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G. Avvinti (Sicily, Italy)

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Vision and Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Voices That Matter)
Vision and Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Voices That Matter)
by David DuChemin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continuing from where Within the Frame left off, up to expressing your Vision through your Voice using Lightroom, 22 May 2014
Starting your journey in practicing on how to improve your captures during post production (either just fixing little problems such as dust spots or using it as an expression mean) you might have wondered if there's something like "an optimal value for contrast or tint" and a way to determine it. You might have read technical books on a given application and while looking at an amazing processed image and reading all the parameters wisely used by the author, asking yourself: "how did he know that he had to change right that parameter and right at that value ? Is he following some undeclared yet widely known rules ? Is it a defined science ?". Of course not, or not entirely: there's (and couldn't be otherwise) some subjectivity in that, and certainly you won't process every kind of image (or even every single image) the same way. Yet, you know that, starting on the very same original picture, by combining several diverse adjustments the possible processing paths are virtually infinite, and while some resulting images will apparently seem the same at the "fit the screen" zoom level, they might qualitatively be very different soon as you magnify them.

Somewhere in this journey, it becomes clear that there's a dualism between going deeper into details to grasp further the inner working of Lightroom (in this case) and abstracting from it focusing on the very act of transitioning from "your" way to see world and life, to capture them, and finally to express them in finished images. Ideally, one should foster both. However, you face this dualism every time you pick a new book about digital image post production. In one case you will probably expose yourself to books such as Jeff Schewe's The Digital Negative: Raw Image Processing in Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop or the various works by Martin Evening (e.g. The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers) and Scott Kelby (e.g. The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)). Those are great works by very knowledgeable people.

In the other case you might be well satisfied with David duChemin's "Vision & Voice". To start with, it's relieving. He confesses that he goes a lot back and forth trying several adjustments, sometimes with no clear anticipated path to achieve his objective. But he stresses the importance of striving as much as you can to have a "clear objective" in what you want the image to look like in the end, what do you want to tell with it, what do you want to highlight and that must be done at the post processing stage: in short, have a clear Vision (possibly the one you had when shooting) and strive to bring the image there by exploiting Lightroom. In this schema, the book is just the proper continuation of his previous and famous effort, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision (Voices That Matter). There's no better way to express the link between the two than using the author's words: "[...]The way you see things (vision) and the way in which you express them (voice) ...".

I found WtF very inspiring when I read it, and this book is no less, using the Vision as a trait-d'union and introducing the following important concept of Voice. DuChemin offers also a "workflow" on how to approach the development of a new image, expressed in terms of what he uses to ask himself to guide his experimentations toward the final result. Quite appropriately, he calls it a "Vision Driven Workflow" (VDW).

One caveat: the book shows now some ageing sign on the technicalities of Lightroom as it has evolved in this years and the Develop module (the one covered by duChemin here) has undergone some non negligible changes (I'm complementing it with The Digital Negative: Raw Image Processing in Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop: it's up-to-date and goes well into details of these changes). But that doesn't take away the importance of duChemin's message: strive to develop your Vision first, then use tools and craft as your Voice to express it (in this case, just adapt to new applications and algorithms but don't loose sight that they're just ... tools).

Bottom line: by all means keep investigating the intricacies of Lightroom or Photoshop or whatever other tool, Schewe/Evening/Kelby will considerably help to get the most out of them, but keep in mind that these are intended to support you in sharing your Vision. As such, Vision & Voice is, for me, an highly recommended reading.

Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools
Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools
by Ravi Sethi
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The reference book ... depending on your needs, 17 Oct. 2011
Once again, I want to point out the title of the book: "Principles, Techniques and Tools".
I think there are two kinds of compilers books available today: "Principles and Theory centered" ones and "Modern Compilers design and implementation" ones.
One might wonder what's the difference between the two.

The former kind is more suited for a course on theoretical aspects that lay the foundation of compiler construction. DFAs, NFAs and Regular expression along with relations and equivalence between the them; FSAs minimizations; grammars and Push-down FSAs in details, ambiguities and and how to cope with them; and so on.
This is what I mean for "theoretical aspects". And these topics are covered in great details in this book. Almost the same details they (the authors) placed on writing a more specific book as "Introduction to Automata Theory ...".
Same situation applies to principles on more application-oriented topics. Take the example of LR parsing. You can face the topic from a more theoretical side, dealing with details on bottom up parsing (still, it implies an in-depth knowledge of grammars theory), handles and (viable) prefixes, SLR or canonical LR or LALR parsers and techniques for the relative tables construction by hands (and for this, add a detailed and solid knowledge of Push-down FSAs along with grammars). By hands, at least, if principles are what matters in your course.
If you expect to find these topics (with this depth) in a book of the other kind, you might get mislead. As I did when I still had not clear this distinction, before I took the course.

The latter kind of books is more suited for a more pragmatic course. One where real, "modern" compilers are at hands, and probably written as homeworks. In this case, time being always limited in a university course, one (the instructor) will likely have to give up with those theoretical aspects (or just mention them) and focus on coding techniques and modern compiler studying. But ... perhaps, for these purposes books like Grune's "Modern Compiler Design", or Pittman's "Art of Compiler Design, The: Theory and Practice" or, at some degrees, Muchnick's "Advanced Compiler Design and Implementation" will be more suited.
Back to the LR parsing example, more pragmatic compilers design courses will (for time constraints) just have a glance on principles and spend a considerable time learning YACC. To do both things you would have to take a course on YACC alone (it requires time to exploit all of its advanced features, you can be sure of this).

All this said, once again: which is the best book ? The one that best fits your needs. And in fact, my needs were those of my course, which was completely centered on theoretical aspects. And for this course, the Dragon book (as it is better known since its cover) proved to be perfect, definitely no matter it was published on 1986: FSAs and grammars and their theory is (for all practical purposes) still the same since even before then.

Liszt: The Two Piano Concertos / The Piano Sonata
Liszt: The Two Piano Concertos / The Piano Sonata
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.30

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for digital fanatics, but absolutely excellent (artistic) recording, 17 Oct. 2011
There's not so much to say about this disc, and that has not yet been said by the finest listeners.

I've approached this disc because it's one of the "Gramophone Classical 100", i.e. one of the 100 best classical recordings of all the times (reviewed by Gramophone). Just listen to it to agree: Richter is not a surprise (my greatest sadness comes from the consciousness that we won't have any other recording from him). He has performed many concertos together with Kondrashin, and their feeling comes up at once from the firsts seconds.

Furthermore, the coupling with the Sonata S178 has been, in my opinion, a very happy choice.

The only drawback to be kept in account is the recording quality. The disc is an ADD, and not one of the best ones. The piano is not bad, but the orchestra's sound is thin and a bit confused. Fortunately for the disc, the loose in recording quality weights much lesser than the artistic quality.

Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Boxed Set: v. 1, 2 & 3
Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Boxed Set: v. 1, 2 & 3
by Scott Kelby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £43.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A dispenser of quickly and easily accessible recipes to get better shots, 16 Oct. 2011
There's of course a reason (at least) why this set of books are so famous though being so unconventional in their approach covering a broad range of Digital Photography books. More than a reason, to me, actually. The first, of course, is that it's well written in a very friendly style (personally I felt, for the first time as a reader, perhaps too much at times).
The second reason is that in the end, page after page, it ends up being very informative as it contains dozens and dozens of tips and techniques.
The third reason is its accessibility. The book's organization is to provide short "tricks", most of the times contained in the span of a single page. I like this approach, as it well fits the scattered 5-minutes-spare-time I have when I'm at home: I just pick up one of the volumes and eat a couple of tricks (just to keep in touch). These "technique recipes", or "pills of wisdom", or whatever we call them, are hence grouped by homogeneous topics, so you'll find a chapter (made up of many tricks) talking about shooting Flowers, one about shooting Wedding, Landscapes and other subjects, as well as chapter covering specific topics like Flash photography, choosing the right Lenses for the right purpose, etc. I particularly appreciated the closing chapters "Pro Tips for Getting Better Photos" and " Photo Recipes to Help You Get The Shot". I always find inspiring to see a wonderful image and read in details how it was shot.

All this said, I think it might be helpful to tell also what this book set is not (and why I labelled it as unconventional). It's not a structured, concept-by-concept progressively built, theory powered course on Digital Photography. If you're looking for something like this, I would rather suggest giving a look, in order of personal preference, at Ben Long's Complete Digital Photography or Dickman and Kinghorn's Perfect Digital Photography(Second edition).

The missing star is due just to the expressly intentional small amount of backing theory in the various topics. I know this was, indeed, intentional, as the author himself states: "If you and I were out on a shoot, and you asked me, 'Hey, how do I get this flower to be in focus, but I want the background out of focus?' I wouldn't stand there and give you a lecture about aperture, exposure, and depth of field. In real life, I'd just say, 'Get out your telephoto lens, set your f/stop to f/2.8, focus on the flower, and fire away.' You d say, 'OK,' and you'd get the shot. That's what this book is all about."
This notwithstanding, the approach has a downside, i.e. it leaves the necessity to go anyway to other books (like the above suggested) because to know how to reach a goal is already a desirable result, but I personally feel always more comfortable if I even know why the trick works and what lays behind it.

Complete Digital Photography
Complete Digital Photography
by Ben Long
Edition: Paperback
Price: £38.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Really Complete introduction in a single book, 16 Oct. 2011
If I had to suggest a single book providing a Complete introduction to digital photography, I would have no doubt to go with this book. As an introduction it perfectly fits the need as it succeeds in covering virtually all of the topics faced when going digital (and not only) without leaving the impression of being too superficial. Of course it can be deemed to be Complete in absolute terms and in depth coverage of each single topic, that'd be impossible in a single book. One of the greatest pleasure of (digital) photography is that it's the sum of several broad topics that well worth being explored individually: if you think of Composition, Exposure, Lightning, Post-Production, you'll soon find that the literature provides dozens of books specifically dedicated to each of them. That's why putting all this together is a complex endeavor and requires a careful thinking and organization.

Going into some more detail about the book's organization, I particularly appreciated the underlying idea. So much that I couldn't tell it better than the author himself: "[...] we've been studying the theory behind all the different parameters that affect the creation of an image, as well as the controls that you have for manipulating those parameters. I have been calling this the craft of photography. Photographic artistry is the process of using these craft skills to represent a scene--whether it's a portrait, still life, event, landscape, or abstract--in a way that evokes some of what the subject makes you feel." And indeed, as an amateur, I feel the compelling need to improve in both, something in which the book proved helpful. Moreover, I was completely new to post production and through this book I got the necessary fundamentals. As rough figures, keep into account the book has the first 300 pages about dedicated to everything involved in getting the image in your camera and some 270 following pages talking about images management and post-production. It's not everything you should know about this, but they're definitely enough to start with.

On the specifics, it was kind of a very appreciated surprise reading the topic in the first chapter ("Eyes, Braing, Light and Images", i.e. how we see) as well as the chapter on composition and the idea that to improve in this the first need is to Learn to See (or gain back again this lost capability we had as children). As a computer scientist, of course I found interesting the coverage of the technological aspects that lie behind the whole process of acquiring an image.

Looking for similar books, my personal experience has brought in my hands two other interesting books, namely Dickman and Kinghorn's Perfect Digital Photography(Second edition) and Michael Freeman's Pro Photographer's D-SLR Handbook (A Lark Photography Book), which would respectively be my second and third in place alternatives. (Note however that Michael Freeman easily gets back on the throne with his other many excellent books, including bestsellers like The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos and The Photographer's Mind: Creative Thinking for Better Digital Photos).

Nikon D7000: From Snapshots to Great Shots
Nikon D7000: From Snapshots to Great Shots
by John Batdorff
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fits the need of a newbie starting his experience with a D7000, 15 Oct. 2011
This book has been an easy read to refresh the basics of photography with an eye on how these basics might be applied with a Nikon D7000. If this is the aim of the potential reader (whether it's a refresh or an introduction), then the book might prove helpful. In other words, this is a book "to start with" digital photography and the D7000, while I don't see it as a book "to go deeper", for both topics. And I suppose that this should be the case since if the aim would otherwise be a broad general understanding of digital photography, then the choice might be better directed toward general (still much satisfiable) accounts such as Ben Long's (Complete Digital Photography) or Dickman/Kinghorn's (Perfect Digital Photography(Second edition)), etc or even deeper with books on specific topics like composition, exposure and suchlike by Michael Freeman, Tom Ang, Bryan Peterson etc. Likewise, to go deeper about Nikon D7000 itself the best account I've found so far is David Busch's (David Busch's Nikon D7000 Guide to Digital SLR Photography).

A due mention goes to the pictures in the book: many of them are really compelling and well explained. Also, the print and paper quality are absolutely satisfiable, and since we're talking (or reading ...) about something where aesthetics and general sensorial experience is a primary concern, I definitely appreciated it.

One note for the avid reader: the publisher has many titles in its catalog talking about photography topics. One of these is Jeff Revell's (Exposure: From Snapshots to Great Shots). I would not suggest this latter to the owner of Batdorff's book and even more the viceversa, since they share textual contents (literally, word-by-word) in several points of the books. This is not to say the books are exactly the same, perhaps the idea was to create a variation of Revell's book specific for the Nikon D7000 ... And indeed, truth be told, Batdorff talks about just the D7000 in early chapters and wherever a suggestion is provided on how actually "do this" on the D7000.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2015 4:31 PM BST

On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography
On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography
by Neil Van Niekerk
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Very Effective (flash topics) and surprisingly insightful (on unexpected topics), 15 Oct. 2011
First some background: I bought my first flash the same day I bought this book since I was perfectly aware that flash photography is a topic far more complex than it might look like to the unexperienced amateur, and indeed an amateur I am so everything has been a discovery in this book. As such, being conscious that this might bias my judgement, the book has been undoubtedly effective in explaining the theory (with a strong push to try it myself then) of on-camera flash lightning.

Mr. van Niekerk approach is to explain the theory, then provide plenty of images in which he shows what the picture would look like with ambient light alone and with one or more of the just explained setup of added flash light, all this with a language as clear as desirable.

However, all this might someway be "expected", after all these were the hopes when I bought the book. But there's more. For example, I didn't expect that by starting a discussion on the functioning of camera meters, how generally one must cope with the problem of metering white subjects and have them actually rendered as white rather than something grayish. I didn't expect this would be the book that taught me the simple (once met for the first time) yet effective technique of placing the whites close the right edge of the histogram by intentionally overexposing until it happens (while I previously pondered general overexposing only in the perspective to exploit the editing latitude provided by RAW images). It was a trigger to find further readings, to eventually get a gray reference card and move on improving my technique toward accuracy.

If I had to identify something on the improvements side, say, for a second edition of the book, I would suggest to stuff in more illustrations of the scenes overviews showing the photographer and camera, their relative position with respect to the subjects and the area where light is bounced. These kind of illustrations are mostly present in the latest pages of the book, yet I found them tremendously helpful to me so I would surely have appreciated more of them. These might, by exchange, be added at the expense of some repetitions, tough I understand this is just a teaching style that I've found by now present in several technical books.

The Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms (Series in Computer Science & Information Processing)
The Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms (Series in Computer Science & Information Processing)
by Alfred Vaino Aho
Edition: Paperback
Price: £54.39

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The very classic, 11 Mar. 2003
Excluding Knuth's opera (another dimension), this (AHU) is about the other and only renowned classic algorithms book, deseverdly I'd say, together with Cormen-Leiserson-Rivest's (CLR) "Introduction to Algorithms". With the difference that the first and only edition of AHU has been written 16 years before the first (of the two) editions of CLR.
The two books are quite different in the language and formalism used: more formal and mathematical inclined AHU with respect to CLR. I'd say, the very classic style of his authors who have made history in the CS literature with their books (particularly 2 on algorithms and data structures, 2 on Computer Theory, 2 on Compilers, 1 on CS foundations): as these books have been used in most universities around the world for decades, they've proved to be real milestones in the education of thousands of students.
The books differ also in scope, since AHU is certainly not an encyclopedic collection as CLR does, with his roughly 500 pages against 1000. In spite of this, I'd point out the following: my textbook on Algorithms was CLR, but when we got to Complexity Classes (P-NP and theory behind) we "had" to switch to AHU for the simple reason that CLR did not almost mention at all Turing Machines nor Space Complexity, without which is certainly possible to learn e.g. about NP-TIME completeness, but without which, such a path would equally certainly miss some foundamental topics of Complexity Theory.
All in all, then, imo the book truly deserves 5 stars (and perhaps it would deserve a second, updated, edition too ... possibly, imho, through a bit less revolutionary revision job than they did with "Introduction to Automata Theory, Language and Computation").
As a final note, those looking for a more applicative and self-reference than an educational introductory text, could have a look at the two-volumes opera by the former Knuth's pupil, Robert Sedgewick (possibly the more consolidated C or C++ versions).

Combinatorial Optimization: Algorithms and Complexity (Dover Books on Computer Science)
Combinatorial Optimization: Algorithms and Complexity (Dover Books on Computer Science)
by Christos H. Papadimitriou
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It worths exponentially much more than its price, 11 Mar. 2003
One could buy this book for different reasons: interests in combinatorial optimization, of course; interests in what Papadimitriou has to say, since his thoughts on this subject are definitely invaluable; perhaps the price is a good reason alone.
Whatever the reason, however, I think that would be a rare event to remain duped.
I was preparing my exam in Computability and Complexity when I first used it. I've been wonderfully surprised by the amount of definitions, algorithms, concepts I've found in this book. I think one could use this book for a simple course on Algorithms, on Computability and/or Complexity, on the whole Combinatorial Optimization, and the book would be always and costantly useful.
The chapters on algorithms and complexity, or those on NP completeness have proved to be gems. The chapters on Approximation and Local Search are great, and they feature a bunch of detailed and excellent quality stuff (e.g. there is a detailed treatment of Christofides' algorithm to approximate the TSP, that is quite an idiosyncratic topic).
All in all, a very great book, with a value exponentially greater than the very insignificant price.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2011 3:16 PM BST

Computer Networks (International Edition)
Computer Networks (International Edition)
by Andrew S. Tanenbaum
Edition: Paperback

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and Clear. Engineer's point of view., 27 Feb. 2003
Computer Networks are a wide and fastly growing subject. Finding a textbook that covers all of the topics in a detailed way is simply impossible. Perhaps for this reason good textbook authors have, in a probably implicit way, established two possible approaches: the Engineers' and the (mostly Software) Developers'. Once again Tanenbaum has done a great job with this book (and its updated-more-than-revised 4th edition), which takes the former approach.
The book presents general issues and impacts (on technology as well on the society) of Computer Networks in the first chapter, and then move in a detailed exposition of the lower layers of a general network architecture (similar to the OSI one). The great value of the books stems from the clarity and thoroughness of the exposition. Indeed, it presents all of the most known technologies and algorithms (both today's and historical) from physical mediums to algorithms for routing, congestion and flow control and so on. Plenty of details are provided at the level of mathematical performance analysis for some algorithms like those presented in the Medium Access Sublayer chapter (e.g. ALOHA and CSMAs).
The "tone" of prof. Tanenbaum is an added values as well. He rarely becomes boring and sometimes results hilarious in his comments of famous anecdotes that led to the born of this technology or that algorithm (have you ever heard how automatic phone calls switching was born ?). I never underestimate the value of an easy exposition, as sometimes studying is already hard enough to cope also with a overwhelmingly boring book.
Enough for the lower layers/protocols so far. About the upper ones the book actually does not spend too much emphasis on network applications nor on the high level tools for building network applications (e.g. there are a very few pages for sockets, but no more). Indeed, this area is more properly in the competence of the second kind of books (Developer's) as noted at the beginning of the review. However, there's one (unsurprising but happy) exception: as already done in his "Modern Operating Systems, 2e", Tanenbaum has put a detailed and rigorous treatment of the Security issue (Network Security in this case).
About editions, the third was already a very good book. Reasons for considering the fourth edition are the inclusion of updated technologies like ADSL, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, JavaScript, XHTML or XML, etc. More than this, however, technologies like fiber optic were on the wave of great improvements in 1996 when the third edition was published (and deformation due to day-night thermal excursions were not cited) so that now the treatment is more reliable (in terms of updates, not in technicalities).
All in all, given that imho there's no serious "complete bible" (or the like) book on computer networks, this book is a full five-stars one if the Engineers' perspective is that of interest. If one is more interested in the Developers' perspective (take again the sockets example), then a good choice would be Douglas Comer's "Computer Networks". For TCP/IP fans, my best choices would be the more focused Comer's "Internetworking with TCP/IP, vol. I" (1/3 Engineer's, 2/3 Developers') or Stevens' "TCP/IP Illustrated. vol I" (1/5 Engineer's, 4/5 Developers').

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