Jul 15

Photographic Multishot Techniques, by Juergen Gulbins and Rainier Gulbins ★★★

This book goes through a long list of types of photography that would utilize merged (but not composited) photographs to improve on the original photograph. Such examples include HDR photography, panoramic stitching, extension of the depth of field, and improvement of the resolution of the image. Each of these techniques are discussed in the context of various programs that are best at performing the function described. Thus, unless one had and were to use, for example, PhotoAcute for focus stacking to improve the depth of field of the photo, the book would not be as meaningful. I enjoyed the book all the same, since the Gulbins spent much time discussing the techniques for best obtaining various photographs. As examples, they discussed the use of the focusing rail for extended depth of field, and the techniques and equipment for rotating a camera for panorama shots. Always, they also emphasized the proper camera settings to best snap the shots. I enjoyed the book, and the photographic examples were superb. It also will probably guide me into downloading some of the stand-alone programs mentioned in the book. None of the stand-alone programs are cheap, and Photoshop has improved its act with subroutines for image merging and processing. Thus, I’ll drag my feet, and sort out how well Photoshop CS6 can serve me before rushing off and purchasing other programs. But, I’ve already started to use this book’s advice on photographic technique for HDR and panorama photography.

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Jul 15

Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography, by Ferrell McCullough ★★★★

Ferrel McCullough is one of the early masters of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, and his mastery of the subject is well displayed in this text. The text is short and easy to read, as well as heavy illustrated. McCullough discusses the art of identifying a scene worth recording for HDR, the equipment and technique necessary to obtain the set of shots that provide the base for the merged photo, and then the techniques for obtaining the finished product. The book was written in 2008, when the highest update on Photoshop was CS3, which has quite mediocre HDR subroutines, and so was not discussed much. Adobe has improved since then. The two main HDR programs discussed were PhotoMatrix and FdrTools, and he noted that he tended to use both of them, since they both provide different outcomes to the photo. McCullough includes at the end of each chapter an array of photographs from other photographers, which was a nice touch. This is a good book for the photographer starting in HDR.

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Jul 15

Digital Photographer’s Handbook, 4th Edition, by Tom Ang ★★★★

This is a delightful compendium of “how-to” in photography, and the advice is quite sound. Ang discusses equipment that one should use, photographic technique, as well as some photoshop and post-camera methods for improving the shot. The book is filled with many examples of photographic technique, some of the examples of which are rather normal photographs – something that would be found on a personal webpage and not in an art gallery. This gives the book  a more practical touch for the average photographer. There were many of his photos that I simply didn’t like. The beauty of the book is that there are so many examples of his work that one would appreciate the bulk of most of the photography in the book. The book was written in 2008 and thus is a little bit dated, for example, discussions on problems of dynamic range and the use of HDR techniques. There is a 5th edition book just out, which I’m sure brings the reader up to date. In all, this is a nice book of technique and ideas for the intermediate amateur photographer.

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Jun 23

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a Book ★★★★

This book was used by me as an adjunct to upgrading from CS4 to CS6 and not having used Photoshop to much in the last year. I felt that this would be the quickest way to catch up on the latest and greatest of Photoshop, and indeed, the text is oriented toward giving a VERY brief survey of much that Photoshop has to offer. For the absolute novice, it is a 5-star text, in that it will labor over the minutest details of the way in which the complete CS6 system operates. It’s greatest deficit is that it is almost entirely a mechanical instruction book (“click this, slide that, push this, etc.”). Missing are the explanations as to why you are doing certain things to achieve your end. This book MUST be complimented with any of a number of standard photoshop texts for photographers that tell you where to go once you understand the mechanics of photoshop. There were several chapters which simply were inapplicable to me, since I have the basic photoshop and not the extended version. Discussions of 3-D effects (which I’d prefer to do in Illustrator anyway), editing video (much easier in many other programs like Premier), or editing for the web (please, I’ll use Dreamweaver if I need to write web stuff) betrays the fact that many of the Adobe programs are unnecessarily overlapping/redundant. The book served its purpose with me by re-familiarizing me with Photoshop, and thus the 4 stars. If you are at all familiar with Photoshop, don’t waste your time on this book.

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Jun 23

Lightroom 4

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, by Nat Coalson ★★★★★

I previously read Martin Evening’s book on Lightroom 3, which was also excellent. Now that I’m using Lightroom 4 with the massive new added functions that Adobe put into the program, I felt it worthwhile reading a new text on the topic. Coalson approaches Lightroom similarly to Evening, giving great advice as a working photographer. The book is definitely different from Evening’s text, yet both are quite clear, and well describes the steps for performing any desired function in Lightroom. I found that I learned a lot more about Lightroom by re-reading another text on the program, that will allow the program to be more useful. How many times have you looked at a function or command or area of Lightroom, and wondered why it was there. Coalson offers a fairly comprehensive review of much of what Lightroom can do for you, and what it can’t do. I would recommend either text for the photographer to learn about what the program can do for you. If you are an occasional photographer, then don’t waste your time and stay with iPhoto.

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