Tag Archives for " photography "

Book Review: The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby

Is it a surprise that the very first (and so far, only) book that I finished so far in 2008 is a digital photography book? Anyway, I thought I'd start sharing more about the books I read, so here's a long overdue book review.

Title: The Digital Photography Book
Sub-title: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros'!
Author: Scott Kelby


  • Plenty of good, practical tips for beginners.
  • Inexpensive (got mine for free as a gift from Darren, but you can get this for around US$15. Less for second hand)
  • Good photographic examples.
  • Not a lot of jargon and not text heavy.
  • Covers a few aspects of photography (Portraiture, Travel Photography, Sports Photography, etc.)


  • Too many lame attempts at humour.
  • Doesn't explain a lot of the basics that folks might want to learn about.
  • Some samples are insufficient.
  • Too many "expensive recommendations" (they may be ignored, of course ;-)).

Bottomline: Considering both the good and bad bits, The Digital Photography Book is an interesting read with enough useful information for absolute beginners in digital photography. I found that overall, it was worth reading and keeping.

Review: The book covered various topics in 11 chapters. I didn't find the Sports Photography chapter and Printing chapter particularly useful. But, I loved some of the quick and simple tips that Scott Kelby shared in the book. It felt like talking to an annoying (but good) professional photographer. He has plenty of good tips, but some of the delivery rubbed me the wrong way. However, the best bits of the book enabled me to overlook some of the bad bits.

Anyway, if you want to get some simple, basic formulas for taking good photos without all the heavy lecture and jargon about F stops and such, then this book can be a very handy reference.

Oh, and if you're interested, there's already a Volume 2 to extend this book. I haven't read that one yet, so I'm not sure what the second volume's like. If you've read it, would love to read your thoughts on it.


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Go, Go, Go Gorillapod!

GorillapodUsing a tripod definitely makes a difference in one's photography. And, over the last couple of months, I've been lusting after different types of tripods. Since I already have a basic one, I didn't really want to look in to getting a really expensive one just yet. But, I wanted to have a more flexible, more portable tripod that I can easily set-up and use. So, I started hunting for one.

Anyway, about a month ago, I mentioned here that I wanted to have my very own Gorillapod. Well... it didn't take long for me to hold out on that one. You see, my Gorillapod arrived a few days ago. And, I've been happily testing it out.

Some of the things that I love about having a Gorillapod:

13th Feb 08: SEEING THROUGH... Alternate 2

  • It's so light and portable! I love that I can just put it in my camera bag - or even handbag.
  • It's so flexible. I can put the tripod on a tree branch, a fence, a chair... Yes, on just about anything and anywhere you can wrap its flexible legs around.
  • It's great to have a tripod either on a very low level (great when you're doing macro photography) or very high (esp. for a different perspective).
  • It's a relatively inexpensive tripod. You can find one for approximately $60 or less.
  • It works with standard mounts. And, you can even attach a ball head, if you wish.
  • It can be used with my point-and-shoot camera, my digital SLR, or my video camera*.
  • Taking horizontal (landscape) or vertical (portrait) shots can be done. Having different angles are possible too!

If you love Gorillapods, you might also want to check out Gorillapod Love, a Flickr group. All members of the group have been offered a 15% discount on all Gorillapod products from Joby (the original manufacturer of Gorillapods) until the end of 2008.

* This is if you buy the bigger, more stable Gorillapod. There are smaller ones that can just carry point-and-shoots and small dSLRs. If you want to know which Gorillapod is the right one for you, check out Joby's Gorillapod online tool.

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On Umbrellas and ‘Stuck Song Syndrome’

Day 39 - 365 Days - 8th Feb 08 : UMBRELLA

WARNING: Totally off-tangent rambling. I'm just way too exhausted right now to write a longer, more riveting post. Right. 😉

Well, I just thought I'd share with you this self-portrait which I did a few days ago as part of a photography challenge (via a group called Utata) and as my day's submission for the 365 Days project.

For the challenge, the idea was to create an image based on 3 elements:

1) There must be an umbrella in the shot.
2) The photo must be indoors.
3) The final image must be in cinematic ratio.

The picture you see here became one of my submissions. Turned out that it made it to Flickr Explore's Front Page. At one stage, it had the rank of #12 in the "interestingness" archives.

When I was submitting and thinking of a title, I just thought of the obvious - "Umbrella". Then, Rihanna's song popped in to my head -

Ever since, the lyrics of the song just got stuck in my head (don't you hate it when that happens?!) -

"When the sun shines
We’ll shine together
Told you I'll be here forever
Said I'll always be your friend
Took an oath
I'mma stick it out 'till the end
Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we still have each other
You can stand under my Umbrella
You can stand under my Umbrella..."
(Lyrics from Rihanna, "Umbrella")

Anyway, a few days later, I found out that Mandy Moore also did a cover of the song. So, this didn't help either -

And, of course, there's this version by Australian Idol, Natalie Gauci (which I also enjoyed when I first heard it) -

Hmmm... what do you think? Which one do you like better? Or, don't you like the song at all?

In any case, now that I've blogged about this, I'm hoping that I'll finally get this song out of my system. But, if you have any other tips on how to cure the 'Stuck Song Syndrome' - I'll be more than happy to read all about them. 🙂

Oh, and yeah, I've received some questions about how I created the "Umbrella" image. If you're interested to read more about some background info on the photograph, please read on...

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Web Wednesday #7: 8 Random Things

Web Wednesday with Shai CogginsHello and happy 7th Web Wednesday! This week has been quite a busy time for web surfing, web finding and web working for me. And, here are just 8 random things that I came across this week on the web...

1. CameraDemo - Want to learn exposure and other photography basics? Try this camera simulator.

2. hellotxt - For online social butterflies who wish to update their Twitter, Pownce, & Facebook accounts at the same time (+ a few other services).

3. Open Source Mac - A list of free, useful software for Mac users.

4. Picture2Life - Another free online photo editor.

5. Themed Fonts - Looking for typography?

6. Not Martha - Some crafty bits, cooking, and other lifestyle interests.

7. Your Home Office Library: 45+ Home Office Tips, Hacks and How-Tos - No need to explain. 😉

8. Nice and Free CSS Templates + CSS cheat sheet - If you feel like tinkering with themes and layouts.

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Getting in to Macro Photography

Micro Nikkor - Macro Lens 55mm f3/5 - 21 Jan 08Macro photography is something that I've always wanted to try. And, I found out that there are 5 different ways to do macro photography:

1) Get a dedicated macro lens. (Definitely the best option, but probably most expensive.)
2) Get a tele-converter or extension tubes that will work with existing lenses. (Works with varying degrees of success, depending on cameras and lenses used.)
3) Use close-up filters. (Possible, but not really the best.)
4) Maximise the use of existing lens and just use "macro shooting mode". (Unless existing lens has good semi-macro possibilities, it's not the most ideal solution.)
5) Use a reversing ring to reverse existing lens. (Can work well, but will depend on the type of lens. And can be cumbersome for newbies.)

Well, after looking at the various options, I decided to go for option #1. But, since I didn't want to spend too much money on this, I had a look around at various cheaper options. And, I found that one of the best things about the D40x is its ability to work with older, non-AId lenses.

So, I decided to get myself an old Micro Nikkor lens from eBay (Nikon 55mm f3.5), based on some recommendations from more experienced photographers and D40/x users. No, it doesn't autofocus on the D40x, but apparently, it's one good little old lens. And, I was told that I don't really need autofocus with macro work anyway. And, besides, it's a good, cheap option. I mean, there are other Nikon lenses that will work well with the D40x, but they're way out of my budget. So, it's the 55mm 3.5 for me.

So yeah, not only am I going to have to learn macro photography techniques - I will have to learn the very basic art of manual focusing. Scary.

Anyway, I did some test shots, and here are some results...

Project 365 - Day 21 - 21 Jan 08 : MACRO DAY 1

First Macro Shots - 21 Jan 08 : KEYS

First Macro Shots - 21 Jan 08

Manual focusing will definitely take some time to get used to. I'm not really happy with these shots, but I don't mind sharing so I can show you that yes, I am all for just giving it a go.

Will share more findings and lessons as they come. If you're in to macro photography and would like to share some tips or feedback, would love to read all about your thoughts and ideas.

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