Holiday Books; For The Digital Photographer Page 2

Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2; by Bruce Fraser; Peachpit Press; 316 pages; $39.99; softbound (ISBN 0-321-33409-4)
Producing "version" books is a challenge. Sometimes the writer and publisher take so long to get a new book out the program is old news or, worse, a new version is around the corner. Not so with Bruce Fraser, who rushed Real World Camera Raw to print shortly after Adobe's official announcement. The book is not only current, it's comprehensive and more complete than his last one, this time including information on the DNG (Digital Negative) format and Adobe Bridge that was introduced with Photoshop CS2. The book's screen shots are Mac OS-centric, which hopefully won't offend Windows users, but the text contains information on using both versions. Illustrations are plentiful, and while the photography won't win any awards, this book is about the technical size of raw image making and it attains that goal remarkably well.

Photoshop CS2 Workflow; by Tim Grey; Sybex Inc.; 290 pages; $29.99; softbound (ISBN 0-7821-4396-2)
"Workflow" may be the hottest buzzword for digital imagers but it's hardly new. Film photographers had a workflow, although few called it that, and all had its own devotees who pursued perfection with a religious-like zeal. What is Adams' Zone System if not workflow? But here Tim Grey has put together a good if somewhat overpriced book on digital workflow. The images and design may be somewhat pedestrian, but the book is saved by text that takes you painstakingly from downloading and sorting through output processing. An appendix includes a check list that, if the book's designer hadn't been too lazy (or underpaid) to make look like a real check list, would have been a useful tool.

Pro Digital Photographer's Handbook; by Michael Freeman; Lark Books; 318 pages; $29.99; softbound plus CD (ISBN 1-57990-632-X)
The proliferation of photography books by UK authors seems disproportionate to the two countries' populations, but not to the photo book industry. This is a fact of publishing life but it still bugs me. Notwithstanding my personal screed, Lark Books sure knows how to package a photo book, showing almost every other publisher's offerings that I've reviewed this year a thing or two about design, reproduction, and overall material quality. I could have done without the section on image sensors (and for the first 100 pages for that matter), but Pro Digital Photographer's Handbook is a good book for the film-based pro contemplating moving to digital capture. It's filled with real-world images, photographic situations, and advice that provides a basis for what will be a busy 18 months of climbing the digital learning curve.

Total Digital Photography: The Shoot to Print Workflow Handbook; by Serge Timacheff and David Karlins; Wiley Publishing; 352 pages; $29.99; softbound (ISBN 0-7645-6952-X)
While somewhat text heavy and filled with illustrations that could hardly be called great photography, the two writers nevertheless manage to pack lots of worthwhile information between this book's covers. It all starts at the beginning with a useful description of what is digital "workflow," including a flow chart of the process. Don't let the mediocre reproduction and uninspired layout deter you from buying this book. The authors take you on a wonderful digital journey, beginning with a look at a digital photo shoot and taking you through the process of editing and optimization to display and distribution. The last chapter, "Fighting Image Mortality," is especially useful, taking a long hard look at the unpleasant realities of what's needed to ensure that your images--in both print and digital formats--will last for future generations.

A Comprehensive Guide to Digital Glamour Photography; by Duncan Evans; AVA Publishing; 144 pages; $22.95; softbound (ISBN 2-88479-047-0)
If you're even mildly interested in glamour photography, this small book is for you. It has a modular layout that lets you hone in on specific camera or digital darkroom techniques that cover a few pages each. You can read it from cover to cover (my suggestion) or jump into sections such as "Shadow Effects" or "Small Spaces." The photographs, created by many different and talented photographers, are stunning and beautifully reproduced, but this is a book about glamour photography and does contain tasteful nudity. If that bothers you, you might want to skip it. The rest of us will find that Digital Glamour Photography is a comprehensive course in using digital cameras--even point-and-shoot digicams--to create glamour imagery.

A Comprehensive Guide to Digital Black & White Photography; by John Clements; AVA Publishing; 144 pages; $22.95; softbound (ISBN 2-88479-056-X)
It's a challenge to be comprehensive in 144 pages, but John Clements has done a remarkable job. After the briefest of introductions, Clements has you deep inside Photoshop's Channel Mixer creating monochrome images with the best of them. He uses the same no-nonsense style combined with excellent screen shots to show you how to do the most amazing toning using an effect that Clements calls Sepia II. This is followed by tips and techniques for creating faux infrared effects that have to be seen, then tried. The subject matter throughout the book is varied and is populated with wonderful images of landscapes, wildlife, portraits, and the occasional tasteful nude. There is also a section called "The Digital Zone System" that should make fans of Saint Ansel whoop with delight, or cringe. I liked it.

Digital Nature Photography Closeup; by Jon Cox; Amphoto; 176 pages; $24.95; softbound (ISBN 0-8174-3674-X)
This is a nice book on nature photography that seamlessly weaves in digital techniques along with close-up photography techniques that work no matter what kind of camera you use. The book is composed of easily digestible sections with topics such as "Focusing for Close-ups." Unless you have practiced this particular discipline you will find it is a bit more complicated than working at a normal focusing distance. Jon Cox's explanatory text is clear, concise, and fun, and although I am personally not a fan of macro photography of bugs, those who are will find plenty to enjoy. Bugs aside, and I don't consider butterflies to be bugs, the large colorful illustrations that populate the book make this an enjoyable and pleasant read.