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Growing one's skills as a photographer
requires constant practice and study. As a book worm, I
scour photo books looking for new ideas, new techniques,
new ways of accomplishing common techniques. Gathered here
are brief reviews of photo books that I've found helpful
and/or have inspired me to expand my photographic boundaries
by introducing me to new techniques or inspiring me to attempt
new subject matter.
Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide: Revised edition of
The Nature Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional
Field Techniques. John Shaw Shaw revises the
classic book on Nature Photography technique. A super resource!
Geographic Photography Field Guide: Secrets to Making Great
Pictures by Peter K. Burian and Robert Caputo.
Published by the National Geographic Society.
Ok, OK, I'll admit that I've known author
Peter Burian for a number of years. I've learned much from
his many articles in Shutterbug. As editor of Outdoor
& Nature Photographer, Peter assembled an outstanding
collection of how-to articles written by the best outdoor
and nature photographers around (including several articles
written by me). He is a contributing Editor with Photo
Life, Spain's FOTO,
and Australian Photography,
and a contributor to Outdoor Photographer.
Peter has also penned a number of the popular Magic Lantern
Guides. What has all this to do with the NG Field guide?
Plenty! It means that Burian brings extensive background
to the task.
I'm pleased to say that the Guide
is indeed a reference work that photographers of all stripes
will find useful. I often criticize photo how-to books and
articles for their lack of illustration. The Guide
does a wonderful job illustrating key points with photos
or diagrams. Like any field guide, this isn't a book that
you'll read from cover to cover. The Guide's
organization invites you to sample topics on an as-needed
basis. Need to brush up your understanding of on-camera
flash? Turn to the super discussion of flash technique.
While there, enjoy the wonderful diagram that shows clearly
how the ever-abstract inverse-square law applies to effective
flash distance. You'll also find useful the series of photos
that illustrate the effects of different off-camera flash
placements on a portrait subject.
Interviews with working National Geographic
photographers also set the Guide
apart from other photo how-to books. The interviews provide
a nice human balance to the technical discussion. Indeed,
the interviews are so are so rich that I find myself yearning
for a separate book comprised of extended interviews with
these talented photographers; I want to read more of their
advice and photographic vision.
If you are looking for a general coverage
photo how-to book for your self or a photographer friend,
look no further. Burian and Caputo's National
Geographic Photography Field Guide is Highly
(Click on the book's title page above,
to order your copy today!)
as Art: The Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques
by Arthur Morris
OK, I'll admit it up front: I don't do birdie portraits.
Sure, I've the odd shot of ducks on a pond. Those shots
resulted more from an urge to play than any serious effort
to hone my bird photography skills. Because of this, I held
off acquiring a copy of Art's book. After all, what could
be in it for me? Plenty, as it turns out. I bought this
book after several photographer colleagues suggested it
to me. Yes, it is an excellent book on how to photograph
birds. This is also an excellent book on how to use Canon
EOS equipment. Many of the tips and techniques described
are EOS gear specific. That's a strength if you shoot with
EOS equipment, as I do. If you use gear of other brands,
many of the tech tips just won't be as useful. That aside,
Art clearly knows his stuff and his enthusiasm for photographing
birds radiates from every page. And the photo illustrations!
Did I mention the photo illustrations? As I said, I'm not
a bird guy, but Art's bird images are beautiful! Study his
images to hone your skills at minimizing distracting background
elements from your compositions. If you photograph nature,
you'll find something useful and/or inspiring in Art's book.
BUSINESS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
and Re-Sell Your Photos by Rohn Engh
What can I say? This book, now in its 4th edition, is a
classic. It is one of the first books on the business of
stock photography that I read. I've read many stock photo
business books since, yet I still come back to Eng's book
from time to time for a refresher. Rohn does a very nice
job detailing how to set up your stock photo business, with
an eye toward servicing editorial markets. Highly Recommended.
by Rohn Engh
To suggest that the Internet has revolutionized stock photo
marketing is the understatement of the century. Yet, most
stock photographers appear unawares of how to transform
their business in response to Internet forces. Engh provides
a competent road map to help you make the transition.
Shaw's Business of Nature Photography: A Professional's
Guide to Marketing and Managing a Successful Nature Photography
As I'd learned a lot from John Shaw's
now classic books on nature photography technique, I was
curious to see what he would say about the the business
of nature photography. This book didn't disappoint. In his
characteristic pragmatic matter, Shaw writes from the perspective
of the procedures used in his own nature stock photography
business. Getting started in the business, the necessary
office work, slide labeling and filing, choosing which images
to include in a submission, marketing, writing, publishing,
and money concerns are among the myriad topics covered.
Gorgeous images illustrate the book. As much as I like this
book, I can't help but wonder how Shaw's perspective on
getting started is colored by the fact that he is something
of an institution in the nature photography industry. On
the other hand, casual observation reveals that Shaw does
indeed practice what he preaches. There's something to be
said about that. Strongly Recommended.
YOU WANT TO BUILD A WEB SITE?
and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing by Philip Greenspun.
Boy do I like this book! Finally a book a written from the
trenches. And do I mean the trenches. If you want to know
how to make pretty web pages, this book isn't for you. If
you want to learn how to build a sophisticated backend for
your web site, this book is for you. A self-professed nerd,
and developer extraordinaire of hard-core database-backed
web sites, Greenspun writes eloquently. Procedures are well
illustrated in the most well commented tcl scripting I've
ever seen. Ya gotta love a guy that, rather than fluff stuffing
to meet the page target in his contract with the publisher,
adds three chapters of solid text to an already satisfying
book! If you aspire to expand your nerdly skills to include
the ability to build database backed web sites, this book
will get you started. Highly Recommended.
Pages that Suck by Vincent Flanders and Michael
Willis. Yeah, I know, it's a catchy title. Real catchy. Too
catchy, perhaps. Indeed, this book doesn't feature any web
sites that suck so bad you want to send the URL to several
friends with the message, "Check this out, you won't
believe how much this site sucks!" Nope. The examples
are mighty tame. But don't let that deter you. Web Pages that
Suck is chock full of practical tips on how to plan, maintain,
revise, and market your web site. The enclosed CD even includes
some useful software. A useful read. Recommended.
of software, I use Dreamweaver
4.0 to create static web pages. Dreamweaver's intuitive
user interface makes it easy to create and update pages.
The templates and libraries help ensure your pages have
a consistent look and feel.
Do you currently use Dreamweaver 2 or
3 and wonder if this is a worthy upgrade? Yes. The user
interface is nicely refined. The ability to view code and
layout simultaneously in the same window is a great boost.
The tag editor, which makes it easier to edit or remove
tags applied to page elements, really speeds production.
Other new bells, like integrated Flash text and button creation,
enhanced DHTML capabilities, and strengthened Java script
support may or may not be important to you.
Digital tools are revolutionizing all
aspects of photography. Assembled here are reviews of books
that have guided my explorations of the digital photo landscape.
5 Artistry: A Master Class for Photographers, Artists, and
Production Artists, by Barry Haynes and Wendy Crumpler.
I've mixed feelings about this book. Why? Check back for my