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LIFE Guide to Digital Photography: Everything You Need to Shoot Like the Pros Flexibound – October 19, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joe McNally is an internationally acclaimed photographer, whose career has spanned 30 years and included assignments in over 50 countries. In the mid-1990s Joe served as Life magazine's staff photographer, the first one in 23 years. He is a recipient of the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award and has been honored by Pictures of the Year International, World Press Photo, The Art Directors Club, American Photo, Communication Arts, and Graphis. He conducts numerous workshops around the world as part of his teaching activities. One of Joe's most notable projects, Faces of Ground Zero - Giant Polaroid Collection (which he later published with the editors of LIFE), has become known as one of the most significant artistic responses to the tragedy at the World Trade Center.


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Product Details

  • Flexibound: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Life (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603201270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603201278
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe McNally is an internationally acclaimed American photographer and long-time photojournalist. From 1994 until 1998, he was LIFE magazine's staff photographer, the first one in 23 years. His most well known series is the "Faces of Ground Zero -- Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th", a collection of 246 giant Polaroid portraits shot in the Moby C Studio near Ground Zero in a three-week period shortly after 9/11. A large group of these historic, compelling life-size (9' x 4') photos were exhibited in seven cities in 2002, seen by almost a million people. The exhibit and the book, printed by LIFE, helped raise approximately $2 million for the 9/11-relief effort. This collection is considered by many museum and art professionals to be the most significant artistic endeavor to evolve to date from the 9/11 tragedy.

Some of McNally's other renowned photographic series include, "The Future of Flying," a 32-page cover story for National Geographic, published in December 2003, commemorating the centennial observance of the Wright Brothers' flight. Joe is a 20 year contributor to National Geographic, and this story was the first all digital shoot for the magazine. This issue was a National Magazine Award Finalist, and one of the magazine's most popular covers. He has shot cover stories for Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, Geo, Fortune, New York, Business Week, LIFE and Men's Journal, among others.

McNally's advertising, marketing and promotional work includes FedEx, Nikon, Sony, Land's End, General Electric, MetLife, Bogen, Adidas, Kelby Media Group, Wildlife Conservation Society, and American Ballet Theatre.

In 2008, McNally published his critically acclaimed, award winning book, The Moment It Clicks, which has been touted as, "one foot on the coffee table and one foot in the classroom."

In 2009, McNally published his newest, much anticipated book, The Hotshoe Diaries. Just like its predecessor, it immediately cracked Amazon's top ten list of best sellers, within the first week of publication.

Joe McNally is known internationally for his ability to produce technically and logistically complex assignments with expert use of color and light. As part of his teaching activities, he conducts numerous workshops around the world.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Flexibound Verified Purchase
Finally, a book that puts it all together. Over the years, in my never-ending quest to snap a decent picture, I have purchased literally hundreds of books on photography. Generally speaking, these books have been a disappointment; I've always felt that there's one crucial step that I've either missed, not understood, or the author has left out. Many of my 'How-To' photography books remain half read, put down in frustration because I just don't get the concept.

In other words, those books made me feel dumb. This book doesn't.

McNally has an incredibly easy-to-read style, explaining everything from how to turn the camera on to the most advanced techniques in a very down-to-earth manner. Concepts are explained in detail, but without technical jargon. The book is also beautifully illustrated with fantastic photos that illustrate each concept perfectly. A small caption under each photo explains the F-stop, shutter speed and ISO used, which I found very helpful. The "Everything You Need To Shoot Like The Pros" part of the title is extremely accurate.

For fledgling photographers, avid hobbyists and aspiring pros, this book is an indispensable resource.
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Format: Flexibound
Photographers are easy marks for "how-to" books on photography. We're never happy with our work. We always wish we had brought a different camera, a different lens, the heavy tripod instead of the light one and so on. In short, serious photographers are never happy with their own work and are always eager to learn more, to learn the secrets of getting that just right combination to create the perfect photo - each and every time we press the shutter.

It will never happen, of course. Which means photo book publishers will never go out of business. With more than fifty years of serious photography experience, I still get the occasional book even though I know better.

The "LIFE Guide to Digital Photography: Everything You Need to Shoot Like the Pros" is, frankly, just another how-to book.

It covers the basics of photography, with a focus on Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras. The basics of haven't really changed since the dominance of film. Joe McNally, who is an excellent photographer, explains (in general terms) the nature of light, the lens, design elements (fuzzy), color, composition and a collection entitled "Joe's Tips". I found this last section to be the most interesting because of its exposition on techniques for hand held slow-speed shots.

Joe McNally tends to be a "it's all about me" writer, recounting his experience at this and that shoot. It isn't annoying, but it does get boring.

Profusely illustrated with McNally's work, the photos are great to look at, but for the most of no value as teaching aids. How many of us will be flying in helicopters we direct in order to capture aerial shots of Manhattan or a field of wind turbines? Who among us will be flying in a U.S..
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Format: Flexibound Verified Purchase
Joe McNally (the author) creates captivating images, photos that make you think "How did he do that?" Reading this book is like spending time with him. While yes, he gives you basic instruction such as an introduction to the exposure triangle of ISO, f-stop and shutter speed, he is sharing his fabulous art with you at the same time discussing some technical aspects such as lens, focus, color, timing or aperture that contributed to the final product. While he recommends always shooting in Raw so you can correct a photo, he is definitely a "Get it right in camera" guy. Below are summaries of a few of my favorite sections. Which is hard, because I loved them all.

The Almost Silhouette
In this example he has a photo of a young girl in a dark room looking out a lighted window. Which is a tough exposure situation. Expose for the highlights on her face. If you expose for the window other areas go totally black, if you expose for the dark shadows, others go nuclear. Look for a middle ground. (The photo example helps quite a bit.)

Shooting fireworks with a wide open lens will drain the color, it is quite easy to over expose them. An aperture of f/8 is a good start. Use a cable release, because the shutter will be open 4 to 15 seconds. The foreground object (the anchor) can determine the shutter speed. Don't shoot all night long with the same exposure (This goes for any situation).

This author is a Master at flash and makes the point that if you intend to take a lot of pictures, you will eventually have to shoot some with a flash, probably more with than without. Light, no matter where it comes from has quality, color and direction.
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I wasnt wanting a photography how-to, but when I saw that this was written by Joe McNally, I had to have it and I'm not disappointed. Joe is an experienced and successful professional and this book is clear and well organized.

Even better, it's profusely illustrated with his beautiful pictures that enhance and exemplify the explanations.

And best, there are easy tips that will improve over 90% of the photos taken by casual amateurs. The tips in the camera holding section alone will help most people's pictures. i wont spoil it, but you dont see many people using these easy techniques to steady their cameras. A steadier camera is a sharper picture.

You dont have to be using an SLR to benefit from this book. Even camera phones and point 'n shoot users will benefit from the light and color and texture composition sections. He also covers finding the shots that most people dont see.
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