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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!


My New (Old) Camera

I’m back!  It’s been a fantastic month-long vacation in the Eastern Sierra with my wonderful wife and 2 Cairn Terriers.  In addition to a lot of fishing, I was also able to use 4 of the 5 cameras I brought along, including my latest addition – the Sony F707.

Aggie and Cairn Terriers

Aggie, Mulligan & Sullivan – Sony NEX3

For a camera that’s at least 10 years old, the F707 has some pretty impressive features.  These include:

  • 5.24 megapixels
  • Zeiss F2.0 Lens
  • Swivel Body
  • Exposure Bracketing
  • Burst Mode
  • Center Weighted, Multi-Segment, Spot Metering
  • Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Scene Modes
  • Night Shot Mode
  • Viewfinder and LCD

I’m not going to attempt a full review in this post.  That’s already been done and you can read about it here:  DPReview, Sony F707

What I am going to do is talk about using this camera, and contrast it to something more modern.  I actually had a camera very similar to this one (the Sony F717) when it first came out, and loved using it.  In fact, that’s what started this little project.  I was looking through my files and came across photos I made with the old F717, and was reminded of just how good that camera was.  Don’t get the wrong message here, the photographer creates the image, the camera is just a tool.  What I mean is the quality of the photo includes color, contrast, noise, and sharpness.

Back to the vacation.  We were camped at the Silver Lake RV Resort on the June Lake Loop in the Eastern Sierra.  This was the perfect location for photography with easy access to beautiful lakes, streams, trails, wildlife, and one of my other favorites – Mono Lake.  I’ll talk more about Mono Lake and some of the other Eastern Sierra locations in future posts.

With all of the photo opportunities just outside my motorhome’s door, I got busy quickly.  Unless we decided to go fishing, I had at least 1 camera with me, usually 2.  The F707 was one of the 1st cameras to go around my neck.

The F707 has a nice feel to it.  Just enough of a handful to feel solid, but not so much as to be a pain to carry around.  The large barrel that houses the lens and some of the controls is also a good place to grip.  There was a little lag time from the moment I turned the camera on until it was ready to shoot.  The tiny LCD was also interesting, but not totally useless.  I did end up using the viewfinder more, and for an EVF (electronic viewfinder), it wasn’t bad, although it didn’t come close to the viewfinder in my Canon DSLR.

The camera that I spent most of my time comparing to the F707 is my Sony NEX3.  The NEX3 isn’t classified as a Point and Shoot (P&S) or a DSLR, but rather an Interchangeable Lens Compact (ILC).  My NEX3 is the 1st generation of ILC by Sony and has a small rectangular body, large articulating display, and 18-55mm lens.  The other most notable feature of the NEX3 is that it has an APS-C sensor, the same size as the one in my Canon DSLR.

During my unscientific in-the-field shoot out, I’d have to give the nod to my NEX3.  The NEX3 has 10 years of technological innovation in it’s favor.  While the startup time isn’t that great, the camera is faster overall, very versatile in different lighting situations, and it’s image quality is outstanding.  One of the things I really like about the NEX3 is how well it works in low light.  The feature that I use a lot while in Aperture Priority mode is Auto HDR.  I just love how it captures much more of the detail in lower light without blowing out highlights.

In the F707’s favor, I have to say that it’s image quality is outstanding considering it’s age.  Even with a smaller sensor, the images are clean, contrasty, and colorful.  And if you keep the ISO low (100), there’s no image noise to speak of.  In order to more fairly compare to the NEX3, I did use the Auto Bracketing function quite a bit.  Processing the images was as simple as importing into Photoshop and running them through the NIK HDR Efex Pro plugin.

There was one area that the F707 came out ahead in, and that’s battery life.  The F707 is a power miser compared to my NEX3.  I’d go through two NEX3 batteries to one F707 battery.  One of the nice features of the F707 is that it displays battery life in actual minutes instead of the little bar.  This would be a feature Sony should consider bringing back!

In closing, I’d like to say that it was fun to use the F707.  If it was all I had to use, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it everywhere with me and use it until it wouldn’t work anymore.  I have to admit, I get caught up in the hype and sales pitches for all of the new cameras.  It’s a vice, I just love cameras.  Having said that, I still hold to this statement – the best camera is the one you have with you!  Use what you have, and use it well.  Learn all of its functions and features so it is second nature and you won’t miss that once in a lifetime shot because you were fiddling with the dials.  You may be surprised at the quality of your images!

Here are some images from both cameras.  Let me know what you think.  Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Carson Peak, Sony F707

Carson Peak – Sony F707

Rush Creek, Sony F707

Rush Creek, Sony F707

Carson Peak, Sony NEX3

Carson Peak, Sony NEX3

Rush Creek, Sony NEX3












Camera Porn!?

The title of this post “Camera Porn” isn’t what you may be thinking! What I mean by this is my looking at camera gear online. Even though I have very nice camera gear now (Canon 60D and Sony NEX3) I still find myself straying, looking at new and different gear.

Why would I do this? I’ve shared on this site and some of my others that I really do believe that real photography comes from the individual and isn’t about the gear. The camera is just a tool. Grante, some tools have advantages over others, but in the end it’s still up to you, the photographer to make a great photo. If you’d like another perspective on this, take a look at one of my favorite photo sites – Ken Rockwell.Com  If you click on this link it will take you to Ken’s “It’s Not About Your Camera” page.

Back to the Camera Porn. One of the reasons I like to look is to keep up with current events. Photography has changed so much since I began and it keeps changing. In days gone by, the only time I changed my 35mm camera was because I wore it out or it was broken beyond repair. In todays photography world there are sensor upgrades, image stabilization, high ISO performance improvements, etc… My point is that technology keeps changing and I do want to keep up with it, or at least know about it.

Want to see what I’ve been investigating? Here are a couple of camera’s that have caught my eye:

The Samsung NX210 is a 20.3MP Mirrorless Digital Camera.  It has a 18-55mm Lens, HD 1080p Video, 3D Panorama, i-Function 2.0, 8 Frames Per Second,  and 3″ AMOLED Display.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 is a 16.05MP Micro 4/3 Digital Camera with 3″ Free Angle LCD, 1920 x 1080 60i HD Video, Mega OIS, Touch Screen Control, and Dolby Stereo Sound w/Video.

Both of these camera’s have favorable professional reviews, and also very good user reviews. The reason I’m interested in them is the same as my reason for purchasing my Sony NEX3, portability and image quality.  There are times when it’s quite a chore to carry my Canon 40D or 60D and iassociated accessories on a hike in the Eastern Sierra. Add to that a tripod capable of handling this equipment and I have more weight than I care to contend with. Being able to scale everything down has definite advantages, mobility being on of those! I really like to go lite and move quickly, and lugging around full size DSLR’s doesn’t always work for that.

The nice thing is that you don’t have to take my word for it! Here are some places you can go if you’re interested in reviewing these camera’s for your self:

Samsung NX210 , Panasonic GH2 and here’s one of the 1st places I go for reviews and information – DP Review , and finally here’s the link to Ken Rockwell’s site.  All of these sites have great information on specific camera’s and a lot of other gear and accessories.  Take a few minutes and check it out, you’ll find some fantastic Camera Porn!

Until next time – Happy Shooting!