Reference

The Moment It Clicks: Photography Secrets From One Of The World's Top Shooters

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, July 2008
Author: Joe McNally
Published by: New Riders & Peach Pit Press
ISBN-10: 0321544080
ISBN-13: 978-0321544087
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.

Canon DSLR: The Ultimate Photographer's Guide

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, July 2008
Author: Christopher Grey
Published by: Focal Press
ISBN-10: 0240520408,
ISBN-13: 978-0240520407
Requires: An interest in Canon cameras
MSRP: US$39.95, UK £22.99

Christopher Grey has produced a reference book which covers most Canon digital SLR (DSLR) cameras and is squarely aimed at improving your use of your DSLR. The title of the book includes the phrase "The Ultimate Photographer's Guide" which is quite a boast. So as usual when we encounter this sort of thing, our initial goal during the review is to establish whether or not the substance of the book lives up to the 'hype' of the title.

The book begins by looking at the basics of photography and then briefly at the concepts of workflow. It continues by covering many of the existing workflow models and then looks into the common technology and features used in all Canon's Cameras. In the Common Ground section, Christopher Grey introduces the first of his many Photographer Spotlights found throughout the book in which he interviews and looks at the working practices of a large number of professional photographers

Grey then looks at the Zones — Basic and Creative — which allow users either easy choices for shooting under different conditions or, as in the Creative zone, a more technical approach requiring some knowledge of the features and capabilities of your Canon camera. The Basic Zone uses icons to allow the user to easily select a preferred shooting mode. With shooting mode selections in Canon DSLRs for Full Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports and Night Portrait, it's easy enough for most people (especially casual photographers, more serious but still novice photographers, and even many intermediate photographers). A Basic Zone selector is missing from the dial on all prosumer and pro Canon DSLR models.

Canon DSLR: The Ultimate Photographer's Guide then looks at the focus, exposure and style, examining the use of external light meters, color temperature, focus methodologies and preferences. It is here where some excellent lessons are imparted regarding the judicious use of the excellent focusing technologies found in Canon cameras.

Grey then takes a look at Canon lenses. The coverage here is good, firmly establishing the practical uses of a wide variety of Canon lenses and examining the where and why of lens use too. In the next chapter, the use of Canon flashes is covered including built-in pop-up flash, accessory flash, off-camera flash, studio flash and location lighting.

The book's penultimate chapter looks at one of the most important parts of your toolkit: The use of the Canon Digital Photo Professional software. In this chapter the handling of your images — more specifically the Digital Negative or RAW file — is covered in some depth. Although Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) is mentioned, neither it nor Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, ACDSee Pro 2 or any of the other RAW acquisition solutions are covered. The book finishes with a look at the works of a number of photographers from around the world.

Cons: No coverage of other RAW software.

Pros: Excellent layout and information throughout the book. Easy to follow. Although the book is aimed at the beginner and intermediate user there are many pros out there who use it instead of the manuals supplied with their Canon DSLR. Canon DSLR: The Ultimate Photographer's Guide is a book which should easily be updated as newer DSLR models are released. If you own a Canon Digital SLR camera then this excellent book from Focal Press is a worthy addition to your library. A must have for almost any serious photographer's reference library (because you never know when you might need to use a Canon). Highly recommended.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 A-Z

Author: Phillip Andrews
Publisher: Focal Press
ISBN: 9780240520650
Price: US$29.95 - UK£17.99
As far as reference books for photoshop CS3 are concerned, Focal Press have been really busy the last few months. This book by Phillip Andrews isn't a tutorial book, it's a lavishly illustrated and in-depth reference which covers pretty much every feature in Photoshop CS3. It does a thorough job of explaining the use of all the tools and even begins with a very nice step by step section which I would have like to see more of... The rest of the book provides an excellent and easy reference for anyone who ever wanted a manual with Photoshop CS3. It is both comprehensive and extremely easy to follow. Highly Recommended

HDR Labs Release The HDRI Book

The HDRI Handbook Cover
The HDRI Handbook is now available from O'Reilly Press. This book delves into the niceties of High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI) and is filled with practical hints and tips, software evaluations, workshops, and hands-on tutorials. The book also has an accompanying DVD which includes HDRI software. This book was written by Christian Bloch, who is an acclaimed Visual Effects Artist and who has been working professionally in the field for years. His work can be seen in StarTrek:Enterprise, Smallville, Invasion, Lost, 24, and a growing number of movies and commercials. He is a pioneer in the practical application of HDRI in post-production, specifically under the budgetary and time restraints of TV production. Any photographer, CG artist, compositor, or cinematographer would do well to pick this up... for more info visit HDR Labs

The 123 of Digital Imaging 4.0

Vincent Bockaert announced a new version of the excellent 'The 123 of digital imaging Interactive Learning Suite'. This e-reference is a must have for all digital photographers. goes This new version features a new UI and also covers Adobe Photoshop Album 2, Photoshop Elements 2, 3, 4 & 5, Photoshop 7, CS, CS2 as well as Nikon Capture 4.4 & NX 1.1. With the download version available for US$44.87 and a CD-Rom version for US$49.99 it's well worth addding to your library. Visit 123di.com for more information.