267 of 276 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book That Begins Beyond the Basics
Since I'm offering an opinion (and review) on the book, The Digital Photography Book, I think a brief look at my background may give what follows a bit more veracity. I am an enthusiastic advanced amateur photographer with roughly 40 years of experience that includes a goodly number of awards and published photos. I shut down my wet darkroom a few years ago and have...
Published on October 21, 2006 by James R. Lowell
1,307 of 1,463 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Info, But Didn't Like Kelby's "Fooled Ya!" Sense of Humor
I really wanted to write a glowing review for "The Digital Photography Book"... I've been looking for a good tome of insider tips for digital SLRs for a long time, so when I found Kelby's book I was ecstatic! A quick skim showed many great tips; however, after reading the first page of chapter 1 where he carried on about the phrase "TACK SHARP" I began to lose faith...
Published on December 8, 2006 by Brien Malone
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267 of 276 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book That Begins Beyond the Basics,
Since I'm offering an opinion (and review) on the book, The Digital Photography Book, I think a brief look at my background may give what follows a bit more veracity. I am an enthusiastic advanced amateur photographer with roughly 40 years of experience that includes a goodly number of awards and published photos. I shut down my wet darkroom a few years ago and have happily traded film and silver-based images for electrons, pixels and ink jet printing.
Enough about me; now let's look at the latest book by Scott Kelby (of National Association of Photoshop Professionals fame): The Digital Photography Book.
This is a different kind of animal in the world of self-help photography books. The author describes the experience of reading the book as having your good friend--who also happens to be an expert in digital photography--standing besides you while you're taking pictures.
The book lives up to Scott's description--complete with the frequent interjection of his quirky sense of humor. (Warning, watch out for the first page of Chapter One.)
I don't feel this is a book for complete novices--either in photography or in the use of digital equipment. Scott assumes the readers already know the basics of how their cameras work (what and where the controls are) and have used their cameras long enough to know what else they want to learn to take better photographs.
Another reason some basic knowledge of photography is necessary to get the most from this book is that Scott doesn't shy away from including the terms in common use by digital photographers today: ISO, white balance, focal length, lens aperture, etc. He also assumes the readers have the desire to move up in the ranks from point-and-shooters to at least competent amateurs. Therefore, Scott includes numerous suggestions about photographic gear he feels can help any photographer take better pictures--and, although he breaks his suggestions down by price range, much of the gear still comes with a hefty price tag.
A look at the chapter titles also confirms that Scott was not writing a teach-everything book for all readers. The 11 chapters include specialized topics, such as, Shooting Flowers like a Pro, Shooting Weddings Like a Pro, Shooting Sports Like a Pro and Taking Advantage of Digital Like a Pro. For me, the final chapter, Photo Recipes to Help You Get "The Shot", was the best part of the book. This is where Scott puts everything together and takes his readers into the field to practice what they've learned.
So, do I like The Digital Photography Book? More importantly, do I recommend it? Yes, to both of these questions; but, as I mentioned above, to get the most out of the book, the reader should have at least point-and-shoot digital experience and a basic vocabulary of photographic terms.
One final note. The book can be read front to back, or chapters can be sampled at random to learn just the techniques each reader needs. At the offered price, I think The Digital Photography Book definitely has a place in a well-rounded photographer's library.
423 of 444 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How you can get professional results with your equipment.,
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I have enjoyed photography as a hobby for 50+years. I own a Canon 20D and am a Scott Kelby fan. He is a great photoshop expert, yet emphasizes the importance of getting the best possible shot when taking the picture, to make your time in photoshop more enjoyable. You don't have to work as hard if you make the correct exposure to begin with.
Scott approaches each chapter with some humor, and really understands what you really need is a clear bottom line on how to approach the person or subject you want to photograph.
I received my book Sept 4th, read it and used some of his tips shooting 500+ volleyball pictures Sept 5th. I think I can see some improvement in my pictures already.
He has equipment recommendations and shooting tips for the person that has just bought a digital camera to the person that uses it to make a living.
He has worked alongside of professionals learning tips on how to process the digital photographs and how to best print them. Scott believes photography can be more fun if you get results you like by using some of the basic principles used by professional photographers.
I have unhesitatingly recommended this book to several of my friends.
This is one of the least expensive camera related purchases that I have made to bring my excitement of photography to a new level.
I am quite certain you won't be disappointed, especially if you own a Nikon or Canon digital SLR.
I expect my copy to become dog eared from use.
271 of 285 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you Own a Digital Camera You Will Benefit from This Book,
This is the most practical and useful book on digital photography that you will find on the shelves. The book is Filled with tips and tricks of the trade that the professional photographers use every day to get wonderful looking pictures using nothing but a digital camera similar to the one you have. Why their photographs look better than yours? Well is not always the camera, most of the credit is to know how to take advantage of the camera you have: selecting the right settings for different situations, choosing the right location, etc.
Full of examples and straight to the point tips, this book will definitively improve the quality of every single shot you take. When I compare the pictures I took before I read the book with my latest pictures, it looks like I am know using a far better or more expensive digital camera, but the only difference is the know-how I gained from the book.
1,307 of 1,463 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Info, But Didn't Like Kelby's "Fooled Ya!" Sense of Humor,
I really wanted to write a glowing review for "The Digital Photography Book"... I've been looking for a good tome of insider tips for digital SLRs for a long time, so when I found Kelby's book I was ecstatic! A quick skim showed many great tips; however, after reading the first page of chapter 1 where he carried on about the phrase "TACK SHARP" I began to lose faith.
Here is an excerpt (talking about the origins of the phrase Tack Sharp - meaning a "clear photo"):
"TACK stands for Technically Accurate Cibachrome Kelvin (which refers to the color temperature of light in photographs), and SHARP stands for Shutter Hyperfocal At Refracted Polarization. Now, these may seem like highly technical terms at first, but once you realize that I totally made them up, it doesn't seem so complicated, does it? Now, you have to admit, it sounded pretty legitimate at first. I mean, I almost had ya, didn't I? Come on, you know I had you, and I'll bet it was that "color temperature of light" thing I put in parenthesis that helped sell the idea that it was real, right? It's okay to admit you were fooled..."
Is this for real? Maybe his editor was asleep. He makes a lame joke out of trying to fool the reader, then carries on for half a paragraph laughing at how clever he is! I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he continued with this 'fooled ya' theme by writing fake subheadings on the next SIX sections:
The Real Secret to Getting Sharp Photos
"sorry about duping you with "The Real Secret to Getting Sharp Photos" headline..."
Perhaps Even More Important Than That
"Again, ignore that headline. It's just a cheap come-on to get you to keep reading."
If You Skip This, Throw Away Your Camera
"Still a fake headline. Don't let it throw you."
If You Do This Wrong, It Will Lock Up
"It's not as good as the last fake headline, but we're only one more page away from the real chapter content, so I'm backing it off a little."
It's Time to Get Serious
"I have good news: Not only are we at the end of this "fake headline" thing, you'll also be happy to know that from here on out, the rest of the book isn't laced with the wonderfully inspired (lame) humor you found on these first few pages."
Oh... Okay - so he's dropping the annoying stuff. Good. On to learn.
But NO! In Chapter 2, right away he's at it again! Below he describes ways to get around the problem of pollen dulling the color of flowers (???)
"Now, there is a special photographic filter (called the Flora 61B from PhotoDynamics) that can help reduce the effects of this pollination and both bring back the sharpness and reduce the graying effect, but because of U.S. trade sanctions imposed by the Federal Trade Commission, we can no longer buy this filter direct. Especially because I totally made this whole thing up. I can't believe you fell for this two chapters in a row. Seriously, how are you going to get good flower photos if you're falling for the old Flora 61B trick? Okay, I'm just teasing you, but seriously..."
I hate having to stay on constant patrol for full paragraphs of combed cr*p when I'm trying to learn something new! I don't care how good the "real" content is, I'm not going to sift through fertilizer to get to it!
If you find this type of humor funny, or wonder what I'm making such a big deal about, then you'll probably find this a very fun, interesting read.
If you don't like wondering whether or not the author is "pulling your leg this time, too", then you'll probably want to chuck this book out the window by the third chapter.
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing,
I have been taking digital photos for a few years and recently upgraded my camera to have more control over my pictures. I also read a few books to learn specifically about the differences between digital and 35mm photography. After reading the reviews of this book I expected to be dazzled with useful information. I was not. Here are some of the reasons.
*The author is not a very good writer. He tries to be funny and he is not (to my taste anyway). The author is very preoccupied by his own status. He is constantly talking about his famous photographer friends, blah, blah, blah. I thought this was going to be a book about hands-on technique...Show the photos and explain how they were taken.
*The quality of the book is poor. The book is small and the paper and printing are cheap. The paper is magazine quality.
*It seems that nearly half the photos in the book are stock photos, not taken by the author. That surprised me.
This book might be okay if you know abolutely nothing about photography but I found it simple and uninspiring. There was no single photo in this book by Mr. Kelby that made me say "wow".
I found The Betterphoto Guide to Digital Photography (Amphoto Guide Series) to be a far superior book; well written with great photos, all by the author.
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginner to Intermediate Book for great results.,
This is a wonderful book for beginning and intermediate photographers who want to know the tricks of the professional photographers out there. Although this book could be useful to those with pocket digital cameras, I believe this book is best suited to owners of DSLR Camera's.
The chapters of the book are as follows:
1. Pro tips for getting really sharp photos.
2. Shooting flowers like a pro.
3. Shooting weddings like a pro.
4. Shooting landscapes like a pro.
5. Shooting sports like a pro.
6. Shooting people like a pro.
7. Avoid problems like a pro.
8. Taking advantage of digital like a pro.
9. Taking travel & city life shots like a pro.
10. How to print like a pro and other cool stuff.
11. Photo recipes to help you get "The Shot".
I found the chapters to be laid out in an easy to understand format and each chapter builds your knowledge for future chapters. This book is also small enough that I can shove it into my camera bag or backpack as reference material for those times when I just can't remember which aperature setting or lens I should be using to get "The Shot", as Scott calls it.
Overall, I can't see anyone except for professional or advanced photographers being disappointed with this book. At $15-20 for the book you really can't go wrong.
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read for intermediate DSLR user, bad jokes aside,
It's obvious Kelby's book was too short and he needed lots of fluff to get his minimum word count. The jokes are absolutely terrible. It's a classic example of someone who's not funny trying to be funny. Hey Scott, leave the jokes to Deke ok?
This is an intermediate book. Advanced users aren't going to get much out of it, just a basic reminder of what they already know. Beginners are going to enjoy it, but they'll also need another book such as Understanding Exposure by Peterson.
One thing I really liked is he didn't waste too much time on basics, especially aperture etc. This was a relief. The second thing I really liked is it was written as if we were out shooting together and I was asking questions. I love this casual format and the book was extremely easy to read (I read it all in one sitting). He also turned me on to some equipment I wasn't aware of (the stop down filter, which goes from 2 to 8 stops is very cool until I almost had a heart attack when I saw the $300 price). He really stresses the importance of a tripod and shooting at dawn & dusk. I've heard these before but for some reason am still disappointed with my hand-held midday photos. I think this is a big one, because most people want magazine quality photos but don't have the time for it (myself included).
The section at the end describes why some of the photos "work". I found myself thinking I don't want to take a photo like that on several of them (he is famous for his photoshop skills, not his photography skills) but it was a good wrap-up of the basics presented throughout the book.
Finally, there were a few bits of information that I found controversial. Such as using f11 for portraits. That usually puts the background in focus. Another, he recommends a shredder to shred your old photo CD/DVDs before throwing them away. Wouldn't a pair of scissors do just as well? But it gets more serious: He states that "you" (the reader) will never be able to get the types of shots you see in magazines. And why is that? Because even if you get up at 5:30am all the good spots will have already been taken. And I don't think this was another one of his bad jokes. I found it very negative and discouraging.
Overall, I liked this book much better than many of the others I've seen but it did frustrate me nonetheless. I think it's helpful for beginners and intermediate users. Even if you know all of that (who doesn't know one should use a tripod?) it's a good reminder with plenty of examples. I think the book could have went a little farther and gave some really useful information instead of describing all the Epson printer models.
It's a shame, because this book really had the potential to be a 5 star
book, but it falls short. Kelby brags about having written 37 books. I would prefer a few outstanding ones than 37 that are just good enough to get published.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK WILL STAY IN MY CAMERA BAG!!!,
I have never written a book review before but after reading almost the whole book in one day I had no choice but to give my opinion. I just received this book today 01 Sep 2006 and I can't put it down. It covers so many aspects of shooting in various modes and makes it simple enough for me to understand. I use a Canon 5D and 20D and have been into photography for about 6 months. All I can say is that I have looked at several books and read several online forums and tutorials...etc. This book covers everything I need to know to get that WOW factor out of my shots. Scott Kelby you are the best and this book is more than GREAT. When does "BOOK 2" get released....Anyway, I hope others that get this book enjoy it as much as I do.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A well-illustrated pamphlet it indeed is, but a book - it is not.,
To begin with the quality and the applicability of Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book": in short, it is well-written, excellently organized, extremely informative and a great starting point for a knowledgeable beginner, who requires an overview of digital photography. Everything from achieving professional-grade photo sharpness, through an introduction to Photoshop retouching, scene composition, shooting macro photography, portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, sports, choosing optional equipment, exploiting some digital-specific features of D-SLR cameras and - finally - printing, is covered throughout the book. However, a total newcomer to the world of digital photography might not benefit from all that information as much as it would appear from the broadness of the material covered alone.
Firstly, the overall depth of the discussion is lacking. Perhaps even "seriously lacking". The Author's creative effort to shape his book into more of a photo-recipe -based instructional reference rather than one more unbearable theory textbook is a refreshing idea, but the methodology might have been taken a little bit too far. A reader will have to research fundamental concepts such as "a stop", "an aperture", "a focal length", or "a primary lens" somewhere else beforehand, as almost none of such terms are explained at all. Moreover, there is no gradual progression or cross-reference of conveyed knowledge across disjoint photo recipes. For example, a reader will not be instructed to any extent whatsoever about a working relationship between shutter speed and aperture, resulting in various modes of operation of D-SLR cameras, not even in the most of non-technical terms. A reader will not find answers to common, fundamental questions such as what follows: "Wait, how is an Aperture Mode different from a Shutter Speed Mode? Or a Program Automatic Exposure Mode, for that matter?" "How does this particular aperture relate to the entire possible aperture range? Is such a scale affected when I change focal length?" "Hold on, the farther I get from my lens being wide-open, the aperture numbers in my viewfinder actually increase?", "How does this particular shutter speed relate to, say, a boxing left hook?" "Can I go slower than 1/60th of a second when trying to minimize hand-held camera shake, or should I always follow the '1/focal length rule' and shoot an 18mm landscape at 1/18th of a second?" "Will I actually screw up my picture, when my camera stops at a particular, minimum shutter speed, but I keep decreasing aperture anyway to try to shoot an all-in-focus landscape?" "Oh, so the ISO-schmeeso thingy actually does fit into all this?" *** Thus, the context is entirely missing, making broad understanding of each photo recipe somewhat challenging without additional research - an annoyance for anyone who does not want to just blindly memorize everything. Which is a shame, since judging from the quality of the Author's other technical publications, his talent for passing on complex knowledge is obvious.
Secondly, when purchasing Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book", one is not buying a book at all. Considering the publication's page size, font size, per-page photographs, an index and the Author's verbosity, the entire contents could probably be compressed into a 40-page, dense pamphlet, or a 60-page, standard pamphlet. A very ambitious pamphlet, but still a pamphlet, rather than a book. The "filler" content is high quality, but not always very illustrative: a 1/3-page shot of a camera dial, a 1/3-page generic shot of a man carrying a tripod, no fewer than four (4) different 1/3-page shots of lens filters themselves (instead of "marginally" more instructive side-by-side before/after comparison shots). Some photography tips, even though awarded full-page presentation status, are so common-sense and addressed in such general terms, as to feel a bit as "filler" content as well, since almost everyone intuitively knows to look for unusual close-up angles, find level foregrounds for landscapes, or not to cut off limbs at weird spots in portraits.
Finally, the last but not least, a comment on the Author's humor. Yes, Scott Kelby is genuinely funny, most of the time. No, his humor bears no negative influence on readability whatsoever. I have no idea why more than a single, occasional reviewer (who forgot to follow his or her Xanax regiment that particular day) was so intensely annoyed. The humorous, thought-provoking tone of the book works even when the Author probably does not intend it to, especially when it comes to headlines such as "Hire a Model (It's Cheaper Than You'd Think)" ;).
To summarize: think about "The Digital Photography Book" as either a well-illustrated pamphlet, or a well-annotated photography album, but a book - it is not. Regardless, excellent work, Mr. Kelby. Come on, give us a 1,000-page "The Digi Tapp Photography Bible", will ya? We know you have it in you :).
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but poorly written,
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There's no doubt that Kelby knows Photoshop inside and out, and that he's got a lot of good general photo tips. But he spends so much time making jokes in this book that it quickly becomes annoying.
At one point, he literally spends an entire page with a convoluted explanation, only to say afterwards, 'I was joking.' Thanks for wasting my time, Scott.
This is not a bad book, but there are other, better ones -- and ones that are less about the writer's ego and more about taking good photos.
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The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1 by Scott Kelby
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