Shannon Kalahan and David Pasillas are both photographers/bloggers whose work I admire and follow. A couple of weeks ago they released their first collaborative effort, an ebook for the budding landscape photographer, Photography Duh!
This isn’t your typical photography book which covers technical information, instead it’s a no-nonsense, common sense book of mistakes you should avoid and not just any mistake but mistakes that both Shannon and David have made. Truth be told as I was reading the book I have to admit I’ve made some of them myself.
Now don’t get me wrong this book isn’t just about mistakes to avoid but there’s some great advice and instruction on things you should do. Shannon and David cover everything from how to keep your gear clean when out shooting; equipment you should have with you when out in the field (and not just camera gear); rules…when to break them and when not to and yes they do get into some of the juicy stuff that us photographers like to review every so often and such as exposure; light and editing.
The fun thing about this book…yes I said fun…is it’s written a with a great sense of humour and a little bit of tongue in cheek. Frankly I wish they had written it before I had made some of these mistakes over the years.
The book is available in Shannon’s store here and at $5.99 it’s a steal.
I picked up Ian Plant’s latest release, Supercharge Your Vision – 9 Creative Missions for Visionary Photographers, a couple of weeks ago and have been meaning to sit down and write about it.
One of the positives of traveling on business is being able to catch up on your reading when your sitting on an airplane and I was really looking forward to digging into Ian’s latest.
As the title implies, Supercharge Your Vision, Ian Plant challenges the photographer with 9 well defined missions which are meant to have you try new techniques and and learn to see not just look at the scene in front of you. What I really like about these missions is that you don’t have to travel half way across the globe to do them. You can take up the challenge and achieve these missions (and along the journey improve your photography) just by stepping out your front door.
Each mission is accompanied by at least 10 to 12 scenerios on how to achieve that specific mission….what to look for….how to best capture your image….tips on lighting and composition all accompanied by images that reflect the image complete with shooting data.
This book will help you focus your creative energy and enhance your skills. You don’t need to buy any new gear. You don’t need to travel to exotic locals. You just need to open your mind and your eyes and your artistic vision will come to life.
Supercharge Your Vision is currently on sale for $9.95. Click here to purchase your copy.
When its cold and dreary outside there’s nothing better then to curl up with a good book and I did just that this past week thanks to the creative team at Dreamscapes. They’ve just launched 2 new ebooks that I think you’ll find useful.
The first of these is The Complete Guide to Gear for the Landscape Photographer by Justin Reznick. This is the second edition of this book by Justin. I reviewed the first edition back when it first came out in November 2013. You can read that review here.
The second has been updated with new reviews on equipment ranging from the essentials such as tripods, ballheads, shutter releases and bags to cameras and lenses, iPhone accessories. clothing and more.
What I love about this book is that whether you shoot with a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, a compact camera or an iPhone Justin covers them all. Justin not only reviews the different brands of cameras and lenses (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony, Panasonic and more) but he also shares his thoughts on the pros and cons of each.
This 150 page ebook is jammed pack with great information and while I love finding out more about useful gear for me the best part of the book are the last 50 or so pages that are devoted to Photographer Interviews with the likes of Ian Plant, Tony Sweet, Jim Patterson and Jim Nilsen. Each of these photographers (10 interviews in all) have their own special niche whether it be landscape, wildlife, infrared photography or desert photography and Justin gets them to share their own personal recommendations on what works for them and how they deal with the challenges that their own type of photography faces.
The second book that I want to share with you is Master Flash Photography by Glenn Bartley. In this ebook Glenn takes the reader through the fundamentals of outdoor flash photography starting with a lesson on the basic controls of the flash. Now he calls this basic but its anything but. As I was reading through chapter 1 I realized how much I didn’t know about my flash (this is where I hang my head down in shame).
While this book is touted for nature photographers I think the first 2 chapters, Basic Controls and Operations and In The Field are worth its weight in gold. This book gives you the foundation and knowledge to create better images in the field.
Glenn covers how to use your flash in manual mode, ETTL mode, High Speed Sync Mode as well as using flash exposure compensation. Set by Step instructions along with diagrams accompany each topic.
Learning how to properly use your flash in the field will allow you to shoot in low light, extend your shooting day, it will provide catch-light, fill light and punch to your images and it will freeze the action.
The Complete Guide to for the Landscape Photographer is on sale for $9.95 (regularly $12.95) and Flash Simplified is on sale for only $16.95 until the end of January! (regularly $19.95) Click here to purchase.
Every year when I was in University there would be a poster sale that was held on campus at the beginning of each year. I remember in my first year purchasing 2 Eliot Porter posters, one was of Big Sur (it was a scene I stared at often and vowed to always go visit…I did) the other was a more intimate photographer of wildflowers. Just in case you don’t know Eliot Porter was an American Landscape photographer whose work will leave you breathless. Why am I telling all this…bear with me for a minute. A couple of years ago I was reading an Outdoor Photographer article on “intimate landscapes” and the writer used Eliot Porter’s work as an example of the beauty of the intimate landscape. It was about challenging yourself as a photographer who normally creates photographs of vast landscapes to stop and focus (excuse the play on words) or narrowing your field of vision to find the intimate details in nature. I knew that the Porter wildflower poster I had purchased was a wonderful example of that.
When I learned that the team at Dreamscapes’ latest ebook release was titled “Beyond the Grand Landscape – A Guide to Photographing Nature’s Smaller Scenes” I knew I had to pick up a copy and read it. The book, written by authors and photographers Sarah Marino and Ron Coscorrosa, is a 172 page behemoth that covers everything from the principles of composition, abstract forms, repetition in nature to camera technique and processing.
I’ve reviewed other books by Marino & Coscorrosa including Desert Paradise – A Guide to Death Valley and Forever Light – A Photographer’s Guide to Iceland and was impressed then as I am now by the thoroughness; knowledge and depth that goes into their ebooks.
The first part of Beyond the Grand Landscape delves into the mind of the photographer, both from Marino’s perspective and Coscorrosa’s, of how to look for and see a smaller scene. They discuss topics such as visualization and the role of familiarity of scene and take it one step further by interviewing and including the work of other renowned photographers such as Greg Russell and Justin Reznick and allowing the reader to gain yet another perspective on the topic.
Throughout the book the authors share their portfolio of images with detailed explanation of settings, equipment and processing.
This book teaches:
Different types of small scenes that can be photography subjects.
Twelve key creative concepts and field practices used to discover and photograph small scenes.
Exercises to facilitate your learning and application of the ebook’s concepts.
Field techniques for macro, flowers, foliage, and abstract photographs.
Foundations of photographic composition and technical fundamentals.
Enhancing effects of light, weather and atmospheric conditions.
Value of mood and how it establishes an emotional connection to your viewer.
Beyond the Grand Landscape can be purchased for $19.95 at the Dreamscapes store. Just click here to purchase or you can also download a free sample.
Being away for the last week and half has thrown me behind on some of the post I wanted to work on. Before I left I had download 2 new ebooks released by the team at Dreamscapes. I was planning on reading them and writing a review while I was away but I only got as far and doing the reading.
The first ebook is another in their new mini-guide series, Wildlife Photography by Ian Plant.
I love these mini guides. They’re the perfect length with just enough enough information to digest in one sitting. They’re also wonderful to have with you in the field and quickly be able to refer back to the information you’re looking for. This Wildlife Photography guide is no different. Photographing wildlife has its own challenges and while it’s vital to get it technically perfect there are other things to consider such as does your image tell a story. Ian’s mini guide touches on how tell that story by using light, providing context, positioning yourself and much more.
The 2nd release this month is Post Processing – A Guide for Nature Photographers by expert bird photographer Glenn Bartley.
If you’re a bird photographer you’re gong to love this new ebook if you’re not you’ll still get plenty out of this book because it deals with post processing of images and not the capture. If you feel bogged down with your workflow then this guide will help you get up and running in no time.
Glenn Bartley shares techniques t improve and simplify your image processing and photo management. Bartley covers the gamut here from the basics of file management, monitor calibrations, RAW processing, selective adjustment and and advanced techniques to name a few.
The book interspersed with video tutorials, expert tips and timesaving tips that will help you get the most out of Photoshop and BreezeBrowser but these techniques are transferable to any imaging software you use. I myself use primarily Lightroom and found the instructions and tips useful for LR as well.
In addition to the ebook itself you can download time-saving Photoshop actions and sample images to experiment with.
The Wildlife Photography Mini-Guide is available for $4.9 or purchase all 4 guides for $16.95. Post Process- A Guide for Nature Photographers is available for $24.95. Both books can be found at the Dreamscapes store here.
Aside from spending the weekend getting ready for Passover (and that constituted spending lot of time in the kitchen) I was able to kick back a little bit and catch up on some reading. Last week I download 3 new photography books to my iPad and I finally found some time to read them.
Ian Plant has just released 3 new mini-guides….
These bite sized guides are the perfect companions when you’re planning your shoots or to have with you when you’re out on a shoot. Ian Plant’s has kept these simple and to the point with the information you need to know to get the shot. Each guide is 20 pages, they are concise and Ian has included all the tips that you need to get stunning photographers in these locations. From timing and composition, shooting angles and location specific tips, these guides are indispensable.
Each guide is priced at $4.95 but you can purchase all 3 for $12.95. In addition Dreamscapes is having a Spring sale until the end of April. Simply use the discount code SPRING and you can save 15% of all purchases in the Dreamscapes eStore. You can click here to go to the Dreamscape store.
The first book that I ever read by Ian Plant was Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition. That was the start of a beautiful friendship between myself and Mr. Plant…in print anyway 🙂 That monster 287 page ebook has become my go to reference book when I’m conceptualizing what images I want to shoot and how. You can read the review of Visual Flow here.
You’ll understand my excitement then when I found out that Ian Plant has just released The Visual Flow Companion as a compliment and update to the first book. Overflowing with new images, new ideas and insights and new image analyses I was ready to dig in.
Each image in this 51 page volume is brilliant and Ian goes through a thorough analysis of the compositional values of each and the techniques he employed. In addition to his own images Ian goes through the same in-depth compositional analysis of images of fellow Dreamscapes bloggers, George Stocking, Kurt Budlinger, and Richard Bernabe.
As with the first book this companion piece, albeit not as hefty in page count, is packed with indispensable information and insight for photographers at any level.
The Visual Flow Companion retails for $7.95 which is a great deal in itself but for the month of December you can get 15% OFF just use the discount code DECEMBER at check-out! For more information, please visit the Dreamscapes Store.
Quick Update Folks…I’ve just learned that the Dreamscapes Store will be running a Thanksgiving Sale starting on Wednesday Nov 27th at midnight. 15% off everything in the store. No discount code required! Have fun.
What better way to enjoy a soggy cold weekend then by digging into two new books recently released by the Dreamscapes team.
First out of the gate…Desert Paradise – The Landscape Photographer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park. It looks like Dreamscapes is building their travel photo guide offerings (their previous guide was Forever Light – A Guide to Iceland) and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Desert Paradise is written by Ron Coscorrosa and Sarah Marino who between the 2 of them have clocked thousands of miles over many trips to Death Valley.
Truth be told Death Valley National Park is on my photography bucket list so I was especially excited to start digging into this book. The amount of detailed information that the authors provide in this book is invaluable for the first time visitor, to this desolate yet beautiful location and to the return visitor.
Desert Paradise contains:
- Detailed information on seventeen locations, including classic Death Valley icons and places off the beaten path. Each location includes several photos, directions and, when applicable, GPS coordinates.
- Photography advice and techniques for Death Valley’s myriad different landscapes—tips on how to photograph salt flats, playas, sand dunes, badlands, abstracts, macros, in black and white, and wildflowers.
- Over 150 photos highlighting the diversity of Death Valley’s stunning landscapes. Technical information (including exposure settings) is included for every photograph presented.
- Basic travel information, including lodging and transportation, seasonal variations, weather, and hazards to help you in getting started in planning your trip.
- Features on an additional ten minor locations in the park are featured, as well as several other major locations located outside the park—including California’s Mono Lake, the Eastern Sierra, and Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.
- Recommended gear and gear considerations.
- Maps highlighting every major location in the book.
- Suggested itineraries for both brief, short, and long trips (plans from one day to several weeks in duration.)
- A brief human and geologic history of the park.
As I was reading this book it quickly became apparent that there was so much that I didn’t know about Death Valley and its harsh landscape. The authors spared no detail when discussing the geographical terrain and all the photographic considerations that must come into play for this type of photography trip. The cherry on this sundae is that the photography is just so jaw-dropping gorgeous it’s going to want to make you pack your bags and hop on a plane. I am now officially inspired.
If you want to learn more you or pick up a copy for yourself check out the Dreamscapes store here.
The 2nd release is The Complete Guide to Gear for the Landscape Photographer by Justin Reznick.
If you follow this blog you may remember that I reviewed Justin’s, Photographing Waterfalls and Streams just last month. You can see that review here.
OK…so you’re reading the title of this book and you’re thinking to yourself…“why do I need a book about gear? I have what I need…what’s left to learn?” Well, quite a bit actually. There are reviews for everything from lenses to headlamps, backpacks, tripods and ballheads, clothing, camera protection, hand-held GPS devices, photo storage, and much more!
Justin provides an explanation on full-frame and APS-C cameras and what makes sense for different kinds of photography. Oh…and you’re going to love this…he discusses both Canon and Nikon bodies and lenses. I love it! He also covers off compact cameras including the beloved iPhone 🙂
Here’s what the Dreamscapes team had to say…
His recommendations make sense. He tells you that your camera is not the most important thing you can own, that iPhone cameras have their uses, and that rubber bands can save you thousands. And he avoids some of the battles that equipment nerds fight over, instead giving you practical, real-world recommendations.
While the latest and greatest gear won’t itself make your photographs shine, having an expert lead you through these decisions will go a long way.
Justin also includes interviews with 6 different professional landscape photographers who share their thoughts on equipment and what works and what doesn’t.
You can find Gear for the Landscape Photographer at the Dreamscapes store.
Can you believe that the holidays are just around the corner. Have you started on your holiday shopping? Have you put together your own wish list? If you’re anything like me the mental wish list starts in January and just gets longer as the year progresses. 🙂 Just in case you haven’t started I thought I would help you out with your list this year. The ever-growing number of products on the market makes it really hard to stay focused on what essential gear should be in your toolkit. Below is a list of equipment, software and reference material that I use and find invaluable for my photography business. So grab a cup of java, sit back and have a read through this rather long post. You may find a deal or two as well as some free stuff. Keep reading 🙂
I really love my Canon 7D. I’ve had it for about 2 years now and it’s definitely a workhorse. I sometimes find the need to shoot at high ISOs (3200 and higher) and it handles noise beautifully. It’s got a 19 point AF System and a shooting rate of up to 7fps. It’s really come down in price since I bought mine so worthwhile taking a look at this.
I must say that this lens is one of the best investments that I’ve made. The 24-70 f/2.8L is the lens that is always on my camera. It’s so versatile for all types of photography and the images this piece of glass produces are sharp, sharp, sharp. I promised myself a long time ago that as I needed to upgrade or buy new lens I would wait until I had the money to buy a quality lens and Canon’s “L” lens live up to the hype that you always hear about. You may want to put this one on your wish list ahead of time so Santa has sometime to save up for it.
Is this a must have? For me it is. It allows me to mount my camera onto a tripod in either a horizontal or vertical position quickly. The Kirk L- Bracket works with any Arca Style Quick Release Platform so if you have a Really Right Stuff or Markins ball head this will work. Make sure your purchasing the one that will fit your DSLR.
If you’re not backing up your images you’re taking a big risk with your images and all the hard work you’ve put into them. You’ve read it before I’m sure…the question isn’t “will your hard drive fail but when”. After I transfer all my images from my memory card to my hard drive I back them up immediately to my WD external hard drive which is a RAID drive. I then have an additional backup, the LaCie 3TB d2 Quadra Hard Drive with USB 3.0 / Thunderbolt. Both these drive perform extremely well and I’m confident that if one should fail my library of images are just a few keystrokes away.
After many years of using a traditional camera strap I found I was doing more damage to my neck then I really wanted to. I tried different straps…padded around the neck, different materials but I just wasn’t pleased or comfortable. A friend told me to give the Black Rapid a try, I did and I really love this strap. It’s saved me a lot of neck ache and the BlackRapid made specifically for women (don’t laugh you male photographers out there) is curved in just the right places so it sits across your chest nicely. And yes there are non-female versions available as well.
I just wrote a review about the Bataflae a couple of weeks ago which you can find on my products review page. I love this bag and if you or someone you know needs a new camera bag then look no further.
My go to store for photographic equipment is B&H Photo in New York. Unfortunately I don’t get to New York as often as I would like but their online store is the best. Even for little ‘ole me living in Canada, B&H has made so easy to order from them. If your living in Canada they will calculate shipping, customs and duties before you submit your order online so you know exactly what you’re paying. I’ve done the math and I save money when I order from B&H.
Software & Plug-Ins
Here’s a list of the software and plug-ins that I use and swear by. These form part of my workflow and I couldn’t do what I do without these tools. You might be surprised to find Photoshop Elements on the list and not Photoshop CS. I was holding out for the longest time and was eventually going to purchase CS and then Adobe changed the rules of the game. Since I didn’t already own CS5 or CS6 I would have had to pay the full subscription rate for Adobe CC so I decided against it. Do I feel that I’m at a disadvantage by using Elements? Absolutely not. I think the advances in Elements over the years has made it a software any professional photographer can use.
Clarity, Black & White Effects, Adjust, DeNoise, Detail…these are just a few of the Topaz plug-ins that I use. I write about them in my blog posts and usually let you know when I’ve used them in processing my images (check the tags). You can get a 15% discount on all Topaz products by using the discount ELPHOTO.
I also wanted to let you know that Topaz Labs is running a promotion on its Black & White Effects plug-in. Until November 19th B&W Effects is only $29.99. That’s a 50% savings and a steal for this plug-in.
Give the Gift of Art!
Yikes…I’ve said it…there you go. Here’s a bit of shameless self promotion. Gear is fun but if there’s someone special on your list why not give the gift of art. You can head on over to my gallery. All images are available in a variety of sizes. Make sure you check out the Float Mounted Metal Prints. They look great and they’re ready to go up on the wall when you receive them. From now until December 25 use the code Holiday2013 and save 15% on your order.
eBooks & Free Stuff
Well really…you must have known that I would include some of my favourite ebooks as part of this list 🙂
Ok…let’s start with some free stuff….yes free…first from Craft & Vision. Just click on the images and download…Happy Holidays!
Other Craft & Vision titles that are a must for your library include:
Here’s a terrific ebook from Ian Plant and the team at Dreamscapes and it’s absolutely free…
…and if you haven’t yet picked up and read Visual Flow – Mastering the Art of Composition then I suggest you check it out. You can read my review of Visual Flow here.
This free ebook has just been released from photographer and author Mitchell Kanashkevich, 7 Tips for Natural Looking Travel Portraits.
Well I hope you’ve enjoyed my little round-up of gear, software, art and ebooks. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas for gifts for yourself or for some one special. If you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful please share it with your social networks. Thanks and have a great week everyone.
The team at Dreamscapes just released another ebook, The Advanced Guide to Photographing Waterfalls and Streams by Justin Reznick.
I love photographing waterfalls and bodies of water and when I’d heard about this ebook I was ready to dig in but honestly I hadn’t heard of Justin Reznick before. Let me introduce you to this talented photographer and author first before I dive into the ebook.
Reznick is a full-time nature photographer who travels the globe in search for the perfect landscape. He’s been published in such magazines as Backpacker Magazine, the Audubon Society, Nature’s Best, Outdoor Photographer and Photography Monthly (UK).
Justin has a real easy-going way about him when he writes and it felt as if he was directing his instructions directly to me as I was reading the book. At a high level the book contains the following:
Eighteen water photography tips for how to get that best shot—including fashion tips for water wading (how to stay warm and dry), how to maximize your chances of getting the image you want (don’t leave too early), and how to protect your gear in damp conditions.
Post-processing tips for making the image—including advice on analyzing and choosing images in Lightroom, and practical how-to instruction on blending multiple exposures in Photoshop to showcase the best of the light.
Some of Justin’s favorite water images with extensive discussion of how he made them.
What I really loved about the ebook was his in-depth explanations about in-field techniques. He doesn’t just focus on the type of gear you should be using (which he does cover off very well) but what to look out for when photographing waterfalls. How to keep your scene clean, how to fight off water spray, what you need to do to get the best compositions. Within each section he provides a breakdown of the image that’s on the page so that the reader knows exactly how it was taken and under what conditions.
The section on post-processing was excellent as well. Justin goes through various techniques focusing primarily on Lightroom. Once again he provides tips (what looks like notes in the margin) based on the content of the section) which you can refer back too long after you’ve finished the book. As an aside this is actually a great follow-up to the last Dreamscapes release Master The Digital Darkroom (Lightroom) by Michael Frye.
Back in April of this year Anne McKinnell released her first book of this series aptly named The Compelling Photograph – Techniques for Creating Better Images – Book 1. You can see my review of Book 1 here. Since the release of book 1 Anne has continued on with her adventures, exploring North America and creating spectacular imagery. She also introduced and launched One-on-One Photography Coaching sessions which sell out…quickly and her ebooks can usually be found ranked in 1st place on Amazon.
Book 2 follows the same format as the first, where each chapter is structured as a lesson on a particular topic. There are 8 chapters (or lessons) each focused on a different design element. McKinnell, always the teacher, takes great care in explaining how to achieve the design element and what makes for a successful image. This ebook isn’t just about sitting and reading. At the end of each chapter there’s an assignment to help you put into practice what you’ve just read.
Book 2 covers the following:
- Leading Lines
- Depth of Field
- Long Exposure
If you’re just starting out in photography or want a refresher on the basics then this should be in your library.
This eBook contains 85 full-spread pages and over 100 photographs to illustrate the lessons. It normally retails for $9.99 but there is a special introductory price of $7.99. Click Here to purchase the book.
The Bundle Deal
If you haven’t picked up Book 1 yet, there’s a great deal on the bundle of both eBooks. You can get both books for only $14.99. (You don’t need a discount code for the bundle deal.) Click Here for the bundle.
It seems that fall is the time for new product announcements from companies like Apple and Google. It’s also when we see new photography related ebooks released. In the last couple of weeks I’ve ingested 2 new such releases from the team at Dreamscapes.
Landscapes in Lightroom 5
The first, Landscapes in Lightroom 5 – The Essential Step-By-Step Guide by Michael Frye was actually released a few weeks ago. If you’re not familiar with the author then let me introduce you, Michael Frye is a Fine Art landscape and Nature photographer, writer and teacher from California who has lived in or around Yosemite National Park since the 1980’s. As you can image his images of Yosemite are iconic.
In this, his 7th book (4 print and 3 ebooks) Michael instructs his readers on how to make their landscape images shine using Lightroom 5. Whether your new to Lightroom or just upgrade to LR5 you may want to pick up this book.
Michael walks you through the Develop Module in Lightroom and talks in-depth about the differences between the older versions and the latest. Learn about tone control and all the new features in LR5.
Want to Know What Got Me Really Excited?
Ok…I’ll tell you. Half of this ebook (it’s 87 pages) is made up of examples. A total of 6 example images each approximately 5 to 6 pages where Michael evaluates the landscape image; discusses the profile; what he did to process the image and there’s a link to a video tutorial for each example. So now you’re asking why I’m so excited? Well at the start of the examples section Michael provides a link so that the reader can download all the DNG RAW files to the images he’s used in his examples so that you can follow along and process the image yourself. Now if that’s not exciting what is?
What a great why to learn! Landscapes in LightRoom 5 retails for $14.95 but until September 21st Dreamscapes is having a 15% off sale on everything in their store. Just use the discount code CATSAWAY1 to take advantage of the discount. Click here to go to the store.
The second book that I just put down was released only a couple of days ago. Forever Light: The Landscape Photographer’s Guide to Iceland by Sarah Marino and Ron Coscorrosa.
This is a terrific guide (I really wish I was planning a trip to Iceland but alas that is not to be). Sarah and Ron are very thorough and discuss everything from the ins and outs of traveling through Iceland…driving tips; lodging options; food options; travel costs, etc to providing ideas on recommended gear and gear considerations as well as providing specific location guides from north to south. The location guides themselves are just as detailed providing GPS coordinates; best time to go; driving directions and even the best lenses to use.
Of course the images themselves make me really want to buy a plane ticket and head over there but if this is a photographic trip that you have planned or are planning to embark on then this guide is an indispensible resource.
You can find Forever Light in the Dreamscapes Store for $14.95 but remember until September 21st Dreamscapes is having a 15% off sale on everything in their store. Just use the discount code CATSAWAY1 to take advantage of the discount. Click here to go to the store.
I picked up an eBook last week that I had been meaning to read for some time now, Visual Flow – Mastering the Art of Composition by Ian Plant (with George Stocking).
Have you ever returned from a photo shoot, downloaded your images and thought to yourself “these are ok but there’s still something missing.” Is it the composition? Is the scene too busy? Is it unbalanced? Now before I get deep into the ebook let me take a minute and introduce you to the author.
Ian Plant is a professional nature and landscape photographer; teacher, workshop leader and author who is a frequent contributor to publications such as Outdoor Photographer and Popular Photography. If you’re not yet familiar with Ian and his work then the best thing that I can recommend is that you get familiar with it. His photographs are masterpieces and a study in the art of (dare I say) composition. Ian is also the author/photographer of 8 print books including “Chesapeake: Bay of Light which received critical acclaim from the Washington Post among others.
Visual Flow takes you through critical and fundamental elements to consider and put into practise so that you compose your image in such a way as to tell the viewer a story. The story you’re seeing. As Ian puts it in his introduction “A snapshot shows the world what your camera sees, but when you create a composition, you show the world what you see.”
“You had me at Hello”
Yup…I was hooked right at the introduction. Who would have thought that this 287-page ebook on composition would turn out to grab my attention…and keep it throughout the length of the book. Ian’s rich writing style and text complimented by the incredible photographs from both himself and George Stocking make this ebook an indispensable tool to add to your learning arsenal.
Let me give you an example from early on the book…”Visual flow…. is my way of conceptualizing photographic composition.” “Not unlike the flow of a swift-moving stream, you want the viewer’s eye to get trapped in the ‘visual flow’ of your images, swept along deep into composition.” “Your goal as a photographer is to engage the viewer’s eye, commanding their attention, leading them deeper and deeper into the scene before them.”
These excerpts are of course complimented by the photos that go along with them which act as the imagery to reinforce and substantiate the text.
The depth of information imparted in this book is incredible. Ian doesn’t just ramble off different compositional rules and techniques but gets to the heart of why an image works, how to make an image work and how you go about getting there. He discuss techniques employed in paintings by the masters… Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Da Vinci, to illustrate that compositional elements that have been used for centuries in the visual arts are also relevant today in the photographic arts. He also discusses concepts that originate in the musical arts such as “counterpoint” and how that relates to photography today. I was amazed and enlightened. I learned more from “Visual Flow” then I have in a long time.
Don’t get me wrong this book isn’t all about concepts and theories it’s also a practical guide on how to execute on these concepts. Ian goes through different compositional elements including abstract and physical elements. He discusses how to use shapes (curves, diagonal lines, circles, triangles, etc) to create a compelling image. How do you create visual mass and use negative space to your advantage? That’s covered.
You’ve heard about the rule of thirds? So have I. But do you know where and how it originated? When should you use and when shouldn’t you. Ian discusses this in-depth and provides insight that I, for one, found fascinating.
Interspersed throughout the book are image studies where Ian explains the different compositional elements of the image and why it works.
This is one of the most comprehensive books that I’ve read on “mastering” composition. I’ll be honest at $24.95 it’s one of the more expensive books that I’ve reviewed. Is it worth it? I’d have to say a resounding…YES. You can click here to purchase the ebook or if you want to give it a test run first you can also download a free trial.
If you haven’t visited Ian’s Dreamscapes site then I suggest you do. Aside from his wonderful site and blog you’ll also find some wonderful video tutorials in his store.
I spotted these rowboats while walking around the wharf in Monterey Bay. I just loved the colors and weathered look of the larger one.
Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print
PHOTOGRAPH Issue 4
Craft & Vision releases its latest issue of the quarterly magazine PHOTOGRAPH. The content is getting better and better with each release. Issue 4 takes the same content format that has proved to be a success in previous issues.
This quarter the Featured Portfolios introduce readers to:
Kathy Beal, a visual artist and photographer who’s abstract soft focus photographs that she calls “inspirational abstracts” are going to leave you with your mouth open.
Nick Hall, an outdoor photographer and location specialist who marries the natural element with the human element to create compelling photographs.
Sam Kirsch, a landscape and iPhone photographer. His landscape iPhone images are a joy to behold.
In addition to the featured portfolios, this issue’s articles include (among others):
Without the Camera by David duChemin
Creative Composition by Jean Paul Caponigro
When Old Meets New: Understanding the Zone System by Michael Frye
Blur-Free – Finding the Ideal Shutter Speed by Nicole S. Young
Craft & Vision’s latest release is out and I was excited to see this one for 2 reasons. The first, is that it’s written by Martin Bailey and I thoroughly enjoyed and got a lot out of his previous book, Making the Print. The second reason which is probably more important is that I often get frustrated when I get home after a shoot, download my images and realize, once I see them on a big screen, that the shot that I thought was my killer image is not as sharp as it should be.
In Sharp Shooter, Bailey walks the reader through, in his usual clear and concise fashion, the gamut on the subject—from hand-holding techniques, stabilization, and what makes an image sharp in the first place, to macro-sharpness, depth of field, focus stacking, sharpening for final output, and more.
What was extremely useful to me was his in-depth explanation of Hyperfocal Distance and how it applies to different lenses. The section on focusing in the macro range and his coverage of shooting for focus stacking and processing of those images was invaluable.
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer, British-born though now based in Tokyo. Fueled by his passion for travel and nature, Martin is an international tour and workshop leader, working on all seven continents. A pioneering podcaster and blogger, Gura Gear Pro, and X-Rite Coloratti member, he helps photographers from around the world to see and capture the wonders of this awesome planet we call home.
Use the discount code SHARP4 to get USD $1 off SHARP SHOOTER. If you buy 5 or more products from the Craft & Vision collection use the discount code SHARP20 for 20% off. These codes expire at 11:59 PM (PST) July 4, 2013. Click Here to Purchase.
Yesterday Adobe announced the release of Lightroom 5 and with that announcement also came the release of Craft & Vision’s latest ebook LIGHTROOM 5 Up To Speed. This ebook is written by Piet Van den Eynde, an Adobe Certified Expert who walks you through all the new features and how to get started using the new tools in LR5. He really leaves no stone unturned.
This 77-page eBook, and the companion videos (50+ minutes), will you get up to speed with what’s new in this revolutionary digital darkroom software.
Topics covered include:
- Installing Lightroom 5 & Upgrading Older Catalogues
- The Advanced Healing Brush
- Straightening Photos with Upright
- The Radial Filter
- Improving Your Workflow with Smart Previews
- Improvements to the Book Module
- New Features in the Slideshow Module
- Other New, Improved or Changed Features
- New or Improved Plug-Ins Since Lightroom 4
Van Den Eynde takes your through the installation process step by step which if you’re upgrading from a previous version is essential to ensure you don’t lose any of your previous catalogues. His instructions are thorough and will make the process seamless.
Each new feature is explained in the detail and the best part of this ebook are the accompanying videos. Each section includes a video tutorial that shows you how each feature works. While I love to read I’m also a visual learner so the videos are an added bonus for me and I think you’ll love them too.
LIGHTROOM 5 UP TO SPEED with the embedded videos is only $5. If you’re new to Lightroom and haven’t read Piets’s LIGHTROOM 4 UNMASKED Craft & Vision is offering a special LIGHTROOM BUNDLE ($20 – full-time discount) which combines Piet’s latest eBook with his amazing Big Book LIGHTROOM 4 UNMASKED. Click Here to Purchase.
David duChemin is nothing if he isn’t consistent in the messages that he delivers. Whether those messages are delivered via his blog or in his books or through his photographs he expounds on the virtues of vision. While gear is important, as are technical skills, as photographer we must have passion that drives our creativity and our vision.
Vision is Better 3 was released today by Craft and Vision and it’s 145 pages of essays, articles and tutorials from David duChemin. This is a compilation of articles from David’s Pixelated Image blog and never before published material. The articles are thought provoking and eloquently written. David shares his insights into the how and why of photography. If your a fan of David duChemin or whether your a photographer who wants a glimpse inside the mind and eye of a very talented artist then this book should be part of your library.
You can get Vision is Better 3 for only $5 here. Want an even better value…you can purchase the series, Vision is Best which includes Vision is Better 1, 2 & 3 for $10. You can purchase the bundle here.
The third issue of PHOTOGRAPH A Digital Quarterly Magazine for Creative Photographers hit the stands today or more appropriately your inbox. Craft & Vision has put out another outstanding issue and this 113 page ad free magazine is full of thought provoking articles and beautiful imagery.
Issue 3 features insightful Q&As and featured portfolios from Hengki Koentjoro, a nature photographer who specializes in fine art black & white photography; Kevin Clark a food photographer who can make crumbs on a plate look appetizing and Dave Delnea a commercial, travel and landscape photographer and author.
You’ll also be treated to a number of excellent articles that includes (and this isn’t all of them):
Without The Camera – David duChemin
Creative Composition – John Paul Caponigro
The Art of the Print – Martin Bailey
Camera Craft – Nicole S. Young
Gear is Good – Al Smith
Portraits in Northern Kenya – David duChemin
You can purchase Issue 3 of PHOTOGRAPH for USD $8 here. As with all of Craft & Vision’s offerings, they aim to knock the content out of the ballpark and do so at exceptional value. That’s why you can also get a one-year subscription for $USD 24—that’s four issues for the price of three.
So you want to create better images but you don’t know where to start? What techniques should you utilize and what should you be focusing on (pardon the pun)? How do you know if your resulting images are successful.
Back in the fall I reviewed Anne McKinnell’s first ebook, 8 Ways To Accelerate Your Photography (you can see that review here) and I was really excited about that book. I had been following Anne’s photography for quite some time and with 8 Ways I felt she had really created something that spoke to not only creating a good image but being able to see beyond the (sometimes) rose-colored glasses we wear as photographers and teaching us how to carefully select our best images in order to build a comprehensive portfolio.
With The Compelling Photograph I believe that Anne McKinnell has now taken us from looking at “the big picture” to getting down and dirty in the details. Ok…maybe not really dirty but certainly with this book we start to delve into specific techniques about design and composition which will get you on the road to creating better, stronger and more impactful images.
Anne herself says in the introduction, “This is the first in a series of eBooks designed to teach a combination of camera skills, the elements of good image design, and creative photography techniques to five you a solid foundation on which to base your vision.” The Compelling Photograph is a straight forward narrative aimed at introducing and teaching the various techniques combined with stunning photography that reinforces that which is taught.
The ebook is comprised of 8 lessons:
After each lesson there is an assignment to help you go out and practise what you’ve just learned.
The Compelling Photograph is being offered at a special introductory price of $7.99. To complement the ebook Anne also has 2 other offerings, an eCourse where you will get direct feedback from Anne to help keep you on track and get tips for improving your images and an eCourse + Personal Coaching. You can purchase the ebook and get more information on the eCourse and Coaching here.
I just finished Dan Bailey’s, just released ebook, Behind The Action – Creating Adventure Imagery, Step By Step. I’ve been following Dan’s blog for quite some time now but truthfully this is the first book of his that I’ve read. I’m not quite sure why I waited so long. If you’re interested in sports or adventure or action photographs then this is a must read.
What really impressed me was the way that this book is structured. Dan focuses on 12 different adventure and outdoor images. These include:
- Skate Skier
- Trail Runner
- Rock Climber
- Mountain Biker
In each of these “adventures” comes with its own recipe for success. This is what I found so unique about Behind The Action. It was almost as if I had Dan providing me with personal instruction on how to create a successful image. The recipe is:
- Concept – here Dan discusses what his conceptual vision was for the image that he wanted to create even before he picked up his camera.
- Gear – he describes in detail what equipment he used and what his reasoning was behind his choices.
- Light – look at the images of each of the adventures and then read what Dan’s challenges were when the lighting was optimal and how he used existing light to his advantage.
- Approach – learn what his approach was with each shot from the settings he used, the vantage point he decided on and why. Dan describes the “approach” as the “creative problem solving in the photographic process.”
- Execution – once the approach has been decided upon the execution is all about the experience of the actual shoot. Did he change lenses, wait for better light, change his vantage point. Capturing people in action situations, the execution may end up being different from the planned approach. Gain insight into Dan’s thought process throughout the shoot.
- Final Thoughts, Quick Tips and Post Production – in this final ingredient, Dan talks about analyzing the shots that he came away with, why the were successful and why they weren’t. He also describes his post processing for each image.
Dan Bailey is a professional outdoor, adventure and travel photographer. His clients include Outdoor Photographer, The North Face, Patagonia and many others.
This ebook is a must read if you want to take better action and sports images but really the ingredients that Dan uses in his recipes can be used whenever you go out shooting.
Behind The Action is published by the team at LightStalking. You can click here to go to their page and order the book. Today only…use the code “EARLYBIRD” to get 20% off Behind the Action – so get it now at only $19.95.
Attempting a Timelapse is one of those techniques that’s on my to-do list of things to learn and try. I understand the basics of it but never quite knew how to turn it onto a movie…until now. Craft & Vision’s latest release TIMELAPSE – An Introduction to Still Photographs in Motion by Dave Delnea demystifies the “how” of timelapse.
This is the first piece that I’ve read on the topic that really lays out the fundamentals of timelapse photography. Dave Delnea covers the equipment you need (not to worry you probably have most of it already), the software to use and how to put it all together.
While the first section dealing with the gear you need is pretty straight forward, Delnea then gets very specific into dealing with focus, framing of your subject and how to ensure that your exposure is controlled throughout your sequence. He also discusses what causes both exposure flicker and mechanical flicker and how to fix both of those issues. This is essential in ensuring that your final movie has a smooth and pleasing look.
In the Post-Production Workflow section TIMELAPSE deals with how to use Lightroom to edit your images (and remember we’re dealing with hundreds of images for one timelapse sequence) and then sequence them to a video file. I really found Dave Delnea’s step by step instructions excellent here especially for a newbie to timelapse photography as I am.
The bonus section of the book deals with advance techniques such as motion control; bulb ramping – a technique where you use your camera’s bulb setting to manage exposure and LRTimelapse Effects Ramping where you can change exposure, white balance and other parameters over the course of a sequence.
Examples of the authors’ own timelapse sequences are scattered throughout the book and in the case studies and they’re a great example of what can be achieved with this technique.
For the first five days only, use the promotional code TIME4 at check out and you can have TIMELAPSE for just $4 OR use the code TIME20 to get 20% off when you buy 5+ PDF eBooks from the Craft & Vision collection. These codes expire at 11:59pm (PST) March 22, 2013. Click Here to Purchase.
Issue 2 of PHOTOGRAPH is now out and it’s jam-packed with the quality content that I’ve come to expect from Craft and Vision. If you didn’t get a chance to pick up the first issue let me give you a short introduction. Published by Craft & Vision, the same people responsible for some of the best photography e-books out there, this is a gorgeous, ad-free magazine full of great photographs and exceptional articles from photographers and authors who excel at their craft.
Issue 2 includes the featured portfolios of Martin Bailey, Andy Biggs and Chris Orwig. This issue’s articles cover both the artistic and the technical with topics such as Without the Camera by David duChemin, Creative Composition by John Paul Caponigro, The Art of the Print by Martin Bailey and Exposure and Metering Modes by Nicole S. Young.
At 122 pages (did I mention it was ad-free) this is an excellent magazine and an incredible value.
You can purchase Issue Two of PHOTOGRAPH for $8 US by clicking any of the images of by visiting Craft & Vision. You can also purchase a one-year subscription for $24, that’s 4 issues for the price of 3.
You’re a photographer. You operate a website and/or blog that you post to regularly. You get good feedback on your images, maybe you’ve sold a few. You’d like to turn this into more than just a hobby. Sound familiar? I know what I’m talking about. Do you know why I know? Because that’s me. One of things that I did over the holiday break was really give some thought to where I wanted to take Edith Levy Photography. I have some ideas, actually I have a lot of ideas and I came to the realization that I’m not short of ideas right now just time but I’m trying to get myself organized to work around that. Yes it may take me a little longer to achieve what I’m setting out for myself but I plan to stick with it.
There are questions that I ask myself (and if you’re in this situation, you’re asking yourself) what’s the best way to market myself; how do I brand my business; how do I sell myself to a potential client? My little black Moleskine is filling with cryptic notes faster than you can say….Growing the Vision Monger 2 – A Kick-Ass Guide for the Photographic Entrepreneur….whew that’s a mouthful and it’s also the title of Craft & Vision’s last ebook.
I really believe that the good folks over a Craft & Vision have a real talent for scheduling their releases at just the right time of year. Why else would they release an ebook geared towards photographers or photographic entrepreneurs at the beginning of the year when most of us take stock of the past year and plan out the new one.
Growing the Vision Monger is written by Corwin Hiebert, a management and marketing consultant to creative entrepreneurs (such as world-renowned photographer and best-selling author David duChemin). He is the author of Living the Dream: Putting Your Creativity to Work (And Getting Paid For It), published by Peachpit Press as well as other C&V titles, Growing the Vision Monger and Your Creative Mix – Growing Your Photography Business Through Creativity & Collaboration.
Growing the VisionMonger 2 is a candid and no-holds-barred eBook about freelance work, business ownership and self-promotion. In the book, Corwin focuses on 20 actionable things that can help you make better decisions about your photography business. This isn’t about spending money it’s about strategies that you can implement such as growing your network; developing a sales Q&A instead of the typical sales pitch; generating demand by making people curious and building a pricing approach. Each section includes a “Take Action” task to help you jump-start your thinking.
Also included are over 10 short interviews with professional photographers where he asks them what they would do differently if they could start over today; what are some of their “Do’s” and “Don’ts” and any words of wisdom and advice they can share with the reader.
For me this was perfect timing. There’s some great ideas in Growing the Vision Monger. I don’t know that I’m ready to do it all now but I will be and at least its given me some great strategies and tools that I can start tackling right now.
Special Offer on PDFs – Click Here to Purchase
For the first five days only, use the promotional code MONGER4 when you checkout and pay only $4 OR use the code MONGER20 to get 20% off when you buy 5+ PDF eBooks. These codes expire at 11:59pm (PST) January 18, 2013.
Buy the Bundle
Get both Growing the VisionMonger titles for $8 USD. That’s 20% off.
There are times when I feel uninspired with a bad case of photographers’ block. That happens to me when I haven’t traveled in a while and I’m itching to get out and visit new places so that I can make unique photographs. It’s times like those where I have to give myself a swift kick in the butt and look around at my wonderful city, community, neighborhood and challenge myself to see differently.
A Sense of Place – Finding Your Eye At Home And Abroad by Younes Bounhar, this month’s Craft & Vision release, focuses on this very topic. Actually this is quite timely as some of us are either getting ready to enjoy some time off at home or are getting ready to go on vacation to a far away land (okay maybe not so far away).
Bounhar ebook endeavours to help the photographer “see” differently. How do you photograph a place that your so familiar with that you’re not seeing the uniqueness of it? Bounhar answers this when he travels back to his homeland of Morocco and realizes that “it is our responsibility to see a place, not the responsibility of a place to be seen.”
As the title and subtitle suggests, the ebook is split between “At Home” and “Abroad”. The author discusses how to act like a tourist at home and give yourself assignments to spark your creativity. When traveling do you take the time to really learn about a new place and go back to the same location several times so that you can get a feel for the place, the people and how the light plays out at different times of day? How do you increase your awareness and train your eye to see things that others may not? What about the human element? A place is defined by the people who live there or a person placed in the frame of a vast landscape will provide scale to your image. These are just some of the topics that Bounhar provides insight too.
“A Sense of Place is more than just a travel photography workbook; it’s geared towards helping you learn to experience a place more fully, see it with wider eyes, and photograph it more intentionally.”
“Photography, for many of us, is all about learning to see. Younes Bounhar’s A Sense of Place, Finding Your Eye at Home and Abroad, is a 42-spread eBook that can help you make stronger photographs, whether at home or elsewhere, by honing your ability to see and express, not just point the camera.”
For the first five days only, use the promotional code PLACE4 during checkout, to purchase SENSE OF PLACE for just $4 OR you can use the code PLACE20 to get 20% off when they buy 5+ PDF eBooks from the Craft & Vision collection. These codes expire at 11:59pm (PST) December 22, 2012. Click Here to Purchase