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eBook Review: Portrait Tips and Techniques

Portraits… a very broad topic with deep technical and artistic aspects. A portrait photographer must have control and understanding of the subject, surroundings, light, and camera in order to create images with impact. This is generally the case in any type of photography, but portraits demand a higher level of control.

Educating yourself on the subject of portraiture can be difficult because of the inherent technical material. But with the right teacher or author, this material can be absorbed with minimal pain to the brain.

Volume 1 of Wayne Radford’s Portrait Tips and Techniques is a book that covers the many aspects of black & white natural light portraiture (and the material applies to color portraits as well). The lessons and teachings are somewhat technical, but the material is presented in a “down to Earth” fashion that anybody can understand. You can download an 8 page sample of the eBook here [PDF].

Check the end of this review for your chance at a free copy of the full version!

[tweetmeme]You can purchase Volume 1 of Portrait Tips and Techniques from Wayne Radford’s website. Links in this post are affiliate links to the product.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Portrait Tips and Techniques, Volume 1 is a 126 page downloadable eBook containing 4 main chapters encompassing 10 distinct lessons. The end of the book also contains a selection of sample work from the author and a couple of clean and concise guides to facial analysis and lighting. And the supporting graphics… this book has over 90 great sample shots, diagrams, and charts. Click on the images below for a larger view.

The book starts off with an introduction from the author in addition to some extra background material on his journey as a portrait photographer. Then we jump into “Facial Recognition”, or posing techniques for your subjects. The next main section is “Lighting Techniques”, all of which are in the realm of natural light. The last two chapters cover “Exposure” and “Composition” as they relate specifically to portraits. The book wraps up with a sample gallery of work from Wayne Radford and two single-page charts for lighting and posing (very handy).

Throughout the book, sample images and illustrations are used to convey the lessons found in the text. Wayne also deconstructs his photos to convey a particular technique and show how it was used to create that photo. All in all, this is a very visual guide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wayne Radford is an Australian professional portrait photographer specialising in Black & White, and he’s been doing it for over 25 years. While he’s done his fair share of weddings, in 2000 Wayne switched over exclusively to children’s environmental portraiture.

Throughout his career he has received numerous State and National awards for his unique style of photography including the Australian Professional Photography Awards category; “1996 Wedding Photographer of the Year” at both National and State judging. In addition he also received the classification of “Master of Photography”. On two occasions he has won the “Highest Scoring Black & White Print” at these awards.

You can see some of Wayne’s work on his Radford Photography website and on Flickr. For his non-portrait work, also check out his Radford Editions website.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a wonderful, educational, and inspirational book on the topic of portrait photography. I love the fact that it focuses on natural light techniques and uses black & white images for illustration. It’s direct, focused, and it cuts out the extra fluff and off-topic discussion.

This would be a great book for two types of photographers: those wanting to learn portraits from the ground up, and those wanting to add more to their existing knowledge of portraiture. Either way, this book will certainly step up your game.

You can purchase Volume 1 of Portrait Tips and Techniques for $19.95 until December 20, at which point it will return to the regular price of $24.95. (the image says Dec 12, but the end date is really Dec 20)

WANT A FREE COPY?

[UPDATE 11/22/2010] The winners have been chosen. You can see the results here.

Of course you do! I’ve got 3 copies of the eBook to hand out and we’ll run this as a simple raffle in the comments below. Here are the rules:

  • One entry per person.
  • Leave a comment with the word “freebook” in there somewhere.
  • Do it on or before 11/19/2010.

After the deadline, I’ll pull 3 random numbers and see if the corresponding comments have the word “freebook” in them. If not, I’ll pull additional numbers until 3 winners have been chosen.

New eBooks Worth Checking Out

[tweetmeme]With my lack of spare time during the move, I’ve managed to miss 4 new eBook announcements! Since I don’t want to flood the blog with a bunch of book reviews all at once, I’ll post all 4 together with brief descriptions. I have, however, downloaded and flipped through all 4 books, and they’re all great reads from outstanding photographers and authors.

So if you’re looking for something new and informative to read, start here and see if anything interests you. If you’re looking for more, check out my archive of book and eBook reviews.

This post contains affiliate links.

NEW BOOKS FROM ED VEROSKY

25 Amazing Boudoir Photography Techniques ($9.95)

“This is a natural followup to my eBook, ’10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now’,” says Verosky. “In this book I’m presenting a quality list of 25 solid boudoir shot examples. This isn’t just a sequence of poses to copy; I’ve designed it to serve as a very concise, flexible, and extensible set of real-world examples to learn from. Each one details, in plain language, what the look is supposed to accomplish, the general setup/blocking of the elements, the technique I use to prepare and direct the subject, and the gear and settings I use to achieve each look.”

And for those of you into flash photography, Ed is giving away a Canon 580EX II flash unit on his website. See the details for entry rules.

NEW BOOKS FROM CRAFT & VISION

SAFARI, A Monograph ($5.00)

SAFARI, A Monograph is the second in the series The Print & The Process. David duChemin unpacks the images from a 10-day safari in Kenya, first letting the images speak for themselves then diving deep into the process behind the photographs. This eBook offers an honest discussion about the issues connected to the creation of duChemin’s SAFARI monograph, including the gear used, the techniques employed, and the lessons learned. It’s a 62-page PDF eBook that will provide you with inspiration amidst the details of the Why and the How. This is not so much about how to photograph your first safari, though you’ll learn that too; it’s a look at the lessons learned, and re-learned, by a photographer who is now 25 years into his craft. Also included are the Adobe Lightroom settings used for Serengeti Chocolate, the duo-tone look in which much of his SAFARI monograph has been styled, and a downloadable Lightroom Preset.

Chasing Reflections ($5.00)

Chasing Reflections is the third in the series The Print & The Process. Eli Reinholdtsen is a creative photographer who, through her unique and skillful approach to reflections, captures moments and juxtapositions that are truly an art form at its finest. Reinholdtsen digs deep and shares tangible ways to scout, setup, and shoot complex and magical photographs that push the envelope of visual poetry. Her playful descriptions aren’t shy of digging deep into the techniques required to capture movement, timing, and contrast. Chasing Reflections is an inspiring collection of 37 photographs that stand on their own a pieces of pure art (The Print) followed by a discussion of the creation of those visual moments (The Process).

The Magic of Black & White – Part III, Nine Photos ($5.00)

The Magic of Black & White – Part III, Nine Photos, takes us through nine gorgeous black and white images with the goal of teaching more advanced techniques to give our images more subtlety and power. Clearly taught in Photoshop, and 5 of the lessons in Photoshop Elements, Andrew takes us through Toning, Split Toning, Exposure Blending, Textures, and the creation of Diptyches and Triptyches, all without losing sight of the idea that our work should be driven by intent with the goal of creating photographs that honour the Artist’s need for expression and the Geek’s need for excellence of craft. And all that without getting mired down – the examples and the illustrations Andrew provides compliment his clear teaching style and make this book a pleasure to read.

3 New Photography eBooks

A lot of eBooks have been coming out lately, and I just don’t have the time or energy to do full reviews for all of them. Here are three books that came out on the last few weeks that I probably won’t have time for a full book review. You can see other book and eBook reviews in my archives.

This post contains affiliate links.

Transcending Travel – A Guide to Captivating Travel Photography

This book from dPS is all about travel photography. It is designed to give you the skill and inspiration to take riveting travel images. Written by Mitchell Kanashkevich, the book is divided into four main sections: preparation, composition, light, and making photos. It covers topics such as preparing for your trip, how to communicate effectively with your viewers, creative uses of light, and various other tips for producing great travel photos.

VENICE, A Monograph The Print & Process

This eBook is a collection of over 30 photographs created along themes of loneliness and solitude over a 5-day period in Venice in May 2010, and followed by a discussion of the Why and the How behind the images. The first half of the book is a wonderful collection of photos, while the second half dives into the process behind each photo. This includes technical settings along with some important background information from the photographer.

Vision in Motion

This eBook is an introduction to digital video for stills photographers. Written by Trevor Meier, both a professional stills photographer and film-maker, this eBook discusses the core issues of motion storytelling. Topics include vision, story, sequence, and technique (which is a big one that covers exposure control, frame rate, motion rendering, DOF control, and so on). The end of the book also talks about basic equipment like cameras, lenses, filters, tripods, and sound.

eBook Review: 100% Reliable Flash Photography

[tweetmeme]Here’s another great eBook from author/photographer Edward Verosky (also the author of 10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now). This time around, it’s all about the black magic of flash photography… something that a few of us could use some help with (certainly myself included).

This eBook covers the topic of flash photography and artificial lighting from both a technical and practical standpoint — simple setups with outstanding and reliable results. It dives into all the technical aspects of flash photography, but then pulls back to reality with examples of easy to understand setups for almost any situation. This book is a great resource and tool for anybody wanting to learn more about artificial lighting.

“100% Reliable Flash Photography” can be purchased through Edward Verosky’s website for $9.95. (affiliate links)

ABOUT THE BOOK

100% Reliable Flash Photography is a 75 page downloadable PDF eBook available for instant download. The book contains a large amount of content coupled with sample photos and lighting diagrams.

After a short introduction, we start with a good deal of terminology and definition (this lighting stuff has a language of its own). Then we go through some of the theory of working with light — how it behaves and how we can control its effect on a subject. A lesson in camera control follows, with a focus on technical skills needed when working with artificial light.

The following chapter gets into the main concept of this book: standardization. This applies to your gear, settings, and the way you work. The goal here is to give you a method for dealing with the technical side of things so you can focus on the artistic side. Another big chapter covers working with manual settings, both in-camera and on-flash. It’s really not so scary, and it turns out that manual settings are easier to use than auto or semi-auto settings when working with flash photography.

The entire last chunk of the book looks at specific settings and setups for both indoor and outdoor shooting. We’re talking bounce, ambient, single/multiple light sources, and more. The very end is a little bonus section that talks about some of the photos and models used in the book (of course, with more awesome sample shots).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Edward Verosky is a creative boudoir, portrait, and editorial photographer working out of Austin, Texas. His distinctive photography is emotionally engaging, and often stylistically cinematic. Ed has many years of experience making women look beautiful in pictures.

Ed comes off as being extremely professional and knowledgeable based on the writing in the eBook and on his blog.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

This book is highly recommended for anybody wanting to learn flash photography. It does require a basic understanding of photography and camera control, but I would assume that most people getting serious about flash are covered in this area. There’s quite a bit of technical stuff in this book, but that’s the nature of artificial lighting. Though it may be overwhelming at first, a little study and practice can clear up any anxieties.

For the people who already know external/artificial lighting, I’m sure there are a few points in there worth checking out. In addition to covering the basics, the book gets into simplifying the process and becoming more productive with limited time and equipment. In general, it’s a great resource to have on-hand if you’re into the lighting stuff.

“100% Reliable Flash Photography” can be purchased through Edward Verosky’s website for $9.95.

eBook Review: The Magic of Black & White, Part Two – Craft

[tweetmeme]I recently reviewed The Magic of Black & White, Part One – Vision and now we have part two – craft. A clever set of titles if you ask me… mainly because the books are published by Craft & Vision.

I gave high marks to the first book, and this one is right up there too. Author and photographer Andrew Gibson continues his discussion of black and white photography by covering some of the technical aspects and how they relate to the inspirational side of things.

Like the first book, the text is concise and the images are both useful and beautiful. All together, it’s an easy read that also contains good reference material.

“The Magic of Black & White, Part Two – Craft” can be purchased through Craft & Vision for only $5. The links in this post are affiliate links.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Magic of Black & White, Part Two – Craft is a 51 page downloadable PDF eBook. The book is a single page landscape format (to make it easier to view for the folks with iPads and such). Throughout the book, you’re presented with a mix of philosophical and technical advice along with sample photos from Andrew’s fine collection of work. This book uses software tools found in Photoshop CS3 (or newer) and Photoshop Elements 6 (or newer).

The book starts off a little slow in that it doesn’t jump right into the technical stuff. Andrew lays out some groundwork by explaining his experience and philosophy. After a few pages of this, he jumps into the main course with technical stuff from the digital darkroom.

Here, Andrew goes through techniques for black & white conversion and toning. Three example studies bring us to the conclusion of the book, and they contain other useful editing tips such as masking, burning, the addition of texture, and more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Gibson is a writer and photographer based in the south of England. He works for one of the UK’s leading photography magazines and also freelances. He loves to travel and one region he’s been drawn back to time and time again is South America, in particular Argentina and the Andean regions of Bolivia and Peru. He works in a ‘fine art documentary’ style and presents most of his work in black and white.

You can find Andrew’s work at his main website or at his blog. He’s also a regular contributor at Phototuts+, Smashing Magazine, and the Fine Art Photoblog. On top of all that, he’s an employee of EOS Magazine.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

Definitely a book worth reading for the beginner/intermediate black and white enthusiasts, especially for the low price of $5. The technical skills presented are not terribly difficult to learn, and Andrew presents them in a way that’s easy to digest. Even the more advanced photographers might pick up a thing or two since some of the techniques presented were developed by Andrew himself.

Part two (craft) is a great follow-up to part one (vision), and I would certainly suggest getting this one if you liked the first. And if you didn’t get the first book, you might consider getting both because (in Andrew’s words) “craft without vision is just an exercise in pushing buttons”.

“The Magic of Black & White, Part Two – Craft” can be purchased through Craft & Vision for only $5.

LIMITED TIME OFFER: Use the promotional code MAGIC4 at checkout to get the book for $4 or use the code MAGIC20 to get 20% off when you buy 5 or more books from the Craft & Vision collection. These codes expire at 11:59pm PST June 1, 2010.

What Type of Photography Books Do You Prefer?

I love photography books, and I’ve noticed that most of them fit into one of two groups: educational and inspirational. Educational books being the technical manuals, how-to’s, and general tips and techniques. Inspirational books tend to be more of a “coffee table book” with lots of photos and maybe some supplemental text.

I typically lean toward the inspirational books, but I realize that educational books certainly have their place. Most of the book reviews I do here on the blog also fall into the “inspirational” category. But maybe I’m a minority and you guys are bored to death of the coffee table books — let’s see some votes!

[tweetmeme]

Do you have any favorite books from either category? And have you ever seen a photography book that is truly both educational and inspirational?

“The Contact Sheet” Book Winners

Book Review: The Contact Sheet

Last week, I did a book review of The Contact Sheet and we had a couple of extra copies to give out. A big thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway and helped promote the contest — we had a good number of entries in just a few days.

The winners were chosen randomly, one from the reTweets and one from the comments over at FeelingNegative.com. I contacted both of them last week right after the contest and they both accepted the prize, so that’s that! Here are our winners:

Bill Wolff for the Twitter entry
Marc Hodges for the comment entry

If you didn’t win and you still want a copy of the book, you can buy one directly from AMMO Books or through Amazon.com (affiliate link). For how good the book is, the price is very low and totally worth it.

And stay tuned for more free stuff coming down the pipeline. We have another small contest coming up tomorrow (not for books though… something totally different).

Book Review: The Contact Sheet

[tweetmeme]If you don’t know by now, or if you’re new around here, I’m a HUGE fan of good photo books. I love looking at great photos and I can appreciate the effort that goes into making a book full of them.

I’m also into film photography and I like seeing photo books that exhibit some old-school stuff. And with any photo book, it’s unusual to see additional photos that weren’t selected for display or publication — so this book is pretty special since it breaks that boundary.

AMMO Books contacted me about a 2nd edition printing of a pretty awesome book, and I couldn’t pass it up! Contact sheets from famous photographers, full-page selections, and photographer backgrounds… this has greatness written all over it.

The Contact Sheet (ISBN 978-0978607692) can be purchased directly from AMMO Books or through Amazon.com. The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Contact Sheet is a hardcover book containing 192 pages of photographer bios, contact sheets, and photos from 44 well known photographers. The book is of average size measuring in at 10.4×8.4 inches and around 1 inch thick. Each photographer is given a minimum of a background/bio, a contact sheet, and a final selection from that contact sheet (some are given a bit more than this). In addition, the written portions are published in English, French, German, and Spanish.

The thing that hits you about this book is that there are some really iconic photos (and photographers) contained within. Some of my favorite and other well-known photographers appear, such as Elliott Erwitt, Jerry Uelsmann, Dorothea Lange, Pete Turner, Anton Corbijn, William Wegman, and many others.

As I mentioned, some of the photos are recognizable icons — photos of people such as Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Allen Gainsberg, August Sander, Marilyn Monroe, Aretha Franklin, Richard Nixon, “Migrant Mother”, Jim Morrison, and… need I go on? You’ve probably seen a good handful of these legendary photos somewhere in your travels.

Aside from all the icons and legends, the REALLY neat thing about this book is the fact that you get to see the whole contact sheet that the image came from. So you get to see all the different poses, takes, and trials that went into it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Crist is the publisher of AMMO Books and has also personally edited and created outstanding titles such as GONZO, The Curse of Lono, Marilyn, Jazz Life, Steve McQueen, and The Polaroid Book.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

The Contact Sheet is a very worthwhile book for art and photography enthusiasts. After reading the photographer bios and viewing the contact sheets, you’ll view the selected photos in a whole different light. On one hand, you see that it took more than one shot to get the final photo and not every shot on the roll was a “keeper”. On the other hand, you gain a deeper respect for the selected photo when you see just how special it is.

The Contact Sheet (ISBN 978-0978607692) can be purchased directly from Ammo Books or through Amazon.com. The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

WANT A FREE COPY? WE HAVE TWO!

[UPDATE 5/7/10] The contest deadline is over. I’ll pick out the winners soon and post an update to the blog. Thanks to all the folks who entered!

[UPDATE 5/10/10] The winners have been announced.

This is going to be a quick one, so pay attention. You have two ways to enter for a free book, and you can enter both ways to increase your chances.

  1. [tweetmeme]DO THE RETWEET
    Just post this little gem to your Twitter status: “RT @epicedits Book Review: The Contact Sheet http://bit.ly/bcCTFj” or hit the green “retweet” button on this post. (one entry per person)
  2. COMMENT ON MY FILM BLOG
    Since the book is all about film photos and contact sheets, head over to my film photography blog and leave a (thoughtful) comment on any of the posts — include the phrase “THECONTACTSHEET” in your comment to be eligible for a free book. (one entry per person)

So get on it — I’ll cut off the entries at the end of May 6, 2010 and pick out the random winners. Each winner will receive a free copy of The Contact Sheet book, courtesy of AMMO Books.

eBook Review: Vision Is Better

I’m really taking a liking to good eBooks lately… and perhaps that’s because I see more of them being published by fellow photographers and enthusiasts. On the forefront of this new craze is David duChemin with the Craft & Vision website.

He just authored a new eBook titled “Vision Is Better” and I had the opportunity to check it out before it was released. While I’m still working my way through it, I’ve read enough to share my thoughts here on the blog. This thing is a really good read and it provides a lot of insights not found in other books I’ve read.

“Vision Is Better” can be purchased through Craft & Vision. The links in this post are affiliate links.

ABOUT THE BOOK

[tweetmeme]Vision Is Better is a 116 page downloadable PDF eBook available for only $5. The book contains 50 articles alongside supplemental photos. The layout is a basic 2 column/page format, and the simple design is easy on the eyes. Each article has a different color scheme and/or background photo, so every page seems to be a new visual treat.

David admits at the beginning of the book: “This is a messy book. It’s random, doesn’t particularly hold to one topic or theme very well [...] This book is a collection of thoughts, essays, and ill-advised rants that were all first published on my blog [...] you probably paid for something you could have got for free. Those challenges aside, I still think this book is worth the time and money.

I agree with that last line — it’s worth the time and money. This isn’t a random collection of published blog articles — I’m sure there was some amount of thought put into which articles to include and in what order. Add to that, the completely different layout and design intended for your viewing pleasure, and it’s worth more than the $5 price tag.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

According to his blog, “David duChemin is a world & humanitarian photographer, best-selling author, and international workshop leader. David uses his powers for good and not for evil.

Though I don’t know him personally, David seems to be quite knowledgeable on the topics that he photographs and writes about. He’s also the mastermind of the growing Craft & Vision enterprise. The concept of the site is to provide high quality eBooks at a flat rate of $5 per publication. It’s a pretty hot deal and the model seems to be working, so check it out!

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

As I mentioned above, the book is worth more than the $5 price tag. Just having this collection of articles all in one place is awfully handy. The book is more of a casual read, intended to be taken in over time and over multiple sittings. There’s not a bunch of technical stuff buried in there, just lots of essays and thoughts on becoming a better photographer.

I would recommend this book to anybody looking for a little mental exercise. It should get you thinking about the important things in this field, and it may alter the way you look at professional photography. David also writes in a very conversational voice, so it’s really easy to follow along and wrapped up in his stories.

“Vision Is Better” can be purchased through Craft & Vision. The links in this post are affiliate links.

HOW ABOUT A DISCOUNT?

Between now and May 4, 2010 you can get this book for just $4. Use the promotional code VISION4 when you checkout, or you can use the code VISION20 to get 20% off when you buy 5 or more books from the Craft & Vision collection.

eBook Review: 10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now

[tweetmeme]So here’s a book review that’s a little more out of my comfort zone than normal. Edward Verosky approached me about doing a review of his recent eBook titled “10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now”. Honestly, this is a subject that I know next to nothing about — it’s just not a widely discussed topic.

Now, when we talk about “boudoir”, we’re not talking about anything trashy — it’s quite the opposite. This is a highly professional market run by highly professional photographers. With that said… the images in this post are somewhat “edgy”, and the photos in the eBook are even more so (Yes, partial nudity. But very tasteful.)

If you’re drawn to the studio and working with people, this may be a niche worth looking into. Read on for a more detailed review of this book.

“10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now” can be purchased through Edward Verosky’s website. (affiliate links)

ABOUT THE BOOK

10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now is a 44 page PDF eBook available for instant download. The book is intended to be viewed in a two-page format (as you can see by the dashed lines in the samples below). The content provides a great deal of tips and advice backed up by example photos.

We start off with a quick introduction to set the tone, followed by 9 sections aimed at different aspects of boudoir photography. At the end, Edward provides a sampling of posing examples and his final thoughts in a conclusion. The first half of the book covers the business side of things and how to work with clients. The last half of the book deals more with the creative/photography side of things.

The sections of the book include: The Psychology Behind Boudoir, Prepare Your Subject For A Successful Shoot, Set Limits For The Best Results, Use Encouragement & Direction To Get The Most From Your Subject, The Two-Light Setup That’s Foolproof, The Retouching Tools That Always Work, The Four Best-Selling Poses, Five Go-To Shots When All Else Fails, and How to Get The Candid Look They Love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Edward Verosky is a creative boudoir, portrait, and editorial photographer working out of Austin, Texas. His distinctive photography is emotionally engaging, and often stylistically cinematic. Ed has many years of experience making women look beautiful in pictures.

Ed comes off as being extremely professional and knowledgeable based on the writing in the eBook and on his blog — certainly a guy worth paying attention to!

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

Definitely a recommended book for any photographer looking to get into, or improve their boudoir photography. This niche is far less talked about in photography books, blogs, and forums than other niches. So a resource like this is pure gold for the photographers wanting to learn about it. While it may not substitute for years of experience in this field, the eBook can certainly give you a head start in the right direction!

“10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now” can be purchased through Edward Verosky’s website.