O’Reilly news

"Digital Photography Hacks": Transform Your Camera into a Magic Photo Machine

May 26, 2004

Sebastopol, CA--The excitement that most of us felt at owning our first camera was often tempered by the pressure to take "good" photographs. Unless money was no object or you were extraordinarily gifted, the cost and inconvenience of developing film precluded taking photos just for the heck of it. Digital cameras have changed that, offering new outlets for creativity: the ability to experiment without worrying about expense, the instant gratification of seeing your photos immediately, the technology to fine-tune your work with advanced professional techniques, and the means to share your photos instantly with anyone, anyplace in the world. With a digital camera in hand, you can easily capture the moment when baby pulls herself to standing for the first time (and subsequently discovers gravity), or memorialize that rare exhibition of fire dancing with puppets you witnessed while on vacation. And if the photo doesn't work? Tweak it, or delete it and move on.

"Digital photography brings out the most wonderful things in people," observes Derrick Story, author of Digital Photography Hacks (O'Reilly, US $29.95). "An otherwise conservative businessman will shoot with carefree abandon when a digital camera is placed in his hands. Self-conscious teenagers transform into rock stars in front of a zoom lens, and senior citizens become instant and adept historians.

"Digital photography encourages you to take risks," Story adds. "If it doesn't work out, erase it before anyone knows. The path to photographic success is littered with discarded pictures that no one ever saw."

Featuring exquisite, full-color photos throughout, Digital Photography Hacks shows you the risks that real-world photographers take, sharing their techniques, shenanigans, and secrets for "getting the shot." The term "hack" refers to a quick-and-dirty solution to a problem, or a clever way to get something done. As Story explains, photographers have been "hacking" for years. He points out that the contact print for Ansel Adam's "Moonrise, Hernandez" looks much different from the finished enlargements we see in museums today. Adams admitted it was a difficult negative to print; he masked certain areas and intensified others. Or, as Story phrases it, "He hacked the heck out of it."

The techniques described in Digital Photography Hacks go beyond the standard fare of most digital photography books--such as camera basics, understanding memory cards, and when to use a flash--to the things that professional photographers have learned through years of experimentation, fiddling, and hacking. "They're inside tips that pros have been using for years to make their pictures look better than yours," says Story. Neither elaborate nor especially exotic, the hacks in the book are fun, useful, no-nonsense ways to help photographers of all levels take the types of photos they aspire to. "For example, how many digital photography books have you read that include a full chapter on camera phone hacks?" Story asks. "Did you know that you can make amazing movies without ever picking up a digital camcorder? And even though your camera might not accept a telephoto lens, it can use binoculars for breathtaking close-ups of wildlife."

With Digital Photography Hacks, photographers who don't have the latest in digital cameras will learn how to extend the life and functionality of their existing cameras. All of the hacks in the book are platform-agnostic, designed for use on both Mac- and Windows-based computers. Featuring a foreword by photographer Rick Smolan, co-creator of the bestselling "America 24/7," this book offers 100 proven techniques in the areas of:

  • Daytime and nighttime photo secrets
  • Flash magic
  • Digital camera attachments
  • The computer connection
  • Photoshop magic
  • Weekend photo projects
  • Camera phone tricks
  • This book is for the photographer you are now, and the one you want to be. Digital Photography Hacks will bring out the creative adventurer who resides in each of us.

    Additional Resources:

    Digital Photography Hacks
    Derrick Story
    ISBN 0-596-00666-7, 309 pages, $29.95 US, $43.95 CA
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

    About O’Reilly

    O’Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O’Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

    Email a link to this press release