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Bob Margolis "pythonbob" (Hampshire, UK)

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Wildlife Photography Workshop, The
Wildlife Photography Workshop, The
by Ross Hoddinott & Ben Hall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.03

18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Photographic advice fine, technical editing poor, 11 July 2013
I bought this elsewhere as Amazon's price was a bit too high.
The wildlife photography content is great but this book has a fault common to several recent Ammonite Press publications: there are too many technical errors. Having contacted Ammonite Press authors in the past, I am firmly of the opinion that the problem lies with Ammonite's editors, since Hoddinot and Hall clearly know their stuff.
What is wrong? The stuff on aperture (p 30) is technical gobbledygook. Example: "if a small aperture is selected it takes longer for the light to enter the lens and expose the sensor". This is rubbish, the speed of light is constant, give or take microscopic variations. The editor has no clue what he/she is on about. Aperture varies the intensity of light, not its speed.
I think that by trying to avoid the statement that the light reaching the sensor is measured by intensity times open shutter time, they are creating nonsense.
Next (p14): "Human eyesight is roughly equivalent to 50mm...". This statement is rubbish as it stands. With a lot of qualification, it just might be useful.
And so it goes on.
The answer is to ignore all such stuff and concentrate on the wildlife photography.
At full price (£16.99), the book would be a severe disappointment; at Amazon's price, just about tolerable; at the price I paid (£6.99) a bit better.
I now have enough experience of Ammonite to know that I shouldn't rely on their books for technical stuff. They are consistently poor. Worse still, they refuse to acknowledge that there are any problems. They serve their authors ill.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2015 2:40 PM BST

Photographic Lighting (Expanded Guide: Techniques)
Photographic Lighting (Expanded Guide: Techniques)
by Robert Harrington
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but misleading title, 26 Mar. 2013
I'll start with what I regard as the positive elements.
There are lots of good pictures of light setups and the resulting images. The author encourages the reader to experiment and to photograph the setups used. That is something I intend to do. Even if you don't have the luxury of two high end cameras (I suspect the author does), even a mobile phone camera will give you a record of the setup. Link setup shot and result (use keywords!) and you'll know how to repeat a good effect.
There is a good section on setups with one flashgun. Useful for those without bottomless pockets.
The author stresses the importance of shooting raw but doesn't really say that some of his suggestions on things like white balance can only be achieved with raw files. The author also persists in using 'RAW' as if it is a file format. It isn't and should never be capitalized.
Now for the negative points.
This is a book about lighting with flash, not general lighting. There is no mention of continuous lighting. That's why I say the title is misleading.
The author is a professional, as clearly stated on the back cover. That means that casual amateurs may be rather dismayed when they discover the cost of the flash equipment he talks about. He has some setups where the three flashguns alone will set you back nearly £1000 new.
The author is also based in the USA so some UK readers will give a hollow laugh at the assertion that a dining room makes a good home tabletop studio "with room for several lighting stands"!
The book may annoy some Canon users as the author has used Nikon gear for all the illustrations. He does mention Nissin flashguns.
There is one serious omission in his stuff on basic principles. He omits to point out that exposure time has absolutely no effect on the flash exposure so long as it's in the synchronized range. It only affects the ambient light effect. Flash power, aperture and distance control the flash exposure.
These facts are hidden in what else he says but never made explicit.
The post-processing section is too brief to be very useful. The only relevant information is on changing the white balance (raw files only).
If you want to know about sharpening (mentioned briefly) buy Fraser & Schewe's book and find out how to do it properly.
To sum up: not too expensive as photography books go and containing useful stuff. The technical stuff is sometimes a bit confused and incomplete. In spite of the drawbacks, I don't regret buying it, though I wish I'd bought from Amazon! I'd suggest that Bryan Peterson's 'Understanding Flash Photography' would make a good companion and you might want to buy that first.

National Geographic Complete Photography
National Geographic Complete Photography
by National Geographic
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good with misleading title, 18 Mar. 2012
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This book has many excellent features but it is not 'complete' as the title suggests. nor can any single book reasonably be a complete guide to photography. The misleading title loses it one star.
As you would expect from National Geographic, the quality of the material on composition, use of light and analysis of photographs is very, very good.
The timeline of photography section is interesting and remarkably fair to non-American contributors to the development of photography for a US publication.
It is less fair in some other places, notably forgetting Swan's joint invention of incandescent lighting (with Edison).
The second star goes because some of the technical material has either been poorly written or badly edited; it is difficult to tell which.
The book perpetuates the myth that a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera mimics the field of view of the human eye; it assuredly does not. The eye is not a camera and the eye-brain system has a field of view of about 190 degrees by 135 degrees which is much closer to a seriously expensive wide angle lens. Perhaps not a killer mistake, but National Geographic should know better.
There is also some really weird stuff. About zoom lenses: "photographic purists will tell you that their angle of refraction is not equal to their angle of reflection"!. What? This is either drivel or needs a lot more explanation. (Reflections in non-mirror lenses is undesirable whereas without refraction they wouldn't work at all.)
The software section makes no serious mention of the Aperture/Lightroom class of programs, a serious omission when they, rightly, emphasize the use of raw image recording.
The bit about Photoshop layers is rather confused, too. Adjustment Layers are a particular type of layer in Photoshop, not a name for all types of layer.
Talking about printing, the assertion is made that printers are "optimized for 300dpi". Well, some may be, Epsons almost certainly are not since their basic movement unit corresponds to 360dpi. The information is probably useless anyway.
To sum up: excellent on the artistic end, much less good at the craft side of photography and certainly not complete. Since the opening chapters make the point that photography is both an art and a craft, National Geographic need to do better with the next edition.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2012 4:11 PM BST

Kuala Lumpur Sketchbook
Kuala Lumpur Sketchbook
by Chen Voon Fee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Visual treat, 7 July 2011
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This is an old fashioned visual treat because of the quality of the illustrations. To those of us with a connection to Malaysia in general and KL in particular, it brings on a wave of nostalgia.
It is not a travel guide to KL! What it does do is evoke the history and atmosphere of a city which has changed rapidly and is still changing. Fortunately, many of the types of scene shown can still be seen in the modern cluttered, traffic-clogged city that is Kuala Lumpur; its past has not been entirely obliterated.
Browse through it, absorb the text and the atmosphere in the illustrations. then, o
if at all possible, go there and seek out what remains of what the book shows, whilst staying in a comfortable, air-conditioned, modern hotel!

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers
Price: £21.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Serious help for serious LR3 users, 7 July 2011
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This is a detailed, in-depth guide to using Lightroom 3. As far as I can tell, the odd slips that bugged the LR2 book are gone in the ground-up rewrite.
Martin Evening does what Adobe seem incapable of doing in their help systems: giving a detailed account of what the program is for and why it is a good basis for a photographer's workflow.
Oh, sure, it doesn't have the casual mateyness of some other books (thank goodness). LR3 is a complex tool though you can scratch the surface quite quickly. To get the most out of it, and the money you gave Adobe, requires effort and this book will help you minimise that effort.
The main part of the book is organised in workflow order: import & cataloguing, development (editing) and output (various forms). Even us amateurs need an organised workflow with digital photography, otherwise we just waste precious spare time. If you are new to Lightroom, read the first chapter for an overview and then get stuck in to the main part.
If you are an old LR hand, then the book becomes a refrence, especially to the bits that have changed from LR2 to LR3.

RF-602 Wireless Remote control Switch & Studio Flash Trigger combi System for Nikon D700,D300,D300s,D200,D3,D2 F5 Kodak Fuji & 10 Pin System DSLR Camera as MC-30
RF-602 Wireless Remote control Switch & Studio Flash Trigger combi System for Nikon D700,D300,D300s,D200,D3,D2 F5 Kodak Fuji & 10 Pin System DSLR Camera as MC-30
Offered by BV-electronics
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Unbeatable at the price, 22 Jun. 2011
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I wanted a wireless trigger for my entry-level studio flash. A Pocket Wizard system would have cost more than my 3-flash system! I purchased the version for use with the Nikon D700 (10-pin connector).
This is a good balance between quality and price, judging by the many online reviews.
The English in the instruction leaflet is "interesting" but is as good as a lot of the English in online comments complaining about it.
It works exactly as advertised; better, actually, because it happily triggers both my SB600 and SB27 in the hot shoe. The instructions claim that it doesn't suppoprt the SB600. What this means, maybe, is that it won't wake up the SB600 from standby. You have to set the SB600/SB27 to manual, though.
There are some nice touches for a system at this price. The receiver has a 3-pin socket and the leads for this have a threaded locking ring. The receiver-to-Nikon lead also has a threaded locking ring for the Nikon end.
A Nikon manual cable release with a 10-pin plug costs more than this wireless system (and won't trigger studio flashes).
The transmitter doesn't have a locking lever or nut to hold it in the camera hot shoe. This is not a problem on my kit; the transmitter is very light and stays firmly in the D700 hot shoe.
Ok, it's not as robust as a Pocket Wizard setup. So: exercise a little care and save your cash!

Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters
Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters
by Michael Frye
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of good stuff and some contentious bits, 16 Jun. 2011
The analysis and suggestions for landscape photography are great; most readers will learn a lot.
Maybe because of the subtitle, many of the examples are of the classic American subjects. Personally, I'd have liked a few examples of more intimate landscapes but that is a very personal view.
The author assumes the use of both Photoshop and Lightroom (or Aperture on a Mac) which is fair enough for a book seeking to emulate the masters like Adams and Weston.
There are lots of techniques, carefully explained, for producing the best results from your
Every assistant in every camera shop should be made to read and reread page 14 on "Megapixels and sensor size" and tested until they show that they understand it. That way we'd be spared the embarrassment of overhearing the horse feathers that they spout to gullible customers. Maybe camera manufacturers should be made to read it too! Advertisers certainly should read it.
The author does make some assertions that are open to question without any references being given.
One that jumped out at me was that Photoshop's sharpening facilities are superior to those in Lightroom. This was in a section on printing and Schewe, Evening and the late Bruce Fraser would not agree. For creative sharpening, Photoshop does provide more flexibility than Lightroom, but that didn't seem to be what the author was saying.
The author's strategy of preparing a copy resampled for printing is also superseded by Lightroom's ability to do this accurately on the fly.
Before adopting this particular suggestion, a photographer who uses Lightroom would do well to look at the round-trip workflow in Evening's book on Lightroom 3.

These quibbles do not detract from the value of the main part of the book which I am hoping will improve my attempts at landscapes.
I would expect any buyer to enjoy this book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 7, 2011 2:05 PM BST

Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom
Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom
by Bruce Fraser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £36.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive guide to the why and how of sharpening, 25 Oct. 2009
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I bought this book because I want to know the why as well as the how of sharpening. This book covers both very well. One warning: there may be a bit too much theory early on for some; the good news is that you can dive straight in to Chapters 3 to 6 to get the techniques. If you do skip the first two chapters, you'll probably want to come back to them later on. If nothing else, you'll want to find out why the authors are so convinced that 3-stage sharpening is (currently) the best approach.
The authors have gone to great lengths to try to illustrate how different sharpening tools affect the final printed images. This is extremely hard because of the limitations of the CMYK printing processes used in book production but they have succeeded admirably.
The book explains, in passing, exactly what the 'blend if' options for Photoshop layers do. This is a feature that baffles many.
Chapters 4 and 5 give you the information to make tailored sharpening tools for your work. You learn, in passing, the way that the highly-regarded PixelGenius output sharpening tools are constructed.
If you are concerned about getting the best prints from your work, this book is near essential and if you don't shoot raw now, you may well do after reading it.
Jeff Schewe has done a splendid job of the second edition of the late Bruce Fraser's original.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers
by Martin Evening
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, extensive guide to a complex program, 1 July 2009
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Lightroom might be less complex than Photoshop but it is still full of features. The default online help system is weak and a book like this enables a beginner to make good use of the program quickly. It also gives a more experienced user a valuable reference guide.
The book is not perfect (very few are) there are some typos and slips but very, very few for the size of the book.
It is true (see other reviews) that the illustrations are Mac-biased. This Windows user did not find this a problem. The text (usually) gives the differences between systems. The author states at one point that he runs Lightroom under Windows for some operations because of increased speed.
The organisation according to workflow will suit many users, particularly beginners. It is still possible to dip straight in to, say, the image editing part without reading all the image management part.
There is a lot of good advice to beginners in this book apart from the Lightroom-specific stuff. The author makes a very strong case for "shoot raw if you can" (more and more can) and for thinking through image management and keywording from the start.
The author makes it clear that for some photography (beauty is one) Lightroom is not a complete alternative to layer-capable programs like Photoshop. For those of us who use Photoshop, the material on using the two together smoothly is invaluable.
For beginners and experienced users alike, the material on the Lightroom Print module will make life a lot easier. The Print module is, to some of us, the jewel in Lightroom's crown. It is very flexible and adaptable which means a well-written guide to how to get the best out of it is needed. This book provides it.

New Epson Complete Guide to Digital Printing (Lark Photography Book)
New Epson Complete Guide to Digital Printing (Lark Photography Book)
by Rob Sheppard
Edition: Paperback

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for all, excellent for Epson users, 30 May 2009
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Very good for specific things.
I bought this because I have an Epson printer and wanted to prepare images in the best way possible for printing on it. This is my final stage after raw capture and editing in Photoshop.
The basic information about the inkjet printing process is very good and applies whatever printer you own. It explains the difference between pixels per inch and dots per inch very well and everyone who prints their own images needs to understand this (some don't). Colour management is also discussed well.
The general chapters are useful and are well covered, with fewer plugs for Epson products, in other books. If you don't have other books, there is lots of solid advice about taking and editing pictures.
The core of the book (for me) is the part on sizing and sharpening for printing. Here, the detailed advice applies to Epson printers (with their multiples of 360 dots per inch) but the principles apply to all inkjet printers. If you don't use an Epson printer, you would have to read this information together with your printer manual.
Sheppard offers one controversial piece of advice, which I summarise as "print early, print often". (He denies that he is trying to boost Epson paper sales.) He has a point. It is very difficult (not impossible) to judge correct print sharpening on screen.
If you use a good quality proofing paper (Permajet's Matt Proofing is just one example) proof prints are not too expensive and could save an expensive mistake on a high price art paper.
The Epson plugging will put some readers off. This is a shame, they should look past the plugs to the sound advice.
The samples of work from four professional photographers are illuminating too.

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