Digital Capture After Dark by Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Digital Capture After Dark focuses on the taking of pictures in low-light conditions. It provides a compilation of techniques covering equipment, the actual taking of the image, and post-production. It does a good job of putting together in one place a wide range of considerations from technical to practical that are involved in various forms of low-light photography and the effects that these have on the final image, but while it does provide some nice examples, I would have appreciated more discussion on why certain effects are worth having or what makes the pictures that were printed worth looking as examples of the art.
One important characteristic of low-light photography is the inability for camera automatic systems to adequately observe and set the camera controls for the image. Because of this, low-light photography requires more understanding of what you are doing than normal, especially for those who are used to either automatic cameras or using the camera auto-exposure settings. Having learned photography using a manual camera, many of the techniques and advice given here were familiar to me from learning how to take photographs efficiently without the computer aids. Quintenz-Fiedler provides these types of tips, along with many practical pieces of advice on working in non-ideal environments (both natural and social) that come with low-light settings such as night, indoors, and oddly lit areas. She covers preparation (getting ready for the shoot), the capture of the image itself (traditional low-light photography as well as some more current techniques such as light painting) and post-processing using image manipulation programs.
The methods are all good, although I feel these are things I've seen in many articles and other books. But the one advantage of a long form such as books is the space to discuss why you want to do something in addition to how to do it, and that is an opportunity missed. There are many photographs scattered throughout, and in several places pages of photographs in succession, but she does not generally take the time to say why particular images were chosen or what to about the image makes it notable. (She gets better at this when discussing light painting and image processing.) In particular the 'Capture' chapters on taking the photograph itself would have benefited from this. It is not just the technical issues that need highlighting, it is the artistic choices that the technical issues enable. If this were there, this would have been a good book on photography in low-light rather than a set of how-tos that happen to focus on a particular theme.
Note: I received a free copy of this ebook as part of the Oreilly Press Blogger program.
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