Understanding Digital Photography: Techniques for Getting Great Pictures

December 24, 2011 by  
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Understanding Digital Photography: Techniques for Getting Great Pictures

Using his popular bad image/good image pairings of real-life examples, Bryan Peterson takes the reader through all the techniques needed to succeed with digital photography in every popular genre: nature, people, sports, interiors, travel, low-light conditions, travel, weather, commercial portraits, macro, and wildlife—even how to use creative tricks such as reflections. As a bonus, Peterson explains, in straightforward text, the techniques of Photoshop as well as the basics of publishing, pri

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Shoot Like a Pro! Digital Photography Techniques

Produce the kind of images that would otherwise demand a professional photographer or darkroom—or both. Through a series of tutorial projects, author Julie Adair King shows readers how to light shots, choose the right camera settings, use camera accessories and photographic software, and much more. You’ll learn step-by-step to use your existing digital camera for professional results. Set up a home studio, create a 360-degree panoramic image, learn low light and action photography, work in

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6 Responses to “Understanding Digital Photography: Techniques for Getting Great Pictures”
  1. Rennie Petersen says:
    351 of 377 people found the following review helpful:
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Misunderstanding digital photography, May 19, 2006
    By 
    Rennie Petersen (Copenhagen, Denmark) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Understanding Digital Photography: Techniques for Getting Great Pictures (Paperback)

    Reading “Understanding Digital Photography” by Bryon Peterson is a bit like being at a family get-together, and being given a lot of good advice by friendly Uncle Phil over a couple of beers. Then you later discover that friendly Uncle Phil didn’t know what he was talking about! It does mar what was otherwise a good experience.

    What makes me think of a family get-together is the folksy, jocular tone and the amusing comparisons between technical subjects and familiar things. Here are a few of Bryan Peterson’s more colorful attempts at making digital photography understandable:

    – The pixels on the sensor work together like a family, like socialism, and it’s too bad Stalin and Mao Tse-tung couldn’t see this (pg 16).

    – JPEGs are like amnesia or like AM radio or like prepared meat loaf (pg 18, 20).

    – TIFFs are like elephants (pg 19).

    – ISO is like caffeine, and high ISO is like bloodshot eyes (pg 22).

    – Long exposure times cause the pixel family to fall apart and have a nervous breakdown (pg 78).

    – Checking the background is important, although typically not done regarding the person you’re going to marry (pg 96).

    – Over-sharpening a picture makes it glow, which could be used to guide Santa Claus and Rudolph (pg 129).

    This style of writing may appeal to some people, but it’s definitely not my cup of tea.

    The book is richly illustrated with a lot of photographs taken by Bryan Peterson. These pictures do a good job of presenting the various techniques being discussed, and they are all good pictures from a purely technical point of view.

    However, my aesthetic opinion of most of the pictures is fairly low, i.e., they are not the kind of pictures that I’d like to be able to make someday.

    Bryan Peterson favors very colorful photos, and he admits that he pushes the color saturation up on most of his pictures. The composition and subjects of many of his pictures leave a kind of artificial taste, as if the pictures were being made just for the sake of making pictures that will impress.

    Of course, taste is something that is very individual, and Bryan Peterson is a successful professional photographer so there are obviously many people who like his pictures.

    The most serious problem with this book is the large number of technical errors concerning digital photography. Here are some of the more serious examples:

    – “… the more pixels the merrier” (pg 16). Only true up to a point.

    – “Every time you open and close a JPEG file on your computer, the file degrades due to data being lost…” (pg 18). Not true, and Bryan Peterson’s warnings against using JPEGs are mostly incorrect.

    – White balance should always be set to “Cloudy+3” (pg 26). Poor advice, especially when photographing people because of the need to get skin colors correct.

    – Landscapes should be shot at f/22 (pg 34) and macros at f/32 (pg 118). This doesn’t take the light diffraction problem into account.

    – Depth of field properties of a lens are independent of sensor size (pg 39 and 119). Not true.

    – Noise reduction should be done last in post processing (pg 57). No, it should be done first.

    – Clean the sensor with compressed air (pg 127). No, this can damage the camera.

    – Take pictures under-exposed by 3 stops in order to stack 8 of them in Photoshop (pg 148). Crazy advice, you should change the opacity of the layers instead.

    – “The output size of that file … will be around 2048 x 3000 ppi (pixels per inch) …” (pg 156). Meaningless statement.

    Bryan Peterson tells us that he shot film for many years and only recently switched to digital. This book was obviously written before he had learned enough about digital photography to explain it properly.

    So, I don’t like the tone of the writing and I don’t particularly like the pictures and I don’t think Bryan Peterson’s knowledge of digital photography was up to the task. What did I like about this book?

    Actually, the basic concepts regarding photography that Bryan Peterson describes are good. The importance of getting the picture right when shooting it (as opposed to Photoshopping it later), the way in which aperture and shutter speed affect the picture, the importance of how a picture is illuminated and composed, the value of using a tripod; all of this material represents the core concepts of photography that need to be learned in order to be able to consistently take good pictures.

    Another thing I appreciated was that Bryan Peterson says that understanding the technology isn’t the most important aspect of being a good photographer. “… 99% of all successful photographic images have relied on … setting a creatively correct exposure and … creating a well-balanced…

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  2. Jonathan says:
    52 of 53 people found the following review helpful:
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    Skip this one–buy the other two, May 27, 2006
    By 
    Jonathan (Brookline, MA United States) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Understanding Digital Photography: Techniques for Getting Great Pictures (Paperback)

    Digital photography is not yet second nature to Peterson as is film SLR photography. For example, Peterson writes “2048 x 3000 ppi (pixels per inch)” instead of “2048 x 3000 pixels”–he just doesn’t speak the language yet.

    Below, Rennie Petersen on May 19 gives the definitive criticism of this book. I own this book as well Peterson’s other two books Understanding Exposure, which I highly recommend, and Learning to See Creatively, which I like having but is second to Understanding Exposure. So my review is really summed up in the title.

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  3. Bart Willems says:
    46 of 48 people found the following review helpful:
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Disappointing… at best, June 1, 2006
    By 
    Bart Willems (Elmwood Park, New Jersey United States) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Understanding Digital Photography: Techniques for Getting Great Pictures (Paperback)

    I like Bryan Peterson’s other books (Learning to see Creatively and Understanding Exposure) and I was guessing that this would be a combination of the two with some additional tips towards digital photography. I expected a lot out of the book, and it didn’t come out.
    First of all, the ‘photography’ part of the book is good. Many examples and tips on how to make better pictures.
    But the ‘digital’ part of the book is bad, really, really bad. Virtually every advice Bryan gives is wrong, or given for the wrong reason. You get the idea that mr. Peterson wanted to jump on the digital bandwagon without knowing anything about digital camera’s in the first place.
    I bought the book to give it to a friend who just got his first digital camera, and I wanted to see if it would be a keeper for myself. I’m keeping it, but only because I’d be ashamed to give it to somebody.
    Again, the photography tips are good, and if it wasn’t for the author, I would have given it three stars. But I was expecting something better.

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  4. Jeff Kershaw "Gadget lover" says:
    37 of 37 people found the following review helpful:
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Great for a beginner, April 21, 2005
    By 
    Jeff Kershaw “Gadget lover” (Moscow, Russia) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Shoot Like a Pro! Digital Photography Techniques (Paperback)

    Julie writes for the beginner who is learning the basics of digital photography. She covers many subjects from selecting a camera and computer setup to macro photography and printing. If you have experience with film (or no experience whatsoever) and are switching to digital and have no idea what you are doing, this is a good book for you. If you have a few years of experience, not needing to learn the basics, you might be a bit dissapointed as I was. I recommend the book for the audience that I described as Julie even included “tips” to do things on the cheap, using little known tricks or features.

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  5. Matthew says:
    14 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    What a great book!, March 6, 2006
    By 
    Matthew (Put-In-Bay) –

    This review is from: Shoot Like a Pro! Digital Photography Techniques (Paperback)

    Julie is the author of Digital Photography for Dummies, and she really knows her stuff. If you’re beyond the dummy stage and want to learn more, this is the place to start.

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  6. Sarah M. Seibert says:
    8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Excellent, Love the entire book, January 9, 2006
    By 
    Sarah M. Seibert (Las Vegas NV) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Shoot Like a Pro! Digital Photography Techniques (Paperback)

    I absolutly loved this book. It is jam packed with useful information, techniques, and tips. In the center of the book is a color insert of 36 tips. You can find the details to these tips throught the book. Great explination on how to do things with the camera and digital editing. I recomment this book for a beginner all the way to someone who has taken classes and needs to brush up and go a little further with their experiance.

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