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Book Review: 101 Quick And Easy Secrets To Create Winning Photographs by Matthew Bamberg

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You like to take photos, but they don't always turn out as you would like them to. You have looked at some of the books on the shelf, but they get into so much technical detail that it makes it hard to follow. The goal of 101 Quick And Easy Secrets To Create Winning Photographs is to show you some tips and techniques that will improve the composition of your photos to make them look their best without a lot of confusing terms.

In 101 Quick And Easy Secrets To Create Winning Photographs, you will see how to take better photos using the features of your digital camera. Each chapter covers different theme and comes with instructions on how to achieve the same style of shot. Written in easy to understand language this book is 236 pages and is divided into 15 chapters.

Chapter 1, "Making Your Photographs Look 3D ," examines how you can make your photos look more real by adding depth to them. This chapter shows you how to work with depth of field, vanishing point, angles, blur, and composition to add more feel to your shots.

Chapter 2, "Painting with Light," is what you do when you take a photograph. Everything in the frame is light-dependant. Here you will look at many things regarding light that affect your photo such as working with available light, reflected light, fill flash, backlighting, and working with low light.

Chapter 3, "Adding Action to Your Frame," can give your image a sense of motion. In this chapter you will examine things give your image a sense of movement as well as things you have to factor for when introducing motion. These include panning, blur, your subjects, close-ups, and subtle movement like ripples in water.

Chapter 4, "Adding or Subtracting with Shadows," describe how to introduce or reduce the light in your image by the use of shadows. Some of the things that are discussed is to not introduce unwanted shadows into the frame, learning how to mix shadows and sun, using a shadow as the main subject, using shadows to create contrasting color backgrounds, and framing shadows so they appear to move from foreground to background.

Chapter 5, "Making Art From Architecture," looks at capturing the best of an architect's design. Now you will explore the use of a tripod for getting those night shots of a building alight, how to avoid flash when shooting in-doors, including exterior fixtures in the foreground of a building for effect, and creating dramatic converging lines for more drama.

Chapter 6, "Creating Mood Shots Using Weather," will give you a feel for how to express feelings with various weather events. These include clear and blue skies, the showing of wind in the air, shades of white with snow, wet city streets, dramatic clouds, and the use of fog.

Chapter 7, "Beautifying with Color," is much easier with digital. Obviously it begins with the shoot, but then you have the post processing options. Here you will look at techniques with the use of one main color, the use of color to pop the scene, contrasting colors, using fruits and vegetables to make color, using a predominantly green color, color blasting, and balancing photo sets by color.

Chapter 8, "Breathing Life into People," can be done in many ways. Through the use of blurring the background, the angle at which they sit, close-ups, setting them at different lines of vision, how they are centered, and finding offbeat people doing strange things.

Chapter 9, "Making Animal Photos Sharp and Fun," doesn’t mean you have to go off to far-away places. By starting at the local zoo, you can many times get interesting animal shots. Here you will learn to get different perspectives, how to work with close-ups, and the creative use of animal skin texture

Chapter 10, "Spicing Up Photos with Lens Flare, Noise, and Other Unusual Effects," is not about what you can do in Photoshop, but rather what you can accomplish in the camera. These include adding noise or grain into your image, the use of lens flare for effect, wide angles, ghosting, and softening photos using fabrics.

Chapter 11, "Composing with Landscapes," takes time and thought if you want to get a good shot. Some of these are the use of tight apertures, the use of the rule of thirds, adding vertical objects to flat landscapes, making flowing water look like angel hair, and the use of polarizing filters.

Chapter 12, "Shaping Up with Symmetry," takes the use of corresponding forms to compose your image. Depending on how you approach a shot, will determine its symmetry. This can be through the use of the human body, bodies of water, building faces, or the framing thought tunnels or bridges.

Chapter 13, "Technical Tango," attempts to remove some of the intimidating slang from photography by explaining how to take shots without the fear of the terminology. Here you will use a tripod to shoot blinking signs, use vignetting for framing, work with high ISO settings, and learning the use of the right camera settings for sharp photos.

Chapter 14, "Daytime, Nighttime, Anytime," examines that while you do need light to take a photo, that light can come at any time of the day. Sometimes you need to take a little more care and preparation to get the right shot. Here you will get shots using the moon after dusk, working with sunsets, photographing an amusement park ride, and using moonlight to illuminate landscapes.

Chapter 15, "Back to the Future," looks at how you can take photos of old-time items and use them for nostalgic photos. These can be old TVs, cars, ghost signs on buildings, old neon signs, and capturing the grandeur of old movie houses.

101 Quick And Easy Secrets To Create Winning Photographs is a very good book for the consumer-level photographer who loves to take pictures and really wants to learn to take more advanced shots without having to learn a lot of technical terms.

It is also a great reference book that once you have read through it, you can use it to refresh yourself on specific techniques when you are ready to master them. In fact, you don't really have to read through the whole book at once. You can just as easily find the specific techniques you want to learn and concentrate on them. Then, by putting the techniques together you will find that your photo quality will begin improve quickly.

It doesn't matter how inexperienced you are, I think you will find 101 Quick And Easy Secrets To Create Winning Photographs to be a great introduction learning new skills and creating better photos in no time. If you want to learn to create better photos without all the confusing jargon, then I can easily recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.