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Saturday, 23 October 2010


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Michael: I pre-ordered The Digital Photography Workflow Handbook at Amazon on Wednesday and got notice that it shipped Friday.
Have a good weekend.

This has to be a hardcopy version of their E-book at:


DOP has been producing photo e-books for some time now, as well as photoshop scripts. Often good stuff, too.

I've bought the German version of this book a month ago and I can honestly recommend it. As always, the trouble with those books is they age practically as fast as the software they're written about.

I wonder how many people will immediately spot the allusion made with the cover design.

My only regret: it's definitely too heavy to read it on... well.. errr... you know where I mean. ;-)

One look at the cover and I imagined the smell of FP4.
What are the odds of getting Futura Extra Bold kerned like that in those colors just by accident on a photography book?

...In the "cons" column, a disappointing number of images (although by no means all) are run across the gutter, an infernal practice unfortunately much beloved of book designers...

Seems to me that "guttering" should not be a universal sin, like I used to think. I just picked up a copy of Daido Moriyama latest book, The World through My Eyes, published by Skira, which is an anthology of some 40 years of his work. The pictures are bled to the margins and guttered and, I must say, I like the look. For Moriyama's fluid and "immediate" style this type of presentation works well and has the advantage that the photos with "landscape" orientation are shown very large.

And herein lies another issue for the proportion of 35mm film or 2:3 digital format: the book is in "portrait" orientation with the pages sized 3:2, which means that "portrait" orientation is presented full frame while "landscape" orientation shots presented as a two-page spread become 3:4 (that is, two 3:2 pages), which means that the latter have to be cropped to 3:4 from 2:2 — not something that every photographer would like. For someone shooting digital the solution could be simple to shoot portrait orientation shots in 3:2 format and landscape orientation shots in 3:4 format — and all cropping for this type of book can be avoided. I've been thinking of doing this, but keep on being held back in that, usually, I prefer the 4:3 format for portrait orientation and 2:3 for landscape orientation, that is, the other way round.

If I may digress a bit, after buying Moriyama's book I looked at two new books by Raymond Depardon, which made made me think how boring many photo books are. One of the Depardon books is his 500-photo Paris Journal, which, B&W, can be compared to Moriyama's new book; but, for me, while Depardon photo's are all technically accomplished, they are simply insipid and rather dull in that he seems to have little to say in this book, compared to Moriyama. His other new new book, simply titled La France, contains 315 large format color shots of buildings and shop fronts on which, in a recent French TV interview, he said he worked for five years driving 60,000 km throughout France. Again, for me, these picture, despite the elements of technical perfection and some pictorial exquisiteness, are essential lifeless and cannot hold a candle to, for example, the best work of Stephen Shore.


I saw the German-language version of The Digital Photography Workflow Handbook (Handbuch digitale Dunkelkammer) on the shelf in a German bookstore weeks ago. It's a revised successor to the book Die digitale Dunkelkammer by the same authors which originally appeared in 2004 (1st ed.) and 2006 (2nd ed.).

In my opinion, it's useful for absolute beginners in digital photography, digital post-processing, and digital asset management but not worthwhile (too basic overall) for anyone who already has understood the difference between raw and JPEG and how histograms work. Moreover, it's mostly Adobe-centered so it's best for those employing Lightroom or Photoshop.

Three years ago, I was struggling to master my then-new Epson 3800 inkjet printer and hence, seriously considered the purchase of Fine-Art Printing for Photographers by Steinmüller & Gulbins. However after some browsing through the book, I decided against it. It covered in great length things I already knew but failed to answer all my nagging questions. Since then, exactly that always seemed the primary characteristic of all the Gulbins/Steinmüller books I ever looked at.

In contrast, books I consider essential and always keep handy in my digital darkroom are those by Fraser/Schewe, Katrin Eismann, and Dan Margulis (even though I don't like Margulis' writing style). These go much deeper into their subjects than Gulbins/Steinmüller books ever do.

But probably that's just me ...

The book showed up at my local Barnes and Nobel Wednesday or Thursday. 3 copies, all shrink wrapped. I need to ask if I can look at it today, since I have one of the ubiquitous B&N 15% off coupons.

Am I the only one who doesn't understand what the book term "gutter" means? Can you please define that for me? Thank you!

What I've noticed is that books on digital workflows each represent the author's way of doing things, and if you read 4 books on workflow, you'll get 4 different - and legitimate - ways of processing images. And, in some cases (authors will remain unnamed), they're out to push certain products.

So, do the books offer the "quick fix" many readers will probably buy a book for? Perhaps, but I've chosen to take the entries under advisement and eventually devised my own workflow. Some photographers will no doubt not have the time to do this and will embrace the workflow prescribed by one book or another...

Sorry. The gutter is the seam created by the binding. In a book or magazine, a "page" is one side of a single leaf; a "spread" is two facing pages. The gutter is where the two pages in a spread meet.

Another jargon term you might encounter is "double-truck," which usually refers to a picture that covers all or most of both halves of a spread. A double-truck photo by definition runs across the gutter.

For more, see this link under the subhead "Page Spread."


Yes, and therein lies a conundrum...because it means BOTH that most books on workflow are potentially nearly useless, and ALSO that there is a potential need and market for an effectively infinite number of books.

Curiouser and curiouser.


Dear Dave,

No disagreement here with your assessment of the books. It's an exacerbation of a characteristic of traditional darkroom books, which is that there's simply too much craft for any one person to master. Even the highly praised books in the field (including both of mine) are terribly narrow in focus, compared the the depth and breadth of the field.

There's no possible way around that, including the seeming flogging of products. All of us learn to use only a handful of tools and materials well. Those of us who are authors can only write about what we know. Sometimes we'll even choose to specialize further, so we can delve in huge depth, at the expense of breadth. Lots of darkroom books talked almost exclusively about Kodak, or Ilford or Agfa materials, with at most a passing nod to the other manufacturers.

Sometimes it's because the work was supported by the manufacturers, but trust me, that was and is rare. Few authors are held in such remarkable esteem that it's worth a company's time and money to retain them as representatives. If a company does, it's usually because the author already has demonstrated serious chops.

Mostly it's because we all get in the habit of using one company's products a lot more... and we write about what we know.

There will never be a universal book, or even a series by one author, on printing or photography, wet or dry. There is nothing that even comes close (nobody cite Adams' books to me-- I can list a dozen ways that they don't even make the effort to be universal).

Titling is another matter. Titles are there to sell books.

I think Olaf has the right approach -- browse a book, if you can, before buying. If that cursory examination answers one question that's been bugging you or teaches you one cool trick you didn't know, buy the book. Odds are it will teach you lots more cool stuff, even if 80% of the content is old hat.

pax / Ctein

Thames & Hudson have a pdf available of Street Photography Now (be it with nasty watermarks), so you could request one.
I would send it to you except that would probably be not entirely legal!

Mike, just to expand a bit on your explanation of bookbinding (I spent over 30 years in the printing/bookbinding industry.) In commercial binding the folded sheet is referred to as a signature. The signatures are "gathered" in sequence to assemble all of the pages prior to either sewing or adhesive (perfect) binding.

I you take a sheet of paper and fold it in half and then in half again, you will have an 8 page signature. (16 and 32 page signatures are common in commercial work.) If you number each page and then unfold the sheet, you will see what the sheet looks like when it is printed. This layout is referred to as the imposition. As you can see, with the exception of the center spread, pages 4 and 5, the facing pages are not adjacent to one another during the printing process. This requires a good deal of precision in the printing and folding of the signatures to make the facing pages align properly in the finished book. Note that if, for example, you are printing a 16 page book using two 8 page signatures, the page 8/9 spread will have page 8 printed in one signature, and page 9 in another. This is another reason that "double truck" spreads can be troublesome.

Thanks Edd! I agree about the precision needed. Bookmaking is a wonderful craft.


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