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Tue, 26 Jul 2005
Artistic block

Via somewhere in the blogosphere or web, I found recommendations for Galen Rowell's Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape and David Hurn's On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide. I've never read any books on photography -- I had a class way back in elementary or middle school, which is where I learned about shutter speeds and apertures, but I never really learned much about the art/expression part of photography.

I found these two books to be pretty helpful -- of course, at the stage I'm at, probably any book would be really helpful. Mountain Light is a tour through some of Galen Rowell's photographs. He described how he happened to be in the place, how he picked his location and angle and so forth. Interspersed with the photographic exhibits are chapters on various aspects of picture taking, where I learned about film reciprocity, hyperfocal distance, and the all important 1/focal length rule of thumb for safe speeds to handhold a photo. It was especially useful to read about Rowell's thought process, the place of luck, and to see that even a great photographer is taking lots of shots because he's not sure which the best one will be. That one tip alone put me at ease about experimenting. Of course, digital makes this easy since it's cheap to record images, at least until you copy them onto your hard disk. The other big tip that is helping me a lot is that most beginner photographs can be improved by cropping the foreground. Even though there was plenty of information in the book, these two simple tips will probably have the most impact on me.

On Being Photographer is an interview between David Hurns and Bill Jay. Here also I found an emphasis on taking picture, exploring angles and positions and so forth. The discussion of contact sheets and Hurn's way of reading a photographer's intention by reading his contact sheets was also encouraging. I think that you could use Flickr that way, if you had a group of people who were interested in improving their art/skill together. At least until you blew your upload limit.

I'll confess to having somewhat of an artistic block (or perhaps phobia) when it comes to the visual arts. I'm fine with music, but painting, colors, photography, UI design are all arenas that just intimidate me. Perhaps the shutterbug will help me overcome that. I'm certainly having a good time snapping picutres.

If people have recommendations of good photography books, I'd love to hear them. I know that the best way to learn is to take pictures, and I have every intention of doing that. Yet, a small comment in a book, or via blog/Flickr/e-mail can go a long way when you are a beginner.

[22:59] | [photography] | # | TB | F | G | 7 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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