August 11, 2006
Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Your Digital Tools From a Photography Pioneer
Sebastopol, CA--No doubt about it--the allure of the digital camera
seduced us all. Yet many photography enthusiasts and professionals still
don't know how to tap into the power and range of today's digital tools to
create compelling photos. That is, until now. In the joyful and
long-anticipated Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography (O'Reilly,
$39.99 US), a master teacher shares how to use digital technology to
develop and refine one's artistic expression.
"Photography has always been about the highest technology of its time,"
says Johnson, whose stunning photographs grace the permanent collections
of institutions and museums throughout the United States including the J.
Paul Getty Museum. Indeed, this widely collected photographer has devoted
much of his career to challenging technology to help him translate what he
sees into art. In his new book, Johnson provides details for balancing
composition, science, craft, and artistry to produce beautiful, real-world
photos. Above all, he urges readers to trust their personal artistic
"We are in the Stone Age of digital photography," writes Johnson about the
digital medium, which is fast becoming more popular than conventional
film. "We've figured out how to make some tools, but it is just now
beginning to dawn on us what we might do with them. I've often been
frustrated at the concentration on the technical aspect of digital
photography with so little discussion of the aesthetics and heart behind
the image making."
Yet for Johnson, digital technology means a welcome release from the many
hours once spent in the darkroom. "I spend much more time in the field on
an individual photograph than I would have in the recent past, working to
record just what I have in mind," writes Johnson. "Now most of the
critical interpretive decisions can be made on site, when I am making the
photograph, and, in theory, when I care most about the image."
Beautiful color photos and clear illustrations make it easy for readers to
grasp techniques from this master teacher. It's a Photoshop-centric work,
since Photoshop is currently the most common professional digital
photographic tool. Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography provides:
An in-depth, visually-reinforced introduction to the fundamentals of
Cutting-edge techniques for producing and reproducing images of the
A comparison of film camera vs. digital techniques
Practical approaches of the digital photographer
Techniques of the digital darkroom
A photographer's digital journey
Johnson made photographic history with his digital national parks project.
He is also credited as the major influencer at the core of digital imaging
through his consulting work for Adobe Systems, Apple Computer, Eastman
Kodak, Epson, Foveon, and Hewlett-Packard and was named to the Photoshop
Hall of Fame in 2003 for his achievements.
No look at photography would be complete without a discussion of ethical
issues. In his timely chapter, Johnson explores the ethics of digital
imaging, reviewing the history of photo altering, image manipulation and
propaganda, and editorial distortion.
Throughout this tour de force, Johnson makes it clear that the integrity
of the image is paramount. "This book assumes the intervention in the
image, not for the purpose of distortive manipulation, but to assert
control over your own work," writes Johnson about his use of cutting-edge
technological tools. "The deepest engagement that photography can bring
remains its ability to capture and hold a moment before the lens. In this
age of digital manipulation, that fact must be remembered."
Some readers will undoubtedly mine Stephen Johnson on Digital
Photography for its tips, tricks, and techniques, while others will focus
on the ideas and philosophy. This is the one book for digital
photographers aspiring to take better pictures and explore their artistic
"Steve reveals a depth of knowledge and breadth of experience thatís
unique among photographers, digital or otherwise, and converts his
insights to an appealing and accessible form for the rest of us. His book
will be a treasure forever."
--Richard F. Lyon, Chief Scientist, Foveon, Inc.
"Steve Johnson, one of the true visionaries of the digital photography
era, offers us a technical tour de force and passionate artistic overview
of the possibilities inherent in this new medium. 'On Digital Photography'
should be required reading for every aspiring photographic artist."
-- Ted Orland, photographer and writer
"The hardest challenge to the digital author is to create a book that is
not out of date by the time the ink is dry. Steve Johnson has broken
through this barrier, creating the first book that address digital
photography as a complete process, from digital's earliest beginnings,
through today's technology knothole and ethical impact on our world. 12 on
a scale of 10."
--Richard Newman, Education Coordinator, Calumet Photographic
"Stephen elegantly guides the reader through the complexities involved in
color management while reminding us all that photography is art and no
collection of techniques and tools should distract us from the joy and fun
of that creative endeavor."
--Michael Stokes, Color Architect, Microsoft Corporation
Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
ISBN: 0-596-52370-X, Pages, 320, $39.99 US
O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
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