The Complete NatGeo Archive for $25

Just a quick note to let you know that National Geographic, long the favourite of photographers and praised for its imagery, is currently offering their complete back-copy on 7 DVDs for jsut $25.

From their site:

Browse 123 years of National Geographic magazine—more than 1,400 issues, 8,000 articles, 200,000 photographs, and hundreds of maps exactly as they appeared in print. Our definitive collection of every issue of National Geographic magazine through 2011 is digitally reproduced in high resolution. Use the visual interface to explore a topic, find photographs, browse the globe, or wander on your own expedition.

I’m not sure how long the offer will last or if there are any other restrictions (i.e. US only) so if you’re interested, follow the link below to check it out!

The Complete National Geographic on 7 DVD-ROMs

The Problem With Presets

I finished reading David duChemin’s Vision and Voice book a few weeks back and there was something he mentioned in the book that must have resonated with me as I’m still thinking about it now. It was about presets or at least pre-set ways of developing your digital shots.

Each time someone comes up with a killer new technique, the masses rush to copy it. They adopt it wholesale and use it as an un-suck filter for images that just don’t work – but wave the magic-wand-of-the-day over it and poof! its novel and new

I’ve realised that to a large degree I’ve been guilty of this, and whilst it might not be the technique of the moment that I use, I have seen Lightroom presets and thought, “Wow – that really makes that photo great”. The trouble is, the photo in the before/after shot showing the preset is not one I’ve taken and doesn’t necessarily represent what I was trying to communicate when I took my latest shot.

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3 Photography Books for Beginners

Knowing that I’m into my photography, the other day a couple of colleagues asked me if I had any recommendations for those just getting started in photography.

They were mainly interested in “how to” books however one of the things that has helped me the most over the years is mixing with other photographers. Everyone has their own interests and as a result tends to build up knowledge and skills in a specific area. Its rare that when meeting up with a group of photographers I don’t leave with some new idea or skill to try. A great resource for bringing photographers together is of course Flickr. The massive variety of groups almost guarantees that whatever your focus or interest there will be a Flickr group already set up. Location based groups are also a good resource and if you’re lucky to have an active Flickr group in your local area (as I am with the Leeds group) there are plenty of opportunities to meet up and learn new skills.

But back to the request from my colleagues – beginners books. After a bit of a think I would recommend the following three publications for anyone just starting out.

Digital Photography Masterclass – Tom Ang

I like this book because Tom Ang has a great way of explaining complicated subjects.

The book provides clear tutorials on technical elements from exposure to colour balance and genres from fine art to sports photography. In addition,  after learning a skill he sets you an assignment – a chance to go and put what you’ve just learned to good use. This is then followed by sample images he gathered from other regular photographers which he uses to illustrate how they approached the same assignment.

The Digital Photography Book(s) – Scott Kelby

Another great book for beginners although this is a little thin and you’ll easily get through it in one reading. That said, there are three books in this series so you might want to look at the others too.

The beauty of this book is that each page is a single tip. Short, sweet and to the point. As a result, whilst the tips are great and there’s something for everyone, those familiar with their camera may be slightly disappointed by the lack of additional information. Still its a great book to start with if you want to learn about your cameras features and functions.

40 Digital Photography Techniques for Beginners – John Kim

This book gets straight to the point and provides you with easy to follow and useful tutorials on how to get the best out of your camera and how to improve your skills.

The 40 techniques cover everything from how to compose good shots, play with light and shoot close-ups, to capturing motion, experimenting with filters, and more. If you have a compact camera which doesn’t provide much control over the shutter times, aperture, etc then some of the content may not be appropriate, however there are still great sections on framing your shot and making the most of available light to make the book worthwhile.

Within the Frame

Within the Frame

The book by David DuChemin called “Within the Frame” is about finding and expressing your photographic vision, specifically where people, places, and cultures are concerned. The book on its own is great and I can highly recommend it.

However I recently discovered that after producing the book David recorded a series of podcasts for peachpit press which you can also view online. In the podcasts he picks a one or two images submitted to the “Within the Frame” Flickr-group and provides a critique. The useful thing is these reviews are not so much technical as compositional – pointing out where a certain angle or crop might have worked better, and highlighting those elements within the shot that work well.

You can view all the podcasts (there’s 17 of them to date) by following the link below.

Peachpit: Within the Frame Podcasts

Updated Lightroom Adventure Book

One of my favourite Adobe Lightroom books has been revamped and updated to cover all the new Lightroom goodness that was included in version 2.

The author, Mikkel Aaland, uses a similar concept to the first book and one that I think works very well. For the initial book, he took a team of photographers to Iceland. This time he organized a group of top-notch photographers for a trek to Tasmania, the exotic island south of mainland Australia, where the only studio was Lightroom on a laptop. In the book, Aaland uses hands-on knowledge from the trip to demonstrate how Lightroom can help you create the best possible image under any conditions.

Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure