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
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
I follow Scott Bourne on Twitter and ran across a post of his that I found VERY interesting. It linked to a blog by Tarsa Mar, a photographer who had talked to Scott about how to improve her photography. As a result, he challenged her to become better.
His challenge to her was simple.
- View another professional photographer’s work.
- Read one page in her camera manual.
- Take at one picture.
Each day. Every day.
She is blogging about it in order to document it and to encourage her to do it everyday.
I LOVE this idea. With some changes.
Instead of reading one page of the manual, I will read at least one page of a photo related book. I am always trying to find ways to be utilize the camera to it’s fullest capability. I have read my manual three times and will continue reading it.
I will be taking one picture each day, but with my iPhone. I think that a good photographer can take a good picture with any camera and I ALWAYS have my iPhone with me. In addition, I have several apps that I can use to edit/manipulate the images and then upload them to this site. In other words, every image posted to here for this assignment will be shot, edited, and uploaded with my iPhone.
I will view at least one other photographer’s images each day, but they don’t have to be professional. I think there are some GREAT amatures .
When I say once each day, I will try to average five times a week. Being a teacher, water polo official, and actually having a life, I think that 5/7 days is a very reasonable and doable goal. Yet, it will still be challenging and educational.
Why change the challenge? Because every individual needs to be challenged in a unique and personal way. As long as the challenge is real and goal oriented, I think that every person should modify their goals to fit themselves. I can’t be Tarsa Mar. I wouldn’t want to her any more than she wants to be me. Therefore, I choose to modify the challenge.
As I said, I will be posting five times a week and will include my reading and whose images I viewed. I encourage your comments and input. Be brutal, but be nice.
Posted 4 years, 2 months ago at 12:35 pm. 1 comment