Monday, September 24, 2012

What’s Hot in Photography & Photo Editing Books – Part II

The surprise success of my article last week entitled “What’s Hot in Photography & Photo Editing Books”, has inspired me to do a part II to cover the remainder of the huge stack of books that has piled up in my studio.

I haven’t had a chance to read these cover to cover, so my feedback is based on partial reads and skimming these books. Put another way, if a friend asked me “should I get this book?”, then what I’d tell them is what I’ve said below for each book.

The Digital Negative: Raw Image Processing in Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop by Jeff Schewe (a fellow NEC featured photographer is a book that when I first saw it I thought “oh crap, not another lame book on using RAW”. After all, using Lightroom’s develop module or Adobe Camera RAW isn’t rocket science, so it’s hardly worth an entire book of its own. However, Jeff does a great job of diving deeper than any resource I’ve seen. In fact, he dives so deep I’d go so far as to say that this book is NOT for photographers, but rather computer geeks (especially programmers & engineers) who want more detail behind the "what & why” behind a lot of Adobe Camera Raw/Lightroom features.

In the end I really liked what I saw in this book, so I will be taking the time to read it from cover to cover. I give this a easy Highly Recommended for Geeks ONLY. Warning: Non-Geeks are likely to have their heads explode if they try reading this, so don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Advanced Underwater Photography: Techniques for Digital Photographers by Larry Gates is a good book for those who not only want to know more about how to use their camera underwater, but also want to know more about underwater lighting so they can capture images that don’t suck. Recommended for those looking to improve their underwater lighting skills.

Nikon Speedlight Handbook by Stephanie Zettl is NOT the Nikon equivalent of Speedliter's Handbook by Syl Arena, nor is it as good as On-Camera Flash Techniques. However, those who find Joe McNally’s books like Sketching Light to be inspirational, but not necessarily very educational will probably like this book. It’s not bad and has lots of useful info for Nikon shooters, so if you want to learn more about your flash and some common modifiers then it’s probably worth picking this one up. Recommended for lovers of On-Camera Flash Techniques who want more depth on Nikon specific gear than Neil or Joe McNally offer.

Master Posing Guide for Portrait Photographers: A Complete Guide to Posing Singles, Couples, and Groups by J.D. Wacker is a bit more of a primer / handbook than a guide because it’s pretty short on details in most of its chapters. However, for those who are struggling with poses and looking to get some tips, it’s a decent book.

The author appears to be a pretty solid high school seniors portrait photographer from what I see in the sample images in the book, so if you are doing that type of work this book will be especially helpful. Recommended for portrait photographers who are just getting started.

50 Lighting Setups for Portrait Photographers: Easy-to-Follow Lighting Designs and Diagrams, Vol. 2 by Steven H. Begleiter didn’t impress me much. If you think “wow, that’s awesome light” from what you see on the cover, then perhaps this book might be for you. However, as I thumbed through the book I saw lots of lighting that made me think “hum, I don’t care for that much.”


Flash Techniques for Location Portraiture: Single and Multiple-Flash Lighting Techniques by Alyn Stafford reminded me of 50 Lighting Setups for Portrait Photographers: Easy-to-Follow Lighting Designs and Diagrams, Vol. 2 in the sense that it also had lots of lighting setups that reminded me of the local Sears Portrait photographer setups. This author did a good job of describing his work and what he uses to get the shot, but the actual shots made me often think – “uh, no thanks.”

Doug Box's Available Light Photography: Techniques for Digital Photographers starts off with a gorgeous woman on the front with great lighting, and when you thumb through it you quickly see that this photographer knows how to control light to make great perfect exposures with rich color. Unfortunately this book is not as deep on education as it is on discussions of his successful shots (much like a McNally book), but it’s still seems to be an interesting read for those looking to improve their available light skills AND who have little experience with reflectors, diffusers and black flats.

Painting with Light: Lighting & Photoshop Techniques for Photographers by Eric Curry reminded me of the great videos by Dave Black on I first saw Eric’s work in Rangefinder magazine and was mesmerized, so I was jazzed when the publisher sent me a copy of this book.

What you find inside this book is a collection of great images with masterful lighting, and seemingly useful instructions on how to get similar shots yourself. Complete breakdowns and details are included. Personally, I can’t wait to read this book more carefully so I’m tossing it in the highly recommended category.

500 Poses for Photographing Children: A Visual Sourcebook for Digital Portrait Photographers by Michelle Perkins is a pure picture book with zero useful education in it. It’s really design for those who are looking for inspiration by example and it includes about 350 or so great photos, so my hats off to Michelle for some solid work. However, mixed in with the good is some serious suckage as well, so it’s tough for me to recommend this book. Instead, I have to say that if you are fresh out of ideas and want to see photos that are pretty decent, then perhaps this is book for you. However, with the ability to see great photos on the Internet and Pintrest so easily, I’m struggling to see why anyone would really need this book? Perhaps to show it to clients who aren’t computer savvy?

Christopher Grey's Posing, Composition, and Cropping: Master Techniques for Digital Portrait Photographers is actually one of the few books in this lineup that focuses more heavily on education than self promotion/bragging. It certainly isn’t the in-depth style of The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman, but it doesn’t bore me to tears like Freeman’s book either. Instead, I’d call this a decent primary for those who just want the author to get to the point and show me some examples. As a result, I actually give this a recommended for beginners.

The Best of Senior Portrait Photography: Techniques and Images for Digital Photographers by Bill Hurter contains a collection of excellent Senior Portrait shots that I think Seniors would love to have taken of themselves. As a result, this book could be a good selling tool for clients to say “thumb through here and tell me what you want”. Of course, where the book fails is that there is not much depth in explaining how to get the shots, but I still give this book a recommendation for adult portrait photographers (not just senior portraits).

Video Nation: A DIY guide to planning, shooting, and sharing great video from USA Today's Talking Tech host by Jefferson Graham just turns me off from the beginning because the book fails to grab me with the cover and early chapters. That said, there seems to be a wealth of information in here – especially for those on a budget who will be filming with consumer point and shoots and iPhones. It’s not for me, but it seemed to do okay on Amazon so it might not be that bad.

Bill Hurter's Small Flash Photography: Techniques for Professional Digital Photographers contains gorgeous images with brilliant lighting, so for some that may be enough to warrant the cost of the book (especially if you like Joe McNally books). It also goes into pretty decent depth on the tools of the trade, but it’s no substitute for the brilliant book On-Camera Flash Techniques. Overall though I’d give this a recommend as a good book for showing a lot of the light modifiers and great results possible with small flashes.

Flash and Ambient Lighting for Digital Wedding Photography: Creating Memorable Images in Challenging Environments by Mike Chen is a decent book in a very crowded book category, but this book has some nice illustrations and discussions that may help things click for some readers. It didn’t make my recommended list, but only because I was trying to be conservative in my choices. It actually seems to be a decent book worth checking out the next time you are at the library or bookstore.

LED Lighting: Professional Techniques for Digital Photographers by Kirk Tuck is actually a new and unique genre of lighting book that I found very exciting. LED lights are improving, but keeping up on all of the products out there is mind numbing! As a result, I enjoy how this author takes the time to show what’s the industry tricks of the trade and common products, as well as showing a vast array of alternatives. I will definitely read this cover to cover, so I can easily recommend it.

500 Poses for Photographing High School Seniors: A Visual Sourcebook for Digital Portrait Photographers is like deva vu for those who have seen 500 Poses for Photographing Children: A Visual Sourcebook for Digital Portrait Photographers by Michelle Perkins. Sure the age group has changed, but it’s really just a dump of a bunch of great images to help provide inspiration for those stuck in a rut (or who wish to share ideas with clients). There’s no education in the book, so you are on your own in getting the shot – but the inspiration could be worth the price alone for some people. Personally I think a Bing image search would be just as effective though.

Landscape Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Rob Sheppard is well written and follows the great formula of the “from snapshots to great shots” books. Unfortunately though I found the images included in the book to be very unimpressive and uninspiring which made me question the credibility of the author. In fact, this book was one that I was trying to read from cover to cover, but gave up after three chapters because I just couldn’t get into the images being presented to me in the book. Rob Sheppard has great credentials, but just as I thought when I saw him speaking at the Nik Summit in San Diego, he seems to be behind the times and lacking the image quality of modern day top photographers.  

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If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. These books were randomly sent to me to me by the respective publishers. As mentioned earlier, there aren’t enough hours in my days to read all of these so this is simply a high level overview of my impressions of these books after casual “bookstore style” thumbing through these books. Recommended books are the ones I’d probably buy if I were at the bookstore, and they are ones I hope to read cover to cover.

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1 comment:

Maxime said...

Nice selection of books :) Thank you for sharing !