Joe Cornish, the great British landscape photographer, advocates taking most of your photographs no more than thirty minutes from your home. So, here's my blog featuring pictures either thirty minutes drive or walk away from my front door or from the place where I'm staying for a few days. I'll also be writing about photography in general from time to time. Please enjoy!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Book Reviews

I've just obtained two excellent books to my photography library.

Firstly, we have a photo guidebook called "How to Photograph Anglesey" by Mark Youlden, who is a photographer based on the island. In an A5 format and running to 96 pages, Mark has crammed in 34 locations around the island to visit, each with a brief description of how to get there, where to park and the best time of year to visit. Each location has at least one image taken by Mark illustrating its potential. There are over 85 high quality colour images superbly reproduced. In addition, he has thoughtfully laid out some sound advice for novices and more experienced photographers about the choice of equipment, using filters, simple guidelines for effective composition and time exposures.

The locations include the bridges over the Menai Straits, the eastern coast, including Penmon Point and Puffin Island, Amlwch, Holyhead (particularly the Celtic Gateway Bridge), churches and the south-western coast, which is my favourite stamping ground. Needless to say, the book is now with my OS map of the island and I suspect that it will get much use over the coming months.

The book is published by Llygad Gwalch ISBN: 978-1-84527-179-7 and costs just £6.50. It's available from Waterstones, Amazon (where there's a five-star review!) or direct from the publishers. My copy was bought for me in a garden centre on the island. Mark has received support from the Welsh Book Council and has two more guidebooks in the pipeline covering Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsular.

I must add that I have no connection whatsoever with Mark, the Welsh Book Council or the publishers other than being a very satisfied owner.

You can see more of Mark's work on his website - click here - or via Facebook - search for Mark Youlden Photography.

My most recent purchase is Bruce Fraser's "Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2". There are more current editions available but at £36.99 recommended retail price for the most recent edition, I'm afraid I baulked! I paid £2.49 from my local Oxfam bookshop - feed your mind, feed the world - for a mint condition copy. This book deals solely with Adobe's Camera Raw (ACR), Digital Negative (DNG) and Bridge. Okay, it's CS2 and ACR 3.0, which are a little old but the techniques and principles are portable to current versions of ACR. DNG was introduced with ACR 3.0 so having some additional data on this format will be useful.

Every conceivable topic is covered from preferences through each tool from camera settings to workflow considerations, importing images into Bridge, updating metadata, automating processes and export into CS2, which is where my interest stops. The book is written in a logical way from how Raw works, a system overview, Raw's controls - tools, palette, histogram and settings - Raw menu covering preferences, loading and saving settings and export. The Raw workflow controls (the various tabs in the righ-hand window) get excellent coverage.

Camera setup is discussed at length before Bridge and it's multitude of options is tackled. Finally, workflow, metadata and automation are covered along with creating contact sheets, HDR merging PDF, web galleries and other presentation methods.

The book runs to 300 pages is copiously illustrated to reinforce the text instructions and, at the price I paid, a real bargain. It's my bedtime reading at the moment.

The series is published by Peachpit in association with Adobe Press, both of who have long standing associations with computer textbooks. If you want a more recent copy then I suggest you look to Amazon and search under Bruce Fraser.

An excellent book to make you a Raw genius or if you just want to know what all those tools really do.

If you have any doubts about using Raw or JPEG's I would advise that Raw is the way to go; the amount of data contained in a Raw file over a JPEG is huge so you will get far better images with greater opportunities for digital manipulation without loss of quality. Thus, getting the best out of ACR is of paramount importance and while I have a good grasp of using the program to have an Adobe-supported book on hand to suggest better or even correct ways of achieving a particular result is a good thing.

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