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Firstly, let me begin with saying I follow Nick Fancher’s Instagram. It started with Nick’s post on Scott Kelby’s blog. I loved the work, and put in into practice immediately. It became part of my arsenal and I’ve used variations on it as time has passed. Working up towards publication, Nick’s Instagram feed has been the trailer for the book. Does it mean I’m a fan? Kinda. At the same time, disappointed fans can be harsher than those who may be more neutral in persuasion. So have I been disappointed? Only one way to find out!

The Book

Studio Anywhere 2: Hard Light is the movie version of Nick’s Instagram trailer. While there are BTS shots on Instagram as well, there isn’t the level of detail that Nick goes into with the book. This book is all about recipes for success with hard light. It also has a few scene quizzes along with way to make sure you’re keeping up.

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Split into 9 chapters, with an educational Introduction, and a forward thinking Epilog, this book (which I’ve read as the ebook version) provides a great basis for working with hard light on location. Nick delves into his kit to reveal a tightly curated gear bag, perfect for travelling light, without feeling like you’re leaving something important behind. As I’ve given talks on shooting as Ryanair photo traveller, I’m totally down with that.

Lighting wise, I’m quite experienced, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything from the book. Quite the opposite in fact. Even in the intro, Nick discusses the difference between speedlight and monolight shadows. It’s something I’d know unconsciously, but having it spelled out on paper brings it into sharp focus. It boils down to having different experiences and Nick is imparting his experience, quite successfully, in the book.

I’m not going to do a blow by blow account of what’s in the book. It’s full of practical setups to get interesting light in a variety of situations. Often these include little hacks to make better use of your gear, with things like homemade snoots and barndoors, or hacks to make your reflector do even more work for you.

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Soup to Nuts

As well as the background detail on the shoot, each setup generally contains a scene shot, a shot of the gear, the unedited Raw file, the Lightroom settings and the final edited image. You get to see everything that went into making the image. Where Photoshop played a part in the image, this information is included as well. Changes made to perfect the lighting also get a mention, so it’s a full soup to nuts approach to imparting knowledge.

The big thing that drew me to the book was the gel work from that Scott Kelby guest blog. This book includes both the original black and white inspiration work, and the resulting colour work, but takes it a step further. Because Nick has had time to work and refine the technique, a more mature version of it appears in the book. Coupled with colour theory, and the other gel related tips, this made for my favourite part of the book.

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Getting Personal

There’s a lot in the book about Nick’s photography background, from his education right through to where he is now. He’s candid about his approach to clients, and gives out advice in relation to it. There’s also some pro tips, again based on his experience, to fill the book out even more. This means you’re getting business advice on top of the lighting techniques. Seeing Nick’s progress will definitely be a help to those working their way into a crowded market, or even those looking to add some extra cash from part time photo work.

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Conclusion

The book is a great read. Like anything, you need to put the information into practice before it makes proper sense. Without that practice, you’ll never absorb the information. Is this book worth getting? Well, it’s a step up from introduction to lighting books, and there’s a certain amount of prior knowledge expected. It’s like you’ve joined in after a conversation has started-you have to pick up what’s already been said. As I haven’t read the original Studio Anywhere book, I can’t say if this information is in that book-it may well be. It’s not a problem, merely an observation. Despite the information being more intermediate than beginner, it’s still quite accessible. On the other hand, if you’ve been in the game a while, Nick provides plenty of new tricks in the book to satisfy your lust for light.

I’m struggling to pick holes in the book. The only thing I’d love to have seen is more final photos. As in a greater range of finished images showing slight variations in each technique-like a mini portfolio. What’s there is great, and really does serve as wonderful inspiration, but I’d love to have seen more. Weighing in at 226 pages including covers and index etc, more images would’ve made the book longer and even better-especially in a print version. But it’s truly just a nitpick.

Rating

As I’m not stuck with Amazon terms, I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5. If you enjoy using lighting at all, this book deserves to be in your library and will expand your options on all future shoots. The ebook version is available right now for $27.99, with the print version coming in January. Right now, the coupon code NEWNOVEMBER will take 35% off the eBook price!


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My book is just one of many that are 50% Off today at Rocky Nook!

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I tweeted this yesterday, but it’s worth a post. Former model turned photographer, Ellen von Unwerth’s collectable book Fraulein, now has an affordable imprint. The original hardcover edition, in a clamshell box, signed, with a print is sold out. At £1250 it was a bit steep for most. Even the unsigned version with no print comes in at a sticker shocking £650.

After seeing these prices, the smaller hardcover edition at £44.99 is positively a bargain. While known for her B&W erotica, her colour work is fabulous too. In fact this month alone her work features in a host of top fashion magazines. One of my favorite fashion and design blogs Design scene has a great collection of her work to peruse.

The book is a mix of fashion and fetish in true von Unwerth style. Featuring a host of models and celebrities such as Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Vanessa Paradis, Britney Spears, Eva Mendes, Lindsay Lohan, Dita von Teese, Adriana Lima, Carla Bruni, Eva Green, Christina Aguilera, Monica Bellucci and others, it’s a real who’s who of famous ladies.

The preview page for the book on Taschen has a short gallery as well bio, and the book can be bought from there.

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There was a joke going around Twitter about this eBook from Craft and Vision. I said I would review it, and the response was ‘Don’t take as long as Corwin did to write it!’. I think it must have jinxed me, because this has taken a while. My Bad. Your Creative Mix, by Corwin Hiebert, is essentially a look at making ways for your creativity to grow, along with getting involved in collaborative work. It does this by starting with your internal creative process. First it looks at what you do, and then throws in great ideas like having creative hobbies that are removed from your work as a photographer. These low stress additions to your life help keep your creativity going, adding to your main work.

In some ways it’s a hard book to read because Corwin is really coming in from the left field with his ideas. One comment that struck me early on was in the Pitfalls of Creative Work section. I see this and can be guilty of it: ‘It’s easier to criticize than it is to actually produce creative work’. Really, we need to think more on our own work and less on that of others. And when we look at others it should be for inspiration, not fault finding. Logs in the eye and all that. Corwin also warns about selfcenteredness and the defensive that can come from it.

The rest of the first half of the book focuses on process to grow your creativity, from establishing a workflow and a workspace, to creating curiosity.

Part two of the book is on external creative process, specifically collaboration. It begins by talking about what collaboration isn’t, a wise start. As creatives we tend to be loners, so sharing and working together is a process that has to be learned. I think some people fear that collaboration is something where others can steal your ideas, but in truth working in collaboration can yield ideas you’d never have come up with, both in the collaboration itself, and outside it.

There is solid and practical advice for getting involved in collaborative work, from working with someone else’s project initially, to your own. Even the types of groups, like single person led, or all equal get covered. None of these are good or bad, they just are, and once the people involved are happy, then that’s all that’s required for it to work.

Throughout this section we see the process in action, by way of example. From an interview with Heather Morton, to the work of Ramberg & Roth, and even Craft and Vision author Dave Delnea, we get to see their thoughts on collaborative process.

By way of overview, this book is 39 spreads long, and wins at being the ebook I’ve taken the longest to read recently. There’s a lot to absorb, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all of Corwin’s ideas, they all do one really important thing. They make me think. And that is the value in this book. Because Corwin is only a fledgling photographer, most of the photos in this book come from other people, meaning that there is a large and varied style of imagery in the book. Itself a joy. As well as having great content, Craft and Vision books have another thing going for them: great design.

I’ve taken so long to write this that the discount period is over… sorry. But at $5, it’s a bargain anyway! Get Your Creative Mix by Corwin Hiebert.

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Diego Indraccolo is a London based fashion photographer, working for many magazines, designers and fashion houses. With Fashion Photography – A Pocket Tutorial
, he’s taking time out to give us the advice that he wishes he had starting his career. This is my first kindle book too, so I’m sure that affects my reading of the book, but more on that later. The book is aimed at those interested in shooting fashion photography (beginners and advanced), but that have a grasp of lighting and exposure.

The book is spilt into 3 sections: Before the Shoot, The Shoot and The Business. Before the Shoot talks about what we need to do to get the work, and how to find who to work with. Let me say that before I go any further, that Diego’s take on this is very different than a host of books I’ve read, as well as online views. It also makes a ton of sense to me too, based on recent experience. He doesn’t advocate finding a Makeup Artist straight off the bat, but shows a different route to building your team. In fashion photography, it’s not about the photographer, it’s very much about the team with the photographer, so direction in this is vital to success.

As part of the ‘Before the shoot’ section, Diego discusses creating themes and stories for the shoot, and your portfolio, as well as the things they have in common. He especially advocates that there are no bad tests, because even the ones that didn’t work teach you something. Even if you shoot everything you plan, only use the best. His advice here is both frank, and possibly a little painful. We all know from personal experience that we get emotionally attached to our work. Here is where we need to make precise cuts to get the best results. It’s funny as I read this, because I can see myself making the errors being pointed out in the book.

In the middle section, ‘The Shoot’, we get advice on the mechanics of the fashion shoot. First up is Lighting. Here the emphasis is on using one or two lights to get the most effect. The use of one light is promoted and the mastery thereof. It’s not a lighting primer, but a concise treatise on the matter. While Diego doesn’t use reflectors in his work, he doesn’t discourage it. Next he talks about directing the model. Again there’s a frank note about how many models work and why you need to be actively involved. One key take out from the whole book is that fashion photography is about the clothes, so our directing is to make the clothes look the best.

As part of the shoot we should always be looking for the tasteful. Anything else is essentially ‘a varying degree of vulgar’. Diego tells a wonderful tale of how we see during a shoot, and what happens when we see the files in the cold light of day. His telling is so true, it’s almost uncanny. He then pushes us to find our own style, and even though it’s all been done, not to merely emulate others. Finally Diego talks about use of Photoshop and gives solid counsel on deciding what to do. This isn’t a tutorial on retouching, but rather direction on it’s use. The final part of this section is about ‘Taste & Style’, which discusses what makes a shoot different.

The ultimate section of the book is ‘The Business’. Here we get a look into submitting shoots, getting clothes and the most important thing in a professional photographers life: getting paid. Here the words of wisdom revolve around the catch 22 of getting published and getting good brands for your shoots. There’s also pointers on why a shoot may not get accepted and what you can to to help yourself. We also get a look at the excuses made by businesses in the hope of a free shoot, and the answers to them. The section finishes up with a discussion of fashion week and specializing.

My aim in all my reviews is to try and give a sense of the work, but at the same time not reveal the innermost secrets. After all, the author deserves recompense if the work is good. So now that I’ve looked at the overview of the book, what did I think? First up, the book is written in a very conversational style. It’s really easy to read. Secondly, it’s quite short, but that means that each section is actually gold. Unlike a lot of books that have a load of fluff, this is all good stuff. That said, I think some of the text could be a little more expanded. When talking about the team, there could be more detail on the jobs of the team members. Not everyone coming to fashion photography knows about teams, even though they should!

Despite that niggle, I really like this little book. Being written for Kindle, it’s text only and while I feel that photos would add weight to the text, it really does stand on its own. If your interested in shooting fashion photography, this is definitely worth the read. Diego does occasional workshops too, something I’m considering if there is the amount of gold that exists in this little book.


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Not too long ago, we nearly lost a jewel in the photo training crown. Fortunately David duChemin is on the way to recovery after a bad fall a few months ago. While he has been working on a new print book (‘Photographically Speaking’), he’s also taken time out to write a new eBook for the company he helped found, Craft and Vision.

Entitled ‘A Deeper Frame‘, the book covers depth in photography. While depth can often refer to emotional depth, David says he’s not referring to ‘artsy photographs’ for the ‘art-nic crowd’. Here he’s discussing creating the third dimension in the 2D world of the photograph.

David goes through 7 methods to enhance depth in photography. It’s not the longest of books (23 double spreads), but the photographs are beautiful, and demonstrate the points really well. I’d be remiss to repeat each of the methods, because that would give away the entire plot! Suffice to say that David goes into detail covering each method, both in the text and visually. By way of example, the first method is Perspective, where David shows how to use lines in the image draw the ‘reader (vs the ‘viewer’) into the focal point. He also demonstrates moving from a flat image to a deep image using the example of trees on a river bank. Other topics include more shots with people, so this book is not aimed as a landscape or travel book, but the techniques applicable across genres of photography.

While the book is short, the content is still filling. David keeps the focus on enhancing depth, and steers clear of his trademark ‘vision’ for this ebook. It’s all technique. As with most of David’s writing, the book is accessible, interesting and definitely inspiring. For that reason, I’d highly recommend it.

There’s the usual slew of first week discounts: For the first five days only, if you use the promotional code DEEP4 when you checkout, you can have the PDF version of A Deeper Frame for only $4 OR use the code DEEP20 to get 20% off when you buy 5 or more PDF ebooks from the Craft & Vision collection. These codes expire at 11:59pm PST July 2nd, 2011.

“The DEEPER” Blow-out Offer
There’s also the deepest discount ever! 12 eBooks for $40. That’s about 34% off the already ridiculous price. That’s $3.33/book! Fill your shopping cart with 12 ebooks and use discount code DEEPER12 to get $20 off!

Go to Craft and Vision and get it!

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Craft and Vision books are always a delight. Cheaper than a magazine, and with far more depth, they always bring something good and interesting. Extreme Perspectives is a little like that. It’s certainly not your middle of road travel book, nor is it a book on landscapes. But it does have some of each, as well as people photography. While the premise of the book is photography for climbers and mountaineers, it certainly covers the gamut of lessons needed for extreme or adventure photography.

Alexandre Buisse presents a book of advice mixed with some stunning and sometimes frightening photography. While the tone is light, there are plenty of safety warnings in the book. Alexandre begins with a little about his work and his paper and ink book ‘Remote Exposure’, before diving into Gear and Technique. He explains in great detail about his choice of camera equipment and why it works best for him. I’m not here to spoil it, but his reasoning for what he uses is sound, and is excellent as a basis for any photographer thinking about their equipment. There’s plenty of advice on looking after the gear and getting the most of it in the field too. Continue reading ›

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Anita De Bauch has been doing more promotion of this book than me, so I guess it’s time I actually promoted it. Originally done for myself to have a copy of my work in print form, I collected my favourite images of my favourite model together and created a book. I regularly make books like this, but don’t sell them. It was Anita buying the book herself and promoting it that forced my hand here. Thanks Anita!

For those not familiar Anita is a London based model and happily works from Art Nude to Fashion, not to mention Alt Fashion. She’s friends with a lot of couture latex designers and will arrive to a shoot with the most fabulously photographable clothes. Her makeup and personal styling is exceptional, not to mention her wonderful posing. Along with being excellent at taking direction, she’s more than happy to self direct. Everything a good model should be.

The book shows a lot of this, with images ranging from nude forest shots to steampunkesque latex work. It’s a nice retrospect of our work so far with around 40 different images from our various shoots. 2 of the images have received Gold in competition, with one getting me nominated for Glamour and Beauty Photographer of the Year with the SWPP. There’s a preview of the book on the page, but do be warned some of the material is NSFW (not safe for work).

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

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Assuming you’re a photographer that shoots pretty girls, JimmyD may be known to you as the guy that writes the Pretty Girl Shooter blog on blogspot (yes it is NSFW and needs a clickthrough to get there). As a working professional in the glamour industry, he’s become a goto guy for information on shooting this genre. As the blog goes, it’s a mix between posts on Jimmy’s work, and a little philosophy thrown in for good measure. One thing that is the case with most blogs is that posts are bit-sized. Enough information to hold the average viewer, but not enough to qualify as indepth. That’s where the realm of the book comes in.

The posts about a future DVD on the subject of Pretty Girl Shooting have been many, and whether or not it’ll happen, Jimmy has written a book on glamour shooting in the interim. It’s called Guerrilla Glamour, and introduces the topic of shooting glamour. This is written for the beginner to intermediate level photographer, and covers the range of topics involved in shooting including, gear, lighting, finding and working with models, modifiers and post processing. Jimmy goes into great detail in choosing equipment to a budget, but also make clear distinctions on when you need to spend money to get a better result. The style of writing is that of a conversation with a mentor. Personally I quite like books that are written this way, as making a connection with the writer makes the reading easier.

The book is chocablock with great images as well as BTS (behind the scenes) photos. One disconnect I didn’t like in the book, is that often the BTS doesn’t have an actual image from the shoot associated with it. I felt this would’ve pushed the point home further. That said, it didn’t take away from what was being taught, and is merely an observation.

Chapter 4 is an especially interesting read, with a very current blog post title: 10 suggestions for improving your glamour photography. This chapter distills a lot of the essence of the book, and is a good quick reference to return to. Another superbly beneficial section is that on dealing with models, from both the rapport point of view, to how you behave, and how to get the best out of them. For the lighting section, Jimmy covers lighting with one light and then moves on with examples showing up to 4 lights in operation. He also shows many examples with different modifiers such as the Octabox, and the Beauty Dish as key lights lights. Overall, it’s a very informative read, and really sticks with the keep it simple stupid mantra.

The book can be purchased via this affiliate link, it’s the same price as on Jimmy’s site, but I do get something back to help the upkeep of this site. That fact hasn’t influenced the review either. If I thought it was crap I’d say so. Overall I’d give this book 4 out of 5 for beginner to intermediate photographers coming into working with people. If you’ve a lot of experience with people, this may still be useful as a reference.

Well. It’s been a month since I posted. I did mention that I’m posting photos daily over at http://lostconcepts.aminus3.com, so if you’re not looking over there, you’re missing out on about 40 photos at this stage.

On the news front, I’ve just launched LRB Exhibition, a new plugin for Lightroom that creates websites for photographers. I also discovered that I could create a basic shop page on E-Junkie, my download delivery provider, so I set one up.

Last weekend, I made the trip to Cong/Clonbur woods to recce locations for shoots, and for potential landscape photos. While it was a bleak day I still made some nice discoveries.

Next weekend, I’m a little tied up as I have the first of 3 Saturdays doing a beginners course in makeup. I know it’s an odd enough choice, but I think it’ll really help with Beauty photography, something I love doing.

I’m prepping for a talk on Lightroom at the Phototraining4U stand at Focus on Imaging in Birmingham next month. It’ll be a talk on Lightroom 3 Beta.

I’m also onto Chapter 5 of my book on creating web gallery plugins for Lightroom.

That’s the short of it anyway.