Mac Digital Photography
Posted: 1-Dec-2003

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: Sybex

B+

Reviewer: Dick Baker $29.99


Mac Digital Photography

By: Dennis R. Cohen and Erica Sadun
ISBN: 0-7821-4272-9
Publication date: Sept. 2003, Pages: 304
Retail: $29.99 (Online price: $20.99)

What the Book is About
This book provides an introduction to digital photography, with a Macintosh emphasis. It covers the following subjects:
  • Basic photographic lessons and tips
  • Choosing and using a digital camera
  • An introduction to iPhoto and Photoshop Elements
  • Digital photo editing and postprocessing
  • Digital photo printing
  • Using CDs and DVDs to store and share images
  • Using the internet to share and distribute images
  • Examples of activities to utilize a digital camera

Because the book covers such a broad spectrum of subjects, it cannot delve deeply into any one of them. However, it does a very good job of introducing each of the subjects covered.

Included with "Mac Digital Photography" is a CD ROM with shareware and demo software, including Photoshop Elements 2, Genuine Fractals Print Pro, DVD Picture Show, Image Surfer, Mac Flip Album, REALVIZ Stitcher, and several more. As usual, the demo software is either fully functional for a limited time or is implemented with some kind of restrictions in functionality. Also included are sample images that allow the user to manipulate images along with the book's examples to reinforce certain lessons. The CD states that it is compatible with OS 9.2 and later (I successfully used several packages under OS 9.1).

Target Audience
"Mac Digital Photography" will be useful for someone who needs a basic introduction to one or more of the subjects listed above. If you have a digital camera but little photographic experience, the first chapter provides some solid basic information that will improve your pictures. If you have considerable film camera background, and are just embarking on a journey into the world of digital photography, the digital information will be instructive and useful. If you recently bought your first digital camera but you are not sure what it can do or what software to use, there is some very helpful guidance on how to get started. If you have considerable experience in photography, digital editing, printing and sharing your efforts, this book is not for you.

What To Expect
The first chapter provides some basic rules for good photography that will lead many to improve their pictures. The second chapter covers general information about digital cameras, how to use them and accessories that will help maximize the chances of success (batteries, memory cards, etc.). Chapters three, four and five introduce iPhoto 2 and Photoshop Elements 2, and cover several basic photo editing and postprocessing techniques. The sixth chapter explores digital photo printing at home and by utilizing photo finishing services. Chapters seven and eight discuss the use of CDs, DVDs, and Video on CD (VCD) as well as the Internet and email for storage and sharing of your pictures. Chapters nine, ten and eleven suggest many different ways that a digital camera can be used beyond the "normal" use of taking snapshots. The book suggests using the camera for documenting situations, playing games, assisting in craft projects, adding animation to your photos, etc. The final chapter provides some projects to get some hands-on experience with special effects from PhotoIsland.com and some of the software provided on the CD accompanying the book.

The book's illustrations are primarily black and white. While this is fine for screenshots of menus and such, often the reader must examine reproduced photographs very closely to see the effect being described by the text. I think it would have been an improvement to have exaggerated the image samples to make the effect being discussed more easily visible. There is a small color photo section in the middle of the book that illustrates some of the book's lessons. While these color photos are good and help illustrate some of the principles and techniques covered elsewhere in the book, in my opinion there are not enough of them. Having more color photos, and especially if they were spread throughout the book, would have been a significant improvement.

Highlights
The authors do a good job of using screenshots along with the text to help guide a user through various techniques. The fact that the software versions, screenshots and text descriptions are all based on the Macintosh is a definite plus.

The writing is clear and easily understood. There is even some humor injected at times and, at least for me, it worked very well. The authors did a good job of selecting key elements of their subject matter to cover in the book, and then explained those elements well.

The CD containing a 30-day trial copy of Photoshop Elements 2, other demo and shareware programs, and photo samples that follow the lessons is a great bonus as well.

Mac Guild Grade
B+ (Great)

Final Words
The book is well written for those that need an introductory overview of digital photography on the Macintosh. It does a good job of explaining the subjects it covers in a way that is easily understood. It also provides a glossary of terms that may be unfamiliar to some. The book must assume that the user has read his/her camera manual so that at least the location and function of basic controls are familiar. It also assumes that basic computer skills are present (clicking, double-clicking, drag, drop, etc.). Since I am still using OS 9.1, I could not try any of the examples or techniques related to iPhoto, but the explanations seemed well written. In summary, this is a great book for those interested in learning about digital photography, especially for Mac users.