BOOK REVIEW: Rocky Nook Clarifies Digital Photography

An impressive book on Lightroom

Lightroom book by Gulbins

The Photoshop Lightroom application has been getting updates fairly fast: it’s already up to 1.3.1. Managing Your Photographic Workflow with Photoshop Lightroom covers Lightroom 1.2, which is pretty good considering most books were written when Lightroom 1.0 hit the market. What sets this book apart in my mind is the excellent photography (it seems less commercial and more artistic to me) and coverage of some secondary topics such as camera sensors, geotagging and monitor calibration with both the operating system’s tools and third-party calibrators such as the hueyPRO. This book also covers some of Lightroom’s “nuts and bolts,” such as editing Lightroom templates through their XML files (not within the Lightroom application). Moreover, out of all the Lightroom books I’ve reviewed this one probably has the best chart of keyboard shortcuts (five pages long!) and outside resources, such as Web sites and books. Of course, all the recommended books are by Rocky Nook or O’Reilly.

Other than that, Managing Your Photographic Workflow with Photoshop Lightroom is very similar to other Lightroom books (it reminds me of Tim Grey’s Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Workflow in particular). Lightroom is a very linear application of modules meant to be used as part of a step-by-step workflow, and this book is all about using each module to its fullest. I don’t think it goes as in-depth as Martin Evening did in The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book, but it is a good book for anyone wanting to incorporate Lightroom into their workflow.

Conversations about photography

Photography to the Next Level by Barr

Take Your Photography to the Next Level is based on a series of blog posts by George Barr, a family doctor who has enjoyed working as an amateur photographer. He has refined his blog material into a very nice book that discusses the creative thought processed behind photography, shooting subjects, thinking creatively, seeing possibilities in your environment, and working with (and sometimes against) your natural artistic tendencies. I don’t think I’ve seen a book quite like this one, and it’s very inspirational. Barr’s photography is also inspiring and artistic, though I don’t think there’s a single photo of a living creature—Barr focuses on interesting natural elements and man-made structures. I find this makes the book somewhat narrow-focused in its subject matter.

Sometimes I think Barr’s insights are not particularly groundbreaking: the idea of not showing images if you don’t like them, the idea of using color not for color’s sake, and the idea that there’s no one rule for finding good images, are all vague and not particularly helpful unless you’ve been working under the opposite assumptions. However, the beauty of this book is that it talks about and walks through the thought processes behind these ideas. Every photographer has ideas about what is good and bad, what works and what doesn’t, how to find spectacular images and how to spot the dull ones. But I would bet 99.9% of photographers didn’t get these ideas out of a book, nor have they discussed them openly with other creative people or held them to scrutiny. George Barr has, and his thoughts are right here in this book—read them, and maybe you will think deeper about your photographs before you shoot them, and thus find more insight in your own artistic process.

Conclusion

This quartet of books by Rocky Nook were a treat to review. They are specialized to the digital photography field but these four alone cover Lightroom, the Nikon D80, inspiration and terminology. The authors are not well-known but are all good writers, and each of these books offer something to help digital photographers improve their craft.

The Nikon D80 Dbook by Rainer Dorau, Rudolf Krahm and Helmut Kraus
Rating: 8/10
The Glossary of Digital Photography by John G. Blair
Rating: 7/10
Managing Your Photographic Workflow with Photoshop Lightroom by Juergen Gulbins and Uwe Steinmueller
Rating: 9/10
Take Your Photography to the Next Level by George Barr
Rating: 9/10
All books published by Rocky Nook