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Conrad J. Obregon RSS Feed (New York, NY USA)

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David Busch's Mastering Digital SLR Photography, Fourth Edition
David Busch's Mastering Digital SLR Photography, Fourth Edition
by David D. Busch
Edition: Paperback
Price: $28.12
19 used & new from $18.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Second Photography Book, August 23, 2014
Beginning photographers need a book that tells them how to set exposure and focus their cameras. But after they master these skills there is a great deal of information which exists about the different aspects of photography that can help them be better photographers and that is more than just the technique of adjusting the settings on their camera. This information might be considered background but this kind of background deepens the understanding of the photographic process which in turn will help create better images. This book covers most of that information in a comprehensive and understandable way.

The author is most famous for providing specific camera guides that tell photographers how to adjust the settings on specific camera models and a new photographer would benefit from reading such a book before turning to this volume.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one delves into the workings of a digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR). The author starts out by describing what goes on inside the DSLR including an exploration of the camera's sensor. The next chapter describes some of the foibles of DSLRs including the problems of dust and formats like JPEG, RAW and TIFF. The chapter on exposure controls explains tonality and the methods of adjusting it. There is a chapter examining exposure in depth, including an explanation of how autofocus works. Busch then examines the role of the lens, and the uses of different focal lengths. Light is explored in the final chapter of this section. Part II explores newer tools for DSLRs like live view, movies, GPS, Wi-Fi, phone and tablet apps and auxiliary gadgets like filters and even underwater housings. The third part deals with specific genres and their special requirements including travel, people, concert, scenic, wildlife, nature, action and close up photography. Sprinkled through these later chapters is other valuable information. For example the chapter on scenic photography includes a discussion of composition, so the reader would do well to read about all the genres, even if he or she did not expect to practice a particular one.

This information is all what I think of as second-level information, that is, not essential for capturing an image, but useful in capturing a better image. Busch's writing is accessible and easy to understand, even when most technical. I did find that occasionally he was repetitive as if he had gathered information in notes from several different places and not consolidated it, but I found that only mildly distracting.

I suspect that experienced photographers will have encountered most of this material before, and that photographers hoping to work in a particular genre will want to follow up with a book aimed at that genre. However, for the new or inexperienced photographer, this is the second book he or she should read.

BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro
BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro
by Jim Miotke
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.75
91 used & new from $6.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Close but No Cigar, August 1, 2014
For the brand new photographer, the secondary title "The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Photos Like the Pros" has to be very attractive (although there are plenty of great amateur photographers one could seek to emulate).

After a brief introduction designed to stimulate the reader's desire to take photographs and a quick look at types of cameras (cell phones, point-and-shots, high-end compacts and DSLRs), Miotke explains the mode settings found on many cameras. He then jumps to compositional and lighting tips, and then some tips on getting sharp images. The author then has a broad discussion of light followed by an examination of aperture, shutter speed and focal length. He next talks about thirteen more advanced techniques, and concludes the main body with a quick peek at some of the things you can do in post-processing. There are a couple of references, including a guide to buying a camera.

The book is clearly aimed at the absolute beginner, being written in clear, simple terms and at least for the first 164 pages, basic information that a new photographer should know. Unfortunately, he overlooks any substantial discussion of focusing the camera, and his short forays into exposure really don't do an adequate job of explaining an essential concept. (An exposure chapter should have mentioned the relationship between aperture, shutter and ISO as well as related subjects like the advantages of selecting shutter-priority mode.). My own guess is that a person who is really interested in photography will follow up in these areas with other books, but I think even inexperienced photographers could have handled these topics, given their essential nature.

As to the chapter on advance techniques, I suppose it's useful for the beginner to know that he or she has something to look forward to, although I'd rather Miotke had used the pages to discuss focus and exposure. The chapter on post-processing hints at what is possible, but no one will sit down with just this book to learn Photoshop Elements, or my own selection for best all-around image processing software for both beginners and experienced photographers, Lightroom.

It's not a perfect beginner's book (I'm still looking for that) but it isn't a bad place to start out, as long as the tyro recognizes he or she will still have to do more reading to get better photos.

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for Photographers Classroom in a Book
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for Photographers Classroom in a Book
by Jan Kabili
Edition: Paperback
Price: $37.12
65 used & new from $26.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving Between Adobe Photo Processing Programs, July 27, 2014
As photographers who do image post-processing in Adobe Lightroom (LR) soon learn, while that program does many essential jobs, the adjustment brush is a poor tool for local adjustments. Add to that the fact that LR doesn't provide for more sophisticated techniques like High Dynamic Range processing and panorama stitching and it's easy to see why some photographers turn to the more sophisticated Photoshop (PS) software to accomplish these tasks. This book concentrates on how to pass images back and forth between the two image processing programs, and make the best use of the tools that each provides. The LR/PS option has become even more attractive since Adobe adopted the Creative Cloud Photography Plan that leases both pieces of software for just $9.99 a month.

The book begins by telling the reader how to set up LR and PS for the easiest integration of the two programs. Next the author tells us his preferred workflow to move an image between LR and PS, including a review of the options available. A discussion of using the Library Module of LR to organize one's images follows and then a lesson in actually processing an image in LR is next. The fifth chapter deals with sending an image from LR to Photoshop to make a combined photo and the next with sending an image to Photoshop for selecting and masking. The last chapters show how to do retouching in Photoshop, including use of features like content-aware move and fill, liquefy, and other special effects and then using text and special effects. No modules of LR are covered other than the Library and Develop modules.

The book's main pedagogical tool is a series of images that one can download from the publisher's website and incorporate into a LR catalog for a series of hands-on tutorials. The method works and text is quite clear and simple as to each of the illustrative projects.

I sometimes wondered how effective the book would be if I was not an experienced LR and PS user, and then I wondered why a book would contain anything as basic as a review of the basic LR functions. The answer of course is that the book was designed to appeal to users of a variety of skill levels.

There were several uses of the software that were not discussed that might have been included like transferring a file from LR to PS using the export function, or applying a plug-in like NIK filters after transfer to PS, but enough detail was provided that the reader should be able to figure out other uses. Photographers who want to fine tune their images using the best tools of both programs will want to read this book.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 22, 2014 4:11 PM PDT

MORE Best Business Practices for Photographers
MORE Best Business Practices for Photographers
by John Harrington
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.07
48 used & new from $19.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filling the Gaps, July 10, 2014
John Harrington has written a useful follow-up to his book "Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition." However, unless the reader has read the earlier book, this book may actually leave you adrift because the author has used this book to fill the spaces between the various topics covered in the earlier book.

The book starts out by explaining the corporate forms of ownership and then where to locate your office or studio. The author considers the pros and cons of outsourcing versus insourcing. There are sections dealing with interns, dealing with clients, branding and style. He urges the pro to concentrate on the language he or she uses. There are chapters on ethics and professionalism, and a look at social media. Harrington also discusses pricing, licensing, publishing, non-profits and NGOs. There is a lengthy chapter on video and step-by-step instructions relating to electronic copyright registration and Quick Books.

That's a wide variety of information and, necessarily for the supplement to his earlier book, doesn't hang together as well as that book. Occasionally Harrington's ideas seem more like a collection of random thoughts, but despite that, offer a great deal of useful information, particularly to the new professional. It helps that Harrington is clear and, for the most part, easy to understand.

Some chapters, like the one on electronic registration, are almost impossible to provide a straight-through reading. Instead one has to follow the instructions, step by step, to accomplish the task. Luckily Harrington tells you how to set this up in a way so that many of the steps are automatic after the first setup. I must confess that I have not yet tried to electronically register my images so I can't tell you if his instructions are altogether accurate, but given the advantages of electronic registration and the importance of registration, I intend to try.

Occasionally his attempts to cover material not covered in his original practices guide fall a little short of what one needs. For example, in the chapter on selling fine art prints, he seems to advocate pricing based on square inches of area. My own experience is that this is not the way to price a larger print (although size is a consideration).

As I said earlier, professional photographers should read "Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition" first. After that read this book. There is bound to be some information of use in this volume to every pro.

Michael Freeman's Photo School Fundamentals: Exposure, Light & Lighting, Composition
Michael Freeman's Photo School Fundamentals: Exposure, Light & Lighting, Composition
by Michael Freeman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $29.34
52 used & new from $23.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too Much and Too Little, June 19, 2014
I decided to review this book as part of a larger project to find a book that I could recommend to absolute beginning photographers who were using a camera with controls. Michael Freeman's name appealed to me since many of the books he has written were quite thoughtful about the process. However, he is described on the title page as editor-in-chief and four other surnames appear on the cover and back without further explanation.

The book is divided into four sections: Exposure; Light and Lighting; Composition; and Digital Editing. Each set of facing pages within a section constitutes a separate subject, like "Shoot the Shadows" or "Bring Out the Texture". Each two-page spread is nicely illustrated with photographs. Sprinkled throughout the book are challenges, which are assignments, like "Freeze the Action", followed by Reviews which consist of photographs taken by "students" introduced in the beginning of the book, with a comment or two about the image, and then a brief critique by Freeman.

The sections vary as to their usefulness. The Exposure section is a good introduction to the topic, but one will have to read one's camera manual carefully to understand how to use some of, say, the exposure modes or the metering modes because little in the book ties things to a particular camera or type of camera. At the other end of the scale, is the section on Digital Editing. Although the discussions show what each of the generic functions like Levels does, there is no practical information as to how to call up a menu, or indeed even get an image into software like Lightroom. If you are interested in Digital Editing, I would suggest a book devoted completely to the software you expect to use.

The sections are not comprehensive as to fundamentals. For example, there is no mention of focusing, which is an critical element for good photography. I found the critiques not to be particularly useful, since most of the time Freeman's comments seemed of the "attaboy" type.

Although what is here is well written, it seems both not enough and too much for an absolute beginner. A slightly more experienced photographer might get more from reading most sections, except perhaps the Digital Editing section.

Capturing Light: The Heart of Photography
Capturing Light: The Heart of Photography
by Michael Freeman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.25
41 used & new from $18.68

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Subtleties of Light, May 12, 2014
Many, if not most, photography books mention the importance of light. After all, the very word means drawing with light. Usually these books talk about front light, side light and back light, as well as sunny, cloudy, and overcast days, and a favorite subject is the "golden hour", but usually the taxonomy ends there. Michael Freeman carries the classification into much finer detail, giving his suggestions of how to handle each of his more detailed classifications.

The book is divided into three sections: waiting, which describes lighting situations on which the photographer may plan; chasing, which is working with unpredictable light; and helping which presents some of the ways a photographer may manipulate the light. As an example of the depth of his categorization, window light includes directional with soft shadows; classic fall-of; streaming sunlight; narrow window, dark space; and managing several windows. Each category is a double page spread, illustrated with Freeman's images and often including graphics to help understand the condition, with his own narrative and suggestions on how to use the light. The section on helping includes discussion of post-processing techniques, including HDR, but they are not primers. Instead one had better understand specific software to best use his suggestions. The author recognizes the importance of both artistic inclination and capturing the money shot.

The entire book is aimed at experienced photographers and is aimed at thinking about light rather than mere technique. There is, for example, no discussion of the basic, three-part approach to exposure. Instead one is expected to understand that changing aperture changes depth of field. Instead of settings, the experienced photographer is likely to take away a deeper appreciation of the subtleties of light and how to deal with them.

As always, Freeman writes clearly, and there is even the pleasure of knowing one is listening to a photographer who knows how to convey ideas. Although I'm certain that I will remember many of the tips for handling the special situations that he discusses, I'm also certain that one can reread this book to gain even greater insights into light and its variable nature.

The HDR Book: Unlocking the Pros' Hottest Post-Processing Techniques (2nd Edition)
The HDR Book: Unlocking the Pros' Hottest Post-Processing Techniques (2nd Edition)
Price: $13.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Surrealistic HDR, May 6, 2014
If this book had been called "After HDR Processing for Surrealistic Images", I probably would have been happier with it. For the benefit of those who don't know, (H)igh (D)ynamic (R)ange photography is a method of capturing a range of light in a scene beyond the capabilities of a single exposure by taking multiple exposures and combining them with computer software. If that definition doesn't offer enough clarification, you probably shouldn't start your HDR education with this book.

The author begins the book by explaining the tools and techniques for capturing an HDR image, and then explains what subjects are appropriate to capture in HDR. The author's preference is subjects that will benefit from a surrealistic, and in my opinion, garish look. He then briefly covers the use of the sliders and buttons in Photomatix Pro, his favorite HDR software (and mine.) He doesn't go into much detail here, but he describes the software in more detail in a series of projects. Even in these projects, however, his main emphasis was upon the processing after the conversion to HDR using Photoshop, Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). He apparently prefers not to use the built-in Photomatix post-processing tools. Those not already familiar with all the software involved may find that Concepcion doesn't go into quite enough detail.

This is the first book I've encountered that talks about Version 4 of Photomatix Pro, including its batch processing facility, as well as post-processing HDR images in Photoshop CC. Almost every HDR image requires some processing after the conversion to HDR called tone mapping. Concepcion applies many of the Photoshop tools in ways that are not always apparent to basic users, and anyone interested in the surrealistic approach would do well to carefully examine his recommendations. This is facilitated by downloading the project images from a website and then following along step-by-step. (There are also some videos available that show how to process HDR images in Photoshop or HDR Efex Pro.) The penultimate chapter discusses single image HDR, black-and-white HDR and double tone-mapping. The book concludes with a portfolio of the author's HDR images. Sprinkled throughout the book are interviews with photographers using HDR.

On the other hand, realistic HDR is scanted here. There is mention of the Photomatix Exposure Fusion and Contrast Optimizer modes but these modes are quickly dismissed. Even the projects which the author describes as more realistic still have doses of the surrealistic approach. There is also no mention of so-called in-camera HDR which is available on several camera models.

For those interested in the surrealistic approach, the author's use of Photoshop and Lightroom (or ACR) will certainly enhance that approach, although Concepcion often blends one of the images from the original series of shots to recover a touch of realism. Photographers who simply want to increase the range of light in their images without any colorful effects don't need this book.

basyx by HON HVL251 Task Chair for Office or Computer Desk, Black Fabric
basyx by HON HVL251 Task Chair for Office or Computer Desk, Black Fabric
Offered by Zuma Office Supply
Price: $114.43
11 used & new from $106.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and Bad Back, April 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There doesn't seem to be a standard definition of task chair, but this one is wheeled for easier movement around the floor, has adjustable height and no arms. It appears to be well suited for use at a computer keyboard. What distinguished it from other chairs is the rigid t-shaped back firmly affixed to the seat. These chairs appear to be strictly functional, and while the aesthetics of the t-back might fit it in with a work space, it will be out of place in most living rooms. The chair comes disassembled, but can easily be put together in a few minutes.

Having tried a number of other task chairs in the same price range, I was particularly pleased by the rigid back. Many of the other chairs that I've used had padded backs that were adjustable for height, so that they could provide precise lumbar support. Unfortunately, over time, the mechanisms of these similarly priced chairs became worn and it became harder to adjust them. The fixed nature of this back meant it was unlikely to wear out (although I haven't used the chair long enough to find out what other problems might develop). The lack of give in the back actually becomes a positive factor when one first sits down.

Unfortunately, the rigid back is also the source of my main complaint with this chair. When one sits back against this chair, it is like sitting against a wall. A human back makes contact along its whole length with the chair's back with no give. For short-term use, this doesn't seem a problem, but after a couple of hours, one begins to notice pressure points in one's back that could be relieved with an adjustable lumbar support. For the individual who will spend all day in a chair, this certainly doesn't provide the comfort of, say, an Aeron Chair or a Steelcase Think Chair, or the arms to rest one's elbows on while cogitating, but then again that's not the purpose of this kind of task chair, and the price is less than 20% of the price of those chairs.

The five-legged roller base slides across the floor as easily as any other chair. The height adjustment mechanism works, even with a light-weight person, something not always true of similarly-priced task chairs.

If you are looking for a chair to sit in while creating a Word document or doing brief surf of the internet, this chair will provide the comfort and support you need. If you spend hours in a chair, the lack of a more customizable back might be a bit of a pain.

Set the Scene: Use Props to Create Memorable Portrait Photography
Set the Scene: Use Props to Create Memorable Portrait Photography
by Tracy Dorr
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.17
47 used & new from $14.51

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gear and Gadgets, April 12, 2014
Many years ago, I used to walk by a photographer's studio on the way to work. The windows contained wonderful portraits in which the subject was wearing or using a prop. The props always added some insight into the subject that a propless image would have lacked. No wonder that I looked forward to a book dedicated solely to the use of props.

Tracy Dorr begins her book with an exploration of the role of props and the basic elements. There is a brief mention of the narrative role of props, and then the author examines portraits taken throughout the phases of life including, maternity, newborns, babies, kids, high school seniors, family life, and adults. The book concludes with chapters on selecting props and branding and marketing. The book is profusely illustrated with the images by the author and several other portraitists.

Photographers often hope to capture something beyond just the external appearance of a subject but that is extremely difficult to do. My belief is that the purpose of props is to pierce the external appearance. The author states that the role of props is to establish a style or brand an image or keep the subject busy, with little regard for insights. Perhaps that accounts for my dissatisfaction with the book.

The text seemed superficial, mainly urging the reader to be thoughtful about props. I suppose the images could have provided the real teaching points. The many pictures of infants in unusual containers or wearing headbands could suggest the idea of cuteness for children too young to have developed personalities. However I wondered what all the piles of gear in many of the images said about the subjects. I was disturbed to find that the only men in the photographs were always ancillary to women. Only the pictures of seniors (high school students, not the elderly) seemed to reveal something about the subjects, although I wondered, for example, if the senior emerging from what appeared to be a vintage car had any relation to the car. The family portrait of a group sitting on an elaborate couch, and clothed in formal dress, in the middle of the desert had me wondering what the couch was doing in the desert. Most of the images seemed as concerned with the props as the people. I also noticed many images seemed a bit overexposed so that details, like skin texture, were not clear, but perhaps that was the intent of the photographers,

My philosophy of portraits influenced my opinion of this book. Photographers who are satisfied with an attention-getting but not revealing portrait may find the book more useful.

Color Management & Quality Output: Working with Color from Camera to Display to Print (The Digital Imaging Masters Series)
Color Management & Quality Output: Working with Color from Camera to Display to Print (The Digital Imaging Masters Series)
Price: $30.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Most Photographers Need, March 31, 2014
Color Management is the process by which the colors of image outputs are adjusted so that they all look the same. For example it is the process by which the colors of a print are made to look the same as those of a monitor. Due to the nature of the various outputs, the colors are rarely the same but can be adjusted closely enough to satisfy the photographer. As a wildlife photographer, I achieve this just by calibrating my monitor and using print profiles from the manufacturers whose papers I print on. I know an artist who complains that the difference in colors between my monitor and prints is so far apart as to be different images. To satisfy the "close enough" requirements of different users a variety of tools are available that can allow for more precision in color management. (The idea of "close enough" is mine, not the author's.)

All of that is by way of explaining why "Color Management & Quality Output" may provide more information than many photographers want or need.

After describing the nature of color in photographs, the book explains how to calibrate a monitor, and then how to profile scanners and digital cameras (although, with exceptions, the author is not a strong proponent of camera profiling). There is a brief review of how to adjust color in both Photoshop and Lightroom and then the author turns to output profiles with an emphasis on creating custom profiles, although he acknowledges a place for generic profiles. Ashe then explains how to further adjust profiles to make them even more accurate as well as use other color utilities. He visits raster image processors (RIPs) and explains their usefulness for some photographers. The second half of the book deals with printmaking, including not just inkjet printing but also the use of outside labs, printing presses, and short-run photo books. There is an exploration of color management in the rest of the Adobe Creative Cloud, as well as outputting to the Web and tablets. The author finishes by discussing longevity and finishing.

The book is well written and understandable. Not every piece of software and tool is described in detail, but enough information is given to understand the principles. Even if not covered in detail, the manufacturer's instructions provide the nuts and bolts information to do a good job.

One of the things that the author reveals is that going beyond profiling one's monitor and using a paper manufacturer's profile is a costly and time consuming process that may not be worthwhile for many photographers for whom this basic color management may be "close enough".

There are a few tricks of color management that are not mentioned like creating a duplicate image for soft proofing (the process of adjusting the image on screen so that it looks like the printed output) for comparison purposes and to allow adjusting the image to overcome changes like reduced gamut.

Most photographers will probably get all they need to know about color management from a good book on printing. But for those who need the utmost of precision in the colors they output, this is an excellent reference.

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