Dan Bailey is an Alaskan photographer who specializes in outdoor, adventure, and travel photography. If you look at his images he has an amazing eye. You can see some of his images on his website: Dan Bailey.com
He has written and published two ebooks. I have purchased both and have read Making the Image: A Conceptual Guide for Making Stronger Photographs. It is a quick read, but very well done.
His book touches on the basics of good photography. The table of contents includes Light, Color, Focus, Balance, Empty Space, Relationships, Simplicity, Moment, Viewpoint, Details, Decisions, and Creation. There is very little that is really new or earth shattering in the text, but his approach puts the subject in a new light.
In his discussion of light, he makes it clear that a photograph is about good light and how to see it. In the section on balance, he talks about the rule of thirds. And in the chapter on simplicity, he discusses “less is more”. The last chapter is on creativity and discusses the creative process including how to get ideas and solve problems. I think there is something for all levels of photographers who are looking for a small nugget of information to make them better.
The difference between Bailey’s book and most other books is the images that are included with the text. Most photo books have small images to highlight the point being made. Bailey’s book includes a full two page spread of the image. The text is place directly on the included picture and in most cases the image demonstrates idea discussed in the text very well. Not only do you get the text for the subject, but he includes the EXIF data for each image.
You are not buying a book on how to make better images as much as you are buying a book of great images that also includes information on how to take better photographs. For $11 you get a book of images and information at a price that shouldn’t make you think twice.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Posted 2 years, 8 months ago at 11:17 am. 1 comment
I have traveled Highway 395 through Bishop many times for lots of trips. On almost every trip, I stop at Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery at least once. His work is amazingly beautiful and inspiring. In addition, the gallery always has a section where a guest artist’s work is displayed and their work is usually equally impressive.
Unfortunately, Mr. Rowell died in a plane crash in 2002. The Sierra Club Book publishing company of San Fransisco brought together more than 175 of his images and writings along with those of guest authors document Galen’s body of work and a lot of his life.
Each of the ten different authors document one aspect of Rowell’s life and/or photography and each essay is accompanied by several of Galen’s images that directly relate to the writing. Sprinkled throughout the book are short writings by Galen and others that highlight certain aspects of his photography. The book also covers his equipment and some of his thinking in taking different images.
Rowell is able to make any place look special with his photographs. His images cover the globe from the foothills of San Fransisco to the mountain ranges of Tibet and South America. All of them are beautiful and inspiring.
He demonstrates why you sometimes need a person in the scene to give the viewer a measure of scale and he shows how to use color in a way that draws the viewer into the shot. By examining the images the book contains, you can see how an artist captures light in different scenes. His composition is precise and well thought out. All of his images seem to have nothing out of place and everything included in the image was intended to be exactly where it is supposed to be.
This book should be required reading for any photographer who is interested in shooting the outdoors. It documents a advocate who is not only the photographer of nature, but also part of it.
Posted 2 years, 9 months ago at 1:58 pm. 4 comments
I’ve been to Death Valley National Park several times and am planning my trip there over the upcoming winter break. After sometime searching, I have found what I consider one of the best guide books for the area. Death Valley and the Northern Mojave-A Vistor’s Guide written by William C. Tweed and Lauren Davis, published in 2003 covers the area in a deep, well thought out and presented manner.
The book starts with a quick description of the landforms and geology and goes on to describe the climate and life found in the region. The next two chapters are devoted to the history of the area divided into two basic aras; pre-1900 and post-1900. All of the first four chapters are a great read and very informative, but the value of the book starts in chapter five.
The next six chapters cover the Northern Mojave in regions. The areas are Indian Wells, Searles and Panamint Valley, Saline and Eureka Valleys, Northern Death Valley, Southern Death Valley, and the Amargosa Valley and Shoshone regions. Each chapter starts with a map of the region showing the featured destinations that are described in the following pages which are the meat and potatoes of the book, they give a complete and thorough description of each of the destinations.
Each destination is described in a way that lets the reader determine if it is really a site they would be interested in visiting. I have visited several of the areas described and the text of the book not only describes the ares well compared to the actual location, but also give a good history of the site from how it got it’s name to what historical significance it has or had. Following the description are good directions to the attraction. In addition to the description and directions, the authors include a good color photograph or two of the site. The photos are a nice touch and not usually found in guide books. I really appreciated the extra touch.
If you are heading to the Northern Mojave Desert area, including Death Valley, I strongly recommend you get this book as one of your resources for the trip.
Posted 2 years, 12 months ago at 10:53 pm. 1 comment
Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris
If you are looking for a book that covers almost all facets of landscape photography, you should take a close look at Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris is published by the National Audubon Society. The book has awe inspiring images on almost every page which is a good reason alone to by the book, but the information offered is some of the best I have read to this point.
Mr. Fitzharris takes the reader from the proper equipment and how to transport it to the site through shooting fundimentals and how to create good images to what to look for and how to shoot different types of landscapes. He finishes with the only weak section of the book, digital processing.
The first part is about equipment. In the first chapter Fitzharris discusses large, medium, and digital formats and gives advantages and disadvantages for all. He also discusses tripod selection and how to best outfit your tripod for landscape imagery. The second chapter is devoted to lenses which, according to the author, should range from 18-200mm. He gives reasons and examples of images taken with each range. The third chapter concerns the logistics of landscape photography including photo-vests, non-photographic “Essential Gizmos” that you might need, and how to dress for each of the seasons that you might be shooting in. His suggestion of dressing with zippers, not layers is good.
The second part of the book, chapters 5 & 6, deal with correct exposure, how to read a histogram, and the affect of shutter speed and aperture have on images. He also discusses the use of different metering methods in the field.
Part three deals with creating the images. Chapter six talks about light and what to look for as well as how different skies affect the image. Different types of filters and their affect on the images are also explained. The next chapter discusses the basics of composition and offers nothing really new for the experienced photographer, but he does give some great examples of composition rules that are worth examining.
The next few chapters discuss finding the art, perspective, and opportunities of landscape photography. My favorite part of these chapters is the discussion of a landscape/nature photographer’s day from early morning landscapes, to wildlife, scouting locations, and finally sunsets.
The last section is VERY weak and discusses the digital processing of images. Devoting a few pages to what requires a book or two is a waste of the readers time.
That being said, the real strength of the book is the fourth part where Mr. Fitzharris’ writing shines. He covers most all of the usual situations where landscape images are captured and describes what to look for and how to capture beautiful images. Some of the situations Fitzharris discusses are autumn color, waterfalls, dunes, floral vistas, and clouds. He describes timing, filters, methods, and composition when visiting each type of landscape. His ideas and suggestions are all very good.
The best reason to buy this book is the images that Fitzharris includes to demonstrate his vision, ideas, and suggestions. Looking at the images will improve your photography. The thing I really like is that not all of his images are from exotic locations. There are many from places that any photographer in the country can visit with very little effort if they are serious about getting nice images.
Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris is a book that should be on a photographer’s bookshelf if they are interested in landscape photography and even nature photography in general.
Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 8:06 am. 1 comment
I have purchased many photography books since I started shooting. Some are good and some are bad. All of them were purchased with the intent of making my images better. This is the first of many book reviews that I will be doing.
One of the first books I purchased was Bryan Peterson’s Learning To See Creatively. I wanted to learn how to create better images that would capture peoples attention. After spending quite a bit of time in the local Border’s, I liked this one.
The book starts with a quick introduction on how we see and how different lenses change that view. Peterson uses a fun exercise that makes you, using a fixed focal length, start some distance away from your subject, far enough away that the subject had lots of space around it. Take a shot and then move five steps closer. Take a shot and move again. Continue until you are unable to focus. Repeat the whole process on your knees and then on your belly. Done yet? Nope. Repeat the whole thing with a different lens length. This allows you to learn to see as your camera does.
After the part of how to see, Peterson discusses how each type of lens changes that perspective. From super wide angle to telephoto to macro. The change in perspective and depth of field is shown in some great images.
Mr. Peterson next discusses the elements of design. Starting by asking what makes a striking image and then going into the basic elements such as line, shape, and pattern.
In the next section, he discusses composition. As far I can tell, he discusses all of them important “rules” of composition; filling the frame, rule of thirds, no horizon, using diagonals, and frame within a frame. Peterson also talks about how to “work a subject” and when to break the “rules”.
As with every section, Peterson has great images that serve as wonderful examples of not only the point he is trying to make, but just plain good images.
The next section deals with light. It isn’t a long section and only deals with certain aspects of light; direction, color, and availability. There is a nice discussion on rainy days and overcast condition. This section is probably the second weakest section in the book.
In my opinion, the last two chapters, digital photography and career considerations, are the weakest sections. Granted, the copyright of the book I have is 2003 and digital was a bit younger and not quite as accepted as it is now. Still, the digital section doesn’t quite live up to the quality and information rich substance as the rest of the book. It’s only about six pages long and almost seems to be an after thought. Even more of an after thought is the section on photography as a career. Honestly, there is almost no information there of any consequence.
Through out the book, Mr. Peterson does two things I really like. First, as I have stated before, he has some great images. Just going through the book and looking at the images will get your mind thinking about how to make better images or how you could have maybe captured some of your past subjects in a more interesting way. Second, he sprinkles little exercises that help you learn the ideas he is trying to convey. I already mentioned one of those exercises. Another one I liked was in recognizing pattern. The exercise is to use only items from one room, like your kitchen, and create patterns to photograph. It makes a great late night, “I can’t sleep” exercise.
Overall, this is a great book for beginning photographers to start learning to see the world in a way that allows them to capture images in a more creative way. It is also good for more experienced photographers who might be in a rut or looking for a different point of view.
You can pick up the book at Amazon here.
Posted 3 years, 8 months ago at 8:00 am. Add a comment