Mastering the Nikon D600 – Digital Darrell’s excellent new how-to guide – #photography #bookreview

Mastering the Nikon D600
Darrell Young
(Rocky Nook – Kindle, paperback)

Digital Darrell is at it again. This time, he has delivered an excellent how-to guide for using the Nikon D600 camera. This high-quality new digital SLR, he says, “can deliver some of the highest-quality images out there.”

Furthermore, he notes, the D600 offers “a rugged camera body designed to last. With this camera, we can return to the days when we seldom bought a new camera body and instead put our money into new Nikkor lenses. Wouldn’t you like to have some new lenses?”

As you would now expect with a feature-rich digital SLR, “the Nikon D600 is a rather complex camera, and it requires a careful study of resources like this book to really get a grasp on the large range of features and functions.”

The Nikon D600 is not recommended for total newcomers to digital photography. But it definitely looks like a rugged, yet lightweight winner for hobbyists and professional photographers alike. And it can be, the author says, an excellent choice for hiking, skydiving, underwater activities,  and other environments where camera weight and sturdiness are important.

Darrell Young’s hefty 547-page book devotes most of its pages to menu choices within the camera, plus step-by-step procedures for using features, changing settings, and picking the best settings for various situations.

Digital Darrell has written about 10 other books on Nikon digital cameras, including Mastering the Nikon D800 and  Mastering the Nikon D7000.

His new book is best read while working hands-on with a Nikon D600, getting it configured for the way you want it to work. (“Your Nikon D600, like a chameleon, can change to a different style of shooting with a mere turn of the Mode dial” once you’ve worked your way through various parts of  “an incredibly dense series of 50 functions,” Young writes.

Example photographs are kept to a minimum. If you need some basic, how-to-take-good-photographs help, add another Darrell Young book to your collection. But definitely get this one, too, if you want to get the most you can from your new Nikon D600.

Si Dunn

HDRI, Digital Zone System, Canon EOS 5D Mark III – 3 new #photography books – #bookreview

Rocky Nook, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., recently has released three handsome new how-to works focused on digital photography and image processing.

The books are: The HDRI Handbook 2.0, The Digital Zone System, and Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

The HDRI Handbook 2.0
Christian Bloch
(Rocky Nook – paperback, Kindle)

Every chapter has been significantly updated in this new edition showing how to use high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) “to digitally capture, store, and edit the full luminosity range of a scene.”

Author Christian Bloch notes: “We’re talking about all visible light there, from direct sunlight down to the finest shadow detail.” Using HDRI, “[t]he old problem of over- and underexposure—which is never fully solved in analog photography—is elegantly bypassed.”

This is not a quick guide. Its 659 pages (in print format) cover everything from “the ideas and concepts behind HDR imaging” to tone mapping (“where you learn to create superior prints from HDR images”) to using HDR images in 3D rendering.

If you are ready to learn how to use HDRI in photographs or computer graphics projects, definitely get this well-written book. It is packed with tips, tricks, step-by-step tutorials, stunning images, and other useful information. Even if you already have some experience with HDRI, you can learn new things and improve current skills using this updated guide.

The Digital Zone System
Robert Fisher
(Rocky Nook – paperback, Kindle)

In famed photographer Ansel Adams’s Zone System for film cameras (which many people still use), the mantra is: “Expose for the shadows; develop for the highlights.” The goal is to capture more details in the shadow areas without losing too many details in the highlight areas.

Of course, much of the artistry of Ansel Adams resided also in his ability to convert his low-contrast negatives into stunning prints using photographic chemicals in “wet” labs.

The Digital Zone System is a methodology for using Photoshop, Lightroom and other digital photography tools to echo the spirit and goals of Adams’s Zone System (which he used primarily with large-format, black-and-white film).

Much of this book’s focus is on showing how to gain greater control over digital images by isolating and adjusting colors and luminance values within specific areas.

One of the important goals of teaching the Digital Zone System is to help speed up workflow and reduce the tedium caused by using traditional methods (such as layer masks) in Photoshop. Zone masks, Fisher notes, are “self-feathering,” so they can give you “smooth transitions and maintain smooth tonal gradations or transitions in your images.”

While color photography is emphasized, the author also shows how to convert digital color images to black-and-white images and apply the Digital Zone System to enhance tonal separations, sharpness, and other aspects.

“Wet lab” film purists no doubt will disagree. But the Digital Zone System described in Robert Fisher’s book can help open the way to creating and producing stunning photographs in color and black-and-white.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
James Johnson
(Rocky Nook – paperback, Kindle)

James “Jim” Johnson’s new book is a solid, well-written how-to guide to using “the latest in the famed series of Canon EOS 5D full-frame DSLR cameras.” The book , Johnson states, is aimed squarely at “photographers who are comfortable with basic photography, but who need an understanding of the myriad features, functions, options, and settings available with the EOS 5D Mk III camera.”

The 5D Mark III, photographer Juergen Gulbins writes in the book’s Foreword, “may be used for portrait, landscape, and sports as well as for studio work.” And it offers “dramatic” improvements over the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, he adds.

The 22.3 MP resolution is “sufficient for all kinds of photography,” and it allows for print sizes well beyond 17 inches by 24 inches–“if you have a sharp, well-focused image,” Gulbins emphasizes.

James Johnson’s nicely illustrated text starts with what you’ll get in a Canon EOS 5D Mark III package. Then it moves to showing and explaining the purpose and operation of each of the camera’s buttons, connectors, switches and dials. After that, you get some pointers on digital photography, including focus and exposure, while also learning to use the camera’s rich range of menus. And the camera’s video-shooting capabilities and its in-camera photo processing features are explained, as well.

For example, in the section on Live View, the author hails it as “probably the most straightforward implementation of shooting with the LCD monitor that I’ve come across.” But he also cautions: “The LCD monitor uses a great deal of battery power, so when in Live View, you will want to watch the remaining charge level a bit more closely than usual.”

With this excellent guidebook in hand, you can toss aside the camera’s problematic instruction manual and get some real-world explanations from an experienced photographer who also happens to be an experienced technical writer.

— Si Dunn

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The Lens – A Practical Guide for the Creative Photographer – #photography #bookreview

The Lens
NK Guy
(Rocky Nook, paperback)

NK Guy’s new book is billed as “A Practical Guide for the Creative Photographer.” It is that–and more. It also is a celebration of excellent photography made possible by great glass and having several interchangeable lenses available for your digital SLR or film SLR.

Forget about megapixels vs. more megapixels. “Nothing affects the technical quality of a photo more than the glass,” Guy writes.  

And: “Lenses are at the very heart of the image-forming process. They’re not a peripheral, and they’re not an accessory.”

He notes: “Many new photographers put a lot of effort into choosing the right camera, but leave the lens as an afterthought. Lots of people rarely venture beyond the standard kit lens that came in the box.”

The Lens is a noble effort to put lenses on the minds of new and experienced photographers alike. Well written and beautifully illustrated, the book offers not only the nuts and bolts and interior workings of lens but shows numerous top-quality photographs that visually capture the essence of the technical explanations. The pictures can make you want to pick up your camera and shoot something. And add another lens to your camera system.

The 310-page book has nine chapters:

  1. A Brief History of Optics
  2. Bending Light
  3. Lens Mechanisms
  4. Choosing the Right Lens for a Project
  5. Choosing a Lens by Focal Length
  6. Accessorize!
  7. Buying Lenses
  8. Advanced Topics
  9. Creative Options: Beyond the Standard Lens

There also are four appendices:

  • Appendix A: Lens Mount Systems
  • Appendix B: Manufacturer-Specific Lens Terms
  • Appendix C: Lens Mount Table
  • Appendix D: Chapter Opening Images

The book contains many useful tips, as well as information that can be surprising even to veteran photographers.

For example, Guy points out that “there are actually organisms that eat camera lenses….certain types of fungus can invade your prized possessions, gradually etching the glass with permanent tendril-like marks.” He describes how to protect against a fungus invasion and how to detect its damage in a lens, particularly a used lens you may be thinking of buying.

Si Dunn

Mastering the Nikon D800 – An excellent guide to a very powerful DSLR – #photography #bookreview

Mastering the Nikon D800
Darrell Young
(Rocky Nook,
paperback
)

Darrell Young has written so many books about Nikon digital cameras (this is number eight), he is now widely known as “Digital Darrell.”

His latest, written in a friendly style and nicely illustrated, covers the powerful (and, yes, pricey) Nikon D800 and D800E.

“Few photographers will need more power than the Nikon D800/D800E can deliver,” Young contends. “With this camera, you are well equipped for years to come.”

He points out: “At 36.3-megapixel resolution, the D800 [and D800E] moves soundly into medium-format territory.” This Nikon camera “creates a 16×24-inch (40×60 cm) native print at 300 dpi (using FX format)….” And: “with careful post-processing and enlargement, the images can be made, as National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg says, ‘as large as a house!’”

Nikon D800/D800E cameras do come with a fairly detailed instruction manual. But Young’s 560-page how-to guide provides expanded coverage and explanations, clear step-by-step instructions, and many illustrations that show features and choices. He takes you literally from unpacking the golden Nikon box to initial set-up, and then all the way through the camera’s photography and video features, built-in flash and Nikon Creative Lighting System capabilities.

D800/800E cameras can offer an intimidating array of choices and settings, particularly if you are new to digital photography and have bought a D800 or D800E to be your first digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera.

But Young calmly states: “There are five specific settings you should configure when you first turn on the camera, before you shoot any pictures. I’ll walk you through the settings. Later chapters will cover virtually all camera settings in detail.”

As you tackle those later chapters and get deeper into the camera’s settings, he recommends that you go through his book “with your camera in hand ready for configuration. There are literally hundreds of things to configure on this advanced HD-SLR,” he writes.

His text includes links to downloadable resources from two websites hosted by Nikonians Press and Rocky Nook. And Digital Darrell promises: “I intend to keep on adding material to Mastering the Nikon D800.”

Si Dunn

Beyond Point-and-Shoot – A good how-to guide for getting the most out of DSLR cameras & lenses – #photography #bookreview

Beyond Point-and-Shoot: Learning to Use a Digital SLR or Interchangeable Lens Camera
Darrell Young
(Rocky Nook, paperback, list price $29.95)
 

Many people today are perfectly happy to point a cell phone camera at an event, friend or family member and call the resulting images “photography.”

Many others of us, however, are not so easily pleased. We like our phones to be phones, and we want our cameras to be cameras. We don’t want them to have ring tones or let us surf the web.

Furthermore, we like cameras that have interchangeable lenses and offer choices among an array of  automatic and manual controls, so we can override what technology chooses for us and get “creative,” if we want.

If you are ready to feel like a real photographer – again or for the first time – put away your phone, get a genuine camera with interchangeable lenses, and also consider getting this book.

Beyond Point-and-Shoot has gotten some solid reviews from a number of experienced photographers. I am a former newspaper photojournalist who spent many years working with 35mm film. I now use an array of digital cameras and interchangeable lenses both for pleasure and occasional photo assignments. And I am happy to add my recommendation, as well.

Darrell Young’s new book assumes that you don’t have much knowledge of photographic technology, terms or techniques. But it shows and tells you what you need to know to boldly go off AUTO. It explains the technology in basic, but clear and complete terms. And it shows how to make effective use of the many options and settings available in a digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera.

There are times, for example, when you may want to use the wrong white-balance setting, to alter the color balance for creative effect. You may want to introduce deliberate blurring into the movement of water in a stream. You may need to know how to avoid barrel distortion or pincushion distortion when using a zoom lens – or how to deliberately employ such distortions in artistic compositions.

Young’s book can help you understand the often intimidating array of choices available in today’s digital SLRs. And it can show you how to use many of the choices to great advantage.

He also cautions against putting too much stock in individual negative reviews of lenses or other photography items. “Often they [the reviewers] are simply trying to outdo other reviewers and get more traffic to their websites,” he writes. “One way to get a lot of website traffic is to talk negatively. I don’t know why people are attracted to negative talk, but it seems to be true. If you are interested in a lens, you will learn a lot more from people who are actually using the lens in real life. Talk to people and forums and read reviews that have plenty of pictures taken with the lens. You could even rent a lens for a week from a rental agency and try it before you buy it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t cost much to rent lenses.”

After reading his book, I have become a bigger, and more understanding, fan of my digital SLR’s histogram feature. “The histogram,” he notes, “can be as important, or even more so, than the exposure meter. The exposure meter sets the camera up for the exposure, and the histogram allows you to visually verify that the exposure is a good one. Together they give you the most accurate exposures you have ever made – if you use them. If your exposure meter stopped working, you could still get excellent exposures using only the histogram.”

This is an excellent and approachable textbook for digital SLR beginners.

It’s also a cool reference how-to guide for us old dogs who think we know a lot about photography. Darrell Young can teach us some new tricks, too.

Si Dunn

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