Category Archives Books

41cezb03rl_ss500_I don’t normally do book reviews, because I don’t think it’s right for me, a Photoshop and photography book author, to publicly criticize another author’s Photoshop or photography instruction book. It just ain’t right. Luckily, with this book I don’t have to (which is why I’m making an exception and doing a book review).

I just got a copy of “Footprint Travel Photography” by Steve Davey (published by FootPrintBooks), and I have to tell you, I’m very impressed. Here are seven things I love about this book:

  1. The author is a great travel photographer, and this book is loaded with this beautiful images.
  2. It’s got a nice, clean layout that makes you want to read the book
  3. It’s broken down into short, digestible one, two, and four page sections on a particular topic or idea.
  4. The author writes in a very conversational style, and gives lots of detail without getting overly techie, or trying to sound like he’s smarter than you (he is smarter than me, but he doesn’t rub it in your face).
  5. Although there are lots of small photos in the book, the layout does allow for a decent number of large photos, and they really have an impact.
  6. I love the smaller form factor of the book. Not too big, yet wide enough to accommodate a lot of photos.
  7. But perhaps what I love best about this book (and what made me want to write this review), is that he did something I find very valuable. For every photo in the book (and it’s packed with photos from exotic locales around the globe), he tells you exactly where the shot was taken. Often times, more than just the city, and country. Sometimes, he’ll tell you exactly where at the location he took the shot (from across such-and-such a river, or from a plane flying over, etc.). It drives me nuts when I see a great shot in a travel photo book, and there’s no mention of where the photo was taken, so I was particularly delighted to see how well he covered this thoughout the book. Also, after mentioning the locale, he usually adds a few lines of background info or a tip.

I could only find one thing that I would change about the book, and that is the font size for the regular text is really small (and I’ve had a lifetime of being accused of using too small a font size, so small sizes don’t normally bother me) and the caption-sized text (of which there is quite a lot) is crazy small (either that, or I’m getting really old. I’m probably getting really old). But that wouldn’t stop me one bit (in fact, I’m having to nit-pick to get to that).

I’m going to be spending some more time with the book this week, but since I was excited about it, I wanted to share my first impressions on this new book. Here’s a link to it on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. It’s around $20. Totally worth it.

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I’m finishing up the update to, “The Photoshop Elements 7 Book for Digital Photographers,” (co-authored with Matt Kloskowski) and each time I update a book, I always use all new photos throughout the book, which means I have to be shooting pretty much all the time (which gives me a great excuse to use with my wife, “Honey, it’s for work.” ;-)

Anyway, I shot a number of new images just for the book, and I thought it would be cool to do an on-location sports portrait of some local kids who play Soccer (which is called football about every place else on the planet). My buddy Jim Workman is president of the local Soccer (football) league and he set-up a shoot for me with a family that had three talented, fun, and really sweet kids.

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This was my first location shoot with Brad assisting me, and we had an awful lot of fun. One of the highlights was watching these little kids blast the ball past Brad, who is a much better photographer than he is goalie, and then watching him chase the ball all over the field.

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LIGHTING: We used one Nikon SB-800 off-camera flash, with a hot-shoe EZYbox softbox, (the one I talked about last week) mounted on a sturdy C-stand (if I had used a shoot-through umbrella, the wind would have taken it down about half-a-dozen or so times). Because this was a sunset shoot, we taped a 1/2 cut of CTO gel over the front of the flash to warm up the color. When the sun was completely gone, we added a second SB-800 on the opposite side of the player, with a HonlPhoto 8″ Speed Snoot to keep the light from bare flash really small and concentrated on the right side of the subject’s face.

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We did the shoot at a local playing field, rather than in a big stadium,  and there were some unattractive maintenance buildings and a parking lot in the background, so I had to compose the shots to keep all that ugly stuff out of the frame. I took nearly all the shots lying on the ground shooting up toward the kids. I positioned the kids so the setting sun was behind them putting great color into the clouds (we got lucky having such great clouds that night—the next night there wasn’t a cloud in the sky). The field was pretty plain, so I made sure the goal was in most of the shots, so it would be more obvious that we were on a field. I also tried to included some of the field lights in the shots, to give more of a stadium feel.

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CAMERA INFO: All the shots were taken with a Nikon D3, using a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens at 200 ISO. I shot in Manual mode, and most shots were taken at f/9 at 1/200 to 1/250 of a second (I used a higher shutter speed to minimize existing light and darken up the clouds).

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I’m planning on doing a special bonus video for people who buy the book on how to set-up a similar location shoot.

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Gang; we are so close to finishing this Orphanage, but as you read on Friday—the funding has run out, and the construction has stopped. With your help, today, we can restart construction immediately, finish the orphanage, and start feeding and caring for these children who need our help so badly. So, here’s the plan:

For one day; today, Tuesday, December 16, 2008, if you pre-order my new book, “The Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers” using this special direct link; I will donate 100% of the entire cover price of the book to Springs of Hope, Kenya, the non-profit grass-roots group put together by Joseph and Molly Bail to build this orphanage. (This opportunity ends tonight at 12:00 midnight, Eastern Standard Time, U.S.).

I’m not donating just “the profits” from the book, or “a portion of the proceeds” from today’s sales; you pay the cover price for the special limited-edition spiral-bound version of the book, which is $64.99, and all $64.99 goes directly toward finishing the orphanage, and feeding these children. So, basically, you and I are in this together, both of us giving to make something special happen in the life of child.

Along with my humble and most heartfelt thanks, I will personally sign your copy of the book, as my way of saying thanks for supporting Joseph, Molly, and the amazing and selfless work they’re doing with homeless and street children in Kenya.

Now, could you buy the book cheaper somewhere else? Absolutely, but when you buy it here today, you’re not just buying a book, you’re feeding and caring for a child that desperately needs your help. No matter what else you do today, you’ll know that you did something that really matters. You gave a hungry child food, shelter, and hope.

NOTE: Here’s the link you’ll need to buy the book direct from Kelby Training, so the proceeds go to Joseph and Molly.

If you’d like to learn more about Joseph and Molly’s work, visit http://www.springsofhopekenya.org

IMPORTANT: This opportunity to help out is available only today, Tuesday, December 16, 2008. Scott’s book is scheduled for delivery later this month. Not available with any other discounts. As always, Shipping & Handing is extra. Thanks for spreading hope.

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I didn’t include any of my own books in my Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide, but I did write a few books that I hope you might consider as gifts for the photography freak on your list this year. For example:

Amazon.com has put together a special limited-edition boxed set which includes both my books, “The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1, and Volume 2” along with one of my signed 8×10 prints (yup, I hand signed each one).

The special limited-edition boxed-set packaging makes it perfect for a Holiday Gift (It’s actually really nicely presented), and you can order this special boxed set (created exclusively for Amazon.com), by clicking right here.

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My buddy Jeff Revell, of PhotoWalkPro.com fame, is just finishing up a book on Canon’s new 50D. What I really like about Jeff’s approach to the book is that it’s not just another expanded version of the camera’s manual, because rather than just teaching how to use the buttons and dials on the camera, he’s teaching you how to use the camera to take better photographs all the way around.

I’ve seen some of the content and layouts from the book, and I have to tell you, he’s going to break the mold for how “how to use your [fill in the blank] camera” books are written. You can preorder his new book now at Barnes & Noble.com or Amazon.com.

I just placed my order five minutes ago.

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