These websites provide examples, information, help from your peers and advice from experts.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

2 photo sites that can sharpen your skills

March 20, 2011

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, The Post-Standard

We learn by doing. But sometimes that method just doesn't work the way it should. We often need help.

In photography, for instance, you can learn how to take better pictures by looking at the pictures you've already taken and learning from the mistakes you've made. But at some point you run out of moxie. You can end up confused or discouraged.

The best way out is by sharing ideas and photos with others. I'd like to steer you toward a couple of websites that provide examples, information, help from your peers and advice from experts.

The most useful, to me, is Photo.net (www.photo.net ), which has 40 or more discussion forums and hundreds of thousands of member photos in 14 categories, all online for viewing and downloading. Photo.net's resources are so vast that a search for the top-rated photos of 2010 -- just the ones rated excellent by members -- turned up 3,000 pictures. (And that's not all there are in that rating; it's simply the highest the display software can count.)

Photo.net's forums have helped me in countless ways. I follow discussions in the Digital Darkroom forum at least once a day, and I've also checked into topics on the Sony camera forum because I have an unusual infrared-capable single-lens reflex Sony camera. The experts in both forums are the equals of any others in the country.

PhotoSIG (www.photosig.com) is much less of a pro and semi-pro site but has nine good forums and more than 60 categories of photos. I gave up counting the number of photos online when I got to a million.

Parents should note that both sites try to shield viewers from R-rated photos unless they specifically choose to see them. Photo.net keeps such photos out of the "all photos" category by default, and PhotoSIG hides them in its general category by showing only a blank frame with a lock inside for all pictures deemed risque. To view them, you must adjust the settings the site maintains for you.

Photo.net's thumbnails and full-size photos are color-accurate if your browser follows recent color-display standards. Ones that do include Safari for Macs and Windows and Internet Explorer 9 for Windows. If you take the trouble to adjust your monitor for accurate color (see www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec123000.html), browsing the pictures on Photo.net can be as rewarding as a visit to the halls of a photo museum.

Both sites ask you to register, but there is no charge for either one. Feel free to use any of the photos on either site for your own purpose, such as wallpaper on your screen, but don't try to sell any of them or claim them as your own. I also wouldn't share any of the photos. They're for your enjoyment only.