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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2011
This is just a wonderful book. Full of all sorts of innovative and original photographic techniques to explore. It functions in about equal measure as both a detailed manual and an inspirational guide. So, there are shooting techniques described, which involve actually physically modifying your camera or cameras - and expert instructions (and appropriate warnings!) are provided in most of these cases. Plus, tutorial material is provided in other chapters on post-processing explorations - much of this involves specific software tools. And inter-connections are forged also: some of the images which are postworked come directly from the adapted and "foreign-lens-to-body-combination" cameras. Well done.
Each of the chapters has as at least one Gallery segment - where the author provides a range of examples of the images he has taken or processed. There are nine chapters in all. The two longest - "Painting the Photograph" and "Multiple Dimensions, Multiple Media' - are amongst the best. Where the author deals with digital painting (via the Painter Essentials, Painter and Studio Artist software packages), there's a really thoughtful pre-amble in the preceding chapter, on creating so-called HDR imagery. And, the painting work described sets itself apart, from many others who have written whole books on this topic, in a disavowal of the replication of traditional "wet-media" painting characteristics. Much of the final chapter deals with 3D effects (eyeglasses are included under the back folding-cover of the book). Now not everyone is going to shop for two identical digital cameras to mount side-by-side and so get to grips with the possibilities written about. But it is fascinating to see what can be done (with skill and enthusiasm) along this path.
I think that Mr. Neel deserves fulsome congratulations on this, his first book. It's not flawless in production (some of the illustrations have no captions, and a couple have captions which are incorrect), but the writing is clear and concise (unlike this review I'd guess!). Some of the claims on current and future developments in the digital imaging domain are probably optimistic. And Photoshop is confused with Photomatix Pro at one point ... But these are tiny detriments - this insightful book is great, and a great bargain to boot.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2011
Strap on your seatbelts as Photographer and Digital Imaging Wizard John Neel takes us "behind the curtain" in his laboratory of seemingly mundane gadgets and graft-ons, merging traditional and non-traditional hardware and software to produce wondrous and artistic imagery. Unlike magicians who leave the viewer in a befuddled state of amazement John shares enough theory and technique to make this readily accessible to the everyday Joe who wants to extend his image making horizons. Can photography be any more fun than this?
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2011
A couple of images on pixiq.com and the title draw my attention to this book. I assumed that the book would inspire me to take a fresh look at taking pictures. Unfortunately I had not taken literally the subtitle: "Making and Using Traditional & Contemporary Photo Tools". Had I known that the book predominantly deals with constructing and modifying specific camera bodies and using specific software (e.g. Painting, Stitching, Panorama software), I could have saved myself the disappointment.

The book is for you if you are curious to find out how a "picture" taken without a lens would look like or if you are looking for inspiration on how to tinker with old cameras and lenses (provided you own any) or how to take completely blurred pictures (Digital Zone Plate Photography).

If however you are interested in specific photographic techniques like Macro Photography, HDR Photography or Panoramas you might want to consider more specific or in-depth resources.

Before purchasing this book
- make sure to carefully read the Table of Content
- make sure you understand and take literally the subtitle (see above)
- look at the author's desperate almost daily pitch for his book on pixiq.com: you could be pleased by the teaser HDR images shown, but eventually disappointed by the content of the book
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2012
Rethinking Digital Photography addresses a number of niche topics that won't quickly be made obsolete on line. The book collects more than a few ideas on each of these topics into coherent chapters. Just don't expect this book to revolutionize your approach to digital photography, or advance you from a beginning photographer to a wizard.

Omitting the subtitle removes important information: this book is about Making & Using Traditional & Contemporary Photo Tools. Many of the ideas in the early chapters cover making lenses or adapting incompatible lenses to digital cameras. Quirky and interesting ideas here may yet see some use at my house.

There are sections on macro photography and High Dynamic Range photography, which organize more material than you're likely to find in a couple of online tutorials. They don't in any sense cover these concepts fully, but they do justice to their topics. There's a section on how to enhance your photos using painting, and one on how to use Corel Painter for those who haven't figured out that the rest of the world uses Photoshop.

Similarly detailed sections discuss panoramas, globes, mandalas (kaleidoscope effects) and 3D effects. All of these topics can be found in Photoshop tutorials if you look for them, but the book organizes the material better than most and gives more detail.

I find a physical book conveys the material better than flipping between screen displays, possibly because my eyes are happier with the level of detail of paper photographs.

The topics covered in Rethinking Digital Photography are a bit quirky, so people who receive this as a gift may see it as a bit weird and off-target. While I liked the book, I find a couple of hours with StumbleUpon covers the same material and more (except for the chapters on lenses). Online offerings are more convincingly up to date, and they use the standard Photoshop toolbars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The pages are beautiful, so well designed: large enough type, simple, clear instructions which make the information and techniques non-threatening and the images DO inspire. The HDR is something I hadn't worked with but I will now.
I am a film shooter but I see that Neel's ideas can still translate to my medium and are great for my teaching.
Thanks for a really useful hands-on book for photogs and photo teachers alike!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2011
You might assume that a book titled "Rethinking Digital Photography" was both primarily conceptual (Rethinking) and primarily about uniquely digital techniques (Digital Photography); however, neither is strictly true. That doesn't mean that this book was without value to me. It just means that lacking the ability to view the table of contents on-line, I trusted that the title reflected the subjects of the chapters. The subtitle is really the more accurate description: Making & Using Traditional & Contemporary Photo Tools.

Although the book discusses both through-the-lens and digital post-processing techniques, the primary reason that the title loosely fits is that a variety of digital cameras are used in the examples, and the post processing techniques are specific to certain software packages that the author uses in the examples.

I'm not totally unhappy with my purchase (three ***), yet from the title I was expecting something more conceptual related uniquely to digital cameras. Instead, this is a collection of interesting stylizing techniques with which the author has experimented and has thoughtfully decided to share. For example, he shows how to make an improvised fish-eye lens using a standard peep-hole door viewer and some PVC fittings--items available at most hardware stores. He then presents us with a gallery of images made with the improvised apparatus. If you like the stylized effect it renders, then you can make one for yourself and presumably get similar results. If on the other hand, you see the results as having little or no relationship to the subjects of the images, then you might conclude that it is not so much a rethinking as superficial manipulation.

So it is completely up to the reader to imagine how this grab bag of special effects can catalyze perceptions in the viewer that would not otherwise have existed. Perhaps it's unreasonable of me to expect something more insightful or innovative from this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2012
This is an exceptional book and something very different in the field of photography books. It offers the reader a unique approach to innovative techniques for image making that go beyond the normal realm of books on photography and image making. It offers the kind of outside-the-box view of photographic technology and technique that can take a passionate photographer into a new and inspiring area of experimentation that goes beyond taking pictures and opens a door to making pictures. Author Neel has a very playful view of the world of image making and I highly recommend this book to anyone who might want to take their seeing to another level.
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on December 13, 2012
I checked this book out of the library, along with several others dealing with the topic of digital photography. I am about to step up from a point-and-shoot to an SLR. I wanted advice.

This book is way past my current experience level, though I certainly found the ideas intriguing. Cobbling together your own camera and/or lenses from leftover bits is too artsy for me, but seeing how it is done is very interesting. Step-by-step instructions make it even easier to get good results right away. I would never have thought about merging an old but working camera to a modern digital camera, but there it is ... photos of several different setups. This is great if you want to introduce some analog noise into your photographs, or if you want to make your own custom artsy lenses.

If you're at a much more basic level, this book isn't going to be of much practical value.

I found the chapter on HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography to be the most useful. The photos produced by this technique are astounding to me. While I am aware that the author is pointing me toward two particular software suites in order to illustrate the technique, I am sure there are other options that will only become more numerous as the HDR technology becomes more commonplace.

The Micro Planets and Mandalas chapter is fun, but I don't know if I'll ever find the need to manipulate my images that much. There are 3-D glasses included with the book. That's for the chapter about Multi Dimensional Images taken with twin cameras.
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on January 24, 2013
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the unconventional, think outside of the box mentality the author has. I was most drawn to the DIY lens ideas he had. Some I had heard of, a few I hadn't - but regardless it really pushed the boundaries of my thinking when approaching my subjects and the tools I use to create a unique image. His thoughts made for great stepping stones to launch and further my own creative photography endeavors.

The software parts of the book weren't particularly helpful to me, but that's just me. I could see those parts being very beneficial to others. The book has enough content to please just about anyone, and I'd highly recommend it as an addition to your library.
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on February 20, 2015
Photography is a hobby where you never stop learning (and unfortunately buying more and better gear). And it's always good to stretch your boundaries, by using extreme lenses, and trying different techniques. This book is a wonderful primer on how to experiment using software (which is readily available) and old optics to push the boundaries. For example, with a drilled out body-cap, and a bit of blackened aluminum foil, and you can make yourself a pinhole camera using your dSLR or mirror-less camera. And the beauty of digital photography is that it costs you nothing to experiment. Read the book, and have a play - if nothing else, you'll have fun.
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