Sunday, January 07, 2007

My favorite photography sites

There are three great photography sites I read almost daily. They are Digital Photography Review, Fred Miranda, and PhotoDistrict News. Each site is fairly distinct in the way it covers photography. DP Review covers news, gives reviews and has forums broken down by equipment (Canon, Nikon, etc.). FM has reviews and forums broken down by type of photography (nature, wedding, etc.). PDN covers the business side of photography with articles on ad agency photo-buying trends and photojournalism.

DP Review is the largest of the sites. It has excellent in-depth reviews of nearly every camera on the market. No matter if you are a pro, serious amateur or weekend snapshooter it is worth your while to check out the camera reviews at DP Review before purchasing. To see their actual performance there are photo galleries for each camera.

The forums at DP Review cover hundreds of subjects no matter what you're shooting. It is easy to find out which lens is the best to buy, how to clean a dirty sensor, use flash effectively or get any information on any photography subject. The people on the forums seem eager to help with questions but there is still some crabs who will like to belittle others. Don't get into any Canon vs. Nikon discussions. It brings out the worst in some.

DP Review also an excellent glossary of photography terms, a learning center for tips and tricks of the trade and a buyer's guide which provides a side-by-side feature review of the top cameras.

The Fred Miranda site was started by a young Brazilian photographer. It is geared toward a serious discussion of equipment and techniques for pros and serious amateurs. There are excellent equipment reviews by actual users of the gear. Most of the reviews are given after the product has been used for many months even years instead of lab testing right out of the box. The forums are based on the type of photography you prefer. I check into the City Still and Abstract section and also the Landscape Photography forum. I can post some of my work for others to comment. Everyone seems pretty cordial here without any flame-out posts.

PDN is the essential magazine for anyone who shoots or buys photography for the media. Hot topics are stock photography, photojournalism, and trends. A story example would be this one about the lives of studio producers who set up shoots for high-end advertising.

PDN is keeping a close watch on the use of cell-phone photography. Hardly a professional's topic you might say? But cell phone cameras are improving in quality and performance quite rapidly. They are now sporting 2-3 megapixel sensors and some even have flash units. Soon we will see 4-5 megapixels. (Don't get caught up in the megapixel game. I'd prefer a 2-3 megapixel with a clean, noiseless sensor over a jammed, noisy 5 megapixel anyday).

Why is cell-phone photography important to the craft? The recent cell-phone photos of Saddam Hussein's hanging made newspapers around the world. Other images of similar events shot from cell-phone cameras have made it into top newspapers and magazines throughout 2006. The ubiquity of cell-phone cameras means that people will capture more journalistic events than ever.

Unfortunately many of the articles and services of PDN require login and subscription. If you are interested in the business side of photography then a subscription to PDN is worthwhile. Not only will you get access to its online version but the subscription includes the monthly print magazine as well.

There are other sites to visit as well including Luminous Landscape, the all new Shutterbug site and finally, for inspiration, there are a couple of portfolio sites I enjoy checking out.

The first is Cambridge in Colour by Sean T. McHugh. He presents his brilliant work of the campus of Cambridge University using low-light, long exposure photography. He also provides a description of his techniques and a tutorial.

The other site is by an Icelandic woman named Rebekka who has stunned the Flickr world with an astonishing and versatile portfolio of images. Her enchanting images of Iceland will make any pro-am shooter consider a photo safari to this remote country. Rebekka also enjoys making self-portraits which adds to her allure (sorry, no nudes...she's a mother with two kids).

Both sites show what can be done by people with vision, inventiveness and a willingness to take a chance. Oh, I guess they need a camera too (it ain't all about the equipment).


Copyright 2007 James D. Fisher
All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Back in the Groove... Again

After a two-plus month hiatus I'm back to blogging. That means more writing, posting photography, and linking. In my time off from blogging the Republicrats lost the House and Senate to the Demopublicans, the Browns won four measly games, there is a new commercial called the LeBrons (I like business-man LeBron), I have better seats for the Cavs games and someone named Saddam got hung while they continue to look in holes for someone named Osama. I guess I didn't miss much.

What was I doing? Mostly working on an expansion at IdeaStar which is completed. But this blog is not about work. What else then? My daughter graduated from Ohio U. That was great. My son Nathan and I took college visit trips to Chicago and western New York (can you guess what outrageously expensive schools we saw?). I also took trips to Santa Fe, Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. Picture posting to come soon.

I also listened to a few audio books on the iPod. My favorite was Manhunt which was about the Lincoln assassination and tracking down John Wilkes Booth. It's an amazing story. Booth was a very well known actor both locally and nationally. It's as if Sean Penn or Brad Pitt shot the President today (please, I'm not suggesting anything).

The other book was Attila the Hun. His name is so well known but I had little idea who he was. He emerged as a giant of a gangster in an era (Middle Ages) which didn't need more gangsters. History doesn't treat him well because he produced nothing of value (no great cities or cultural arts) and left few landmarks or waymarks.

As you can tell I enjoy the historical books. I did a few of the revolutionary war/founding fathers books including His Excellency George Washington, 1776, and my favorite, Alexander Hamilton. My current audio book fav is River of Doubt which is about Theodore Roosevelt's expedition up the Amazon River. He had just lost the presidential election and instead of sitting at home being grumpy he decided to undergo probably the most intense activity a human could do at that time (second only to climbing Mt. Everest). He was nearly killed. Check it out at Audible.

The new things which we can do on the iPod are, books, video, and t.v. shows. I'm now an addict of The Office. Everyone in my clan loves it too and on our trip to Arizona they were borrowing my iPod and Sonic Impact viewer in order to huddle around and watch three seasons of episodes of The Office. Everyone has a favorite character (mine is Stanley, the grumpy one who does crossword puzzles instead of listening to Michael).

O.K. here are my resolutions for 2007 (everyone else is posting them, why not me?). First, I will not try to lose weight. I come up with that every year and nothing happens so maybe it will just happen this time....right? I will try to keep my closet in order (at least be able to see the floor). I will get better at PhotoShop without buying more books on it (this will be accomplished by actually reading the books I have). (Wait! CS3 is coming out...I need new books!) Finally, I resolve to eat out less, cook more at home, and be more patient with my daughter, my mother and my dog (not necessarily in that order).

So that's the latest. Check in weekly for more of my meaningful meanderings and over saturated photographs (I'll get this RAW processing down someday).

Happy New Year,


Copyright 2007 James D. Fisher
All Rights Reserved.

The Grandest of Canyons

Let's start this off right. Anyone can walk up to the Grand Canyon and take a wonderful picture. It's that kind of place. Just point and shoot and you got a winner. I think that's why stock photo agencies will not accept any more pictures of the Grand Canyon. It's been so thoroughly photographed they can't use anymore!

Does that mean one shouldn't try to take a great picture? Heck no! You must, you must. Here's a few new ones from me. I started off with medium length zoom lens but later switched to a super wide angle. Enjoy!

(click on any image to enlarge)

Early morning scene. Light just beginning to lift.
(Canon 20D 17-85mm IS)

More morning light.
(Canon 20D 17-85mm IS)

Everyone just wants to go sit on those pedestal-like stones.
(Canon 20D 17-85mm IS)

Light now hitting the peaks.
(Canon 20D 17-85mm IS)

The sun begins to find holes through the clouds.
(Canon 20D 10-22mm)

Now we see slivers of light cutting across the canyon.
(Canon 20D 10-22mm)

Later blue sky adds color contrast to the red, orange and grey canyon.
(Canon 20D 10-22mm)

Foreground ledges give way to colorful canyon tops.
(Canon 20D 10-22mm)

Craggily trees remind us of the high winds and difficult climate we're in. Temperatures were in the 20's and the winds eventually gusted up to 80mph with snow.
(Canon 20D 10-22mm)

A storm quickly moves in. We're getting pounded. We head toward the towers.
(Canon 20D 10-22mm)

Inside the tower we see Native Indian drawings on the walls and ceilings. To get to the top of the tower you walk along a spiral staircase.
(Canon 20D 10-22mm)

Inside the tower.
(Canon 20D 10-22mm)

Copyright 2007 James D. Fisher
All Rights Reserved.

A Visit to Taliesin West in Scottsdale

Having seen Falling Water, a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Western Pennsylvania, it was at treat to visit his winter home in Arizona. Enjoy!

(click on any image to enlarge)

We take a visit to Taliesin West in Scottsdale. This was Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and design school. There are 20 students and 200 teachers!

Wright was probably one of the most prolific architects ever and this home has many wonderful innovations.

It's just a rock but it looks great.

Main entrance to Taliesin West.

Close-up of one of the many fountains.

A sculpture in the orange grove.

Roof of the bookstore at Taliesin West.

This is actually one of the few pictures of Mary with her eyes open.

Copyright 2007 James D. Fisher
All Rights Reserved.

More Grand Canyon - Some Family Picts

Here are some "family" shots while at the Canyon. Everyone is here except Mary who never seems to be around when a picture is being taken but there is a shot of her at the Frank Lloyd Wright post. Enjoy!

(click on any image to enlarge)

Nathan and Jim at the Grand Canyon. It's early morning and sun is starting to come out. At the camera is my daughter Jessica.

Nathan is my "out on the ledge" kid.

See what I mean? There is nothing that Nate doesn't want to climb.

Now I feel better with a railing around him.

Here is from left to right, James, Nathan, Jessica Fisher and our touring car. They nicknamed it the "Canyonero" (from the Simpson's). It was nice. In the background is Red Rock National Park near Sedona.

Local native arts stand selling jewelry made in China.

My son James wants to show the Chinese kids how to throw a snowball. There were plenty of Chinese here. In fact there were probably more Chinese visitors at the Canyon then Americans. Apparently, the Grand Canyon is revered in China as well as Niagra Falls. James is fluent in Mandarin so he had fun chatting with them or listening in to their conversations.

James winds and throws. Wow, this one went over a half mile....down!

Copyright 2007 James D. Fisher
All Rights Reserved.