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Pro Secrets to Dramatic Digital Photos (A Lark Photography Book) Paperback – November 1, 2010
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About the Author
Jim Zuckerman has lectured and taught creative photography at UCLA, Kent State University and the Palm Beach Photographic Center. He was a contributing editor to Photographic magazine for 32 years and now writes for Shutterbug. His images have been published in hundreds of books and magazines including publications of the National Geographic Society and Outdoor Photographer. He is the author of 14 books.
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Top Customer Reviews
Maybe it's because the book consisted of just fifteen tips that addressed broad ideas that were worth remembering. Each of these ideas got a chapter of its own. With titles like "Shoot into the Sun" and "Beware the Background", each of the ideas was reinforced by a short discussion and several of the author's images, both good and bad, that illustrated the point. Most of the chapters were mini-reminders of what a photographer should do to follow the tip. For example, the chapter "Wait for Twilight" explained why twilight was a good time to photograph, the importance of a tripod, the benefits of shooting wet pavement, and so forth.
There are no secrets here, despite the title and nothing that an experienced amateur photographer may not already know. On the other hand, although there was a discussion of some fundamentals, like the effect of lens focal length and depth of field, the reader should already know something about exposure and focus to benefit from the discussion.Although there are a few references to post-processing, there is no instruction or idea relating to that subject.
Some of the points may belabor the obvious like "Shoot Great Subjects", although reading the chapter may help one understand that a picture of a pet tabby, no matter how beloved, is not going to have the impact of a photograph of a lion. On the other hand, if you can get the right exposure and focus, but you find your shots boring, and you can remember to consider some of Zuckerman's tips when you are shooting, the book may prove useful. Experienced photographers are not likely to find much help in this book, and even the competent tyro probably won't find it a world changer, but the latter photographer should remember that improving as a photographer is mostly a series of slow steps. This book can at least suggest to the reader the direction of those steps.
Chapter 1: Shoot Great Subjects. Sounds good, right? Except when the entire premise of the chapter is if you aren't in an exotic location or shooting African Lions, you shouldn't bother. Touted as the "most important lesson in the book" is that great photography requires great subjects (architecture, wildife, whatever). The entire point is that while you might take an "ok" picture of your house cat, you cannot take a "great" photograph unless your subject is an African Lion. So, if you're just some Joe who can't afford to rent a fishing boat off the coast of Virgina, you shouldn't waste your time because you can't take any "great" photos of just your neighborhood.
The author does not give a lot of technical information about how to take your pictures or compose your photography. It feels as though the author was just using this as an opportunity to show off all of the exotic place he's visited. There are some very good photos in the book, but I think that even the most novice photographer could have taken these great photos based just on the places visited.
The chapter on motion was bad. The ideas were fine, but the examples were not good. It shouldn't be that hard for a good photographer to take pictures that aren't blurry.
The author/photographer also seemed to rely a lot on post-processing. I understand the need for editing or improving your photograph, but this author just flat out admits to changing out the background on the photos that he doesn't like. How does that improve your photography?
One excerpt that really bothered me was this, "A three-story office building from the 1960's or 1970's (when I'm sure architects competed with each other to see who could design the ugliest buildings) may look better at twilight than during the day, but it's just not going to make an exciting photograph no matter how good the composition and exposure are" I'm sorry, but this is a cop-out. A good photographer can take a mundane, every day subject interesting. I see it all the time, a new perspective on average items. If you, as a photographer, require some exotic scene to make a good photo, then you are not a good photographer.
The twilight section of the book also was frustrating. The dark blue sky and yellow-orange light is not that interesting. I've seen some amazing long exposure and night photography that would blow away anything in this book.
The jist is that this book will not teach you anything,nor will it inspire you to improve your photography.