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Take Your Best Shot, Talking to Tim Grey about His New Book

By Sara Peyton
July 25, 2008 | Comments: 3

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.

Got a question for Tim Grey? Ask it here. You just may win a copy of "Take Your Best Shot!"

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When can I stop lusting for the next upgrade? Yep, I've got the
disease. It goes like this, I have barely gotten to enjoy and know my Nikon D200 and the D300 is out. Then to make matters worse, I hear the D700 is on its way with a full sized sensor and it's got my longings drooling. Wait though... a full sized sensor means I may not be able to use some of those expensive lenses I've got, oh no! Where and when does it all end? I think I heard the answer in the interview you did with Derrick Story. There is a sweet spot around 10 to 12 megapixels that will allow me to make 17 x 22 fine art prints with superb quality. So forget about needing to upgrade and instead focus on shooting and practice, practice, practice. What do you think...does this make sense? Peter

I'm an amatuer photographer. I currently deciding to buy a new camera, but it must be compact camera because I can't find a DSLR type camera that can shoot video. My question is, is the sensor size of the camera important ? I noticed when I had a chance shot picture with a fullframe camera(Canon EOS-1Ds Mark IIII), when I enlarge picture to 100% in the monitor, there's no noise show at all in the image, But when enlarge picture that shot with compact camera(Canon A70) to 100%, I saw a lot of noise in it. So, I guess may be the sensor size is matter, am I right ? If so, which compact camera with large sensor size that you would recommend ?

Well, there's no question sensor size is an issue. The smaller the sensor, the smaller the individual photodetectors need to be in order to fit them all. Smaller photodetectors have a smaller maximum electrical charge they're able to capture (which is how imaging sensors actually capture light), so there's less information, which ultimately can lead to more noise.

But there's much more going on here. The Canon A70 is an entry-level point-and-shoot digital camera from about five years ago. The Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III is a top-of-the-line professional digital SLR that sells for about $8,000 and just came out recently. The difference in technology in that time is huge.

So, yes, the size of the sensor is a factor, but in this case there are many other factors that are far more significant.


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