Canon T4i/650D Digital Field Guide
Writing a book is an interesting and rewarding experience. Writing a 75,000-word book in six weeks is a challenge. Add learning a new piece of equipment, taking a few thousand images for the needed sample photographs, working with a new publisher and formating the book in six weeks — now you behold a major event in this photographer/authors life. I present to you the Canon T4i Digital Field Guide, published by Wiley.
Writing a book in six weeks
This book represents what I did during my summer vacation 2012. I didn’t plan on writing a book about a camera this summer. I released the 15,000-word One Hour Photographer in April 2012. Once I saw some interest and had some success with the Kindle version of the book, I decided to approach a new publisher. Wiley was my first publisher of choice, so I presented the book to them with my fingers crossed. Unfortunately, the editorial team politely declined the concept of publishing a print version of my book. They did say their door was open if I had any other ideas. I did have another idea: one of the chapters in One Hour Photographer is called The Combination Code, which I thought could be expanded into a book. They took a look and agreed that if I could show how the small chapter could be turned into a full book it might be worth investigating. I laid out the table of contents. The editor accepted the concept and the Wiley team began the official book proposal and review process.
The review process continued into June. Then I received an e-mail from my acquisition editor asking if I would consider writing a different book for Wiley. The Canon Rebel T4i had just been released and they were looking for new authors to write for their Digital Field Guide series. Hoping to build my relationship with the publisher, I said yes.
Within a matter of days I was set up with the information needed to begin the writing process. When I sat down to write my first 1,000 words on June 13, I panicked. Really, what in the hell did I just promise to do in six weeks? I didn’t even have the camera in my hands yet. I could see how the other authors who have written similar books in the past would have an advantage because they have established material from which to draw. I was facing 260 blank pages, no camera to test or take photographs with, and no instruction manual from which to work. And everything was due by July 30. I must tell you when I finally did received the camera, I was more excited about the owner’s manual for the needed technical details it contained.
Writing a book takes discipline. I wrote almost every day, usually long into the night. You have to remember, I’m a working photographer with a studio, and a marketing consultant for a growing agency. I have a day job. If you are interested in writing your own book, I would recommend reading the War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
I am extremely fortunate to have a wife who is patient with me and able to help edit my work. Shirley is an excellent editor; having her by my side gave me confidence when I submitted the first few chapters. I’ve been through the editing process many times before and I know no matter what I turned in, the Wiley editors would have plenty to do. They have a style that they adhere to and I only have the opportunity to submit my first draft. Fortunately, Wiley has a good team and working together we were able to turn my 75,000 words, hundreds of photographs and icons into a useful guide.
It was enough to try to do all the Wiley team was asking me to accomplish in such a short period of time. I was told during the process that it often takes authors two to three books to really get their system down. Nonetheless I had to add a little more work to the project. I decided to invite a dozen of my professional photography friends from around the country to share their tips. My thought was it would be great to have additional voices in the book. Although not an an easy process, it was rewarding.
First, I had to invite everyone to my project. Many of the photographers I approached are successful and very busy. Some I knew better than others. Not everyone was available or interested. Once I had all my bases covered, it was all about gathering the material. In some cases the photographer wrote his own tips. In other situations, I interviewed them and transcribed the notes. It is common for reporters to interview via e-mail. I started out that way, but realized some photographers interpreted this as me asking them to write a section of the book and provide photographs without payment. My goal was to make the interview about their work and their ideas for creating better images. It was clear I had to change my approach. I started interviewing on Skype, which proved to be a successful solution because I could talk live and ask follow up questions.
I turned in the last sections of my book at 10:45 a.m. July 30. After 289 hours of camera testing, writing, page formatting, taking photographs, and making the requested adjustments from the editing team, I was finished. Almost.
After a couple weeks of editing, the Wiley team returned the book to me for what is called author review(AR). This was my final chance to make needed changes and updates. AR took about 3-5 hours per chapter. Once that was done the book was out of my hands.
So, here we are, the book printed and available for sale. Amazing.
About the Canon T4i
I enjoyed writing about the Canon T4i. It’s been a few years since I purchased a new camera, so it was fun to play with the new technology. I generally shoot manually so I rarely explore the additional capabilities of my cameras. In the process of pressing every button and studying each capability of the Canon Rebel T4i, I discovered features I didn’t realize my own Canon 5D has as well.
Canon upgraded the sensor for this camera, which can fire at a rate of 5 frames per second (5fps). Also, the ISO expands to 25,600 and delivers a slightly noticeable upgrade in image and movie quality.
The big addition to this camera compared with its predecessor, the T3i, is the touch screen on the back of the camera. Many reviewers panned the feature, calling it a gimmick. I believe people said that about touch screens on smart phones, too. Once you adjust to having a touch screen on the back of your camera, it becomes natural and even the desired method. (I find myself missing the feature on my other cameras.) Soon, those same reviewers will be complaining about cameras that don’t have touch screens on the back.
I like the new automatic HDR (High Dynamic Range) modes: hand held night HDR and backlight HDR. I use both in my professional work. Although you can hand hold in the night HDR mode, I recommend using a tripod while the camera takes multiple images for both HDR options.
Video is also a big deal with the Canon T4i. It’s not the fact that it has video, but that Canon has added a continuous focus feature called movie servo AF. This is the first DSLR camera to have such a feature. This means the camera focuses on and follows your subject while shooting video.What about the noise from the focusing lens? Canon’s answer is the introduction of two new quiet lenses, called STM lenses. One is a 40mm lens, referred to as a pancake lens, because it is so flat. The other STM lens is the 18- 135mm kit lens. I recommend only using the continuous focus feature for causal video. Professional videos still require manual focus and exposure in most cases.
I’m working on a series of videos focusing on taking better photographs and using the Canon T4i. (Some are displayed in this post). The rest are easily found on YouTube. Of course, if you are interested more information about the Canon T4i, I know of a fine book. It makes an excellent holiday gift!
One of my favorite parts of the book is the information provided by the photographers I invited to share tips. Below is a list of the photographers who have shared their insights for this book:
- Arron Hockley shares ideas after a day of shooting.
- Jeff White took the Canon T4i out to test its nighttime capabilities.
- Joseph Cristina shares some excellent portrait lighting techniques.
- Gary Crabbe offers some excellent landscape photography tips.
- Don Giannatti shares his expertise on photographing people.
- Dan Lippitt gives us insight into taking good sports photographs.
- Jim GoldStein lists some great ideas to take better landscape photographs.
- Michael Menefee demystifies the secrets to photographing stars.
- Ralph Velasco shares ideas on how to take better travel photographs.
- Lan Bui offers fun video lighting tips.
- Gail Mooney presents a detailed list of best practices for shooting video.
- C.C. Chapman delivers some great ideas on how to share your photographs in the social media.
Here are few additional people (not a complete list) I would like to give a shout out to for their ideas, support and friendship. Lindsay Adler, who invited me to be a co-author for our first book The Linked Photographers Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media. A big thank you to Juan Pons for his participation. A big thank you to the folks at Cameramart in Pontiac, Mich. for their support. Finally, I can’t forget my daughters, Ava and Kelly, and the Synectics Media team for being my photography models.
Marketing a book
These days writing a book is half the job. The other half is marketing it. Over the next few months I’ll be spending time writing, creating more videos, guest posting on blogs, visiting other podcasts and speaking to groups about taking better photographs. If you are looking for a speaker to talk about creating great photographs, e-mail me. It’s not always about trying to sell the book, because not everyone needs a book about the Canon T4i, but if they do, I want them to think of me and my book.
The Wiley marketing department will promote the book through their channels and of course you will see the book in book stores, but it’s not the same as it was in the past. The publishing industry today depends on the authors more than ever to get the word out about their work. Social Media plays a big role. Publishers are now accepting authors partially based on their social reach. Authors now have the world at their fingertips. They have the power to get the word out about their books; this means authors don’t have to depend as much on their publishers.
Blogging is good place to begin promoting your book. Usually I write posts between 250-500 words. The reason this blog post is so long rather than broken up into smaller posts is for the search engine optimization (SEO) value. Research shows that long posts receive more traffic, more comments and more shares. This post is full of information, videos, and photographs related to the Canon T4i. The more information I place here, the more variable and valuable opportunities people will have to find this post. Some people will find this blog while looking for information about the Rebel T4i. Others may be interested in writing their own book about photography or equipment. No matter the reason, it is one more person who now knows about the book and one more person armed with information to refer others that a guide book for the T4i is available.
As mentioned above, I’ve created helpful YouTube videos about the camera. Actually, I wish I had started them as soon as I received the camera. If you share good information through videos and podcasts, people are more likely to consider you a go-to expert over time. Although I’m well-known in the photography community, I’m best known for my marketing and social media advice. I teach photography at two universities, but I’ve not employed much social media to share my photography knowledge. After writing this book, I’ve had to refocus some of my online activity. Facebook, Twitter, Pheed, Linkedin and Pinterest are excellent social media platforms on which to share good news and milestones related to your book. Be careful not to overdo it. People tire easily.
Would I do this again? I need a little breathing room and recovery time before I can answer that one. These are not the easiest books to write because they must get to market quickly. In spite of the pressure, it was a challenging and rewarding experience. Obviously, writing another Digital Field Guide will depend on a few things, such as how well this book sells for Wiley. For now, I have my sights on writing a book about the Combination Code. First, I have a few Digital Field Guides to get in to the hands of proud Canon T4i owners.