Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging by Peter K. Burian, ISBN 0-7821-4290-7

Reviewed by: Paul Schneider, Ph.D., July 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Sybex, go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$29.99, CAN $41.95, UK£19.99

Like certain people, some books are real “lookers” - Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging is that kind of book. When you first crack it open you are struck by (no surprise) the beautiful photography, though at second glance you will probably begin to notice the more subtle items such as the compositions, layouts, colors and text designs. More than great eye-candy, Peter K. Burian’s book successfully covers the complex topic of digital photography in a friendly and accessible manner.

Okay, now that my opinion is out of the way, what is this book all about? This is my second review of a digital photography book. My first was about a nice succinct pocket guide, something which Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging is definitely not. Although Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging does cover the basics of taking digital pictures and cameras, it is really a comprehensive overview of the photography experience from a digital perspective. The book aims to cover the needs of the beginner, intermediate and advanced level photographer. Overall, I would say the folks in the middle range will get the most out of the book, but by no means does it fall short for the other audiences. About the only audience Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging does not aim to assist directly is that of the professional photographer. Though this group may find a lot of helpful information, the equipment and approaches covered generally seek a middle ground, focusing on so-called digital Prosumer models, SLRs for the serious amateur and point-'n-shoot models.

Mr. Burian has divided Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging into three main sections entitled Essential Digital Imaging Equipment, Capture, and Optimizing Images. In Part 1, Essential Digital Imaging Equipment, he covers the basics of digital cameras, scanners, computer setups, software for processing images, and photo printers. The second section focuses on getting the image. Here he covers the hows & whys of your camera, picture-taking tips and scanning techniques. The final section provides an easy to understand approach to color management, basic and advanced image editing techniques, using images on the Internet and creating exhibition quality prints. The book then wraps up with a standard index, glossary and appendix covering recommended books, websites and magazines.

As I lavished in my introduction, the layout of this book is definitely eye-catching. In any photography book it is important to see the effects being described by the author. Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging rises to this occasion and provides several side by side examples of how certain settings, conditions, etc., can affect the end product and thus help to illustrate some very subtle concepts. The overall approach to each topic is consistent, providing a friendly overview of each concept, description of the various options, and suggested personal recommendations.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging was Mr. Burian’s neutral approach to his recommendations. The manner in which they are written reminded me of asking an expert who is trying valiantly to be unbiased, explaining both sides, but eventually capitulating to a personal preference only to leave you with a qualifier that it just his or her personal opinion. In addition to the personal feedback, the text will often step out and provide you with a relevant quick tip or a valuable tidbit on a variety of subjects including problems such as ink-smudging during and after printing and what you should consider when purchasing paper and ink.

The advent of digital photography has resulted in a resurgence of interest in picture taking, and although many of the basic photography concepts have not changed, there are quite a few which have. With digital photography you have the power of your own dark room, if not the atmosphere, at your fingertips. Making on the spot corrections and variations to your image is now within your reach along with much more. Although digital photography might seem easy at first, getting the most out of your equipment can be a daunting task. Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging helps to ease this pain, making your transition into the digital world a pleasant one. With Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging you’ll find the answers to those questions about digital photography you wanted to ask, as well as the answers to those questions you didn’t even know to ask.

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