Shoot to Thrill: A Hard-Boiled Guide to Digital Photography


Shoot to Thrill

“If you’re looking for a fresh, offbeat style, you’ll enjoy this book.” --John Nack

If you’re packin’ heat and a D-SLR, SHOOT TO THRILL is like having a bullet-proof vest. Loaded with tips, dames, laughs, tales of noir, and photos shot from the hip!



Written in the style ...

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Shoot to Thrill: A Hard-Boiled Guide to Digital Photography

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Shoot to Thrill

“If you’re looking for a fresh, offbeat style, you’ll enjoy this book.” --John Nack

If you’re packin’ heat and a D-SLR, SHOOT TO THRILL is like having a bullet-proof vest. Loaded with tips, dames, laughs, tales of noir, and photos shot from the hip!



Written in the style of a pulp detective novel, this book goes beyond the mechanics of shooting and teaches us all how to “see” with a fresh vision. Shoot to Thrill teaches creative techniques such as

  • Achieving dramatic film noir lighting
  • Getting the ring flash look (the rage in fashion photography)
  • Experimenting with High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI)
  • Capturing breaking news, and a lot more

Offers valuable “two-fisted tips” on how to score killer shots—from still life to action.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789742407
  • Publisher: Que
  • Publication date: 10/12/2009
  • Pages: 254
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Derek Pellis a writer, visual artist, and photographer. He’s the author of more than 20 books, including Morbid Curiosities, Doktor Bey’s Bedside Bug Book, Assassination Rhapsody, and The Little Red Book of Adobe LiveMotion. Novelist Robert Coover calls Pell “...a wordplay master and a parodist of great wit and cunning.” Larry McCaff ery declared him “the most wickedly funny writer in America.” The New York Times Book Reviewreferred to him as “a British misanthrope-humorist”—despite the fact he was born in New York City. He describes himself as “self-uneducated,” although he attended The Art Institute of Chicago and The Goodman School of Drama.

Pell worked as a press photographer for United Press International (UPI) for several years. As a freelance photojournalist, his photographs have appeared in many newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Rolling Stone, Lens Culture, L.A. Weekly, The London Times, New York Magazine, Interview, The Village Voice, American Forests, and Zink.

He created the popular “hard-boiled” column The Laptop Detective, which appeared monthly in PC Laptop Magazine, and for 12 years served as editor-in-chief of the online technology review, DingBat. Today, Derek lives in San Diego, California, where he edits Zoom Street(, an online magazine devoted to digital photography.

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Table of Contents

introduction: the F Stops Here

Prologue: I Cover the Watergate

CHAPTER 1 Packin' Heat


Assault & Batteries

Memory Cards

Gear Bags



Cheap Thrills: Odds 'N Ends

Author's Note

CHAPTER 2 Call for Backup!

How Many Backups Are Enough?

If the Mob Can Get Organized, So Can You

Photoshop, Lightroom, & Bridge, Oh My!

Creating a Custom Preset

The Bridge

A View From the Bridge

CHAPTER 3 Private Eyes

Sleep Mode

Method Acting: Comedy or Tragedy?

You're the Lead, Not the Walk-On

Find the A.N.G.E.L.




CHAPTER 4 Hand-to-Cam Combat

Get to Know Your ISO

Whose White Balance Is It, Anyway?

Metering Patterns

Matrix Metering

Spot Metering

Center-Weighted Metering

Play It Again, S.A.M.

Aperture Priority

Shutter Priority (S)

Manual Mode (M)

Programmed-Auto (P)

Busting the Bracket Racket

Exposure Compensation (EV)

CHAPTER 5 Twinkle, Twinkle Little Noir

Ambient Light

Imagining Light and Re-creating It

Nighttime Is the Right Time...For Noir

Portable Flash Is Your Buddy

An Ounce of Bounce = Fills & Thrills

Grids, Snoots, Gobos, & Chizzlers

A Knockout in the Ring

What, Me Pop-Up?

The Big Guns: Studio Strobes

Cover Story

CHAPTER 6 A Thirst for Burst

Speed Traps: The Curse of Burst

Twist 'N Shoot

Screen Idle

Hocus-Pocus, Hokum-Focus

"You Lookin' for Action?"

Good Burst, Bad Burst

Let's Roll

"Everybody Freeze!"

There's More to Burst Than Sports

Take a Break from the Action and Look Around

CHAPTER 7 From Chump to Champ

Did Somebody Call the Crops?

The Case of the Missing Subject

Less Is More...More or Less

Stretchin' the Truth

Sharpen Me Deadly

"Have You Tried Calling Noise Abatement?"

Manipulations, Great and Small

Trick or Treat?

Art for Art's Sake (and for Pete's Sake, Too)

There Ain't Nothin' Like a Dame

The Blemish Masters

CHAPTER 8 The Devil Is In the Details

HDRI on the Streets of San Diego

Cheap Thrills Contest

Bypass the Bleached Blonde with the Luger

High Pass: The Knockout Punch

High Pass Thrills and Chills

CHAPTER 9 "I've Been Framed!"

Hangin' on the Web

Hangin' on the Wall

A Rogue's Gallery Meets MoMA

Print It for Posterity

CHAPTER 10 "Play It Again, Cam..."


Hybrid on a Hot Tin Roof

DV Dinners

Dead Pans and Zoom Goons

"We Didn't Need Faces. We Had Dialogue."

A DV Thrill

The Happy Ending

APPENDIX A Hot Links, Cool Leads

Cameras/Computers/Backup/Portable Drives/Printers

Memory Cards


Lights/Lighting Accessories

Camera Bags and Straps



Hard-Boiled Software


Online Pubs, Blogs, and Reference

APPENDIX B A Hard-Boiled Library

Nuts 'N Bolts

Art Photography/Critical Works

Noir Reference



9780789742407 TOC 8/24/2009

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