Experimental Digital Photography Book Review

Experimental Digital Photography

By Rick Doble

Lark Photography Books, 2010

ISBN 978-1-60059-517-2


Rick Doble’s Experimental Digital Photography is a timely and excellent book for loosening people up and helping them to break out. The book focuses on the more expressive and creative forms of photography, from using slow shutter speeds and creating extreme blur to night and low light photography.

Organised into nine chapters, it covers:

  • Getting Started: the technical side of experimental photography
  • Shooting at slow shutter speeds
  • Movement
  • Light and white balance
  • Night and low light photography
  • Experiments with light
  • Building your imagery
  • Saving and editing your images
  • Judging images and finding your voice

Filled with stunning images, mostly Rick’s but also including profiled work by others, the book is a feast for the eyes and so can be both read as a book and flicked through for inspiration at other times when you are feeling creatively constipated. The first chapter shows you how to use the camera controls for the most flexibility, as used in the later chapters. The book then gets into blur and movement and really pushing your ideas of what an image is.

The book does an excellent job of covering the types of experimental photography that Rick obviously enjoys. He is passionate about it and this comes across in the book and is contagious, making you want to go out and try things.

The book is lacking in some areas from being an exhaustive coverage of the topic. The chapter on saving and editing your images on the computer is, I feel, the weakest of the book. It has a hesitancy that I think reflects Rick’s preference for working in camera as much as possible. Likewise because, I think, of Rick’s preferences, the illustrations have a preponderance of low light shots. This leads to an inadequate coverage of things like extreme neutral density filters, using crossed polarisers to get an extreme ND effect or using a pinhole rather than a lens so that you can get extreme movement effects in strong light. The book clearly misses on multiple exposure techniques, possibly because of the rarity of digital cameras that allow this and so in the digital domain it is usually something one must achieve in post processing, something Rick prefers not to do. Lastly, the book is lacking a real exploration of why you would want to use the techniques and an exploration of what abstraction is really about (since most of these techniques lead to abstraction in some way).

Those limitations stated, this is still an outstanding book and it does belong on every photographer’s bookshelf. I’d love to see Rick do a follow-up book, probably jointly with someone who is more comfortable with the areas that I’ve identified as a bit weak here, as that would be the definitive book on these topics from a practical perspective.

Go buy this book, from Amazon (Experimental Digital Photography (Lark Photography Book)) or good bookshops everywhere, then put it to use and see how these techniques resonate with you.

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