Life guide digital photography apps


Nearly 75 years ago, four photographers were listed on the masthead of the first issue of LIFE magazine. They, and the technical wizards who followed them on the staff, were quite willing to explain how they took their eye-catching pictures. They felt there was little danger of being copied. “A good photograph is one that can’t be repeated,” says Harry Benson. What mattered was catching the moment, and each LIFE photographer felt he or she knew how to do that better than anyone else. Joe McNally, the 90th (and last) photographer to join LIFE’s staff, brings this benign egoism into the digital age.McNally is a talented photographer with a wise voice. He once draped movie star Michelle Pfeiffer with diamonds and, on a separate occasion, he talked the U.S. Olympic water polo team into posing naked for a LIFE cover. He writes in a friendly, conversational tone that makes him an ideal choice to pen a guide for the beginning photographer. His pictures speak for themselves.
This is a beautiful book, but McNally’s advice is not limited to amateurs. He has never been to the moon. If he were to go, he would point out that, on the near side, we see that the light is the same as on the beach at Malibu or in the Hamptons. Working on the moon’s far, dark side is a problem. I’d really like to know what advice he’d offer. He knows from experience what is important in photography and what’s just distraction.
With today’s digital cameras, photography appears to be as complicated as boiling an egg (which is not quite so simple as you might think, of course—a two-minute egg in Denver being quite different from a two-minute egg in New York City). Indeed, as McNally explains, digital cameras can be used to skirt such problems as focus, color balance and exposure that long bedeviled even the greatest photographers of the past. And we do not have to wait for days to see if the picture came out. There are even little gyroscopes built into lenses to counteract the shakiness of our hands. Those of us who worked with film in the 20th century can only smack our foreheads and exclaim how easy things would have been if we’d had digital way back when. We are free today to concentrate on timing and perspective, on quality of light and composition. All of these topics McNally discusses at the proper length.Still, I should add a note of caution. “You could have the most modern cameras and not see picture possibilities,” the wonderful LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt told me when he was 94 years old. “I see picture possibilities in many things. I could stay for hours and watch a raindrop. I see pictures all the time. I think like this.”
So does Joe McNally. And you should, too.
Introduction: The Democracy of Digital
I had the great pleasure of reviewing Joe McNally’s new book – The LIFE Guide to Digital Photography and at the time I had no idea that it was also available as an iPad App. If you’re even remotely interested in digital photography this is one of those books that you just can’t put down. I’m not sure what I expected in the iPad App. Sure I assumed I’d be able to flip through the pages, see and zoom in on the photos, etc. However, what I didn’t expect was such an immersive experience complete with video. This App is a prime example of not only how to do it right, but what’s to come in terms of digital learning on devices. As a kid I wasn’t that interested in reading. I was easily distracted and even to this day I probably write more books than I read Had there been these kinds of books/Apps as I was growing up I’d probably be a lot smarter today. While I certainly learn from reading what Joe has written here. I feel like I haven’t really read the printed book at all. The reason is that in the App there are videos where Joe is explaining things and to hear his passion and the way he explains and illustrates a subject just can’t come through in the printed word. Don’t get me wrong, the printed word is important and is there in the App, but the use of audio, video and imagery makes this a totally different experience.

Easy to navigate with onscreen help
One of the first things I noticed was the onscreen help telling you at glance what all the icons are for and how to navigate the App. This is important because otherwise you may miss something. I also like how it tells you with a side bar when there are more pages to scroll down. This way you don’t waste your time trying to flick every page up to see if there is more. If there is a shot that you want to know how it was captured you can usually tap and see the exact camera settings. This App is an example of how books should be done. I feel sorry for any “print only” publisher that isn’t embracing this kind of technology. While the App does perform there were a couple of little glitches for example if I started watching a video and then rotated my iPad the page would refresh and the video would stop playing. Not the end of the world, but something that needs to be tightened up in an update.

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