Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why Photographs Work - the Book

 I was asked about the upcoming book. As excellent progress has been made and we have a definite list of photographers, I thought I'd bring everyone up to date on this exciting project.

The book is a discussion by me about what makes each of the 51 photographs work, followed by a description by the photographer of making the image (why more than how), a short bio, picture of the photographer, reference to their website and publications and who were their influences.

Photographers include:

Bruce Barnbaum
Charlie Cramer
David Maisel
Beth Moon
George Jerkovich
Sandra C Davis
Hans Strand
Michael Kenna
Carol Hicks
Francois Gillet
Joe Cornish
David Ward
Pete Turner
Larry Louie
Cole Thompson
Susan Burnstine
Kim Kauffman
Louie Palu
Michael Levin
Freeman Patterson
Craig Richards
Elizabeth Opalenik
Bengt Ekelberg
Sven Fennema
Harald Mante
George E. Todd
John Sexton
Roman Loranc
Wayne Levin
Tillman Crane
Christopher Burkett
Shaun O'Boyle
Gordon Lewis
Brigitte Carnochan
Lawrence Chrismas
Dennis Mecham
Charlie Waite
Brian Kosoff
Milan Hristev
Paul Mahder
Blair Polischuk
Billie Mercer
Huntington Witherill
Joe Lipka
John Wimberley
Mitch Dobrowner
Nick Brandt
Phil Borges
Dan Burkholder
Thomas Holtkoetter

Each photographer has one image in the book. Many of the images are famous but perhaps people don't know why they like the image and therefore can't create similarly great images and the book will help. Some are quite unknown images and will suprise and hopefully delight.

The book will be 10X10 inches. Printing will be good but not coffee table quality (check my previous books for similar quality - very good) but it will also be reasonably priced, some 200+ pages.

The status of the book is it has been written and edited by the publisher (Rockynook) and I am in the process of re-editing. it is hoped to be out before Christmas but it's going to be a close thing.

I should say that each photographer has donated his or her photograph and writing to the project with no compensation other than some free copies of the book and I'm extremely grateful to them for this (the project could not have been done otherwise).

There is a significant variety of photography in the book. 46% is in colour, there are 8 women, photographers from Canada, USA, Britain, Sweden, Germany and Bulgaria. There are nudes, traditional landscapes, manipulations, abstracts, allegories and more. I pushed my middle aged white guy background to select images but love every one of them, in some cases for years.

Not all the photographers are famous, not all have great depth of wonderful work behind them, but each has risen to the occasion to produce a beautiful and or meaninful image.

Even in the time that I have collected photographers and done the writing, some of the least known photographers have been or ar about to be published or have won international awards - I think I have chosen very well, even if I do say so. My writing in the book isn't terribly different from the style used in my blog.

The book is for photographers who want to learn from the greats, and for viewers of photography who want to better appreciate great images, and for everyone to push their taste boundaries a little beyond comfort, while still paying strict attention to traditional print values. None of the images stands on concept over skill, idea over craftsmanship.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Right Light

The right light is critical to good photographs. Both brillant sun with its black shadows and really flat light result in dull boring pictures, especially in black and white. HDR has helped the sunlit images but really flat lighting just plain sucks.

Predicting what light you will have for your photographs can be really difficult. Some photographers will only go out at sunrise but of course sunset lasts just as long and can be every bit as nice. I have found it practical in summer to head out in the afternoon, photograph at sunset, either camp or motel and then go out very early to photograph before and during sunrise, heading home again.

Weather conditions often change though and by not heading out you may be missing on the wonderful light that followed the crap light. A thunderstorm develops and the light is magic. Perhaps you end up photographing something in the shade, with somewhat directional lighting provided by other objects reflecting into the subject area. When photographing the small, local conditions trump overall lighting and even holding up an umbrella, shirt or you can be enough to change the lighting from poor to great.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Box And Pipe Version 2

In keeping with getting the shot quickly into the camera before things change, I made the picture posted on the weekend, but I also then stopped to think about what I was doing. I decided to include more of the curve in the upper left, while at the same time exposing only the lid of the box. Moving back a few inches and adjusting the zoom allowed for what I think is a better composition. Again, Helicon Focus is used for near infinite depth of field, and this time I was careful to consider the framing with the closest focus as the image is slightly magnified (ie. cropped) which means that if you do your framing with the distant part of the image in focus, you may get the framing wrong.

I took advantage of the colour sliders in the black and white conversion layer in photoshop to give the grass just the right tint through adjusting the yellow and green sliders while slightly darkening the beige box by darkening the red slider, none of which affected the relatively neutral concrete. Considerable work was done with curves adjustment layers to get the tonalities right (some 10 layers of adjustment), as well as subtle highlight dodging near the end of the workflow - just as I wrote about in my second book.

I have just realized that the bottom corner of the grass looks a little weak - so before I make my first print, I'll darken that (but have left the problem here for you to see the kind of thing that I adjust to make a good print).