Shooting Digital: Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera, by Mikkel Aaland

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, send e-mail December 2003
Published by: SYBEX Inc., go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US $35.00, Can $53.00, UK £25.99

Shooting Digital deals with digital photography as a medium which has its own demands, constraints and merits. At first glance, I thought that author Mikkel Aaland would have a hard job covering all the material in such a small book, but he does do a very good job. The book begins with an overview of the differences between traditional and digital photography with each subsequent chapter devoted to one aspect or another. The information is effectively conveyed with references and web links. Admittedly there were things which I felt should have been left out of the book or reordered, but as you read there is a sensibility to the order of things as each chapter flows quite nicely into the other.

There is no bias on the type of camera that should be used and the book even highlights several instances where a point-and-shoot digital camera is more effective than a professional or prosumer model. This book doesn't try to emulate other how-to books and avoids the pitfall of becoming mired in too many technical details.

Chapter by chapter the book reveals some very useful hints and tips from some very talented and experienced digital photographers. The case study approach for many of the photos is nice as it provides some very valuable insights into the thinking processes involved in creating each image. This book will provide you with some very good information for structuring your own set of tutorials and projects to test and enhance your knowledge of photography and the tools required. Simple factors like file type selection, shutter release lag and preparing for your shoots are covered in a variety of places in the book and for a variety of scenarios. Coverage of techniques like bracketing, lag compensation and lighting all add to the mix.

The last few chapters feel a little rushed. The coverage of topics like infrared, underwater, night shooting and compositional techniques could all have benefited from more comprehensive coverage. The book finally touches on data storage, file formats and image processing which again could have been covered in more depth. Even so the book has a lot of very useful advice on these subjects from which the non-professional can genuinely benefit.

Cons: Some of the chapters were in the wrong place. The chapters on mini-movies, panoramas and VR should have been placed in the back of the book as they cover techniques which although interesting, most folks using digital cameras will not use in day-to-day shooting. The examples used in the chapter Shooting Great Portraits were a little weak. There was also very little coverage of Black & White photography and composition theory. The web site needs an update as some of the links are no longer active. I would also love to see an online gallery of some of the images featured in the book.

Pros: Shooting digital is nicely structured and formatted, the writing is clean and imparts information in a (mostly) logical and easy manner. I particularly like the notes which highlight key subjects and indicate good reference sources. The photos used in the book are nicely balanced between what you would expect a home user to create and the kind of images that a professional might present. The technical tips are very well detailed with illustrated examples where required. The web site reinforces the book with a chapter by chapter breakdown of relevant links. This book is also very upbeat in its mood and vision - the key thing to remember here is to read between the lines.

This book is highly recommended and provides good foundation on which to build your experience with Digital Photography.

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