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Month: August 2013

The Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 5 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby

The Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 5 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott KelbyI read this book on Safar Books Online using an iPad and the Safari Books Online App.

This is the 4th Scott Kelby Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for Photographers book I have read, and they all have been worth the time.

These books have been where I have gotten most of my personal photography workflow from and why I made the switch from doing all of my post-production in Photoshop to doing it all in Lightroom. In fact I only open up Photoshop to do quick panoramas (I have other software I use for large intricate panos) and for extensive retouching or composites.

About Stars, Labels, and Flags

I do not use stars at all, I have no reason to rate pictures on a scale. I use labels only to identify pictures that are part of panoramas or composites. I am a firm believer in using flags exclusively to identify the value of pictures.

A picture is either “Rejected” and deleted forever, not flagged because it is an ok picture that I may need at some point in the future, or it is a “Pick” and I have big plans for it.

Scott does a much better job of explaining why than I do and I hope he doesn’t take offense at me quoting him here:

“When you boil it down, our real goal is to find the best photos from our shoot, but we also want to find the worst photos (those photos where the subject is totally out of focus, or you pressed the shutter by accident, or the flash didn’t fire, etc.), because there’s no sense in having photos that you’ll never use taking up hard drive space, right? Lightroom gives you three ways to rate (or rank) your photos, the most popular being the 1-to-5-star rating system. To mark a photo with a star rating, just click on it and type the number on your keyboard. So, to mark a photo with a 3-star rating, you’d press the number 3, and you’d see three stars appear under the photo (shown here at the top). To change a star rating, type in a new number. To remove it altogether, press 0 (zero). The idea is that once you’ve got your 5-star photos marked, you can turn on a filter that displays only your 5-star photos. You can also use that filter to see just your 4-star, 3-star, etc., photos. Besides stars, you can also use color labels, so you could mark the worst photos with a Red label, slightly better ones with Yellow, and so on. Or, you could use these in conjunction with the stars to mark your best 5-star photo with a Green label (as shown here at the bottom).”

“Now that I’ve mentioned star ratings and labels, I want to talk you out of using them. Here’s why: they’re way too slow. Think about it—your 5-star photos would be your very best shots, right? The only ones you’ll show anybody. So your 4-star ones are good, but not good enough. Your 3-star ones are just so-so (nobody will ever see these). Your 2-star ones are bad shots—not so bad that you’ll delete them, but bad—and your 1-star shots are out-of-focus, blurry, totally messed up shots you’re going to delete. So what are you going to do with your 2- and 3-star photos? Nothing. What about your 4-star photos? Nothing. The 5-stars you keep, the 1-stars you delete, the rest you pretty much do nothing with, right? So, all we really care about are the best shots and the worst shots, right? The rest we ignore.”

“So instead, I hope you’ll try flags. You mark the best shots as Picks and the really bad ones (the ones to be deleted) as Rejects. Lightroom will delete the Rejects for you when you’re ready, leaving you with just your best shots and the ones you don’t care about, but you don’t waste time trying to decide if a particular photo you don’t care about is a 3-star or a 2-star. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people sitting there saying out loud, “Now, is this a 2-star or a 3-star?” Who cares? It’s not a 5-star; move on! To mark a photo as a Pick, just press the letter P. To mark a photo as a Reject, press the letter X. A little message will appear onscreen to tell you which flag you assigned to the photo, and a tiny flag icon will appear in that photo’s grid cell. A white flag means it’s marked as a Pick. A black flag means it’s a Reject.”

I really love Lightroom and I think this book is one of the best ways to learn how to use it.

From the publisher:

Since Lightroom 1.0 first launched, Scott’s Kelby’s The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers has been the world’s #1 best-selling Lightroom book (it has been translated into a dozen different languages), and in this latest version for Lightroom 5, Scott uses his same award-winning, step-by-step, plain-English style and layout to make learning Lightroom easy and fun.

Scott doesn’t just show you which sliders do what (every Lightroom book will do that). Instead, by using the following three simple, yet brilliant, techniques that make it just an incredible learning tool, this book shows you how to create your own photography workflow using Lightroom:

  • Throughout the book, Scott shares his own personal settings and studiotested techniques. Each year he trains thousands of Lightroom users at his live seminars and through that he’s learned what really works, what doesn’t, and he tells you flat out which techniques work best, which to avoid, and why.
  • The entire book is laid out in a real workflow order with everything step by step, so you can begin using Lightroom like a pro from the start.
  • What really sets this book apart is the last chapter. This is where Scott dramatically answers his #1 most-asked Lightroom question, which is: “Exactly what order am I supposed to do things in, and where does Photoshop fit in?” You’ll see Scott’s entire start-to-finish Lightroom 5 workflow and learn how to incorporate it into your own workflow.
  • Plus, this book includes a downloadable collection of some of the hottest Lightroom Develop module presets to give you a bunch of amazing effects with just one click!

Scott knows first-hand the challenges today’s digital photographers are facing, and what they want to learn next to make their workflow faster, easier, and more fun. He has incorporated all of that into this major update for Lightroom 5.

It’s the first and only book to bring the whole process together in such a clear, concise, and visual way. Plus, the book includes a special chapter on integrating Adobe Photoshop seamlessly right into your workflow, and you’ll also learn some of Scott’s latest Photoshop portrait retouching techniques and special effects, which take this book to a whole new level. There is no faster, more straight-to-the-point, or more fun way to learn Lightroom than with this groundbreaking book.

I rate this book and its predecessors as a 9 out of 10.


Soft Target by Stephen Hunter

Soft Target by Stephen Hunter
Soft Target by Stephen Hunter
I bought this audiobook on sale from Audible and listened to it using the Audible app on my iPhone.

I absolutely love Stephen Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger series of books, but after so many books they got very stale to me. It started feeling like Mr. Hunter was not trying very hard to come up with something new, so I have not read any Stephen Hunter books in a long time. When I saw this audiobook on sale at Audible I decided to give it a try.

Soft Target is not a Bob Lee book but is instead about Ray Cruz, a Marine sniper who was introduced in Bob Lee books.

This story just didn’t work for me, the technical descriptions of computer systems are incorrect, annoyingly so. Mr. Hunter obviously has an experts level of understanding when it comes to firearms, but until his understanding of computers reaches the same level he should avoid writing about them.

The entire book feels like he is struggling to write a script for a 45 minute long TV show.

From the publisher:

New York Times best-selling author Stephen Hunter is back with another breakneck thriller, in which ex-Marine sniper, Ray Kruz, must outwit a group of murderous Somali terrorists who’ve laid siege to the Mall of America.

Recently retired marine sergeant Ray Kruz has been talked into a mall trip by his fiancé, the beautiful Molly Chan. For Ray, Molly represents a way to reconnect with normal life, something his 20 years in the service and five tours in two combat zones have prevented. But now he finds himself in the middle of the softest target of all, a huge consumer mall where a self-styled "Mumbai Brigade" has come to bring massive death to the heartland. They just didn’t know Ray Cruz was in the building….

©2011 Stephen Hunter (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

I rate this book a 3 out of 10 and do not recommend it to anyone.


Photography Q&A: Real Questions. Real Answers. By Zack Arias

I bought this book from Safari Books Online and read it using the Kindle app on my iPad.

I really like Zack Arias as a photographer and a person. He is very open about what he does, why he does it, his triumphs, and his troubles.

Photography Q&A is full of questions that amateur and professional photographers have asked Zack with his honest and heartfelt answers. So much good information here, it is an amazing amount of information.

If you don’t know who Zack is, take a look at his website at and really take a hard look at this video "Transform." I think after watching the video you will want to hear much more from Zack.

I really enjoyed reading "Photography Q&A", I learned a lot, I laughed a lot, and have decided I need to buy a light meter pronto!

From the publisher:

For years, editorial and commercial photographer Zack Arias has been a respected and trusted voice in the photography industry. Known for his photography, his teaching, and his ability to connect with photographers, Zack has long had an "open door" approach to discussing his career–the ups and the downs–and in so doing has provided a straightforward and candid look inside the industry. By consistently showing great work and offering helpful advice, he has built a large, loyal readership that looks to him for guidance in navigating the currents of a difficult and dynamic industry. Now, Zack finds yet another way to cut through the noise and offer truly valuable information to those struggling to make their way through the twists and turns of an ever-changing landscape.

In Photography Q&A, Zack answers over 100 questions that he fielded directly from the public. These are questions that range across all aspects of the photo industry: gear, marketing, street photography, vision, pricing, branding, light, models, work/life balance, technical advice, and much more. From how to "put yourself out there" and start to get jobs, to how to get paid for those jobs when the client is slow to cut the check–and everything in between– Photography Q&A answers many of the pressing questions that photographers are asking, but until now have not been addressed. The book also includes intermittent "Visual Intermission" sections–where Zack discusses individual images that were milestones in his development as a photographer–as well as worksheets on topics such as pricing and costs that help photographers to "know their numbers."

With all this material, and with insightful, honest answers that come straight from Zack’s experience as a photographer who has seen it all (or at least a lot of it), Photography Q&A is an essential resource for any photographer looking for the real answers to the real questions in the industry today.

I rate this book a 9 out of 10. It would have been a 10 if there had been more photographs.


Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

I bought this book on audible and listened to it on my iPhone using the Audible app while traveling from Atlanta to Portland.

I have been working on loosing weight and getting in better shape over the last year. So far I have lost around 30 pounds, I am very happy about that. As a part of getting in shape I have been doing some running, mostly the run/walk/run thing, but for now I only average a 15-minute mile, a bit slower in the summer heat. So this is where my interest in running has come from.

"Born to Run" popped up in an email about new books from Audible and the rating and reviews were so high that I couldn’t pass it up. A lot of the reviews stressed that the book would be enjoyed by anyone, even those who do not run, and boy were they right.

Many years ago I went through a lot of books about mountaineering, I enjoy hiking, but never really had any intention on doing anything close to real mountaineering, but I really enjoyed the books. John Krakauer’s "Into Thin Air", "Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills", and "The Burgess Book of Lies" are some of my favorites. I put "Born to Run" right up there with those books.

It is a great read. There is a lot of information for those who love to run, relationships and emotions for those looking for a good story, and controversy for those who like that sort of thing.

After reading this book I have decided to give barefoot or minimalist running a try. When I was in the Navy, many years ago, I spent a year running on a regular basis and injured my left foot. After that I was told to always wear stiff soled shoes and not to run so much. Lately I have been running in New Balance running shoes with high-end insoles and have not had any foot problems, but this book has me excited to give a try at strengthening my feet by wearing minimal footwear. I’ll let you know how that goes.

From the publisher:

Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?

In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence.

With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a 50-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons.

Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

©2009 Knopf; (P)2009 Random House

I rate this book a 10 out of 10 and recommend to anyone who is interested in running or enjoys travel stories.


Doctor Who: The Forgotten Army by Brian Minchin

I bought this hardcover book from Amazon.

I really enjoy these cheesy Doctor Who novels, they are great fast reads that deepen the mythology and add a lot of depth to the characters.

This story is about the Eleventh Doctor, as played by Matt Smith and Amy Pond romping around New York saving the earth from an invading army of doll-sized aliens. Good stuff.

From the publisher:

‘Let me tell you a story. Long ago, in the frozen Arctic wastes, an alien army landed. Only now, 10,000 years later, it isn’t a story. And the army is ready to attack.’

New York – one of the greatest cities on 21st century Earth… But what’s going on in the Museum? And is that really a Woolly Mammoth rampaging down Broadway? An ordinary day becomes a time of terror, as the Doctor and Amy meet a new and deadly enemy. The vicious Army of the Vykoid are armed to the teeth and determined to enslave the human race. Even though they’re only seven centimetres high.

With the Vykoid army swarming across Manhattan and sealing it from the world with a powerful alien force field, Amy has just 24 hours to find the Doctor and save the city. If she doesn’t, the people of Manhattan will be taken to work in the doomed asteroid mines of the Vykoid home planet. But as time starts to run out, who can she trust? And how far will she have to go to free New York from the Forgotten Army?

I rate this book an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to any fans of Doctor Who and cheesy sci-fi.