Here is a list of photography blogs that I read on a regular basis. Maybe not daily, but they are all linked to my Reader so that I can easily read every post that they make. Some post more frequently than others, and some post more on the art, business, technique or state of photography.
Tuan Pham’s blog on Zen Insights and How They Relate to Photography
Some of these, like Andy Beel, Joshua Taylor and Ed Knepley I read primarily because they are friends or acquaintances whose work I like and I read their blogs to keep up with them. I also read a lot about lighting and portraiture, some of which includes nudes, like Pretty Girl Shooter and Smoking Strobes. Read at your own risk.
Tim Grey is responsible for accelerating my grasp of Photoshop. He does a good job of identifying common issues that people have with photo processing in Adobe’s applications and writing well thought out answers to address the problems. His Digital Darkroom Quarterly (now called Pixology) and his Ask Tim Grey newsletter provide easy to understand answers to questions you might not have even thought to ask.
Tim is an expert in Photoshop and Lightroom, with extremely good access to Adobe for questions that involve “why does this Photoshop filter work this way?” He is also a published author, with several books on color management and digital darkroom workflow, including both Photoshop and Lightroom workflows.
Zack is famous for his OneLight portraits. I read about Zack in someone’s blog a long time ago and followed his blog for quite a while.
In this video from Creative Live, Zack discusses the relationship between flash power and aperture.
Zack and Creative Live have produced a series of videos that can be purchased based on his 3 day workshop. Almost like being there, but you get the added flexibility to repeat any portion of the workshop that you didn’t quite catch, or that you are having difficulty grasping.
For the longest time I had no appreciation for abstract art. I could not understand what it was that people saw in it. Certainly I was familiar with and even liked Wassily Kandinsky’s Composition VIII pictured above, but it didn’t have any real meaning for me. I could not understand it.
Over the years my wife, a trained graphic artist and now high school science teacher, would try to convince me that I did not need to like something just because it was a “famous” piece of art. And that just because I liked something, didn’t mean that I actually had to understand “why” I liked it. It was OK to just appreciate the work that I liked and ignore the work that I didn’t.
With that foundation laid, when I met Joe Miller and was able to spend some time discussing photography, and that led to Joe’s preferred subject matter, abstract photography. Joe was very patient with me, spending lots of time describing how lines, shapes, colors, textures and perspective all affect the way that we perceive a scene. He spent a great deal of time explaining how Dave Carter, Joe’s longtime friend whom I met briefly before he passed away, would apply the psychological implications of visual design to his critiques of images. Joe encouraged me to explore design-based, rather than subject-based, photography in a Portfolio Project for NVPS, for which I decided to work with the stained glass windows in Joe’s studio, but took all of the photographs in InfraRed using my converted Canon 10D. The lack of color forced me to concentrate on the lines, tones and textures of the glass, however with the IR camera I got unexpected (for me) results. Blues became translucent and bright, while reds became opaque and dark, frequently pure black.
All of this helped me to develop not only an appreciation of abstracts, but a greater appreciation of images in general. It greatly improved my ability to abstract an image into its component shapes, which has improved my visual design. I now find that I am framing images based on principles of visual design, even when I am shooting sporting events.
Also known as the “Dean of Photography” was the very first person to present lighting in a way that I could grasp. His explanations of 3 Dimensional Contrast lighting, describing specular, diffuse and shadow areas of the subject got me thinking in whole new ways about photography and how the light affects what we are seeing.
Sadly Dean was gone before I had ever heard of him, but his videos are still available from Software Cinema and I have watched a number of them.
His videos allowed me to develop new ideas about how I might light and shoot different subjects. It was amazing to me how he would produce drastically different images outdoors by simply using a reflector and a scrim. Subject on one side you get a high-key image, move to the other side and get a low-key image.
He also wrote a booklet about Do-It-Yourself scrims, reflectors and flash modifiers using schedule 40 PVC pipe called Tinker Tubes. I have seen this booklet on the web, but it is copyrighted work so please do not download it illegally. There are plenty of copy-cat productions on the web like this, but Dean’s designs are better, in my opinion.
It is well worth your time to watch more of his presentations, especially if you are trying to learn lighting and exposure.
Scott Kelby is quite the entrepreneur. He turned a graphic arts business into a multi-million dollar per year enterprise, largely by working closely with Adobe to develop extensive training videos on nearly all aspects of photography and Adobe’s products all available at Kelby Training.
I initially purchased a few of the Kelby Training videos on DVD, which I loaned throughout my camera club for a couple of years. This was shortly after Photoshop CS4 was released, and the CS3 videos all went on sale for 1/2 price. But they convinced me that the video training would work for me, and that I had a tremendous amount still to learn. For a couple of years I used their online training videos. At $200 per year, it was about what I expected to pay for a 2 day seminar with no personal interaction. This gave me access to the hundreds of videos that Kelby Training offers, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Over those couple of years I learned a great deal about Photoshop, Camera Raw and Lightroom, as well as watching numerous photography oriented videos from people like Joe McNally, Frank Doorhof and Jay Maisel.
I have also read a number of Scott Kelby’s books, however I found them to be somewhat trivial for my taste. Everything that I have read by Scott is a cookbook photography methodology. That is, you are given a recipe of such and such a lens, at such aperture and exposure. If you have a reasonable grasp of exposure, depth of field and focus I believe that you will find them too basic as well.
But give the Kelby Training site a spin, I think that you will find at least something that piques your fancy.