Photography books October 17, 2009Posted by CK in Design.
Tags: Books, Photography, Review
After buying a digital SLR, I thought I’d make an honest effort and do some reading about photography. So following my instinct and Amazon user reviews, I bought and read a few relevant books. In what follows, I’ll provide some short review of each one of them, in the sequence that I read them.
- The Digital Photography Book, vol. 1 and 2. This is the most famous digital photography book in Amazon (Volume 1, basically; the link here is a boxed set of the first two volumes). With probably millions of sales, countless positive reviews, etc. I don’t know how on earth that’s possible. I read the book and kept thinking “there must be more to this later on”. I won’t discuss about the irritating humor of the author, which is, at the end of the day, a matter of personal taste. My main problem was the book itself, lacking any kind of focus whatsoever. As I also wrote in my Amazon review of the book, what’s the rational behind writing a “quick friendly tips” book such as this, and have complete chapters on wedding photography? I gave away the books to my sister and she was very happy with them, but I would never recommend to anyone to buy them.
- Understanding Exposure. Bryan Peterson, the author of the book, is a true master. He has an amazing talent of explaining the essential concept of Exposure, in simple and intuitive ways. His overall discussion of the topic was very complete, and it left me with no complaints whatsoever. A reference book that everyone dealing with photography needs to read. It’s no wonder that this book is one of the most highly recommended by authors of other photography books.
- The Betterphoto Guide to Digital Photography. This is a very decent book, with good flow and easy to read. Although the examples were laid out very nicely, I must admit I didn’t like the author’s pictures themselves. But one could say that’s irrelevant, as they were meant to illustrate concepts (plus the author explains, even at the very beginning, that there has been no processing whatsoever in most of them). Although the book was nice and complete, having read “Understanding Exposure” already, reduced its value (to me!) quite a lot. Nevertheless, it touches on additional topics (e.g. composition) so it was still interesting to read certain parts of it. Overall it’s fairly complete, and if you’re a beginner I would certainly recommend that you start with it.
- Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography. Another masterpiece by Bryan Peterson, this book discusses composition; that is, choosing photography subjects, framing, etc. This is a book to read after you have understood the technique, i.e. how to use Aperture, Shutter speed, and the like. The book offers plenty of advice, discussing design principles first. It provides insight that I found to be both interesting and useful. The book is additionally fun to read, and the examples are very nice (also the pictures themselves). So no complaint here, either.
- The Photographer’s Eye. This is heavyweight. It is very impressive when one sees how many more things there are to photography, than one can tell before studying it in depth. The author, Michael Freeman, is taking the reader through the theory of photography, discussing things such as how the eye moves searching for things in a picture, the science of perception, etc. The style is slightly dull, and often feels like a textbook, but the artwork included is amazing, and the book itself has a very good feeling with its heavy, illustrated paper. It takes some time to read the whole thing, mostly because digesting the information in there is somewhat demanding — for a novice like me, at least. If you are serious about photography, you may want to try it. One note: No technical details are discussed in there (e.g. exposure etc). The book is strictly and exclusively about composition.
One last thing: I recently found out that Bryan Peterson has now published a book, where he distills most of the stuff in his previous books and provides it as a one-suits-all field photography guide. I haven’t read it but reviews are raving, so you may want to check it out too: Understanding Photography Field Guide.
On writing use cases April 18, 2008Posted by CK in Design, IT.
Tags: Books, Software engineering, Use cases
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I recently had to design a use case template for a project I’m working on. This should be filled in by non-IT people, though eventually the consolidated results would be provided to IT people. I run back to Alistair Cockburn‘s “Writing Effective Use Cases“, which I had bought during a recent trip to the US but never got around actually reading it.
The author has done a great job with this book. In a very short period of time, using eventually a slightly modified example from the first pages of the book, I managed to have this template very quickly (I practically only skimmed through the book). It turns out that it was very easy for the audience to understand its structure and fill it in. Apart from making this specific task far too easy for me, Alistair Cockburn has managed in this book to set apart the various concepts and ideas which must be materialized before implementing or customizing an application: Use cases, Requirements, Test cases, etc. There’s a fine level of formality and granularity that a use case description needs to have, and there are no patterns for that other than the author’s intuition about what the audience can provide solid replies to. One doesn’t fit all, and the author makes a good job pointing this out and offering advice on coming up with what is the fittest under specific circumstances.
A highly-recommended book.