Book Review: The Digital Photography Companion by Derrick Story

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The Digital Photography CompanionBY DOMINIQUE JAMES

Do you know what is the best digital camera for you? Do you want to improve the quality of your shots? Do you want to turn your pictures into professional-looking images? And do you want to impress your family and friends with your creative photos?

Well, if you ask me, you can do all these things. And I mean it. Really! That’s because, the not-so-secret secret you need to know is that great photography is actually now easy to do. All you need is the right person to teach you the right things and in the right way. For that, you need Derrick Story and his new book, The Digital Photography Companion.

The Digital Photography Companion is the kind of book that will jump-start you into great photography. It has all the easy and quick lessons that gives you a sensible mix of creative tips and technical advise you need for taking amazing digital photos in a wide range of conditions and for a variety of occasions.

In this new book, Derrick clearly explains the many complicated and complex concepts of photography in a way that you’ll quickly understand. This is an easy-to-read guide on all the vital aspects digital photographic imaging that you really need to know such as camera features, sharing and printing, and an overview of photo management applications.

The Digital Photography Companion is one book that will tell you almost everything you need to know to get started in creating great photographic images. If I were to start out in photography today, this is the book I’d certainly pick out among the so many that’s available out there. And even now that I am a professional photographer, this book would still be valuable to me as a reference to the many technical and creative areas of digital imaging to help keep me and my photography up-to-date.

The book begins with a grand overview of the many different types of digital cameras. This is a great place to begin since there are so many different brands and models of digital cameras out there. The first thing you will need to learn are the differences and similarities among DSLRs, compact cameras and hybrid cameras. Along the way, you will hopefully discover for yourself which camera (or cameras) are best suited for the kind of photography you want to do. What’s nice about this book is that, right from the start, Derrick Story gives you a rundown of the latest digital technologies embedded in these cameras such as face detection, image stabilizers, diopter adjustment, focus assist light, RAM buffer, among others. This is a fantastic way to understand the many features that cameras have, and to help you decide and select which of those features you really want and need.

If you are struggling with some of the technical aspects of digital photography, this book teaches you the easy way what these technical aspects are. In alphabetical order, all the important operations of a digital camera are clearly explained. In no time, you’ll be an expert in controlling the variables of your digital camera from Aperture Value (Av) Mode and Auto-Exposure to White Balance, the Zoom/Magnify Control, and everything in between. All the buttons and menus in your camera will start to make sense, and you’d be able to expertly control them in your quest to take better photos.

Photography is about many different situations. Each new photographic opportunity may not the same as the last one. Because of this, you will be faced with many challenging shooting situations and conditions. This book will arm you with a number of expert advise from a professional perspective when it comes to handling variety of photographic adventures. Read and learn from this book what professional photographers have to discover on their own through many years of experience such as exquisitely capturing existing light portraits, creating awe-inspiring landscape images, shooting fireworks, taking underwater shots, infrared photos, and more, along with lighting and filter tricks.

With the many great shots you’ve taken, you are ready to work on the post-production aspect of digital photography. Post-production is when you will review your shots, make your best choices, enhance your final images, show your photos to others, and, archive your digital image files. Learn what software will best serve your post-production needs. This book gives you an overview of the most advanced and the best photo management applications from Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom to Apple’s iPhoto and Aperture. You’d be surprised at the many amazing things you can do with your photographs.

Photo printing is an important skill you’d want to master. Most photographers who are just starting out tend to undergo a lot of unnecessary difficulties when printing their pictures. But printing doesn’t have to be a painful hit-or-miss experience. Learn various options, including direct printing without a computer, ordering prints from suppliers, and selecting the right inkjet photo printer for home (and then how to use it).

Looking for what you need without necessarily having to plow through the entry book? You’re in luck because The Digital Photography Companion has an appendix with Quick Reference Tables. The information you need is quickly accessible through this, and from all other tables and charts that you’ll find throughout the book.

If you are ready to take your photography one level higher, to learn and apply the many techniques and styles of professional photographers, you need Derrick Story’s The Digital Photography Companion. This is the kind of book that offers friendly advise. It is a guide that allows you to try out a number of photo shooting ideas, and for your to see for yourself how you can make your photography better when you click the shutter.

The Digital Photography Companion is published by O’Reilly Media. To view the book’s table of contents and index, and to read a free sample chapter, click here. Derrick Story is a professional photography and a teacher. Check out Derrick Story’s tips and podcasts on photography at The Digital Story. Derrick Story is the author of other books such as: iPhoto ’08 Essential Training, iPhoto ’08: The Missing Manual (with David Pogue), Digital Photography Pocket Guide (3rd Edition, Pocket Reference), Digital Photography Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools, and Aperture 1.5: Beyond the Basics. He also appears on several training videos at

Press Release from O’Reilly Media:

The Digital Photography Companion by Derrick Story–New from O’Reilly: Practical Photography Advice You Can Take Anywhere

Remember how awkward it felt the first time you drove a car? Maneuvering on four wheels with skill and confidence required learning how to use all the controls with hours of practice. Many digital photographers experience comparable awkward feelings when faced with the bewildering array of settings and dials controlling the operation of today’s digital cameras.

Yet, “if you operate your camera the way you’ve mastered your car, you will take better pictures,” insists pro photographer and popular teacher Derrick Story. Fortunately Derrick–author of the bestselling Digital Photography Pocket Guide (O’Reilly)–is back with an entirely new book. Derrick’s highly anticipated, portable new guidebook–The Digital Photography Companion (O’Reilly Media, $24.99)–comes packed with information that shows you how to take control over your digital camera today.

Clearly written and richly illustrated, the information in The Digital Photography Companion helps put photographers back in the digital driver’s seat, so to speak, by teaching them how to operate their cameras like the pros. Whether you’re a beginner, a serious photo hobbyist, or interested in turning pro, under Derrick’s friendly tutelage, you’ll improve your photography skills, boost your picture-taking and image-editing knowledge, and, ultimately, shoot better images that truly reflect your creative spirit. So rather than wondering which button to push and fiddling with controls, soon you will focus on the world around you.

“And that’s when magical things begin to happen,” explains Derrick, who is also the coauthor of iPhoto ’08: The Missing Manual (O’Reilly, 34.99) with David Pogue.

Indeed, maverick photographer, Rick Smolan, creator of Blue Planet Run and America at Home agrees. “Derrick Story has a unique gift for creating order out of chaos. Digital photography turns things upside down and even seasoned shooters need help. Whether you are a complete beginner or a photographer with experience, Derrick is the go-to guy.”

Perfectly sized to stash in a camera bag, this timely new resource gives you plenty of examples of how to capture great shots of people, places, landscapes, and more. The Digital Photography Companion offers basic instruction and clever techniques to help you capture the high quality pictures you’ve always wanted.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Choose the right camera–with a roundup of features for Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSSLR), compact, and hybrid cameras.
  • Master your digital controls–everything from autoexposure to white balance.
  • Shoot like a pro–capture flattering portraits, compelling action shots, distinctive landscapes, and more.
  • Take control of your digital photos–find the right photo management software.

You’ll also appreciate a no-nonsense chapter on pain-free printing. The metadata for every photograph in the book (with thumbnails) is included in the appendix. This lets you find out things like what aperture/ISO/shutter speed was used.

Derrick’s online tips and podcasts have made him a popular blogger. And for more photography tips based on the techniques covered in his new book, visit You can also participate in the monthly photo assignment with results published on The Digital Story, contribute grab shots, and if you figure out a great photo technique that you want to share with the world, send in a “How I Did It” entry.

By the time you’ve experimented with the techniques outlined in The Digital Photography Companion, “you’ll have journeyed well beyond your peers,” writes Derrick. “And the pictures you take will not only become personal treasures, they will also be admired by others.”

For a review copy or more information please email Please include your delivery address and contact information.

Derrick Story is the digital media evangelist for O’Reilly. His experience includes more than 20 years as a photojournalist, managing editor for O’Reilly Network, and a speaker for IDG, PMA, and Santa Fe Workshops. He is the author of Digital Photography Hacks, Digital Photography Pocket Guide, 3rd Ed., and his latest, The Digital Photography Companion.

Additional Resources:

For more information about the book, including table of contents, index, author bios, and cover graphic, see the catalog page for The Digital Photography Companion.

The Digital Photography Companion
Derrick Story
ISBN: 9780596517663, 230 pages, $24.99 USD, £15.50 GBP

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.


Written by dominiquejames

April 1, 2008 at 6:38 AM

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