All Book & Video Reviews

This page contains a list of all the books and videos we've reviewed to date grouped into broad categories. Since books often cover multiple areas of photography you may find the same book listed in multiple locations. Just click on one of the links below to jump to a category or browse the whole page.

Getting Started 

Outdoor & Nature 

Sports & Action 

Equipment 

Business

Videos 

Coffee Table 

eBooks

Intermediate & Advanced Technique

Model, Fashion, Portrait & Fine Art

Wedding 

Photoshop & Digital Darkroom

Traditional Darkroom

Digital Photography

Underwater Photography

Return to Table of Contents

Getting Started 

Capture Your Kids in Pictures: Simple Techniques 
for Taking Great Family Photos with Any Camera
by Jay Forman
ISBN: 0817436553
Paperback, 144pp

Capture Your Kids in Pictures shows parents how to take better images of their children. This book is aimed not at amateur or professional photographers, but at parents who don't necessarily have any photography experience and whose primary interest is preserving memories of their children. 

Parents don't care about fancy, expensive equipment -- they just want to take great pictures of their kids. So, whether you're using digital, film, or even disposable cameras, Capture Your Kids in Pictures gives you a "can-do" mantra and will inspire you to capture the individual personality and unique spirit of your child.

Take Great Pictures: A Simple Guide 
by Lou, Jr. Jacobs 
Paperback: 112 pages 
ISBN: 1584281022

Targeted towards the novice photographer and sized to slip into the back pocket of a decent sized camera bag, Lou Jacobs presents a book that is visually appealing and broken down into well illustrated snippets. The text is clear and concise without overwhelming the reader with jargon.

If you're just getting started this is a great book to start with, especially if you have an interest in travel photography.

Shooting Digital: Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera 
By Mikkel Aaland
ISBN: 0782141404
Paperback, 304pp

When I first read through Mikkel Aaland's book I felt a bit overwhelmed, as if there was just too much information packed into its 288 pages.

The reason is Aaland tries to be all things to all people. It's not that he did a bad job. It's just that there is information at multiple levels here. The beginner will find information explaining the basic concepts of digital photography and intermediate photographers will find information on composition and lighting, even on studio lighting. Finally the techies will find detailed explanations of some areas of digital photography that other books leave untouched. 

And therein lies the rub. The beginner will likely be daunted by the technical aspects of both photography and digital technology; while the more advanced shooter will find elements of this book too basic. That's a shame because there's really good information here for readers at both levels.

Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography 
By Brenda Tharp
ISBN: 081743738X
Paperback, 160pp

There is a stage in everyone's photographic life where you've mastered the mechanics of your camera and lenses but you're only beginning to understand composition.

If you're at that point or know someone who is - buy this book. 

Too often what a beginning photographer "sees" through the lens and what is captured are two different things. Excitement makes subjects larger than life when you press the shutter only to shrink to insignificance in the final image or become lost in background clutter.

Divided into easily digestible snippets Tharp's book shows you how to take control of your images. How to capture motion and scale and how to isolate your subject so that the person viewing the image will see exactly what you saw through the viewfinder.

If you follow along with Brenda Tharp and learn how to take control of your composition you'll be a step ahead of most photographers - and ready to start creating images rather than snapping pictures.

Home Photography: Inspiration on your doorstep By Andrew Sanderson
ISBN: 0817439897 
Paperback, 128pp

Sometimes we forget that just how many subjects we can find in our own backyard. Andrew Sanderson does a good job of reminding us. The book is divided into fifteen bite sized sections that consist of a bit of text followed by full page images. Some sections, such as the one on shooting people, are further divided into subsections. But more important than the organization of the book are the ideas - both the ones Sanderson includes in the book and the ones you'll come up while thumbing through.

Some books are wonderful coffee table tomes that showcase the work of others. What's unique about this book is that it will fire up the creative juices and inspire you to take better, and different photos. That makes it a rare book indeed.

It is equally good fodder for both beginners and advanced photographers.

Digital Nature Photography 
By Jon Cox 
Paperback, 160pp 
ISBN: 0817437916

In a sea of techie digital photography books this one stands out for what it is not. It's not full of digital jargon.

In fact this book is more an introduction to photography than anything else. It just so happens that Cox equipment of choice is digital; and as an introduction to photography Cox does an excellent job. His writing style is conversational and approachable. The images are stunning. The approach will set the new photographer at ease as he progresses through the basics, into composition, and finally into manipulating your images in the computer. This step also is in refreshingly plain English.

Digital can be a wonderful learning tool because of its instant feedback. If you know an aspiring photographer buy them this book. By the time they're finished they may be teaching you a thing or two.

National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Secrets to Making Great Pictures 
by Peter K. Burian, National Geographic Society 
and Robert Caputo 
Paperback 352pp. 
ISBN: 0792274989

National Geographic is renowned for the high quality images it presents month after month. It is one of the few publications that still does so and some of those images have become icons in their own right. Unlike many photo books, which can be a tough read for beginners, this one is divided into bite size chunks. Those chunks give out equal doses of advice on technique and profiles and stories on the pro who created the images. But don't think this book is strictly for beginners. It's a nice refresher for any of us. Experienced photographers may find themselves nodding their heads in agreement with many passages. The refresher just may jog your memory the next time out. And oh did I mention that the book is filled with great images?

One of a series of similar books by National Geographic. The others are field guides for landscapes and portraits. Their 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 inch format just happens to make it easy to tuck them into your favorite camera bag.

Idiot's Guide to Digital PhotographyComplete Idiot's Guide to Digital Photography 
by Steve Greenberg
Paperback, 381pp, ISBN: 0-78972109-0

When I picked up this book I expected to hate it.  There are several series of books out there aimed at dummies, idiots, and beginners.  I've even recommended one or two on computer topics, but for some reason I expected that this one would fall flat.  I was wrong.  Steve Greenberg has created a surprisingly useful book for the aspiring digital photographer.  

He starts by outlining some basics of photography and exposure, composition, and lighting.  Good solid advice that would help many photographers no matter what their medium.   I was really surprised at the color insert pages that demonstrate the techniques in the text.

After covering the basics of getting the image into the camera he tackles digital basics such as resolution, color, image editing, emailing, and printing.  What surprised me was how thoroughly he covers Adobe's PhotoDeluxe software.  I must confess that with a bevy of more powerful packages on my hard drive I've always looked down on PhotoDeluxe as a freebie - not worthy of serious exploration.  Greenberg, however, dives in with both feet since most digital cameras are bundled with this software.  Frankly it's amazing how much he's able to get out of this little package.  I'm not ready go give up PhotoShop yet, but for newcomers to digital photography this book will prove to be a great resource.

Kodak Guide to 35mm PhotographyKodak Guide to 35MM Photography : Techniques for Better Pictures
by Eastman Kodak
Paperback  288pp.
7th edition  
ISBN: 087985801X

Every month we get email from folks asking what books we'd recommend for someone getting started who has aspirations to be a serious photographer. This one is still our favorite.

Photography books for beginners walk a fine line between being so detailed that they actually scare people away from photography and being so trivial that they are of little use once you gain some knowledge. In what has become something of a classic photographic text Kodak has walked that line with nary a miss-step.

The book is beautifully illustrated with photos that are not only technically correct but vibrant and interesting. All photos are published in full color on glossy paper. One of my pet peeves has always been photography books that are published in black and white on cheap paper. No matter how descriptive the text nothing conveys the effect of a polarizer or color filter like side by side photos that clearly show the final image.

The book takes you through all the major points that a novice will need to get started. This includes clear explanations of holding the camera, f-stops, aperture, focal length, depth of field, composition, films, filters, and on into black and white, infrared, and "seeing" rather then snapping.  This latest edition even includes a section on digital photography, scanning and printing.

The book is very readable and can be used just as effectively whether read cover to cover or as a reference while you try new things. If you are new to photography or a snap shooter looking to expand your horizons this is a great place to start.

 

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Intermediate & Advanced Technique

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great 
Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera
by Bryan F. Peterson
ISBN: 0817463003
Paperback, 160pp

You've mastered composition and depth of field. Your images are tack sharp. But you're looking for something to take you to the next level. Something that will put your images on par with what you see from the pros. This book may contain that something.

Exposure is the most misunderstood aspect of photography among amateurs. Taking control of your exposures, and not just letting the camera's meter do it for you is a major step forward. This book will show you how in easy to swallow bites, in approachable and understandable language, and with stunning images. 

Nature Photography Close Up: Macro Techniques in the Field 
by Paul Harcourt Davies 
ISBN: 081745019X 
Format: Paperback, 160pp

Learning macro photography involves a tremendous amount of trial and error. This book endeavors to take some of the error out of that process.

The macro world can be confusing and frustrating even for seasoned photographers with its unfamiliar gear, reversed lenses, tricky depth of field and its own lexicon. This book is extremely detailed but manages to walk a fine line and remain interesting rather than becoming a technical tome. The images presented are stunning and reproduced with the quality we've come to expect from the publisher, Amphoto. These illustrations, and the individual chapters present the wide range of subjects that macro photography can cover, including underwater photography, a subject usually ignored in discussions of macro photography. The only criticism we'd have would be that the short sections on Photoshop and digital resolution vs. film resolution feel more like an afterthought than part of the overall text, which is otherwise excellent.

If learning macro photography is on your "todo list" this book should be added to your "to buy" list.

Learning to See Creatively 
By Bryan Peterson 
ISBN: 0817441816
Paperback: 160 Pages 

"I'm a good photographer. I've got good skills. I've got good equipment. But somehow I only get good images. They're never quite great images."

If that sounds familiar you might benefit from Bryan Peterson's book. Throughout Bryan starts with good images and dissects the process of turning them into great images. It's often subtle differences in composition, color and light that make the difference. In some cases it's in the post processing or in Photoshop.

You go along while Peterson picks apart his images. He pushes, prods, recomposes and adjusts. As you read along you get the impression you're looking over his shoulder at the light table and the computer while he explains why he made the decisions he did, what worked and what didn't. Beginners will learn that even the pros aren't perfect and intermediate photographers will gain a new appreciation for the huge gains to be found in subtle adjustments. Experienced shooters will benefit from the refresher and will come away with at least a few ideas.

Learning the process of seeing your images differently, and how to tear them apart constructively is the real benefit of this book.

Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography 
By Brenda Tharp
ISBN: 081743738X
Paperback, 160pp

There is a stage in everyone's photographic life where you've mastered the mechanics of your camera and lenses but you're only beginning to understand composition.

If you're at that point or know someone who is - buy this book. 

Too often what a beginning photographer "sees" through the lens and what is captured are two different things. Excitement makes subjects larger than life when you press the shutter only to shrink to insignificance in the final image or become lost in background clutter.

Divided into easily digestible snippets Tharp's book shows you how to take control of your images. How to capture motion and scale and how to isolate your subject so that the person viewing the image will see exactly what you saw through the viewfinder.

If you follow along with Brenda Tharp and learn how to take control of your composition you'll be a step ahead of most photographers - and ready to start creating images rather than snapping pictures.

Home Photography: Inspiration on your doorstep By Andrew Sanderson
ISBN: 0817439897 
Paperback, 128pp

Sometimes we forget that just how many subjects we can find in our own backyard. Andrew Sanderson does a good job of reminding us. The book is divided into fifteen bite sized sections that consist of a bit of text followed by full page images. Some sections, such as the one on shooting people, are further divided into subsections. But more important than the organization of the book are the ideas - both the ones Sanderson includes in the book and the ones you'll come up while thumbing through.

Some books are wonderful coffee table tomes that showcase the work of others. What's unique about this book is that it will fire up the creative juices and inspire you to take better, and different photos. That makes it a rare book indeed.

It is equally good fodder for both beginners and advanced photographers.

Elements of Color Photography 
The Making of Eighty Images 
by George E. Todd
ISBN: 081743822X 
Paperback, 138pp

Sometimes you pick up a book and become engrossed in the plot, unable to put it down until you've read it all the way through. Still others are organized into small pieces that are best enjoyed one or two at a time. The latter is the case with George Todd's book on the making of eighty images. Each snippet is a look into the mind of the photographer. A bit of background on the scene, what it was that caught his eye, lessons learned and thoughts about what worked and what didn't. Beginners won't get this book. Experienced photographers will enjoy the small bites and put the book down with a smile.

Light and the Art of Landscape Photography 
By Joe Cornish 
Paperback, 160pp 
ISBN: 0817441522

This is not your typical photography text or how-to book. It's more like sitting at the light table with a seasoned pro while he pulls out favorite chromes and tells the stories behind each shot. And like each such session that I've participated in I learned a few things reading through Joe Cornish's book - both from the success he's had and the mistakes he's made.

In many instances he shows two images of the same location where he's returned to reshoot a landscape. There are differences in light and composition. Sometimes they're noticeable, sometimes subtle. Cornish reveals the thought process behind how these images were made as well as the technical details. But as is so often the case, it is the process behind the photos that is truly illuminating. Beginners will appreciate this book for it's strong visual appeal but seasoned photographers will take more away from it.

This is one of those rare books that is impossible to read without provoking a strong desire to grab your cameras and head out to create images of your own.

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.

 

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Model, Fashion, Portrait & Fine Art

Capture Your Kids in Pictures: Simple Techniques 
for Taking Great Family Photos with Any Camera
by Jay Forman
ISBN: 0817436553
Paperback, 144pp

Capture Your Kids in Pictures shows parents how to take better images of their children. This book is aimed not at amateur or professional photographers, but at parents who don't necessarily have any photography experience and whose primary interest is preserving memories of their children. 

Parents don't care about fancy, expensive equipment -- they just want to take great pictures of their kids. So, whether you're using digital, film, or even disposable cameras, Capture Your Kids in Pictures gives you a "can-do" mantra and will inspire you to capture the individual personality and unique spirit of your child.

Lighting for Glamour Photography: A Complete Guide to Professional Techniques for Film and Digital Photography
by Duncan Evans, David Kimber
160 pages
ISBN: 0817442324

We get quite a few questions from readers concerning studio lighting. Many of you want to go beyond on-camera flash and dabble in reflectors and lighting but you're not sure where to start or when to use these accessories. It's also true that most photography books have a relatively short shelf life and disappear after only one printing.

Lighting for Glamour Photography by Duncan Evans and David Kimber has been around for ten years and has been through seven printings and updates. The reason is simple - this is a great book. The images are first rate, the text is easy to understand, diagrams show lighting and camera positions for each shot, and "pro pointers" for each shooting condition provide invaluable tips that can make a dramatic difference to your images no matter what kind of camera you're using.

Our lone criticism would be in the print quality of some of the images from earlier editions. Some of these older images, their age obvious from the hairstyles of the models, appear to be low quality scans of the originals, and are not as colorful or sharp as more recent shots. A minor distraction in an otherwise excellent book.

If you're looking to get into glamour photography or even to improve your general portrait work this book is a great place to start. Contains nudity.

The Art of Nude Photography 
By Pascal Baetens
ISBN: 0817433155
Hardcover: 144 pages

Coffee table books with photos of female nudes are nothing new. Not surprisingly when leafing through Pascal Baetens book The Art of Nude Photography you will come across a few photos that leave you feeling as though you've seen them before.

But a couple of things set this book apart. Unlike some books where all of the models seem like artificial Barbie dolls; the models in Baetens book, while very attractive, still look like real women. And where the subjects in most "art" books look as serious as if they're attending a funeral, the subjects in Baetens work smile, dance, and engage you with a questioning eye. As is the norm with Amphoto books the reproduction quality of these black and white images is high. 

Whether you have an interest in shooting female nudes and are looking for inspiration or if you just appreciate the form The Art of Nude Photography is a book you should consider adding to your coffee table or book shelf.

Classic Glamour Photography: Techniques of the Top Glamour Photographers 
by Iain Banks, Revised by Duncan Evans
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN 0817436731 

The title of this book made me think of classic black and white glamour shots from the 40's and 50's. If ever a book was misnamed its this one. A better title might be Classic Erotic Photography.

Like many similar books this one is divided into two parts. The first half of the book is a showcase of the work of Erotic Glamour photographers. It is a visual showcase of high quality erotic glamour photography, though the text in this section is little more than short pseudo articles about each photographer. You'll find inspiration in the images but you'll find very little meat in the text.

The second half of the book is another story. Banks goes into detail on every part of a model shoot, whether shooting on location or in the studio. His coverage includes equipment, forms, lighting, working in studios and on location, the photographer/model relationship, and what goes on in post production work. All in all an impressive reference for an experienced photographer who is beginning work in this area.

Kodak Guide to 35mm PhotographyMasters of Portraiture
Video by the Nikon School
Video, 30 min. 
Available online through 
the Nikon Mall Click Here

The Nikon School is open to the owners of any brand of equipment and they do a great job at education in their one day classes. Their video series expands on that success by featuring professional photographers in videos that demonstrate various photo techniques. 

In this video you get to look over the shoulders of Eddie Adams, Annie Griffiths Belt, Brett Froomer, Joe McNally and Galen Rowell as they create portraits in a variety of environments and locations. Each has their own style, but the central theme that emerges is about communication with the subject, getting them to relax, and getting them to communicate with the viewer through the lens. This is not an equipment video; and while the photographers talk about lighting there is no "always use a hair light in this situation" type of lecture.

This video packs a lot of information into 30 minutes. It sounds trite but you really will pick up something new each time you watch it. It makes a great Christmas present for someone who is past the beginner stage and well into serious photography. Don't worry. There's not a lot of pimping for Nikon. It just happens to be the brand that the pros in the video are using and when they recommend a focal length of say 80-200mm it's a Nikon lens they're holding up.

How to Photograph Women Beautifully: Professional techniques for creating glamorous pictures 
By J. Barry O'Rourke & Michael A. Keller
Paperback, 144pp.
ISBN: 0817440186

What a great job. Point your camera at beautiful women and get paid for it! Until you try doing it. 

There is a lot more to glamour photography that meets the eye and consistent results are not a given. In this revised version of what is something of a photography classic J. Barry O'Rourke & Michael A. Keller lay out a practical approach to the process that includes makeup, lighting, trend spotting, professional vs. amateur models, digital vs. film, and commercial options. The book is geared toward working photographers (and those who aspire to be) with an emphasis on shooting stock. It touches on the business aspects of photography but this book definitely puts the image first.

The Business of Portrait Photography
By Tom McDonald
Paperback 192pp. 
ISBN: 0817436154

Maybe the best way to describe this book is to tell you what it's not. It's not about jet-setting around the world shooting supermodels. It's not about making seven figures a year shooting stock, and it's not about glamorizing photography. 

This book is a nuts and bolts primer for the small independent photographer who wants to learn how to make a decent living in a small studio. It's about everything from paperwork, to finding work and subjects, to hiring employees. It's presented in a straightforward no nonsense style for the first half of the book. The second half is profiles of successful photographers and how they've carved out a niche for themselves.

If your aspirations are to create a business in portrait photography here is your blueprint. Follow it and you may not see that seven figure annual income but you will learn how to make a good living doing something you love. 

The Art and Attitude of Commercial Photography

by Rick Souders
Paperback 160pp. 
ISBN: 0817433090

How many of us haven't envisioned a photo career where we spend the day taking pictures of beautiful women posing with beautiful products on beautiful beaches and where coffee breaks are spent counting all our cash? 

In the first two thirds of Rick Souders book on the art and attitude of commercial photography Rick shows us how to create those beautiful pictures. Then he brings us back to earth with the statement "Only 20 percent of commercial photography is about taking pretty pictures. The other 80 percent is about business."

And with that sobering statement he begins the part of the book that is most valuable to you if you really have an interest in making your living with your camera. The book is lavishly illustrated with his work but it's his advice on everything from putting together a quote for a client, to model releases to getting paid that will be of value if you intend to pursue photography as a career. In reality Rick has written two books - one on the artistic side of creating commercial images and one on the business of photography. The good news is that both sections are worth buying.

Basic Studio Lighting: The Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional Techniques
by Tony L. Corbell
Paperback, 144pp.
ISBN: 0817435506

The difference between outdoor photographers and studio photographers is that outdoor photographers talk a lot about working with available light. Studio photographers have complete control over lighting. While this sounds like it would make your life easier, there is a tremendous amount of technique that goes into working with light in the studio.

Where many studio lighting books simply show a series of light placements that the photographer discusses in vague terms, Tony Corbell lays out a comprehensive overview of studio lighting, including discussions of film, metering, light placement, diffusion, shadows, and texture. Thereís even a section on controlling color and color contrast.

Basic Studio Lighting is a great learning tool, but itís not the kind of book you'll just read and absorb. It's the kind of book you take in the studio and use to experiment and play with ideas. If you're just entering the studio, or if you feel like your lighting setups are controlling you more than you're controlling them, than this book will make a great reference. And for you outdoor guys, take a look through here and you'll realize how good you've got it!

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.

Dahmane  
by Benedikt Taschen
Paperback, 1st edition
ISBN: 3-82289769-8

This self titled book features some of Dahmane's more popular black and white female nudes. These images of nudes in familiar, and public, places are exquisitely erotic without crossing the line to pornographic. His models look natural rather then posed in most of his pictures. His composition draws you into the photo so that you feel more an observer at the scene than someone studying a photo in a book.

Dahmane makes full use of black and white as a medium. The prints are crisp and sharp. Contrast and composition are perfect. If these were color images they would lose their impact and become just another nude. But in black and white they are arresting. They draw you in and cause you linger over the details.

Dahmane first received recognition in Europe for a series of black and white nudes that used well known Paris restaurants as a backdrop for the models. There is an impishness in these photos. Evidently it is Dahmane's and he has learned how to bring this impishness out in his models. There is a little of Bart Simpson thumbing his nose at the world here.

If you aspire to proficiency in nudes this is a good book to ad to your collection. While there is no technical detail published in the book his photos have the ability to teach volumes about composition, printing, and the beauty of the female form. Equally important they break out of the mold of the black and white "nude on the bed" and into new voyeuristic territory.

As we are going to press this book has gone out of print, but we have been assured back stock is still readily available through Barnes and Noble's special order process or directly from Taschen.

Editor's Note: This book has gone out of print, but we have been assured back stock is still readily available through Barnes and Noble's special order process or directly from Taschen.

 

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Outdoor & Nature 

Nature Photography Close Up: Macro Techniques in the Field 
by Paul Harcourt Davies 
ISBN: 081745019X 
Format: Paperback, 160pp

Learning macro photography involves a tremendous amount of trial and error. This book endeavors to take some of the error out of that process.

The macro world can be confusing and frustrating even for seasoned photographers with its unfamiliar gear, reversed lenses, tricky depth of field and its own lexicon. This book is extremely detailed but manages to walk a fine line and remain interesting rather than becoming a technical tome. The images presented are stunning and reproduced with the quality we've come to expect from the publisher, Amphoto. These illustrations, and the individual chapters present the wide range of subjects that macro photography can cover, including underwater photography, a subject usually ignored in discussions of macro photography. The only criticism we'd have would be that the short sections on Photoshop and digital resolution vs. film resolution feel more like an afterthought than part of the overall text, which is otherwise excellent.

If learning macro photography is on your "todo list" this book should be added to your "to buy" list.

Take Great Pictures: A Simple Guide 
by Lou, Jr. Jacobs 
Paperback: 112 pages 
ISBN: 1584281022

Targeted towards the novice photographer and sized to slip into the back pocket of a decent sized camera bag, Lou Jacobs presents a book that is visually appealing and broken down into well illustrated snippets. The text is clear and concise without overwhelming the reader with jargon.

If you're just getting started this is a great book to start with, especially if you have an interest in travel photography.

 

Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography 
By Brenda Tharp
ISBN: 081743738X
Paperback, 160pp

There is a stage in everyone's photographic life where you've mastered the mechanics of your camera and lenses but you're only beginning to understand composition.

If you're at that point or know someone who is - buy this book. 

Too often what a beginning photographer "sees" through the lens and what is captured are two different things. Excitement makes subjects larger than life when you press the shutter only to shrink to insignificance in the final image or become lost in background clutter.

Divided into easily digestible snippets Tharp's book shows you how to take control of your images. How to capture motion and scale and how to isolate your subject so that the person viewing the image will see exactly what you saw through the viewfinder.

If you follow along with Brenda Tharp and learn how to take control of your composition you'll be a step ahead of most photographers - and ready to start creating images rather than snapping pictures.

Digital Nature Photography 
By Jon Cox 
Paperback, 160pp 
ISBN: 0817437916

In a sea of techie digital photography books this one stands out for what it is not. It's not full of digital jargon.

In fact this book is more an introduction to photography than anything else. It just so happens that Cox equipment of choice is digital; and as an introduction to photography Cox does an excellent job. His writing style is conversational and approachable. The images are stunning. The approach will set the new photographer at ease as he progresses through the basics, into composition, and finally into manipulating your images in the computer. This step also is in refreshingly plain English.

Digital can be a wonderful learning tool because of its instant feedback. If you know an aspiring photographer buy them this book. By the time they're finished they may be teaching you a thing or two.

Light and the Art of Landscape Photography 
By Joe Cornish 
Paperback, 160pp 
ISBN: 0817441522

This is not your typical photography text or how-to book. It's more like sitting at the light table with a seasoned pro while he pulls out favorite chromes and tells the stories behind each shot. And like each such session that I've participated in I learned a few things reading through Joe Cornish's book - both from the success he's had and the mistakes he's made.

In many instances he shows two images of the same location where he's returned to reshoot a landscape. There are differences in light and composition. Sometimes they're noticeable, sometimes subtle. Cornish reveals the thought process behind how these images were made as well as the technical details. But as is so often the case, it is the process behind the photos that is truly illuminating. Beginners will appreciate this book for it's strong visual appeal but seasoned photographers will take more away from it.

This is one of those rare books that is impossible to read without provoking a strong desire to grab your cameras and head out to create images of your own.

Photographing Plants and Flowers
by Paul Harcourt Davies
Paperback 160pp.
ISBN: 0817455027

Like most photographers I've taken the occasional flower photos. But never did I realize there could be so much to flower photography until I read this book! Over 160 pages filled with often stunning images, Davies discusses various methods for capturing flowers, plants, and insects. Though he touches on equipment, this is more a book about technique.

If you've ever tried your hand at flower photography you may have been frustrated as to why some blue flowers can't be captured accurately on film. Davies tells you why, and provides some advice on working around the problem. Ever want that perfect sharp image of a honey bee with every hair on it's legs clearly illuminated? Its in here as well as advice for controlling backgrounds and working both indoors and out.

The sections on scanning and PhotoShop at the end of the book feel a bit like filler and are covered in far more detail elsewhere; but the final section on the technical side of macro flower photography is a well done and appropriate addition to the text. 

The Business of Nature Photography 
by John Shaw
Hardback 144pp 
ISBN: 0-81744050-X

Wouldn't it be great to quit your day job and get paid to  travel around to cool places and take pictures?  

A lot of photographers have had that daydream.  But the reality is much tougher, and it's why so many spectacular photographers remain unpublished.  Becoming a pro means that you'll spend as much or more time working on business issues as you do shooting.  Frankly, many photographers simply lack the business skills to make it work as a day to day business.

In this book John Shaw lays out a basic blueprint for what it takes to stay afloat as a professional nature photographer - and does an excellent job of it.  The book is thorough and detailed but still remains readable.  He gives details of how to approach editors and stock agencies, how to organize your images, how to build a portfolio, and how to handle legal and copyright issues.  It's not sugar coated and Shaw doesn't pretend to have all the answers.  This book is about what's worked for him.  What I liked most about this book is that he stresses how much real work goes into doing this for a living.

If you have any aspirations to make your living in photography, or even to do it as a part time profession, this book will prove indispensable.

 

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Wedding 

Elegant Black and White Wedding Photography 
by Sara Frances
Paperback: 176 pages
ISBN: 0817438203

I've always been amazed at the differences between wedding photographers. The concept sounds so simple. Shoot a wedding. The day is choreographed so you know what to expect. One is pretty much like every other so once you have it down it should be simple right? Um wrong. 

With weddings there are no retries or re-shoots. You have one chance to get it right and as a wedding photographer once told me, every bride and every mother in law is a photography expert on the day of the wedding. Throw in normal wedding day jitters and a few drunks at the reception and things can get interesting indeed. That's why it always amazes me when you see those rare few wedding photographers who make it look so easy.

Judging from the quality of photographs in this book Sara Frances is one of those rare few. Best of all she is able to communicate what it takes to be successful in a business where there is no shortage of competition. In the first part of the book she covers composition, equipment and lighting. Even to the point of detailing what the assistant's job should be. But just as important, maybe even more so, she goes into detail on what happens after the wedding if over. The creation of the album, editing the photos, printing and working with the client. 

If you are seriously considering wedding photography as a profession or if you are a professional looking for ideas to improve your craft this book is a good place to start.

 

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Sports & Action

 

 

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Photoshop & Digital Darkroom

Color Confidence, The Digital Photographer's Guide to Color Management 
by Tim Grey
ISBN: 0782143164
Paperback, 288pp
review by Pam Stanley

Like most photographers, I have found that digital photography has added to my creativity and has given me more control over the final output of my images. But with that added creativity and control has come more responsibility for understanding what is happening at each stage of the digital process. Most of it involves dealing with the nuances of color management. Enter Tim Grey. His book, Color Confidence, The Digital Photographer's Guide to Color Management, has become, for me, my bible for working with profiles, optimization and output.

Color Confidence is well laid out, discussing the nature of light and color and color profiles to start. Understanding color profiles perhaps is the most important lesson Grey gives the reader: "Color values stored in an image can be thought of as instructions for the device that will display or reproduce these colors. The profile translates these values so that they have specific color meaning and allow consistent colors to be produced by a wide range of devices."

With this foundation, he speaks specifically to Photoshop CS setups and what settings, modes and warnings should be enabled. Profiles and calibrations for monitors are well detailed, walking through the process for choosing monitors and display adapters. Several calibration software packages are reviewed: Color Vision Spyder and Spyder Pro, Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Display and MonacoOPTIX, as well as Adobe Gamma and DisplayMate. Scanners are also covered in some detail, including flatbed and film scanners. Optimizing the scanner color management through two different approaches is outlined.

Grey goes over digital capture in some detail. From features to look for in basic camera settings to RAW capture and conversion and working space issues, good ideas and good working habits are provided. His writing style makes it easy to understand the point he is trying make and he gives the reader specific settings to get them on their way to successful color management. Many times, he suggests making an adjustment to an extreme degree just to see what is truly happening for that control. By then backing down the adjustment, you can fine tune your image.

Optimizing your image allows you to produce an accurate depiction of your image data. It is easy to get caught up in the process of your color-managed workflow. Grey suggests that you continue to look at images with a critical eye. Carefully evaluating the image on your monitor before you print it will ensure that you are getting everything you intended. He is quick to point out, however, that color management is not a perfect science. He prefers instead to call it "predictive." Because of the inherent differences in media, exact reproduction is impossible, i.e., monitors emit light while prints reflect it. Being able to anticipate what your final print will look like based on your monitor display is the final objective.

Color adjustments are discussed in detail. Using Levels, Curves and targeting neutral values, Grey walks the reader through removing color casts and achieving accurate color balance. The book has many pictorial examples as well as showing menus and dialog boxes with specific settings. Color adjustment for black-and-white images may sound incongruous, but Grey recommends using the RGB mode for working with black-and-white because you will have more flexibility with more information that can allow for greater detail and quality in the final print.

A discussion of file formats and retaining all the layers of your adjustments concludes the optimization section and ensures that your image is saved with an embedded profile for use with your selected output method.
According to Grey: "Your goal is have the final display look the way you want it to look." Be it a print, a web page, digital projection or anything else, your preparation with color management will result in the quality of your final output. Most photographers think of the printed image when they think output. The quality of the printer, therefore, is an important part of attaining that quality image. Issues of output size, ink type, number of inks, ink droplet size, resolution, media support and software capabilities are considered.

Printer profiles provide the same translations of color values as monitor profiles do. Printer profiles, however, will be more varied not only because of the different models of printers (and individual printers within a particular model), but because of the types of ink and paper combinations used. Different paper surfaces absorb inks differently, resulting in variations in appearance. Several categories of profiles exist: canned, generic, commercial and custom. Creating your own custom printer profile is outlined step by step, including some software tools available to help build those profiles.

Preparing your images after they have been optimized is the next step. Soft proofing and gamut warnings are tools to use to get a "preview" of what your printed image will look like. Before committing the ink or the paper, you can make further adjustments based on the proofs. Once you have perfected the image, Grey suggests saving the file as your master image file. From this master, you will duplicate the image. This is when you will flatten the layers, resize for intended output, set target black and white values and sharpen for output.

Finally, you are ready to send your image to the printer. Using the Print with Preview feature, you get the opportunity to select your printer properties, including your printer profiles. Grey also covers outputting to CMYK, web, email and digital slideshows.

The last chapter of the book is a step-by-step workflow, incorporating all the components discussed above. I know I will be referring to that workflow, and thumbing back through the various chapters as I work with my images. Color Confidence is a great resource that I recommend be on any digital photographer's desk.

The Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers
by Scott Kelby
ISBN: 0735714118
Paperback, 400pp
review by Pam Stanley

If you are like me, you may be astounded at how comprehensive Adobe's photo editing program Photoshop CS is. Perhaps overwhelmed is a better word. It certainly allows you to correct, manipulate, enhance - in short, do anything to -- an image.

But you've worked with Photoshop for awhile and have some basic questions. There are books out there that explain how to work with the Layers palette, or how to use the painting tools, or that show how each of Photoshop's 102 filters look on the same image. But where do you go for the basic "what are good starting settings for the Unsharp Mask filter"? Scott Kelby, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Photoshop User magazine, has written just the book for you. The Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers is a great book for the "how-to" lessons you have been looking for.

Kelby calls this a "jump-in-anywhere" book because he didn't write it as a "build-on-what-you-learned-Chapter-1" type of book. And it is just that. It is very well laid out with a topic and descriptive paragraph about a particular problem to be solved. Step by step procedures, with menu and image illustrations, are laid out to get a problem resolved. He gives his recommended specific settings and shows before and after results.

The CS Book covers topics from the file browser, cropping and resizing, digital camera image problems, color correction, masking techniques, retouching portraits, body sculpting, to photographic special effects, color to grayscale, sharpening techniques to showing images to your clients.

This is a Photoshop book, not just a digital photography book. It doesn't cover "what digital camera or printer to buy" and it doesn't explain every aspect of every dialog box. There are few books out there that give actual settings for a particular menu. Kelby presents it the way digital photographers really work - in the order they work - starting with sorting and categorizing, working through optimizing the image, to presenting your images to your clients.

And while this may sound like it is too advanced for you, it really isn't. As Kelby explains a technique, you may realize that "hey, I can do that." For instance, he may show you how to use the Healing Brush to completely remove wrinkles, and most users will do just that - remove all the wrinkles.

The advanced Photoshop user will know that the 79-year old man's face should still have some wrinkles in it. So Kelby goes that "extra mile" and shows you how to duplicate a layer and lower the Opacity, to bring back some of the original wrinkles from the layer underneath. It's not hard, it's just understanding that line of thinking.

As you read through the various techniques presented in this book, you will undoubtedly find one or two (or several!) gems that will be worth the price of the book. Trust me, I have!!

Photoshop for Right-Brainers: The Art of Photo Manipulation 
By Al Ward 
ISBN: 078214313X 
Format: Paperback, 400pp

Lets first say what this book is not. It's not going to help you make your Photoshop images look like slides. There are numerous other books that can help you do that. This book is for those photographers who feel the creative process only begins when you bring the image into Photoshop. It's about the artistry of images and it's surprisingly readable. Want to apply body paint to a model after the shoot is over, blend images, add reflections. It's here. A more practical subject for photographers is a detailed treatment of how to touch up models after a shoot. Traditionally a job done with airbrushes, and now done to virtually every celebrity magazine image there aren't many good sources for these techniques. The individual adjustments are subtle but the net effect can be dramatic. How about adding and subtracting tattoos? Or touching up the reflected images inside a liquid filled glass?

If you're ready to go beyond simply getting your images ready to print and to start exploring what you can do with Photoshop as a photographer. Then this book is a good place to start.

Photoshop Field Guide 
By John Shaw 
eBook: 208 pages  
ISBN: N.A.

Each month we review two to three books that we'd recommend to readers. Many more than that come across our threshold. Unfortunately most of the eBooks we've received haven't lived up to the potential of this new medium. Many were too short, poorly written, poorly organized or all of the above.

We hope that John Shaw's new eBook Photoshop Field Guide is the beginning of a trend. At 208 pages it's meaty, and it's no surprise given John's previous books that this one is well written, nicely illustrated and well organized.

But should you look at this book? After all there is no shortage of Photoshop books on the market. In short I liked its focus "All I want to do is to make a good print. I don't want to make composite images by taking a tree from one photo, a wolf from another, those humpback whales from a third, and putting them into a shot of the Grand Canyon." I truly cannot count how many times I've read similar words in our reader's emails. To that end John starts with the basics, covers calibrating your monitor and using a two monitor setup, which is truly the way to go if you spend a lot of time editing images.

Individual chapters concentrate on the things that photographers want Photoshop to do such as Four ways to tone down a sky, Removing color casts, Sharpening and Combining two exposures.

John made the decision to focus on specific hardware and software: Photoshop, Epson printers and Nikon film scanners. The tradeoff being those who've made similar choices will benefit from the detailed information here, while those who haven't will need to extrapolate. The good news is these are pretty common hardware/software choices.

But perhaps the best news is John's writing style. An amazing number of Photoshop books are dense, dry tomes that could put an insomniac into a coma. John's writing style is approachable and engaging. This book is never painful going. Best of all by the end of this book you'll be able to produce prints that look as though they were produced by a gallery. Our only criticism, and it is a small one, is that information on obtaining the Adobe Acrobat reader is contained in a readme file. We would like to have seen the reader included on the disk, or barring that a self loading HTML file with an explanation of how to obtain the reader and a link.

Price $30 including shipping ($38 outside the U.S.), requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader to order click here

Photoshop CS at Your Fingertips
by Jason Cranford Teague & Walt Dietrich
ISBN: 0782142893
Paperback, 576pp

The manual that comes with Photoshop is actually pretty good by computer manual standards. That's not to say it doesn't leave a bit to be desired. The result is a small mountain of books that all claim to be the best way to master the most popular image editing program. 

This book takes a different tack than most. It's intended to be a task based reference. You say you're in the middle of a project and you want to know how to apply bevel effects without wading through all the possibilities that crop up when you open the dialog box? There's a section that will walk you through it.  Just flipping through the table of contents I found a couple of Photoshop shortcuts I hadn't previously known. 

That's not to say this book is for everyone. The nature of this type of book is that it's only useful if you have some idea what you're looking for. Otherwise it's hard to know where to start in an index full of "Photoshop terms". 

But while beginners will be better served elsewhere this book makes a great reference for intermediate to advanced Photoshop users working to get projects done under a deadline.  

Photoshop CS for Dummies 
by Deke McClelland, Phyllis Davis
ISBN: 0764543563 Format: Paperback, 455pp

If this month's other book selection is a little too techie for you give this one a try. 

This book is completely unpretentious. It assumes you know nothing about Photoshop or even image editing. Most importantly it sticks to easily understandable language and avoids techno-speak. 

The experienced Photoshop jockey isn't going to find much of interest here. But if you're new to Photoshop this book will give you all the basics you need to edit and print you images and then prepare them for the Web. If you're just getting started this is a pretty good place to start. 

SilverFast: The Official Guide 
by Taz Tally 
ISBN: 0782141978 
Paperback: 240 pages

Silverfast is powerful scanning software that works on a number of platforms and with numerous scanners. It has a reputation for being great software with less than great documentation. That is exactly the kind of opening that Sybex likes to fill and this book by Taz Tally does a good job of it. Tally works through Silverfast in detail, covering all of the major functions and terms that you'll need to know to put the software through its paces. His style is approachable and the book makes an excellent reference. This book is best used as a starting point for someone already familiar with scanners and Photoshop. That's a good thing. Too many books try to be all things to all audiences. By aiming the book toward a specific audience Tally creates a reference that is far more readable and more valuable for his audience.

Shooting Digital: Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera 
By Mikkel Aaland
ISBN: 0782141404
Paperback, 304pp

When I first read through Mikkel Aaland's book I felt a bit overwhelmed, as if there was just too much information packed into its 288 pages.

The reason is Aaland tries to be all things to all people. It's not that he did a bad job. It's just that there is information at multiple levels here. The beginner will find information explaining the basic concepts of digital photography and intermediate photographers will find information on composition and lighting, even on studio lighting. Finally the techies will find detailed explanations of some areas of digital photography that other books leave untouched. 

And therein lies the rub. The beginner will likely be daunted by the technical aspects of both photography and digital technology; while the more advanced shooter will find elements of this book too basic. That's a shame because there's really good information here for readers at both levels.

Photo Art: In-Camera, Darkroom, Digital, 
Mixed Media

By Tony Worobiec & Ray Spence 
ISBN: 0817453725 
Paperback 160pp

Have you gotten a bit bored with "normal" photography? Do you have a yen to do something more creative, more artistic?

If so then check out this book. Like the other book reviewed here this month, Photo Art is about ideas. Everything is up for grabs with these guys; from darkroom to digital to pinhole cameras they explore ways to push, prod, and shape images into something completely different from where they started. 

Spend time with this book and you'll either go running back to what you know or you'll start looking at some unusual things as part of the photographic process. You just might be surprised at what these guys can do with Vaseline, plastic sheets, and a Barbie doll !

Digital Photography Special Effects 
By Michael Freeman 
ISBN: 0817438254 
Paperback 160pp

I was a bit less than enthusiastic when I originally approached this book. For me Photoshop is a tool for working with my photographs rather than an end in and of itself. If you just want to make your scanned images pop like your slides when you print this isn't the book for you. If you want to explore Photoshop artistically and use it as a way to express your vision this book just might be the best place to start.

I knew you could do these things in Photoshop but I hadn't tried any of them myself. In some cases I was surprised just how easy it is to accomplish the wild effects Freeman illustrates. In other cases I was surprised that you could even do some of the things he shows you. If you have a desire to go beyond using Photoshop as a photography tool and to start using it as an artist's tool you need to buy this book.

Digital Image Making, A complete Visual Guide for Photographers
By Les Meehan
Paperback, 128pp.
ISBN: 0817454535

This book is the polar opposite of the book reviewed below. Where Lynch's approach is to get you a master's in Photoshop Elements. Meehan's book is laid out for the person who learns by tinkering and futzing around with images. The book isn't geared to a specific image editor. Instead ideas and concepts are presented in a short format with a couple of examples and some background information. It's enough that you can take that concept and go explore it and play with it. You can jump around and try things out as the mood strikes you. You're not limited to strictly following the text. Explore all the concepts presented here and you'll have a good foundation. I especially like the chapter on common sense color calibration.

The effectiveness of the book depends on your learning style. If you have no patience for structure and learn through hands on experimentation this is the book for you. If you're looking for a structured approach read on.

Kodak Guide to 35mm PhotographyThe Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 2
By Richard Lynch
Paperback, 336pp. incl. CD
ISBN: 0782141781

If you're going to do more than rudimentary image editing you'll outgrow basic editors, the kind included free with digital cameras and printers, pretty quickly. While most publications (including Vivid Light) highlight Photoshop as an image editing standard, it is simply too complex and too expensive for many photographers. Adobe's own solution is Photoshop Elements. It's designed to give photographers the tools they need to edit and prepare photos, while leaving out much of the complexity of it's big brother. But what about those photographers who want to push Elements to its limits.

Enter Richard Lynch. Unlike many reference books we'd recommend that you treat this one as a workbook. If you work the examples from front to back your understanding of Elements will go way beyond most. This isn't an easy text. It will take quite a few hours to work through it all. On the plus side is an enclosed disk which includes many example images that you can work right along with the text. This helps tremendously in understanding what the author is trying to convey. The disk also includes a tool set to "unlock disabled features" and extend the functionality of Photoshop Elements. I wasn't able to wring out the tools as I have Photoshop installed (not Elements) on my computer. But looking through the tools they do indeed add quite a bit of functionality.

If I have one criticism of the text it's that Lynch assumes the reader has knowledge of the jargon of image editing. There will be times, I'm sure, where readers will be scratching their heads trying to understand the meaning of all the terms. But if you stick with it Lynch will guide you over the learning curve. In the end it's a good text for those who learn best in a linear fashion. Meehan's book (at the top of this page) will better serve those who dive in and learn by fiddling.

Digital Photography Essentials 
By Erica Sadun
Paperback, 272pp.
ISBN: 0782141773
Includes Adobe PhotoDeluxe 4.1 on CD

Erica Sadun is aiming squarely at those new to digital photography with this book. Where others turn this into a dry subject she succeeds in interjecting a little bit of fun and whimsy. 

Adobe's capable PhotoDeluxe 4.1 is included on a CD packaged with the book. Experienced digital photographers will grow out of PhotoDeluxe and into Adobe's "bigger" programs but it makes for an good starting point. The first half of the book is dedicated to giving the reader a good footing in the basics. It demystifies the jargon and shows readers how to do the most common tasks - answering common questions like how do I email a photo from my digital camera? The second half of the book shows you how to do some fun things using PhotoDeluxe and various plug-ins that you can download from the Web. Things swapping heads on bodies, morphing features, and even a little bit on digital video. Old hat for experienced digital gurus but cool stuff for those new to digital photography. All in all a very good place for newbies to start. 

Photoshop 7 Savvy 
By Steve Romaniello
Paperback, 704pp.
ISBN: 0782141102

What you get from this book will be largely driven by your personality. Sybex is well known for their technical reference books and it shows in the layout and design of this book. If you're an impatient learner who prefers to learn software by using it, then the comprehensive index of this book will help you with specific questions when you get stuck. If you're a patient learner who likes details then you'll do well to go through this book from front to back. A huge help is that the images for each lesson are contained on a CD that is stored inside the back cover.

But be forewarned! Working through this book from cover to cover is no small undertaking. It is 624 tightly packed pages. The good news for the patient among us is that if you treat this as a Photoshop course book, which is what it really is, you will not just get Photoshop 101. You'll go from 101 right up through a 400 level course. If you have the patience to use this book as it's intended you'll not just be Photoshop savvy but a Photoshop expert.

You'll work at it though. This is no breezy introduction. It is written in the technical concise style of Sybex's computer reference books, so when you're done you won't just use Photoshop like an expert - you'll be able to sling the jargon too!

Digital Printing Handbook: A Photographer's Guide to Creative Inkjet Printing Techniques
by Tim Daly
Paperback, 160pp.
ISBN: 0817438270

Where was this book when I was getting started doing digital prints? In short if you have any aspirations of getting into doing your own digital prints, or if you want to extend your knowledge - buy this book.

It's not often we recommend a book this strongly. Tim Daly covers the subject step by step in easy to understand language. He'll explain the jargon, walk you through tough subjects like color calibration and media choices and even take you through image editing tasks such as dodging and burning and an introduction to curves and levels. He even takes you into emulating special darkroom printing effects that are available in PhotoShop. There were one or two areas where there could have been a little more detail but all in all this is an excellent primer on the subject that will give you a strong foundation to build on.

The Desktop Photographer: How to Make Great Photographs with Your Computer
by Tim Daly
Paperback, 144pp.
ISBN: 0817437835

So you want to get into digital photography and/or scanning your photos so that you can work with them on your computer. But you're no techno geek and you don't have a clue where to get started. 

Tim Daly wants to be your ticket into digital. This book is divided into individual lessons that start with how computers and digital cameras work. The lessons then progress through tips on composing images, choosing an image editing program, and on into specific things you'll want to learn about actually editing your images, and finally what you'll want to know about printing them. Along the way you'll learn about toning, composites, and retouching. This is not one of those thick detailed Photoshop books that techies love. Rather its a practical introduction for the person who never wants to be a techie but just wants to work on their photos. 

Dictionary of Photography and Digital Imaging: 
The Essential Reference for the Modern Photographer
by Tom Ang
Paperback 388pp. 
ISBN: 0817437894

This is not a book you keep on your nightstand for a little light reading. Rather it is a detailed reference guide to digital imaging. 

Want to know what widget XYZ does? It's in here somewhere, complete with cross references about everything that widget XYZ will work with and a sidebar about the history of XYZ. Well done, well researched, and approachable if you have a basic understanding of digital imaging this book will make a nice addition to your reference shelf.

Photoshop Elements Solutions: 
The art of Digital Photograpy
by Mikkel Aaland
Paperback, 256pp.
ISBN: 0782129730

Normally we're not fans of "click here, enter this" types of PhotoShop books. All too often the ideas get lost in the details. Mikkel Aaland does a good job of providing some detail behind why he is doing what he's doing. His examples include a thorough set of tasks and ideas to help photographers new to Photoshop Elements understand what they can do with the software. But beware those who are impatient. This book works best when used as a workbook. Work through each exercise to get an understanding of how to use that tool. If you try and cherry pick only those items that are of interest for today's project you'll miss much of what this book has to offer. A CD is included which includes some of the example images in the book and a 30 day trial version of Photoshop Elements. 

Our biggest criticism is with the CD. The trial software is available online. We think the CD would have been much more useful if it included more of the images from the book and left the trial version for readers to download on their own.

Creative Digital Photography
by Michael Busselle
Paperback, 160pp. 
ISBN: 0817437304

Finally a digital photography book that doesn't read like the directions for hooking up your stereo! Instead of tedious "click here and set the tool to this number" instructions, Michael Bussele starts with the premise that you are reasonably proficient in PhotoShop, Paint Shop, or one of the other available tools. From there he discusses how to touch up, correct, and improve your images - in plain English. Advice covers practical topics such as improving detail in shadow areas, working with low contrast images, improving skies, and correcting color balance. Then he goes on to working in black & white; a topic given little or poor attention in most digital texts. Here you'll find the basics that will start you in the right direction for producing strong black & white digital prints. 

He moves beyond improving an existing photo and into more effects territory. But rather than pure digital trickery, he touches on topics such as creating lith-printing, hand painting, and multiple exposure effects. The final portion of the book is dedicated to pure digital effects and the creation of photo montages. In all this is an extremely well done and balanced book. If you're working digitally, this is definitely one for your bookshelf.

The Nikon Guide to Film Scanning    
Bob Krist with 
Helene DeLillo &  Michael Brown
Video, 45 minutes    
item #5388

This video is geared towards Nikon scanners so parts of it may be of limited use to those who own other brands but there's a lot of information packed into 45 minutes here, much of it generic to any scanner.  I wish I'd had this kind of tutorial when I purchased my first scanner.  Bob Krist narrates this journey through the details of scanning that starts with some basic concepts and takes you through some of the more intricate things you can do with your scanner.  Everything from printer resolution to understanding curves and levels is here.  If anything there is almost too much information to take in at one sitting.  For the novice user this tape would be best taken in small bites with your scanner close at hand for experimentation.

Like coverage of any technical subject, this tape can get a bit dense at times.  Lets just say that gripping is not an adjective that jumps to mind.  But the production team does an admirable job of getting the information across and keeping this one from becoming a yawner.  If you want to improve your scanning skills this video is a good place to start - especially if you own a Nikon scanner.

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.

Idiot's Guide to Digital PhotographyComplete Idiot's Guide to Digital Photography 
by Steve Greenberg
Paperback 381pp 
ISBN: 0-78972109-0

When I picked up this book I expected to hate it.  There are several series of books out there aimed at dummies, idiots, and beginners.  I've even recommended one or two on computer topics, but for some reason I expected that this one would fall flat.  I was wrong.  Steve Greenberg has created a surprisingly useful book for the aspiring digital photographer.  

He starts by outlining some basics of photography and exposure, composition, and lighting.  Good solid advice that would help many photographers no matter what their medium.   I was really surprised at the color insert pages that demonstrate the techniques in the text.

After covering the basics of getting the image into the camera he tackles digital basics such as resolution, color, image editing, emailing, and printing.  What surprised me was how thoroughly he covers Adobe's PhotoDeluxe software.  I must confess that with a bevy of more powerful packages on my hard drive I've always looked down on PhotoDeluxe as a freebie - not worthy of serious exploration.  Greenberg, however, dives in with both feet since most digital cameras are bundled with this software.  Frankly it's amazing how much he's able to get out of this little package.  I'm not ready go give up PhotoShop yet, but for newcomers to digital photography this book will prove to be a great resource.

 

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Equipment 

Nature Photography Close Up: Macro Techniques in the Field 
by Paul Harcourt Davies 
ISBN: 081745019X 
Format: Paperback, 160pp

Learning macro photography involves a tremendous amount of trial and error. This book endeavors to take some of the error out of that process.

The macro world can be confusing and frustrating even for seasoned photographers with its unfamiliar gear, reversed lenses, tricky depth of field and its own lexicon. This book is extremely detailed but manages to walk a fine line and remain interesting rather than becoming a technical tome. The images presented are stunning and reproduced with the quality we've come to expect from the publisher, Amphoto. These illustrations, and the individual chapters present the wide range of subjects that macro photography can cover, including underwater photography, a subject usually ignored in discussions of macro photography. The only criticism we'd have would be that the short sections on Photoshop and digital resolution vs. film resolution feel more like an afterthought than part of the overall text, which is otherwise excellent.

If learning macro photography is on your "todo list" this book should be added to your "to buy" list.

Magic Lantern Guides   
by Multiple Authors

Whether you own the latest techno wonder or a classic SLR, there is probably a Magic Lantern guide for your camera.  

These books fill an important niche.  Many, if not most, camera manuals are awful (though they've gotten much better recently).  Magic Lantern guides walk you through the features of your camera in much greater detail than your camera's manual.  Not only do they explain the features, but they often illustrate how you can use a feature to create better images.  In some cases they even use the subject camera to illustrate basic photographic principles.

But these guides aren't just limited to the cameras themselves.  There are Magic Lantern guides available for lens and flash systems as well.  The guides are authored by various photographers, and as a result there are some differences in quality from one guide to another.  But as a general rule they are well written and well edited.

Whatever camera system you're using, it's worth picking up the Magic Lantern guide for that system.

 

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Traditional Darkroom

Photo Art: In-Camera, Darkroom, Digital, 
Mixed Media

By Tony Worobiec & Ray Spence 
ISBN: 0817453725 
Paperback 160pp

Have you gotten a bit bored with "normal" photography? Do you have a yen to do something more creative, more artistic?

If so then check out this book. Like the other book reviewed here this month, Photo Art is about ideas. Everything is up for grabs with these guys; from darkroom to digital to pinhole cameras they explore ways to push, prod, and shape images into something completely different from where they started. 

Spend time with this book and you'll either go running back to what you know or you'll start looking at some unusual things as part of the photographic process. You just might be surprised at what these guys can do with Vaseline, plastic sheets, and a Barbie doll !

The Photographer's Toning Book: 
The Definitive Guide 

by Tim Rudman
Paperback: 208 pages
ISBN 0817454659

I've learned to be skeptical of anything that calls itself "The Definitive Guide", but in the case of this amazingly thorough book by Tim Rudman the title is certainly deserved.

For those of you who've never spent time in a darkroom it might come as a surprise just how many different techniques there are for producing a print. For those of you familiar with a darkroom this book is an amazing resource that will save your hours of expensive trial an error.

The book is beautifully illustrated. Toning techniques are explained in clear detailed language. Along with each technique possible pitfalls are pointed out and notes on the toxicity of the chemicals used are provided where necessary (some of these processes use some really nasty goop). Also of great value are the extensive reference sections and tables at the end of the book. If you're a Photoshop guy this isn't the book for you. But if you create your prints in a darkroom this book is an indispensable reference that will find a place on your bookshelf and be dog eared in short order.

Kodak Guide to 35mm PhotographyPhotopainting: The Art of Painting 
on Photographs
By James A. McKinnis
Paperback, 144pp. 
ISBN: 0817455116

 

We've all seen these images, but frankly I'd never given them all that much thought. But James McKinnis certainly has. While the images in this book are based on photos this is definitely a step away from photography and into art. McKinnis does a good job covering materials and basic techniques, though his examples are anything but basic. I came away with the impression that while the techniques are interesting and the results eye catching it would take a lot of patience and practice to become adept at this technique. Experience with painting would definitely give you a leg up.

If you have an artistic bent and an interest in these unusual images this book is a great starting point. Providing everything you need to get started. Where you take it from there is limited only by your imagination.

Polaroid Manipulations: 
A Complete Visual Guide to Creating SX-70, Transfer, and Digital Prints
By Kathleen Thormod Carr
Paperback 192pp. 
ISBN: 0817455558

If you're tired of looking at a computer, they tell me that photos were once made using a chemical process. No kidding!

Seriously, Polaroid transfers yield images that look nothing like photos but more like impressionist paintings. Kathleen Thormod Carr walks you through the whole process, from finding an old Polaroid camera, to modifying it for the Polaroid Time-Zero film used in this process through the creation of the final image. There's even a thorough cross-reference of all those old Polaroids that you're likely to find at a yard sale.

But even here you won't get totally away from the computer. Kathleen talks about scanning the results into the computer. Once in Photoshop you can make minor corrections and tweak your images. When you're done you can output your work of art, and many of these images are works of art, onto any size or type of paper. For those of you who think only digitally, this is a low cost approachable way to "play with chemicals" that will give you results that are like no other photographic process.

This is a fascinating introduction to what could be a very addicting kind of photography.

 

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Business

Selling Photography
by Roger Antrobus
Paperback: 128 pages
ISBN: 0817458395 

Ever dream of making your living as a globe trotting photographer? Wouldn't life be grand if "work" was jetting off to London, Rome, and the Caribbean and the only thing you had to do was take pictures?

But to most photographers breaking into that world seems like just a far off dream. Once you have a mortgage and a family such dreams are beyond your reach. There's simply too much to learn just to break in. Well Roger Antrobus sets out to create a road map for making a living shooting stock. Obviously you need solid images, but you also may need to alter your shooting style. In some cases a great image won't sell because there's not enough space to drop in the text or you're simply shooting the wrong things. 

Here is a road map that takes you from choosing equipment and pressing the shutter through choosing and dealing with stock agencies and libraries to represent your work. In the middle is more leg work that you might imagine. But then every job looks easy when you're on the outside looking in.

The Business of Portrait Photography
By Tom McDonald
Paperback 192pp. 
ISBN: 0817436154

Maybe the best way to describe this book is to tell you what it's not. It's not about jet-setting around the world shooting supermodels. It's not about making seven figures a year shooting stock, and it's not about glamorizing photography. 

This book is a nuts and bolts primer for the small independent photographer who wants to learn how to make a decent living in a small studio. It's about everything from paperwork, to finding work and subjects, to hiring employees. It's presented in a straightforward no nonsense style for the first half of the book. The second half is profiles of successful photographers and how they've carved out a niche for themselves.

If your aspirations are to create a business in portrait photography here is your blueprint. Follow it and you may not see that seven figure annual income but you will learn how to make a good living doing something you love. 

The Art and Attitude of Commercial Photography

by Rick Souders
Paperback 160pp. 
ISBN: 0817433090

How many of us haven't envisioned a photo career where we spend the day taking pictures of beautiful women posing with beautiful products on beautiful beaches and where coffee breaks are spent counting all our cash? 

In the first two thirds of Rick Souders book on the art and attitude of commercial photography Rick shows us how to create those beautiful pictures. Then he brings us back to earth with the statement "Only 20 percent of commercial photography is about taking pretty pictures. The other 80 percent is about business."

And with that sobering statement he begins the part of the book that is most valuable to you if you really have an interest in making your living with your camera. The book is lavishly illustrated with his work but it's his advice on everything from putting together a quote for a client, to model releases to getting paid that will be of value if you intend to pursue photography as a career. In reality Rick has written two books - one on the artistic side of creating commercial images and one on the business of photography. The good news is that both sections are worth buying.

The Business of Nature Photography 
by John Shaw
Hardback 144pp 
ISBN: 0-81744050-X

Wouldn't it be great to quit your day job and get paid to  travel around to cool places and take pictures?  

A lot of photographers have had that daydream.  But the reality is much tougher, and it's why so many spectacular photographers remain unpublished.  Becoming a pro means that you'll spend as much or more time working on business issues as you do shooting.  Frankly, many photographers simply lack the business skills to make it work as a day to day business.

In this book John Shaw lays out a basic blueprint for what it takes to stay afloat as a professional nature photographer - and does an excellent job of it.  The book is thorough and detailed but still remains readable.  He gives details of how to approach editors and stock agencies, how to organize your images, how to build a portfolio, and how to handle legal and copyright issues.  It's not sugar coated and Shaw doesn't pretend to have all the answers.  This book is about what's worked for him.  What I liked most about this book is that he stresses how much real work goes into doing this for a living.

If you have any aspirations to make your living in photography, or even to do it as a part time profession, this book will prove indispensable.

 

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Digital Photography

Photoshop Field Guide 
By John Shaw 
eBook: 208 pages  
ISBN: N.A.

Each month we review two to three books that we'd recommend to readers. Many more than that come across our threshold. Unfortunately most of the eBooks we've received haven't lived up to the potential of this new medium. Many were too short, poorly written, poorly organized or all of the above.

We hope that John Shaw's new eBook Photoshop Field Guide is the beginning of a trend. At 208 pages it's meaty, and it's no surprise given John's previous books that this one is well written, nicely illustrated and well organized.

But should you look at this book? After all there is no shortage of Photoshop books on the market. In short I liked its focus "All I want to do is to make a good print. I don't want to make composite images by taking a tree from one photo, a wolf from another, those humpback whales from a third, and putting them into a shot of the Grand Canyon." I truly cannot count how many times I've read similar words in our reader's emails. To that end John starts with the basics, covers calibrating your monitor and using a two monitor setup, which is truly the way to go if you spend a lot of time editing images.

Individual chapters concentrate on the things that photographers want Photoshop to do such as Four ways to tone down a sky, Removing color casts, Sharpening and Combining two exposures.

John made the decision to focus on specific hardware and software: Photoshop, Epson printers and Nikon film scanners. The tradeoff being those who've made similar choices will benefit from the detailed information here, while those who haven't will need to extrapolate. The good news is these are pretty common hardware/software choices.

But perhaps the best news is John's writing style. An amazing number of Photoshop books are dense, dry tomes that could put an insomniac into a coma. John's writing style is approachable and engaging. This book is never painful going. Best of all by the end of this book you'll be able to produce prints that look as though they were produced by a gallery. Our only criticism, and it is a small one, is that information on obtaining the Adobe Acrobat reader is contained in a readme file. We would like to have seen the reader included on the disk, or barring that a self loading HTML file with an explanation of how to obtain the reader and a link.

Price $30 including shipping ($38 outside the U.S.), requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader to order click here

Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging 
by Peter K. Burian 
ISBN: 0782142907 
Paperback: 304 pages

Don't let the fact that this is a Sybex book scare you off. Sybex books are typically very technical. But this book by Peter K. Burian is a great introduction to digital photography. As a longtime writer for publications such as Shutterbug, Peter knows how to write in an understandable and approachable style. As a matter of fact much of the text reads like magazine text - and that's a good thing.

Peter takes you through the basics of digital cameras, scanners, printers and image editing software. He even delves into how much computer you really need and explains how to choose your peripherals such as CD burners. 

These are the topics most digital photography books either gloss over or ignore completely. As a result they're the topics we seem to get the most questions on. After providing a good basic knowledge of the equipment you need he takes you through the process of getting the image from either a camera or scanner to outputting "exhibition quality" prints.

Unlike many similar offerings Peter truly covers his subject. The detail level is just right, providing you a sound foundation to build on, in a style that is approachable and readable.

Shooting Digital: Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera 
By Mikkel Aaland
ISBN: 0782141404
Paperback, 304pp

When I first read through Mikkel Aaland's book I felt a bit overwhelmed, as if there was just too much information packed into its 288 pages.

The reason is Aaland tries to be all things to all people. It's not that he did a bad job. It's just that there is information at multiple levels here. The beginner will find information explaining the basic concepts of digital photography and intermediate photographers will find information on composition and lighting, even on studio lighting. Finally the techies will find detailed explanations of some areas of digital photography that other books leave untouched. 

And therein lies the rub. The beginner will likely be daunted by the technical aspects of both photography and digital technology; while the more advanced shooter will find elements of this book too basic. That's a shame because there's really good information here for readers at both levels.

Digital Nature Photography 
By Jon Cox 
Paperback, 160pp 
ISBN: 0817437916

In a sea of techie digital photography books this one stands out for what it is not. It's not full of digital jargon.

In fact this book is more an introduction to photography than anything else. It just so happens that Cox equipment of choice is digital; and as an introduction to photography Cox does an excellent job. His writing style is conversational and approachable. The images are stunning. The approach will set the new photographer at ease as he progresses through the basics, into composition, and finally into manipulating your images in the computer. This step also is in refreshingly plain English.

Digital can be a wonderful learning tool because of its instant feedback. If you know an aspiring photographer buy them this book. By the time they're finished they may be teaching you a thing or two.

I Just Bought a Digital Camera, Now What?!    
by Dave Johnson
Softcover 208pp 
ISBN: 0-76072656-6

If you're new to digital photography this book isn't a bad place to start.  Rather than try to tell you what buttons to press on your camera, Dave Johnson does a remarkable job of laying out the background information you'll need to know so you can get the most from your digital camera.

Published in September of 2001, it's up to date technically and covers topics as diverse as choosing a printer and sending your photos to a Web enabled picture frame.

It's all of the background that's missing from the camera manual, and from all too many books and magazines.  And it's in those details where people find frustration.

What are the differences in printer papers?  How do I choose a memory card?  How do I get prints made from my digital photos?

Johnson answers these questions and more.  More importantly, he manages to do so in an approachable style in plain English.  If you're new to digital photography, this is a pretty good place to start.

Idiot's Guide to Digital PhotographyComplete Idiot's Guide to Digital Photography 
by Steve Greenberg
Paperback, 381pp, ISBN: 0-78972109-0

When I picked up this book I expected to hate it.  There are several series of books out there aimed at dummies, idiots, and beginners.  I've even recommended one or two on computer topics, but for some reason I expected that this one would fall flat.  I was wrong.  Steve Greenberg has created a surprisingly useful book for the aspiring digital photographer.  

He starts by outlining some basics of photography and exposure, composition, and lighting.  Good solid advice that would help many photographers no matter what their medium.   I was really surprised at the color insert pages that demonstrate the techniques in the text.

After covering the basics of getting the image into the camera he tackles digital basics such as resolution, color, image editing, emailing, and printing.  What surprised me was how thoroughly he covers Adobe's PhotoDeluxe software.  I must confess that with a bevy of more powerful packages on my hard drive I've always looked down on PhotoDeluxe as a freebie - not worthy of serious exploration.  Greenberg, however, dives in with both feet since most digital cameras are bundled with this software.  Frankly it's amazing how much he's able to get out of this little package.  I'm not ready go give up PhotoShop yet, but for newcomers to digital photography this book will prove to be a great resource.

 

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Coffee Table 

America 24/7 
By Rick Smolan, David Elliot Cohen 
ISBN: 0789499754 
Hardcover, 336pp

The idea behind America 24/7 was for over 25,000 photographers around the United States to take snapshots of American life during a one week period. The photographers included first-time digital photographers, photography students, top international photojournalists and newspaper shooters-including 36 Pulizer Prize winners.

1200 photographs made it into the book. The result is a fascinating slice of everyday life in America. The stories are fascinating and the images spectacular. This is definitely a book worthy of some quiet moments. I think you'll find it's also a book you'll keep coming back to.

The Art of Nude Photography 
By Pascal Baetens
ISBN: 0817433155
Hardcover: 144 pages

Coffee table books with photos of female nudes are nothing new. Not surprisingly when leafing through Pascal Baetens book The Art of Nude Photography you will come across a few photos that leave you feeling as though you've seen them before.

But a couple of things set this book apart. Unlike some books where all of the models seem like artificial Barbie dolls; the models in Baetens book, while very attractive, still look like real women. And where the subjects in most "art" books look as serious as if they're attending a funeral, the subjects in Baetens work smile, dance, and engage you with a questioning eye. As is the norm with Amphoto books the reproduction quality of these black and white images is high. 

Whether you have an interest in shooting female nudes and are looking for inspiration or if you just appreciate the form The Art of Nude Photography is a book you should consider adding to your coffee table or book shelf.

Kodak Guide to 35mm PhotographyRichard Avedon Portraits
By Maria Morris Hambourg, Mia Fineman, Richard Avedon, Philippe de Montebello
Hardcover, 64pp. 
ISBN: 0810935406

Normally we confine ourselves to books we'd recommend to folks in this column. But this book is so awful we're reviewing it as a warning lest you're tempted by the glorious quotes from the publisher to give it as a Christmas gift. One review described these images as "unflinching and glamorous in their effect, (they) have helped define our idea of celebrity itself". That's a load of self serving crap.

In reality this is a book of unattractive images wrapped in the cloak of art. Worse, rather than being in a normal book format, it is packaged in an accordion style that makes it difficult to read and difficult to comfortably view the images unless you're sitting at a table or desk. 

I realize that art is interpreted many different ways. I also realize that stuffy people in black outfits will point at this book and say that some of it's images are to be featured in a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But then I've seen junk passed off as art in museums before. 

It's rare that I come across a photography book where I can't find a single positive thing to say - but this is one. Actually there is one positive. I don't own a copy. 

National Geographic the Photographs
By Leah Bendavid-Val
Paperback, 336pp.
ISBN: 0792269365

Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN: 0870449869

What a wonderful way to spend a snowy Sunday afternoon! National Geographic has earned it's reputation for great photography by producing fantastic images year after year. This book looks at memorable photographs from the last 15 years. The images themselves are reproduced on quality heavy duty paper and the book is published in a big 11x12.25 inch format that allows you to see them in detail. Every image includes at least a short explanation and there is information and stories about the photographers who created these images. It's a book that can transport you to parts of the world rarely glimpsed by most of us.  

If ever a book was printed that is capable of instilling wanderlust in the reader this is it. Now what where's the phone number for my travel agent?

Within a Rainbowed Sea
by Christopher Newbert
Hardcover, 224pp.
ISBN: 094183199X
also available in softcover edition

We all like to compare our images against those photographers who have achieved recognition as being among the best in their field. We hold their work against our own as a yardstick for our own talents. For underwater photographers there are few such yardsticks. There are a lot of good images out there as well as some great ones. But very few underwater photographers really stand out as being head and shoulders above their peers.

Then there's Christopher Newbert. The hardback version of this book is beautifully printed on heavy weight paper and the images are stunning. Want to know just how far you can go with underwater photography? Here's your guide. You can page through page after page of stunning images. For the technically inclined there is a reference in the back that details the lens and film used to capture each image. At $75, the hardcover edition isn't cheap. But the quality is there to support the price, and this will be a book you pull off the shelf again and again.

Ansel Adams at 100 
John Szarkowski
Hardcover, 192pp. ISBN: 0821225154

In celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Ansel Adams, Little, Brown and Company has published an oversized Centennial volume of Adams work. The book includes text by John Szarkowski who is the director emeritus of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, and curator of The Ansel Adams Centennial Exhibition which began it's museum tour in San Francisco in August.

This big book is essentially a catalog of the works that are exhibited as part of that show. It contains 114 tritone and 23 duotone photographs richly printed on heavyweight French paper. Both the book and it's slipcase are bound in linen and a 11x13 print of "Aspens, Dawn, Dolores River Canyon, Colorado, 1937" is included that is suitable for framing.

I was pleasantly surprised to see not only familiar favorites in this volume, but images that I was previously unfamiliar with. If you are an Ansel Adams fan this will be a book you will refer back to and enjoy for years to come. But the price for this luxury and quality is steep. List is $150, street prices are around $130.

Great Ghost Towns of the West 
Teresa Jordan and Tom Till
Hardcover, 127pp. ISBN: 1558685219

There's something that fascinates us about ghost towns. Theresa Jordan is a historian and Tom Till is a prolific photographer of the Western United States with 21 photo books to his credit. Together they tell the stories, through words and images of these towns; How they were started, the lives of the people who lived there, and why they died. The images are haunting, the words fascinating. Together they make up a book that is nearly impossible to put down.

Places of Power 
by John Sexton
Hardcover 128pp 
ISBN: 0-96721881-0

There are very few master printers.  John Sexton is one of them.  Sexton studied under Ansel Adams, an outdoor photographer that you may have heard of, and it shows.  His prints are nothing short of amazing.  I got the chance to sit in on one of his seminars recently where he explained in detail how to make such prints and the stories behind them.  You'll find some of that information in the book but the real magic is in the images.  

Places of power explores man's technological accomplishments from an artistic perspective.  Sexton's prior work was primarily in landscapes.  He has turned his eye for form and line to the interiors of stone homes built into cliffs in the Desert Southwest, to the Hoover Damn, to steam power plants on the Mississippi, and to the space shuttle.  The results are stunning black and white images that are simply arresting.  

In short this book gives you the opportunity to see a master at the top of his game.

Primal Forces  
by David & Marc Muench 
Hardcover, 208pp, ISBN: 1-55868522-7

David Muench and his son Marc are photographers of considerable talent.  The American West has been a recurring theme in David's books and he is among the best at revealing it's beauty.  

This is a large coffee table book, full of striking images.  What's easy to miss on a first quick pass through is how much information is here.  In this book the Muenchs' examine the forces that shape the landscape, the effects of wind, water, and the movement of the earth itself.  There is a considerable amount of well written information with the photographs here that help to put them into a larger context.  

If you're not already a Muench fan this is a good book to introduce you to his work.  If you're already a fan then you've probably already added this book to your collection. 

If you're a landscape photographer, especially one interested in America's western national parks, you should buy this book just to soak in the images as some are truly wonderful. 

Dahmane  
by Benedikt Taschen
Paperback 
ISBN: 3-82289769-8

This self titled book features some of Dahmane's more popular black and white female nudes. These images of nudes in familiar, and public, places are exquisitely erotic without crossing the line to pornographic. His models look natural rather then posed in most of his pictures. His composition draws you into the photo so that you feel more an observer at the scene than someone studying a photo in a book.

Dahmane makes full use of black and white as a medium. The prints are crisp and sharp. Contrast and composition are perfect. If these were color images they would lose their impact and become just another nude. But in black and white they are arresting. They draw you in and cause you linger over the details.

Dahmane first received recognition in Europe for a series of black and white nudes that used well known Paris restaurants as a backdrop for the models. There is an impishness in these photos. Evidently it is Dahmane's and he has learned how to bring this impishness out in his models. There is a little of Bart Simpson thumbing his nose at the world here.

If you aspire to proficiency in nudes this is a good book to ad to your collection. While there is no technical detail published in the book his photos have the ability to teach volumes about composition, printing, and the beauty of the female form. Equally important they break out of the mold of the black and white "nude on the bed" and into new voyeuristic territory.

Editor's Note: This book has gone out of print, but we have been assured back stock is still readily available through Barnes and Noble's special order process or directly from Taschen.

 

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Underwater Photography

Nature Photography Close Up: Macro Techniques in the Field 
by Paul Harcourt Davies 
ISBN: 081745019X 
Format: Paperback, 160pp
~ This title includes chapters on 
    underwater macro photography ~

Learning macro photography involves a tremendous amount of trial and error. This book endeavors to take some of the error out of that process.

The macro world can be confusing and frustrating even for seasoned photographers with its unfamiliar gear, reversed lenses, tricky depth of field and its own lexicon. This book is extremely detailed but manages to walk a fine line and remain interesting rather than becoming a technical tome. The images presented are stunning and reproduced with the quality we've come to expect from the publisher, Amphoto. These illustrations, and the individual chapters present the wide range of subjects that macro photography can cover, including underwater photography, a subject usually ignored in discussions of macro photography. The only criticism we'd have would be that the short sections on Photoshop and digital resolution vs. film resolution feel more like an afterthought than part of the overall text, which is otherwise excellent.

If learning macro photography is on your "todo list" this book should be added to your "to buy" list.

Successful Underwater Photography 
By Brian Skerry, Howard Hall
Paperback, 144pp.
ISBN: 0817459278

There aren't many books on underwater photography. Fewer still are good technical references. Brian Skerry is a photojournalist specializing in underwater subjects. Here he sets out a solid, pragmatic approach to underwater photography. The 144 pages of this book are packed with practical information on equipment, techniques, and composition. Seemingly everything about photography is different when you go under water. Much of the book is organized into short snippets illustrated with a photo. There's almost too much information here. If underwater photography is something you want to pursue this is a book that you'll come back to again and again - and learn or relearn something every time.

Within a Rainbowed Sea
by Christopher Newbert
Hardcover, 224pp.
ISBN: 094183199X
also available in softcover edition

We all like to compare our images against those photographers who have achieved recognition as being among the best in their field. We hold their work against our own as a yardstick for our own talents. For underwater photographers there are few such yardsticks. There are a lot of good images out there as well as some great ones. But very few underwater photographers really stand out as being head and shoulders above their peers.

Then there's Christopher Newbert. The hardback version of this book is beautifully printed on heavy weight paper and the images are stunning. Want to know just how far you can go with underwater photography? Here's your guide. You can page through page after page of stunning images. For the technically inclined there is a reference in the back that details the lens and film used to capture each image. At $75, the hardcover edition isn't cheap. But the quality is there to support the price, and this will be a book you pull off the shelf again and again.

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eBooks

Photoshop Field Guide 
By John Shaw 
eBook: 208 pages  
ISBN: N.A.

Each month we review two to three books that we'd recommend to readers. Many more than that come across our threshold. Unfortunately most of the eBooks we've received haven't lived up to the potential of this new medium. Many were too short, poorly written, poorly organized or all of the above.

We hope that John Shaw's new eBook Photoshop Field Guide is the beginning of a trend. At 208 pages it's meaty, and it's no surprise given John's previous books that this one is well written, nicely illustrated and well organized.

But should you look at this book? After all there is no shortage of Photoshop books on the market. In short I liked its focus "All I want to do is to make a good print. I don't want to make composite images by taking a tree from one photo, a wolf from another, those humpback whales from a third, and putting them into a shot of the Grand Canyon." I truly cannot count how many times I've read similar words in our reader's emails. To that end John starts with the basics, covers calibrating your monitor and using a two monitor setup, which is truly the way to go if you spend a lot of time editing images.

Individual chapters concentrate on the things that photographers want Photoshop to do such as Four ways to tone down a sky, Removing color casts, Sharpening and Combining two exposures.

John made the decision to focus on specific hardware and software: Photoshop, Epson printers and Nikon film scanners. The tradeoff being those who've made similar choices will benefit from the detailed information here, while those who haven't will need to extrapolate. The good news is these are pretty common hardware/software choices.

But perhaps the best news is John's writing style. An amazing number of Photoshop books are dense, dry tomes that could put an insomniac into a coma. John's writing style is approachable and engaging. This book is never painful going. Best of all by the end of this book you'll be able to produce prints that look as though they were produced by a gallery. Our only criticism, and it is a small one, is that information on obtaining the Adobe Acrobat reader is contained in a readme file. We would like to have seen the reader included on the disk, or barring that a self loading HTML file with an explanation of how to obtain the reader and a link.

Price $30 including shipping ($38 outside the U.S.), requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader to order click here

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Videos 

Kodak Guide to 35mm PhotographyMasters of Portraiture
Video by the Nikon School
Video, 30 min. 
Available online through 
the Nikon Mall Click Here

The Nikon School is open to the owners of any brand of equipment and they do a great job at education in their one day classes. Their video series expands on that success by featuring professional photographers in videos that demonstrate various photo techniques. 

In this video you get to look over the shoulders of Eddie Adams, Annie Griffiths Belt, Brett Froomer, Joe McNally and Galen Rowell as they create portraits in a variety of environments and locations. Each has their own style, but the central theme that emerges is about communication with the subject, getting them to relax, and getting them to communicate with the viewer through the lens. This is not an equipment video; and while the photographers talk about lighting there is no "always use a hair light in this situation" type of lecture.

This video packs a lot of information into 30 minutes. It sounds trite but you really will pick up something new each time you watch it. It makes a great Christmas present for someone who is past the beginner stage and well into serious photography. Don't worry. There's not a lot of pimping for Nikon. It just happens to be the brand that the pros in the video are using and when they recommend a focal length of say 80-200mm it's a Nikon lens they're holding up.

The Nikon Guide to Film Scanning    
Bob Krist with 
Helene DeLillo &  Michael Brown
Video, 45 minutes    
item #5388

This video is geared towards Nikon scanners so parts of it may be of limited use to those who own other brands but there's a lot of information packed into 45 minutes here, much of it generic to any scanner.  I wish I'd had this kind of tutorial when I purchased my first scanner.  Bob Krist narrates this journey through the details of scanning that starts with some basic concepts and takes you through some of the more intricate things you can do with your scanner.  Everything from printer resolution to understanding curves and levels is here.  If anything there is almost too much information to take in at one sitting.  For the novice user this tape would be best taken in small bites with your scanner close at hand for experimentation.

Like coverage of any technical subject, this tape can get a bit dense at times.  Lets just say that gripping is not an adjective that jumps to mind.  But the production team does an admirable job of getting the information across and keeping this one from becoming a yawner.  If you want to improve your scanning skills this video is a good place to start - especially if you own a Nikon scanner.

 

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