From the Blog

Do You Really Need New Gear?

If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll know that we stay away from the rough-and-tumble world of “Which camera should I buy?” While we’re happy to talk about the plusses and minuses of specific cameras with people, it’s not our focus on the website. We strongly believe that it’s not the camera that makes you a better photographer—it’s you.

In that vein, I recorded a short video with Hudson Henry last week, as part of his Approaching the Scene series on YouTube. We had a lively—and short—conversation on the topic, focusing on the things you can do to develop your photographic vision that don’t involve buying new gear. Along the way, we talk about understanding the gear that you have, knowing the principles of composition and exposure in the field, and looking at other photographers’ work as a way to inform your your own work.

Below are links to the CDP articles referred to in the video:

Taking Better Pictures Doesn’t Mean a New Camera
Overviews of Photographic History

If you’re interested in Hudson’s Moab workshop this fall, you can find more information on his Workshops page. I’ll be helping him in the field on that one.

And, if you have comments or questions on this topic (or anything else), we would love to hear from you. Drop us a line via our Contact Us page.

Complete Digital Photography ebook is now available

The ebook version of Complete Digital Photography is now available on both the Apple and Amazon bookstores for $34.99, which is $30 off the print price.

The following is from the “about this ebook” section:

The ebook version of Complete Digital Photography is identical to the contents of the printed version, including that version’s fonts, and was designed for optimal readability on most iOS and Android tablets that support either Apple’s or Amazon’s book files. While this ebook is readable on most modern Kindle e-ink readers, we don’t recommend this solution as a primary reading platform for the book, given that those readers lack color screens.

The images, graphics and charts found in the book are high-resolution, and double-tapping on any image will let you view it full-screen. Due to the large number of images and other graphics, some readers might find that turning on their app’s continuous-scrolling feature will be helpful in preserving the continuity of the text.

CDP ebook update

It’s been a long road, but I’m happy to report that the ebook version of Complete Digital Photography is almost here.  Today, I finished the final merge of the ebook: text and images are in their proper location, and the book passed its first validation test. It will take a week or two of device testing, CSS tweaking, and image checking to finish up.

One of the things that has made this process so labor-intensive is that an ebook doesn’t really have the same concept of a ‘page’ as found in a printed book; it’s closer in design to a web page. For a book largely made up of text, this isn’t too big a deal, but CDP’s volume of images meant that nearly every image had to be formatted for the ebook.

We feel good about what we’ve created. CDP9 uses the book’s fonts, and, like any other reflowable ebook, you can resize the text or change it to one of your preferred fonts. Tapping an image will open it full-screen, and it should look good at that size. And, the index in the back of the book is fully linked to the text, helpful for digging into into a subject that is referenced in different places throughout the book.

Blah, blah, blah–when will it be available?

We are hoping to upload the final version to Amazon and Apple for distribution in early May (we’ll be looking at alternative choices after launch). We’re still working on pricing, and won’t be able to announce that until we’ve worked through the specifics of different online stores. (I can tell you that it will be under $40.)

Below are some screen shots of current pages in the book, from an iPad and from Apple’s Books app; just click on one of them to see the gallery. We’ll have more information in a couple of weeks, after we’ve submitted the final book.

Fifty Years, by Keith Carter – Learning by Looking

The new book Fifty Years offers a wonderful opportunity to explore a sampling of the complete career of a single photographer. When that photographer is Keith Carter, such exploration is especially satisfying because for the last fifty years, Keith has produced work that is sometimes exemplary, and is always interesting. Even if you’re not taken by Carter’s style, diving deep into a single photographic career is a valuable exercise.

It can take a long time, and a lot of work, to develop your own style. During that process, you can find yourself worrying about all sorts of things from “am I repeating myself?” to “is this a cliché?” to “Is this a dead end/have I taken a wrong turn?” In addition to sapping your confidence, such thoughts are a distraction – they keep you from doing the thinking you should be doing when you’re working. What can be difficult to understand is that everyone has these thoughts, and no one follows a simple, consistent, linear path when pursuing any creative endeavor.

Obviously, no photo book is going to present a photographer’s failures. To prepare a retrospective on an entire career, a photographer – and their editors – looks for representative samples of the best work from particular stages. So while you won’t see contact sheets or rejects in this book, you’ll still be able to see the ways that, through the years, Carter has pursued different kinds of subject matter while, through it all, developing a particular photographic vocabulary.

Obviously, there are photographers that are known for particular things – Sally Mann and Richard Avedon for different approaches to portraiture, Robert Frank for photo essays, and so on. As you look through Fifty Years, though, you won’t see a single subject matter or approach. While large sections of the book presents Carter’s documentation of small Texas towns, another section presents stylized images of taxidermy and insects. However, through all these images you will see the development of a consistent approach to these unrelated subjects. Visually, Carter’s journey over fifty years makes sense. Carter’s eyes see, for want of a better word, mythologically. Informed by technical skill and a deep understanding of photographic history, he has developed a visual style that brings this mythological view to just about any subject. This book has a strong atmosphere about it, but it’s an atmosphere defined as much by approach and visual sensibility as by subject matter.

After a while you might think “oh I get it, he likes a lot of texture and blur,” but that’s too simple an assessment, for even his images that possess sharp focus and lack texture still maintain that Keith Carter “atmosphere.” Further, it takes a profound level of photographic artistry to understand when you can render a subject completely out of focus and still have an image that works.

You should buy this book because it’s a strong, important work from a major contemporary photographer. But as a student of photography, you should spend time with this book because it presents such a good example of the importance of constant photographic exploration and experimentation. Seeing the result of that process might help you with some of your own concerns as you try to develop your own photographic vision. Furthermore, simply trying to find an explanation for creates the feeling of atmosphere in these images will provide some great lessons.

I should say that I worked on the production of this book (something about which I’ll have more to say later) but I don’t get any kind of royalty from sales – I’m not pushing this book because of possible profit, but because it’s a great book. (The New Yorker agrees.)

You can order Fifty Years, by Keith Carter, from Amazon.

More from the Blog

Our Books

The 9th edition of the original, best-selling guide to all things digital, Complete Digital Photography gives you everything you'll need to know in order to create great digital photos, from choosing a camera, to getting the best shot, to post-processing.
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Hudson Henry’s Panoramas Made Simple is a quick and easy guide to creating compelling, gorgeous panoramas—without having to buy extra gear.

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Photo RAW Master Class, by Rick and Liz LePage. If you're a user of ON1's photo editing and organization app, this free ebook will turn you into a power user. From better browsing to the coolest filters and easy retouching tips, this book has it all!

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Introduction to Outdoor Portrait Photography, by Liz LePage. This ebook gives you a toolkit to help capture brilliant portraits with natural outdoor light.

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