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Book Review: From Camera To Computer: How To Make Fine Photographs Through Examples, Tips, And Techniques by George Barr

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From Camera To Computer asks the question "Do you ever wonder what it would be like to get inside the head of an accomplished photographer as he chooses a subject, works the scene, selects the image, and turns that image to a piece of photographic art?"

As a follow up to his book "Take Your Photography to the Next Level" George Barr now lets you in on the methods that he uses when he is working on his photographic works of art. This book is 296 pages in length and is divided into 23 chapters. Each of the chapters begins with an examination of the subject and then works through the things that made the shot

Chapter One, "Athabasca," looks at the falls just south of Jasper Alberta, Canada. Here you explore the falls and will edit your image with Curves, dodging, and the using selective color. Chapter Two, "Bluffs and Bush," looks not only at texture, stitching and panoramic basics, but examines when to stay with color or work in Black and White to create this image.

Chapter Three, "Grain Elevator," shows a classic scene and in this one you will work using separate exposures, applying perspective correction, and working the scene. Chapter Four, "Fruit," examines a classic take on still life. Here you will use multiple curves, removing noise, and increasing local contrast.

Chapter Four, "Sculpture and Architecture," looks at how by putting more of "You" into the picture, the results will look less like a snapshot. Then you will look at some of the fine points of composing images. Chapter Six notes that "People" are not hard to shoot, but to make the best of the image, you want to capture your subject in a way that says something about them.

Chapter Seven, "Racks," examines how you should take opportunities when you can because later they may not exist. Here you will work with distracting backgrounds, cropping, working with repetitive patterns and more. Chapter Eight, "Stony Park," looks at working with friends out in the field, fixing the less than perfect images, and knowing when you have gone too far in working an image.

Chapter Nine describes how "Logs" can create great patterns, and when you combine several images, you can create interesting panoramas. But when an image does not work, you shouldn't pretend that it does. Chapter 10, "Abstract Images," is about images where the subject is not identifiable. This chapter is about how to find and make abstract images.

Chapter 11's subject, "Cabbage," is in and of itself not that interesting to shoot, unless, of course, you can learn how to work it into an interesting pattern. This chapter is about what makes for an interesting subject. Chapter 12, "Europe," examines what to carry when you are traveling, how to carry it, and how to determine what to shoot when you are away.

Chapter 13 describes how "Steps" can be an interesting subject to shoot, but they can also be complex because of all of the shadows, and colors. Here you will look at HDR vs. manual blending of exposures, focus blending and exposure blending, cropping and framing, and revisiting a scene to fix problems. Chapter 14, "Waterfall," is about taking a grand landscape and stuffing it into small space and still capturing the feeling.

Chapter 15, "Lensbaby," is a tool for creating abstract images through the use of a specialized lens. Chapter 16, "Knuckle," examines shooting locomotives and the interesting subjects that they can create. This chapter is about finding the unexpected, exposure blending, and working an image.

Chapter 17, "Manipulations," describes where you take an image and change it, sometimes going way beyond real. Here you will use inversions, posterizations, tricky curves, and other things to manipulate your images.

Chapter 18, "Pairs," looks at two images of the same subject and the author explains what he did to get both and which he thinks is better. Chapter 19, "Sunflower," looks at scenes where you are just walking about shooting strangers, working with no agenda, and capturing images of ordinary life.

Chapter 20, "Breaking the Rules," is about changing things up. Here you will work with depth of field, multiple exposures, and how to see differently when creating images. Chapter 21, "Snow Plow," takes an ordinary image and works to make it different. Here you will work with a wide variety of techniques for enhancing images.

Chapter 22, "Still Life," examines a very challenging subject when creating still life artwork. Here you will see how to find, adjust, and create images from found subjects, work with zoom vs. fixed length lenses, and work with depth of field. Chapter 23, "Turbine," looks at cropping in camera a large object for a different look. You will also see how to gradually refining the images along with some thoughts on productivity.

The chapters from From Camera To Computer are generally free standing essays. They take a single image and move from capture through print. There are other images that are included that illustrate various aspects of the scene. Throughout, the author describes the decision path that he took to create the images.

From Camera To Computer is for photographers who want to better understand composition and process. It is a book of techniques that assumes that you know how to capture shots, but need help or inspiration with looking for and creating images and the subsequent post processing workflow. The author has made available the shots from the book that you can work with (Please note that these are only for your practice and not for commercial use).

What I like about From Camera To Computer is that it is not your standard book on fixing photos, but rather focuses on the techniques for creating photographic artwork. It is very easy to read and will provide a lot of insight. While there are a couple chapters that I did not think fit with the flow of the book – in particular the Lensbaby was not very detailed – the rest were very insightful and provided a lot of practical information. If you want to take the next step to creating fine art photographic images, then I highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/a-geek-girl/ A Geek girl

    This sounds so fascinating. I love taking photos and trying to make them more creative. Great ideas!