Thursday, July 1, 2004

Digital Photography Hacks


By David Gewirtz

I'm a big fan of the O'Reilly books. If you're a geek, especially a Linux geek, you probably know how it feels to desperately need that one critical piece of information that'll help you do some obscure, but absolutely critical systems change. And, if you're like me, you've probably turned to O'Reilly books to get you out of a jam more than once.

"Who wouldn't like a book with tips for using pantyhose and getting whiteboard photos?"

That's why I was particularly intrigued by Digital Photography Hacks, a new O'Reilly book, shown in Figure A, written by Derrick Small. After all, while photography is a geeky craft, it's not geeky in the same way that, say, configuring an Apache Web server is geeky. I was really curious what was inside this book.


Read this book. It's chock-full of really helpful tips and ideas. (click for larger image)

I'm not new to O'Reilly's hacks series. I relied in TiVo Hacks to perform brain surgery on my three TiVos, and I've pored over Google Hacks to see just how much I could get out of that all-knowing search engine. So when Digital Photography Hacks landed on my desk for review, it was time to retire to the throne room for some good readin'.

The big list

The book's cover claims 100 industrial-strength tips and tools, and they're not kidding. What follows is the monster list of what's included in this US$29.95 book.

Chapter 1. Digital camera attachments

This chapter's all about the goodies you might want to take along. My favorites were the tip about gaffer's tape (I've used blue painter's tape, but there were some ideas I hadn't thought of), and the flexible arm tip, which is a really neat gadget we're going to try to get into the magazine for review.

Here's the list of tips in this chapter:

  • Pocket tripods on the go
  • Travel tripod: a happy compromise
  • Walking-stick mount
  • Convert your monopod into a makeshift tripod
  • Steady shots from the comfort of your car
  • Attach your camera to bicycle handlebars
  • Flash brackets for pro lighting
  • A flexible arm to hold accessories
  • Bubble levels to keep things straight
  • Battle the sun with an LCD hood
  • Convert your digicam to a digital SLR
  • T-mounts and other threaded tricks
  • Double-strapping on the trail
  • Stay in charge of your batteries
  • Gaffer's tape when all else fails

Chapter 2. Daytime photo secrets

There were a couple of tips in this chapter that were among the best explanations I've seen of the technique. For example, if you've been curious about infrared photography, there's a great summary in this chapter. And, who wouldn't like a book that has tips for using pantyhose and getting whiteboard photos?