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Book Reviews

Idiot's Guide to Digital PhotographyNude and Beauty Photography 
by Nancy Brown
Paperback, 144pp, ISBN: 0-87985774-9

This book is part of the Kodak Pro Series of books.  In the past I've found the books in this series to be well written and informative and this one is no exception.  Nancy Brown brings not only talent but a unique perspective to the writing of this book, having been a professional model herself before moving behind the lens.  This book is about more than just lighting and setups, it's about working with models, getting the shot no matter what, choosing models, and creating images for both clients and for stock.  

Her overall view is refreshing and her anecdotes regarding shooting for Playboy are eye opening (imagine a nude shoot where the model still has stitches from her breast enhancement!).  The really interesting thing about this book is that much of it is written from the model's perspective.  There is even an interview written by a model that she has worked with numerous times in the past.  It's obvious that Nancy empathasizes with her models, and by putting you in their shoes you can learn a lot about working with a model to create a successful image.  If you have any doubts just look at the images included in the book.  Nancy's style is simple and uncluttered and the images are as impressive as her client list.

On the down side though, I thought that the book was light on technical detail, particularly lighting placement or even some notes on makeup.  Getting the kind of results shown here is no simple task and I would have liked more detail on how some of these images were achieved.  All in all a good book to have as part of your library on this subject but not a stand alone reference by itself.


Silver Pixels - An Introduction to the Digital Darkroom    
by Tom Ang 
Softcover, 128pp, 250 photos ISBN: 0817458891

 With detailed text illustrated by 250 images Tom Ang sets out to introduce you to the digital darkroom and to illustrate what it can mean for your photography.  Unlike many Photoshop books that quickly degenerate into "Open menu X and click on..." Tom introduces topics from the perspective of the photographer.  He is obviously well versed in digital imaging, and he manages to keep each section an introduction.  This is both pleasant and frustrating.  There were some topics where I'd like to have seen more detail.  But diving into an in-depth discussion would be a step out of the format and that would take away from the readability of this book. 

And readability is a key here.  Unlike so many boring tomes on digital imaging, this book is laid out in a "look what you can do format" that gives you enough information to begin to explore.  To provide this type of footing, especially for those new to working digitally, is the crucial piece missing from most books in this genre.

The most difficult thing about writing about anything digital is that the field is changing so quickly.  There were already a few small items that had been invalidated by new technology (such as the expected life of an inkjet print).  But if you're looking for a good introduction to what you can do digitally vs. excruciating detail on how to do it, then this is a very good place to start.

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