Photo Finish: The Digital Photographer's Guide to Printing, Showing, and Selling Images, by John Canfield & Tim Grey ISBN: 0782143482

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, December 2004
Published by: Sybex Inc.
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$29.99, CAN$41.95, UK£19.99

Photo Finish takes up pretty much where Tim Grey's excellent book Color Confidence left us. Photo Finish is designed to help the digital photographer navigate through the often confusing world of printing, showing, and even selling your photos and images. Step by step, the book will show you how to get quality prints, display your work on the web, at shows and in galleries.

The book is divided into five major sections. The first section deals with desktop output and considers how you can handle and output your files to get the best results. In many ways the first three chapters cover much of the same ground as Color Confidence. Chapter one looks at selecting your printer and the media you will use to output your files. My only criticism here is the screening model used to describe the process by which inkjet printers achieve tonal variations. While the illustrations are accurate for traditional printing methods, they only very loosely reflect the process used by inkjets and even less so that of dye sublimation printers. The chapter does do a good job of explaining methods for selecting your printer, the types of media to use and the kind of issues you may encounter in the process. It also briefly exposes a display method which encourages the use of backlit framing.

Chapters two and three cover optimization, handling, color management and the output of your images. The coverage of workflow issues is clear and to the point. An occasional reference to the Color Confidence publication provides a strong link to the companion book. The process of setting up your printer, the use of raster image processors (RIPs) and color management are also given the attention they deserve.


Chapter four is the point at which this book begins to build on Color Confidence and surpass it—it's all new ground from here. This chapter covers the printing of items like proof sheets and albums as well as the application of border effects and treatments. The chapter focuses on the use of Photoshop in this area. The coverage of proof sheets and border treatments is comprehensive but I feel that more coverage should have been given to the creation of albums and some of the creative approaches in this area.

The second section of Photo Finish covers print labs and services and the reasons for using them. Chapter five, the first in this section, covers the selection of a Print Lab to work with and the various methods of preparing your files for this type of processing, as well the different media types and available processes, output preparation and the kind of questions to ask of a Lab before you decide to work with it.

Chapter six discusses the alternative of using an online print service and the merits of using such services. Storing your images online with such a service and being able to order from an online album can be extremely useful. In addition, your family members and friends can also view images online and order prints. Many of these kinds of services can also place your images on additional products such as mugs, calendars and greeting cards. Although the authors focus on one service in particular they do mention others that are available. One of the coolest ideas featured in this chapter is the concept of producing a bound book from your photos.

The next section in this book covers the subject of a web presence for your photography. The three chapters in this section cover the process of planning your web site, hosting, posting images and maintaining the site. Chapter seven covers web site planning and how to determine the goals for your site and discusses the things you need to know when looking for a host for your site and the importance of selecting the right host and domain name. The chapter also briefly covers the tools that are available for creating a photo based web site. It's all quite thorough and does an excellent job of explaining many of the options available, including an overview of software which is focused on generating web galleries.

The Going Live chapter focuses on the actual creation of the web site with good coverage given to issues like navigation, file type and sizes, and naming conventions. There's even some coverage of image theft, an important issue which affects every visual artist out there (and if you don't consider it a danger bear in mind that someone out there could be making money from your photos or work without your knowledge). This chapter also briefly discusses search engine optimization and the impact your design has on how easily people can find you.

The third chapter in this section covers the publishing and maintenance of your web site. It provides hints for keeping your site looking fresh and on updating and managing your site. It briefly covers the importance of using site statistics to determine what needs to be updated and what needs to be expanded.

The fourth section covers the concept of digital slide shows and how to produce and display them. The first chapter talks about the technologies available, the costs associated with each type and the relative merits of each approach. The second chapter covers optimizing your images for slide shows and again touches on the importance of color management in your workflow. The nice touch here is that the authors focus on the concept of your display and projector as an output device. The final chapter in this section covers the process of authoring your slide show and looks at the software solutions available, the process involved and considerations for content and design.

The final section of Photo Finish covers methods of showing and selling images. Chapter thirteen covers the various options available for mounting your photos. Other topics include conservation mounting, permanent mounting, cold and dry mounting and laminating, and matting your images using considerations such as size and color. Framing is touched upon very briefly and to be honest this chapter could most likely have been a lot bigger as the final presentation of your images and photos needs a lot of consideration in light of its impact on your work.

The final chapter covers different avenues for getting your photos exposed and potential markets and outlets for selling photos and images. Although it briefly covers some decent opportunities and makes some good points, I felt the chapter was a little rushed because there's still more to the story. However the book is supported by a web site which has quite a few links to resources and information which significantly add to the experience of the book and the knowledge it imparts. The web site also provides some nice examples of Photoshop actions and examples of approaches for your web gallery.

Cons: As with Color Confidence some of the coverage could have been more in-depth. Some of the examples didn't adequately explain the technology being used.

Pros: Excellent coverage of the process of finishing and presenting your work. Easy to follow. As with Color Confidence there is no attempt by the authors to try and impress readers with technical jargon. John Canfield and Tim Grey have collaborated on a book for all digital photographers irrespective of whether all you have is a decent point & shoot camera or one of the latest Digital SLRs. This book does an excellent job of covering much of the necessary information you will need for finishing and selling your photos. Highly recommended.





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