book reviews

Real World Digital Photography, 2nd Edition by Katrin Eismann, Sean Duggan, and Tim Grey

Real World Digital Photography, 2nd Edition is solid information for those just getting into digital photography with point-and-shoot cameras, those with a bit more experience, or those who are stepping up to digital SLR (dSLR) cameras from the world of 35mm film.

The authors take the reader through a wealth of information; from how digital cameras work to how to set up a "digital darkroom."

Real World Digital Photography is divided into four major topic areas:

"Digital Photography Essentials," "Digital Photography Techniques," "The Digital Darkroom," and "Output, Manage, and Present."

"Digital Photography Essentials," takes up almost one-third of the book. This section offers an introduction to digital photography for the new or soon-to-be digital photographer. It covers the history of digital photography, jargon, how digital cameras work, how to buy a digital camera, and what accessories are "must-haves."

"Digital Photography Techniques," the shortest of the four sections, covers the creative act of creating a photograph after first detouring into some technical aspects that the reader needs to consider prior to snapping the shutter.

"The Digital Darkroom" and "Output, Manage, and Present" make up the last half of the book. These sections deal with improving your photos after shooting and how to best store and show those photos.

There is a wealth of techniques for adjusting visual elements (color, contrast, sharpness) as well as performing editing tricks such as removing unwanted elements or applying creative plug-ins to create a work of art from what might have been "just" a nice photograph.

Storage of old photos has moved from the shoebox to the spindle and the pros and cons of long-term storage solutions are covered here. There's also discussion of planning for changes in storage media — a real concern for the prolific shutterbug!

Overall, the authors present information simply but with plenty of detail. Complex topics are described as simply as possible and the information is presented in a progressive manner. Readers with more experience will be able to make use of the table of contents and the index to quickly move to topics of interest.

I'm not new to either film or digital photography but I appreciated the photography "refresher course" provided in chapters 6 and 7. These chapters provide the meat regarding technique in composition, framing, and lighting. Unfortunately, this technique section is the lightest area covered.

I also thought the details and methods described in the editing chapters were fantastic although geared to Photoshop users. While many of the editing processes could be duplicated through trial-and-error, offering more specific tips for using Paint Shop or one of the other lower-priced editors would've been a big plus. After all, someone using a one or two hundred-dollar point-and-shoot probably wouldn't spend the $649.00 to buy Photoshop.

There are few shortcomings to be found here, especially considering the age of this edition — almost two and one-half years old as of this review. My only real grumble is that, while recommendations on software tools were more than adequate, little to no mention was made of freeware tools such as Google's Picasa (an image management application) or The GIMP (a Photoshop-like image editor).

Real World Digital Photography is a definite winner loaded with excellent information for both new and veteran photographers. It's definitely earned a place on my bookcase!

Reviewed By: Robert Saucier
Peachpit Press