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Tim Boxer

[ King Hussein of Jordan ] [ Help For Nikon D300: Nikon D300, The Photoshop Elements 7 Book ]
[ Page Turners: Where’s My Fifteen Minutes?, Jewish Publication Society, Raising a Child with Soul,
David Pogue’s Digital Photography, The Moment It Clicks

King Hussein of Jordan

IGEL ASHTON, senior lecturer in international history at the London School of Economics and Political Science, has written quite a favorable biography in King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life. That is not surprising, for the Hashemite monarch was widely admired the world over, not least by Israeli leaders with whom he had an ongoing relationship in his efforts for peace.

How Jordan came into being is an historical accident by the hand of the British. Under the Ottoman Empire, the land that is today Jordan was administered by Syria. The British prevailed upon Sharif Hussein of Mecca to rebel against Ottoman rule. His son Feisal subsequently became king of a newly created state of Iraq. In 1924 Abdul Aziz ibn Saud seized Mecca and sent Sharif Hussein into exile. Thus Saudi Arabia came into being.

After World War I, Jordan was originally part of Palestine which the British ruled under a mandate from the League of Nations. In 1922 the British lopped off the land east of the Jordan River, called it Transjordan, and installed Sharif Hussein’s other son, Abdullah, as ruler. In 1946 the land gained independence and was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with Abdullah as the reigning monarch.

Following the assassination of King Abdullah by a Palestinian extremist, his grandson, Hussein, acquired the throne in1953, and embarked on a bumpy road ultimately leading to peace with Israel. Yale University Press, 464 pages, 36 B&W illustrations, $35.00 Amazon.com Price: $23.10.


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Help For Nikon D300

OW that you got that awesome Nikon D300 digital camera, it’s time to get help to master all the buttons on the front and back of the body plus all the controls embedded deep inside the menus. What you need is something that’s friendlier and easier than the Nikon user manual which I find too stiff, stilted and academic.

One way to learn is with training videos. Blue Crane Digital offers a pair of DVDs. The first is Introduction to the Nikon D300, about two hours, $24.99 Amazon.com Price: $22.49. The instructor will walk you through all the bells and whistles of the camera, demonstrating how each item works. He covers everything you need to know, such as metering and bracketing, white balance, ISO, image review, understanding histograms and everything else in the camera.

After you’ve graduated from the novice class, you’ll want to get Blue Crane’s follow-up DVD, Introduction to the Nikon D300 & D700 Volume 2: Advanced Tips, Amazon.com Price: $24.99. This brings you beyond the basics, helping you deal with difficult lighting situations as well as other areas.

Of course there are printed books to that surpass the basic user manual. Darrell Young’s Mastering the Nikon D300 is among the best. This is the inaugural title of the Nikonians Press, an imprint of Rocky Nook (softcover, 232 pages, $39.95 Amazon.com Price: $26.37.). The author, an information technology engineer, deftly leads you on an extensive exploration of the inner workings of the powerful D300. You’ll become a better photographer on this journey.

Since you have a Nikon D300, I can assume you also have a Nikon speedlight. That means you need Mike Hagen’s The Nikon Creative Lighting System (Rocky Nook, softcover, 262 pages, $34.95 Amazon.com Price: $23.07). No matter which speedlight you have — SB-600, SB-800, SB-900, R1C1 Flashes — Mike will assist you to become expert on flash photography.

Nikon D300 by Simon Stafford is a handy small-size book that I’ve found extremely helpful in learning all about the camera. It even has a handy pullout card that you can carry in your pocket for reference on location. This comprehensive book is small size so you can bring it with you in your camera bag. Stafford covers everything you need to know, and more. A good book to have. Lark Books, softcover, 416 pages, $19.95 Amazon.com Price: $13.57.

Nikon D300 Digital Field Guide By is a useful manual to have. Not only does J. Dennis Thomas introduce you to your camera, but devotes pages to creating great pictures, working with light, in-camera editing, and many other essential photography concepts. A chapter on real-world applications help you with child, flower and concert photography, as well as shooting at night, sports, wildlife, macro, architecture, abstract and other situations. Wiley, softcover, 267 pages, $19.99 Amazon.com Price: $11.99.

Wait, there’s more! You’re not done yet. How are you going to handle all those images you’ve captured in your Nikon D300? You definitely need a photo editing program. What better, for a Nikonian, than the brand’s own product, Capture NX. Much easier than Adobe’s Photoshop. And to aid you to become proficient at it, I suggest getting the very useful book, Nikon Capture NX2, version 2 (Peachpit Press, softcover, 289 pages, $39.99 $39.99 Amazon.com Price: $26.39). The author, Ben Long, writes a column for www.CreativePro.com. His book is lucid and his instructions clear.

But if you want to stick with Adobe Photoshop, then I recommend The Photoshop Elements 7 Book for Digital Photographers which is probably the most friendly guide you’ll find to help you navigate through Elements 7. The illustrations are abundant, and instructions easy to follow. Besides writing this uncomplicated instructional manual – in simple language – Scott Kelby authored many other computer books. He’s editor and publisher of Photoshop User magazine. His co-author, Matt Kloskowski, is author of nine books, and co-hosts the video podcast Photoshop User TV. This excellent book is highly recommended for everyone who uses Elements 7. (Peachpit Press, softcover, 493 pages, $49.99 Amazon.com Price: $31.49)


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Page Turners

Where’s My Fifteen Minutes? is a book that offers countless examples to prove that "just about anyone can be plucked from obscurity to celebrity." Hollywood’s top PR guru Howard Bragman will get you, your company or cause onto the red carpet of fame and recognition. After three decades as a master publicist—currently CEO of the Fifteen Minutes publicity agency and a founding partner of Bragman, Nyman Cafarelli, reputedly the largest entertainment public relations firm in the world (his own estimation)— Bragman has the creds to put you in the limelight. He’ll groom you for the talk shows, prepare you for the TV camera, teach you how to speak with sound bites, and show you how to dress and groom for the public eye. Portfolio/Penguin Group, 242 pages, $25.95 Amazon.com Price: $15.57.

The Jewish Publication Society’s wonderful series of soft cover JPS Guides, a sort of Cliffs Notes on Jewish culture, includes such titles as The Jewish Bible (300 pages, $22.00 Amazon.com Price: $14.96) and American Jewish Fiction (225 pages, $18.00 Amazon.com Price: $12.24) among other areas. These concise reference books, well documented and intensely researched, are not only informative but enjoyable to read. American Jewish Fiction, by Josh Lambert, ranges over 125 entries, from Differences (1867) by Nathan Mayer and Q.E.D. (1903) by Gertrude Stein to The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories (1971) by Cynthia Ozick and lastly Petropolis (2007) by Anya Ulinich. Lambert’s evaluations and descriptions make the Jewish novel come alive.

Raising a Child with Soul offers ways of developing your child’s soul at the same time you develop his character with dance and music lessons, and sports practice. Take communications skills. Author Slovie Jungreis-Wolff draws upon her Jewish heritage to show how you can enhance your child’s inner self. St. Martin’s Griffin, soft cover, 269 pages, $14.95 Amazon.com Price: $10.17.

David Pogue’s Digital Photography: The Missing Manual, fused with wit and wisdom, is one of the best-written books on the subject. I never miss a Thursday issue of The New York Times which carries his technology column. It was worth getting home delivery only for his weekly description, analysis and evaluation of everything that’s out there in this digital age. No matter what degree of photographer you are or aspire to be – amateur or pro – Pogue guides you to use your camera to the best of your ability. O’Reilly, soft cover, 294 pages, $24.99 Amazon.com Price: $16.49.

The Moment It Clicks is the book you need to get if you want to make photos that capture the moment worthy to be published. Joe McNally, an acclaimed magazine shooter for such as Time, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic, presents an outstanding image on each page, and his comments and analyses on the facing page. One thing I learned: Use flash sparingly in favor of available light. "Any light that originates at the camera is de facto unflattering. You’re not making a picture, you’re making a copy." New Riders/Peachpit Press, soft cover, 256 pages, $54.99 $54.99 Amazon.com Price: $34.64.


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