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Month: April 2013

Two books about the Canon 5D Mark III

I read both of these books using Safari Books Online by O’Reilly Media.

They are very similar books and both of them are very similar to the owners manual that comes with the Canon 5D Mk III. But they do present the information in a way that is much easier to understand and retain than the manual.

What is missing here is an answer to the question, “Why would I use that setting instead of the other?” You will have to find some other book or better yet books to explain that. Even better, get out there and experiment like crazy. Buy a cheap mannequin off eBay to use as a practice subject and take pictures until your camera stops working.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III by James Johnson
From the publisher:

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is the latest in Canon’s line of full-frame DSLR cameras. Its impressive array of capabilities and advanced controls allow the photographer ever more influence over the final image. With this comes more menus, buttons, and dials that the photographer must learn how to use to take full advantage of the camera.

This book explores the features and capabilities of the 5D Mark III in a way that far surpasses the user’s manual. It guides readers through the camera features with step-by-step setting adjustments; color illustrations; and detailed how, when, and why explanations for each option. Every button, dial, switch, and menu configuration setting is explored in a user-friendly manner, with suggestions for setup. The informative text is illustrated with screenshots and example images throughout, making it easy to follow along.

Author James Johnson covers everything from the basic features of the camera to the numerous advanced photographic options as he discusses topics such as focus and exposure, lenses, lighting, custom settings, and more. With this book as your guide, you’ll learn how to get the most out of this powerful camera.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Field Guide by Charlotte K. Lowrie
From the publisher:

Guides readers step-by-step through the functions on their new Canon EOS 5D Mark III

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III features an impressive 22.3 megapixels, a 3.2-inch LCD screen, 6 fps continuous shooting, Live View, an ISO range of 50 to 102,400 and full HD 1080 resolution movie shooting. Here to help you get the most out of these remarkable features?

Offering you more in-depth coverage than the standard manual, this full-color Canon 5D Mark III Digital Field Guide provides you with a better understanding of your camera. Delivering information in an easy-to-understand format, this portable guide features more than 200 inspirational photos by acclaimed photographer and veteran author Charlotte Lowrie. The handy trim size allows this guide to go where you go, allowing you easy access to information quickly so you can get the exact shot you want when you want it.

Helps you make the most of your Canon 5D Mark III and get the shots you want

Offers inspiration with more than 200 lavish photos from the author’s own portfolio

Provides step-by-step explanations on techniques and tips, all aimed at getting you comfortable and confident with your new Canon 5D Mark III

Ideal reading for both amateur and professional photographers alike, you’ll reference Canon 5D Mark III Digital Field Guide again and again.

I rate both of these books a 7 out of 10 and recommend either one of them, no need for both, to anyone who finds the owners manual of the 5D Mk III hard to read.


Apple Pop-Up Museum and Vintage Computer Festival

Last weekend I attended the Vintage Computer Festival and Apple Pop-Up Museum at the empty CompUSA store off of Holcomb Bridge Road. It was nice to see someone doing something with one of these abandoned storefronts.

It was great fun seeing all of the old Apple, Commodore, Atari, and other computers and gaming consoles. It all made me very nostalgic, but not so much as I would trade in any of my current computers for any of them. It was really amazing what we were able to produce using those old machines.

And good news, the Apple Pop-Up Museum is going to be open 2 additional Saturdays, May 18 and June 8.

About the Vintage Computer Festival:

The Vintage Computer Festival is an international event that celebrates the history of computing.

The mission of the Vintage Computer Festival is to promote the preservation of "obsolete" computers by offering folks a chance to experience the technologies, people and stories that embody the remarkable tale of the computer revolution.

Through our event and the Vintage Computer Festival Archives—our publicly accessible archive of computer hardware, software, literature and ephemera—we promote interest in researching and documenting the history of the computer. Above all, we promote the fun of playing with old computers.

About the Apple Pop-Up Museum:

The exhibit displays an exclusive collection of game-changing Apple personal computers and consumer electronics products while presenting the history of the company since its founding in 1976 to the present. An Apple I, the first disk II and controller card, an original Apple II, an original Lisa and a Xerox Alto are among the rare artifacts to be displayed.

Check out more pictures from the Museum and Festival:


Secrets of Great Portrait Photography: Photographs of the Famous and Infamous by Brian Smith

I read this book using Safari Books Online from O’Reilly Media.

Brian Smith is an amazing photographer and has a personality to match. He is able to quickly make a personal connection with people from all walks of life and create photographs that highlight their personality and emotion.

"Secrets of Great Portrait Photography" gives us insight to the methods Brian uses to get close to his subjects and capture images that make the client, usually magazine creative directors, and the subject happy with the results.

This is not a book about how to use your camera, how to pose a subject, or how to make them feel comfortable. It is a book about many of Brian’s favorite pictures and what he did or did not do to achieve them. It does not go very deep into anything, instead choosing to keep things light and easy. The only thing that bugged me was the amount of repetition, definitions and ideas are often repeated.

This photography in the book is fantastic and the writing is very conversational. I read the entire book in a few hours and spent much of that time dissecting the pictures.

I plan on taking his challenge of taking 50 portraits of total strangers seriously and maybe some time in spring or fall setting myself up somewhere very public and making myself ask strangers to let me take their portrait. Interacting with people like that is very hard for me; maybe doing that will give me some sort of insight to myself and make it easier for me in the future.

From the publisher:

In this sexy, bold book, Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Brian Smith tells the stories behind the photos and lessons learned in 30 years of photographing celebrities and people from all walks of life. Smith’s long list of famous and infamous subjects includes pro basketball players Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O’Neal; billionaires Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Donald Trump; tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams; actors Anne Hathaway, Antonio Banderas, Christopher Walken, Taye Diggs, Jane Krakowski, and William H. Macy; and many more.

You’ll get the inside scoop on what goes on at a celebrity photo shoot in this gorgeous guide to making professional portraits. Smith has mastered how to make a meaningful portrait on a magazine’s budget and on a celebrity’s schedule, which can sometimes be 15 minutes or less. Smith reveals his tips on connecting with people, finding the perfect location, telling a great story through portraiture, getting the ideal pose, capturing emotion and gestures, arranging unique group shots, and lighting the scene just right. You might not be photographing the rich and famous, but after reading Smith’s tell-all guide, you’ll know how to give everyone who makes their way in front of your camera the star treatment.

I rate this book an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone with an interest in taking photographs of people.


The Human Division, Episode 1: The B-Team by John Scalzi

I bought this book from Audible and listened to it using the Audible app on my iPhone.

This is a short story that is part of a series of Old Man’s War stories.

William Dufris does a great job with these stories, but his performance was the highlight of this one.

I am feeling bored of the Old Man’s War universe and this story will be the last one I listen to for awhile, in fact I may never revisit it. All of the characters have become stereotypes to me and it feels like there is nothing new here. Nothing suprising, nothing deep and thoughtful, none of what drew me into John Scalzi’s worlds and stories to begin with. That was also my problem with Last Colony.

From the publisher:

Colonial Union Ambassador Ode Abumwe and her team are used to life on the lower end of the diplomatic ladder. But when a high-profile diplomat goes missing, Abumwe and her team are last-minute replacements on a mission critical to the Colonial Union’s future. As the team works to pull off their task, CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson discovers there’s more to the story of the missing diplomats than anyone expected… a secret that could spell war for humanity.

The B-Team is a tale from John Scalzi’s The Human Division, a series of self-contained but interrelated short stories set in the Old Man’s War universe.

To download Episodes 2-13 in The Human Division, click here.

©2012 John Scalzi (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

I rate this story a 5 out of 10 and only recommend it to fans of the Old Man’s War series who can’t get enough.


Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

I bought this book from Audible and listened to it using the Audible app on my iPhone.

This is the second book in the Gentleman Bastard series.

I really enjoyed the The Lies of Locke Lamora and really looked forward to listening to this one and it did not disappoint.

Michael Page turns in another fantastic performance with subtle accents and speech patterns galore.

From the publisher:

After a brutal battle with the underworld that nearly destroyed him, Locke Lamora and his trusted sidekick, Jean, fled the island city of their birth and landed on the exotic shores of Tal Verrar to nurse their wounds. But even at this westernmost edge of civilization, they can’t rest for long—and they are soon back doing what they do best: stealing from the undeserving rich and pocketing the proceeds for themselves.

This time, however, they have targeted the grandest prize of all: the Sinspire, the most exclusive and heavily guarded gambling house in the world. Its nine floors attract the wealthiest clientele – and to rise to the top, one must impress with good credit, amusing behavior…and excruciatingly impeccable play. For there is one cardinal rule, enforced by Requin, the house’s cold-blooded master: it is death to cheat at any game at the Sinspire.Brazenly undeterred, Locke and Jean have orchestrated an elaborate plan to lie, trick, and swindle their way up the nine floors…straight to Requin’s teeming vault. Under the cloak of false identities, they meticulously make their climb – until they are closer to the spoils than ever.

But someone in Tal Verrar has uncovered the duo’s secret. Someone from their past who has every intention of making the impudent criminals pay for their sins. Now it will take every ounce of cunning to save their mercenary souls. And even that may not be enough.

©2008 Scott Lynch; (P)2009 Tantor

I rate this book a 9 out of 10 and highly recommend it to anyone.


The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin

I bought this book from Audible and listened to it with the Audible app on an iPhone.

I really like Seth Godin, but I don’t like this book. The message is lost on me; it feels very repetitive; and it feels a lot like something I have heard before.

I recommend Re-reading Linchpin instead of reading this book.

From the publisher:

What are you afraid of?

The old rules: Play it safe. Stay in your comfort zone. Find an institution, a job, a set of rules to stick to. Keep your head down. Don’t fly too close to the sun.

The new truth: It’s better to be sorry than safe. You need to fly higher than ever.

In his bravest and most challenging book yet, Seth Godin shows how we can thrive in an economy that rewards art, not compliance. He explains why true innovators focus on trust, remarkability, leadership, and stories that spread. And he makes a passionate argument for why you should be treating your work as art.

Art is not a gene or a specific talent. It’s an attitude, available to anyone who has a vision that others don’t, and the guts to do something about it. Steve Jobs was an artist. So were Henry Ford and Martin Luther King, Jr. To work like an artist means investing in the things that scale: creativity, emotional labor, and grit. The path of the artist isn’t for the faint of heart – but Godin shows why it’s your only chance to stand up, stand out, and make a difference.

The time to seize new ground and work without a map is now. So what are you going to do?

©2012 Seth Godin (P)2012 Random House Audio

I rate this book a 3 out of 10. Go find something else to read.