Jul 122011
 

© Paul Mozell 2011

Focal Press, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc., has published a number of books by pro photographers, about photography, within the past year. These slim volumes will appeal to both new and experienced shooters. Thumbing through the stack of books for the first time, I was impressed with the quality of graphic design as well as the attention to detail from page to page. The books are printed on heavy stock, and both monochrome and color images really pop. Even the software screen captures are clearly visible.  The Focus On series parses the most important teaching points of feature-rich software products to a very manageable level. Volumes in the Field Guide series are compact enough (4.5 x 6 inches) to toss in a camera backpack for reference or inspiration when photographing on location.

  • The Landscape Photography Field Guide by Carl Heilman II. 192 pages. Price $15.95 US. This was the first book I lifted off the stack because I was already familiar with the work of  the author. His documentation of the Adirondack region of New York is refreshing. The chapters on Energy and Emotion, Weather and even Aerial Photography are supported by balanced coverage of the technical essentials of landscape photography. I will certainly return to this book for inspiration when making my own outdoor images.
  • The Bird Photography Field Guide by David Tipling. 192 pages. Price $15.95 US. If you thought that bird photography was beyond your skill level and budget then read this pocket-sized volume. You’ll learn that there is plenty you can do to capture images of the avian world with your current camera gear. If you are lucky enough to own a 500mm Canon or Nikon telephoto lens, Tipling’s book will help you get the most out of your top-flight glass. Check out the chapters on tripod heads, waterfowl, urban environments, getting published, motion blur and beanbags – an old favorite of mine.
  • The DSLR Field Guide by Michael Freeman. 256 pages. Price $15.95 US. Camera manufacturers’ manuals are notoriously complex and hard to read. There is something in this book for every photographer; regardless of camera brand and level of experience. Freeman does a great job of demystifying topics that intimidate new photographers including: color management, workflow, image browsers,  dynamic range, and tonal adjustments.
  • The Exposure Field Guide by Michael Freeman. 192 pages. Price $15.95 US. Whether you own a $150 point and shoot digital camera or a $6000 professional DSLR, your understanding of light and exposure  will set you apart as a photographer. Read this book you are certain to improve your understanding of the limitations and capabilities of your camera(s). His 12-type analysis of exposure scenarios unique and useful.
  • The Wedding Photography Field Guide by Michelle Turner. 192 pages. Price $15.95 US. Styles of wedding photography change as rapidly as camera models. This new book by Turner is about as current as you can get with todays trends. Chapters about locations for bride & groom portraits, the cocktail hour, the first dance, on-line proofing, social media, and photographers’ insurance will get you started in the business, or re-energize the work you are doing today.
  • Focus On Apple Aperture by Corey Hilz. 221 pages. Price 19.95 US. When Apple Aperture came along it responded to photographers’ need to quickly catalogue and manage the hundreds or thousands of images generated by their DSLRs. Apple Aperture managed to seamlessly blend digital asset management (DAM) and image manipulation within one program, forever changing and accelerating the way we work with images. Written by a professional travel and landscape photographer, this well written and edited volume is all about the work flow and not about the bells and whistles of the software — a fault of many books written by engineers.
  • Focus On Photoshop by Corey Hilz. 222 pages. Price 19.95 US. Here is another entry in the crowded field of books about Photoshop. This book, aptly subtitled “Focus On The Fundamentals,” does just that. It’s photographer-author speaks from first hand experience using the program for his day-to-day work. You’ll quickly get up to speed on essential techniques like red-eye removal, keywording, black and white conversion and layer masks. Hilz does a great job of guiding the reader around the essentials of the program, avoiding tools and techniques that are more specific to the needs of graphic designers and animators than to photographers.
  • Focus on Photoshop Elements by David Asch. 153 pages. Price 19.95 US. If you find the full version of Photoshop either bewildering or too costly, then Photoshop Elements, now in its 9th version, may meet most or all of your photo processing needs. Asch shows the surprising range of this mature and highly functional software program, using clear language, salient samples and screen captures. Topics covered include: tagging and categorizing images, correcting perspective, fixing underexposure, spot healing, working with raw image files, and printing or output options — and much more.

For more information visit Focalpress.com or your favorite bookstore.

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