Holiday Books; For The Digital Photographer

Holiday Digital Books

Digital imaging technology changes so quickly that books seem like the least useful gifts to get for your favorite photographer. You might prefer to get him or her an extra memory card but for less money than a 64MB card, you can get them something much more valuable--knowledge of how to use their computer or digital camera to create better images. Here, collected all in one place, are some of the best digital photography books I discovered during the year.

Imaging Software

Photoshop 7 Artistry, Mastering The Digital Image; by Barry Haynes and Wendy Crumpler. Published by New Riders, 201 West 103rd St., Indianapolis, IN 46290;; 466 pages; $55; softbound includes CD-ROM. (ISBN 0-7357-1240-9)

This is a must-have book for every Photoshop 7 user. Barry Haynes and Wendy Crumpler speak Photoshop as a second language but make it easy for those who aren't experts to achieve effects they've only dreamed about. And unlike lots of other Photoshop books, this one is written from the perspective of the photographer--not the graphic artist. To the authors' credit, this book has fewer pages than their previous (also impressive) Photoshop 6 book, but maintains high quality production values throughout. What I really like best about Photoshop 7 Artistry is that it doesn't throw you in the deep end of the pool to see if you can swim, but starts out by showing the basics of color and goes behind the screens showing how to use such important Photoshop features such as Curves and Levels. Photo junkies will love the "Getting a Good Exposure" section, which is shown (in color and monochrome) in Zone System terms! If you only buy one Photoshop book this year, make it Photoshop 7 Artistry.

Creative Digital Photography by Michael Busselle. Published by Amphoto Books, 176 Broadway, New York City, NY 10003;; 160 pages; $29.95; softbound. (ISBN 0-8174-3730-4)

The prolific Michael Busselle shows how to use digital darkroom pictures to turn some (mostly) pretty nice pictures into some (mostly) pretty impressive results, including using Photoshop to recreate the "falling over backward" building effect that wide angle lenses produce instead of trying to create straight lines! The book is a collection of before and after shots impeccably printed on glossy paper in large format that lets you get your nose into the photographs. And unlike most American authors whose timid publishers won't let them include nude images, Busselle includes several nudes that are as tasteful as they are elegant. The large text, big pictures, and easy to follow narrative makes this a natural for the digital photographer who wants to improve his or her photographs with some truly special, but not over-the-top--except one--images.

Adobe Photoshop 7 One-Click Wow! by Jack Davis and Linnea Dayton. Published by Peachpit Press, 1249 Eighth St., Berkeley, CA 94710;; 90 pages; $29.99; softbound includes CD-ROM. (ISBN 0-321-12531-2)

Jack Davis and Linnea Dayton, the digital magicians responsible for the Photoshop Wow! series that seems to appear here each year, have outdone themselves with a book that's more a user's guide for the Actions and Layer Styles that are found on the CD-ROM. Featuring the flawless and innovative design of the Wow! books and beautiful four-color illustrations, One-Click Wow! guides you through the concept of how Photoshop Actions and Layer Styles works, then shows how to use the ones on the CD to produce eye-popping text effects. If you've wondered how all those cool gold, plastic, organic, and glass text effects you see on TV or in print were created, Davis and Dayton show you how to do it literally in one click. Do yourself a favor and buy two copies: one to give as a gift and the other to keep, like I do, next to my computer.

iPhoto 1.1 for Mac OS X by Adam C. Engst. Published by Peachpit Press, 1249 Eighth St., Berkeley, CA 94710;; 134 pages; $19.99; softbound. (ISBN 0-321-12165-1)

Part of Peachpit Press' Visual Quickstart Guides, iPhoto 1.1 for Mac OS X is the user's guide for Apple's free digital camera software and is better than any software user's guide that's ever been written. Although published in black and white, the illustrations are well reproduced and plentiful. Like the rest of the books in the series, most of the book uses a format in which a single topic is covered in detail on a single page in a single column of text; the other column is filled with illustrations and sidebars that make sure that by the time you're finished reading that page (it won't take that long) you've got that topic covered and are ready for the next one. Engst's text is lucid and easy to follow for the novice, but the more experienced digital photographer won't feel as if they are being talked to like "dummies," like some other books. It's a must-have reference for Apple iPhoto users.

The Painter 7 Wow! Book by Cher Threinen-Pendarvis. Published by Peachpit Press, 1249 Eighth St., Berkeley, CA 94710;; 404 pages; $49.99; softbound includes CD-ROM. (ISBN 0-201-77362-7)

Painter doesn't conveniently fit into any category between Photoshop and Illustrator. Its unique and some might say difficult to understand interface seems less complex to graphic artists used to working with traditional materials, and that's what Painter does best. It's a true digital paint box that many photographers have also used to create striking images. The author takes you behind the screens using the Wow! format of one tip per page (or two) with all screen shots in beautifully printed full color illuminated with text by a teacher who can also write. Hand-tinting photos has always been a chore for me in Photoshop, but Threinen-Pendarvis shows how to use Painter to do it in two pages. Photographers will revel in Chapter 6, which is aimed at them and might be tempted to skip some of the art-oriented ones. That would be too bad; if you've got the program you might as well explore it using this best-ever edition of the Painter Wow! books.

The Desktop Photographer by Tim Daly. Published by Amphoto Books, 176 Broadway, New York City, NY 10003;; 144 pages; $24.95; softbound. (ISBN 0-8174-3783-5)

The Digital Printing Handbook by Tim Daly. Published by Amphoto Books, 160 Broadway, New York City, NY 10003;; 144 pages; $24.95; softbound. (ISBN 0-8174-3827-0)

He's not Wings Tim Daly, but this author has given us what could be subtitled "an overview of the digital imaging process" and covers all of the topics from capture to enhancement and output. Since Daly does this in 144 pages, this is a challenge but he does a darn good job of hitting the highlights from scanning to printing. While not solely focused on Photoshop, lots of tips are included for improving and enhancing images; all include excellent photographs and a logical step by step sequence of images that explains exactly how to get from A to Z. Other than the boring cover the internal design is excellent and enhanced by superb four-color reproduction. This is an excellent book for anyone contemplating the move from film to digital; it reveals what's involved but shows the potential for creating stimulating images.

At deadline my UPS delivery person handed me Daly's other book, The Digital Printing Handbook. For those readers who have been asking about my book Printing the Image, which is only available to European audiences, this is a perfect replacement. This book is beautifully designed, printed, and illustrated but is also veddy, veddy British. It is full of useful "Colour Techniques" and can be extremely basic at times. (There are tips on the care and feeding of floppy disks, for example.) There are also some web site URLs mentioned that do not appear to be functioning at this time, but that is the "way of the web." If you are new to the digital darkroom and want to improve the quality of your output, The Digital Printing Handbook is a perfect place to start.

Complete Digital Photography by Ben Long. Published by Charles River Media, 20 Downer Ave., Ste. 3, Hingham, MA 02043;; 428 pages; $39.95; softbound includes CD-ROM. (ISBN 0-321-12165-1)

Introductory digital photography books abound this year, and this one includes a CD-ROM with demo and tryout versions of programs and plug-ins for Mac OS and Windows computer users. In mostly black and white pages (there's a few pages of color) the author provides a more than superficial look at capture, enhance, and output. He has struck a good balance of providing enough technical details to keep it interesting but not enough to put you to sleep. The clean, almost textbook-like design is occasionally marred by less than perfect reproduction (at least on the copy I received) but don't let that deter your taking advantage of the tips that Ben Long provides on practical subjects such as using your digicam's metering system to get the best possible exposures or how to get the most out of Photoshop's insanely wonderful Curves function. This one's for the Intermediate user who wants to know what's behind those pixels and the author holds nothing back.

Digicams On Parade

A Simple Guide to Digital Photography by Bill Corbett. Published by Amphoto Books, 176 Broadway, New York City, NY 10003;; 348 pages; $24.95; softbound. (ISBN 0-8174-5890-5)

Australian photographer Bill Corbett has created a book that actually lives up to its name. While large illustrations, big screen shots (instead of the tiny ones that usually appear in these kind of books), and judicious use of white space make it an easy and pleasant read, Corbett's advice is good but occasionally punctured with Australian English that makes you go back and read a sentence asking, "what did he say?" That's a good thing because it means you're actually reading the book. Illustrations range from the spectacular to the forgettable but all are well produced on heavy, glossy paper. With a US publication date of 2002, the folly of putting version numbers of software was immediately obvious upon seeing a box shot of Photoshop 5.5, with 7.0 residing on most digital photographers' hard drives since early this year. Nevertheless, it's a useful introductory-level gift book for the newbie just getting involved in digital photography.

The Little Digital Camera Book by Cynthia L. Baron and Daniel Peck. Published by Peachpit Press, 1249 Eighth St., Berkeley, CA 94710;; 230 pages; $21.99; softbound. (ISBN 0-321-12530-4)

Unlike Robin Williams' otherwise wonderful The Little Mac OS X Book, which weighs in at 824 pages, The Little Digital Camera Book is actually little. Kinda, anyway. In a little over 200 pages, Cynthia L. Baron and Daniel Peck take the brand-new digital camera owner (its obvious audience) into the land of megapixels and more. The authors overcome the competent but uninspired design and adequate reproduction that's not up to the usual standards of previous Peachpit graphics books, but the text bristles with good advice and is fun and easy to read, partially because of the large typeface the designer wisely chose. Baron and Peck mix guidance on when to use JPEG, TIFF, and RAW file formats with basic retouching tips that will make the people you photograph love you more when your prints make them look younger. If you know someone who's getting his or her first digital camera for the holidays, make sure this book is under the tree!


Dictionary of Photography and Digital Imaging by Tom Ang. Published by Amphoto Books, 770 Broadway, New York City, NY 10003;; 348 pages; $21.95; softbound. (ISBN 0-8174-3789-4)

My pal and Shutterbug contributor, Rick Sammon (, turned me on to this handy reference volume. In the interest of full-disclosure, I am the author of The Digital Imaging Dictionary ( that is different from this handy book in many ways: The biggest difference is that Tom Ang includes photographic terms as well as digital imaging ones. For example, under "D" you can find the definition of "decamired" as well as "dynamic range." The author packs lots of data in the 348 pages, which leads to some definitions to become cryptic--"dynamic range" is a good example--for the more casual reader. And while the Dictionary of Photography and Digital Imaging is blessed with an attractive and readable two-color design, there are no photographs of any kind. Still, with its compact 63/4x8" size, it's a useful tome for the more techie reader who wants to keep up with all of the buzzwords in traditional and digital photography.

Mac OS X: The Missing Manual by David Pogue. Published by Pogue Press/O'Reilly, 1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472;; 583 pages; $24.95; softbound. (ISBN 0-596-00082-2)

Windows XP Home Edition: The Missing Manual by David Pogue. Published by Pogue Press/O'Reilly, 1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472;; 571 pages; $24.95; softbound. (ISBN 0-596-00260-2)

Many Macintosh users have embraced OS X as the future of Mac OS computing. If that describes you or a loved one, get a copy of David Pogue's book. The book includes information on Version 10.1, but as I type this OS X 10.2, code-named Jaguar, is about to be released, so maybe Pogue and O'Reilly will have an update by the time you read this. All of the text is written in the clear, precise, no BS tone that's Pogue's patented style. While it would be nice if there were a few more illustrations, the book is clearly aimed at the Macintosh faithful or at least users who have some experience with the original (classic) Mac OS interface. It is, nonetheless, the very best book that I've found so far on this new operating system. I just wish it were a little smaller.

In just 571 pages David Pogue has brought tons of clarity to the Windows XP operating system. Windows XP has been designed to be very image friendly and every possible aspect makes it the OS of choice for digital or any kind of photographer not working on the Macintosh platform. Windows XP Home Edition: The Missing Manual helps you through learning the power drag-and-drop CD burning routines, which will make creating discs of digital images from your digicam's memory cards a snap. Users of Windows XP at Shutterbug's workshops seldom have problems making CDs because everything is built into the OS, and Pogue shows you lots of practical tips on navigating through the elegant interface. If you're using an older version of Windows, especially the dreaded Millennium, install XP soon, then get a copy of Pogue's book. Maybe get them both at the same time.

The Book of WinZip by Jerry Lee Ford, Jr. Published by No Starch Press, 555 De Haro St., Ste. 250, San Francisco, CA 94107;; 167 pages; $14.95; softbound. (ISBN 1-886411-75-1)

If you use Microsoft Windows, chances are you also use the WinZip file compression software; it's everywhere. The Book of WinZip covers everything Zip newcomers need to know about creating file archives or self-extracting files they can send to friends or colleagues. Sharply printed text and snappy illustrations (although I wish there were more of them but I know publishers can be stingy and this is an inexpensive book) help guide you through steps in using WinZip to save hard disk space, scan files for viruses, and save Zip files across several different floppy disks. If you've been wondering what the fuss is about Zip files, you need this book.