vrijdag 29 november 2013

Portrait Photographer's Handbook- Bill Hurter

Get Monte Zucker's Handbook or the 2nd Edition - the 3rd Is a Mess, March 5, 2008
By Maine Character (Westport Island, ME) - See all my reviews

I waited a few months for the 3rd edition to come out, and now wish I hadn't, due to how it tries to put three books - an introduction to digital photography, a portrait handbook, and a book on Photoshop techniques - into 120 pages. Each of those subjects is far too in-depth to cover well in one book and, even as it is, it's poorly done.

Chap. 1 - Equipment and Basic Techniques
A good intro to lenses, depth of field, meters, umbrellas, etc.

Chap 2 - Good Digital Working Techniques
Here's where it starts to go off track, basically giving you a beginner's manual on digital photography, including info on formatting your cards and backing up your images.

On top of that, the Shadows/Highlight tip on page 25 is flat-out wrong. First it has you create two copies of the layer, apply Shadows/Highlight, and then apply a layer mask, when in fact the Shadow/Highlight tool is designed so you don't have to use a copy or layer mask. And when it says to paint white on the faces "to conceal the underlying data," painting with white actually reveals it.

The Camera Raw examples are also useless, as when it shows the resolution bumped from 2000x3000 to 4000x6000. Any beginner reading this is going to think that's the way to go and end up with a huge file that will only bog down their computer with useless resolution. It even says, "by converting the file from Adobe RGB 1998 to a wider-gamut color space (ProPhoto RGB), the file can be easily enlarged to 4000x6000 pixels." Color space and resolution have nothing to do with each other, and 99% of the people reading this book wouldn't want to do either of these adjustments.

Chap 3 - Posing
At last we get to portraits, and here there's good general guidelines covering the shoulder, eyes, mouth, and hands. But the stock photos illustrating the chapter don't help at all. For instance, it says to have a man fold his arms across his chest with the edge of his hand turned to the camera, but you're not given a clue how it looks. Instead, we get a half page photo of a pregnant woman lying upside down, wrapped in gauze. We're even told the title of the portrait: "Anticipating." But we don't learn a single thing from it.

Chap 4 - Composition
Briefly covers the rule of thirds and the golden mean, and tells you how "the S-shape composition is perhaps the most pleasing of all compositions," and the inverted L-shape is "ideal for seated subjects." Sounds great, but heck if I know what they look like `cause there's not a single example of either of them.

Chapter 5 - Basic Portrait Lighting
The text is fine, covering all the basics, including metering. Hurter also tells us how split lighting can be used to narrow a wide face, but there's not a single example in the whole book. In the same way, another section says "a round face may appear more flattering from a different angle." But again, it offers nothing in terms of what the angle might be or what it looks like.

To top it off, only three photos in the whole book show the lighting equipment and set-up for how a photo was made, so you have to guess what is where and what it might look like. Monte Zucker's own "Portrait Handbook" has dozens of such examples.

Chaps 6 - Lighting Variations, and Chap 7 - Outdoors Lighting
These chapters are about window light and portable flash and are quite good on both subjects, covering scrims, fill-flash, etc. In fact, these two chapters are actually better than Douglas Allen Box's entire book on the subject, "Professional Secrets of Natural Light Portrait Photography."

Chap 8 - Spontaneous Portraits
This section is short, but good on interacting with your subjects.

Chap 9 - Corrective Techniques
This section covers how to correct twenty-one problems, from overweight subjects to large ears, but it crams it all in on just four pages, with no examples.

Chap 10 - Retouching Techniques
This waste of eight pages starts off with a full page of text about retouching in the old days. As for the rest of it, it's nuts to talk about linking layers and layer sets, which most people will never use and there isn't room here to cover well.

Chap 11 - Fine Prints
When buying a book on portraiture, you don't want to be reading what the unsharp mask tool does for the twentieth time. And you sure don't want to be reading about monitor calibration, color management, printer profiles, and color correction. Katrin Eismann's "Restoration and Retouching" and her new "Creative Digital Darkroom" cover all these much more clearly and comprehensively, so just get one of those and skip everything Photoshop in this book, just like the author should've.

Review Summary
If you're new to portrait photography, you'd be better off with Erin Manning's "Portrait and Candid Photography" in that it's much better illustrated in making each point, shows the actual equipment you'll be using, and covers the usual situations you'll encounter. If you're a bit further on and want to learn great technique, Monte Zucker's own "Portrait Handbook" is excellent in focusing on each area, with photos to match the text, and has dozens of photos showing the positioning of the lights, scrims, reflectors, and windows. And when he brings up digital issues, it's all useful in portrait work, as in how to actually read the histogram to ensure an accurate exposure.

In the end, this book tries to cover too much and so ends up giving too little. If it'd focused on what it's supposed to be - an introduction to portraiture - instead of using up a full quarter of the book on digital issues, you'd actually have something.

Just what I need., January 11, 2007

By D. Sharples (Lancashire England) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Portrait Photographer's Handbook (Paperback)
I bought this book a couple of months ago with the preconception that it would be just another step-by-step approach to portraiture,I'm so glad I was wrong,this book gives a fantastic insight to the world of portrait photography with masses of information both from the author and contributing photographers including none other than Monte Zucker.I find this book a valuable scource of reference and inspiration and I open it and look through from time to time when I'm short on ideas for an upcoming project and it does n't disappoint.

Great pictures and tips in this book..., September 1, 2007

By Sprout (Port Townsend, WA) - See all my reviews

I have purchased many photography books from Amazon in the past several months. Unfortunately, while the advice in most of them useful, the sample pictures are often very poorly done, lack variety or real inspiration. This book, however, is full of gorgeous portraitures that clearly demonstrate poses, lighting techniques, etc., while still being very nice to look at. The author gives shot details in the caption of each photo, and there is a very nice range of different styles and techniques that have given me a lot of ideas on what I'd like to shoot for myself. The text itself is clearly written and the inclusion of illustrated diagrams really helps visualize proper set ups for lighting.

The only caveat is that there are some glaring editing/layout problems in the introduction. The first page includes a couple paragraphs of the introduction, and the page it's supposed to continue onto starts the entire introduction over again. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on! But other than that, excellent book, wonderful and useful pictures, clearly written text, gorgeously laid out. I definitely recommend it.



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