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Photography Books For Christmas or For You

If you still  haven’t knocked out all the Christmas shopping, or if you’re looking for a treat for yourself to celebrate getting all those presents bought and wrapped, Times Online has an article suggesting nine books that would make great gifts for anyone who appreciates photography. From portraits in 1920’s Paris to “a wry look at the fantasies of war in the United States since 9/11”, there’s a good variety in the suggestions.

The article contains links to a UK based website where all the books are available at discounted price (some more so than others) but for US readers below are the links to the books on Amazon.com:

Berenice Abbot by Hank O’Neal & Berenice Abbot

Manuel Alvarez Bravo by Jean-Claude Lemagny, Colette Alvarez Urbatjel, & John Banville

Vanishing Landscapes by  John J Berger, Robert Adams,  Edward Burtynsky, Thomas Struth, & Jem Southam

Homeland by Nina Berman

Kaveh Golestan: Recording the Truth in Iran 1950 – 2003 by Masoud Behnoud, Hengameh Golestan

Recollections by Philip Jones Griffiths (this link is to Amazon UK, I couldn’t find the book available from Amazon USA, Borders, Barnes & Noble, or Powell’s)

Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power by Renata Adler & Frank Goodyear

Objects by Martin Parr (only available as a used book on Amazon USA)

Edward Steichen: In High Fashion by William A Ewing & Todd Brandow

Christmas Photos to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Christmas WonderIf you need a little inspiration to get into the holiday spirit check out this little collection of Christmas photos from a variety of location around the world, including the USA, Germany, South Korea, and the Czech Republic. From an underwater Santa with a beluga whale to a 33 metre high Christmas tree shaped cake there’s sure to be at least one photo that gets you humming “’tis the season…”.

Or if Santa with a beluga whale isn’t your thing how about people wrapped in strings of Christmas lights? Digital Photo School has found twenty Flickr photos of people trimming humans with lights instead of the tree. (Be warned there are one or two people wearing not much other than the string of lights!)

Friday Grab Bag

Photographs from Amir on Vimeo.

But seriously…

Review: Practical HDRI

Practical HDRI by Jack Howard (Rocky Nook)Practical HDRI by Jack Howard (Rocky Nook publishing) is a no-nonsense guide to high dynamic range imaging (HDRI).

Read the rest of the review and find out how you can get a free copy of this book.

You’ve seen the photos. But hopefully you haven’t let the abundance of bad examples turn you off to HDRI in general—it is a powerful technique that can help you create stunning images that can’t be captured any other way.

I like this book because the author, in a scant 168 pages, has condensed a ton of practical advice and tips into a useful and unintimidating reference. Howard writes, “It is my goal to get you ramped up in HDRI as quickly and as painlessly as possible. This book focuses on pragmatic workflows, a healthy dose of tips and tricks, and real-world advice.”

The introduction lays a solid foundation for understanding HDRI and 8 bit vs 32 bit color spaces. It’s good information and I recommend reading it if you are serious about improving your craft… but if color space geekery makes your head swim, you could safely skip ahead to other topics.

Chapters 1-3 focus on gear and composition techniques with a bias towards HDRI. For example, the author talks about basics like shutter speed and lenses but always in the context of how those choices affect your images.

But chapter 4 is where things really start to get interesting. In this chapter, the author gives practical advice for actually capturing the basic images necessary for HDRI in the field. He covers metering, bracketing, manual mode, RAW and JPG, file organization and, importantly, how to recognize HDRI opportunities and non-oppoertunities.

The rest of the book deals with the actual business of using software to generate HDR images and gives detailed instructions for using Adobe Photoshop CS3, Photomatix Pro 3.0, FDRTools Advanced 2.2, and Dynamic Photo HDR 3.x (software not included, free trials available for download from the vendors). These four chapters are absolutely packed with useful information.

A bit of a warning: HDRI is a technical, often tedious, and time consuming process. Although the author strives to shield the reader from too much camera and software shenanigans (and he does a pretty good job, too—no one is going to have a nerdgasm from reading this book), the subject is inherently technical and you can only go so far without at least a willingness to try and bask in the geekiness of it all.

Definitely recommended for anyone interested in HDRI from absolute beginners to folks who have a few HDR images under their belts and would like some tips for improvement.

Click here to buy this book from Amazon.com.

Want my review copy? Leave a comment with a valid email address. One reader will be chosen at random this weekend to receive a free copy.

This book was provided to Photodoto free of charge for review.

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