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The Digital Photography Companion 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 063-6920517665
ISBN-10: 0596517661
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Editorial Reviews

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The Digital Photography Companion gives you creative tips and technical advice for taking top-notch digital photos in a wide range of conditions. Professional photographer and teacher Derrick Story gives you plenty of examples of how to capture great shots of people, places, landscapes, and more.

Five Fun Photography Tips by Derrick Story, Author of The Digital Photography Companion

Click on thumbnails for larger images

1) Produce Do-It-Yourself Product Shots:There are two ways to shoot items using tabletop photography: the hard way and the easy way. The hard way involves multiple studio lights, softboxes, umbrellas, and seamless backdrop paper. Professionals use this equipment to produce outstanding images for commercial advertising and high-end editorial work. But if you just want a nice picture of your old film camera to sell on eBay, you probably don’t want to set up an entire studio. So here’s the easy way: Find a window that you can set up a table next to. North-facing windows are great, but not necessary for this type of shooting. Cover the surface with white paper, and if you can, create a white backdrop too. This will be your work area. Put your camera on a tripod (or another stable surface) and adjust it so it’s facing the item that you want to photograph on the table. Move both the subject and the camera to achieve the best lighting possible via the open window. Once everything is in place, make a tabletop reflector out of white cardboard, or cardboard (or another rigid material) covered with aluminum foil. Position the reflector opposite the light source (window) so it bounces light onto the shadowy side of the item. Set the white balance to Cloudy and put your camera on self-timer. Now trip the timer and stand back. After 10 seconds or so, the camera will take the shot for you to review. Continue refining your setup until you get the shot you want. This simple setup can produce studio-like results with a fraction the cost or effort. Give it a try.

2) Use Sunglasses as a Polarizing Filter: Point and shoot cameras are the height of convenience, but not always versatility. Case in point is when you want to mount a polarizing filter to saturate the sky or reduce glare. There’s no where to put it! But that doesn’t mean your pictures are doomed to the blinding glare of a reflective world. You can, instead, remove those stylish neutral gray polarizing glasses from your head and place them in front of the camera lens. Quality sunglasses make great polarizing filters for compact cameras. Make sure that the lens of your sunglasses completely covers the front glass element of your camera. You’ll get best results when the sun is aligned along your shoulders. You don’t believe it works? Then take two shots, one with the sunglasses and the other without. You be the judge.

3) Devise a Shower Cap Inclement Weather Protector: The perfect travel companion for compact shooters is the hotel shower cap. These free accessories are the perfect rain protectors when you want to go outside and get the shot. Just poke a hole in the middle of the cap for the lens to protrude through, put your hands through the “stretchy” opening, and let the elastic close tight around your wrists. You now have a water resistant cover that enables you to work all of the controls--perfect for those shots of the kids splashing water in the gutter on a rainy day.

4) Preview Your Shots in B&W: Many cameras have a Black & White mode that enables you to capture grayscale images. This type of photography can be quite beautiful and is often considered artistic. The problem with B&W mode is that grayscale images are your only option. You may think you only want Black & White at the wedding reception... until the bride asks for color versions too weeks later. I recommend that you capture your pictures in color, then convert copies of them to B&W. That way you have all of your options open. But there’s still value to B&W mode, even if you choose to capture in color. It can help you preview your compositions in grayscale on the camera’s LCD monitor. By doing so, you can better compose your scene for the best Black & White output later on while working on your computer. Not to mention that it’s quite fun.

5) Tennis Ball Tripod Feet: Have you ever tried to use a tripod in the sand? You might as well be trying to steady your camera on chopsticks in rice. But you can bring stability to the situation, Buy a can of tennis balls, cut an “X” slit in each one, and slip them over the feet of your tripod. They will provide a much steadier platform for your three-legged friend.

About the Author

Derrick Story is the digital media evangelist for O'Reilly, as well as the author of Digital Photography Hacks and Digital Photography Pocket Guide. You can listen to his photo podcasts and read his tips at The Digital Story. Aperture fans might want to check out his co-authored video training on Lynda.com titled, Aperture 1.5 Beyond the Basics.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (March 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596517661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596517663
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,357,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John A. Suda VINE VOICE on May 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
The "Basic Photography Companion" concept has become nearly its own genre in the photography book business. For the most part, it results in "formula" books covering the same basic ideas - how to buy introductory camera gear, how to use the gear, and how to produce decent- looking photos for oneself, family, and friends.

It is a popular genre and there is nothing wrong with a formula approach, especially if it is made fresh by updated content, quality production values, and capable exposition. Out of all the "companions" I've owned or read over the decades the ones written by Derrick Story and published by O'Reilly Media, rank among the best. Mr. Story's latest is "The Digital Photography Companion" (2008), a slender book of 214 pages. Story is O'Reilly's digital media expert and has authored a number of basic digital photography guides over the years, as well as other books in his area of expertise. With the rapidly developing technology in the photography world involving digital cameras, lenses, storage media, software editing and management programs, and Internet and wireless distribution methods, there is a niche and a need for a good genre-formula companion manual. A typical companion manual is a book small enough to fit easily into a camera bag and which provides guidance on camera and lens settings, filters, flash, and other technical hardware matters while also providing information and tips on standard photography concepts like depth of field, shutter speeds, exposures, and the like. The better ones also contain the reference material most desired by working photographers, like charts for exposure; color temperatures; flash, metering, and camera modes; and memory card capabilities.
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Format: Paperback
This book is sized conveniently enough, like a slightly oversize mass market paperback. And the intent is obvious. Story wants to create a manual that is easy to take along with you pretty much wherever you go (hint: vacations). He follows it up by writing in a conversational style and includes lots of bright color pictures that further increases the reader's engagement.

Story covers both digital SLRs and compact cameras. And in an excellent opening chapter, he explains the major differences between the two. Some part of the audience for this book might find the information on image sensors to be too technical - and for them there is enough practical advice to help choose a camera. But for those looking for a more in-depth explanation, this chapter is a great hook.

The book really shinesby offering lots of practical advice on how to create take great pictures, sometimes by replicating studio settings with low-tech contraptions. For example, Story shows you how to devise your own light meter, shoot in rain, bounce light off household reflective surfaces and trick your camera's white balance.

Besides being very useful, these tips also offer terrific insights into how the digital camera works. It enhances your understanding of the instrument you are working with.
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Format: Paperback
I am a complete beginner at the art of photography and, regrettably, have been for some 20 years. No matter how many how-to books I read, I've never found one that I walk away from understanding the difference between an aperture and an f-stop. Until now.

In his books and in his pod casts ([...]) Derrick eschews techno-jargon, choosing instead to use common language and meet his novice students and readers where they are. By choosing this approach he opens entire new worlds of possibility to neophytes like me.

My favorite part of the book (for now) is Chapter 1, which gives a step-by-step guide to buying the right digital camera for your needs. It's great to make an informed purchase rather than opening the Target ad to the electronics page and choosing the camera that comes in the prettiest color. I also love the "Camera Features from A-Z" section (also in Chapter 1) because that's where Derrick demystifies all of those terms in your camera's owner's manual that give you a big fat headache.

Later chapters include cool tips like how to craft a rain suit for your camera from a hotel shower cap and how to protect your camera from bad stuff like dust and condensation by using zip lock bags. Derrick doesn't stop at teaching folks how to take great photos either. He's with you and guides you through buying the best software program for your needs, getting your camera to talk to your computer and even choosing a special printer that makes it so that you can print your pix without a computer.

The book itself is beautiful. Each section has accompanying color photos that effectively reinforce the written word. The size is nice and fits easily in a backpack or camera bag.

Well done, Derrick!
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Format: Paperback
Even simple point-and-shoot digital cameras offer manual control over parameters such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity that can turn snapshots into great photos. When you graduate to a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera you have wasted your money unless you know how to make the best use of its sophisticated controls. This concise book does an excellent introductory job.
The first 2 chapters describe and explain the many features of most cameras and how to use them. They made me aware of many controls that I didn't understand before. Chapter 3 is the most valuable part of the book. It shows how to take good pictures under a wide variety of conditions, such as portraits, group shots, kids, landscapes, sports events, museums were no flash is allowed, and architecture. It mentions many tricks of the trade to get better results, such as using sunglasses as a polarizing filter, extending the dynamic range (light-dark contrast), using pantyhose as a diffusion filter, and using your reflecting car windshield cover as a reflector to lighten shadows on a sunny day. Chapter 4 discusses what you can do after you took the pictures, such as emailing them, editing with various software applications, recovering photos from an erased memory card, and more. The final chapter briefly discusses printing options.
A brief discussion of the optics of photo taking explaining how focal length and aperture affect width and depth of field would have been useful for better understanding.
The Appendix has a quick reference guide for a variety of camera settings. You may want to make a copy of those pages and carry it around in your camera bag.
I learned a lot from this small book and strongly recommend it as an introduction to better photography.
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