Tim Grey loves answering questions. And now in his new book, "Take Your Best Shot," the digital photography and imaging expert provides clear, informed answers to the questions serious photographers ask most often. Here Tim, a member of the Photoshop World Dream Team of Instructors, talks about his new book and offers some favorite tips.
Q. You've been answering questions for years. What made you decide to write this book?
I had been answering questions as part of my Digital Darkroom Questions (DDQ) email newsletter for about six years, and publishers kept telling me what a great book it would make. I agreed, but the thought of digging through the thousands of questions I had answered over the years to find the gems and edit them to perfection seemed a daunting task. But part of the motivation for the DDQ email was the notion that people learn well in the question and answer format. So I decided it was time to make it happen. As it turned out, I didn't need to dig through six years worth of questions, because I had gotten so familiar with the most common questions that I could recite them from memory. So all that was left was putting updated (and witty) answers to those questions. This book was by far the most fun for me to write of all the (more than a dozen) books I've written, and I think it will similarly be enjoyable (and informative) to read.
Q. So how did this whole "question and answer" thing get started?
I always say if you want to find the best solution to a problem, find a lazy person to figure it out, because they will find the approach that requires the least amount of effort. I suppose that's at the heart of how this book came about. When I was working with professional nature photographer George Lepp a number of years ago, and started getting a reputation as someone who understood "all things digital", I received a huge number of emails with questions. Very often, those questions were repetitious; so I decided to find a way to answer each question once and then never have to answer it again. Originally I posted a "Frequently Asked Questions" page on the Web, but then decided I needed to push the content to readers, and started the Digital Darkroom Questions email newsletter. I was surprised at the popularity of the emails, and I started to be known more as the "DDQ" guy than "Tim Grey". I suppose this book will only encourage that thinking.
Q. How's your book different from other digital photography books?
My book dispels so many of the myths and misunderstandings around digital photography and imaging. We've gotten to the point that many photographers feel they don't need a lot of new information because they have already learned so much. But what I've found is that what they've learned isn't exactly accurate. In this book I address a lot of the misinformation that's out there, and educate the reader about many of my pet peeves in digital photography. I think it is critical that we dispel the myths now before they become too deeply ingrained for photographers.
Q. What is the single most important thing you readers gain from reading your new book?
They'll be able to recognize when they're being misled, and they'll be able to intelligently articulate why. To me it is important that photographers understand the technology they're using, and in this book I cover a wide range of topics to help photographers do just that.
Q. Please share your favorite tips and tricks.
1) Use layers for everything in Photoshop!
2) Don't forget that the quality of the original capture is paramount. No amount of Photoshop work can make up for a bad photo.
3) Don't believe everything you hear. Much of it is wrong, or at least misleading.
4) Remember, it is all about the photograph. All this cool technology is great, but what you're really after is a great photo, not just the fun of a cool technique.
5) Practice, practice, practice. When teaching workshops I often say that you don't learn by listening to me, but rather by actually practicing what I'm explaining. The more you do this stuff, the more sense it will make.
Q. Is there anything that you feel is especially important that the readers would want to know about you or Take Your Best Shot?
The most important thing readers probably need to know about me is that I don't know everything. I'd love it if I did, but I don't. And I don't mind admitting it. That's one of my many pet peeves (which feature prominently in the book). If I don't know something, I'll tell you. Which means if I know the answer, you can count on it being carefully considered and accurate. The questions I couldn't answer didn't make it into the book, but that means the book is chock full of great information you can really use.
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