For customers in Canada, Fine Art America is now shipping prints and framed prints from a new production facility in Toronto. They ship in 2-5 business days, shipping rates have been reduced and no more import taxes! Other products (phone cases, pillows, etc.) still ship from the US location.
HDR Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Tim Cooper
review published on amazon.com
Don't let the small size fool you, this is an excellent book for learning the basics of using HDR to help capture images with a wide dynamic range. Tim Cooper covers the process in great detail, including when, why and how to use it, then provides chapters on specific applications (landscape, architecture and interiors, and low-light or night photography) with detailed examples.
Be aware, however, that Cooper is not a fan of using HDR to produce the surreal "grunge" style images that are currently popular, dismissing them with "This type of imagery is relatively easy to create and will not be the focus of this book. I show you how to create photographs that better represent reality and that have subtlety, depth and staying power." He's certainly entitled to his opinion, but by doing this he ignores one of the major applications of HDR. I would have liked a chapter with some discussion of the genre and how to achieve the look. If you want to learn more about this style of image, look to books by photographers like Trey Ratcliffe or Rick Sammon.
Also the only software programs he discusses are Adobe Lightroom and Photomatix Pro when there are numerous other options for HDR, like Nik's HDR Efex Pro. And there is no mention of options for producing HDR-like results in single image files, like Topaz Adjust.
For these reasons I give this book 4 stars instead of 5, but these quibbles aside, if you want concise instruction on using HDR to improve your photos, I highly recommend this book.
It's Not About the F-Stop (Voices That Matter)
by Jay Maisel
review published on amazon.com
I was surprised by this book. Given the title, I expected a treatise on visualization and creativity and was initially disappointed that it seemed more of a memoir. But as I considered Maisel's superb images and accompanying text, I realized that his musings do share many pearls of wisdom garnered over his phenomenal 61 year career as a photographer and photography teacher. The writing sometimes lacks focus and the censoring of expletives is silly and distracting, but Maisel's talent and knowledge elevate this book to a must-read that will convince you that great photography is "not about the f-stop".
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby
review published on amazon.com
I am not a fan of Scott Kelby's writing style (actually just his rather lame attempts at humor), but that doesn't matter. This book is a must-have for anyone trying to learn how to use Lightroom CC and a valuable resource even for those who are familiar with previous versions of the program.
Kelby takes you through the use of Lightroom CC from beginning to end, covering everything from importing your photos to a walkthrough of his personal workflow when shooting portraits, in 559 pages of solid information (except for the superfluous introduction page for each chapter where, as previously mentioned, he tries to be funny). He provides step-by-step explanations with lots of images, even highlighting specific menu choices, and interspersed pages of "killer tips".
When I started the book I was surprised that there isn't a separate section describing the new features, since as a long time Lightroom user I figured I would read that section in detail and just skim the rest. But once I started reading I realized that I was learning something on just about every page and reading the entire volume was well worth the effort.
The Lightroom for Mobile section was particularly valuable since it provided the incentive to download and try the app, which has become a valuable addition to my workflow. There is limited content in this section and it is not quite up to date, as there is now a version available for Android tablets, but it's more than enough to get up and running with this useful (and free) app.
One comment on the printed version: compared to earlier books in this series (such as the Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers, which I happen to have at hand while writing this), the paper used to print this book is noticeably thinner, to the point that there is a slight "ripple" to the pages. I guess it is a result of trying to make a reasonably sized printed book with 560 pages!
I have been a fan of Topaz Labs filters for some time and am currently having a great time using several of their products to produce digital "paintings". In a nutshell, my usual process is to increase saturation and contrast, reduce detail, then use one of their latest products, Impression, to create the brush effect. The program can emulate a wide range of styles, from pencil drawing to Renoir. Only certain types of photos lend themselves to this treatment, but for those images the result can be quite amazing. Here's one in the style of Van Gogh.
After years of dabbling, I have decided to get serious about marketing my photography. I have started uploading my images to to Fine Art America and have redesigned and relaunched bossphotographic.com as a front end to the sales site and to host my blog.
But the best is yet to come. I have a big backlog of images to add to the galleries, trips happening in the near future, and a lot of ideas for expanding and marketing the site, so stay tuned!
These days I prefer to minimize the amount of gear I carry, particularly when traveling. I usually pack my Nikon D7100 and three lenses, a Canon G15 compact camera for backup and street shooting, and a Canon ELPH110HS point and shoot that is always in my pocket for grab shots.
I firmly believe in photographer Chase Jarvis's mantra "The best camera is the one that's with you" and I do occasionally use my cellphone camera but, unlike Chase and many others, I am not really satisfied with phone cameras even for grab shots. My tiny Canon point-and-shoot has a decent 24-120mm zoom lens, much better sensor and limited manual control, giving me much more flexibility and better image quality. One of my favorite images of NYC, the night scene of Times Square shown here, was taken with an earlier Canon point and shoot (and processed using Topaz Simplify).