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Digital Photography Expert Techniques Ken Milburn
Published by O'Reilly Media
467 pages
£ 31.95
Published: 6th April 2004
reviewed by Lindsay Marshall
   in the September 2004 issue (pdf), (html)

There are hundreds of books on digital photography. Remainder bookshops are full of them, and mostly they are all the same: a bit like `learn how to draw' books, where they seem to be telling you useful information but which in practice really don't help the novice at all. This book from O'Reilly is much better. It starts at the beginning and holds your hand pretty well all the way through, unless of course you run Linux in which case don't bother as all of the stuff on image processing is based on Photoshop. Not just Photoshop, but Photoshop CS, the latest version. The one that won't open scans of money. The one that nobody except professionals owns because it simply isn't worth paying the money for since the version you have still has more features than you know what to do with.

OK, so that's a niggle, most of the stuff that the author demonstrates uses filters that most photoshoppers already have, and the things he talks about are genuinely useful from dealing with problems in photographs all the way through arty manipulations to selling your digital images on the web and even printing and framing hints. The advice on not taking shots with problems in the first place is sound as well, though I must confess to being underwhelmed by the section on converting photos to paintings: yes, there are lots of filters to do that kind of thing, but most people have the good taste not to use them because the results are vile, and the examples bear this out admirably. The sections that I will spending most time with are the ones about making complex selections and sharpening and blurring : all hard to do well without good advice.

This is a big book with lots in it. There are high quality colour images on almost every single one of its shiny pages. It is expensive but it is the best book on getting going with digital photography that I have come across. All I need now is the time to spend fixing up all the crappy photographs I've taken over the years. And a fancier camera. And some talent...

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