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Wed, 19 Apr 2006
More photo book reviews

[ This post got written way back in November, but for reasons I can't explain I never posted it ]

More photography books via the library -- I just picked them up from prowling the shelves

"Criticizing Photographs" (Terry Barrett)

I really wanted to like this book, but I found that it was at a level of art / semiotics / interpretation that was outside my frame of reference. A few chapters in I decided to give up and try this one again some other time.

"The Photographer's Guide to Filters (Photographers Guide)" (Lee Frost)

I was surprised that there was an entire chapter devoted to discussing various filter systems, because it seems like a topic that would change as manufacturers changed their product line. Aside from that, this was a good introduction to the various kinds of filters that are available, and the conditions when you might use them. I have to admit that using filters seems a bit like cheating, and that many of the filter effects can probably be done in something like Photoshop. When you consider the cost of the various filters, filter systems and so forth (especially if you are unfortunate enough to have lenses with different filter sizes), the tradeoff between using a filter and Photoshopping it starts to get a little sketchy. I'm not really ready to do much with filters, except for polarizers. Even so, I only have a 58mm polarizer and now I have a 58mm lens and 52mm lens.

"The Complete Guide to Close Up & Macro Photography" (Paul Harcourt Davies)

It turns out that there's a lot of additional technology/gear that can be involved in dong macro photography. In this book I learned about stacked lenses, extension via tubes and/or bellows, focusing rails, the 53 degree Brewster angle for polarizers, and more. There was a fair amount of basic photography / composition review, which is good, because I still need the reinforcement.

The book reinforces the notion of macro photography as plants and bugs, aimed sort of at a scientific audience. There are good sections on issues specific to each of these kinds of subjects, but I wished for more "every day" applications of macro techniques.

Next up, a few books on photographing people, since I feel that my treatment of people is especially weak.

"Creative Approaches to Photographing People" (Vincent Colabella)

This is another book in the style of photo on one page, commentary on the facing page. Not every page is like that, but most of the book is. That can be fine assuming that the commentary is good. I found that the commentary for each photo was a little bit short, and as a beginner, I'm looking for more commentary rather than less. A part of the commentary for most of the photos is a lighting diagram. "Real" lighting looks to be a fairly expensive proposition, and I'm not at all sure that I'll be photographing people under those kinds of conditions, which made it hard to relate to much of the content.

"Photographing People" (John Hedgecoe)

This book covered a lot of topics, spending about 2 pages on each. The range went from the basics of portraiture, through portrait themes, locations, lighting techniques, and developing a style. There were some good ideas for themes for portraits -- I liked the "pride of possession" one - that's probably not something I would have thought about on my own. Still, I would have liked more beginner focused material, particularly on posing.

"Take Better Family Photos" (Steve Bavister)

This is a Reader's Digest book, and I never would have picked it up if I hadn't been trawling the shelves. But as it turns out, this was probably the most helpful book for me as a beginner. Yes, there was whole chapter on cameras which wasn't very helpful. Lots of little tips about flattering positions and poses.

Considering that the used price for this book on Amazon starts at $1-2, it be hard not to add this to the collection.

"Photographic Composition" (Tom Grill, Mark Scanlon)

Photographic Composition was on a lot of lists at Amazon, and I'd have to say that I agree with that. I've read a few other books on compositional topics, but this one gave me a much better grasp on the various controls for composition

In broad terms a particular photographic composition can be thought of as the product of graphics (points, lines and spaces), photographics (the unique ways the implements of photography influence the final image), and color (wavelengths of light affecting the viewer both physically and emotionally).

Most of the usual compositional elements are covered. This time the notion of focus as a compositional tool, both via selective focus and wide apertures, really stuck out to me. Perhaps that's because the 50mm f1.8 is really stretching me in that area. If I had to single out one of the books that I've read so far, this would be the one for composition.

[23:58] | [photography] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
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