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Shoot to Thrill: A Hard-Boiled Guide to Digital Photography

1 rating: 1.0
A book by Derek Pell

"...will get you out of jail, out of the family dog house and give your photography a new lease on life." --BestStuff.com(added by author)    "His images are engaging. The chapter called Gestures is particularly effective--showing … see full wiki

Author: Derek Pell
Publisher: Que
1 review about Shoot to Thrill: A Hard-Boiled Guide to...

Unique but with narrow focus

  • Jan 11, 2010
This book has a clever idea, that is to describe one photographer's tools and an overview of his techniques for creating one style of photos in an old detective fashion. It's a gimmick that offers a few gems, some clever puns and an sometimes vague suggestions for how to duplicate his work. I give Pell a mark up for originality, though sometimes it's difficult to extract actual advice from all the words. There are a few tips on editing techniques that I haven't tried yet and some sound advice on framing your shots, as well as reminders to try new ideas and angles, be different. That's excellent.

If you would like to create images that look like they were taken in the 40s and 50s, here's your book. It starts with equipment. This is not a discussion of the relative merits of different types of cameras and lenses. Pell uses a Nikon D90 and an 18-200mm lens. That's what he talks about, though not to sell you on Nikons. I actually appreciate his choices of equipment. His entire kit: camera, lens, filters, flashes, tripod and miscellaneous stuff would cost no more than a large screen TV. Compared to most pros, and make no mistake, Pell is a pro photographer, this equipment list is downright minimal and reasonable. He recommends only one item in each category, but the stuff is quality and seldom top of the line in expense. So far so good.

I was thrilled with the section on backing up. It's so important and so seldom emphasized. Pell definitely emphasizes this essential step.

When he gets to image processing is where I begin to have problems. There's only one narrow range of image editing effects he covers. He doesn't actually tell how to do anything, just what software he uses. And that list gets expensive fast. With the full version of Photoshop and plugins he recommends, it ain't cheap. Viveza at $200 isn't too bad. I use the plugin myself, but recommending plugins like Lucis Pro at $600 is excessive. Yes, it's a great program, but highly specialized. I wouldn't consider recommending it to anyone who wasn't already expert in Photoshop. That's not the audience this book is written to.

The section on printing and displaying your prints follows the same format. He spends a lot of text being cute with his style and offers a solid but narrow set of routines. Pretty good stuff but again, light on specifics.

The final chapter covers video, which his camera supports. I don't do video so can't comment on it.

There are appendices at the end so you too can own the exact same gear and software as Derek Pell. It's all good stuff, and in some areas like filters and bags, he gives a good list of manufacturers. There's one computer named, period and one camera maker and one printer maker listed. Again good stuff but not the only game in town.

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