Friday, June 29, 2007

“The Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers” Update Kit 1.1

Scott Kelby has posted an update of his book “The Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers”

"Remember: this update was created exclusively for people who actually own my book “The Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers” and I created this 1.1 Update Kit as an added benefit for those specific people (whom I dearly love, by the way).

To download my Lightroom 1.1 Update Kit, go to and enter the 10-digit ISBN number found on the back of the book. Once you do that, to download the book it’s going to ask you a simple question that, if you own the book, you’ll be able to easily answer (a sample question might be something like, “On page 12, what’s the first word in paragraph two?” That’s not the question, but it’s that easy.)." Read More...


If you want to read my review of “The Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers” After I posted my original review on April 10, Scott sent me a nice email saying that I was the  first to review his book. That was pretty cool!


Book Review - The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book For Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby

As many of you know from my review of Adobe Lightroom that Lightroom is a new workflow management program from Adobe that will seriously help your management of photographic assets from day one. Well, you knew it had to happen, but one of the masters of all things Photoshop, Scott Kelby, would be coming out with a book on Lightroom. Along with being the President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), he is the editor-in-chief of both Photoshop User magazine as well as Darkroom, a companion publication devoted to Lightroom that is available free to NAPP members.

Being a member of NAPP, I have known of Scott Kelby for years and am familiar with his teaching style and the entertaining way he presents information. When I found out that he was coming out with a book on Lightroom, I knew I had to get a copy. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book breaks out into eleven chapters but before you get to chapter one you must first pass through the "An unexpected Q & A Session." Again, here is the Kelby wit performing to get you to read an introduction to the book. Here he explains what the book is and how you should read it, kind like if Abbot and Costello wrote the intro!

Chapter one is on importing your photos. Each of these sections are built into steps to achieve the goal. They are detailed steps on how to accomplish the task at hand with interjections of how the author performs the task and little bits of wisdom sprinkled throughout. As simple as importing may be, the twenty-five pages will expose many time saving tips.

Chapter two, "Library" begins the meat of the book. He explores the best ways to view your photos. Shows how to organize, label and sort out the keepers from the trash. He talks about Metadata, grouping, finding as well as the hidden power of the filmstrip. You will learn to work with file, folders, multiple libraries as well as backing up your database.

Chapter three, "Quick Develop", shows you how to do minor corrections from within the library module and how to apply that same fix to a bunch of other photos. Although this is a short chapter, the depth in which Kelby goes into within this book is evident here as it is throughout this book. For example, step eight in "Doing Quick Fixes" the author shows a histogram of a photo and explains "See that gap on the right, where the graph just stops before it reaches the right side? This gap tells me that I can increase the highlights in the photo (which I control by increasing my Exposure setting) a little bit more with out loosing detail in the highlights of my photo." It is this kind of insight that I look for in a book, that makes it a must read; especially for a new product.

Chapter four, "Editing Essentials", you will learn how to develop your photos. You will be shown how to adjust the white balance and then cascade them across the other photo's in the shoot. You will learn the "No Risk" way to tryout different versions of your photos. You will work with contrast, boost colors and use sync to fix groups of photos. You will learn how to create presets as well as using presets from others users.

Chapter five explores "Problem Photos." Here the author looks at undoing changes, sharpening and reducing noise, fixing chromatic aberrations, cropping, removing red eye and tricks for removing spots and other nasty junk. You will also learn about basic camera calibration in Lightroom as well as adding Photoshop automation to your workflow.

Chapter six focuses on creating black and white images from within Lightroom. Again, Kelby not only steps you through how to make a color image into black and white after, with tongue-in-cheek, explaining that you can make a lot more money by creatively making artistic B&W images, but he gives personal insight into what makes a B&W image work. Chapter seven will step you through Slideshow and how to share your photos onscreen as well as export them to PDF. He even has a trick to put music into the PDF slide show if you have Acrobat Professional.

Chapter eight will take you through printing of your photos, adding text to your layout, creating contact sheets and adding boarders to your prints. Chapter nine illustrates what it takes to get your photos to the web and what you should do before you ever start building your web gallery.

Chapter ten and eleven are delightful surprises, but this goes back to the thoughtfulness of the author. Chapter ten, "Wedding/Portrait Workflow" takes you inside what a working photographer would do using Adobe Lightroom. You start out at the shoot and work your way all the way to presenting the customer with their proof shots on the web. Similarly, chapter eleven, "Landscape Workflow" does the same for a landscape/nature photographer.

Would I recommend this book? Even if this were version eight of Adobe Lightroom, I think that this would be one of my recommendations, but since this is version one and the product is so new, I would have to say that The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book is a must have.

One other note, if you find yourself entertained by Scott Kelby, you can keep up with him and all things Photoshop on his blog Photoshop Insider. Also a must read!

There is also an interactive sample of his The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book.

Lightroom Version 1.1

Here is an article on the upgrade to Lightroom Version 1.1 by Wired Writer Scott Gilbertson.


"Adobe has released an upgrade for its Photoshop Lightroom RAW image editing tool. Lightroom version 1.1 packs an impressive amount of new features for an incremental upgrade and it’s free for all Lightroom users.

You probably won’t notice any great changes in the interface when you install the update, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant improvements. Most of the changes are on the fine grained controls and image editing options.

An extensive list of changes (PDF) can be found on the Adobe site and there really is far more than I can cover in a single post, but here’s some of the highlights I’ve noticed in the last hour or so of testing:

  • The application feels faster, switching between modules is quicker and when scrolling through the library thumbnails snap into focus much quicker (note I’m using a Macbook with one gig of RAM, YMMV).
  • Vastly improved sharpening tools. In the Develop module the sharpening slider has been replaced with four individual controls (Amount, Radius, Detail, and Masking). This could be a mixed bag, on one hand you have more fine-grained control on the other hand it takes longer — it would nice if this were a “advanced” option.
  • “Clarity” controls. A new Develop module feature which Adobe says “adds depth to an image by increasing local contrast.” I haven’t had time to really get the hang of it, but in certain situations it can give images that extra “pop” that editors are always asking for.
  • The cataloging system has been revamped and you can now import images from one catalog for use in another (see the new menu item File >> Import For Catalog)
  • New metadata browsing option. Images can be sorted by things like camera, lens, aperture, ISO etc."




Tuesday, June 26, 2007

HP Press Release: HP Splashes into Summer with Hot New Products to Capture and Print Memories

It is the season for consumer electronics and Hewlett-Packard is at it again.


PALO ALTO, Calif., June 21, 2007

HP today introduced several imaging and printing products – including nine feature-rich digital cameras, two versatile single-function Photosmart printers and an all-in-one Photosmart printer – all designed to enable people to make the most of summer memories.

Highlights include: a digital camera with the largest touchscreen LCD display of any compact digital camera in the industry; single-function printers that offer the fastest and easiest way to print lab-quality photos at home;(1) and an all-in-one printer that can print customized labels directly onto CDs and DVDs.

“Summer brings not only warmer weather, but family vacations, backyard get-togethers and plenty of other occasions where memories can be captured,” said Dan Gilbert, vice president of marketing, Digital Photography and Entertainment, HP. “HP’s latest digital cameras and printers are not only easy to use, but also empower people to customize and share their photos, their way.”


Interact with summer photos using touchscreen technology

The HP Photosmart R937 Digital Camera has a 3.6-inch Auto-bright touchscreen display for editing and organizing photos directly on the camera. Included within the touchscreen is a Microsoft Windows Vista™-compatible tagging feature and a virtual keyboard, making photo organization and management quick and easy once the camera is connected to a PC.

The 8-megapixel R937 also features the latest generation of HP Design Gallery, which includes the popular slimming feature that can take up to 10 pounds off photographed subjects, HP pet-eye fix to correct glowing pet eyes and HP touch-up technology for removal of blemishes.



HP Unveils Revolutionary Wireless Chip that Links the Digital and Physical Worlds

Posted by T. Michael Testi

HP has announced a new revolutionary wireless chip that links the digital and physical Worlds. This grain-sized chip could be attached to almost any object, making information more ubiquitous. Along with having implications into the photography world, it could change a lot of things in the consumer as well as business based application world.


PALO ALTO, Calif., Jul 17, 2006

HP today announced that its researchers have developed a miniature wireless data chip that could provide broad access to digital content in the physical world.

With no equal in terms of its combination of size, memory capacity and data access speed, the tiny chip could be stuck on or embedded in almost any object and make available information and content now found mostly on electronic devices or the Internet.

Some of the potential applications include storing medical records on a hospital patient’s wristband; providing audio-visual supplements to postcards and photos; helping fight counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical industry; adding security to identity cards and passports; and supplying additional information for printed documents. Read More...


Monday, June 25, 2007

Software Review: Fluid Mask 2.0 Photoshop Plug-in - From Vertus

Posted by T. Michael Testi

Have you ever wanted to extract something from a photo, either to add it to another photo or to change the background? Have you spent hours trying to use one of the lasso tools in Adobe Photoshop only to quit in frustration because of all the complex curves? You do not have to feel frustrated any longer.

Fluid Mask 2.0 is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop versions 7.0 through CS2; version 3.0 is in public beta and will be available for version CS2 and CS3. There are versions for Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh. Fluid Mask 2.0 also works with Photoshop Elements, but you will need to pay attention as the installation is different in that case.

Fluid Mask 2.0 is a set of advanced paint tools that cut out highly complex images with absolute precision. This is what Vertus' claims, and this is exactly what it does. Not only that, but it does it with remarkable ease and absolutely no pain! For many of your cut-out needs, you just paint the area in that you don't want in wide brush strokes, and push a button and it's gone. If you need to be more selective, you work similar to painting by numbers to select the areas and then still push the button and its gone.

Fluid Mask 2.0 works best with RAW files; next best is PNG's. While it works with JPG's, their use should be avoided if possible as they are too lossy and they don't have all of the information to do the best job.

One thing to note is that you do need plenty of memory to work with Fluid Mask 2.0. Depending on the image, it can use five times the size of the loaded image because of techniques used to parse your image into the individual objects.

As you can see from the animation below just how easy it is to take one picture and cut out pieces and insert others to create the image that you want. This is great for manipulating stock photos to get just the shot you need.

Buy Fluid Mask
Vertus: Fluid Mask cut-out tool

There are certain images that cannot be used with Fluid Mask 2.0. One such image is an 8-bit per channel image. While 8-bit images worked within version 1.0, Fluid Mask 2.0 requires 16-bit images. If you have an inappropriate image loaded the menu option will appear as grayed out. The image detail needs to also be in RGB or CMYK mode, so, to use the plug-in you may need to do some additional conversion.

The regular price of Fluid Mask 2.0 is $199 USD. On July 2, 2007, it goes up to $239 USD. Between now and then, if you buy version 2.0, you will get a free upgrade version 3.0 when it is released. You can also play with a 30 day trial version as well. They have a full set of tutorials on their website as well as technical support, a Vertus community forum as well as free daily on-line training five days a week!

In the past I have struggled for hours trying to do an okay job of what this product will do in minutes, perhaps seconds once you get the hang of it. In my opinion, if you regularly create cut-out images, Fluid Mask 2.0 is a must have. Period!

Inside Web Galleries

Posted by T. Michael Testi

Speaking of web galleries, over at O'Reilly, Michael Clark has some tips on using the built in gallery features of Lightroom and its ability to create web galleries directly from RAW images. It is as easy as selecting a group of images. You can check it out at "Inside Lightroom: Web Galleries"



LRG FlashFlex Released!

Posted by T. Michael Testi


I saw some really cool Lightroom stuff over at Lightroom Galleries.  First is their latest template LRG FlashFlex. This is a Multi-Gallery export template. This will allow you to organize your images into galleries based on the category IPTC.

Next is the LRG Flash SlideStrip. This template allows you to set up a flash slide strip to view your images. Head on over and check them out!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Beginner's Luck: Paper Matters

From Colleen Wheeler at Inside Lightroom


I was helping my son make a Father’s Day present this past weekend, printing out images of him and his dad playing baseball. My first instinct was to send them to Costco for printing, but it was 105 degrees outside, so I decided to see what kind of results I could get in the comfort of my air-conditioned home from my simple desktop inkjet photo printer (Canon Pixma iP4300, retail value $99) and Lightroom’s Print module. Read More...


Jeff Schewe to take over "Real World Camera Raw"

From Photoshop News...

As some of may know, with Bruce’s passing I’ve taken up the responsibility to update Real World Camera Raw in Adobe Photoshop CS3-Bruce’s best-selling book series all about Camera Raw. Read More...

Friday, June 15, 2007

June 2007 Issue of Adobe Magazine Available

Posted by T. Michael Testi


The June 2007 edition of the Adobe Magazine for Creative Professionals is now available for download at

This months highlights include

  • Reverie & Technology: Artistic dreaming and digital imaging
  • The New Collaborators: The audience speaks—and creates
  • The Games People Play: Addictive, sticky online fun
  • Shades of Green: Print gets eco-friendly and eco-mean

You can also sign up on the site and they will let you know when the next edition is available.


Book Review - Exposure And Lighting: For Digital Photographers Only

Posted by T. Michael Testi

When looking at the formal title for this book, Exposure And Lighting: For Digital Photographers Only, you may wonder about the "For Digital Photographers Only" portion. Isn't light and exposure the same for film as well as digital photographers? According to the authors, it isn't. With traditional film cameras you have a limited number of shutter speeds, f/stops, and ISO settings. With digital cameras, you have many more options available to you, as well as other sophisticated features built into the camera, so the rules have changed.

Exposure And Lighting focuses its efforts on these differences and attempts to help you bring out the best from your digital camera. The book is divided into 15 chapters further divided into four sections. There is also an appendix that lists the contributing photographers to the book.

Part 1, "Painting With Light" focuses on the nature of light and how, as a photographer, you record the light reflected from a scene and how you can manipulate what you want to bring out by deciding what to include and exclude. Then you learn of the color of light and how humans perceive color. This goes into how we perceive light and how the camera sees light. Discussed also is white balance and working with gray cards.

Part 2, "What's Your Exposure" is all about exposure. It begins with balancing the elements of exposure by defining over and under exposures and how to determine the best exposure. Then you will learn how to measure the light by using a light meter. You will learn about both external, or hand-held meters, as well as the internal camera meter.

You will also learn about creative exposure choices. Here the authors get into the Zone System and how to use it within the realm of digital photography. They also get into controlling exposure by using shutter speed. They also go into how to understand shutter speed's effect on exposure. Then they work toward your understanding of aperture's effect on exposure and how you can use it to manipulate the image. Finally they describe dealing with digital film by using image preview and analysis, ISO Settings, and digital noise, as well as in-camera processing and file formats.

Part 3, "Put A Little Light On The Subject" begins with lighting tools and approaches to light, especially when natural light is not enough. You will learn of continuous lighting systems, hot lights, cool lights, flash, and strobe lighting systems, as well as built-in flash. They even describe what to look for in a lighting system if you are looking to purchase one. They finish up with making light available on location. Here you will look at adapting to existing light, working with daylight, atmospheric conditions, and working with available light indoors.

Part 4, "Lighting and Exposure for Specific Subjects", breaks down differing lighting and exposure situations. The authors begin with portraitures, working with natural light as well as various forms of studio light. From here they go into action shots and shooting things that move whether it be sporting events or kid's pets or people in motion. Next is photographing nature and my favorite area, landscapes.

From there, it is on to objects which include still life photos and commercial photography such as product and food photography. This would also include items that you would try to sell on eBay as well. Finally they conclude with Architectural photography such as exteriors and interiors, working with night shots and available light.

I really like the way this book is put together. It is a wealth of information in the form of an overview of the whole topic. Throughout the book, there are "notes" which give you extra information, "Pro tips" which give you suggestions on becoming more professional, "X-Ref" which point you to another chapter for more information about the current topic and a Q&A at the end of each chapter.

Many of the chapters that could be expanded into an entire book, but when starting out to understand the subject of lighting and exposure, it is helpful to work with all aspects because you never know what situation you will find yourself in. Unless you are already an expert on exposure, you will learn a lot from Exposure And Lighting.


Really Fast Developing of Multiple Shots

From Ken Milburn and my friends at O'Reilly


Here’s a situation that all of us face from time to time: We spend a day shooting as much as we can and doing it as fast as we can, return to home base, download a few hundred images, delete the faggedaboutits, and then have to get the rest of the images to someone else so that they can pick those that will make it all the way into print. Now, if you have to make each of those images look as good as possible before you adjust them with final finesse, you could find yourself either staying up all night for a couple of nights in a row or missing your deadlines and schedule.   Read More...



Thursday, June 14, 2007

Photography and truth by Howard Grill

Posted by T. Michael Testi

I just found a wonderful essay over on Digital Outback Photo by Howard Grill called "Photography and Truth"

Here, Grill contemplates what is truth within the world of photography, especially Digital photography. He examines why no one would give the same grief to say a painter for making the sky darker or removing an unwanted object from the scene, but yet they do with photographers.

He does acknowledge that journalistic photographers have a different set of standards, but they too can cheat just by getting in too close or changing the aperture of the lens.

Photography And Truth

by Howard Grill

I have never understood why photography is essentially the only artistic medium in which people seem to expect literal, factual interpretations of a subject. It is not at all unusual for someone, after looking at and seemingly enjoying a photographic print, to turn around and question if there has been 'manipulation' of the image because of the intensity of color or contrast, the perspective of a particular lens, or the use of shutter speeds that provide an unexpected appearance. Unfortunately, many of these comments are made in a derogatory fashion; there is seemingly no artistic vision or expertise involved if there were ‘adjustments’ that were made……it is as if to say “aha, once you are allowed to make adjustments I could have done that as well”, and therefore the perceived ‘value’ (and I am not talking about monetary value here) is lessened. Read More...



New KODAK Image Sensor Technology Redefines Digital Image Capture

Posted by T. Michael Testi

Kodak has released a press announcement that they have a new digital camera sensor that dramatically reduces high ISO noise levels. You can read their press release entitled "New KODAK Image Sensor Technology Redefines Digital Image Capture"

ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 14 -- Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE:EK) today introduced a groundbreaking advancement in image sensor technology that will help to make dark, blurry digital photos a thing of the past.

Kodak’s new sensor technology provides a 2x to 4x increase in sensitivity to light (from one to two photographic stops) compared to current sensor designs. Image sensors act as the “eye” of a digital camera by converting light into electric charge to begin the capture process. Read More...


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Seeing the True Hollywood Glamour

Posted By T. Michael Testi

As with some of the other video's I have posted here, this is yet another that exposes the fallacies of the Hollywood aura of beauty. The video begins with some famous female stars morphing between their glamour shots and real life. Some of the real life photos are just shots taken in a bad light or time, but some, like Goldie Hawn just goes to show how much fakery goes on. The video finishes with taking a photo of a woman and making her glamorous.



Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Post Processing: "Illegal?"

Posted By T. Michael Testi

I found this article that I thought was pretty interesting over at Single-Serving Photo about the post processing of digital images


"There was a time, long ago, when photographs were conceived at the moment the shutter button was depressed. Darkroom techniques were limited at best (the idea that a photographic image could even be created was a modern miracle) and the photographer was required to make near-perfect exposures every time."   From the article by Aaron "Is Digital Post-Processing 'Illegal'"



Sneek Peek at Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.1

Posted by T. Michael Testi

Adobe gave a sneek peek at Scott Kelby's seminar in Boston Last month some of the features are listed on the Luminous-Landscape forums.

Or you can read Kelby's description of the seminar.

"What an amazing time I had yesterday at my Boston Lightroom Seminar (photos by Terry White, the top one taken during the first live shoot that kicks off the day–scroll down ot the next post to see the shot I was taking). Read More... "




Dave Polaschek Talks about Printing from Photoshop CS3

Posted By T. Michael Testi

Photoshops new print dialog took many people by supprise, So here is what John Nack posted on his blog when he asked Dave to say a few words about it . Here is Dave Polaschek's guest blog post on printing in Photoshop CS3.

Dave says: “The change which seems to be causing the most consternation is the change from application-wide page setup to document-specific page setup in Photoshop on Windows. This is the way the Mac version has always behaved, and was the way the Windows version of Photoshop was intended to behave way back in the day, but for one reason or another, that never quite got hooked up.




Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 Tips

Posted by T. Michael Testi


If you are wanting to get started using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Scott Kelby over at Layers Magazine has ten tips to get you started. He has tips for rating your photos to controling your pannels, even hiding all the panels but the one that you are working on. Check out Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 Tips




Friday, June 08, 2007

Stephen Johnson's June News Letter

Posted by T. Michael Testi

I just happened onto Landscape Photographer Stephan Johnson's June 2007 News Letter.

It looks pretty good with some articles on "From Raw To Print" and "Mono Lake in autumn". Check out his fantastic pictures there as well.

You should also check out his Book "Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography." I reviewed it last fall and found that I was on his list of reviews that he posted to his site, right under Michael Reichmann from the Luminous-Landscape. He is offering signed copies as well.




Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Presets

Posted by T. Michael Testi

      I found this article from Richard Earney of that will show you how to develop presets for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

     The presets are powerful tools that will allow you to apply previous setting to one or more images. This is really helpful if you have taken a bunch of shots in a similar location such as at a concert of your favorite group or at a sunny beach where you will need to correct things such as white balance or sharpness.

The article is called "The Anatomy of an Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Preset", but you will need the Adobe Reader installed since it is a PDF.



Street View Contest from Wired News

Posted by T. Michael Testi


If you read here about Google's new Street View yesterday, You join in on Wired News Street View Contest by submitting photos and voting on your own favorite urban scenes.




Thursday, June 07, 2007

Adobe Media Gallery available for Photoshop CS3

Posted By T. Michael Testi


Adobe® Media Gallery (AMG) for Adobe Bridge adds quick, powerful Web gallery creation to Adobe Photoshop® CS3, Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended and the Adobe Creative Suite®. AMG makes it possible to create HTML or Flash-based galleries from any of the file formats supported by Bridge; adjust the galleries using built-in preview; and export the results or upload them via FTP.

Note this requires the Bridge 2.1 update for Windows or Mac.


AMG is available on both Mac and Windows. The download package includes both the plug-in as well as AMG templates, all of the Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom™ default templates, as well as the Lightroom HTML Gallery.

You can make your own templates for Adobe Media Gallery -- the source code for the template files is available on



Does Street View have privacy issues, Google denies it.

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

It appears that Google has gotten their noses in the mix again. Last month they launched "Street View", the new add-on to Google maps that, if available, will show you street views of the area that you are in. 

The problem is that as they take these pictures, there are people in the photos as well as pictures into people’s homes and apartments. To give an example, is this a crime in progress? Or do you want to be photographed blowing your nose? Or maybe you just want to urinate on a sign.

According to Goggle representative Lars Rasmussen these are all taken in public areas. "So, these are all images that anyone could go out and take with a camera. We do take great care that if someone did feel their privacy was invaded, there is a way that they can easily tell us about it and we'll remove it right away.

"But all the pictures are taken in public areas where anyone could go [and] take a picture," said Rasmussen.

Rasmussen was asked if Google would blur part of an image of someone objected to it showing, for example, their front door.

He said: "Yes, but why would you want to?"

So what do you think? Should these be Photoshopped before released? Do you think that there should be some care to people’s privacy taken in to account? Or just damn the torpedo's and full sail ahead?


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

CIPA Specifications Guideline for Digital Cameras: Digital Photography Review

Posted by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) has published a draft of their specifications guidlines for digital cameras. It covers everything from focal length to pixels; even size and weight. CIPA members include Canon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Sigma and Sony.


For a copy of the specifications, click here.



Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Very rare, weird clouds over Nebraska [PICS]

Believe it or not, these are not photoshopped!

read more | digg story

Friday, June 01, 2007

Book Review - The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography: 4th Edition Edited By Michael R. Peres

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

Focal Press just released the fourth edition classic publication The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography. Weighing in at over six pounds, this encyclopedia, now into its fifth decade of publication — the first addition appearing in 1956 — updates its predecessor, which appeared in 1993. Designed to be a reference for students, practitioners and researchers, this volume now uses a new informational design sharing the ever-changing breadth of photographic topics with a special emphasis on digital imaging and contemporary issues.

The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography was produced by an international team of photographic and imaging experts with collaboration from the George Eastman house. It also contains comprehensive essays as well as photographic reproductions, sharing information where photography and imaging serve a primary role. It is a non-traditional encyclopedia in that the subjects are grouped thematically as opposed to alphabetically. This will allow the subjects to be explored more naturally from within the context of their definition.

With over 800 pages this book is not divided into chapters, rather it is sectioned in to nine themes. After listing the ten pages of contributors and acknowledgements the book begins with a timeline of photography. There are really two timelines, the pre-photographic timeline from the 1200s to 1825 and the true photographic timeline from 1826 to 2005.These list all of the major developments within the history of photography from the simple glass lens, to Niepce's first photograph, to Kodak earning more from its digital products than from it film products.

"History and the evolution of Photography" is a wonderful section on the historical perspective from the George Eastman House and others. Discussed here is the technical evolution of photography in the 19th century, biographies of selected innovators, the evolution of the lens as well as photographic equipment of the time.

"Major Themes and Photographers of the 20th Century" gives a historical perspective of the growth of photography. Here we have photography and society, museums, and galleries. You have workshops, photographic higher education, magazines, biographies as well as the acceptance of photography into the fine art world.

"Photographic Companies and Applications" highlights the differing areas of photography such as advertising, catalog, commercial, still-life and landscape amongst many others. It also explores the vast number of tools that have come about throughout the years, mostly driven by society and what directions it is willing to accept. This was apparent in the quick demise of film and chemicals as being the preferred photographic method in less than a decade. These include the different types of cameras, films, and developers.

"Digital Photography" examines the maturing technology of digital camera. In fact that one of the main reasons for the revision of this book is the explosive growth of the medium since the last edition. Topics include archiving systems, standards, color management, color spaces, digital camera raw, metadata and creative applications of digital photography. Also discussed are the different types of sensors that are currently being built as well as the materials used to build them

"Contemporary Issues" examine the effect that photography has had on us as a society and will continue to have in the future. The essays explore ethical photojournalism, the future of publishing, contemporary image makers and the pressure to stay current. There is no doubt that photography has changed how we view the world. Whether to celebrate the joys of the ending of World War II, or to try to end the Vietnam conflict, photographs have had, and will continue to effect our world.

"Scientific Photography: Expanded Vision" tries to work out what defines scientific photography and what it has meant to the scientific world. Whether with the aid of a microscope or a telescope, these images have brought a great deal of understanding to our universe. Topics include anthropological, ballistics, botanical, forensic, infrared, medical and underwater.

"Human Vision" is a one essay topic that describes the complexities of how we see and interpret the images we view.

"20th Century Materials and Process Essentials" describe the path that photography took during its development in the last century. This includes the silver halide materials, the black and white films, color films, the different lens types, the cameras, enlargers and lighting amongst others. This section is organized to chronicle the rise of photography as a consumer driven industry.

It doesn't take me to tell you that this is a classic book on photography; fifty years and counting can tell you that. That this edition is perhaps the best of the best; that I can safely tell you. The book is of incredibly fine quality made with heavy duty paper and hard bound. It also comes with a fully searchable CD that contains the entire encyclopedia. I think that anyone who loves photography will love this book.