Hareker’s One Room Schoolhouses : Visions of an Iowa Icon

Author: Michael P. Harker

Publisher: University of Iowa Press

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

There is a type of traditional photograph that I think of as “confrontational”. The subject seems to present itself directly, with little effort to make us like it. Nothing is offered to make us care for the subject: no little bit of softening; or touching at a memory; or suggestion that something worth loving exists, or might have existed, within. If we love such a confrontational picture, it is because of what we bring to it; because of the connotations that we carry in our mind rather then the denotation of the photographer. If we love such a picture, it may be in spite of itself. Continue reading

Practical HDRI

Author: Jack Howard

Publisher: Rocky Nook

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

I find that photography books that are the first to introduce concepts are more likely to garner good reviews than books that just repeat what I already know. This is by way of explaining why “Practical HDRI”, a perfectly respectable introduction to high dynamic range (HDR) photography, has not impressed me as much as earlier HDR books. (HDR is a method of combining several pictures in a computer to extend the range of light of a photographed scene.)

Howard starts by describing the equipment necessary for HDR photography, proceeds to describe basic composition rules and the nature of lenses, and then how to best capture a scene for HDR processing. Next, he turns to generating the HDR image from the captured photos and then tone mapping the images. He completes his discussions by reviewing post processing of the images, with an emphasis on using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Continue reading

Lessons in DSLR Workflow with Lightroom and Photoshop

Author: Jerry Courvoisier
Publisher: Peachpit Press

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

Workflow, for digital photography, is the sequence of tasks from preparing one’s camera, through capturing, downloading, processing, outputting, cataloging and archiving images. Workflow is concerned with an effective sequence of steps rather then the techniques, like moving sliders for particular effects.

Like most photography books, this book starts with a description of the equipment involved in the process, including cameras and computers. The second part deals with the workflow through Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 (“LR2″). The third part looks with more particularity at the Develop module of LR2 and the fourth part with the integration of LR2 and Photoshop. In all cases, the book deals with the second iteration of Lightroom, including the new tools found in LR2. Continue reading

Nature Photography: Insider Secrets from the World’s Top Digital Photography Professionals Author: Chris Weston Publisher: Focal Press (Elsevier) Review by Conrad J. Obregon Sometimes I think that there must be a way to label books so that the audience at which they are aimed is clear. That’s the case for this book, which is a […]

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Magic Lantern Guides: Nikon D300

Author: Simon Stafford

Publisher: Lark Books (Sterling Publishing Co.)

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

The Nikon D300 is a complicated piece of machinery, with at least 100 top-level options for how it will work, with many sub-options. All these choices mean that one can tailor the way the camera operates precisely to one’s needs. It also means that getting exactly what’s best for you requires a lot of research. This “Magic Lantern Guide” is designed to ease the process, but if you really want to get the D300 to fit your style of shooting, it still won’t be easy.

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The Complete Guide to Night & Lowlight Digital Photography

Author: Michael Freeman

Publisher: Lark Books (Sterling Publishing Co.)

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

It’s good for Michael Freeman that I decided a while ago that I would not hold it against a book if the content did not match the title. Otherwise this book would have to be called “The Complete Guide to Wide Apertures, Slow Shutter Speeds, and High ISO’s”.

That’s because rather then concentrating on the usual stuff like metering on the sky at dusk or setting up flash units, Freeman assumes that the reader understands exposure and most post-processing and instead concentrates on what can be done to mitigate the consequences of wide apertures, slow shutter speeds and high ISO’s.

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Mastering Digital Flash Photography by Chris George Publisher: Lark Books (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.) Review by Conrad J. Obregon It seems strange that the best book around for a long time about flash photography was published in 1997, before the full scale invasion of digital cameras and super-smart flash units. That’s the need that “Mastering […]

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Mastering HDR Photography: Combining Technology and Artistry To Create High Dynamic Range Images

Publisher: Watson Guptill/Amphoto Books

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

The human eye is so much better then a camera. It can see details in shadows and bright areas that would just be pure black and white to a camera, whether film or digital. Photographers have been trying for years to extend that range. High dynamic range photography (HDR) is the latest iteration of these efforts. It involves capturing a series of images at different exposures and then combining them in a computer to get a greater range.

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