The field of photography is vast, with many different genres and subjects being explored actively at all times. This week's comprehensive list of links from Toad Hollow Photography features the best tutorials, collections, photography and interesting blogs encountered during the week. There are some really wonderful pieces included in this list by some very talented folks. We really do hope you enjoy viewing these images and reading the articles posted as much as the Toad did in bringing this list to you.
How to Improve the Quality of Pictures from Your Camera – a rudimentary article that discusses some elemental issues and concepts in photography with an intent of helping beginner photographers to take their craft to that next level. Sometimes it’s the simple details that make all the difference.
Abstract Art in Photoshop Tutorial: Swirls with Distort – this brief article takes you through some basic steps to create really striking abstract images from photographs. Dakota Visions Photography produces a great step-by-step guide here, sharing a few results that are really interesting.
Tuesday in the Studio: Power Pack And Head Systems – it’s never too early to let everyone know about my Christmas list this year, here’s something that I sure would love to see under the tree. Joe Farace discusses separate power packs and head units for controlled lighting, sharing a pair of great images to illustrate his key findings. If you’re interested in studio lighting, this is a must-read article.
What is Bulb Mode and 5 Ways to Use It (Long Exposure Photography) – a brief article that discusses the various uses for this mode of photography. This is a unique genre of photography, one that takes a special skill set and tons of practice to do right.
Photos of New York City with the Power Out – an absolutely surreal collection of photographs taken after the megastorm Sandy in New York City. Christophe Jacrot took to the streets camera in hand and came away with a series that is heart wrenching to look at considering the enormity of the event itself.
40 Striking High Resolution Photography Wallpapers From National Geographic – an absolutely epic collection, as one would expect, of desktop wallpapers from the good folks at National Geographic. It’s a wonderful world we live in, and these images really depict the vast differences of this diverse planet.
Amazing Macro Photography – a terrific collection of micro sized subjects, shot and shared in this post. Getting up close and personal with some of the features of the world we live in lends a new perspective to things that might seem otherwise familiar.
Animals Illuminated by the Sun – what a fabulous series of images, featuring various animals captured in amazing natural light. The true character and spirit of each of these creatures is brought to life in this set, making for a wonderful short presentation to view and enjoy.
Gentoo Penguin Chicks – in the midst of an icy cold landscape we find wonder and beauty in nature here, as captured and shared by Ron Niebrugge. Muted sunlight drapes the carefully composed scene illuminating the mother and her young with beautiful light, bringing all the details of the wonderful little birds to life.
Blue Lion Birds: The Exhibit (Part 1) | (Part 2) – great bird photographs can be really compelling and captivating as the little animals all seem to have distinct personalities of their own. John Mead has opportunity to display some of his finest pieces in the Allen Public Library for February, and on his blog here he shares images that will be displayed. These are incredible images, showcasing the true personality and character of each of the birds, well worth the time to visit.
Somesville Footbridge – Mount Desert Island, Maine – this is a shot that can only be great if the composition is nailed, there are so many elements at play in the scene here. Wayne Beauregard does it, and does it with style here. This is an oft photographed historic footbridge, dating back to the late 1700’s in the US. Wayne’s picture is full of great details and features, far too many to describe here, making this a real must-see shot in this week’s list.
Stacked – if you love Urbex photography, you will love this great photograph by CJ Schmit. A stack of old, wooden carts fills the void behind a doorframe in an forsaken abandoned factory. Intricate details reveal the deep, dark drama hidden in the scene, and CJ does a top notch job in bringing it all together and to life.
Café Du Monde – Edith Levy shares a truly wonderful image captured in the French Quarter of New Orleans. This quaint coffee shop is pretty much open always, and Edith sneaks in in the wee hours of the morning while she’s out shooting for some coffee… and she comes away with a wonderful image taken inside that shares a picture of the character and spirit of both NOLA and this terrific little local shop.
From The Soul – great candid street photography can be a powerful medium, sharing a glimpse into the human condition as it naturally occurs in places of community and congregation. Aaron Barlow captures a great shot here of a man on the street playing saxaphone. This terrific candid shot is processed in black-and-white, and Aaron’s shallow depth-of-focus is perfect in this picture to really make the man pop out of the scene.
The Office Keys – Bob Lussier delivers a spectacular shot here that only Bob can create. A pair of keys nailed to the office floor at the Stone Mill in Lawrence makes the perfect subject matter for Bob and his very unique way and style of documenting these old, historic mills. Bob has teamed up with a fellow photographer and they are planning a workshop for enthusiasts of these old facilities; we wish him and Steven the best of luck.
Landscaping by Squirrelly – this absolutely terrific photograph by Laurie MacBride forms the basis for a really, really interesting blog post. Laurie has a resident squirrel living with her family on their property. Now, I just love squirrels, we see a few of them around our place, too. Laurie’s shot here features a real personality, and Laurie augments this awesome image with some truly fascinating facts about life for these furry creatures.
The White Hart Pub at Stopham | White Hart Stopham (Explore) – an instantly favorite pair of complementary images featuring an old, historic bridge and pub, both built around the 1400’s. These incredible images by Barry Turner are captured and processed in HDR to accentuate the incredible details and the rich textures in the architecture of the bridge and pub.
Monster Jam – and now, for something completely different we join Michael Lewis Glover who had a chance to attend a Monster Truck event called the Monster Jam recently. Michael’s stunning collection of photographs from the event showcases the raw energy and power that is exuded at an event like this, featuring shots of trucks in mid-air and running over all sorts of now-dead machinery.
after the apocalypse – David Stoddart (ArtHakker Photography HDR) finds his way inside the heart of an old, abandoned and absolutely derelict factory in Essex. Absolutely unbelievable details are brought out with great textures enhanced by the HDR processing in this image, making for a picture that has so many fine details to explore and enjoy.
Three moods in three hours – the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps makes a striking photography muse, one that is often photographed, never revealing the same look twice. LensScaper (Andy Hooker) shares a trio of images here taken the same day at different times, showing completely different personalities of this world-wonder.
The Wreck – a very dramatic black-and-white study of a wooden boat wrecked on the shore. Deep contrasts in the scene are explored here by Hossein Zare exposing a dark and rich feeling image complete with sunlight streaming down from the heavens.
White Rhino – a large and very serious looking rhinoceros stares back at the camera of Barbara Youngleson. Barbara’s picture was taken with the perfect depth-of-focus leaving enough of the background to give context to the scene, yet still isolating the rhino from it’s surroundings.
Little House on the Prairie – a lonely old wooden farmhouse sits in a field, many years removed from being actively lived in. Aaron J. Groen captures a picture here that delivers both a solitary feel with the abandoned house accented with hope by the lovely colors in the evening sky.
Night Flyer – this is an astonishing picture, taken by Jay Taylor, that features a Short-Eared Owl mid-flight searching for it’s next snack. Capturing crisp and detailed images of fast-moving birds is a real challenge, especially in very low light as Jay faced here. This is an excellent photograph, one well worth the time to see yourself.
Eye of the Sun – this long-exposure piece showcases the majestic architecture of a bridge span that takes the viewer comfortably through the frame. As Carlos Silva captures the picture at sunrise, the gorgeous colors of the morning sky cast captivating reflections of the bridge into the water surrounding it.
Farming the Rift – a lone, old tractor sits under a blanket of stars awaiting the next chance to spring to service in this wonderful photograph by Aaron J. Groen. Aaron’s perfect composition creates a mesmerizing image, sure to be enjoyed by everyone who visits to see.
26 / 365 – Foot Tunnel… – what a terrific shot posted here by Tony Matthews. This black-and-white was taken at a slightly lower perspective, leading the viewer right down the tunnel into a fabulous vanishing point.
the blue rush – a powerful scene featuring an oceanic black tip shark making it’s way through a cloud of sardines swimming in a huge school. The natural drama of life and death’s struggle against each other is perfectly composed and captured in this photograph by Alexander Safonov.
Reading Monk – this is an amazing photo, one that is full of great tension and fascination. Stefano Pedroni shares an image of a monk looking back out of a train window, with a book in his hands. His expression is rather striking and the entire image really pulls the viewer in.
Afternoon Winter Sun – the day’s late sun is hanging low on the horizon, creating the perfect conditions to highlight incredible dark silhouettes from the stark trees in the foreground. Beautiful colors in the sky work with the striking landscape in this great shot by Bob Israel.
Reflection – this is a great photograph, taken by Ole-Henning Svendsen that features the Opera House in Oslo, Norway. As the terrific lines in the architecture of the facility make their way up and left in the frame, we find an awesome reflection of modern architecture mirrored back, almost creating two distinct images within one.
Bodie Mercantile General Store – the ghost town of Bodie, California is both a living museum as well as the perfect material for photographers. Raymond Jabola takes us into the heart of the old store, revealing long held secrets within the details and textures that time immemorial has used as brushstrokes in creating this incredible picture.
Ballad of a Beach Tractor | Ballad of a Beach Tractor vol.2 – fabulous character is explored in this pair of complimentary shots by Anita Megyesi. Each one expresses a view of a really interesting old tractor by using different perspectives. Incredible colors in the sky and dramatic cloud formations complete the set by providing a great mood for the entire setting.
Twilight… – the incredible Dubai city skyline at twilight is perfectly mirrored in the rich reflections captured in this terrific photograph taken by Sanjay Pradhan. Incredible details in the city’s architecture are explored, finding great symbiosis in the surrounding tone and colors.
he – house sparrow . . . – what a great photograph, shared here by dragonflydreams88. This great shot features a bird in the tree with incredible details, the best part being the way it’s looking back at the camera with a wonderful glint in it’s eye. If you look closer, you see another little bird peeking out from behind a limb adding a wonderful dimension.
Landing – breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe the amazement one experiences when seeing this awesome photograph by Henrik Nilsson. As a wild short eared owl makes it’s landing, Henrik captures an image of it the sheer second before touchdown, and with his perfect shallow depth-of-focus we find the owl completely isolated from it’s background. Stunning.
Stopham Bridge – incredible ancient stonework is featured in this photograph of the Stopham bridge built in 1423. Wonderful details in the natural weathering of the stones is beautifully reflected back by the glassy water’s surface, as shot and shared here by Barry Turner.
Sahara, Algeria – initial impressions of this breathtaking piece by Yury Pustovoy reveals a great natural abstract created by sharp lines of sand dunes accented by dark shadows, producing great contrast in the warm tones. The final touch comes with a person walking atop one of the ridges, suddenly giving the viewer an incredible sense of scale.
warehouse rave – david stoddart delivers a gritty study of the inside of a long abandoned factory. Incredible textures and details can be found in the dark corners and recesses of this shot creating an iconic Urbex image complete with deep drama.
Hong Kong from the Peak – Adam Allegro takes us high atop Victoria Peak to see a view of the city of Hong Kong lying below. The misty atmosphere gives wonderful muted qualities to the lights of the buildings the further back the view goes. This huge and most wonderful city is displayed in a most beautiful way with Adam’s presentation.
Showcased – a colorful image of the World Showcase at Epcot just after sundown. Jerry Denham captures a perfect composition with this shot, featuring the great colors, lights and Spacestation Earth in the backdrop.
“Ford Mustang” mono – busy crowds, uncontrolled lighting and cramped shooting quarters can be some of the challenges a photographer faces when shooting an active carshow. Rachel Cohen focuses on the details in this shot, completely overcoming these issues. In this picture, an exhaust tip carefully composed creates a very artistic and compelling piece.
Racton Tower – this is an absolutely amazing photograph featuring the remains of a regal tower in the UK. Time has done it’s work on this ancient stone structure, slowly removing layer after layer. Barry Turner comes away from a visit here with an incredible series of images that depict the site and the remains of the building.
Lake Farley – a lovely sunset captured hanging over a beautiful lake is shared here by Robert Berry. Terrific colors in the late day sky bathe the scene in great colors, producing strong silhouettes from the natural elements surrounding the lake.
The Eye of Sauron – beautiful sunrays cloak the landscape in bright, warm tones in this wondrous image from Tim Stanley. The colors create a persona in the sky which finds further interest in the interesting cloud formations hanging high above.
Long After Harvest – barn scenes are just so rustic, some of my personal favorite photography subjects. Jimi Jones captures a shot of a wonderful barn in the middle of a spate of frozen temperatures that does a great job of sharing the cold, stark scenery which finds a wonderful dimension with the great barn in the scene. Terrific architectural details, colors and textures are all perfectly captured here.
A Turkey Vulture Just Out for a Walk – what an interesting bird, perfectly captured to be shared here by Steve Creek. Steve does a fabulous job in capturing this bird mid-stride, looking back at the camera, displaying the character and personality of this truly interesting creature.
Cyclops – Steven Perlmutter takes us into the Everett Mill in Lawrence where we get to enjoy a really fabulous study in lines. Steven’s composition here uses the lines and features in one of the staircases as a means to guide the viewer through the frame. Great textures and details in the old mill itself are totally brought to life in this shot.
Feeding Giraffes at the Living Desert – as Anne McKinnell continues her adventures travelling with her husband we get to enjoy some wonderful shots from places we might not otherwise get a chance to see. This incredible post features a short series of photos of giraffe’s in a large, outdoor zoo setting. Each of the images shows the beauty and character of each of the animals, making this a post that is sure to be enjoyed by everyone who visits.
Evergreen – this wonderful fine art piece by Helene Kobelnyk is of a gorgeous landscape vista captured in New Mexico. Helene’s photograph is full of great colors and tones as a row of beautiful pines and firs takes the viewer through the frame naturally.
The Extraordinary Biltmore Estate – extraordinary doesn’t even begin to describe the magnitude of incredulous opulence at work in the design and creation of this world-famous estate. Jay & Jacy Photography shares a great portrait of the home done in HDR and a storyboard selection of photographs of other features in the estate.
Winter Night – Norway plays home to the mysterious Aurora Borealis, also known as northern lights. Arild Heitmann captures a landscape scene taken in a snow-covered forest at night as the lights dance in the sky above and paint the scene in a beautiful green glow.
Shasta Lake From Air – sometimes you encounter an image so unique and striking that it instantly beguiles you. This is one such image. I’ve seen this beautiful natural wonder from the ground before, and have been amazed. This shot by Vassili Broutski takes that to the next level by capturing this shot from the air, and with it the vibrant colors that surround the perimeter of the lake as well as the frosted mountains that surround it.
Startrail – as would be expected, gorgeous startrails create a strong sense of dynamic motion in the heavens as far below a quaint old church sits to anchor the image. An image featured on Clickalps.com, this is a fascinating image, sure to be enjoyed by all.
drops fly – cranking the creep factor to 100, we take in this macro shot of a fly’s face with dew on it. The main feature of this shot is the eye of the creature, highly magnified with a drop on it, adding a captivating element.
Chateau S – dramatic light paints dramatic weathered and textured rooms in an old, abandoned mansion. The first shot in this jaw-dropping series is taken with a 24mm tilt-shift lens, being able to capture a truly epic composition with no perceptible distortion. Perfect composition, perfect delivery; the perfect ingredients for a captivating photography series.
beauty – the mirror-like surfaces of the waters in the scene reflect back a beautiful scene nautical scene in Turkey. Nejdet Duzen captures a stunning picture, complete with wonderful details like boats with great reflections, a marina in the backdrop, and a great sky for added character.
Hope – a surreal image created by Hossein Zare featuring a barren landscape under an angry, dark sky with a solitary, lonely tree in the middle of the composition. A hole in the brooding sky beams down a lone strand of sunlight that illuminates this singular entity in a broad field of nothing.
The Shadow with Colby James West – a true expression of contrast, this perfect composition features a skier over the ledge, high in mid-air, with his skis crossed. The height between the skier and ground is highlighted in the shadow’s placement as Tristan Shu overlooks and captures the scene.
Off Photographing in the Woods – this terrific image is photographed in black-and-white film, and then scanned from the silver gelatin print producing a striking digital image. Marks and Joey Culver use a tree stump as a subject, creating a highly textured and detailed images, even in the dark corners of the shadows.
Two chairs, one story – a dramatic tale is woven in this wonderful pair of black-and-white photographs by Melinda Green Harvey. What surely must be a rip in the time/space continuum, Melinda finds the exact same chair in two highly disparate places and times. An almost surreal coincidence; or is it?
Ray of Light – the wonderfully preserved 6th floor of the Everett Mill finds a small tear in the stained shades that cover the very old windows draping the floor in bright light. Steven Perlmutter’s work is highly sympathetic to the subject, leaving the viewer in wonder of all the rich details and textures explored.
Empty Seat – Steven Perlmutter takes us across the street to the Stone Mill where he finds an old chair left forlorn on a massive empty floor. Once again, the rich history that is held within the walls of this historic place come to life with Steven’s wonderful photography.
Old Hi-Tech – Tim Stanley captures a shot at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum in Houston featuring an old typewriter. Many fingers have pounded the keys of this old artifact, leaving behind indelible marks that Steven has carefully preserved in his wonderful photography.
Men At Work – a perfectly framed sign stating Stop Men At Work surrounded by railroad contextual cues is delivered here by CJ Schmit. Processed as a black-and-white image, a certain nostalgic feel is created by this picture.
Dark tone – a forlorn and long-forgotten boat lists to it’s side near shore, as shot and shared here by pick chon. A moody sky lingers overhead adding a deep sense to the drama inherent, as does the incredible natural oxidization process from years of neglect.
Raw IR Colours – incredible surreal tones and details emerge in this terrific shot by Dacel Andes. These elements are best expressed by IR photography, and this picture is a great example of this genre of imagery.
Slab Sunset III – facing west as the sun slowly sets on the west coast of Canada, local photographer Ehpem captures an image featuring a massive rock slab in the foreground that is cleverly composed to produce gentle light reflections from the evening sun. Wonderful colors in the sky delicately highlight the landscape, creating a very captivating piece to view and enjoy.
The Sun and the Moon – beautifully lit architectural details of Guilin city are shot and shared here by roving photographer Adam Allegro. Adam’s great adventures as he travels make for wonderful photography, allowing to visit exotic and distant locations by joining along.
Bow to Your Sensei – Chris Nitz’ uses low-key techiques to produce striking imagery in his running Toy War photography challenges. This particular shot is enhanced wonderfully by the dramatic lighting Chris has used here, producing something very unique and compelling in this category.
Private Jet Needs Fuel! – photography can be a great tool to share a pure comedic moment, and this shot here by Edith Levy is a great example of this. Edith encounters a real character on her adventures, and captures a great candid shot of him with his sign; it’s a wonderful photo, truly expressive.
Sunrise at Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks – the breathtaking landscapes presented in these incredible Canadian national parks are the perfect basis for great photography. Rick Louie visits the iconic Canadian Moraine Lake and comes away with a gorgeous picture that features the incredible colors and tones in the lake as well as the sprawling surroundings as the early morning crests to greet the day.
Footprints in the Sand – wonderful natural tension is explored in this shot that finds us at a lower perspective following a trail in the sand that leads out to the beach and eventually the big ocean. Great colors in the sky compliment the scene just perfectly, adding a lovely finishing touch to an already mesmerizing vista.
Gate A – this is a great architectural detail study by Jim Denham that takes us into the heart of the Union Depot. Terrific original signage let’s visitors know the purpose of this iconic entrance, complete with classic window frames and great brickwork. If you love warm tones and nostalgia, you’ll love this shot.
The Beauty of Beaufort – the beautiful natural surroundings of Beaufort South Carolina are the prime focus for this post from Mike Criswell. This is a very beautiful place, unlike any other in the world, and Mike does a great job with this image to share this striking natural beauty with us through his post.
Fort Phantom – a lovely night shot featuring the Orion constellation as well as some manmade stone structures. Derrick Birdsall captures and shares a top drawer shot in this genre, using both the stars as well as a natural leading line with the structures to guide the viewer gently through the frame.
Shem Creek – A Panoramic View – Erin Duke takes us creekside where we get a chance to check out the beautiful marine scenes of Mount Pleasant, just north of Charleston. Terrific local character is explored and shared in Erin’s lovely image here, with the panoramic delivery being the perfect medium to share her vision.
Winter White and Black – a great black-and-white landscape shot captured and shared by Mark Garbowski takes us outdoors after a snowfall has covered the area in a frosting of white. Dramatic shadows and deep contrasts in the picture merge to create a unique piece sure to be enjoyed by all who pop by for a view.
Perspective Shift – a vibrant evening sky paints the snow covered scene with gorgeous tones and colors in this wonderful photograph by Andy Gimino. The trees stand tall and proud, casting striking silhouettes against the backdrop.
Chilean Eagle Flies By – a majestic and simply incredible Chilean Eagle does a flyby and Bev is ready to capture a glimpse of it in action. Wonderful details in the bird are brought out in this shot that showcases the majesty of the bird to it’s fullest.
Walking On Sunshine – a lovely little ladybug makes it’s way across the great divide, in this case a big leaf. Kerri Farley photographs this tiny creature on it’s adventure, and with her very shallow depth-of-focus the incredible personality of this being is brought front-and-center for all to enjoy.
Flying School – Tally Ho! – a world of stark emptiness is explored in this series featuring a selection of photographs of this abandoned military facility. What once was an incredibly huge flying school is now acre upon acre of decaying buildings and forgotten architecture.
Using monotony to spark creativity – this is a highly thoughtful post by Jim Nix that discusses a great way of looking at the practice of photography. Jim’s approach to breaking the deadlock that many artists encounter at some point in their career is based on a change in perspective. This is a well-thought out article that Jim illustrates with some of his very best photography.
San Francisco Now and Then – a nearly identical pair of compositions taken 100 years apart showcases the massive changes that have transpired in the bustling metropolis of San Francisco. The documentation of a city suddenly takes on historic significance all these years later as many wonder about what things looked like before in contrast to modern times.
What We Recommend to Improve Your Photography Fast
It's possible to get some pretty large improvements in your photography skills very fast be learning some fundamentals. Consider this the 80:20 rule of photography where 80% of the improvements will come from 20% of the learnable skills. Those fundamentals include camera craft, composition, understanding light and mastering post-production. Here are the premium guides we recommend.