Review: Canon Photography Workshop
Published By: Mulitcom® Publishing
Fax: (206) 622-4380
Street Price: $30 US
68030 processor or better
System 7.1 or later
Minimum 4 MB free RAM
Minimum 12", 256 color monitor
QuickTime 2.0 or higher
Well, summer is half way through. You have probably taken holiday snapshots, developed them, paid premium dollar for the prints or slides, and wondered why the end result did not live up to your expectations. If you are serious about getting the most out of your 35 mm camera, the images you wish to capture, and reducing the associated cost, Canon Photography WorkshopTM issued by MULTICOM® Publishing in concert with Big Wig ProductionsTM is an ideal CD-ROM to examine. As a matter of fact, this is the first time that I can say, without reservations, that a multimedia presentation surpasses any basic book on photography in content and effectiveness. Canon Photography Workshop’s goal is to develop your skills in 35 mm photography so you don’t need digital manipulation or special darkroom “magic.” The emphasis is on interactive workshops within which individual creativity is encouraged and the concept of the single “correct” photograph is downplayed.
A hardrive installation demands just under 6 MB of space. The initial splash screen displays four major buttons leading to the topic areas of:
- Techno - discussions and demonstrations of shutter, exposure, aperture, lenses and focus concerns.
- Light and Film - insights into the interrelationships between lighting situations and photographic results.
- Tour - an excellent way to browse the depths of this complete package without feeling that you are studying for final exams!
- Art of Photography - suggestions as to how to improve your understanding of composition, perspective, story telling, using the ‘decisive moment’ and ‘thinking visually’.
Each one of these four themes will lead to “Workshops” which have their own individual introductions, an explanation of how to ‘work’ the “Workshop,” and a connection to the left side of the “splash screen.” The left side has a side bar of interrelated controls. The three most useful hot spot controls will be: “Basics,” “Teach Me,” and “Pro Tips.”
For convenience, I’ve decided to lead you through the “Techno” workshop. Here, you can see the effect of using different lenses (excellent fun for those of us who cannot afford many). You can choose from a close-up macro lens, an eye twisting wide-angle (fisheye), to an extreme telephoto lenses. The “Exposure Workshop,” demonstrates the relationship between aperture and shutter speed.
ATPM readers who have automatic 35 mm cameras (as opposed to a manual 35 mm camera) may rest assured that effective use of your automatic settings are more than adequately addressed in all workshops. I must admit that I am a diehard manual camera user, yet I still appreciated the tips and hints directed to the automatic camera user.
The critical concept of metering is well-covered in the “Techno” section and embedded “Workshop” links. If there is a photographic gremlin waiting to ruin your final shot, it is the ‘beastie’ who demands that you understand the connection between depth of field and focus. Master this, and you are well on your way to successful imaging.
Visual examples in the “Focus Mini-Workshop” (found within the “Techo Workshop”) let you “burn” film for the sake of experimentation (at absolutely no cost!). From the initial screen you can actively explore depth of field and pursue your own ideas of what makes an interesting photograph. Notice the thin, black outlined “framing device” within the photograph.
The “framing device” can be moved about to select the centre of attention and, with a mouse click, capture your visions. These are just two possibilities which allow for comparative analysis:
Each workshop leads the user through various levels of experimentation in a laudable manner. For example, the “Light and Film” tour demonstrates which film to use under a variety of lighting conditions, how changes in lighting affect your results, how filters can change colors, and how best to shoot an image with the available light. Many photographs can be saved and improved if one merely learns to think twice before they “click.” This is similar the carpenter’s rule, “Measure twice, cut once!” If nothing else, it is educational to know why your photographs and slides don’t conform to your expectation of “what you see is what you get,” both in terms of composition and color.
One of the most intriguing workshops is buried within “The Art of Photography.” Creativity cannot really be taught, but it can be encouraged and guided. This entire workshop is devoted to adding stability, drama, mystery and engagement to your work. Some people believe these subtleties can be taught. I am convinced, after years of instructing University students in photography, that, unless you are blessed with an intuitive feel for the medium, you will need to patiently practice and perfect your ‘touch’ to transform a satisfactory picture into a superlative photograph. There is a great difference between the two!
An added bonus is a step-by-step guide to building a “pinhole camera.”
This can be a fun project for anyone, and for kids in particular. You will be amazed by the final results, which may include image distortions and various other surprises.
Macintosh users will be at ease with the intuitive, exploratory interface. Half the fun is stumbling accidentally upon an area of photography with which you are unfamiliar. A general menu screen holds a map of topic icons. Check marks indicate which areas of the CD you have explored. Unchecked themes, workshops and threads indicate areas which remain undiscovered.
Canon Photography Workshop is best suited to the novice or intermediate shutterbug. If you can tolerate the fact that the background muzak cannot be muted, this is a production well worth checking out. But wait, the benefits do not stop with the CD itself. Within the folder installed to your hardrive, there is an application called “Browser Launcher.” Activating this feature connects you to a whole world of links to the topic of photography on the World Wide Web. Would you like to see the portfolio of the work of Ansel Adams? Read an interview with Annie Leibovitz? You can get there with a mouse click. The “Education and Reference” section will take you from Apogee PhotoMag to the New York Institute of Photography, where you can read instructions on how to photograph fireworks, auto races and flowers. You can jump to photography industry web sites, including Kodak’s. This collection of links is the hidden gem of this CD. So...get busy, expand your hobby!