HERE ARE SOME terrific videotapes for holiday giving and year-round use. All are available at camera or other retail stores, or as listed.
The "On Assignment" tapes from Media West Inc. are a series of 90-minute tapes on still photography. The individual tapes are hosted and narrated by Brian Ratty, a photographer and businessman whose assignments have carried him around the world. They give practical advice for all photographers, from novice to professional. The titles:
"The Business of Photography" does an excellent (but necessarily generic) job of looking at photography after the picture is taken. Chapters include how the business works, choosing your direction, how to put together the best portfolio, editing and more editing, staff opportunities, breaking in and staying in the business, things to keep in mind if you freelance, photo reps and stock agencies.
"The Darkroom" is excellent for anyone who wants to build or update a darkroom. Chapters cover darkroom layout and equipment, chemicals and paper, developing black and white film, proofing, making an enlargement, special printing methods, understanding color, developing color film and color printing.
"Photographic Light" is an excellent review of one of the more difficult things to learn in photography. The chapters: direction and form; contrast; color; measuring light; tonal control; film latitude; electronic flash; and natural, available and artificial light.
"The Studio" is a fine how-to for all of us who dream of having our own studio, covering everything from studio layout to lighting the studio, still life photography to shooting formal portraits.
"Photographic Design" covers camera choice, lens choice, framing at the camera, selective focus, design elements, design principles, light direction, light quality, control of light and photographing color.
These tapes are available from Media West Inc. (800/888-TAPE) and Source 1 (800/242-1482). Each tape is $29.95.
The following three tapes from the Kodak Video Programs series are all 30 minutes long and cost $14.95 each:
"How to Take Better Pictures" has lots of basic information for the beginning or intermediate amateur. It contains tips on use of point-and-shoot cameras and takes us on location to Sea World and Washington.
In "Images With Imagination" Joe Timmer helps viewers sharpen their competition photography. Timmer has won over 5,000 awards in 25 countries, and shows us how he did it. His lighting set-ups are simple and logical, and his trick photography amusing.
The first part of "Nature Photography" is a meandering tour though Grand Teton National Park with photographer Tom Mangelsen in a successful search for wildlife pictures. You'll get tips on preparation, clothing, camouflage, lenses, film and other equipment.
In the last part we are guided though the macro world of insects, bugs and flowers by photographers Steve Diehl and Vici Zaremba. We learn the techniques, equipment and philosophy that produced a series of marvelous close-ups.
The Kodak tapes are available through Wood-Knapp Video, 800/331-6839.
From Tiffany Video Productions comes "Beyond Basic Boudoir." These tapes, by the award-winning husband-and-wife team of Robert and Sheila Hurth, use no professional models as they take us through this very glamorous field of photography. In Volume 1 we see striking poses, dramatic lighting and creative set design. The technical data is excellent, and all the tricks of making an average person into someone special are shown.
Volume 2 shows both studio and on location shots. In their studio, the Hurths not only diagram their lighting setups, they also show pictures of these lights being set up. Each volume is $34.95 from Tiffany Productions (800/237-9876) or Source 1.
"Make a Family Video Album" is a simple but intelligent guide to the steps needed to preserve those special family pictures. It presents four categories to help: Focus (travel, family, etc); Purpose (convenience, entertainment); Visuals (pictures, maps, drawings) and Audio (music, narration). All are done in the living room with standard home video equipment. It costs $19.95 and is available from Source 1.