Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Book Review: Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

If you are new to photography and start looking around the web, you will find many references to this book. It's widely popular with the online photography community. You can order is at Amazon via this link.
I really enjoyed this book. Bryan does a wonderful writing job here. His chapters are fun and very enjoyable to read. He makes it a point to have you put the book down from time to time and go get your camera. He then walks you though using the camera's built-in light meter to make a properly exposed image.
When you first begin taking pictures, I think everyone shares the same excitement. You see something, grab your camera, click, and then quickly go to the image preview to see what it looks like. After a while, you begin to see other photos from other photographers. You will see a shot that makes you stop and think. You try to understand how they got such a good image. What did they do? Well, they got out of shooting in fully automatic mode and began to learn how the camera works in full detail. This is where this book comes in.
Bryan will immediately get you to move your camera out of any of the automatic modes and into full manual mode. I don't shoot in full manual all the time today. I usually use Apertuture Priority mode. However, manual mode is a great tool for learning hoe the various settings on the camera will effect your image. Bryan covers all the aspects of a properly exposed image. He then teaches you how to read the light meter within your camera and use that reading to properly expose your images. The results are great. You will notice an immediate improvement in your pictures.
Once you understand the concepts in this book, you can begin to experiment with making changes. You may want to intentionally underexpose an image to get a certain look. However, knowing the basics of how shutter, aperture, and ISO will effect the image is a must. This book will take you there.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Review: Scott Kelby's 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop CS3

After trying many online resources to help me get up to speed on Photoshop CS3, I wound up at this book. I was looking for something that used real world examples. Many books on photoshop are available today. Take a look at amazon.com. It's a very hard process to decide on which ones to try. I read many reviews on Amazon before trying out a few. Most of them are filled with information on Photoshop, but they did not really work well for me. I wanted more of a "hands on" approach. I read a review of the 7-point system on Ron's Blog and immediately moved it to the top of my Amazon list.
The 7-point system Scott Keby teaches is just what it sounds like. 7 points of adjustment that can be done in most photos. You may or may not use all 7 in any particular photo, but you will use some.
Each chapter begins in a very similar way. Here's a photo. Here's what's wrong with it. Let's go fix it. Scott does an excellent job of walking you through Photoshop's features. As the book moves along, he does less and less hand holding. Before you know it, you are using shortcuts without thought. Popping up layer after layer. Adding masks to adjustment layers, and "painting with light." The results are amazing. I really enjoyed the fact that you can download the images from his website.
Scott is a great writer, photographer, and obviously very good with photoshop. However, he also has the ability to teach fairly complex skills to almost anyone. I considered myself a beginner with CS3 when I picked up this book. Today, I can accomplish some things that make my friends and family believe I have been working with the product for years. My post processing results have greatly improved since adding this book to my reading list.
If you are looking to get much better with your post processing work in CS3, your search is over. Buy THIS book today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review: ThinkTankPhoto Modular Component Set

I recently added the ThinkTankPhoto Modular set, Steriod Speed Belt, and Pixel Racing Harness to my collection of photography equipment storage items. I am very happy with this addition.

How did I decide on this set?
A few months ago, I went on my first photography group day trip. I visited the Old Salem Village in Winston-Salem, NC. It was a fairly hot day, with temps in the 80s. We had about 6 hours of photography that day. I used a Lowepro SlingShot 350 to carry my gear with me that day. I remember seeing some of the other photographers getting ready in the parking lot that morning. They put on these harnesses, belts, and pouches. I thought they looked a bit funny. However, I soon learned the value of these items. I have been very happy with my lowepro bags and still use them. However, the tinktankphoto modular set allowed the other photographers a few large advantages.

  1. Weight distribution - Their equipment was supported evenly around their waist and supplemented by their shoulder harnesses.

  2. Access to lenses - While my slingshot bag allows me the ability to rotate the bag to gain access to my camera, lens changes still require more effort. I have to remove the bag, open it, and swap lenses. Not a large deal, but I found the other guys being able to change and take shots before I was even ready to shoot.

  3. Heat management - backpacks of any type tend to block all air. I wind up soaked by the end of the day. The Tinktank set is well vented and allows more air on your body.
So how do I like it?
I used the set this weekend to shoot my first wedding. My niece got married and asked me to shoot the wedding for her. The thinktank set performed VERY well here. I was able to carry my equipment all day without getting tired shoulders or or back pain. I was also able to quickly and easily swap lenses throughout the day. Here's what I had on me most of the day.

  • Canon 40D

  • Canon 580 EXII flash

  • Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS (part of the day, then I parked it on a tripod at the back of the church for the ceremony shots)

  • Canon 24-105mm F4L IS

  • Canon 17-55mm F2.8 IS

  • Canon 50mm F1.4

  • Extra camera batteries, 8 extra AA batteries for the flash

  • 4 memory cards

  • Gary Fong Lightsphere and Chrome Dome Diffuser

  • Stofen Omni Bounce

  • Custom Brackets Folding T Flash Bracket

  • Wallet, Keys, Cell Phone, Fiber Plus Bars for a snack, and some gum. :)
I have to say that I am very impressed with the quality of the thinktank set. I will be buying more of their equipment as needed. The modular set allows you to securely attach your gear to the belt. However, it allows the pouches to slide around your body for easy access. If you want, you can chose to lock any or all items in place. I found that I would scoot most gear to my back while shooting and walking. I could then slide them back to my sides when I needed access. The quality and workmanship of this set is very nice too. Each component has it's own built in pockets for caps, filters, etc. They also have built in rain covers. Very impressive design.

That being said, I still use and really like my Lowepro Computrekker Plus AW for transportation. I used it to get all of my gear to the church, then loaded the thinktank modular set for walk around.

If you are thinking on buying this set, take a look at Ron Martinsen's Blog. He has some discount codes that will get you a free modular component with your order. I also used his blog to learn quite a bit about photography as I started out. He has some great newbie guides and really helpful book reviews.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Just setting up my blog site to try out blogging about photography and the things I learn.