Up Close: Photography Ebook Explaining Macro

Up Close - Macro Photography EbookIn Up Close, the latest Craft & Vision photography ebook, Andrew S. Gibson guides photographers who are new to the macro and close-up photography world through the fundamentals of this area of photo making. As someone who is used to photographing events, portraits, and abstract work, the field of macro is one where I’ve had curiosity, but not much further. When I learned of this book, I was curious if it would provide me with a good primer on macro photography and the answer is yes. Here’s what I thought (along with some discount codes)…

Like the other Craft & Vision ebooks, this is formatted in double-page spreads. There are 90 spreads, offering a lot of great material (and accompanying photos) for the student of macro photography. As one might expect, the book begins with a definition of macro and close up photography, providing some good diagrams to help explain how this type of photography is captured on both full frame and crop-sensor cameras.

Macro Equipment, Technique, and Lighting

The first major section of the book (nearly half of it!) deals with equipment. This was one of my personal areas of confusion… what’s a macro lens vs. a close-up lens vs. an extension tube? Why would I want each? When is one better than the other? What about reversing a standard lens and using it “backwards” for macro? All of these bits of gear are covered, with practical applications for each and advice on which options won’t lead to desired results. While Gibson notes what he considers ideal gear, he also offers up a lot of options for those just beginning the close-up adventure, including options which are going to be easy on the pocketbook.

After talking gear, the second major portion of the book discusses technique including focus, sharpness, and depth of field. Given the tight tolerances when working at extremely close distances, focus and depth of field play an especially important role in this style of photography. Gibson offers tips on how to best stabilize the camera and make fine adjustments in order to achieve various results. The final portion of the book is a look at lighting… while Gibson makes his preference for natural light known, he also explains and discusses a couple options for adding additional light to a close-up photo. One option is a ring or macro flash and the other is the use of a “regular” speedlight along with a small softbox1.

Up Close: Andrew Gibson Photography Ebook


There are a couple case studies of successful macro photographers and they do a good job of reinforcing Gibson’s material. Overall I was impressed; the entire book covered a good range of material for the beginning close-up or macro photographer. For someone in a position like me and curious about this area of photography, I can highly recommend Up Close – Gibson did a great job at continuing the Craft & Vision tradition of excellent material.

Buy Up Close from Craft & Vision.

EyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with your Camera Phone – New Ebook Review

EyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with your Camera PhoneAs a photographer and an iPhone fan, I love mobile photography. I was excited to read EyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with Your Camera Phone, the latest photography ebook from Craft & Vision. Author Al Smith dives into the world of mobile phone photography, offering a great resource for beginning and intermedia mobile photographers. It’s a good read (with one minor nag that I note below) and I recommend it for anyone with a camera phone. Here’s my review of the book (along with some limited-time discount codes at the bottom of the article).

Introduction and Philosophy

The introductory section of the book offers up Smith’s overall views on mobile photography; he begins by recalling the situation in which he realized the value in the ability to create images with his phone. As it’s been said that the best camera is the one that you have with you, mobile phone photography can take advantage of the “always ready” scenario. From the beginning of the book, the emphasis is on photography over the gear itself, and the author attempts to present the material in a brand-agnostic fashion although his experience using an iPhone for his work is shown in many of his app and hardware discussions.

A quick look at the hardware limitations of even the best camera phone provides a background for a viewpoint that simplicity breeds creativity and that the relatively low quality (when compared with modern DSLR or compact cameras) forces a photographer to focus more on the artistic, rather than technical, side of photography. Smith notes:

…a tool is only as good as the hands it’s placed in and the hands are only as good as the brain’s ability to guide them.

The remainder of the book follows a three-step paradigm that also applies to mobile photography.

Shoot, Edit, Share

As the book moves into a discussion of shooting, it offers a huge plug for the Camera+ iPhone app, devoting an entire page to the merits of this offering. While I agree that it’s a good app, it’s not the only option. Smith calls out the ability to separate focus from exposure, a feature that also exists in Camera Awesome (and probably some other apps as well). There’s a good discussion of the merits (and drawbacks) of the flash available on current camera phones; using the flash in the “regular” way often leads to poor results, but Smith suggests a few modifications and alternative uses for the flash that can help diffuse the light and make it a useful photography tool.

I do question some of the battery-saving advice in the shooting discussion. Smith advocates the use of airplane mode which will disable the wifi, cellular signal, bluetooth, and other battery-eating features of the phone. I’d offer that if you don’t need any of those other features, you probably don’t need to use a camera phone and might be better served by a point and shoot. The advice about how to “quit” iPhone apps given on page 22 is simply wrong – the description reflects a misunderstanding of how multitasking works on iOS.

The portion of the book devoted to editing is decent, and provides a mostly app-agnostic look at photo manipulation on the go. Instead of going into detail about specific apps, the discussion focuses at a higher level on what sort of qualities one should look for in an application, such as the ability to work in multiple steps (and undo), the ability to preserve original files, and more. I enjoyed his take on things and he does recommend a few specific apps at the end of the section.

EyePhone - better camera phone photography ebook - Craft & Vision

One of the big advantages of a connected device is the ability to easily share, and the book wraps up by looking at this component of mobile photography. The author is a big Instagram fan, not so much for the photo filters but more for the same reasons that I’m an Instagram fan: it’s a great social network for those who enjoy nice imagery. Some words are said about deciding how much to share (hint: quality over quantity) as well as avoiding sharing too much.


Overall I found EyePhone to be a good read. For someone who’s looking to make better images and exercise their creative muscles, a variety of techniques and ideas are offered that will help a mobile photographer create, edit, and share photos that go beyond the basics and might lead to more rewarding photography experiences.

The Craft & Vision ebooks are a great deal at the regular price of $5. Buy EyePhone using this link.

Where to Share Photos? SHOOT + SHARE is a New Ebook for That

SHOOT + SHARE photography ebookCraft & Vision just released the latest in its series of photography ebooks. Shoot + Share is an offering by Stuart Sipahigil that explores the world of sharing photography. What does he mean by sharing? It can mean social networking and websites, but it can also mean prints, galleries, or a photowalk. I’ve read an advance copy of the book; read on for my thoughts.

Why, and for Whom?

Assuming one’s goal with photography isn’t to create a collection of work that’s never seen by anyone else, sharing applies to all photographers. There are various aspects explored in the book, but it opens by asking “Why share?” and then explores the various audiences a photographer might want to entertain, such as:

  • sharing with photography clients
  • sharing with other photographers for review/critique
  • sharing with the world

Based on deciding who is the target audience, the rest of the book looks at various forms of sharing photography. Regardless of the sharing method, a photographer needs to edit his or her collection down to the best images, and several pages discuss the editing process as well as creating a portfolio of one’s best work.

Sharing in the Online World

A substantial portion of the book explores various online sharing methods. Sipahigil uses his own experiences with experimentation and indecision about where to share his work online as representative of the various choices that a photographer must make. Several popular photo sharing platforms are mentioned including Flickr, 500px, Google+, and individual websites. He notes that he settled on a plan where he posts his photos on his own website and then promotes links to his site via social media, but that certainly isn’t the only (or “right”) option for everyone. I will note that the material is very current — there’s a reference to Instagram for Android.

After discussing the various consumer photo sharing sites, there’s a brief overview of the “pro” photo hosting services, including SmugMug, PhotoShelter, and Zenfolio.

SHOOT + SHARE photography ebook

Sharing in Meatspace

The final section of the book deals with various forms of sharing photography that don’t involve a computer screen. There’s a look at making prints and photo books, and a discussion of places to share work such as art galleries, festivals, and coffee shops. The book wraps up with a look at teaching and participation in photowalks as a method of sharing.


I will admit when I first saw the title and idea for this ebook that I was a bit skeptical. I was curious what would be shared that would be of interest to anyone beyond a beginner photographer. Most of the material about sharing online was about what I expected, offering a very high level look at online sharing services but without going into very much analysis or detail about why one might choose a particular online venue over another. That said, some of the material about editing and portfolio selection was excellent, and given the affordable price of the book I would recommend those sections for anyone who’s being challenged in narrowing down their images to the best of the best.

Overall I feel this would be well-suited for photographers who are trying to make decisions about where to share their work and invest their efforts, but it falls a bit shallow in some areas where I would hope to see more depth in explaining just why to choose one sharing method over another. At the usual Craft & Vision price of $5, there are some good portions that make it an interesting read, but don’t expect detailed strategic analysis.

Buy Shoot + Share now for only $5.

Star Trail Photography for Photographers of All Skill Levels

Star Trail PhotographyIf you’ve ever been interested in star trail photography (as seen in the images in this article), there’s something exciting going on later this month that you should know about. Nature and landscape photographer Jim Goldstein is offering to share his knowledge in three ways.

The first option is a video course that he’ll be releasing next week. Jim will be offering the course via a free live stream from 9-10am Pacific time on March 26th-29th. The video course will cover how to:

  • Select the Right Gear to Use
  • Use an Intervalometer
  • Choose the Best Lens For Your Shoot
  • Compose Your Photo Before It’s Dark
  • Calculate the Optimal Exposure Time
  • Use Blending Modes Like A Pro
  • Blend and Stack Multiple Images
  • Use Masks Like A Pro
  • Remove Light Pollution & Image Ghosting
  • Color Correct & Enhance Your Photo
  • Properly Touchup Your Photo
  • Optimize Your Post-Production Workflow

Time Lapse and Long Exposure PhotographyIf you can’t catch the livestream due to a pesky scheduling conflict, the video course is available for purchase. You’ll receive all four hours of the course and you’ll be able to watch the content at your own leisure. If you pre-order the video course before the livestream begins, you’ll save 25% off of the regular price, giving you all four hours of material for just $74.99. This rate is on par with many short photo seminars, but instead of sitting the class once you’ll have the content to review at your own pace, as many times as you’d like.

Do you prefer to learn via a book? Jim’s ebook Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time covers long exposure photography including star trails and other extended-time photography such as the creation of timelapse work. I was recently provided with a copy of the ebook and worked through it – it’s a good primer for a variety of photographic styles. Jim does a great job of covering what sort of equipment is required (or optional) along with instructions for various types of timed photography.

If long exposures are of interest to you, I’d jump on either the video course or the ebook and take advantage of Jim’s knowledge. When I heard he was making these available, my interest was piqued and I’m happy to be an affiliate to spread the word.

Interesting Links Roundup: January 20th

As I wander the web I find interesting things. I share:

What have you seen lately that’s interesting?