camera?

So your camera is a few years old, you’ve only got one lens (cause who has the money for those fancier ones??) and you feel like this is all holding you back from creating the photos you have in your mind.

You’re frustrated and you don’t take your camera out as much anymore because of it. Everyone on Instagram has amazing photos and you feel like yours don’t even come close.

Let me tell you something.

And I know you’re probably going to roll your eyes, but this is the truth.

It’s NOT about the gear you have; it’s about how you see the world.

Now, obviously camera technology is advancing drastically, and there are differences between cameras that are a few years old vs cameras that just came out, or cameras that cost $400 vs $5000, or lenses that cost $150 vs $3000.

Of course!

But you can hand a $5000 camera to someone who doesn’t know anything about cameras, and they can end up with images that aren’t great. And at the same time you can hand a cheap camera to a professional and they can come up with images that surprise you!

This is because the gear isn’t the only factor to creating great images. The person controlling the camera is more important!

I want to start an ongoing series that will hopefully help to demonstrate this, because I don’t want anyone to stop shooting just because they think their camera isn’t good enough. And I certainly don’t want anyone going into debt to get a new camera when they didn’t need it yet.

I want you to learn all about the camera you have now. Learn which situations are best for that camera and which situations cause it to struggle. Learn how to work with those limitations and still create great images!

So for my first challenge, I decided to pull out my old camera (my first ever DSLR)! The Canon Rebel T2i that I got way back in 2010. And I used it with one of the cheapest lenses out there: the Canon 50mm 1.4 ($150).

I took this camera out to Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage. I photographed Jackson and Memphis, a pair of Australian Cattle Dogs on a nice spring evening!

I had to adjust to the smaller camera in my hand because my current camera (Canon 7D Mk II) is much bigger and heavier. The 50mm lens is a bit slower to focus, so I didn’t try action shots that day - I stuck with nice posed shots in some lovely spots around our location!

And I’m really happy with the results! I certainly don’t think these photos look like they were taken with an almost 10-year-old camera and a super cheap (and equally old) lens…

Do you?

The next round of my “Master Your DSLR” workshop is coming up on June 2nd!

Join me and a small group of other photographers to learn the basics of using your camera in Manual mode. No experience necessary! We start from the very beginning.

if you’re ready to move out of Auto mode and take control of your photos, this is the place to start! The course fee is $150 + tax, and we’ll spend 3 hours together, exploring the park and putting your new skills into practice. You’ll also get access to my private Facebook group for attendees, so you can continue to ask me questions, share your work, and support your new friends long after the workshop has ended!

Send me a quick email at and I’ll send you all the details!

What's in my Bag?

Here's a little behind-the-scenes for those who are curious! What does Cassie bring on a Wet Nose shoot? Well, let me give you a little peek into my camera bag...

Starting at the top left:

1) My sling strap. This handy strap allows my camera to hang at my side if I should need my hands free (to pet puppies and the like) and then easily swing it back up to my eye when I'm ready to capture the shot.

2) This one may stump many of you. But I know some will understand! Take a guess for now, and I'll give you the answer later in this post...

3) This bright green guy is a Cuz squeaker. He makes a great attention-getting squeak, plus he's bright green so he can get some pups' attention visually as well. Waving him around in the air while doing a silly dance is a great way to get a deaf pup to look in my direction. My amazing assistant, Wendy, usually gets this task ;)

4) My main camera body: the Canon 7D Mark II. I've had this body for about 6 months now and we're getting to be better and better friends with every shoot!

5) This is my 70-200mm zoom lens, which can allow me to hang back and give space to nervous dogs while still getting some great portraits, and it can also help me turn an otherwise boring background into a beautiful blend of colours by compressing and throwing the background out of focus. Here's an example!


6) My second lens is a 30mm by Sigma and it's perfect for pups who aren't afraid to let me get nice and close for a portrait! It also has a wider aperture, which means it's handy when the sun begins to set and we start losing light at the end of the session.

7) Those are my Blundstones! I finally got a pair in the fall and I've worn them nearly every day since I got them. They're perfect for rain, mud, snow... all the things a dog photographer ends up walking through! I love 'em. So comfy.

8) Back over on the left is my business card with Great Dane Sully featured on the front. What a handsome boy. I always have a few cards on me in case someone notices us during our session and is interested in chatting with me and booking their own!

9) That little clear object is a squeaker that I got from inside one of Ruby's toys before she broke it! It's handy for getting a pup's attention and is really easy to hold in my hand while I'm shooting. If my assistant isn't with me, I need to do the squeaking myself while also keeping both hands on my camera. It's tricky, but I've got a little system to get the job done.

10) Below that is my spare camera battery, so that I've got plenty of battery power to last me through multiple sessions if needed.

11) Next is my Canon Speedlite, or flash. I use this in combination with the wireless triggers below it to fire my flash remotely. I can have it on a lightstand or in my assistant's hand wherever I need it, and it doesn't have to be connected to my camera to fire.

12) That big black rectangle is my trusty kneepad, which keeps my knees protected from the hard ground, and also keeps my pants dry if the ground is wet or muddy. I use it all year long, in both the mud and the snow!

13) Back on the left again there is my notebook, where I keep notes about sessions and clients to make sure I know exactly what each client wants out of their session and how I'm going to create those final products for them. Every session is customized to my clients' needs.

14) Finally I have my 32GB and 16GB SD cards, where all my images are saved while I'm shooting. I always have multiple backup cards in my bag in case of any malfunctions, or even filling up the card (unlikely with those sizes, but just in case)!

And for those who are curious about item #2 ... well, admittedly I'm a bit of a geek. This here is a "sonic screwdriver" because you just never know when you'll get into some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey shenanigans. #DoctorWho