Sunday , October 1 2023
Practical Artistry is a great book for anyone who wants to understand the traditional methods of photography.

Book Review: Practical Artistry – Light and Exposure For Digital Photographers by Harold Davis

The amount of power and capabilities in today's digital cameras give you a lot of technical sophistication, but all of these features alone will not guarantee the capturing of a compelling image. To do that, you have to have more than just technology, you must have skills. To do it well you must be one part photographer and one part digital artist.

In Practical Artistry: Light and Exposure For Digital Photographers, Harold Davis' aim is to present the best practices of the craft of photography in the context of the digital era. A great photograph begins with the photographer's understanding of light and proceeds with a good and creative exposure. Practical Artistry is 176 full color pages that are divided into six chapters.

"Understanding Exposure" begins with the exploration of what is an exposure, especially with regard to the capturing of light. Here the discussion is about the relationship of aperture, shutter speed, and light sensitivity – also known as ISO. Here you will learn about the exposure equation, measuring light, and intentional over- and under-exposing of images.

"Working with Aperture" provides you with a solid foundation of understanding what f-numbers are and how f-stops work. You will see how aperture and depth of field relate, how to work with selective focus, when aperture does not matter, and how it relates to macro photography.

"Selecting Shutter Speed" is all about time and how shutter speed is really about the duration of time that the shutter is open. The discussion is about the affects of time in the photographic equation, about shutter speed and camera shake, subject motion, and the creative use of motion.

"ISO and Noise" explains where camera noise comes from and how it relates to light sensitivity. You will see when to boost ISO, how to use noise creatively, and how you can reduce noise in post processing.

"Using Light" gets in to the use of light in the capturing of images and how a creative exposure can lead to a creative image. By finding the best light for a given composition, you will be able to create your best images. By being a student of lighting situations, you can gain an understanding of how light sources interact with each other and the external situations. You can also enhance the existing light by the use of artificial light sources as well. Here you will learn about white balance, front lighting, side lighting, back lighting, overcast lighting, night lighting, and flash lighting.

"Digital Darkroom" is all about post processing. Here you will learn about working with Raw Conversion, adjusting exposure, white balance, working with noise reduction, multi-Raw production, cross processing and working with black and white.

What I like about Practical Artistry is that it gets back to the basics about photography and does it in the digital age framework. In the old days before the advent of built-in light meters, a photographer had to understand the photographic equation; the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. These techniques still are relevant today with the digital camera.

This instructional book is richly illustrated with full color photographs from the author. The text is explained clearly and in detail with an accompanying photo to illustrate the effects of decisions made.

Practical Artistry is a great book for anyone who wants to understand the traditional methods of photography within the realm of the digital age. I can easily recommend this book.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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