David duChemin’s “Ten” is free

David duChemin has made his first eBook, titled Ten free. He describes it as:

The premise is simple, if photographers could cut through the noise and work on their craft without being bombarded with the need to buy more gear, and the newest and shiniest, we’d become better at our craft and create more compelling images. TEN is exactly what it says it is, an exploration of ten techniques and ideas that can improve any photographer’s work.

It’s a great book and a great introduction to Craft & Vision for those that haven’t purchased an eBook from them before.

Massimo Vignelli makes books

[vimeo 64811872 w=1280 h=720]

Beautiful video about Massimo Vignelli’s approach to book design. I love seeing how people do their craft and it’s particularly inspiring to see the care and patience he takes. Inspirational.

The video was created by Pentagram for the “What Will You Make Today?” campaign from Mohawk Paper.

Serpentine by Mark Laita

Today I came across Mark Laita via this article where he shares a story about how he got bitten by a venomous snake while shooting images for his book Serpentine.

It is a captivating story, but the photography is even better. Click through to the article to see his photographs of snakes (and then to his site to see his commercial work).

I’m considering purchasing the book. It’s that good.

People of the Globe book preview

I’ve decided to redesign the site to show the photographs much bigger than they were, but it’s taking a while and with limited time to dedicate to this I don’t think I’ll finish any time soon. I will, however, put up new photographs in the larger size as I upload them. It’s only the older posts that it may take me some time to reload.

Anyway, I designed a short book using Apple’s Aperture as a test and had it printed through them. The quality is pretty good, so I’m happy.

My aperture book arrived!

Photograph of Penny by Gabriel PonzanelliPenny; Sydney, Australia; 2006 ©Gabriel Ponzanelli

A few days ago I posted that I had ordered a book via Apple Aperture and was waiting for it to arrive. Well, it’s finally here and I have to say I’m really happy with the quality. I wasn’t sure what to expect because all the photographs were in black and white, and most non-professional labs are terrible at printing them. This book looks really nice, I’m sure I’ll be doing more soon. I’m planning on shooting a video of it and posting it in the People of the Globe website over the weekend.

Waiting on a photobook from Apple

Model: Penny, shot by Gabriel PonzanelliPenny; Sydney, Australia; 2006 ©Gabriel Ponzanelli

A few weeks ago I designed and ordered a photo book using Apple Aperture with photographs from my People of the Globe project. Because books ship from overseas (I’m in Australia), it takes 6 to 8 weeks to arrive, so it should be here in a week or two. I wish it’d be faster. Anyway, I’ll post my thoughts on the quality as soon as I get it. I’m excited. The photograph above, of Penny from India, is part of the series.

Update: Printing a book through Apple

Book page

I now have enough photographs that I consider good enough to put in a book. I’ve been playing around with Aperture’s book feature and designed a 35 page book that I just sent out to be printed. Although I’m doing this just as a test at this stage, I have really high hopes for the quality of the book. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed.

Once it arrives, I’ll take some photographs of it and post them here with my thoughts on the process and the quality of the end result.

As far as editing down the photographs to the final “pick” ones, I always find that to be an extremely difficult task. The job of a photo editor really requires a sensitive eye and impressive skill. It’s an art form in itself. I wish I could do it easily, but I can’t.

Book Review: Arthur Elgort’s Models Manual

Book: Arthur Elgort's Models ManualArthur Elgort is a well known fashion photographer. He’s been published in many magazines, including Vogue, Madmoiselle, New Yorker, Italian Vanity Fair, and many more. He’s worked with many of the top models, such as Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Iman, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, and many, many more.

Arthur Elgort’s Models Manual is a mixture of his published photographs, a lot of behind-the-scenes shots, advice for both models and photographers, insights into the fashion industry, and random thoughts from the photographer, the models, art directors and editors. Reading it feels like getting an inside look at the industry at the time.

The book was published in 1993, at a time when models were as famous as movie stars or rock stars, and in some cases even more so. That is evident in this book. I’ve owned it ever since and I keep going back to it as a source of inspiration. Definitely a recommended book. If you’re at all interested in fashion, swimwear, portraiture, or just the supermodels of the 80’s and 90’s, then this book will certainly make you happy.

The book was published in 1993, at a time when models were as famous as movie stars or rock stars, and in some cases even more so. That is evident in this book. I’ve owned it ever since and I keep going back to it as a source of inspiration. Definitely a recommended book. If you’re at all interested in fashion, swimwear, portraiture, or just the supermodels of the 80’s and 90’s, then this book will certainly make you happy.

The design of the book itself is very “90’s”, when graphic designers were using desktop publishing software effectively for the first time and were exploring the possibilities. There are a ton of different fonts used, colours, columns are small, big, even on top of each other. It feels a little dated in that sense, but for me that’s part of the charm of the book.

What really counts though, is the content. The photography is amazing and the advice sound. If you’re an aspiring model, you’ll learn a lot from this book. And not just about posing, but about the industry and working with photographers. It give you the opportunity to get close and personal with the supermodels of the time. Similarly, if you’re a photographer (aspiring or pro), you’ll find this book a constant source of information and inspiration. Definitely recommended.

Book Review: The Nikon Creative Lighting System

The Nikon Creative Lighting System: Using the SB-600, SB-800, SB-900, and R1C1 FlashesFor a long, long time I struggled to get a hang of Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS). A few years ago I bought a Nikon D70s and a Nikon SB-600 Speedlight Flash with the intention of playing with the possibilities of remotely controlling the flash unit without the need for extra (and expensive) hardware. The original manual unfortunately doesn’t do a very good job at explaining how this works and the flash units have many settings hidden in the menus that make the whole thing quite confusing.

After a while, and a lot of trial and error (mostly error), I finally figured it out. But by then I was moving onto a Nikon D700 and bought an SB-800 to add to my portable setup. That’s when things got frustrating. There are so many ways to control 2 or more flashes with these cameras that understanding all the possibilities is not easy. You can control both as remotes and trigger them with the on-camera flash, or you can use the SB-800 mounted on camera as a master-only to control the other one remotely, or you can use the SB-800 as an actual flash and master, etc. To make things even more confusing, the manuals aren’t much help and the user interface on the flash units is not what I’d call user friendly.

I finally decided to search for some external help and came across The Nikon Creative Lighting System by Mike Hagen.This book makes it very easy to figure this all out. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to read, although it does repeat itself quite a bit. For example, there’s a complete chapter for each recent flash unit that Nikon produces and the explanations are thorough enough in each that there’s a lot of duplication of content. I guess if you only own one model it won’t matter and it actually makes sense. The book fully explains the modes and operations of each speedlight, including the SB600, SB800, SB900, SU800, SB200, and even the R1C1. It goes into how these integrate with most of the Nikon cameras of the last few years and briefly touches on some techniques on how to use the system.

The book is divided in 16 Chapters, roughly:


  • Chapters 1-3: Quick Start Guide, CLS Background (what is it, how it works, compatibility with older cameras), and Flash Theory (f-stops, guide numbers, sync modes, etc.)
  • Chapters 4-7: Buttons, Modes, Menus, and Operation for the SB-600, SB-800, SB-900, SU-800, SB-R200, and R1C1.
  • Chapters 8-13: How to use CLS, what the beeps mean, white balance & gel usage, batteries, etc.
  • Chapter 14: Case Studies and Examples (really basic stuff)
  • Chapter 15: Product Recommendations (or more stuff to buy)
  • Chapter 16: FAQ’s (only 15 very basic questions)


The book is great at helping you set up and understand CLS from a technical point of view. However, the application side of things is not a strong point. If you’re looking for creative inspiration you’ll be sadly disappointed. The photographs used for the examples are really not that interesting and in many cases are just plain bad. This is a shame really as the Creative Lighting System lets you do some pretty cool stuff.

In summary, if you’re looking for a book that gives you clear step-by-step instructions on how to set up the camera and flash units, you’ll be very happy with this one. It’s truly a replacement for the manuals when it comes to CLS. However, if you’re after creative applications or generic lighting techniques, this is not the book you want.

The Shock Doctrine


A very interesting short film by Mexican film director Alfonso Cuaron and Canadian journalist Naomi Klein. Based on her book, this film serves as an introduction to the topics she explores more in depth. The short lasts about 7 minutes, and it’s 7 minutes well spent.