Websites every photographer needs to visit and bookmark

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 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! 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!

So you wanna buy a mirrorless camera (part 1)

I’ll let you decide in this series. We will take a look at first what this technology is, compare and contrast with dSLR (digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras, and finally give examples of both brands and certain makes of cameras to look for if you yourself are going to make the plunge. So let’s answer the first question:

What is a mirrorless camera?

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On Location: Hillbunker Farms

So the wrap party for Meat You Maker wouldn't be complete without one of the most important and helpful ends to the project, the farms.  I won't focus on all of them, just the one I locally get my eggs from, the farm that has a store next to it offering more than just eggs, a farm where most recently on my visit to shoot was recently blessed with several newborns.  That farm is Hillbunker Farms.

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Color Play and Symbolism: A color evaluation of Meat Your Maker

  Previously, on my blog....

 We discussed how a drummy was destined for something greater than something contrived to more in-line with the flock that was putting out the same unoriginal work day in and day out.  I wanted something with more design/color, something to make you think but not hard.  Something with a message but not too deep as to seem intellectually edgy and smug.  I went with the triptych because I wanted to focus on three sources of meat: "Land Meat" most common of this is cattle with their "transformation" a burger, "Sea Meat" farmed or wild trout and its form being fish sticks, and "Air Meat" Chicken best represented with its counterpart fried chicken.  Examples to these may or may not be the best representation of the animal, seeing as McNuggets are far "worse" for you than fried chicken, but I think it's splitting hairs. Anything deep fried in excess can't do a body good, and the fact all three of these "fast food" representatives can be bought as fast food is enough.



  The three pieces laid out was supposed to start from the top and degrade to the bottom. This is to show the original full of life animals on top and as the eye moves down the food form of them is at the bottom.  Represented for each animal I was leaning on something simple and went with primary colors; Red, Yellow, and Blue.  The animals themselves were going to be secondary colors, Orange, Green, and Purple, with the piece next to it; so the cow is going to be maroon or purple (depending) because the red piece is going to be next to the blue piece.  The background primary colors are supposed to be vivid and slide down to a darker, depressing, more warped version of the original color; kinda like the animal to their product.  The only changes I really swapped up was the fast food items.  The original food stuffs were just going to be the same style of black and white "Banksy-like" street art vector, but I needed more diversity in the street art so I went with different mediums; graffiti, wall art vectors, and billboard halftone ad art.  

  Lastly, the animals were something unique.  Back in the ye olde olden days, animals were a form of payment in trade.  Barter system aside, the fact is livestock did and still do have financial value. Which got me thinking about the art style of U.S. currency, which always interested me. The line stencil art of each bill seemed very interesting, and I intended to recreate that style with the livestock animals, to give the animals some value.  I think that covers the design and color, wanna see the pieces in their final form? 


In two weeks I'll show each one of the triptych every other day! Why two weeks? Because next week I have a video for those interested in buying the triptych.  A pre-order bonus if you will.... See you all next week, and thanks for stoping by!

YEAR OF THE ROOSTER: Chinatown Photowalk

It's been a while since I posted on here, and that's going to start to change as it warms up, but I wanted to upload some photos I took on our trip to Chicago's Chinatown during the New Year Celebration.   My trip was cut short how so ever as I wiped out on the street falling on both knees after stepping into and tripping on a pothole.  I made the most of the day, and I intend to return next year, and even sooner as the food was amazing at Triple Crown (not surprised). The photos below were taken on my 5D mk II w/ 17-40mm lens, and per usual copyright laws are mine (Bendersama Photography) and require permission to be used outside this website. Now with that outta the way, enjoy!


It was 2012, and I just moved back to Illinois from California. I grabbed a job to pay me the first week I landed and needed something to pass the time and keep me creatively busy.  Luckily, I had a huge inspirational windfall while I flew. I was going to come up with a gallery, or at the very least a book that paid homage to Nintendo Power covers. Those timeless covers of video game scenarios was always one of the main reasons to get Nintendo Power, other than the codes, comics and reviews. Ya know, as a sidebar it may be the reason why I collected Playboy magazines, the cover (no lie). Regardless the case, I wanted to make grand scenes from video games and photograph them; the first one was a no-brainer.  My wife and I had recently (back in 2012) played Epic Mickey, a Disney video game exclusively for the Nintendo WIi. The game spans an area much like 

Epic Mickey Project Final SMALL.jpg

Disneyland with certain attractions and characters acting as either prominent characters, or video game bosses. In the scene I was trying to recreate the first "boss" to the game was a demented version of the attraction "it's a small world". You are given paint and thinner to use throughout the game the paint creates, the thinner destroys, where you use these and how you handle the bosses depends on the ending you get, so there is a level of decision making throughout the game's progression and sub-missions.  Being so moved by the artistic choices Warren Spector, the games creator, made and the overall first installment's setting I was moved to recreate the first boss encounter, and from there 

start a video game based art project.  After about a year and a half's attention on and off on my own dime, I took to the camera. Finally after a little Photoshop wizardry it was ready.  The fruits of my labor, my first "big" project, was complete.  Now it 2017 I needed to get this out there on the market and in the public eye, because I moving forward and all my past un published project need to be out there in the open in order to move on. So here it is, available for viewing, purchase, and criticism. Looking back, and with more time dedicated to it, I could have done even more than what was shown, but I had to move on to the next photography project without dwelling too much, which will be my new lease on this art for the new year.  As a final word please enjoy this music montage I put together of footage constructing, planning and shooting this EPIC project.