Boko Not Haram

The Nigerian terrorists known as “Boko Haram” are well known. Loosely translated, this means “Books are bad”.

I would say “Boko Halal”. Books are good. And not just for Muslims.  Books are good for everyone. You all know about my e-books I hope: head on over to to read all about them and to order them. They are not DRM-addled (i.e. you can put them on all your iPads, tablets, phones, computers, anything that can read PDFs) and there is a README that gives you permission to print a copy for personal use—this README is not a formality, because without it, you cannot have Staples or any other office supply store make a printout for you.

So, books are good I am very proud of my books; they reflect years of teaching experience, combined with my photographic skills.

But while books are good, I think you need more than just books. Books are invaluable combined with practice and interaction. Practice: we learn by doing. The books are useful because they tell you what to do (“before the practice”) and they explain the background (“after the practice”). They thus put it all into context and shorten your learning time. Third advantage of books is that they are your permanent memory.

To give you a taste, let me share a couple of images from my books: here’s how a flash exposure works:

In other words, a flash exposure has ambient light as well as flash light. And these are affected differently by the camera settings. Which is a good thing, because it enables you to balance the two.

Here’s a clearer look at how:

…and this is what I teach you in my books, my courses, and my various forms of online training. That is why books are good: when you do one of my courses, you do not need to spend the bulk of the time making notes.


Pricing, and.

The and: Lightroom is hard to buy; harder than I was told by Adobe just the other day. A friend and client tells me:

So, I decided to purchase lightroom, rather than use the trial version. Every link on the page either takes you to the creative cloud version with the subscriptions, with the one exception to buy, but that is only to buy an upgrade version for existing customers. I unfortunately purchased the upgrade version only to find out that it is useless to me and so I have to get that refunded.
Anyway after calling adobe and talking to three different people, I found out that the only way to buy a new standalone version is buy calling adobe and ordering it over the phone with them. They really are trying to make it hard to buy anything other than the subscription model. Anyway, I did manage to get the full standalone version, but it certainly took a while.

So persevere, and buy it today, before you have to go to the cloud.

And on an amusing note: here are the world’s 16 most expensive photos. How I would like to be Mr Gursky.



I refer to this story, about a Vancouver wedding photographer who had her Macbook stolen from her car, with wedding photos on it. Not yet backed up.

There is so much wrong with this. Of course I don’t know this photographer, but the story as reported (i.e. if true) gives me no sympathy for her at all.

“No backup yet”? Huh? Her memory card is one, the laptop another, i.e. the laptop is the backup. Why did she wipe the memory cards? I am guessing, to save a few dollars. A very unwise choice; a very false economy. You must never have any photo in only one place. Every hard drive fails. Not if, but when.

She “normally backs up online”? Oh? An all-day wedding probably involves 1000 pictures. And if they are RAW (which they must be for something as important as a wedding) that is 1,000 x 15 MByte, i.e. 15 GBytes. Try uploading that.  So if she does back up online she is backing up small JPG files. Ouch!

In the video, she is holding the camera wrong; an amateur dead giveaway. It looks like she is using a low end camera with a kit lens. According to the news report, she is “relatively new to the profession”, and these were “among her first weddings”.

In my opinion, and again, if the facts are as reported, she has no business shooting weddings until she learns more. Weddings are very, very demanding. The most difficult photography. You need mad skills. Experience. In areas like fashion, food, product, event, portrait, and journalism. You also need high-end equipment, cameras, lenses. Spares for all that equipment. Flashes. Cameras that always save each picture to two cards at the same time (I would not touch a wedding without that!).

If you ever think “why is this photographer so expensive”… it’s because that photographer does things properly, so you do not end up the way these newlyweds did.