10 Awesome Websites and One Cute Girl

The Advanced Photography website has posted 10 Awesome Photographer Portfolio Websites for your examination today.

The bane of many photographers is their online display. Too often the sites are a mad collection of pro shots, vacation pictures and shots of the wife and kids. Definitely not the way to make a good impression on a prospective client.

Speaking of photography sites, one of my favourite new photographers, Zack Arias, does critiques of sites that he publishes online.

Zack is pretty direct but less so than a potential client. This is an education in photography and web design all in one. Take a couple of hours and watch what Zack has to say. You’ll be a better photographer for it.

BTW if you’ve got three days to spare starting tomorrow, Zack is doing a three-day workshop called Foundations of a Working Photographer. If you want to buy this course, it’s $99 until April 29 and $149 after that but if you show up tomorrow you can watch for free. Here’s the info link.

I watched Zack’s three-day studio lighting workshop (for all three days) and it was fabulous.

The highlight of the event was Zack shooting the band Head Like a Kite where he captured this image which happened right in front of us as the singer Zera Marvel struggled to relax. Zack told her to scream and she said she couldn’t and her hands went up to her face and art happened right before our eyes.

Zera’s a real cute girl and the band is zany and the photography was wonderful.

War Photography

Here’s the number one secret to being the best photographer you can possibly be.

Go to where the photographs are. 

Not withstanding photographers like Sally Mann who found art in the images of her children taken at their country home in Virginia, most of us can’t see anything worth shooting in our own backyard and so some of us go elsewhere to find fame and fortune. (That’s a Sally Mann photo from her controversial “Immediate Family” series. Considered by many to be one of the best photographers to ever take up the camera, Sally Mann uses a traditional wet plate camera process that goes back to the days of the American Civil War.)

When I started shooting for newspapers back in the 1970s, I didn’t realize what a blessing it was to find work at a small city daily newspaper away from my own home. I developed my own style and became well-known in the community and maybe, if truth be told, maybe I should have stayed there like some of my fellow photographers did right up until the time they retired. Or maybe not 🙂

Which brings me to Stacy Persall, a retired U.S. Air Force combat photographer. Winner of the Bronze Star for her heroism under fire, Persall is an amazing photographer and someone who has looked into the void. Here’s a clip from an Opray show that suggests that observation is true.

Here’s an interview from the blog called World Assignment – The Photographer Finder of Stacy.

Stacy now runs the Charleston Centre for Photography.  (That’s one of her photos of the two soldiers.)

Stacy found a place in the photography world that brought her fame and perhaps some small fortune but like all things there is a price to be paid

Street Photography

It’s a rainy week here in southern Ontario and that means it’s a great time to take your camera out for a walk.

Many folks are afraid of getting rain on their camera. In over 40 years of photography I can safely say I only had two cameras damaged by water and that was during a fire in a factory backlot when the fire department saw we were in danger and turned a deluge hose on myself and the fire captain (a photographer of course) who were in danger.

Rain won’t damage your camera if you take some care.

Sea water will instantly. So will dropping your camera into a toilet or a bucket of beer but rain, especially if it’s not driving heavy rain, is okay. Just wipe the camera down with a towel once you get back home. It doesn’t hurt to keep the camera in the camera bag or even in a ziplock (watch out for excessive humidity) and some cameras have more weatherproofing than others but rain drops aren’t a big issue.

Your camera will get more damage shooting in humid greenhouses especially if the camera bodies are cold to begin with. For example, when the Oakville Camera Club went to the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls everyone’s camera lens fogged up coming from the winter temperatures into the tropical climate of the building.

I opened my camera bag up and took out my D-300 and took the lens off and left it all to sit for 10 minutes or so while it acclimatized. The newcomers to photography were afraid to open their cameras fearing the moisture would get in but what they didn’t realize was the water vapour was already coating the inside of their camera bodies and it would be better to open them up rather than keep them closed.

The photo of the butterflies is fogged up due to the water vapour condensing on the inside of my lens.

The point of this little post is this: When it’s raining, it’s time for great photography.

Don’t believe me! See these images on street photography from the Advanced Photography blog.

Top websites for a Monday

It’s Easter Monday and it’s 10:30am. I’ve been talking to clients, answering emails and after three hours, it’s time for a break 🙂

So I fired up Google Reader and here’s a selection of the best websites I’ve come across this morning:

ProNature Photographer – The Business of Outdoor and Nature Photography (Especially see 10 Tips on Selling At Art Fairs as the season is soon approaching)

Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site – Life on the road with a camera

PhotoWalkPro – Why you should listen to me when I say go buy a “fast” lens to complement your “slow” kit lens.

Photography Bay – Reader Photos Roundup – April 24, 2011 – scores on wonderful images

The Mountain by Terje Sorgjerd – Best time-lapse exposure photography I’ve seen in awhile.

Zoriah – Photojournalist – It’s NOT the camera. I’ve posted this before but read it again: It’s NOT the camera!

Digital Photography SchoolThe Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible (I use one of his originals and it works fine.)

That’s an hour of surfing and it’s time to get back to work 🙂

Seeing the light with Sekonic meters

Sekonic, the light meter company, has activated a brand new website that’s loaded with educational videos and helpful hints.

Of course, the first question is why would I wanted to buy a meter that costs as much as my camera body?

The quick answer is because in addition to using an external light meter to get the right exposure, you can also and, more importantly, use an external light meter to control the amount of light coming from your light sources. Light sources? You mean there’s more than one! You bet. If you’re shoot available light (non-flash) you can make a huge difference to the image quality by introducing light modifiers such as reflectors. An external light meter can make this a piece of cake.

If you’re shooting with the flash off camera, which you absolutely should be doing if you want to create three-dimensational images, a flash meter will prove itself invaluable.

Now, boys and girls, if you’re interested in HDR photography an external light meter will ensure you’re not guessing at your exposure range.

What’s so hard about HDR and exposure? Well I just invested an hour and watched a Sekonic webinar in using a spot meter in HDR situations.

The instructor said to use the spot meter to measure the light on the brightest area of the photo (typically white clouds) and set your highest exposure at two stops below that exposure (set the camera to manual mode and change the shutter speeds and not the aperture which will change the depth of field which is not desirable when shoot HDR).

Why two stopes? Because your camera can handle a four to five stop differential in exposure and two stops down is well within the ability of the camera to capture the correct exposure.

Why not just shoot five or six images at different exposures?

First: It uses up a lot more space on the memory car;

Second: It takes longer to download;

Third: It takes longer to process; and,

Fourth: There is no appreciable benefit to the final image.

The Sekonic guys figure two or three images at two stops apart should suffice.

Now you can use the spot meter in your camera but a Sekonic L-758 (d or dr) will make the job easier and more accurate as it is a high-precision spot meter (which is essential if you’re contemplating using Ansel Adam’s Zone System when shooting black and white images).

Considering I already own an L-358 and an L-398A I still can see an L-758 in my future.

BTW if you come to any of my classes on shooting either available light or flash photography you’ll see I always use my Sekonic light meters. (Highly recommended.)

More crazy good

Lots of folks find Ken Rockwell a bit much and that’s because he is.

He’s opinionated, passionate, articulate and this can drive the pixel peepers and camera gnomes insane. Problem is Ken can shoot most of us under the table with one hand and takes great pleasure in doing so with really crappy cameras.

For instance, Ken was a huge fan of the original 6-megapixel Nikon D-40 DSLR and he shot images with it that were superb. His images were so great that for awhile there I was looking for a used D-40 body (ended up with the wonderful and long-lasting D-90 which I’ve recommended to dozens and dozens of new photographers who wanted one of the best DSLRs ever made by anybody).

Now Ken has done it again.

During his recent photo tour of Yosemite from February 22-27 he shot with a 1960s vintage Leica M3 loaded with Kodak T-Max 100 black and white film and a 2009 Leica M9 for shooting color digital images.

Now the Leica M3 and just about any Leica lens represent the height of 35mm film cameras in both Ken’s and my opinion. I owned a Leica M4 and a bag of lenses which I foolishly sold several decades ago and have lamented ever since. Never did anything so dumb before or after and I’m lumping my first marriage into this bag so that’s how bad a decision selling the Leica was. It’s the Leica camera you see in all the movies.

But back to Ken. Take a couple of hours and work his site really hard. He’s uploaded absolutely everything you need to know to be an amazing photographer. Don’t get hung up too much on his hardware recommendations (which are all sound) but it’s passion for shooting and his eye for photography that make him a great photographer. He’s a much better photographer than most people give him credit for being but as good as he is as a photographer, he’s also a great teacher.

Enjoy yourself.

Crazy good

That’s Nick Onken’s photography site. This pro photographer is at the top of his game and his website is AMAZING!!

Just follow this link to his home page and stand back. What you’re going to see is a full-screen slideshow of some of the best images I’ve ever seen. Doesn’t hurt that the boy shoots lots of lovely young woman but the difference is he when he shoots them they look alive and not overly photoshopped or desperately unhappy.

Here’s a review of Onken’s work at Digital Photography School.

Here’s a link to his blog where you should read about what he has to say about point-and-shoot cameras. Look closely at his images and ask yourself: How can I shoot more like Nick?

Think Nick’s my new hero.  (Go see his Iceland shots. Wow.)