I am a big subscriber to the notion that even the best SOOC photos can benefit from post-processing.
These days, the level of sophistication of Adobe Lightroom is such that it supports about 95% of what I do with my photos in post. The $9.99/month Creative Cloud subscription for a Photography Plan (which includes Lightroom and Photoshop) is a no-brainer deal for any photography enthusiast.
Adobe Photoshop remains my go-to tool for complex distraction removals or any layered processing. If you subscribe to the Adobe CC Photography Plan, you get both Lightroom and Photoshop, including every single upgrade, for ten bucks a month.
I used to be a fan of the Color Efex Pro plugin from Nik Collection. Unfortunately, as of 2017, Google stopped supporting photography tools in the collection. I gradually moved on to Skylum Luminar for those extremely rare occasions where I want “pre-defined” enhancement filters. Luminar’s interface still occasionally feels less than intuitive, but it does its main job really well (and nowadays includes file management, so you can use it as a standalone editing solution).
In the past, I used ON1 Effects, which offers layering and fairly advanced masking coupled with pre-built algorithmic processing. That should be appealing to people seeking Photoshop-like capabilities without having to attain the level of color management knowledge often required for Photoshop. The next generation of ON1 software, called ON1 Photo Raw, which adds non-destructive editing capabilities in direct competition with Lightroom, brought very little of value-add to my toolbox; it may be a good alternative to people who do not want to deal with Adobe subscription and prefer “buy once, keep forever” deals.
For bracketed HDR processing – which I have not done in ages – Photomatix Pro used to be my main tool, but nowadays I will probably rely on Lightroom for HDR as well.
Widely acclaimed by pros and enthusiasts alike, B&H Photo is a leading merchant in the photographic field. I have been a few times to the physical store in New York City’s Garment District – and it borders on intimidating, with its size and range of products. The same wide range can be found in the online store, which I use regularly.
Adorama is another contender, smaller than B&H but still offering anything a photographer might need.
Of course, the giant of online commerce, Amazon.com, has got to be in the mix for literally any type of product purchase. It frequently pays to compare prices found on Amazon against any other source.
A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to shoot with a full-frame mirrorless camera, which led me to Sony α7II. I am only using universal 24-240mm lenses thus far but intend to add wide-angle and at least one prime eventually.
Before that, I had always been a Nikon guy, going through several DSLR models. Never having believed that advanced cameras make you a better photographer, my most expensive camera was just-below-enthusiast-range Nikon D5100. I used 18-200mm Nikkor lenses for practically everything I shot. In some situations, I would use a wide-angle Sigma 10-20mm or a simple prime Nikkor 50mm.
I have a serviceable tripod in Oben. It is sturdy, not too heavy, and not too big when in the folded state. Nor is it expensive.
One of my best ever acquisitions in the photography field has been JOBY UltraFit Sling Strap. Carrying the camera on the hip, easily covered under a jacket if needed, ready to be pulled into a shooting position in one swift movement, has been a tremendous positive change in my travels with the camera.
Lee filters system is both high quality and reasonably priced. I do not use filters very frequently, but I have both ND and polarizer filters by Lee.
My online galleries residually exist on Flickr. The service used to offer practically unlimited free photo storage but a couple of years ago started limiting free accounts. The yearly cost of the “Pro” subscription is still pretty negligible, but after paying for a year of it I decided that I gained no particular benefit there.
If your purposes are more towards selling your photos, or you seek non-trivial levels of customization, other platforms – e.g., SmugMug – may appeal more to you.
500px is undoubtedly the place to find the most eye-catching and mind-blowing photos anywhere on the internet. Whether you just want something to admire or to find inspiration, you can hardly do better than follow 500px feeds. You need to have a healthy attitude toward your own skills – or a strong desire to hone them and become an acclaimed photographer yourself – in order to avoid feeling inadequate.
There is a wide range of inspirational, practical, technical, and motivational material on the internet offered by a large number of professional photographers and travelers. I used to follow quite a few well-known photographers on the web, but no longer do that regularly and therefore cannot explicitly recommend any of them.
If you are into photobook-making, our family’s current go-to tool is Zno. I used to recommend Adoramapix on the pages of this blog years ago but it has been firmly eclipsed by Zno since.
WordPress has grown from an easy-to-use blogging engine into a comprehensive site-building platform, with a practically unlimited scope for customization and functionality expansion. It remains easy to use for people with limited technical development skills – there are literally thousands of pre-built themes freely available with any WordPress installation. If your development skills are above average, you can quite effortlessly mold WordPress code to satisfy any desired page behavior.
This website currently uses the Customify WordPress theme. I do possess above-average development skills, and certain aspects of the theme behavior have been adjusted beyond available admin-screen customizations. As is frequently the case nowadays, certain customization options are only available in the paid “pro” version. I am handy enough around code to adjust the behavior to my liking without having to pay for an upgrade. Feel free to ask questions.
My current hosting provider, Siteground, is hands and shoulders above several others I have employed in the past. Excellent uptime and response time, a comprehensive range of services, and fantastic customer support. Highly recommended!