Secrets of Digital Photography

Nikon eBook Foreword



An eBook excerpt


Why this eBook?

When I started this project in 1999 it was because I wanted someone else to produce it and make it available to me. But the world wasn't doing that. So I guess that meant it's up to me.

With a "bell that cat" mind-set and my trusty Nikon Coolpix 950 in hand, I set out to dig into its secrets and find out how to move this baby. I knew that the camera was capable of some fairly amazing things, and a book would be a nice addition to it. Add my own experiences with the digital tools of media production and special effects, and this quickly-produced book could be the result of a marriage made in Hollywood, if not in Heaven. That was June, 1999.

By September, 1999, I had contacted no less than nine publishers, all of which had shown interest in the topic of digital photography. Some bailed out upon hearing that the book was targeted at a single product and others jumped ship when they realized the difficulty of drilling into the photographic market which, they perceived, was very different from their other digital pursuits. A few remained. Three showed various degrees of curiosity, but only one wanted to see some chapters "right now."

It was getting late in the year. The book had been conceived from the start as part text, part CD, and part Internet. I Fedexed the manuscript to the publisher so their crack team of reviewers could dive in on it immediately.

Immediately, I was to learn, has different meanings to different people in different fields:

Immediately in Internet terms is, "excuse me, I'll get back to you with... ah, here it is."

Immediately in the world of special effects production usually means, "As Soon As Possible!"

Immediately, it turned out, in the world of book publication meant, "sometime next summer."

By November, 1999, I knew the 950 book was not going to happen in the twentieth century. The software for the CD was nearly finished, the text had been through several drafts, and I had figured the publisher just didn't like what they had seen, or else­they would have gotten back to me.

Sigh. I bought a book on self-publishing and started talking to printers. Lesson number two: Publishing costs an arm and a leg. Especially for a 200+ page full color book.

Double sigh. One publisher called in December with an offer to bring the book out in September. My attitude was, "September?? The 950 would be Very Old News by then! Fugeddaboudit." (New author. Thinks he knows something. Hah. I should have listened better, perhaps.)

Besides, the next models would be introduced at the Photo Marketing Association show in Las Vegas in January of 2000. Certainly the new model would become a topic of the book, right?

I put the project on hold and held my breath.

As soon as the new Coolpix 990 appeared, I started back into the project again. A large new chapter for the new camera would be needed and the form of the book changed to accommodate the larger print potential of the newer camera. I wanted the book to unambiguously display the big sharp images from the 990 in a form that could be immediately appreciated.

In July, with the revised manuscript nearly finished, the publisher from the autumn of 1999 e-mailed back. "The reviewers are ecstatic. Let's talk!" We talked.

In one of the most enlightening, if not frustrating, conversations of my life I witnessed a publisher of books confronting a writer of immediate, topical material teeter-tottering on the pivot of the Internet over the realities of life and how it is practiced. They could announce the publication of a first run of 2,500 black and white, manual-sized books next March (2001) if I would accept the realities of the publishing business on their terms.

Never mind that the book, from the beginning, had been laid out using full color images, graphics, and examples throughout. And never mind about their own reviewers' positive comments which included the book's marketing plan, Internet connection, and overall vision. (One of them actually became interested in the CP950 and was thinking about getting one. That's about a 33% marketing penetration...)

The executive committee, it seems, knew in its heart-of-hearts that a book of this type is the size of a software manual, black ink only, and probably won't find an audience so spending money on it was not something they'd wish to invest heavily in.

Certainly, they had a point. But so do I. (And if I brush my hair just right, it doesn't show.) The options of this Internet Age are larger than pages made of paper. This is the i age, the e age. The year of the eBook. Sure, most of them are simply text, but that isn't the end of the chain of possibilities, now, is it?

eBook, eh? Well, if Stephen King can do it, why not me? Yeah, that's the spirit! Who needs those big publishers, anyhow? What did they ever do for me except waste my time? Humph, humph! (New author, remember.)

But seriously, how do I really feel about it?

So this eBook concept was formed. It isn't paper pages with four-color printing, but it has features no book would contain. Interactivity. Immediate access to the CD full of software, demos, and examples. And a feature I had not anticipated earlier; big, sharp, clear color photos that are probably much sharper than anything you have seen from an electronic publication.

The PDF files you are reading (if you were reading the eBook itself) in Adobe Acrobat can be zoomed in on to 300% without passing the pixel level of the reproduced images. That's like sticking your face WAY into a page in a book to see the detail. But here the images aren't broken up with printing dots. It's rather like having pages that were photographically printed.

The software has evolved, too. In a marathon session of filter writing, tweaking, and perfecting, the number of Photoshop Action Filters that are included has passed the 300 mark. A huge chapter on camera operation has appeared with sections on the 950 and 990 models. It's not a manual, but you still need to know what secrets lie behind each feature. Other books exist to give you the improved manual experience.

If I've done my job here, you'll be taking better pictures, and you will know why they are better. You'll be printing, correcting, improving, and finessing your shots with a greater experience base, and you will be enjoying Photoshop instead of thinking it's just too hard to learn. That camera in your hand is a fabulous instrument that beckons you to take pictures. It has a lot to teach you and you have a lot to teach it.

Let the exposures begin.

-Peter iNova, November, 2000

The eBook project has grown. Now there are two:

Get the eBook. Nikon and Sony versions available now. We have a secure order page that will allow previous Nikon eBook owners to upgrade for low cost, too.
Or you can call direct and order from the publisher by phone or FAX.
Phone:(310) 475 2988 (M-F 9-5 Pacific Time)  
FAX (310) 475 9486 (24hrs).

© 2002 Peter iNova. All rights reserved. Do not reprint. Simply add a link to this page.
Reprinting except for newsworthy mention and brief quotes are by permission only.