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Book Review: Complete Digital Photography by Ben Long

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Complete Digital Photography is now in its fourth edition and that should tell you about the usefulness of this book and the quality of content. While this book contains information on the use of Photoshop, this is not a Photoshop book. This is a book on Digital Photography. The focus here is on what it takes become a quality digital photographer and the tools that are needed.

Complete Digital Photography has become a standard for helping traditional photographers move to digital photography. It has also become a vital resource for those who are new to photography and want to get up to speed fast.

Complete Digital Photography breaks out into 16 chapters in four sections covering 566 pages as well as two appendixes and a CD-ROM. Since the flow of the book is really contained in the four sections that is how I will review it.

Part 1 (chapters 2-4) is a fundamental photography primer. Here you will learn how a digital camera works, how an image sensor works and how your camera makes a digital image. You will also learn the fundamentals about lenses and what apertures, shutter speeds and ISO numbers are and what they mean to your image. Finally you will learn what you need to know to evaluate your images and the nine imaging problems that you will likely encounter.

Part 2 (chapters 5-6) focuses on equipment and software that you will need to do digital photography. This breaks down into the camera and the type of gear that you will need to take photographs. This includes the camera, lenses, special features and accessories. Then you focus on your digital editing workstation. This includes computers, software, monitor and the equipment to get it calibrated.

Part 3 (chapter 7-9) looks at shooting images. Here you will learn of the five practices of building a great shot, how to see, interpret, and compose an image as well as getting to know the basic camera settings. You will then explore metering and exposing an image, how to adjust an exposure, what those funny graphs are on your camera and how to take control of your shot. You will also learn about different types of photography such as landscape, panoramas, black and white and macro amongst others.

Part 4 (chapter 10-16) shows you what you need to know about workflow, editing, and output in a digital world. Here you will learn about post-production work and working with programs such as Apple's Aperture and Adobes Lightroom. Then you will explore the ideas of correction of tone and color. Here the author uses Photoshop, but explains that other software has many of the same concepts and features. You continue to the topics of Raw Conversion and editing and building your editing arsenal by using brushes, stamps, masking and layers. Other topics of this part include Imaging tactics, special effects and output for the web and print.

Complete Digital Photography also comes with a CD-Rom that contains 50-minutes of tutorial video's, 30 full-color pages of additional tutorials, dozens of sample images to be used with the step-by-step tutorials that are explored in the book.

Complete Digital Photography is an absolutely great book for anyone who has been into film and is looking to make the switch to digital, has been doing digital and has had no formal training, or is totally new to photography and wants to learn it from the ground up.

The author writes clearly and has a good grasp of organization and presentation. He makes clear connections between camera or software settings, and how they apply to the image and in explaining why it happens. Complete Digital Photography is a very focused, very complete, book on digital photography. If you just want to take better pictures, it may be the only book you need.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • http://www.mayracalvani.com Mayra Calvani

    Thanks for the great review! I’m adding the book to my wish list for Christmas! :-)