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.

Lightroom & Photoshop intro videos

The postproduction tutorials for the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, but if you don’t have a lot of experience with either app, or need a refresher, we’ve posted a page with introductory videos from Ben Long.

Links to all of our support material can be found on the Complete Digital Photography 9th edition support page. If you’re still using an earlier version of the book, we also have dedicated support pages for the 8th edition and the 7th edition.

 

Coming Soon—Advanced Flash: Modifiers and Strobes

Last week we wrapped the shooting of my latest LinkedIn Learning (Lynda.com) course, Advanced Flash: Modifiers and Strobes. This was a fun one because we crafted scenarios to light and shoot. Shown above is “writer having a good day” which contrasted heavily, lighting-wise, with “writer having a bad day.” We also brought in dancer Andrew Palermo to provide some fast-moving action to freeze with strobes and to do a little modeling. This course will walk you through more advanced uses for your handheld flashes, how to work with larger strobes, addresses the question of when you need to move to a larger strobe, (and how to buy one) details the use of several kinds of modifiers, and outlines a thought process for solving lighting problems. Keep an eye on this site for details of when it’s live, or you can check out my LinkedIn Learning author page.

Flickr’s top photos of 2018

Father and daughter
“Father and daughter,” by Dan Perez ©All rights reserved

Every December and January, there are plenty of “image of the year” round-ups, many of them quite good. This year I was particularly drawn to (and inspired by) two blog posts over on the newly resurgent Flickr. The first, And the winners of Your Best Shot 2018 Are…, contains five spectacular shots chosen from more than 8,000 submissions. What is special about these five is that they have a heart that is transcendent in this day of the ever-present photo stream. And, in the case of the shot above, there is a truth and a poignancy that hits you as you scan the scene, even before you read the attending caption.

...lonelyalleysofvenice...
“Lonely alleys of Venice,” by ines_maria. ©All rights reserved.

Read more »

Ben Talks Photography on PhotoActive Podcast

Ben was recently a guest on the PhotoActive photography podcast, hosted by Kirk McElhearn and Jeff Carlson. Ben spoke a little bit about the release of the new book; things to think about when learning composition; photographers he likes (and why that changes over time); and why instructing beginners to start with their camera’s Auto mode is one of the best teaching tools out there. At a mere 36 minutes, it’s a great listen.

Episode 34: Ben Long and Complete Digital Photography

(I was on the podcast in November, discussing the state of photo printing; as I noted at the time, Kirk and Jeff have created a well-focused, engaging show with a wide-ranging pool of guests. It’s worth subscribing to if you’ve got a interest in photography and want a podcast that spends less time on gear, and more on thoughtful topics of interest. They also keep the segments short, which is a big plus for me.)

Complete Digital Photography 9 back on Amazon

We’re happy to report that an updated version of Complete Digital Photography 9, with higher print quality, is now in stock on Amazon. Since our previous message, we’ve pored over proof copies from the two largest print-on-demand companies, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and IngramSpark. (We had been printing using IngramSpark’s basic color process for the original release, and tried out their higher-end print service for this test.) 

Ben and I ultimately chose to go with KDP to print and distribute the book on Amazon. The quality of the photos was clearly better than either of IngramSpark’s two color printing processes, and KDP’s binding seemed to be better than the occasional (and slipshod) binding issues we were seeing with IngramSpark.

Because we had to move to a higher print level, we had to price the new version at $64.99. With the higher printing cost, and with KDP taking a bigger cut of the proceeds, it was impossible to keep the book at the old price.

Amazon still has a few copies of the original version in stock, but the new version has a different ISBN identifier (978-1-7326369-2-7), and there is a note about the update in the description. You can find the new book’s page here. (Once the inventory of the old version has been depleted, any confusion between the two versions should fall away.)

Ebook status

We are also working on the ebook version of Complete Digital Photography. The text is in very good shape, but the images need some HTML/CSS love to get them to be displayed optimally on both Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iBooks platforms. It’s a bit tedious, but we’re on it, and we’ll let you know when we have firmer dates.

If you have any questions, the best way to start the conversation is to send us an email.

Thanks!

Rick

Update on CDP 9

We’ve hit a snag with the ninth edition of Complete Digital Photography, and as a result have pulled the book from distribution while we work through the issues. This is not something we wanted to do, but it is clear that the print quality of the book isn’t at an acceptable level for some readers. We are looking at alternatives to the company that handled the printing and distribution, and once we have determined a path forward, we’ll make the book available again. (The ebook version is underway on a separate track, and we’re still targeting next month for the release of the ebook for Amazon and Apple’s stores.) Read more »

Comparing the Fujifilm GFX 50S to the Fujifilm GFX 50R

We’re not big on equipment reviews here at Complete Digital Photography, partly because there are plenty of other places to get that kind of information, but also because we would like to encourage people to focus more on the art and craft of photography, rather than worrying about gear. With camera marketers constantly hammering you with news of career-saving new features, it can be hard to resist the idea that a new piece of gear is somehow going to make you a better photographer.

Nevertheless, I am a photographer, which means I do depend on gear, and while no equipment upgrade will do as much for your photographic skill as will hours of dedicated practice, from time to time I do find myself facing some gear-related questions.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the chance to use the Fujifilm GFX 50S and GFX 50R side-by-side. These are both medium format cameras that offer identical image quality and mostly identical feature sets, but very different physical styles. In the following video, I walk through my impressions of the strengths and weaknesses of each model. This is not a discussion of whether medium format is right for you – that’s a bigger question – but rather a look at what these two specific cameras offer.

In the process of preparing this video I was surprised by a number of my conclusions, and I learned that W.C. Fields was right: you should never work with children or animals. They’ll upstage you every time.

Check out the video here: