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Review: Welcome to Oz

Welcome to Oz [LINK]
Vincent Versace [LINK]
New Riders [LINK]
Reviewed by
Kevin L. Kitchens
Review Publication Date
October 05, 2007

"Welcome to Oz" by Vincent Versace is subtitled “A Cinematic Approach to Digital Still Photography with Photoshop”. That pretty much says it all. We’ve all marveled at the dramatic shots we’ve seen on the big screen – especially epic productions. This book teaches you how to see those images (or the possibility of those images in our everyday world). Essentially Versace’s point is that the end result should the first thing on your mind when composing your shot. But that you should be flexible in the route to achieving that result. Ideally, you will capture the closest image you can in-camera, but don’t be averse to using all the tools at your disposal to create what you saw with your eye when you decided to take the picture.

Learn techniques to go from plain to dramatic.
These tools are contained within Photoshop as the subtitle states, but perhaps tools you’ve never used or used in quite this way before. Through six details chapters, Versace walks you through real world examples of making the best of a bad shooting situation while cautioning you over and over that Photoshop is a noun and not a verb. The best tricks in the world will not make a great photograph from a poorly taken one. But if you make the best of your situation to create a good, workable starting point, you can create cinematic magic in the post-production phase.

Planning effects with image maps.
In the first chapter, Versace guides you through creating what he calls a dynamic workflow. Working with a portrait taken in less than ideal circumstances, he shows you how use selective editing to create the appearance of depth of field, multiple light sources, and how to read an image. Most of edits are through the use of a drawing tablet and image layers. He uses layers to map what he wants to achieve with light, blur, sharpening, etc. and then uses those image maps to actually apply the changes after reading the image. Detailed step by step instructions are included using Photoshop CS2, but would clearly apply to CS3 or adapted for other editing packages as well.

Throughout the book, light and shadow are properly emphasized for the drama they provide to our photographs. Versace shows over and over again how to add light to create added interest both before and after the capture.

The chapter detailing the creation of “Stardust”, a classic Hollywood glamour shot, provides an excellent example of how to creatively set up lighting in your own studio – again taking the end result into consideration from the start. Additionally, Chapter 5 is especially insightful on creating dramatic black and white images from color captures.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. Versace’s writing style was well-paced and informative and for such a successive and artistic photographer, he never came across as condescending or superior. He truly appeared to be interested in teaching others and sharing his wealth of knowledge. This book will also inspire you to get a drawing tablet if you’ve not already.

photographyvoice.com highly recommends “Welcome to Oz.” Included with the book is a DVD containing all the example images in 8-bit as well as 16-bit versions. “Welcome to Oz” is part of the Voices that Matter series and retails for $44.99 (US).

Find out for yourself:
Buy "Welcome to Oz" from Amazon.com

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