Webwatch: Teaching an old dog new tricks
The proliferation of digital cameras has resulted in a horde of amatuer snappers bungling their shots. Village chooses the best websites for photography tutorials, hints and tips.
Geoff Lawerence Photography
Geoff is a professional photographer who has obviously had enough of seeing what he describes as ‘snaps'. He wants us take pictures that will not bore the pants of others. To this end he offers an encyclopaedic list of possible problems you may face, technical and artistic. While not made for true beginners, the tutorials are informative and easy to understand, and each one has example photos. He understands that digital photography is as much about the work done on computers later as it is about the correct light and distance. Topics covered include composition, cropping, close-ups and photographing animals amongst many others.
Worryingly, for a man who purports to teach others about composition, Geoff's garish red and black website is quite ugly, but makes up for this with ease of use. There is a section for the more ambitious photographer with advice on what to do with your photos, from sales to home display. Happily, unlike many other photo-tip sites there are no membership or subscription fees, probably due to the large number of photography advertisements. The site also offers a photo quiz that will challenge even the most knowledgeable of photo-enthusiasts and a quick top-ten hints for those impatient to get out and about with their new camera.
Digital Photography School
The Digital Photography School blog and forum holds a host of valuable hints and tips articles. This is a more interactive and friendly site than Lawerence's, but less technically rigorous. It features competitions and assignments each week, where users are given a theme on what to photograph, such as Time, or Sunsets. They then send in their entry and the winner's photo is shown on the home page of the blog. It's all very cute. Users can comment on articles and assignments or upload their own photos to the forum as well as comment on others photos and submit their own tips.
The site has an awkward interface that can make it difficult to navigate around at first, but the hidden nooks and crannies harbour many interesting pieces of information, especially on the rules of composition. That said, several sections could use an editor, if only for punctuation duties, as the long entries have a tendency to meander without paragraphs or full stops, making them annoying to read.
Digital Image Café
This site is choc-a-bloc with flashy images and advertisements, reflecting the $25 membership fee for full use of the services which include a personal website to display your photos. A nice feature is the ‘Today's Specials' feature which showcases members best new pictures on the front page of the site, as well as the photo of the week section and a critique corner, where advice on how to improve photos is asked for (no insults please). For those not yet confident enough in their skills to exhibit photos or pay the membership fee, the tutorials, articles and reviews are free. This site is definitely for the more advanced photographer who wants to improve their work and is not afraid of jargon.
Aisling O'Rourke and Tom Rowe