Author: Joe McNally
Published by: New Riders & Peach Pit Press
Requires: Amateur or pro interest in photography
MSRP: US$54.99 USD, £29.99 GBP, $59.99 CAD
(Ed. Note: Books like this often tell readers about more than the apparent subject. Most often, a semi-autobiographical book of this type provides examples for success which transcend the categories of life, career, technique and business into which we tend to slot ourselves, others and our efforts throughout our lives. I love reading about the details, techniques and events, told from a personal perspective, which have occured and affected skilled, successful people because the knowledge helps me organize and make sense of the details, techniques and events in my own life. I hope you feel the same way.)
Joe McNally's book “The Moment It Clicks” has received a lot of press and acclaim, so when I received it for review, I already felt that it would be a book which would provide a challenge. There has been a lot of hype about it from all over the photography world. The book has become a bestseller and nothing I say will add to or take away from that. The Moment It Clicks tells a story which is essentially all about the 30 year photography career of Joe McNally, his life, and experiences both professional and personal. The book was written to provide an insight into the world of commercial photography and photojournalism.
The Moment It Clicks is not a biographical tome, but more about the pictures McNally has taken, the events in his life and how they have been shaped by his career. The book doesn't really take a chapter type approach (typically, photography books are always organized into traditional chapters and sub-sections), taking instead a more subjective approach. McNally uses a picture and then tells the story behind the picture and details how it was shot. This isn’t a step-by-step approach either, focusing rather on the more important details and insights which will add to your experience of McNally's photography as well as adding to the critical appreciation of your own photography efforts and learning process. The "How It Was Shot" section accompanying each photo provides varying detail with respect to subjective items such as lighting, camera positions, supporting elements, technical and aesthetic considerations key to learning about particular subjects.
McNally details the events which surrounded or led up to the moment of each photo. He frequently relates stories about how events affected his life, the adventures and often the misadventures related to the photography he's produced. Some of the stories are highly insightful and others somewhat sentimental. None of this takes away from one's experience of this book and the story it tells. Like many other great storytellers, McNally talks about his mistakes and the things he has learned which have added to his experiences and his art.
The Moment It Clicks is well put together and features many excellent images, it also features quite a few images which failed to inspire me. Overall the book is clearly aimed at those of you who are looking for or already involved in photography which is of a more commercial nature.
There are some other annoyances such as the frequent repetition of certain terms throughout the book and in the footnotes. As well, the photo in which McNally shows all his kit is a bit of overload. The reality is that it's quite unlikely that Joe would carry all that kit around with him all the time. In fact, he'd need a retinue of Porters to carry it all. It would have been more useful if he showed the various kit he carries on different assignments.
All that aside, Joe McNally tells his story well, and leaves you with some very memorable, useful and inspiring insights. This kind of book stays with you a lot longer than most technically based, how-to books, because it humanizes the process of learning and the process of involving yourself in photography. There is a folkloric nature to it, which you can identify with much moreso that any technical manual or step-by-step type of book. Life, after all, is experiential and the best way to relate those experiences is to tell stories.
Cons: Very few. Definite bias toward commercial photography. Frequent repetition in footnotes.
Pros: Humanistic approach to storytelling. Storytelling that engages and educates the reader. Joe McNally tells his story in a manner which allows the reader to identify and learn from his own personal experiences in photography. As a book on commercial photography it is a book you must have. If you are looking for a book on fine art photography this may not be it. The allegorical nature of the teaching in this book is engaging and will leave the reader with much to think about. Highly recommended.
The DPI show is a new event dedicated to digital photography and imaging. It is being held on June 26th & 27th at the Business Design Centre in Islington in North London.
The DPI show is designed to attract thousands of pro-photographers and agencies active in photojournalism, sports/action photography, portraiture, wedding and lifestyle photography, and those working in fashion and advertising, still life and macro. Industry leaders will come together to create a ‘Live Studio’, building a full-feature facility at the show with ‘celebrity’ photographers illustrating the facilities and capabilities of the studio.
A busy seminar programme will present 40-minute sessions on latest products and solutions so you can receive first-hand expert advice and tips from specialists in the technologies and processes, hear of case studies and then visit the exhibition area for hands-on experience.
Our conference programme will gather groups of speakers to look at improving workflow, at manipulating and storing images and at managing the demands of a modern photographic studio.
The show will feature stands from Industry leaders such as Adobe, Apple Solution Experts, Epson, HP, Hasselblad, Color Confidence, Extensis, A J Purdy, The SWPP, onOne and a whole lot more ... Many publications will also be represented, including Digital Photographer, Digital Arts, The BJP, Digital Camera and Macworld.
You can register for free at http://www.dpishow.com/
Manufactured by: Gruppo Manfrotto S.r.l. (a subsidiary of Vitec Group PLC), Manfrotto USA (distributed by Bogen Imaging also owned by Vitec Group)
MSRP: US$170, UK£110
The Manfrotto 190XPROB is the latest take on the base model 190, a tripod that has been in the Manfrotto line for many years. This 2007/2008 incarnation seems to incorporate all of the excellent characteristics of its predecessors and adds a couple of important new features. The 190XPROB is a black anodized tubular aluminum tripod with a three-faceted adjustable center column. The tripod has three-section legs made of 16mm, 20mm and 25mm diameter high strength extruded aluminum with a round cross section. Each section is retained or locked by Manfotto's patented flip-lock pressure leg locks. At 1.8kg (a little under 3.9 lbs) the tripod is a lightweight. Load capacity is 5kg (11 pounds, plus a head) making it broadly useful for a wide range of SLR and DSLR body and lens combinations.
In my recent review of the Manfrotto 468MGRC0 Hydrostatic Ball Head I mentioned that I had replaced my old tripod with something more in keeping with the high standards I try to achieve and maintain. I think it's most important to follow a strategy when selecting a tripod and head: a) visit the makers' web sites to figure out what they recommend for your camera gear, b) match size, footprint and general weight of each item to create the lowest possible balance point — there are few things worse than a head that is too heavy for the tripod, c) how much weight you want to carry and what sort of tripod fits your travel, location and shooting needs, d) decide which models among the ones remaining on the list will suit your needs, and e) visit local stores in order to check out the models you've short-listed. After much consideration I decided on the new aluminium 190XPROB. For my needs, this model's center column design was very important. Swing the faceted centre column into a horizontal position by extending it fully and pressing a release button.
The center column feature when combined with the fully adjustable and stable leg geometry means you have a tripod which provides excellent adaptability to most environments. After all due delibration and research I finally purchased the 190XPROB in a store in Cambridge, England during a photographic road trip in October 2007. Having got to grips with the tripod in very short order, I very quickly realized I'd made the right decision. I ended up using the tripod in marshland, on the side of cliffs, in torrential downpours, on large boulders and in a couple of streams, all without any real issues.
The Manfrotto 190XPROB is beautifully designed and well constructed. The legs feature flip-lever pressure leg locks, which make opening, positioning and closing fast and easy. Lock pressure is adjustable using the supplied Allen/hex wrench. The user adjustable mechanism makes it a pleasure to use. The legs can also be adjusted to four different angles (25°, 46°, 66° and 88°), allowing for a very flexible geometry and an extremely stable platform from which to take your photos.
The Manfrotto 190XPROB stands about 48in/122cm tall in its fully extended mode, center colum down. Extending the center column adds another 9.5in/24cm. You can invert the center column allowing you to shoot upside down. The patented design of the center column allows the photographer to position the camera on the head horizontally or vertically and, when used with a good ball or 3-way head, offers a platform which is perfect for macro work, product or table-based photography, low angle shooting or any work which requires the camera to be positioned off center.
The adaptability of this tripod also makes it ideal for photographers who have to sit down for long periods and for those who are wheelchair bound. The only real gripes I have are that Manfrotto has chosen not to include a carrying strap and ground spikes.
(Ed. Note: In early March 2008 we loaded another 190XPROB with a Markins Q20 ball head and a very heavy Nikon D3/300mm f/4 rig for a semi-frozen marshland walkabout just outside of Toronto. We also brought along a couple of shock cords to make boot loops to add some downward pressure to the rig to help combat instabilities when set up on unstable ground and when shooting in gusting wind conditions. When taking into account the downward pressure of the stabilizing shock/bungee cords, we easily exceeded the overall load rating of the tripod by at least 3x but it worked perfectly. Manufacturers' load ratings are conservative — we've obtained similarly excellent 'overloading' performance from a variety of Benbo, Benro, Gitzo, Hakuba Carmagne and other Manfrotto models.)
Cons: No ground spikes or carrying strap included.
Pros: The Manfrotto 190XPROB is extremely stable. Versatile leg and column adjustments don't compromise stability. Good vibration damping when matched with the right head. The Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod is ideal for use with a wide range of heads from Acratech, Arca Swiss, Gitzo, Kirk, Manfrotto and Markins. Great leg locks that never slip even when overloaded. Other than a couple of minor issues (see Cons above) I have to say the 190XPROB is worth every penny. All I want now is to get a carbon fibre version (for extended trekking) and I'll be very happy camper indeed. A great choice for amateur, semi-pro and professional photographers. Highly recommended.
We don't advocate any attempt to use semi-operational used gear which only possesses the virtue of being cheap to acquire. We don't advocate throwing a top-of-the-line digital SLR (or any other top-rank SLR) at a novice photographer. We do advocate that photographers should educate themselves about the art and craft of photography at every opportunity, and regularly consider how well their gear is serving them. Buy the best you can afford, but buy only what you can afford.
Professional photographer Ken Rockwell posted an article on his web site about this subject. Professional photographer Michael Reichman posted a rebuttal article on his own web site. Unfortunately, neither photographer seems to be able to engage in the debate without resorting to hyperbole. So since I've been making photographs longer than Rockwell (but not quite as long as Reichman), I feel confident enough to offer a moderating opinion.
Pros, semi-pros and amateurs are working with Olympus, Pentax, Sony, Nikon, Canon, Leica, Kodak and Sigma digital SLR bodies attached to all manner of lenses. All of these photographers make great photos with all of this equipment. Occasionally, even great shots taken with compact and so-called prosumer cameras manage to sneak through. Whether or not a photo is sharp enough and large enough to be credibly reproduced at some large size in a high-end coffee table book or on an art poster is not, in my opinion, the measure of its value as a good (or bad) photo, and the lack of gear to capture such a photo is not a measure by which to judge your existing equipment. Sorry Mr. Reichman. On the other hand, moderately attractive balances of composition, color and subject in moderately good focus during the brief and only time of day in which some cheap compact has any chance of capturing a decent photo is not the measure of a truly versatile camera or satisfying photography experience or a useful choice of gear. Sorry Mr. Rockwell. I think Reichman and Rockwell both use excessive amounts of what can only be described as hyperbole which serves to inflame the debate rather than qualify it. They're both doing a good job of attracting traffic to their respective web sites.
Using only the best gear you can afford has a very special effect on most people. As you engage in a photography experience which is based on an affordable start, it has the effect of bringing you closer to your gear in ways which make it easier for you to judge which exposure settings will achieve the best result. The longer you work with your chosen, affordable gear, the more you'll find out about its flaws and the more you'll find ways to make better and better photos. Use that gear for a couple of years and you may never part with it. Ever. The reason? It's mainly because you will certainly use that gear at some point to make some photos which have deep and emotional meaning and value for you. Not meaning and value worthy of posting and adoring comments on photo.net or redbubble.com (although that surely will happen too), but rather meaning and value for you personally. That's the wonderful thing about photography though — it can be shared or not shared.
Our quest for public approval of so much of what we do has extended to photography no doubt. The problem is that photography in and of itself is often a very personal experience. My father-in-law has posted on his photo.net page a rather close-up photo of an elephant. The photo is nice enough, but not great. It's just a photo of an elephant. But listen for a few minutes to my father-in-law's story about how the huge wild elephant surprised them by lumbering out of dense bush just a few metres away, how his guide, photography partner & friend reached immediately for the rifle in case the obviously tense bull elephant charged them, and how the situation diffused rapidly after the bull determined they were no threat and then turned to lumber down to a herd near a watering hole, and the photo causes a different reaction altogether. You turn again to the photo and look at it with new eyes. Wonderful. The point is that the photo could have been taken with almost any vaguely decent camera, but you had to be physically in that location in Zimbabwe to actually make the shot.
That last point is what really separates good photographers from snapshooters. You have to go to your subjects — they don't come to you. Fly, drive, walk, ride or scoot to wherever and bring whatever gear will do the job. You don't bring a compact point & shoot to a landscape trip; you don't bring a huge lighting setup to a kid's party. Buying and using the gear you can afford never means buying the cheapest used gear that still technically qualifies as camera equipment. Rather it means buying the best gear you can afford which is also appropriate to your photography needs. After that, it's all you.
Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, March 2008
Published by: Manfrotto Group a division of Vitec Group PLc
Requires: An SLR or digital SLR camera
MSRP: US$299.95, CAN$399.99, UK£220, 240.00€
Despite the claims of some photography pundits, you certainly do need a stable shooting platform for your camera in many situations. OIS, IS and VR can't help you when shutter speeds drop to seconds.
A few years ago I returned to the UK from Canada. Unfortunately, I left a vital piece of photographic equipment in Canada. For years I had used a Manfrotto 074 tripod with the Manfrotto 029 Deluxe Three-Way Pan Head. I gave this fave piece of kit away to an old friend for reasons which escape me at the moment. It was probably an emotional departure exchange (or, ahem, maybe I owed him some money). To my regret when it came to replacing it, I cheaped out and settled for a consumer-grade head which was poorly constructed in comparison to the old model 029. Sometime in September of 2007 I decided to reinvest in a new tripod and head system. Having spent some time researching the various options I decided to opt for the 468MGRC0 Hydrostatic Ball Head from Manfrotto, which incorporates their revolutionary and easy to use hydraulic ball locking system designed for the 468MG. The Manfrotto 468MGRC0 was picked up for me at Henry's in Toronto, who are exceptionally helpful. This head is packaged with the excellent Manfrotto RC0 Hexagonal Quick Release Plate system. The hex plate makes it ideal for a quick release, supports heavy loads, and provides secure locking and flexible positioning.
I also opted for the Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod which I will cover in another review. All I can say now is that it is a nice combination. Technically the 468MGRC0 borrows the popular features found on Manfrotto's standard range of ball heads such as independent pan and tilt locks with a 360° pan movement and +90°/-90° tilt movement. To keep weight low, the head is made of magnesium. To provide smooth adjustment movements the 2" aluminum ball is Teflon coated. For additional control, a calibrated adjustable tension knob allows you to preset the ball friction to suit your camera weight so that you can remove your hands from the camera without risking any unwanted movement.
The Manfrotto 468MGRC0 is really easy to handle and I only needed a few days of field use to adjust to its superb controls. The inclusion of integrated liquid levels on the head makes it really easy to set up for both studio and field work. The control knob is a good size, has a soft feel and the tension can be adjusted to your own preference for locking the camera. The engraved panoramic base is graduated for easy rotation of your camera for generating panoramics. I wouldn't use the head in the same way as I did the 029 Deluxe Three-Way Pan Head because the 468MGRC0 does not quite have the refined control of my old 029 head or the new Manfrotto 3D Pro Head 229, both of which are ideal for shooting virtual tours and 360 degree panoramics.
The Manfrotto 468MGRC0 is an excellent piece of kit which is easy to use and faultless in both design and operation. The control surfaces and knobs are comfortable in any environment and require only the most subtle of touches even in cold and wet weather or even whilst wearing gloves or mitts.
(Ed. Note: During a two week photography shoot in southern England during October 2007, Mario and I put the Manfrotto 468MGRC0 through muck, dust, high winds, rain, hail, torrential downpours and a lot of bumps, bangs and grinds. The tripod and this excellent head functioned perfectly.)
Cons: Not recommended for use in work where fine adjustment accuracy is essential such as controlled panoramics.
Pros: The Manfrotto 468MGRC0 with its quick release capabilities is the ideal complement for the landscape and field photographer. Large controls. Easy to use. Levels are integrated and well placed for balancing your landscapes and other photos. As of this writing I've been using it for about six months and have yet to experience any urge remove it from my tripod. Anyone working with a professional or semi-professional SLR or digital SLR camera and who wants a high quality, easy to use head for their photography, needs this excellent piece of kit. Highly recommended.
It's a good read ... download it and other papers here.
Considering the wide variety in image and file formats, correct implementation of color management and standards is essential to ensure that quality is maintained from the original capture to the final print. The GWG recommends using the guidelines for digital photography projects for print..
Phase One announced the beta release of Capture One 4, this is a new application building on cutting-edge technology, a new architecture, and what users found best from previous generations of Capture One. The beta is available now at no cost until November 1. Capture One 4 is available for Windows XP (SP2) and Vista and Mac OS 10.4.8 (or higher) platforms. Visit Phase One for more information.
Ichikawa Soft Laboratory have updated Silkypix Developer Studio to version 3.0.12 adding support for the Canon EOS 40D, visit the Silkypix product page for more information
"New rules being considered by the would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance. The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment. Julianne Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, said the rules were not intended to apply to families on vacation or amateur filmmakers or photographers." Tell that to an over eager jobsworth ... the potential for abuse could be there.