Books Photography Reviews

Review: The Traveling Photographer

The-Traveling-PhotographerI’d finished reading The Traveling Photographer by Sandra Petrowitz but I had not yet begun to write about it when I was sitting in a coffee shop with friends when one pulled out his phone to pass to me to show me the pictures of the weather he had encountered the previous weekend on a shopping trip out of town. Snow, ice, cars off the road and broken trees abounded.  My second friend reciprocated with a quick draw of his phone to show pictures of his son’s wedding done just the week previous to that one when the weather was sunshine and sparkling and in the mid 80’s.

I was thinking—first that this is Texas where the weather can change in the blink of an eye, and second that it seems that everyone is a photographer today with their phones and tablets with cameras—even if they left their point-and-shoot or more potent DSLR at home. The camera is everywhere. The snapshot is ubiquitous. The final thought that came to me was that as a somewhat aesthetically judgmental photographer, maybe I could pass out copies of The Traveling Photographer to upgrade the quality of my friends images. Having been a photographer for much more than forty years and a photography teacher for thirty three of them I well know that the possession of a camera does not guarantee the aesthetic quality of an image.  The cameras today are smart enough to correctly expose most of the time, but none yet have a button or menu item to guarantee a well-designed image with a real story-telling quality. The snapshot is still very much with us.

The old days of spending the evening at a neighbor’s house looking at slides of a vacation are long gone by almost twenty years; now everyone is ready  to show their pictures of vacations or the new baby in the blink of an eye and the whipping out of their phone or tablet. Most of the  images haven’t gotten better, just smaller, and design has suffered more in the transition.

Rocky Nook Publishing sent me a review copy of The Traveling Photographer by Sandra Petrowitz. Sandra is a journalist and editor who specializes in nature, travel, environmental, and other photraphy-related topics. As a passionate traveler who has made journeys from the Sahara to the Himalayas, and from Patagonia to the Okavango Delta she has produced a beautifully illustrated volume that is full of wonderfully story-telling images of far off places and then loaded that same book with comments and information to improve the images made by the beginning and intermediate photographer who chooses to seek to improve the quality of their travel photography.

The professional photographer will admire her images and respond to her commentary with “…yes, that’s the way to do it,” but the casual photographer and traveler will respond with “…that makes sense; why haven’t I done that to make stronger images?” Her logical and clear cut advice on such things as concentrating on details and looking for the graphic qualities of a scene (and giving and showing examples), will lead the traveler to a more elegant and story-telling approach and move well beyond the simple “I was there” image. Camera height and camera angle and the basics of eye movement and good design are explored to move the traveler beyond the mundane, flat, lined-against-the wall approach of the two dimensional image. This can show the depth and richness of the world when seen with an eye to intriguing the viewer and making that viewer aware of the scale and richness potential of a scene.

Hints on composition, suitable equipment (by characteristics rather than by particular brand), storing of camera gear and the protection and transport of image files are all subjects she introduces with a sufficent depth to get the traveling photographer more comfortable with the idea that they can bring home quality images from their travels and move beyond the snapshot stage.

I have two friends who are about to receive copies of The Traveling Photographer as gifts, so it’s obvious that I recommend it.

[amazon_image id=”1937538338″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ][/amazon_image]

The Traveling Photographer 
by Sandra Petrowitz
Rocky Nook Press
ISBN 978-1-937538-33-0
US $32.95 and CAN $34.95
Amazon Kindle Editon $16.95 ; Paperback $24.38

[amazon_enhanced asin=”1937538338″ /]

Books Graphics Photoshop Reviews Workflow

Review: Gimp 2.8 for Photographers

GIMP WITH PICTUREWith Adobe’s Photoshop moving to the cloud and a subscription basis, there has been a strong movement of hobbysists and amateur photographers to seek an alternative image editing software that is less expensive and unthethered.

I have been teaching workshops on Image Editing for the past thirteen years and in the past few months the inquiries and requests that I teach a workshop with alternative image editing software have increased. I had absolutely no skills in any image editing software other than Photoshop and so I began to look into other ways to edit images to see what was available.

Right on time for my needs Rocky Nook sent me a review copy of Klaus Goelker’s new book Gimp 2.8 for Photographers: Image Editing with Open Source Software, and I immediately opened the back of the book and removed the DVD that is attached there and loaded Gimp 2.8 onto my computer.

Since Gimp 2.8 is an open source software, it is designed to run versions on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Though the screen shots of the application may look slightly different on each platform the essential elements and tools remain in the same menu places in each version.

The DVD explains how to install the application, and in addition to the application itself, the DVD contains a PDF version of the book. I immediately downloaded a copy of the PDF to my Dropbox account and then retrieved the PDF on my iPad mini so that I could read the book where ever I was and that it would lie flat (as an iPad is wont to do) and would not entail fighting the tendency of book pages to flip themselves out of position.

It took a while for the PDF to upload to Dropbox, and an a slightly less equal time for it to be retrieved by my iPad.  Transferring the PDF to a reader as my iPad mini gave me choices of iBooks, Notability, GoodReader, NoteTaker HD, Skitch, FileApp, and FileApp Pro, Bluefire Reader and Kindle as these were all reader applications I had loaded on my iPad mini. I chose IBooks for no other reason than it was the first of my options. I downloaded it first to my iPad mini but found the diagrams a bit small for my old eyes so I dug out my older iPad 2 and downloaded it again, and again opened it in iBooks. My old eyes appreciated this larger display of the screen shots that are used continuously throughout the book.    

As an aside here, I think that including a PDF version of the book along with the printed copy is a fantastic benefit. One of the things that I have always hated when I am trying to follow a step-by-step procedure in a printed book is the usual need to put weights on opposite sides of the book to hold the pages down to keep the book open while I work on the computer. The ability to use an iPad or similar reader to lie nicely flat beside my computer while I am working is of great value to me.  This keeps me from having to break the spine of the book so badly in order to lie flat that the pages start to break away from the binding. Damaging the book seems like a real waste when it is printed on acid free paper and of really excellent printing quality. OK, that’s my $.02 on that subject. On to Klaus Goelker’s excellent instruction book itself.

He begins his instruction with an introduction to the GIMP program itself and a general look at the arrangement of the windows and menus encountered in beginning to work with the program. This is followed with a discussion on printing and the drivers necessary for GIMP to work with various makes of printers.

Scanning and image calculation for scanning follows, along with the usual problems encountered in scanning. This includes moire effect and unsquare scanning that requires rotation to solve the unsquare image. This is done in a step by step manner that the newcomer to GIMP should practice. Moving on,  the author picks up correction in levels and color and exposure. (I should mention here that all the images that the author uses as examples are available on the DVD that accompanies the book and it is suggested that the student new to GIMP download the images and follow the step by step procedures as Klaus Goelker demonstrates them.)

Curves and the placement of control points (as well as how to remove them) are next demonstrated. Hue and saturation adjustments are next. Then there’s an overview of the functions from the Colors Menu. Saving an image for the Internet is next.

As demonstrations contine, Touchup work is the next topic. This includes Color Casts, then we move on to removing spots, dust, and scratches. Cloning  for retouching and rebuilding damaged images is shown. 

(While not all key commands are the same between the Mac and the PC and while it seems that most of these commands are demonstrated in the Windows versions, translating each to the Mac is relatively easy with a little experimentation –using only a single button mouse on the Mac is the culprit.)

Healing, filters, sharpening, noise reduction, Gaussian blur, Non Linear, Edge Enhancement, Simulating Film Grain, are all demonstrated in step by step procedures which use the sample images provided on the DVD which accompanies the book.

Part 3 of the volume introduces us to Masks and Layers and the corresponding painting, filling, and color tools. Selections and edit menus give us means of modifying our selections. Red eye removal is demonstrated along with suggestions as to how to avoid it in the first place. The seemingly magic abilities of layers and how they work is explored. Correcting over and under-exposed images can be corrected in layers. Using Perspective Correction shows how to eliminate out of parallel appearing lines in images taken at less than optimum camera angles.  Removing Lens Distortion, Making Perspective Corrections, and Reducing Vingetting are next.

Freshening a Dull Sky gives us another eleven pages of step by step procedures, and this is followed by adding a sun and sunlight modifications. Now the author introduces the procedures of adding text to an image; this includes creating three-dimensional text and drop shadows. Creating Vignettes and picture frames are next, followed by Lighting Effects and Shadow Layers.

Next in the step by step procedures is Extracting Image Objects with Select and Masking Tools. Using the Paths Tool to create Vector Forms and Selections is followed by the use of Filters for Light Effects.

Paths and Text are demonstrated, aligning images with the alignment tool, and the Cage Transform Tool are defined and demonstrated step by step. Cross-Fading with Masks and Selections are followed by ways to modify the canvas size.  This is well explained in nine pages of diagrams and screen shots.

One of the more interesting tools is the Foreground Select Tool and it is thoroughly explained over another seven pages. Then another six pages cover how to do the same masking technique with brushes. It’s complex, but the illustrations are more than adequate to grasp the technique. My only complaint up to this point is to wish that the author had at times used an annotation program to draw a square or circle around a particular menu so it was easier to more quickly follow just where an item was located.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging is defined. HDR imaging is beyond the standard download of GIMP until a number of add-ons on plug ins are added, but the author tells you where to go on the Internet to find the appropriate PC and Mac software to add HDR techniques.

Layer Masks are introduced with five pages of step by step instructions, and will work slightly differently than what the Photoshop user will expect. However, following the steps that are demonstrated will siffice for the novice user of GIMP.

Section 4 of the book concerns Working With Black and White and Color Images and is broken down into a number of exercises. It begins with Converting Color Images Partly or Entirely Into Grayscale Images. Using the Channel Mixer begins the discussion of converting color images to black and white, and using the GEGL techniques are briefly discussed. But GEGL techniques are an as yet incomplete part of GIMP 2.8 and leave much yet to another discussion when completed. Threshold, Desaturation, and simulated Infrared techniques are discussed and shown as exercises. The tricky techniques of using the Threshold function to separate hair from a background is demonstrated. It’s followed by the method of using Channels to extract an object from the background, and that section was followed by methods of Coloring Grayscale Images. That took another fourteen pages so you can see that it covered a number of techniques.

Section 5, looks at working with Other File Formats. Raw, Gimp and UFRaw (a user installed addition to the basic GIMP 2.8.0 but not the 2.8.2 version, but UFRaw can be operated as a stand-alone program), and RawTherapee take twenty five pages of discussion and explanation.

Finally, the use of PDF Formatting to Share Print Layouts begins to end the book. How to use GIMP to produce PDFs and a discussion of the available free alternative PDF Creation and Viewing Software. Open Office, Libre Office, and the PDF Import Plug-in for Open Office are introduced. NitroPDFReader includes PDF editing tools—available in both PC and Mac versions. Exporting and reading Photoshop’s PSD files with GIMP are not 100% compatible as so functions of PSD files fail to make the translation. A chart shows which functions are compatible.

An Appendix gives a couple of “Easter Eggs”—almost hidden gems of wisdom and a THANK YOU to the translator (Mr. Jeremy Cloot) who took the original text and translated it into English, and who did a very good job of it in my opinion.

It’s taken me 1,600 words or so to cover this review, as well as a solid week of following the exercises on my computer. I’ve taken the time because I honestly wanted to learn GIMP as an alternative Graphic Editing Program. A week is not enough time to become totally proficient with GIMP, but it is enough time to decide that Klaus Goelker’s book is an excellent one. It will most certainly be read again as I try to become competent with GIMP, and I can recommend it whole-heartedly to the beginning photographer or graphic designer who cannot enter into the long term contract with Adobe in the company’s new approach to renting their software as opposed to selling it. I wanted to itemize the contents of Mr. Goelker’s book so the reader can have a full idea of what the book covers. It’s 400 pages (in paperback) of thorough instruction, with a DVD of GIMP and a number of Plug-Ins or add-ons, as well as practice images. It’s a good buy!

GIMP 2.8 for Photographers: Image Editing with Open Source Software by Klaus Goelker, Rocky Nook Press, ISBN 978-1-937538-26-2, US$ 39.95, CAN$ 41.95 and $24.65 from Amazon. Amazon can also deliver a Kindle version alone for $16.95 and if you have good eyes and a larger screen iPad or Kindle device that $16.95 is a real deal; it might even convince you to buy the full sized book version just for the ease of reference usage.

Books Photography Reviews Workflow

Review: Create Your Own Photo Book by Petra Vogt

[amazon_link id=”193395292X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Create Your Own Photo Book: Design a Stunning Portfolio, Make a Bookstore-Quality Book[/amazon_link]

Several times I’ve thought about making a photo book. Since I’ve been in numerous countries across the world in the last fifteen years and assembled several terrabytes—well, many more than several—of saved images it seems like I would be a prime candidate to produce more than one photo book. But the moment never seemed to be right, and I couldn’t bring myself to do the research into the procedures and techniques of producing a good book. I’d see the ads for companies that made books and even had friends that showed me books that they had made, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do the research to get started.

But Rocky Nook sent me a review copy of Petra Vogt’s Create Your Own Photo Book and the idea and ability to create a book was dropped into my lap. The thing about reading books to do a review is that you learn things. Education never stops and even at my age new ideas are welcomed.

Petra Vogt is an author who spells out the steps in the most logical and linear manner. This is something that I appreciate as I am a linear thinker who prefers a step by step approach. One of the things that was evident very early on and which was more and more obvious as I read was the fact that Petra Vogt can effectively use (and has used) all of the programs and companies mentioned. The writing is not just making comparisons from spec sheets; major insights and comparisons appear on nearly every page.

Imagining Vogt’s writing process as the book was written I envision some huge wall covered with 3″ x 5″ cards—each containing a tidbit of data about specific programs—and the author laborously fitting the cards into a mosaic of comparisons and procedures.

However the book was written, the author has the abilty to make a complex set of choices fall into patterns through which the reader can work their way from step to step based on tons of available information.

Companies that make books and the software to make them are discussed without bias so that the reader can easily decide what to do when, and have sufficient information to justify their decisions.

Vogt begins by examining the purpose of the book, discusses many book producers and their requirements and restrictions; then examines layout and discusses why text should be written before you start to layout images. Then the author discusses why previewing, and checking for errors and saving and saving is necessary. With some producers your file disappears when you place your order. Oh, and don’t forget that there should be no spaces in file-names as most producers don’t accept them.

[amazon_link id=”193395292X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ][/amazon_link]

With that for a start you have to realize that the producer determines the software you use, and that has to be in place before you begin. Some software is proprietary specific and some is producer independent. By selecting a company to print your book you have set up the software you most likely will use.

From the professional standpoint, both Adobe Photoshop and InDesign can produce a photo book, but there are both downloadable and online softwares provided by specific companies that are free to the user. Just remember, you are always working on a double page spread no matter what software you are using.

The Service Provider Options Overview that appears on pages 29-31 is worth the price of the book alone to me in that all the pertinent decisions of selecting a supplier can be compared for the major established book producers. Some suppliers simply do not produce books of certain sizes. Certain papers are available only from specific companies. Choices of Fonts? Check the list to see what a company allows or rejects. Got a specific cover type in mind? You had best check the tables to see if the producer you had in mind will provide it. The tables are invaluable.

But reading onward, Vogt discusses the kinds of pictures that seem to work best in different types of books. Portfolios are different from travel collections, and the intent of the book determines the look and the use of white space and borders, and frames.

Organizing images and keywording them with software makes the editing process easier when you are selecting images for a project, and the size of images is discussed. Some companies limit image sizes to 15 or 25 megapixels with the maximum pixel dimensions being 4,000 pixels. The companies are named and it’s a good thing as these items are not mentioned in the Service Provider Options Overview.

Most book producers work in sRGB color space and require the designer to either work in that space or the company switches to that space when producing the book. As an artist who usually works in Adobe1998 color space that came as a surprise since sRGB is a less dynamic color space than Adobe1998.

Oh, and saddle stitch binding limits your book to 100 pages; so keep your final look in mind before you start laying out your pages.

Story boarding your book before you start layout is discussed and suggestions are made on the procedures, which range from sketches to laying out small prints of all the work you hope to include. Start with a big empty table and a stack of drugstore prints and begin the layout procedure; it will save you time and enhance your publication. Working on the gestalt of your combined images is much easier this way.

Do you like to use guides when laying out your pages? InDesign and Scribus offer smart guides.

Process your images prior to layout; do not depend on the layout software to have adjustment capabilities for your images. Borders, frames, transparency, image masks and corners all should happen in your image editing software, not on the layout page. Which company handles spell checking in their software? The answer is in the text, not in the Service Provider Options Overview.

Quality control issues are discussed, and preview procedures and problem checklists are provided. That’s on page 168. Two pages of troubleshooting tips help keep you from going wrong.

Finally, save a local copy of your work. I’ve already mentioned, some work disappears with some companies when you order—especially if you are working with online software. Some companies allow the production of a ebook readable on an iPad and for a small fee you can get both a physical book and an ebook for the same project.

To end the book, a series of five real-world projects are examined step by step and the reader can follow the thinking process of the production of some actual books.

As a testament to my own learning process, while reading I found myself with five pages of closely written notes and ten pages of copied tables and check lists for easy reference later. If you ever considered producing a picture book, I heartily recommend Petra Vogt’s Create Your Own Photo Book. I think I am finally going to delve into my stack of hard drives and see what I can produce.

[amazon_link id=”193395292X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Create Your Own Photo Book: 
Design a Stunning Portfolio, Make a Bookstore-Quality Book By Petra Vogt
Rocky Nook, Publisher
ISBN: 978-1-933952-92-5
US $39.95
CAN $41.95 [/amazon_link]

Photography Photoshop Reviews

Review: Adobe Photoshop CS6

Adobe Photoshop CS6 is here.

I’d been working with the Beta version of Adobe Photoshop CS6 since it came out as I prepared a tutorial version with which to teach workshops, and I was excited when I received a review copy of Photoshop CS6.

I’d prepared a tutorial version of an App for the Apple Store on the CS5 Photoshop and its had a good run and has been well received. I was looking forward to getting a CS6 version ready to coincide with the launch of Photoshop CS6, but I got a little behind and Adobe released first the Beta version and then the completed version of Photoshop CS6 before my tutorial was finished. As I write this my new tutorial is in the pipeline for approval in Apple’s App Store; look for it soon as Adobe Photoshop CS6: A Tutorial for Beginners. The CS5 version is already in the Apple Store as almost the same name, Adobe Photoshop CS5: A Tutorial for Beginners.

So, now that I’ve had the release copy of Photoshop CS6 in my hands for a couple of weeks this is what I can say about it.

It’s fast!

It’s really fast!

The first time you load Photoshop CS6, the application has to spend a little bit of time extra while it finds all of its parts. The second time you open it, you will be suitably impressed.

On my three year old Mac Pro I barely have time to note the splash page before the application is open, and only a few seconds later the image I’ve selected is showing itself in the Camera Raw window. I feel almost the same way when it opens on my equally old 17″ MacBook Pro. I can only imagine what it must be like on a new computer. Admittedly, that’s not very scientific with no stopwatch involved, but the speed is noticeable.

This new version of Photoshop is not a big, splashy rewrite where you feel like it’s a completely new program that you are learning. Rather, it is a polishing and honing process that enhances speed, ease of use, and efficiency. It’s a bit like a gem cutter taking a sparkling stone and cutting those facets onto it that turns it in a fiery diamond.

The number of new features that are first noticeable are varied but not so much so that an older user of CS5 won’t be right at home. In fact, many of the new features are not instantly noticeable; instead, they are hidden in menu columns that we think we already know.

But the overall look of Photoshop has changed to a dark  gray background with white lettering and light gray symbols as the default—you actually have a choice of four colors ranging from near black to pale gray.

The first thing that I noted was that a window appeared on the top right of the adjustments pane that allowed you to select between: Essentials, New in CS6, 3D, Motion, Painting, Photography, and Typography.

When you select one of those options the open tools which usually appear to the right of the open image are automatically opened to the relevant tools for the procedure you have chosen to perform. I find this a great time saver and convenience. Once the tools are selected, a previous user of CS5 will feel right at home.

The graphics acceleration that I already mentioned shows itself in things like the liquify filter which previously was a slow and sluggish movement and is now a real-time tool. If you have processor enough in your computer and enough ram, most of Photoshop’s filters and adjustments run in real time.

Camera Raw now begins its adjustments with a “0” as the center number, thus adjustments can be “-” or negative numbers as well as the traditional “+” or positive numbers; this makes it much more intuitive.

The cropping tool now shows a overlay of a rule of thirds, a grid, a diagonal, a triangle, Golden Ratio, and Golden Spiral to aid in determining composition. About 50 years ago in college I had a course called “Structural Analysis of Masterpieces” where we laborously drew analyses of paintings on transparent acetate taped over photocopies of famous paintings. Looking at the options that Photoshop can bring up to analyze a composition as it is cropped brings back fond classroom memories and makes me aware of how far technology has come and how much the current Photoshop user can take (and use) for granted.

Oh, you’ll still have to buy the Extended version of Photoshop CS6 if you want to use the 3D tools. Since my primary use of Photoshop is in teaching the basics of the program itself with an emphasis on retouching, I have limited experience with the 3D tools and video editing which are the main the differences between the regular and extended editions of Photoshop CS6.

The blur tools bring new options with the Field Blur, Iris Blur, and the Tilt-Shift blur. Each of these duplicates the effects often seen with the popular adjustable tilt-shift effects lenses that can be had in various camera mountings.


Background Save means that you can hit the SAVE button and keep on working without having to worry about how long those PSD files used to save as you worked.  Auto save can be set in Preferences > File Handling and can be set to save in as short a time as 5 minutes behind your working moment. If I had a wish, it would follow as close as one minute behind me—well, maybe Adobe will do that someday.  But as stable as the program is in reality there is not much of a gamble involved.

People sometimes send me images that are the exact size where they have forgotten to set up a bleed on the edges. The Content Aware tool has become a welcome additon as it has two modes. Move (where it will seamlessly remove and replace equally seamlessly) and extend (where it will copy and replace seamlessly) thus it can extend the edges of an image without your having to clone and repair. It’s a wonder.

I almost forgot the Adaptive Wide Angle filter with which you can make corrections from the distortions of various lenses.  Barrel and pin-cushion as well as straightening are all readily available from this filter.

There are some other things that probably should be considered and will be by other reviewers, but each reviewer goes after those points that influence their own work, and I’m no exception. I’ve picked out the things that seem the most important to me, and those are the ones I’ve emphasized. For me, the speeded up workflow and the acceleration of the graphics have made a great deal of difference and probably allowed me to get an additional six months or more out of both a desktop and a laptop that I thought had become too slow for my purposes and that I felt needed to be replaced; and like a lot of artists, the replacement equipment budget is always under consideration.  But I heartily recommend the upgrade as it should pay for itself in time saved in increased graphics performance and improved workflow alone and all the new features are almost whipped cream on top of the dessert… Am I excited; in a word YES!

Adobe’s Photoshop CS6 (US $699.00) and CS6 Extended (US $999.00) are available in single user units that can be installed on one laptop and one desktop machine. Photoshop is also available as part of the CS6 Design and Web Premium (US $1899.00), CS6 Design Standard (US $1299.00 to $1899.00), CS6 Production Standard (US $1299.00 to $1899.00) and the Master Collection (US $2,599.00).  Too, it is available as a part of The Cloud subscription structure and in Education and Institutional Pricing. Upgrade versions are also available.

Books Photography Reviews Workflow

Review: The Art of Photographic Lighting By Eib Eibelshaeuser

Rocky Nook Press recently sent me a review copy of Eib Eibelshaeuser’s new book, The Art of Photographic Lighting.  It took me a little longer to write this review than it normally does for two reasons: I kept re-reading paragraphs that seemed particularly significant, and I found myself taking notes.  Both of these slowed me down as I am usually a fast reader.

I think I was expecting a book with drawings of how to arrange lights, but instead I found that it was much more involved than that. Instead, it began with the use of light in classic painting and then moved into the basis of human perception.

Light sources and shadow design came next along with ideas about directional lighting and lighting design principles.  Add to this a history of photographic lighting design and post-exposure techniques, and  accompany all of it with a multitude of illustrations, diagrams and samples and you have a thorough examination of light and how a photograph works in terms of conveying information, design, and mood.

Ask any experienced photographer what they photograph and they will answer not with places or people but will say that they photograph light. It is light that gives us shape, form, and texture and defines space and volume. It is the quantity of light that allows us to select f-stop and shutter speed and it is the quality of light that defines the mood,  the shape and form of objects or people, and the crispness or softness of the image.

Mr. Eibelshaeuser begins with the idea that the the awareness of light direction has an innate “right” or “wrongness” to it because we have been exposed to the sun as a light source for as long as mankind has existed, and we have been programmed by evolution to accept light from above as being “normal”.

Photography began as a substitute for, or an adjunct to, painting and thus depended upon natural light to define what was “right”. But the development of artificial light and now of digital lighting in images has begun to allow light from any direction to be accepted in an image. What is “acceptable” may very well change in the future.

Illustrations of the shape of the bulb and wiring element within it allow the easy identification of the kind of light source that is available to the photographer, and the light output colors are shown (pp. 72-75) to allow the photographer of visualize the results of using different kinds of light sources.

The book uses a model of a rectangular pillar topped with a round ball and the whole thing within a room-like box to illustrate the quality and “look” of each type of lighting source, bulb, bulb-color, or reflector and it is this series of examples that carry on throught out the book. I found this an invaluable “show and tell” type device. (As an aside, I’d love to see all this as an APP for the iPad along with all the shapes and element configurations of the light bulbs). Photographers would love it.

Classic photo lights, light brush, electronic flash, and energy saving lamps are all discussed and the “look” of each lighting type is shown in example images. Additive and subtractive color systems are defined and examples of how images are created and reproduced are covered.

Mr. Eibelshaeuser shows how shaping light with softboxes, reflectors, or mattes is done, and gives us examples of how we can control light through reflection, transmission, absorbtion, refraction and interference. “Hard” and “soft” light‚Äîsome of the qualities of light‚Äîare discussed and illustrated. Night, dusk, air, and light polution are all “looks” that can be used by the photographer to convey mood as well as literal information.

The wonder of RAW Processing in our digital world allows us to capture images that film could not achieve, and combining RAW processing with HDRI (high dynamic range imaging) allow is to capture images that cover some 26 f-stops rather than the 4 f-stops more commonly associated with film.

Choosing to reproduce an image in black and white instead of color is discussed as the black and white image depends upon value rather than color for its differentation of shape and form as well as mood.

The illustrations are excellent and prolific and arranged where it is easy to see the relationship between text and illustration.

Finally, remember that Rocky Nook Press produces its books upon acid-free paper and the owner can expect to have sharp, crisp, unfaded images for years to come. The beginning as well as the advanced photographer will learn a lot from this volume and it is well worth adding to your library. It’s 330 pages and a paperback.

The Art of Photographic Lighting (English and English Edition)
by Eib Eibelshaeuser
Rocky Nook Press
ISBN: 978-1-933952-75-8

apps Digital Lifestyles Gadgets iOS SDK iPad Reviews Workflow

(Review) ASKetch for the iPad

OK, I’m still playing with my iPad and loving it, and I found another software App that is a lot of fun. ASKetch by Andrew Kern is supposed to work with finger motions and strokes alone, and not be used with a stylus or pen tool.

I’ll tell you what it is supposed to do (and it does it very well). Let’s look at ASKetch as Mr. Kern meant it to be.

First, I’ll quote:

ASKetch is a simple black & white procedural sketching program for drawing with your fingers. It is designed from the ground up to take advantage of the multi-touch interface of the iPad and the iPhone, allowing you to forget about the tools and concentrate on your art. It stays out of your way so you can simply draw. It is perfect for both beginners and advanced artists; from figure drawing to cartoons to abstract masterpieces; easy to pick up and hard to put down.

Absolutely true.

Get on your iPad and run to the App store and read all about it, bearing in mind that it is NOT optimized for a stylus,, but sometimes I use one anyway when I want a very thin line and less shading. You have to use a stylus that is optimized for the iPad. Wacom makes one, and so does several other companies.  They’re priced from $13 to $30 on Amazon. The Wacom one is the most expensive of the choices at $30; but so far all that I have tried have worked properly.

But your finger does it as well. The controls are brought up by a two finger tap on the blank page of the app. The first line below is the normal “drawing page” which has five squares visible, and the drawing line (extreme left) active. The second line below is when the eraser is active.

Beginning with the pen tools facing to the left you will get a hard line; if you stroke across the pen tool to the left you will switch from a hard line to a soft, furry tone and the pen will face to the right as it appears in the second line of tools.. The rest of both lines of tools are pretty self-explanatory. There are some more subtitles so read all the instructions and see the demo video. But below is the short form.

Now, let’s draw a little bit. I’m using it for gesture drawing which is a kind of rapid sketching where the artist is supposed to capture the “feel” and proportions of a model or figure and do it in less than 15 seconds. Here’s some examples. Some of these are drawn with just a finger tip, and some are done with a stylus even though Mr. Kern wants you to work just with finger tips‚Äîand yes, you do get better tonality when you use only your finger.

Sketching with Fingers vs. Stylus

I said I wasn’t going to tell you, but here I am doing it. The drawing on the left was done strictly with the fingertip, and the drawing on the right was done with a Wacom Bamboo Stylus..

Here’s another drawing done with fingertips…

…particularly rolling the finger in the hair areas.

Now here’s one more drawing…

…remember each drawing is saved automatically into the total set of drawings each time you go to the saved area (the two mountains square) and select a new blank page. This drawing was done with my fingertip in less than 15 seconds. Its intent is to capture the essence and proportions of the figure.

Remember, the square that looks like two mountains hides the strip of saved images and gives you access to a new blank page each time you go to it. Once you have images saved into the sketchbook, all you have to do is hold a finger down on an image for a few seconds and this window will appear.

Saving the image selected into the photo album allows it to be reselected and emailed where-ever you want to send it.

Here’s three more sketches that Mr. Kern supplied me that I think are really worth showing that give you a look at what the App can do in the way of toning.


Read all the instructions to get all the strengths of the App under control because I have only touched on the surface of its possibilities; but I’m having so much fun I had to share the joy, and hope you’ll take a look at the app. Check ASKetch out on the App store for the iPad.


ASKetch by Andrew Kern

This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad


Website & Support:

apps Gadgets iPad Workflow

(Review) Genius Scan: A Scanner App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

OK, I admit from the start that I am in love with my iPad2; but it is the availability of Apps for it that make it such a part of my current life.  I just encountered a new App that I think is going to be extremely useful in the future.  It’s an App called Genius Scan from Grizzly Labs that is intended for use on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

In short, it uses the back facing camera of the iPad (or iPhone or iPod Touch) to take an image that can be corrected and then mailed—that’s in the free version. In the paid (Genius Scan+ version @ $2.99) you can add mailing to Dropbox, Google Docs, and Evernote. Well, you can switch to the front camera too if you want to send a picture of yourself, but it is the use of the rear camera that seems to me to make it so useful.

Take a picture with the camera button which appears once the App is selected, and the resulting picture can then be squared up and enhanced as color or black and white, and saved to a camera roll spot inside the iPad or mailed as a Pdf. Or .jpg.

Since I am always interested in the educational uses that my students might use, I am fascinated by the possibility of the student taking a picture of the whiteboards that are used in classrooms and saving the pictures or sending them as Pdf’s or .jpgs by mail so that they could be studied later.

Some fifty years ago I had a math class in which the professor wrote equations with his right hand and erased behind himself with his left hand.  The frustration that I felt as I tried to follow and master the equations could have been avoided if I could have taken pictures as he wrote.  I can see the usage for this App in student hands today. And more…recipes can be copied; menus, receipts, and sharing class notes—all of these are possible and easily done.

There’s much more that can or could be said, but my own recommendation is for you to check out Genius Scan (and Genius Scan+) at Apple’s App store and see if a version of the App won’t be of use to you. Grizzly Labs has grabbed my attention with this App.


Get it:

Genius Scan (free version) at the AppStore

 Genius Scan+ differs from Genius Scan with no ads and upload to Dropbox, Evernote and Google Docs. 

Genius Scan Website 

iPad Photoshop Software

For The iPad- Adobe Photoshop CS5: Tutorial for Beginners Available in the Apple Store

If you have noticed my free version of Adobe Photoshop CS4 Tutorial which has been available here for download at, I have to tell you that Apple has just accepted my Adobe Photoshop CS5—A Tutorial for Beginners as an App in the iPad section of the Apple App Store.Searching by my name from your iPad is the fastest way to find it, and it is available for $3.99 until the first week in October (October 9, to be exact) as a “Back to School Special.” After that it returns to its $9.99 pricing.I designed the CS5 version to run only on an iPad because I wanted it to “lie flat” beside the computer and not be like the typical book that is continually trying to close. One of my pet peeves when I am working from or reviewing a book about photography or Photoshop is that I usually have to put a heavy weight on each side of the pages in order to keep the book in a readable position. An iPad seems to me to be the ideal companion that will behave itself and be available to switch forward and backward between pages so that the reader can go over a technique in a step by step manner and can refer back easily when needed.

Numerous comments from previous students convinced me that if a photographer has already invested in their computer and a legal copy of Photoshop© that the odds are high that they also have access to an iPad, and the ease of use of an iPad as a resource makes it an outstanding learning tool. So I was convinced to make the current version of my workshop lessons available only for the iPad.

If you want to know how Photoshop CS5 works, I think you will find this a valuable tool to take you step by step, and menu by menu, through the set up and utilization of the program. I’ve tried to show the reader how the same problem can often be solved with different tools, and which tool to use is often a matter of choice or preferred workflow.

Considering how many people have taken advantage of the free CS4 download I am hopeful that my graphic novel approach (done in Comic Life by Plasq) will appeal visually to both the new and experienced user of Adobe’s incredible Photoshop CS5 .

Books Digital Lifestyles Photography Reviews

Review: Marketing Fine Art Photography By Alain Briot

Rocky Nook Press Press sent me a review copy of Alain Briot’s new book, Marketing Fine Art Photography, and I was delighted for two reasons. First, Rocky Nook’s volumes are beautifully bound and printed on acid-free paper and are a delight to hold and work from because they stay flat and open as you read or work from them. The second reason is that Alain Briot is a learned and articulate photographer and writer who shares his expertise in a relaxed and candid manner as though his reader is a fast friend with whom he is willing to share his most cherished knowledge. The book itself will stay bright and crisp on my bookshelf for years, and the information gives me a good look at Briot’s thinking, experience, and expertise.

Throughout the book Briot shows his own work on various pages and certainly establishes himself as a prolific and gifted photographer as well as a successful salesman. Any regular visitor to Luminous will be familiar with Alain Briot’s photographs and writings where he has produced a copious amount of material regarding aesthetics and design. His other volumes from Rocky Nook include Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style, and Mastering Landscape Photography.

Briot begins this book with the premise that it takes marketing to sell even the finest photograph. He feels that, “A poor photograph well-marketed will outsell a great photograph poorly marketed.”

He begins, “most photographers who sell their work spend far too much time and money on equipment and far too little on marketing.” Briot begins by explaining what marketing is in the Fine Arts world, the goal of marketing, and why marketing is indispensible. He asks the photographers to define themselves and feels that photography must be a full time career in order for the photographer to succeed.

In order to sell fine art photography it is necessary to define what is Fine Art photography. What makes it art and not just a photograph? It is the skill (technique) and insight (creative vision) that makes the difference in photographs and photographers. It is the ability of the photographer to find and incorporate a metaphor in the image that can be seen, felt, or understood by the viewer so that a linkage between the photograph and the viewer (purchaser) can be established.

For the beginning Fine Arts photographer, Briot discusses the problems of wholesale, consignment, or retail sales, and the decision of whether to go for quantity or quality of work. Where to find a marketplace? Where Fine Art Prints can be sold and the potential profit margins of each are discussed. In Part Three, Briot approaches the fundamentals and principles of successful marketing and introduces us to the seven fundamentals of successful businesses, and emphasizes how to sell your work at Art Shows and emphasizes how credit card and PayPal sales reach the customer and actually make impulse sales (on the part of the customer) so much easier.

Visual examples of show booth setups and displays greatly enhance Briot’s marketing advice and make it evident that he practices what he advocates. His advice to avoid the “fly trap” booth is telling and convincing as he describes the psychology of the potential client. Placement of spare inventory, desk for receipts, and the way to greet every visitor are all bits of extremely helpful information that bears careful rereading. The ability to pack and ship photographs?and the willingness to do so?are also strong selling points as so many potential clients are on vacation and are not prepared to carry the photograph (framed or rolled) away with them. Having a sheet with fixed shipping costs assure the client that you are not “winging it” on shipping and handling. All of these elements contribute to the professional appearance of the booth and the photographer.

After all the discussion about how to produce work, how to display and present it, and how to package and ship it, Briot takes 38 pages to discuss the combination of skills that it takes to make a Fine Arts photographer. Technical, artistic, marketing, and personal skills are discussed and expounded upon in such a manner that any reader should be able to follow the structure with which Briot established himself to rise from a non-native speaker newly come to the United States into a successful businessman and photographer.

As a teacher and Fine Arts photographer myself, I find that Briot has articulated and demonstrated so many of the facts that face the Fine Arts photographer that I truly wish that I could have read his book fifty years ago when I first moved into the teaching and Fine Arts fields and choose teaching rather than attempting to be a full-time Fine Arts Photographer. So much of my own experiences mirror or verify his own that I cannot help but recommend, strongly recommend, this book to any photographer who contemplates attempting to make a living in the Fine Arts photography field.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Alian Briot’s Marketing Fine Art Photography, Rocky Nook Press, ISBN-13: 978-1-933952-55-0. US $44.95 CAN $51.95, and if you have not looked at his other two excellent volumes, I recommend them as well. You might as well have the entire experience.


Digital Lifestyles iPad Workflow

iPad2 Review: OK, I MUST BE A FANBOY

On March 11, the first day iPad 2’s were available for order, at 5 A.M. I got up to go to the bathroom (something common when you are 73 years old), and on a whim sat down at the computer and ordered an iPad. White, 64GB wifi only, with a spare power supply, a Camera Connection package, VGA and Digital AV Adapters, and a red leather cover. I had intended to make this order eventually, and the computer seemed to call to me as I returned from the bathroom. It was a good thing too, as within 24 hours the waiting time had switched from 3-5 days to 2-4 weeks.

My wife wanted white for the color and a red leather cover, and since she is to be the primary user, what she wants—she gets.

The accessories arrived two days before the iPad itself, but on the 25th of March the iPad duly arrived via FedEX, and within forty-five minutes I had loaded Keynote, Pages, the Kindle reader, Good Reader for PDF reading, and put Facebook and Google News Apps in the list of instantly available icons, and had the mail configured as well as going to the Kindle bookstore and choosing Lonely Planet’s travel guide for Iceland and adding two books that were already on my Kindle shelf on my MacBook Pro. How’s that for knowing right off what I wanted to do? All that in forty-five minutes.

Since my wife is traveling to Iceland this summer, our goal was to have an easier to use communication device so we can email one another back and forth easily without her having to carry her laptop. So I set up a unique Gmail account for use on the trip only and we won’t have to sort through spam and extraneous mail from others to get to the specific day to day communication.

My wife is a teacher, also, and her goal is to use Keynote and Pages which she uses regularly from her laptop in the classroom, and get her Art History and Art Appreciation slide lectures on an iPad and not have to carry her MacBook Pro to class with her along with the stack of books she usually has along for show and tell in the lectures and discussions. Anything to lighten the load is the goal.

Any reader who can suggest the easiest way to get large PDF files onto the iPad without trying to mail them please give me a hint. I’ve discovered that her lectures are too large to mail since they are loaded with images in the keynote presentations and exceede the 25 MB file size for my mail service. So what do you think are the easiest ways to move large PDF files? Googling how to on that gives some answers but they all seem relatively complex; can anyone suggest a simple method?

I’m still hunting and pecking on the keyboard with high speed single finger typing. I just can’t seem to get my fingers on the correct keys on the virtual keyboard. It looks like I will add a Mac Bluetooth keyboard as some reviewers have suggested. It can sit quietly on the desk until needed at home, and for travel the hunt and peck may be the answer unless my wife’s hands can do a better job with the virtual keyboard than mine do.

The red leather cover is a deep red and the leather is luxurious and feels very good to the hand. The magnets snap into place perfectly every time that the cover is removed and replaced.

My only previous experience with an iPad was about 10 minutes looking at pictures on a friend’s first generation iPad, and I was a bit hesitant as to how fast I would pick up the gestures and operations of the touch controls. I should not have worried. In 15 minutes with the manual in the bookmarks and I had it. The remaining thirty minutes and I had ordered and installed three apps, Kindle books, and configured security and mail. Leave this iPad alone for 15 minutes and it locks itself up for protection and requires a four digit unlock code. My wife, who is a quick learner, did it even quicker, I believe if I’d left her alone she could have done all I did setting up in less time than it took me.

I wont’t go over all the uses and potential uses of the iPad, I’ll simply say I’m hooked and I guess I qualify as a Fanboy and I’ll admit it. The iPad just works.

Reviews Software

Review: Disc Cover by BeLight Software

Even though CD’s are becoming less used, DVDs for data storage are still going strong, and personal projects such as iMovie and iPhoto still have a strong usage of labeling  for stored material.

Disc Cover 3 is a delightful software that allows you to print DVD labels and covers and case booklets for music, archives, and anything you are saving to disc.  Jewel case inserts can be made easily and cleanly from a tremendous number of pre-designed templates with layouts and art importable from iTunes, iPhoto, Aperture, and iDVD. It’s easy. The hardest thing for you to do is decide which design and layout you intend to use because the options are immense. This is a Mac only software.  Sorry Windows users—you’re missing out on a good thing.

Photoshop Tutorials

Dr. Roach’s Guide to Photoshop CS4 For Beginners: Preferences

There are still a lot of people using Photoshop CS4 even though Photoshop CS5 has been out for some time. In the spirit of sharing, this series of downloadable lecture notes for CS4 is placed online for those who may need some help with the basics of the program. Much of the basics remain unchanged in CS5 and I believe that the original tutorial will prove useful for many of the steps of the revised Photoshop CS5, but there are minor differences sometimes.

Originally, these notes were part of the material given out with the demonstrations and lectures with my Photoshop workshops.

I am currently revising this tutorial for my workshops to reflect the changes between Photoshop CS4 and CS5, but on the urging of some of my former students I am making this material available.

Adobe Photoshop CS4: An Introduction by Dr. Michael N. Roach is now for sale as a PDF

Price: $4.99

Sample Pages:

There are still a lot of people using Photoshop CS4 even though Photoshop CS5, and now Photoshop CS5.5, has been out for some time. We were contacted by a few students who are still in need of this information so, in the spirit of sharing, this series of downloadable lecture notes for CS4 has been made available.Originally, these notes were part of the material given out with the demonstrations and lectures during Dr. Roach’s Photoshop workshops. Much of the basics remain unchanged between CS3 and CS5, though the tools may have moved around.

Some of The Topics Covered Include:

Ready to buy?

Buy Now