Through the Gadling Lens: Great online resources for photographers

Before I really got into photography, I used to believe that really fabulous photographs only resulted from really expensive camera and processing equipment. While this might have been true twenty years ago, the truth is that great photography can pretty much come from any type of camera, with any sort of post-camera processing. And the beauty of owning a camera in this part of the twenty-first century means that there are all sorts of online resources to maximize what your camera can do. So this week, I thought I’d spend some time pointing out a few resources online that can help result in some of the best travel shots of your life.
1. Sign up for Photojojo. If you haven’t heard of Photojojo yet, run, do not walk, to their site here. This free e-newsletter service (or, if you’d prefer, you can add their feed to your reader) will send you some of the coolest photography tips to be had on the web. The advice can range from the funky (like how to make your own 3D camera for $15 or less), to the fun (how to make your own photographic perpetual calendar) to the positively practical (how to eliminate sensor dust from your camera). And did I mention it’s free?

2. Picnik. I have a real-life friend, Jenny, whose flickr stream I avidly follow. She is the Queen of the post-camera processing. The other day, she was at my house, and I mentioned to her that I couldn’t get over how amazing her processing was.

“Thanks,” she said, quietly.

“Seriously, Jenny, did you take a Photoshop class or something?” I pressed.

“No, I don’t use Photoshop, actually. I use Picnik.”

I almost choked on my mimosa.

“I’m sorry,” I said, once I’d regained my composure. “You’re telling me that you process those photos with free software?”

“Yup, I do it all online. It’s a lot of fun.”

I couldn’t believe it. Until that moment, I had been a complete Photoshop snob, because it never occurred to me that you could get really dazzling photos with anything but. But Jenny’s photos, like this one:

and this one:

and this one:

and, dear God, this one:

…made a true believer out of me.

3. Say you have a burning question about photography: like, you’re thinking of upgrading your camera, and you don’t know which brand to go with. Or, the shutter on your D100 is sticking, and you don’t know what’s causing it. Or you’re just dying to know the definition of “bokeh,” and you don’t know any shutterbugs within shouting distance. Well, look no further than — this community website likely has every answer you could possibly want (and some you probably don’t). There’s a photo gallery to provide tons of inspiration, forums with every type of photography topic you could possibly imagine, and even a way to upload and exhibit your favourite photos to receive critiques from other avid photographers. And again, it’s free!

4. Digital Photography Review. Speaking of being in the market for cameras, once you’ve started to narrow down the brands you’re interested in looking at, do not buy your camera until you’ve stopped by Digital Photography Review. This great independent site does side-by-side comparisons of every camera you can think of, from point-and-shoots to digital SLRs. The site even shows images taken with various cameras so that you can compare quality. While I still maintain that you should never buy a camera (particularly a digital SLR) before actually going to a camera store and taking one for a spin, this is a great site to educate yourself with the kinds of questions you’re going to want to ask the salesperson while you’re there.

5. Blogs, blogs and more blogs. As you can probably imagine, there are tons of blogs out there that can provide inspiration, both in the form of concrete information and/or fantastic imagery. The following are some of my favourites — both for simple how-to’s and merely eye-candy. For those photoblogs which are primarily about imagery, don’t be afraid to e-mail the photoblogger directly for advice: most photobloggers are only too happy to oblige.

  • This blog is a great resource for do-it-yourself projects to help enhance your photography — and while much of it is about studio lighting, there’s a lot on helping create different effects for your camera, and a recent favourite: how to stablize your camera while taking a photograph in a driving car.
  • OnTakingPictures: This is the personal blog of portrait photographer Bill Wadman — full of beautiful portraits, but also his musings on the business photography, as well as some technical advice. A great read.
  • Moodaholic: This beautiful photoblog is strictly imagery, and the images taken of various landscapes are positively breathtaking. The shots are always crisp, but the post-camera processing is what lends to the amazing mood of all images. Click on the comments to see how each image was shot.
  • Mad Media Studios: Another great photoblog, primarily landscapes and portraits. This blog, however, is a great example of the kind of art that can be made with post-camera processing. While extreme photo processing isn’t my style, I can appreciate a photographer who can take it to an artistic level, and this photographer does just that. Beautiful.
  • Modern Day Gilligan: Joshua Yetman is a commercial photographer who lives in the island of Grenada, with the dream job of photographing amazing yachts, beautiful resorts, and breathtaking seriously. His outtakes often appear on his photoblog, and if these images don’t inspire you to hop the next flight to the tropics to test your photographic chops, nothing will.
  • One Day Files: a daily photoblog by Japanese photographer Hitoshi, it is a shining example of how to make the ordinary moment extraordinary. Capturing shots like these while traveling will do wonders for ensuring that the moments and moods that surrounded the time of the shot are remembered. True inspiration here.

And speaking of emailing photographers for advice: if you have any questions or comments, as always, please leave them below, or e-mail me directly at karen DOT walrond AT weblogsinc DOT com. I’ll be happy to address them in upcoming posts. And if you have any favourite online resources that weren’t mentioned in this post, please feel free to mention them in the comments section, below — I’m always looking for more great reads.

Karen is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas. You can see more of her work at her site, Chookooloonks.
And for more Through the Gadling Lens, click here.