Comin’ at you on a beautiful Thursday…..I mean Sunday—UPDATE——— SCRATCH ALL THAT WE BACK ON THURSDAYS NOW——— (because my hay fever/sinus infection got the better of me). I want to reveal some of my tricks over time and in this edition of the Bendersama Blog I want to focus on some websites I personally still use or value greatly. These site started me on my photography path, but moreover they are great tools to use in tandem with your learning from experience, workshops, or schooling. Let’s crank these out, however I’ll state this now; while they are/were useful to me, results may vary for you.
Photography Social Social Media Sites
Some will tell you that this site WAS a great source of fellow photographers talking shop about gear, tech issues, clients, and composition. the same would tell you that this site is dead and should be written off. I’ll tell you now that with the recent Flickr buyout by SmugMug, and the Verizon buyout of Yahoo, no long will statements like:
"There's really no such thing as professional photographers anymore." - Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer 2013
..will no longer be tolerated. Make no bones about it, as this site was crashing and burning to knowingly subpar photographers and Second Life fursonas (don’t ask…), 500px picked up where Flickr dropped the ball. How so ever why I will never back a site like 500px, despite the pretty little site’s polish, is because of the privacy issues I’ve had in the past to stalkers and harassers. I’ll tolerate harsh criticism, but in the past I’ve had a couple people knowingly imitate, fervently follow, and unapologetically go over many personal lines. To that end I’ve had a back and forth with admins of 500px and their response is “Sorry, nothing we can do.”. Not even a block button coded for a profile; but over on Flickr you can not only do everything with a community of users and if you ever have a problem with one of them you CAN block them.
Now I said this before, but it bears worth repeating, I stand by Flick and the new wave of REAL PHOTOGRAPHERS that come in hungry to share and socialize. It will take time, but when Flickr returns to greatness I’ll still be there, and I suggest you to go there, post your work, and make some friends.
Informative Equipment Reviews
When I started out I looked at sites like fredmiranda.com and thought the users smugness towards a lens being slightly soft or heavier than they cared for. That was when I didn’t know that weight over time would be an issue, or the fact that a certain zoom lens extended and how this would cause issues. It find it now that FREDMIRANDA.COM is a valuable resource of boards in a time and place photography boards of “quality” are in short supply. One that I did and still do respect and admire is DPREVIW.COM. It has grown exponentially, but it still keeps up with their “lens data” review which is my bread and butter. Every lens has a “sweet spot” and DPReview’s lens data helps illustrate it in cool graphs and colors easy to understand. For example (popping out in a new window) you can see that the “lens data” on Canon’s 40mm pancake lens, on a Canon EOS 7D body, will show that while the vignette on the lens @ f/2.8 on the corners is a little soft, it goes away at f/4 and beyond. Also, the optimal sharpness of the lens tends to side on f/8 and anything under, while useable, tends to be soft under f/8. That would leads someone to understand the optimal setting for the 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens is f/8 (which is kinda rough as on average sweet spots tend to be one stop under the fastest setting). Beyond me explaining this you can see it on the graphs and come to that conclusion yourself, which is why I’m so big on dpreview.com! Another great site is Photons to Photos! This site is new to my bookmarks but it’s really rising up the charts as a data reviewer. The niche behind this site, beyond auditing the next site I’ll mention, is to offering a clear representation of the data gathered on each camera’s dynamic range at any specific film speed (ISO). The line graph shows points where the dynamic range also falls off at a specific ISO. This offers you the best range to use your camera, and where to expect the IQ (image quality) dip at higher ISOs. Of course you can compare cameras’ dynamic range when deciding on upgrades or brand transition. The site that this needs to audit occasionally is DXOMark. Now I would have kinder things to say about the site, but with the rating system, their slow-to-lab-review new lenses and camera bodies, and their disconnect from solid photographer gear to cell phone sensors MAY be ahead of the times, but does nothing for me as a resource.
News, Creative, and Educational Sites
If you waltz away from this blog with anything, let it be STROBIST. Strobist is the BEST site on how to learn lighting, types of lighting, and lighting gear, and set-ups… to those new to photography the etymology of “Photo Graphy” is literally “Light Drawing” so learning light is paramount. Short of this site another fun site to visit is ThePhotoblogger. It’s articles on creative photography may be what you need to jog the creative juices. Another creative and newsworthy site is fStoppers. This site, in the beginning was the buzzfeed of photography sites (which I don’t rank personally very high). I’ve been back and forth over a few years and while there are a handful of millennial hipster authors, the quality has gotten better with time and should be, at its core an interesting readthrough. Lastly I want to touch on the rumor mill sites. Canon Rumors and Nikon Rumors really help give you a peak at what’s on the horizon for their respective company’s tech.
Now that should cover all my DIGITAL photography resources, my film adds a few more vintage lens reviewers, and the addition of 4chan’s /p/ board (if you can tread through the flamewars and smug), reddit’s r/photography and r/analog subbreddits. Sites like the ones just listed aren’t really MY recommendations as they don’t cater entirely to the new photographer or those not savvy with the ways of internet culture. I would finish this off by saying that a resources value is relative to the person using it, and while there is other sites and communities you could go with or mention, the ones I just listed will take you far if you delve and only if you delve into each site. Best of luck, and I hope these links help!