Digital Photography Workshops—Portraits, by Duncan Evans, ISBN: 2-940361-09-6

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, May 2006
Published by: RotoVision
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$24.95, UK£16.99

Duncan Evans is a prolific photographer, author and journalist who has produced over a dozen books covering several areas of photographic technique. Much of his writing has been based on portrait and glamour photography. He is also a member of the Royal Photographic Society, and holds a licentiateship distinction (LRPS) which is generally awarded by the society to professionals who have achieved a high degree of competence in practical photography. Rotovision is a specialist book publisher that produces excellent quality photographic books. "Digital Photography Workshops—Portraits" is a book aimed at beginner and intermediate level photographers who want to learn and apply their craft in the area of Portraiture.

The book is broken up into several distinct sections which take you from the basics to more specialized types of portraiture. It begins by introducing the user to basic equipment. While the coverage may be adequate for complete beginners, it is unfortunately only a cursory overview of the tools required to meet the demands of digital portraiture.

Duncan’s coverage of lenses is very good, on the other hand, in that he provides the reader with the right information from which to make fundamentally important decisions about which lenses to purchase. Considering the high cost of good quality lenses these days, the advice in the book amounts to a solid foundation for this important investment in gear.

In contrast with lens coverage, the discussions of digital camera sensor types, color spaces, and megapixels are only adequate by comparison. Considering the importance of considerations about how lens optics interact with various types of sensors, affecting focusing ability, color sensitivity and so on, these discussions could have been improved with the addition of greater detail and analysis.

Putting technology aside, the second section provides coverage of some of the stylistic approaches for shooting portraits. This section covers posed shots, candid photography, image sequences and concepts such as emotional range and finding your subject. Each type of shot is also detailed with a miniature diagram showing a typical lighting set up for that kind of portrait. However, the excellent examples are let down somewhat because the author does not always provide a shot explicitly taken with the lighting set up being described. The portraits used in the book are technically well done and clearly represent the author's descriptions even if some of the photo subjects are uninteresting. Subsequent sections expand on these concepts, themes and approaches accompanies by images which do a decent job of presenting everything.

The book closes with a brief look at how to store, print and publish your work. This last section would also have benefited from a bit more detail. I also expected some discussion of RAW files and workflow, admittedly advanced topics, but nevertheless topics which have become an increasingly important part of digital photographic work.

The coverage of RGB and CMYK, although correct for professional print output for books and magazines, is not necessarily so for desktop inkjet printing. This is an important consideration in light of the fact that most desktop based photographers are going to be doing desktop inkjet output. Converting your images to CMYK before printing is not generally recommended unless you are sending your work to a bureau or printing company for output on a press. Even then, the printer will usually prefer to do the conversion to suit its own process and equipment, or alternatively provide you with instructions on how to do the conversion yourself. For the purpose of desktop inkjet printing it's best to leave your image in RGB and let the Windows, Mac or Linux printer driver do the conversion.

Despite some thin areas I think that the beginner will gain from the approach to the photographic techniques covered in this book. Duncan Evans does an excellent job of introducing and detailing many of the styles and techniques required for Portraiture.

Cons: Coverage of digital technology and tools needs more depth and detail. I think that the book is let down by trying to cover too much and by trying to be too easy to follow.

Pros: Simple colorful design, layout and writing. Good coverage of the techniques and themes of portraiture. All told, the coverage of the art and craft of portraiture is generally quite good and presented in a manner which makes it easy for the amateur photographer to follow. Recommended for the Beginner.

KSN Product Rating:

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