Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Book Bag: Focus & Filter Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

20 June 2017

We're not in the habit of giving advice to newbies but if we were, we'd have to recommend living next door to Andrew Darlow, the author of Focus & Filter.

In introducing the 50 pro tips in this collection, Darlow says that apart from the first 19, you don't have to read them in order. Those first 19 take you through your dSLR like the owner's manual should have. But after that, we confess to having read the book out of order. Backwards, in fact. Which avoids surprises.

Instead of surprises, we took inventory. Darlow has got everything from remote shutters to variously colored LEDs, from lens calibration tools you'll use once in your life to optically pure screen protectors you'll fail to smudge daily. Not to mention a variety of lenses, camera bodies and light sources. And a spacious studio.

He's such a nice guy, he'd lend you (as a neighbor) anything. And never bug you to return it. But you're such a nice guy he wouldn't have to, right? Right.

The gear he discusses in both the fourth section of the book dealing with Shooting in the Field and the third section (which we read after the fourth) Studio Mastery will make you drool. Wear a bib.

But, as it happens, only two guys can live next to Darlow. So let's talk about how the rest of us can enjoy the book. Starting with the title Focus & Filter.

He explained the title to us a while ago but it bears repeating here because, well, it's an unusual use of words on the front of a book.

"You can focus a camera," he told us, "and you can focus your mind's eye on a subject so there's that. And you can use filters on cameras, but you have to filter out everything that you don't want in the frame, so there are two ways of looking at that."

You don't usually get two free tips right on the cover, but that's Darlow for you.

And this book, let's be clear, is all about the tips.

Not tips, though, for smartphone photographers looking for ways to brandish their selfie sticks and animal filters to spice up their cosplay ambitions. Not that kind of book.

But if you're a smartphone photographer who wonders what a real camera could do for you then Darlow is the guy to ask. This book packs a lifetime of pro experience in under 200 pages (available as an ebook version, too) that shows you what a real camera can do.

His inventory, impressive as it is, is not how you can tell Darlow is a pro, though. The acid test is actually the opposite of listing impressive gear with tried-and-true brand names.


Every pro we've ever known has proudly showed us some confabulation he's conjured up to solve some vexing real-world problem. And Darlow delivers in the home remedy department with $7 hot shoes glued onto remote controls and painter's extension poles called into duty, among many others.

In fact, Shopping Smart, which is the second section of the book, has a lot of home remedies to free your cash up for smart purchases you might not have considered because they're in the other aisle (or even another store, for that matter).

So what tips are you going to inhale from this book?

Well, the answer to that is kind of funny. You might think that all you have to do is skim through this book saying, "Ah ha!" every other page. But Darlow puts you to work.

His 50 tips come with 50 assignments. And like those tests everyone takes at school, the assignments aren't limited to a single item. He may throw seven assignments at you in one Pro Assignment.

Now why would a nice guy like Andrew Darlow sneak 50 tests into his book of tips?

We didn't ask him because the answer is obvious.

If you want to photograph like a pro, it isn't enough to own the same gear as a pro. It isn't even enough to live close enough to borrow pro gear. You have to act like a pro. And to act like a pro, you have to think like a pro.

These assignments get you thinking like a pro. In fact, you'll be forgiven if you think they feel like work.

But then what pro doesn't want more work?

Focus & Filter by Andrew Darlow, published by Ulysses Press, 194 pages, $21.95 (or $14.24 at

BackBack to Photo Corners