Media praise for Digital Capture After Dark
Have a blog? Join our Reader Review Program
"It's been said that photographers who put away their cameras when the sun goes down are losing half of their opportunities to photograph. That's probably not true, given that most of us have to sleep sometime. But photographing after dark does present new opportunities. Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler and Philipp Scholz Ritterman, with the help of photographers Kevin McCollister and Michael Penn, offer their take on the genre. The book begins with a discussion of equipment, although, other than a flashlight, none of the suggestions seem out of the ordinary for the well equipped DSLR photographer. Next there is a discussion of basics, like ISO, manual focus (important for night photography where cameras may have a hard time acquiring focus) and histograms. The authors emphasize the importance of using one's histogram since the camera's LCD can't be trusted in the dark. Subsequent chapters discuss where and when to photograph, the effects and benefits of varying weather conditions, and what the authors call light-painting. (It differs from what I have learned to call light painting.) The next part of the book deals with post-processing, with emphasis on increasing dynamic range by combining bracketed images. There is a chapter on selective smart sharpening, black and white photography, and a chapter demonstrating panoramic HDR imaging at night, without any suggestions about how to accomplish this. I have never found a single book on night photography that covers all the aspects and this book is no exception. Indeed, it almost seems like the book is aimed at inspiring the night photographer rather than providing detailed instructions. For example, I've learned from other books that the period between dusk and darkness, when color still shows in the sky rather then black is a particularly profitable time to photograph cityscapes. At first I thought that the authors had missed this point, but on rereading I found it had been mentioned briefly without any special emphasis. This approach to technique is further buttressed, or rather, not buttressed, by the use of the photographs of McCollister and Penn, which are interesting, and often beautiful. These images are scattered throughout the book, but seldom tied to any specific teaching point. Other books usually contain a chart, or something similar, suggesting camera settings for different conditions like, say, fireworks. This book merely says to take a bracketed set of photographs around f/5.6 and then select the best exposure for the particular condition. There was no effort to reinvent the wheel here. It is assumed that the reader knows the fundamentals of things like exposure. In the section on post-processing, the book did not try to cover the fundamentals of Photoshop. Instead it discussed the application of a few tools to the special circumstances of night photography. The chapter on increasing dynamic range discussed combining a bracketed set by hand, using masks and brushes to increase the range of light. Almost as an afterthought they acknowledge that a bracketed set could be combined in HDR software. My own experience suggests trying the HDR route before the laborious hand combining route since it usually has yielded satisfactory results for me. In normal circumstances I would recommend against purchasing this book, but given the dearth of books that cover photography after dark in all aspects, the image maker interested in this field will have no choice but to read several of them, and hope to glean enough tips from each to combine in learning to photograph in the dark. "
-- , amazon.com,