Book Review: Take Your Best Shot

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Back in November 2001, Tim Grey started an email newsletter entitled the Digital Darkroom Questions or what he refers to as the DDQ. He created the newsletter since he kept getting a lot of repeat questions from numerous photographers on his website. The book Take Your Best Shot is basically a compilation of the most asked questions that Tim has received along with a lot of other information that is useful for those starting out in digital photography.

Unlike other books, Take Your Best Shot is written in a question and answer format which is a refreshing change from all the other books in the market. Below is the table of contents so you know what you can expect to find in this book.

Chapter 1: Digital Fundamentals
Chapter 2: Digital Cameras and Tools
Chapter 3: Digital Capture
Chapter 4: Digital Darkroom
Chapter 5: Color Management
Chapter 6: Optimizing in Photoshop
Chapter 7: Creative Effects
Chapter 8: Image Problem-Solving
Chapter 9: Printing
Chapter 10: Digital Sharing

Looking at the table of contents, you can see that Take Your Best Shot is both about photography and post-processing. From experience, books that combine both topics end up being too basic. This was definitely not the case here. One of the questions in Chapter 1 is whether or not changing the ISO level really changes your sensor’s sensitivity. Tim corrects the misguided notion that it does and explains that changing the ISO merely changes the amplification of the signal received from the sensor. This definitely is not your run-of-the-mill answer you get from other books.

From the questions and topics discussed, I would say that this book was written with the beginner in mind but this is one of those rare occasions where even someone whose been at it a while will still stand to learn something new.

The book also has features a “Pet Peeve” section where Tim Grey discusses his pet peeves on some photography topics. My wife Lisa was actually turned off by this. She says her pet peeve is books that have pet peeve sections. I can understand where she’s coming from since apparently, the author has a lot of pet peeves and it can get distracting after a while. Aside that, however, I still really enjoyed reading the book. I recommend Take Your Best Shot to those just starting out who want solid information on both photography techniques and post-processing and long time shooters who just want to learn more technical information.

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