Shooting Digital: Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera
Posted: 4-Oct-2003

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: Sybex


Reviewer: Mike Roberts $35.00

Shooting Digital
Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera

Mikkel Aaland
ISBN: 0-7821-4104-8
Publish Date: July 2003. Pages: 288
Retail: $35 (Online Price: $28)

What the Book is About
At first I thought this was going to be just another Photography 101 book that I could have picked up at the Wal-Mart magazine rack, but this book is truly different. While it covers all the photographic basics you would expect or even hope for, it presents them in a highly informative context written specifically for digital camera and software users, and makes the comparisons to familiar film terminology that are simple to understand and easily recognizable. This is NOT some re-hash of an older photography basics manual with some tekky terms thrown in to call it an update.

Target Audience
This book is all about using a digital camera to capture images that rival what we are currently getting from familiar 35mm film-based point-and-shoot or SLR style cameras, up to the capability of the digital camera, and how to get the most out of this new technology. It is written in a clear, concise manner that is not bogged down in excessive technical terminology, and should be enjoyable, informative reading for the novice as well as experienced photography buffs.

What To Expect
I found that there were good, sound basics on exposure, focus, depth-of-field, composure, lighting, and filter use, and then the author goes even further to discuss file formats, pixel counts, white balance, histogram usage, and exposure bracketing and their affect on your image. There is also good coverage of a problem common to nearly all digital camera equipment known as "shutter lag" and how to maximize your success rate in spite of this problem.

There is a thorough comparison of film vs. digital exposure, how resolution is measured in both formats, tips to determine the right digital camera for your style of picture taking, what the digital array is and how it compares to a film negative, and how an array relates to more familiar film camera lens specifications and overall focal length. There is also an explanation of the differences between common digital arrays which capture only red, blue, or green light per pixel, and the latest Foveon array which can capture either red, blue, or green at each pixel, effectively raising the resolution of the array to nearly three times that of other similarly sized arrays.

Some very welcome additions in this book not often found in other reference books are the use of footnote-style "Bottom Line" highlights which summarizes the major point(s) in the previous section, frequent "Look-up" guides to find more information about more technical details, and many references to Websites where there are plenty of examples of work demonstrating the topic discussed in that section.

There is an especially useful section on mini-movies (those 10-60 second clips many of the consumer-level digital cameras are able to capture) which include the capturing of a still frame and the making of an animated gif.

When it comes to software tools for enhancing or correcting your digital images or movies, there are plenty of well written Photoshop/Photoshop Elements/QuickTime Pro tips and Mac screenshots provided. I found these very useful as I use Adobe's Photoshop and PhotoDeluxe tools for my stills. For those who prefer other applications, the references to the steps taken are explained in terms that are easy to follow, and well enough that one could probably find similar options in other software tools as well. You will also find references to some of the capabilities of iMovie and iDVD in the movie section.

Additional sections of the book go further than most other volumes by explaining advanced imaging considerations for infra-red, underwater, aerial, panoramic, and virtual reality photography, again with examples and references for further study.

Besides all of this information about getting a good image and using the power of your computer to maximize your shot, the book provides good information about the variety of ways to use your images, whether it be for E-mail, slide shows, Websites, printing for personal use or sending out for professional offset printing for things such as posters or books.

Mac Guild Grade
A (Outstanding)

Final Words
All in all, I found this book to be easy to read and comprehend, well thought out and clearly written, packed full of informative, up-to-date information that I was able to easily apply to my digital camera use. As a pro, I would like to see a little more about using my digital camera in my business for customer presentations, tools for portrait and wedding sales, using my digital and a laptop in the studio or on location, etc., but that's probably yet another book. I look forward to it!