I just finished watching John Paul Caponigro's DVD "Drawing With Light - 21st Century Dodging & Burning" from Acme Educational and the first word that comes to mind is "WOW".
Because I was never a film photographer (my little 110 camera doesn't count) I never did the "dodging & burning" dance in the darkroom, so it was extremely informative and educational to listen to John Paul explain/demonstrate that process, it was a great foundation on which to build on with his Photoshop dodging & burning techniques.
Before getting into the DVD's content, let me say a few things about John Paul Caponigro. He has a great voice, he's the Barry White of the photography world, he's brilliant but not in a threatening way, he goes in depth with even the smallest of details and regardless of the viewers competency level you never feel talked down to because it's totally new to you, or bored because it is a concept you my have been familiar with. And he uses the English language beautifully, if John Paul were instructing you on how to change the cat box his teaching style would make it seem like an interesting and worthwhile endeavor.
Anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of Photoshop knows of and understands what dodging & burning is and does. After watching these DVD's I now realize just how much is possible with these simple tools.
John Paul will walk you through the process of taking several "ordinary" shots of nature and show you how to make it "pop". You watch him use gradient, luminance, and contour masking, with edge definition and dodging & burning to turn a "flat" image into one with so much depth you feel like reaching (or walking) into it.
I've heard comments like "too bad it isn't real" regarding images that have been "photoshopped". I could not disagree more, because what John Paul is teaching you is how to put back into the image what your eyes can see, but your camera cannot capture - the depth, subtly, and the details found in the shadows and in the light.
Two things I really appreciated about his teaching style were: 1. John Paul spends about 1/3 of the time looking into the camera talking to you, explaining the concepts and theory (how's and why's) of what he was doing, trying to achieve and 2. throughout the entire DVD he is encouraging the viewer to "find your own voice", not to simply try and emulate what he was teaching.
This 3 DVD set is almost 4 hours long and believe me when I tell you, there is not a single minute of wasted time.
The only problem I did have was watching John Paul edit images on his big honkin' Wacom Cintiq, I have mentioned in previous blog entries just how much I love this monitor. It was kinda like having a conversation with a guy who is leaning against his new Porsche Targa, your eyes keep drifting from him to his car and you start hearing "blah, bah, blah".
But seriously, "Drawing With Light - 21st Century Dodging & Burning" is worth your time and your money. It's one of those rare instances when you get back far more than you put in.
Be sure to visit John Paul's website, his blog, and the other education opportunities he offers.