Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary


David duChemin: Vision is Better

photo1There are few photographers that I find as stimulating and worth reading as David duChemin. A Vancouver-based “world and humanitarian photographer“, David founded Craft & Vision, a publisher of top-notch ebooks on – appropriately enough – the craft and vision of photography. In David’s view, craft is important, but “vision is better.” Which is the title of a series of three ebooks published by David and based on essays and tutorials from his website. David has just published volume 3 of the series. The three ebooks are a wonderful collection of essays and tutorials that are always thought-provoking, enjoyable, and instructive. David is a great teacher, and I find his philosophy about photography to be refreshing and thoughtful.

From the first book in the series:

Our most important photographic tools are not our cameras and lenses; they are our ability to see farther and deeper, to be curious, to engage the world and our craft with intention, curiosity, and passion. In short, it is not the camera between our hands that most matters, but what is between our ears. Want to create deeper images? Become a deeper photographer. The camera, it is said, looks both ways. Our images are only as good as our own perceptions, and that is a matter of thinking & being, not f/stops & shutter speeds.

Each edition includes, along with David’s essays and tutorials, a wealth of David’s excellent photography. Here are some samples from the recent volume 3.



Here is David in the most recent Volume 3.

Craft can only take any of us so far. Learn all there is to know about photography and the resulting photographs themselves may get Liked on Facebook but they’re unlikely to be art. Art, to be art, has to have something of the artist within. Art uses craft to say something, to point at something, and as often as not it says something about, and points back to, the artist. What we choose to photograph, and how, says as much about ourselves as it does about the things about which we make photographs.

Craft matters. The better our technique, and the more technical possibilities open to us, the more likely we are to take the expression of our intent into new places. But craft is no more than a foundation if you hope to create art. The real deal, as they say, lies not in our tools, but in the myriad and mysterious little pieces that together form our creativity.

And on Creativity …

Having never formally studied art, my creative is process is probably a little unsophisticated: I daily try to live the most vital, engaged, and interesting (to me) life I possibly can. Intentional. Passionate. Sensual. Simple. I draw the cleanest water from as many wells as I can find and listen to the most interesting voices. And I do as I please when I hear the muse begin to whisper. Sometimes that’s picking up a camera, sometimes it’s a notebook and pen. Sometimes it’s neither. But I act on it. Scribbles, drawings, or sketch images made with whatever camera I have on me. A great many very bad photographs have been made this way, but I don’t censor my images any more than I censor my ideas, because creating a good photograph is no different than creating a good idea: stop short of creating the bad ones and you’ll never see them lubricate the cogs that lead to the best ones.


But it’s not all philosophizing on the nature of photographic vision. Among the essays there are tutorials on such topics as post-processing, how to shoot better landscapes, tips for working in black-and-white, and how to use neutral density (ND) and graduated filters. Indeed, there is a wealth of concrete tips.

I realize that all of the above images are landscapes. Lest you think all (or even most) of David’s work consists of landscapes, Volume 3 includes other recent work such as this…


And one of my favorites …


What do you think of David’s philosophy about photography?

At Craft & Vision, you can purchase and download the new Vision is Better 3 ebook for only $5. Or get the bundle – all three Vision is Better ebooks for only $10.


From Craft & Vision: Dodge & Burn

In Dodge and Burn: Leading the Eye with Lightroom and Photoshop, the new book from Craft & Vision, Piet Van Den Eynde will tell you at the start that you need Lightroom and/or Photoshop to use the book. I’d reverse that: If you use Lightroom or Photoshop (or Camera Raw or Nik) then you need this book. It’s an exceptional book, almost a full-blown course in post-processing. (Click here to visit Craft And Vision.)

“Dodging” and “burning” are terms that come from film processing. With film, most post-processing was done at the printing stage. Dodging was the process (an art and craft,really) of waving hands, a tool, or a template between the enlarger lamp and the photosensitive print paper in order to render a part of the emerging print lighter than the rest. Burning was the converse: Shield all but a certain area from the enlarger beam so that the exposed area would be darker than the rest. We can dodge and burn today, but with digital precision using tools such as Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, and Nik.

Van Den Eynde’s e-book is fabulous. Beginners and veterans will learn a lot from this book. In a new approach for Craft & Vision, the book is actually offered as part of a package. And it comes in two versions. The “Lite” (for $5.00) includes the book and a free panel that can be installed in Photoshop. (Click here to view more details) The “Full” version ($10.00, BUT use the code DODGE8 and get 20% off until 11:59pm (PST) JULY 22, 2012) includes the book, a more complete Photoshop panel, a collection of photoshop actions, and ten practice photographs correlated with the lessons in the book. (Click here to view more details.)

Lest you think this book is only for photoshop afficianados, let me assure you that’s not the case! I feared it might be. But I found that Photoshop isn’t mentioned until page 76 of the 90-page PDF e-book. Up until that point, it’s all done with Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw). Beginning on page 65, Van Den Eynde introduces us to using plugins from Nik: Viveza, Color Efex Pro, and Silver Efex Pro. (I use the Nik tools extensively. They can be used as stand-alones, but do work better as plugins into Lightroom or Photoshop. Van Den Eynde provides you with discount codes to download the Nik tools. The Nik technology is also in Nikon Capture, Nikon’s raw processing program.) Van Den Eynde even goes into the use of Snapseed, which is a Nik program for iOS – iPad or iPhone – as well as desktop. As I said, I use the Nik tools extensively, and I learned a lot from this book.

Throughout the book, there are suggestions and tips for the post-processing workflow. Every page is jampacked; I’m actually amazed at the book design in terms of how much useful information they can get onto each page. This book well help you produce much better images (and have fun doing it).

I think your images will improve even aside from what you do in post. This book will also improve your composition, help you think in terms of images that “draw the eye” to focus on the things you want the viewer to focus on.

A few considerations: The book is most useful to you if you shoot raw. You probably do need Lightroom and/or Photoshop. You need Lightroom 4 and Photoshop either CS5 or CS6.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Dodge and Burn: Leading the Eye with Lightroom and Photoshop. PDF e-book. 90 pages. Remember that there are two versions: Lite, with the book and the free photoshop panel. And Full, with the book, enhanced photoshop panel, photoshop actions, and the practice images. At the prices offered, it’s a steal; I’ve seen comparable packages selling for 29.95 and more. It’s $5 for the Lite version (Click here to view more details), $10 for the Full version (Click here to view more details). But use the code DODGE8 with the Full version, by 11:59pm (PST) JULY 22, 2012, and get %20 off.

Everybody will learn from this book. And the book exhibits the usual polish and professionalism of all the Craft & Vision titles. Highly recommended! Click here to visit Craft And Vision.


Up Close: A Guide to Macro and Close Up Photography

The Latest eBook from David DuChemin’s Craft & Vision: Up Close, by Andrew S. Gibson

Up Close: A Guide to Macro and Close Up PhotographyAlmost anyone who follows this blog knows how much I love macro and closeup photography. I’ve been doing it for years. Going all the way back to the days of film and manual cameras, I’ve done closeup photography using closeup lenses, macro lenses, and extension tubes. Closeup and macro photography – all kinds, but especially flowers, fascinates and intrigues me, and challenges me as well. Over the years, I’ve seen and read many books on the subject. No book has interested me more than the latest ebook from Craft And Vision, Up Close: A Guide to Macro and Close Up Photography, by Andrew S. Gibson.

You can spend a fortune on macro lenses, but you don’t have to. Macro photography can be surprisingly affordable, and Gibson discusses all the different approaches in depth, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each. Moreover, Gibson doesn’t just discuss equipment or theory but gets into practical techniques for doing closeup photography in different settings. As much closeup phiotography as I’ve done, I learned a great deal from Gibson’s book. He explains differences in magnification – and the effect of DX vs full-format cameras – better than any I’ve read. And there is a wealth of glorious beautiful closeup photography to admire.

Photograph by Andrew S. Gibson

After an Introduction and chapters on Equipment and Technique, Gibson discusses fully something most books gloss over but is critical to closeup and macro phgotography – Lighting. Again, he goes over the available equipment but also explains methods and techniques of different approaches.

Finally, the book concludes with something I wish more photography books included: Two in-depth case studies – Many lovely photographs and commentary by two other photographers specializing in closeup photography, Mandy Disher, who photographs insects and flowers, and Celine Steen, who does food photography.  Throughout, the style is conversational while quite informative. This book is like a private seminar on closeup photography with three expert practitioners of the craft.

Photograph by Mandy Disher

Photograph by Mandy Disher

Photograph by Celine Steen

As I said, this is one of the best books on macro and closeup photography I’ve read. It’s quite suitable for both beginners and experienced photographers. Up Close may be the best ebook to come from Craft & Vision. 88 pages. PDF ebook, available from Craft and Vision for the ridiculous price of $5!

BUT, for the first six days only, if you use the promotional code CLOSE4 when you checkout, you can have the PDF version of Up Close for only $4 OR you can use the code CLOSE20 to get 20% off when you buy 5+ PDF eBooks from the Craft & Vision collection. These codes expire at 11:59pm (PST) June 24, 2012.

Click here to visit Craft And Vision.

Up Close from Craft and Vision


New Craft and Vision ebook: Shoot + Share

A new ebook from Craft and Vision – Shoot + Share: Getting Your Photographs Out Into the World, by Stuart Sipahigil.

Craft and Vision: Shoot + Share

Everybody who has a photo blog here – Indeed, everybody who takes pictures – needs this excellent and thoughtful new ebook from David DuChemin’s Craft and Vision. (Click here to visit Craft And Vision.)

At the outset of his book, Stuart Sipahigil offers this statement by Peter Turnley:

Photography at its core is all about sharing, sharing an expression of our feelings, perceptions, and observations about the world around us, for now and for all time.

So very true. But how do we go about sharing our photos? There is a bewildering array of options available to us, and we want to ensure that our images are viewed by the right people in the best possible light. This book is a fantastic resource, full of good ideas and information. Whether you are sharing your pictures with family and friends; have a photo business and are sharing your pictures with clients; or you have a blog or otherwise sharing your pictures on the internet (or want to), this book is for you.  Consider the chapters:

  • Introduction
  • Why Share you Photographs
  • Who Needs to See your Photographs
  • Sharing with Family and Friends
  • Sharing with Other Photographers
  • Sharing with Clients
  • Sharing with the Rest of the World
  • How to Decide Which Photographs to Share
  • How to Get Help with Editing
  • Your Portfolio
  • How and Where to Share your Photographs
  • Social Media
  • Online Photo Sharing Sites
  • Hosted Professional Sites
  • Your Own Website
  • Blogging
  • Prints and More
  • Photo Books
  • Public Display
  • Putting it all Together
  • Beyond Sharing Photographs
  • Photo Walks
  • Classes
  • Conclusion

Shoot + Share.  58 pages. PDF ebook. Highly recommended. Available for Craft and Vision’s iPad app, or in PDF form directly from Craft and Vision, only $5.00US.  Click here to visit Craft And Vision. But for the next 24 hours, until 11:59 PST April 28th, only $4 with the discount code SHARE4. (Or use the discount code SHARE20 and get 20% off any 5 or more PDF ebooks from Craft and Vision.)


New from Craft & Vision: Exposure for Outdoor Photography

David duChemin’s Craft & Vision has another winner: Exposure for Outdoor Photography., by Michael Frye.

The new PDF eBook is only $5 from Craft & Vision. But until February 20, Exposure for Outdoor Photography. is only $4 with the discount code EXPOSURE4. (Or use the discount code EXPOSURE20 and get 20% off any 5 or more eBooks in the Craft & Vision collection!)

An outdoor photographer has more control over exposure than any other element of the photograph. But if you’re like me, you have often fudged the exposure, unsure of the precise combination of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed that would produce that well-lit perfectly sharp image. You may have an idea about histograms (or maybe not), but not know what the histogram is telling you or how to adjust the exposure. You may find the lighting is “ok” but the image lacks sharpness, of the part of the image you want to be sharp is lost somewhere in the image. Perhaps you appreciate it when you’ve heard you should be be shooting on full manual, but you’re afraid not to let the camera make those decisions for you. Or perhaps you’re not really sure about when you should be using aperture priority or shutter priority. Or maybe you’ve experienced – like me – setting up the perfect shot and then realizing “the sun just isn’t in the right spot!”

Exposure for Outdoor Photography is a gem of an eBook. In 49 pages, Frye covers all the basics. He does a better job than I’ve seen anywhere else demysitifying and explaikning the use of your camera’s histogram. He explains important but easily confused notions like “exposing to the right,” which can  make the difference between an ok outdoor picture and one that pops.

Want to learn about how to use the Zone System? Let’s see, Ansel Adams developed the Zone System, didn’t he? Well, the Zone System is making a comeback and it’s a very good way to come up with the spot-on best exposure for many outdoor scenes. Frye explains it clearly and effectively.

What I find most useful about Frye’s book is how he quickly gets through the basics and goes into real case studies. Most of the book, in fact, is organized in terms of case studies. Every principle or technique introduced is explored in a case study. I have encountered every case study that Frye looks at. And for many of the cases, Frye suggests some simple exercises that can help you become more knowledgeable and comfortable with it.

After reading this book, I want to go back out on another trip so I can put some of these methods to use. And as a PDF eBook, I can have it loaded on my iPad or iPhone for reference. Or put it on the laptop. (There’s a Craft & Vision iPad app, too.)  Highly recommended. Exposure for Outdoor Photography., by David Frye. From Craft & Vision.


Review: Making the Print


Making the Print. The Latest PDF ebook from Craft and Vision.

Making the Print: Printing Techniques for the Digital Photographer. A Masterclass, by Martin Bailey, is the latest PDF ebook from Craft and Vision. It is available from Craft and Vision.

Inevitably, as your interest and involvement in photography grows, you want to display your photographs. Eventually, you may even want to sell prints of your photographs or display them at shows. Printer technology – and the science of paper and ink – has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years so that virtually anyone can produce museum-quality high-resolution prints of their images. Even so, for most of us, printing still presents a daunting prospect. Martin Bailey’s book does a great job demythologizing the task of creating great prints of your images and provides clear instructions with just the right amount of technical background, appropriate for everyone from amateur photographers to the advanced semipro.

Making the Print is divided into two parts. Part 1, “Getting Started”, provides an elementary introduction top everything from selecting a printer to setting up your computer, choosing paper, using profiles, and perfecting the final printed result. Part 2, “Step it Up!”, delves more deeply into color management as well as using fine art papers and printing for exhibition. There are clear references to using Lightroom, Photoshop, and Aperture, on Windows and Mac systems.

Back in the day, there was no question that the art and craft of printing from negatives was an integral part of the post-capture process. Producing a finely executed print was a deeply satisfying experience. Digital photography – and the ease and ubiquity of presenting images on the web – has replaced much of the old techniques and practices. Still, I’ve been printing digital images for a while now, and there is nothing quite as rewarding as handling a print of your image produced on a really fine art paper. There’s no magic to it, and Martin Bailey’s ebook is one of the best introductions to the subject.

Craft and Vision is producing some great ebooks – Straightforward and clear guides to all aspects of making great photographs. Martin Bailey’s is the first ebbok they have done on the subject of printing, and it’s definitely up to the high Craft and Vision standards. (I like reading Craft and Vision ebooks on my iPad because all of the good PDF reader apps available make it easy to annotate and take notes on the ebook. Or you can load the ebook into iBooks or Kindle.)

Making the Print: Printing Techniques for the Digital Photographer. A Masterclass, by Martin Bailey. Craft and Vision. PDF ebook.

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