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Book Reviews
 

Idiot's Guide to Digital PhotographyCapturing the Night with Your Camera 
by John Carucci
Paperback, 144pp, ISBN: 0-81743661-8

Night photography is one of those subjects where it's easy to get mired down in technical details around light temperature, flash technique, and reciprocity failure.  It can be an intimidating subject - especially for beginners.  John Carucci has succeeded in creating a book that is both approachable and readable in small bites.  His coverage of topics in night photography reads more like a series of short articles than a detailed technical manual.  That's not to say there's no technical detail here, but it's distributed throughout the book based on topic (which can sometimes make specific information hard to find).  The images are high quality and printed on heavy stock and often illustrate his point far better than the text ever could.  The organization allows you to read a section than go out and play with the ideas that it generates.

The majority of the images were taken in and around New York City and topics covered include: Basics of night photography, equipment, film, lenses, filters, determining exposure, shooting in inclement weather, artificial lighting, working with flash, aesthetics, people at night, light painting, fireworks, traffic, and star trails.  The only minor criticism you could level at this book is that it is very city focused with little emphasis on nighttime landscape photography.

Altogether a very good book that you'll find yourself pulling off the shelf again and again.

Photo Retouching with Adobe Photoshop    
by Gwen Lute 
Softcover, 111pp, ISBN: 0-93626291-5

I have a love hate relationship with this book.  I found it recently in the book rack at a local photo shop and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for - a detailed book on advanced photo retouching techniques in PhotoShop.  It didn't measure up.  

The cover promises a lot but the book is inconsistent.  In some areas the level of detail is tedious, in others completely lacking.  For example the section on unsharp masking, an area that confuses many beginners, basically says "open the dialog and play with the sliders until you're happy, but don't oversharpen."  Gee thanks.  And don't look to the images for inspiration.  The majority of images are low res black and white images.  Many of which have an obviously retouched look to them that is exactly the opposite of what you should be striving for in your retouching work.

The way that I wound up using this book was to scan for an idea to use as a starting point.  Hopefully, but not always, the text would give me a starting point to use to go experiment in PhotoShop.  It did get the juices flowing in a couple of areas and pointed me in a direction where, after some digging, I was able to learn some new techniques but all in all I'd have trouble justifying the $30 price tag for a 100 page book that is lacking in so many areas.

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text and photography copyright 2001 Vivid Light Publishing