How are these camera guide books produced?

Each of the “Photographer’s Guide” camera guide books published by White Knight Press is written by the same author, Alexander (Alex) White. My first step is to choose a camera. This can be difficult, because there are so many excellent and interesting models being produced, even within the limited category of “advanced compact” cameras that I concentrate on. I try to choose a camera that offers excellent features and image quality and is priced in a moderate range.

Next, I have to obtain the camera. I don’t have any connections with manufacturers or dealers, so I just purchase a camera from a retail site or store. (When I have finished with a book, I keep the camera for a while so I can post updates and respond to questions; eventually, I usually sell the camera on eBay.) I also purchase accessories if they would be useful for the book. I especially look for items such as filter adapters that are unique to that particular model, but I also look for compatible flash units, cases, and other items, depending on what is available for a particular camera.

After checking out the camera and becoming familiar with its operation, I take the it on several photo trips, usually with my wife, who takes along her own camera. I come back with many example photos, some of which will go into the book. At around the same time, I write a draft of the book in Microsoft Word on my Macintosh. Then I go back over the draft and check it for accuracy, testing the camera as I go. I include references in the text all to of the photographs and screen shots that will be needed. Then I produce a listing of all the needed photos and other illustrations. For recent books, the total of these illustrations has been in the range of 350 – 400 images.

After fine-tuning the draft in Word, I move on to creating all of the images to be inserted into the book, using the master list as a guide. This process usually takes several weeks, because different features require different types of illustrations. For example, for one recent book I needed to include sample images using the special settings for sunsets and night scenes. I scheduled a special trip to a rural area where I could catch the setting sun with an interesting landscape as a backdrop, and where I could also get good twilight shots after the sun had set. Other photos may require finding sports activities to be used for demonstations of fast shutter speeds, or activities that demonstrate the use of burst shooting. A lot of time is also needed for creating screen shots that show the menus of the camera and that illustrate the shooting screens in various situations, such as the use of exposure compensation, manual focus, face detection, and other features.

Once I have all 350 or so images created in Photoshop, I assemble the text and photos together using Adobe InDesign layout software. Once the layout is complete, I spend a lot of time going back over the whole book for accuracy and completeness. Then I use the features of InDesign to create the table of contents and index. The last stage consists of a few more rounds of proofreading. Then the InDesign file is used to generate a high-quality PDF file, which I send out to a company that converts the book into e-book formats for iPad and Kindle devices (among others). At about the same time, I send the PDF file to Lightning Source, the print-on-demand company that produces the paperback version of the book and distributes the paperbacks to Amazon and other online retailers. At that point, the book is ready to be announced here at the White Knight Press site.

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