Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thank You Fellow Bloggers: My Favorite Blogs - Part 1

I have always wanted to cover this title, but I kept delaying it and preferring technical subjects thinking that they might appeal more to our readers, until a few days back, when one of my absolute favorite bloggers decided to put his blog on hiatus. This made me think a lot about the circumstances that caused this to happen and I believe that this is the best time to write this post.

The whole internet has been writing about Steve Job's death and how he affected their lives, consider this post as a thank you, a tribute to those bloggers who really made a significant difference to my photography and probably to a lot of other people's as well.

I follow more than 50 photography/DSLR video related blogs via Google Reader, but I really perk up and feel all tingly when I see an entry from one of the blogs I really love, every single one of these blogs has a direct (and significant) effect on me, my photography and my bank account, yes, I bought lots of my photography equipment based on some post or some image that I found on one of these blogs.

I am not a paid photographer and I didn't gain a single dime from any of my photos or my posts over here, so I'm sort of free to not have a certain style to my photos, I'm free to try and use all sorts of lighting techniques, I can be a strobist, a one light photographer or an available light shooter, all I want to say is that I'm very open minded to all the different techniques and different styles you're going to see in my list, I have respect for each and everyone of them,  so please keep this in mind while going through my ramblings below.

DISCLAIMER: The order in which I am going sort my list below has nothing to do with how better one blogger/photographer is than the other, unfortunately there has to be some sort of order (alas, that's the way life is) and that order is completely random.



Kirk's blog is unique in it's mixture of a large variety of topics, ranging from technical equipment reviews to sudden rants about things that ticks Kirk off to how the logistics and business of photography works to deeply philosophical posts about art, portrait love shooting sessions and why do we take pictures. A one of a kind blog, the closest blog I can find that shares some of Kirk's "air" is Shutterfinger which I enjoy sometimes.

What attracts me the most to Kirk's blog is the writing style and the frequency of his posts, sometimes he can post up to 4 posts in just one day. I bought my Canon 60D and 35mm f/2 lens because of Kirk Tuck, and I was starting to get excited about the new Olympus cameras, but all of this has come to an abrupt end, if you don't know, Kirk has decided to stop posting on his blog because of some idiot's comment that made him rethink the whole purpose behind his blog, which lead him to the conclusion that he better spend his time in money making activities rather than posting free content for the internetz. That was a sad day, if I were to choose only one blog to follow, I wouldn't hesitate to choose Kirk's lab.

P.S. This paragraph is addressed to Kirk, you can skip it if you want and read the rest of the post. Dear Kirk, I have read everyone of your 700 something posts, but didn't comment a lot as did a lot of your readership (evident from the 250 comments on your last post versus the average 20 comments on the other posts), I agreed with some of your posts and disagreed with others, I know that it is your blog, it is your time and it is your decision, but allow me to say that I don't completely agree with the reasons for stopping your blog.

You mentioned that the blog takes time from you and you have to keep it updated regularly, but who obliged you to do so? I believe you put this target for yourself, you don't have to post daily or even weekly updates, do it when you have free time that isn't going to cost you money or take you from your family, I remember you mentioned that you wrote your posts while importing pictures in lightroom, and you're a pretty quick writer too. The other point you mentioned was something about free content, I'm not an expert but I'm not entirely sure that your blog's content can be monetized easily, nobody would pay money for technical product reviews since they are out there for free, and I don't believe that the other content can be monetized as well especially that you say it gets a lower number of page views. Finally, I have always felt that you poured your heart's content in your posts, you wanted to vent out some thoughts, you wanted to share them and discuss them with others, I don't believe that all of your posts were written for the sole reason of making a brand name and image. On this blog here I post product reviews and photography techniques because I love to teach the others everything I know, I don't get money for what I post nor am I a photographer who wants to build a brand, I do it in my free time and at my leisure because I enjoy it.

That's all I wanted to get off my chest since I read your last post, it has been a real pleasure reading your blog and I hope that some day I will find one of your new posts in my RSS feed.

P.S. I immensely despise the word "photog", just like Kirk pointed out once, if you use it please consider not using it anymore.


David is probably the first photographer I got to know when I started learning photography, I saw a part of his Lighting 101 (or was it 102?) DVD on one of my friend's computer and he linked me to his blog, from there I devoured the lighting 101 and 102 series of posts, I learned all about small flashes (strobes), modifiers, triggers, gels, chimping, light reverse-engineering, etc... 70% of my lighting knowledge comes from the strobist blog. As with all of this list, the strobist was the reason I bought 3 Canon flashes, 2 Chinese studio flashes, a couple of wireless triggers and lots of light modifiers and DIY stuff.

I have one request from David, if you're reading this, please, please, pretty please use a wider template for your blog and use larger images for your posts, I would love to be able to see the images clearly in your posts while reading, currently I have to click every single image to see a larger version in a new page to understand what you're talking about, then keep switching between the post material and the images, did I say please? :-(


My favorite flash photography blog, Neil is a well known wedding photographer that is famous for his on-camera bounce flash techniques and the black foamie thing. 90% of my flash lit photos are done using the on-camera bounce flash techniques I learned from Neil's blog, it is the quickest and easiest way (not to mention the lightest) to shoot great looking soft-lit pictures. You will find lots of great tutorials and videos freely posted on Neil's blog, I suggest that you read every single one of them. I bought my Lastolite 24" EzyBox based on the results I saw on the tangents blog.

4. Laurence Kim

Gorgeous photos, that's the only word that can describe Laurence's site, not beautiful, not elegant, not amazing but rather gorgeous photos. Laurence has done a lot of gear reviews (which I really enjoyed), posted about some techniques (which I copied successfully), but the most unique thing about his blog is how gorgeous his photos look, take his last post for example, see what I mean? Most of his photos are shot using available light and they have a very light and airy feel.

One more attractive aspect about his website (just like his photos) is the light and airy feel it has, the design is very simple, non distracting and very professional at the same time. I have also followed his adventures with film cameras and medium format in earnest, you can find some great info on his blog. And as usual he was the reason I bought my Canon 85mm f/1.8.


Probably shares my "favorite flash photographer" title along with Neil vN, his photos are just unique, check his latest blog to see what I mean. He has recently updated his blog to a nice clean and uncluttered template with wide large photos (similar to Laurence Kim). Zack is known as the one light guy because he usually uses one light only in his photos, and to a good effect. A must see on his blog is his great one-hour-long video explaining his complete post-processing workflow, this video has converted me into a lightroom and RAW-shooting addict.

My only gripe with Zack is that he doesn't blog as much as he used to (although he tweets a lot), but I know that he's in a new stage in his life and I am patiently waiting for the goodies to come back.


The LensRentals blog has become more famous recently after being featured on Gizmodo more than once, and for a very good reason, Roger's uniqueness comes from the insane amount of lenses and cameras at his disposal, he goes on about busting all the myths about lens' sharpness and variations between copies, how does dirt on a lens affect it's performance and all sorts of exciting experiments. He even stacked 50 UV filters to a lens and took pictures to see what happens, just because he can.

Roger also has some great scientific articles about lenses that would really teach you a lot you probably didn't know about. I also thoroughly enjoyed his talk about lenses history and how they progressed to become what we use today.
 

Gavin's videos and tutorials on YouTube was among the first I saw when I was still learning photography, he doesn't post much now, but I learned a great deal of techniques like the water drop and smoke photography from him. Gavin is a photoshop master and has some great post-processing tips on his blog, he also usually posts some photoshop tips on TipSquirrel.com.