Category Archives: Photo Contest

10 Helpful Photography Websites

I’m often asked where I learned about a particular technique or where I get my photography related information.  These are great questions, and I’ll try to answer them in this quick post.

For starters, I’ve been interested in photography as long as I can remember.  This is a lifelong passion (or vice)!  It all started when I received my 1st camera, a Kodak 110 Instamatic.  When I have an interest in something, I dig in and try to learn all I can about it.  Most of what I’ve learned is good old fashioned trail and error.  I’d read about something in a photography magazine and I’d go out and try it.  Lots of film processing and experimenting.  Somewhere in the middle of that, I completed the New York Photography Institute’s home study course.

Everything I mentioned above is pre-digital photography and pre-internet.  Now, in this digital world, all of the information you need is at your finger-tips!  The trick is to find it.  That’s where I’m hoping this post can help.  Some of these websites have specific information and others are more general in nature.  Some provide in-depth equipment reviews, while others are geared more to real hands-on use.  One thing for sure is that there’s a lot of knowledge floating around out there, you just have to look for it and apply it.  That’s doesn’t mean to copy someone else’s style exactly, but rather to tailor it to your needs and adapt your own style.  Here’s the list:

Ken Rockwell – Camera and equipment reviews, general photography information.

Steve’s Digicams – Digital camera reviews, news, photo contests.

Steve Huff Photo – Camera reviews, passion, inspiration.

DP Review – Camera and lens reviews, forums, articles.

Photography Talk –  Forums, photo sharing, reviews, tips, articles.

Stuck in Customs – HDR Photography (if you’re interested in HDR, start here).

HDR One – HDR Photography, articles, tutorials, downloadable magazine.

Adorama – Online Camera Superstore, great photography how-to videos!

B&H Photo – The Big Kid on the block!  Online camera super-superstore!

Photography Life – Articles, news, reviews.

That’s my shortlist.  There are many, many more out there waiting to be discovered (at least by me).  With so much information available, it can sometimes be overwhelming.  My bookmarked website list is very long, but the sites I listed above are those that I visit the most.

In addition to the websites that have photography information, there’s a lot to be gained by becoming active in forums.  Sharing your photos with others and looking at their work (both good and not so good) can be a tremendous learning experience.  One of the places I’m really starting to enjoy and use on a daily basis is Google+.

Google+ started out kind of slow.  It seemed to be a Facebook wanna-be, and I didn’t pay much attention to it.  That is until it introduced “Communities”.  The Communities feature is similar to Forums on other websites, where each Community is targeted to a specific subject (not just photography).  Where Google+ shines is the quality and layout of uploaded photos.  They just look better on Google+ (compared to Facebook).  I belong to several photography Communities including 3 for HDR photography and 1 for Black and White.  It’s something you’ll need to see for yourself.  Seeing the quality work of other photographers from around the world is very inspiring!

If you have any helpful photography websites, please share them!  It’s been said that no one of us is smarter than all of us, and I believe that.  If you have a website that will help others with their quest to become better photographers, please don’t be bashful!

Until next time – Happy Shooting!


Photo Contests

Now that my wife and I are back from our amazing vacation to the Eastern Sierra, I have many, many gigs of photos to go through.

One of the fun things that I’m doing with all of these images is entering a few of them in an ongoing photo contest on the State Parks website:

So far, I entered 4 images and have been fortunate enough for each one to be selected as Photo of the Day!  Hopefully I’ll have a shot at Photo of the Month.

This is what I posted, take a look and let me know what you think (you can comment below)!

Click on each image to see a larger version

And finally, here’s another photo from the trip that I entered in the B&H Photo/Video Fall Color Contest:

In case you’re wondering, these images were created using either my Canon 60D, or my Sony NEX3.  Each of these is a composite of at least 2 images, merged to bring out the full range of detail in both the shadows and highlights using Photomatix and Photoshop.

I’ll try to put my thoughts and process in some kind of logical order and dedicate a post on HDR (at least my take on it).

That it for now.  With a little luck I’ll be sharing a Photo of the Month!  Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Something fun!

I was just notified that one of my photos won Photo of the Month at one of my favorite photo websites. This site is devoted to State Parks, and has a photo contest for the day, week, month, and year.  I’ve been submitting photos on and off since 2008.  It’s fun to see how others react to my work, and also to see the work of other great photographers.

During the time I’ve participated in this ongoing contest, I’ve been lucky enough to have won quite a few Photo of the Day mentions, and even a few Photo of the Month honors.  And, the real icing on this cake is a photo that won Photo of the Year – 2008 (black and white category).

This photo is of an old abandoned car in the ghost town of Bodie, located off of Highway 395 near Bridgeport California.  The original image was taken with a Canon 300D (DSLR) as a RAW file, and converted to black and white in Photoshop.  NOTE – This is something I learned awhile ago, always take your photos in color, even if your camera has an option to shoot directly in black and white.  It’s very easy to convert the color image to black and white, but almost impossible to go from black and white to color.

Back to the photo of the car, I think the thing that struck me when taking photos that day was the clouds and sky.  Although my wife and I have been to Bodie many times (and didn’t plan on going this day), I couldn’t help but wonder what photos would look like with the wonderful clouds we were seeing.  So, off we went.  Not a quick trip either.  Bodie is 13 miles off of Highway 395, and the last 3 miles are on a very bumpy washboard dirt road.  Turns out that it was well worth the time and effort it took to get there, with a perfect deep blue sky and fantastic cloud formations.
Fast forward to September, 2011.  While camped at the Silver Lake RV Resort on the June Lake Loop we were blessed with some amazing afternoon thunderstorms.  We were only about 15 miles from Mono Lake and I just couldn’t help wondering what that lake and strange tufa formations would look like with these dramatic clouds.  So, off I went.  Here is just one example of what I experienced (and the shot that won Photo of the Month):
If you want to see the State Parks website you can go here:
So, I think the moral of the story is to look for something to set your photos apart from all of the others out there.  Sometimes it may be because you got up earlier than everyone else and caught the warm, golden light of the sunrise, or you put yourself at the right location at the right time for some drama in the sky.  Good luck and happy shooting!