FREE ebook by Craft and Vision authors
This ebook is a compilation of articles by eight of the Craft & Vision authors including the following photographers: David duChemin, Piet Van den Eynde, Andrew S. Gibson, Nicole S. Young, Alexandre Buisse, Stuart Sipahigil, Eli Reinholdtsen and Michael Frye.
So maybe you don't even want to bother reading this review, just go get it already! If you still want the low down, keep reading.
Photography Skills They Wished They Had Learned Earlier
Tthis book is a compilation of articles by some of the Craft & Vision authors, on the subject of what they wish they had learned sooner in photography. Some cover basics like exposure, others get more into composition and directing the viewer's eye. Here's a few highlights I got from it, and yes I did read the whole thing. I never post a review on something I don't personally use or have read.
Create More Dynamic Images Using Time & Movement
The first chapter is by Piet Van den Eydne, author of Making Light (and part two of that book, which I've yet to read). He had some good tips on that book so I expected good things from him and was not disappointed. This section is about how to create more dynamic images using time and movement in your images. He goes over some of the technical “how tos” of using shutter speed to freeze motion or blur intentionally. Panning is another technique he demonstrates, and when you'd want to use it. There's a few others, but I'll let you read it for yourself. He does mention his other two books on lighting but he offers some good basic tips on using motion to make your images more interesting.
Understanding Your Camera Meter & Histogram
David Duchemin himself does the next section, taming your digital exposure. What is a good digital negative, how your camera meter works, what is a histogram and how to read and use it are all topics explained here. I actually even learned something about the histogram I did not know myself! So it must be good information.
Making The Most of Digital Printing
Mark Bailey goes into the power of the print and gives you some really basic, but good, tips on getting results out of your printer that match what you see on your monitor. He has a new book coming in January with more detail on the subject.
Using Light, Design & Post Image Processing
Michael Frye helps you create a more successful image by using 3 elements to direct your viewers eye where you want in your image. By using light, design (composition), and processing (digital or darkroom) he shows how you can
“become a creator and communicator with a camera not just a snap-shooter. Take charge, be the director of your photographs …”
Understanding The Stages of Being a Photographer
One section intrigued me just by its name and I have to admit I did skip ahead and read this one first actually. Alexandre Buisse talks about understanding the stages of being a photographer. Admittedly they are his own made up stages of how he feels a photographer evolves as he/she develops. I could see it being very helpful to identify with where you are on the timeline and he also gives a final summation and tip to move you forward no matter where you are now.
Lenses – When, Why & How
Piet Van den Eynde returns, he and Duchemin are the only authors to have two chapters in this book each, with a discussion about lenses. He has some great tips and tools on how to avoid getting stuck in a rut of always using the same lens for a certain type of shot (i.e.: portrait lens). He creates dynamic story telling portraits using a wide angle and show how you can too, and why you'd want to do so.
Slow Down – The Power of Observation
Towards the end, second last chapter, is a very refreshing topic which is completely non-technical but very valuable, a lesson we could apply to all areas of our lives not just our photography. His simple message is to slow down. Learning to see is a skill one can develop and practice and Stuart Sipahigil gives very applicable advice for life and better photograph creation. There's also exercises you can use to help improve your powers of observation. This intangible how to is invaluable, simple and costs nothing to implement.
How To Take Better Portraits
David Duchemin wraps up the book with a final section with five suggestions for making stronger portraits. He talks about getting closer (as I do in my photography tip about taking better toddler pictures), not just physically but relationally to your subject, lens selection, lighting, finding and capturing the right moment, background, and “the eyes” as the most important element. One of the things that drew me to following David Duchemin's work was his amazing portraits. To me they really do what a portrait is supposed to do, the “portray” something of the character of the person he's photographing, not just their likeness. I strive to do work like this, in my own style, and I'm inspired to go deeper and get closer on my travel portraits.
There are a few other chapters which I haven't mentioned that go over doing projects and collaborating; refining your composition; and the power of the moment (a la Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment). I'm not familiar with these authors but their content is informative, brief and to the point, and is a good starting point for beginners or a good review for even us season veterans.
In summary I suggest that you never stop learning. Read the section on the stage of development of a photographer, as I too believe we never reach the end stage and rather than a final goal it's a journey. Now if you haven't already done so, please just go get the book 11 Ways You Can Improve Your Photography ! It's free!