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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Book Review: The Digital Photography Book

If you are at all interested in digital photography a great resource to learn more is Scott Kelby's The Digital Photography Book. It just arrived in the mail yesterday and I'm already halfway through it and have learned a lot.

The premise of the book is not to teach you about theory or to throw tons of technical terms at you - you can get that out of almost any other book on photography - Scott simply treats it as though you and he are out shooting together and you ask, "How do I get the shot to look like this?" Instead of describing how the aperture and shutter speed work, he simply gives you the settings to use and offers tips on how to turn your photos from average snapshots into more professional-looking and more interesting images.

Each page has a different tip or technique that lays out what to do in various shooting situations. There are whole chapters outlining where to start, how to shoot close-ups (of flowers, but really anything), weddings, landscapes, sports, people, what to avoid, taking travel/city life shots, printing, and tons of other tips thrown in - like how to get wrinkles out of your clothes when you don't have an iron.

Throughout you are treated to Scott's tremendous amount of knowledge about digital imaging that he has learned from some of the best photographers shooting today. Sprinkled in are moments of shear wackiness that is signature Kelby humor. From fake page headers to the opening pages to chapters that are totally made up, readers are never left wanting with this, or any of Scott's books. A real page-turner. Funny. Educational. And informative.

Whenever Scott mentions what the pros use to get those tack-sharp photos, he lists quality products that will fit a number of budgets from the budget photographer to the "you don't mind if your kids have to work a part-time job once they get to college to buy books" to "I'll tell you which one I would buy if I was [a] rich bas*%$#d." There are some non-negotiables - like a good tripod - but he almost always has tips and tricks that can get the same results on a budget that the pros spend hundreds or thousands on - and even some of the pros use some of these very simple techniques. For example, instead of getting a "soft box" to diffuse light, buy a frosted white shower curtain and tack it in front of a window.

It's a great book, so far, and I highly recommend it. And it's quite reasonably priced too. While I'm at it, I'll just say that if you're an intermediate Photoshop user, check out Scott's The Photoshop Channels Book (inventive titles, I know). They can be found directly from Scott Kelby Books, Amazon, or any good bookstore.

*Scott Kelby is a co-host of the Photoshop TV weekly video podcast, instructor, editor, publisher, photographer, designer, President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), and "has been awarded the distinction of being the the world's #1 best-selling author of all computer and technology books, across all categories" for two years in a row.