Martin Bailey is one of those rare photographers who thrive in both the creative and the technical. Not a lot of creatives do that well. It doesn’t take much time browsing his portfolio to see that he is a very creative person, but he is also one of the most technical photographers I have come across. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Martin, but from what I have absorbed from his vast collection of educational resources, it is clear that photographic technique is something he is both naturally drawn to and has worked very hard at. The man knows his craft.
Martin’s latest offering from Craft & Vision, Sharp Shooter: Proven Techniques For Sharper Photographs, is obviously addressing one of the most technical areas of photography; sharpness. I don’t know of a single photographer or speciality that this wouldn’t be relevant to. Martin is a nature and wildlife photographer, so obviously many of the images in the book represent his niche, but the principles and techniques covered would be applicable to anything from people to real estate to nature and landscape photography.
Martin’s ability to take complex and confusing concepts such as hyperfocal distance and make them understandable to the humble artist is rare. He covers the material in-depth, but without overwhelming the reader with too much jargon or technical detail. The book covers everything from focal distance and aperture to focusing for macro photography. It explores camera and post-production techniques to get the shot tack sharp in-camera and enhance or fix it in photoshop.
It also covers some of the practical aspects unique to Martin’s speciality of wildlife photography such as shooting with super-telephoto lenses, panning, and dealing with a moving subject. The post-production sharpening is also quite in-depth, covering everything from sharpening in lightroom and photoshop to using plugins such as Nik Software’s Sharpener Pro 3 (which I use) and onOne Software’s Perfect Resize. Martin is also passionate about printing, so he also touches on output sharpening for print.
As a landscape photographer, I wasn’t sure how applicable the techniques of a wildlife photographer would be to me. However, having experienced Martin’s teaching in the past, I gave it a go. I wasn’t disappointed. The techniques and knowledge I’ve gained from this book have already helped my dramatically improved my rate of keepers. I especially found the section on sharpening and enlarging for print helpful, as I sell large prints and canvases, which betray any flaw in an image.
Needless to say, I can’t recommend Sharp Shooter highly enough. It would be a valuable resource for any photographer, no matter their speciality. As with all Craft & Vision’s ebooks, $5 is a steal, and this one fits perfectly with their mantra; Improve Your Craft (Buy Less Gear).