Make: technology on your time – The First Year

rnMake is a stunning magazine of technology DIY projects. Now at volume 9, O’Reilly has collected the first year’s worth, volumes 1 to 4, and published them in a slipbinder.
Make book

Make: technology on your time
The First Year
O’Reilly Media, 2005
ISBN: 0596526776

Make: is one of those great magazine ideas. A magazine for the do it yourself oriented technology user, it is a quarterly magazine for the DIY geek set. In some ways it reminds me of my constant companions as a kid, Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, only better.

Each volume is around 192 pages long. Each issue has a mix of product reviews, news items, fun pieces on people making weird things, a large number of small construction projects and a small number of full projects. Volumes 1 to 4 covers the following topics specifically of interest to image makers:
*    Aerial photography from kites
*    A steady cam for video
*    Strobe-based high speed photography
But there are also lots of other articles of relevance, from Microcontroller Programming to Hacking Single-Use Digital Cameras and Wire-feed Welding.

Each issue has plenty to keep you reading for ages and even the articles that are not obviously about imaging will teach you some technique or use of material that you can use in your own projects.

For those with a bent to build or modify, this magazine is a joy.

Working the Light – A Landscape Photography Masterclass

A great book covering landscape photography processes, thinking and creativity
Working the Light
A Landscape Photography Masterclass
By Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, David Ward and Eddie Ephraums
Argentum, 2006
ISBN: 1 902538 46 3

Another unusual book from Argentum, this one focuses in a broad way on landscape photography. The four authors take a section of the book each:
*    Foreword – Eddie Ephraums
*    Wilderness landscapes – Joe Cornish
*    Inhabited landscapes – Charlie Waite
*    Inner landscapes – David Ward

In each of these, apart from the foreword, the author begins by describing their own working method, motivations and current projects. Following each author’s statement section comes a Gallery Workshop where generally great quality submitted images are displayed along with great pieces of advice, displayed as tips by each image. A critique section then follows each Gallery Workshop. Here each of the submitted images that have been used is analyzed and critiqued by the authors.

Working the Light photography book

This format works very well. It does have the feeling of attending a workshop, something the authors intended. It is appropriate that not all the images pass muster completely in the Critique section, as you can learn a great deal from people’s mistakes and the authors thankfully do not pass up this opportunity. However, all of the images are quite striking, even if some work better than others.

Working the Light photography book

You will learn much about landscape photography in particular, and photography in general, from this book. The sections on the authors’ own work is insightful. The tips along with the submitted images teach much and then this is vastly expanded by the image critiques. These can teach you much if you carefully consider each image yourself before reading the authors’ comments.

Working the Light photography book

This is a great book. If you have any interest in landscape photography, buy this book.

Landscape within – Insights and inspiration for photographers

An outstanding book on photography and the ways to think about it.
Landscape within
Insights and inspiration for photographers
By David Ward
Argentum, 2004
1 902538 34 X

Written by a great landscape photographer, this book goes well beyond just presenting beautiful landscape images and rather gets into the psychological and perceptual aspects of photography. Furthermore, the core coverage of this book is actually on creativity and how this relates to photographic practice.

This book of around 130 pages is divided into the following chapters:
*    Introduction
*    A River of Light: The bond between photography and reality
*    Oceans of Instants and Radiance: Photography and a new realm of perception
*    Worlds within Worlds: Differing approaches to landscape imagery
*    The Art of Seeing: Harnessing our creativity
*    My Practice: The application of theory
*    Beginnings and In Plato’s Cave: A deeper look at photography and perception

Landscape Within book

Illustrated throughout by striking landscape photography by the author, it is, however, the words that leave the most impression. Topics range far and wide, from the use of captions in steering the interpretation of an image to issues of objectivity and subjectivity in photography. Much attention is paid, obviously, to landscape photography and its styles and conceptual framework. There is also a worthwhile discussion of abstraction in photography, plus lots more.

Landscape Within book

This is a great and very unusual book. All thinking photographers who are serious about their art should read this book.

 
 

Exploring the Invisible

Art, Science and the Spiritual
Exploring the Invisible
Art, Science and the Spiritual
By Lynn Gamwell
Princeton University Press, 2002
ISBN: 0 691 08972 8

Exploring the Invisible

This book looks at the impact of science on modern art. It focuses on how the way that science has opened up previously invisible worlds has inspired artists since the mid-nineteenth century.

This 345-page book is divided into chapters:
*    Art in Pursuit of the Absolute: Romanticism
*    Adopting a Scientific Worldview
*    The French Art of Observation: A Cool Rejection of Darwin
*    German and Russian Art of the Absolute: A Warm Embrace of Darwin
*    Loving and Loathing Science at the Fin De Siecle
*    Looking Inward: Art and the Human Mind
*    Wordless Music and Abstract Art
*    The Culmination of Newton’s Clockwork Universe
*    Einstein’s Space-time Universe
*    Abstract Art with a Cosmic Perspective
*    Surrealist Science
*    The Atomic Sublime
*    The Disunity of Nature: PostModern Art, Science, and the Spiritual

This is a thought-provoking book well illustrated with art and the concepts, diagrams and images that have inspired them. For those of us who straddle the worlds of art and science the connections have always been obvious. But for any others it can seem that the two are so separate and distinct that there is little or no connection. This book does a great job at showing those connections with clarity and interest, and also making it plain that you do not have to become a scientist to be an artist with an interest in science.

Exploring the Invisible

For the thoughtful artist/photographer, art historian, student and scientist with an interest in art, this is a great book.

The Annabel Williams Book of Wedding and Portrait Photography

A very comprehensive book on wedding/portrait photography
The Annabel Williams Book of Wedding and Portrait Photography
By Annabel Williams
RotoVision, 2003
ISBN: 2 88046 779 9

The Annabel Williams Book of Wedding and Portrait Photography

The author of this book is a leading British proponent of a relaxed and natural portrait and wedding style. An educator as well as a photographer in high demand, she brings to this book a similarly relaxed and non-technical approach.

The book’s 270 or so pages are divided into two sections Portrait and Wedding.
Portrait:
*    Contemporary lifestyle photography
*    Developing the client relationship
*    Location, lighting, and technique
*    Make-up, clothes, and color analysis
*    Art directing and creating relaxed poses
*    Real-life shoots
*    Working with children
*    Editing and shooting for versatility
*    Creating furniture for walls
*    Maximizing your market
Wedding:
*    Contemporary wedding photography
*    Planning and preparing
*    Make-up and styling
*    A real-life wedding
*    Location and lighting
*    Editing an album
*    Marketing for wedding photography

This book is a gem and belongs on the recommended reading list for every photography course. Photographing people for portraits and at weddings is fundamentally a people-oriented task, yet if you believed many books on wedding/portrait you would think it was fundamentally a technical task. Sure, technique and equipment is involved, but if you can’t work with and handle people then no amount of equipment will return good results. So this book puts the emphasis where it belongs, with people, planning and preparation.

So while each chapter has some great technique coverage, whether it is light placement, posing people and location issues, there is always an emphasis on the people aspect. One feature I really love about this book are the sections where it takes you time wise step by step through a process, whether it is doing makeup or a whole day’s shoot. This is really helpful when building your skills and confidence, and very illuminating on how a pro paces an event and just how much time is involved. The book also has great information on what shots to take and, most importantly, how to make your clients relaxed and how to build rapport with them.

The Annabel Williams Book of Wedding and Portrait Photography

Don’t expect any digital orientation in this book, but then it really doesn’t need it to be great. This is, in fact, one of the best, most insightful and significant wedding/portrait books I have ever seen. For those who feel they need more on equipment, there are many great books out there that will cover the equipment and even the digital angle that can supplement this book but none will replace it. Get this book, read it and apply and practice what it teaches you.

New Masters of Photoshop, Volume 2

Photoshop artists explain their own work processes by walking you through the development of an image
New Masters of Photoshop, Volume 2
Various authors
Friends of Ed, 2004
ISBN: 1 59059 315 4

New Masters of Photoshop, Volume 2

This is an interesting book. It consists of individual chapters written by the artist themselves that lead you through their thought processes and effectively gives you a look inside their head.

The Photoshop artists covered in this book, and thus the chapters of this book are:
*    Corne Van Dooren
*    Teodoru Badiu
*    Per Gustafson
*    Alicia Buelow
*    Mauro Gatti
*    Jason Morrison
*    Colin Smith
*    Seung Ho Henrik Holmberg
*    Karen Ingram
*    Marin Musa
*    Jorge Restrepo
*    Jim Hsieh
*    Oliver Ottner
*    Don Clark and Ryan Clark

The chosen artists in this book cover a wide range of styles and approaches, from commercial illustration to pure fine art. The great benefit of this book is that it allows you to get inside the artists’ own, natural ways of working with Photoshop . Each has their own approach, their own set of the Photoshop tools that they use and their own visual style. As a great bonus, the book comes with a CD that contains interviews with the artists, source files and unflattened Photoshop files that allow you to get inside the images and explore exactly how the different parts of the images inter-relate. It also allows you to make changes to these files, in itself a great learning experience.

New Masters of Photoshop, Volume 2

This is a gem of a book that show allow you to expand your thinking about Photoshop and how to use it. It will also help you with refining and developing your own processes, as you are sure to get ideas from reading the chapters and working with the files that you can take into your own Photoshop processes. Unlike some books it allows you to view the artists’ processes unfettered by any ideas from an outside author and free from any artificial constraints. This lets you see what actually works for these artists and that is a great inside. A well considered, well crafted book that is a great tool.

New Masters of Photoshop, Volume 2

Podcast Solutions

The Complete Guide to Podcasting
Podcast Solutions
The Complete Guide to Podcasting
By Michael W Geoghehan and Dan Klass
Friends of Ed, 2005
ISBN: 1 59059 554 8

Podcast Solutions

This is an amazing book. Yes, I have said that up front. It is a one-stop guide to podcasting, the phenomenon of webcasting of audio programs that has revolutionized radio, business, marketing and the sharing of information on the Internet.

The 240 pages of this book are divided into the following chapters:
*    Podcasting 101
*    Listening to Podcasts
*    Podcasting How-To
*    Planning your Podcast
*    Podcasting Tools
*    Recording your Podcast
*    Putting It All Together
*    Preparing Your File
*    Serving It Up
*    Getting Heard
*    Making Money with Podcasting
*    Glossary
*    Podcasting Resources at a Glance

This single book may not turn you into a podcasting expert but it will get you well on the way to producing effective and quality podcasts and delivering them in an appropriate way. The authors are experts and it shows in their advice, which is full of practical, experience-based information.

The book takes you through every stage and aspect of podcasting. This includes why you might want to podcast and how to make money from podcasts. It gets into the technical issues of what equipment you need for recording, including great advice on microphone choice. It then gets into the software you need and what processing you nedd or may want to do on the audio. The specifics of RSS feeds and how they relate to podcasting are covered in depth. Even issues of promoting your podcast and linking into the podcasting community are covered in depth.

Podcast Solutions

This is a fantastic book. It really is a one-stop shop of podcasting knowledge. The fact that it comes with a CD of software is a bonus. If you are contemplating podcasting you need to read this book. Get it, read it and keep it handy as an ongoing reference.

The Complete Guide to Digital Audio

A Comprehensive introduction to digital sound and music-making
The Complete Guide to Digital Audio
A Comprehensive introduction to digital sound and music-making
By Chris Middleton
Ilex Press, 2004
ISBN: 1 904705 14 6

Whether we work with video, Flash, animations, multimedia, games, digital slideshows or even pure audio, working with digital audio is part of almost all our futures, if not already our present.

The Complete Guide to Digital Audio

This 192-page book is divided into the following chapters:
*    Introduction
*    Be Careful Mr Beethoven
*    Basic Theory
*    Ring Those Decibels
*    What is Digital Recording?
*    So Where Am I Now?
*    Audio in the Digital World
*    Do I Need a Computer?
*    Help Me, I Want to …
*    Software-Only Solutions
*    So What Are the Packages?
*    An Introduction to Midi
*    The Battle of the Xs
*    Home Studio Setups
*    Effects and Processors
*    Monitors, Monitoring and Mastering
*    Future Views and Views From the Top

Digital audio in all its facets is a complex area and has many aspects that are difficult for a non-audio person to get their head around at first. This book is not a step-by-step walkthrough of a piece of audio software but rather a higher level look at how digital audio works, what tools you need, what you can do to manipulate audio digitally, how all the pieces fit together and to setup a great studio.

The book is well illustrated and despite the date of publication is highly up to date. It is packed with solid information and you would not go wrong to follow it. I think the discussion in the book about the issues between software only and mixed hardware/software solutions  is well put despite the complexity of this topic.

The Complete Guide to Digital Audio

If you start with this book you will get a solid start on digital audio. From there the addition of a book of two about the particular software you are using and lots of practice will get you into an excellent position and producing good work. I’ve used this book as a teaching reference for my multimedia students and it has worked well. A great book.

The Essential Digital Video Handbook

A Comprehensive Guide to Making Videos That Make Money
The Essential Digital Video Handbook
A Comprehensive Guide to Making Videos That Make Money
By Pete May
Rockport Publishers, RotoVision, 2004
ISBN: 1 59253 024 9

There is a lot to learn about digital video and many people are coming straight to digital video cold with no prior analog video experience. This book aims to fill the void.

The Essential Digital Video Handbook

This 190+ page book is divided into the following chapters:
*    Introduction
*    Choosing Your Equipment
*    Finding Work
*    The 7 P’s
*    On Location
*    Basic Principles of Editing
*    The Finished Product
*    Glossary

This book avoids getting specific about the hardware and software, which allows it to be a great choice for anyone, irrespective of the hardware or software you are using. The author has 25 years experience in television and it shows in this book. He cuts to the chase straight away. The book begins with how to choose your equipment. It then gets into what work you can get and then into planning and preparing for a shoot. A great chapter on location work ends the shooting part of the book. What follows is then a great introduction to editing and putting together a finished video. It is not application specific, rather it focuses on what is common to all the editing applications.

A Comprehensive Guide to Making Videos That Make Money

This is a great book. All the information has been hard won by the author through years of experience. It is solid, practical advice. Couple this book with one specifically suited to the editing software you are going to use and you have a very solid self-guided course in digital video. Very highly recommended.

Wolfgang Tillmans

Artist profile book of this interesting, contemporary artist who works in photography and video.
Wolfgang Tillmans
By Jan Verwoert, Peter Halley and Midori Matsui
Phaidon Press, 2002
ISBN: 0 7148 4192 7

Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans is an artist who works in photographic and video forms. Much of his work is quite confrontational.

This book includes an interview with Tillman, essays by the three authors and selected writings by Tillmans. It is richly illustrated not only with his work but also many images of his work on gallery walls, which offers an interesting view of how this work is presented.

Tillmans’ work covers a wide cross-section of subject matter, from stark and confrontational images of young people to strange and beautiful abstracts, plus video. This diversity of subject matter and the great essays make this book stimulating material for people with a wide range of art and photography interests. A great book.

Wolfgang Tillmans