Impressions of Light Book Review

Impressions of Light

Photographs by William Neill

Impressions of Light was published in 2008 in book form. I found it recently as an eBook from William’s website and bought it.

The ebook comes as two PDFs, one that preserves the spread design of the paper book, the other as individual pages. It is the latter that is easier to use when reading electronically, but it is great having both so you can see how the book was designed, since I do not have a print copy.

Impressions of Light covers the photographer’s experimentation with long exposure and movement in photographing the landscape, nature and water. He uses this to abstract his subject, reducing it to its elemental parts and, by removing the detail that grabs your attention, allowing you to concentrate on the feeling and emotion.

The book is immensely successful. The images are stunning, William showing a real feel for this approach and a mastery of his technique. There is an amazing calm and Zen-like quality to the book, despite the obvious amount of movement employed. The individual images are beautiful and transcendental, truly taking you into the sublime that is nature and the landscape. something those of you who shoot the landscape will know.

The PDF is 85 pages long, in the individual page version, and each is a gem. The book is divided into four image sections: forest, flora, landscape and water. There is an opening essay by William and a section of photographic information at the end.

My only criticism of the book is a small one. The last section, Water, is mainly beach and ocean images, but the last four are lake images and are jarringly different when you flip the page and land straight on them. I think the appearance might have worked better with the water section broken into Ocean and Lake sections, so the transition was less sudden. Apart from that I think the book is well designed and the images both well chosen and sequenced.

William sells the book and ebook from his website. The paper book sells for US$150, while the electronic book version is a bargain at US$15. At the time of writing it was selling at US$10 and at this it is a must buy for anyone into photography. Very highly recommended. Do both yourself and your photography a favour and buy yourself a copy.


Painting With Light Book Review

Painting With Light: Light Art Performance Photography

By JanLeonardo Woellert and Joerg Miedza

Rocky Nook, Santa Barbara

ISBN: 978-1-933952-74-1

The Painting With Light book is a documentation of a body of work and a process of creation that is interesting and extending of the bounds of photography.

This is not a how to book. Rather the bulk of the book documents the work of these two performance artists, because that is how I see them. The stunning images that illustrate the book document an event. So there are actually two creative works going on here: the performance itself and the artefacts (photographs) that result from it.

As I said above, this 220-page book is mostly a gallery of stunning and surprising work that is definitely worth careful examination. The imagery illustrates a real mastery by the practitioners of lighting and movement. Written sections take you through their philosophy in creating the work, the techniques, how to plan and choose a site and the actual performance. The writing is concise and effective. It gives you enough to understand the work and to give it a try yourself without become a laborious handholding.

The book is a large, landscape format book, printed on paper with a significant sheen, as you can see in the illustrations. So you may need to tilt the book to see the images well, depending on the lighting. I also found the binding glue separated partly on mine pretty quickly with handling. This wasn’t really a problem as it meant the front cover nicely lay flat when reading on a table. I haven’t had this with other Rocky Nook books, so I think it is a product of the unusual shape of the book.

This is a great book. They are all beautifully executed. I can happily recommend this book. It belongs on the bookshelf of every photographer who aspires to create rather than find the images they shoot and will give you ideas well beyond the bounds of light painting. Very highly recommended.

How To Win Photo Competitions – An eBook Review

How To Win Photo Competitions is an eBook it was about time somebody wrote, and who better that Peter Eastway, who has not only won many competitions at the highest levels but has also judged so many competitions himself.

How To Win Photo Competitions

By Peter Eastway

eBook, 2011


The ninety page eBook not only covers details of the judging process and tips on winning photos, but also on how to take and process a winning photo in the first place.

Sixty of the ninety pages in this book are on the shooting and processing of strong images. That will be a problem to some, but I feel it works. Much of this material is not new, after all how much new can one say about composition or using a histogram. But it is all written from the perspective of competition use, and that makes it very valuable by giving it the specific focus required.

The other thirty pages of the book are specifically focused on competitions, from why to enter competitions to details of the judging process. This information is well organised and effective. The part I personally liked the most was right at the end, where Peter discusses some of the decisions he made in preparing certain winning images. Other people will find their own favourite parts.

Judging the book as a whole, I would say it is the perfect book for amateur and semi-professional photographers who want to make their competition success less hit and miss. For professional photographers there is a lot to also get from this book, but I would hope that much of the material in the shooting and processing sections would be familiar. The information specifically about competitions is great and really should be read, while the shooting and processing sections will make your photography better, so are also worth careful study.

The thing I really love about this book is that it really gets you thinking about your images from purely a competition standpoint. There are few other books that will do that.

My only real criticism of this eBook is the price. Let’s be blunt, I think it is overpriced, especially given that there is really about 40-50 pages of truly competition-focused material. While there is lots of debate about the pricing of eBooks and many publishers defend identical pricing for print and eBooks, I just don’t buy it and I don’t think many consumers do either. A pro will not think twice about the price, perhaps, but an amateur will. That would be a real shame because amateurs will benefit most from this book. Whilst dead tree books beautifully illustrated in full colour do cost more to print, that is not the case with eBooks. So, if this eBook was half (still a bit high IMHO) or a third the price (just right, in my view) I would recommend it with no reservations. At essentially $50 I still recommend it, but I know many of the people who should read it will not, and that would be a real shame.

You might also be interested in reading my latest post on the HP Professional Photography blog about why to enter competitions.


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.

Ansel Adams for the iPad App Review

The app is a collaboration between Little, Brown and Company, the publisher and the Ansel Adams Trust. It sells for US$13.99 in the US App Store and does not seem to be available in international App Stores, at least at present.

The app brings together 40 images excerpted from Andrea Stillman’s Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs along with video and a collection of letters. Specific contents include:

  • A slideshow of 40 Ansel Adams photographs, with optional audio narration, written commentary, or synchronized music
  • Option to run the slideshow with any musical selection from your iTunes library
  • Embedded video excerpts from documentary films about Adams, including the Ric Burns/Sierra Club Emmy Award-winning film for PBS, spanning Adams’ career
  • A rich selection of letters between Adams and leading figures in the worlds of art, photography, and politics, including Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Weston, Garry Trudeau, and Jimmy Carter, with many original letters shown in facsimile
  • Delightful and amusing vintage postcards that Adams sent to his closest friends, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, while on the road photographing America’s wild places, with original postal stamps and cancellations, doodles, and hand-written notes, with flip-to-read functionality
  • Send-an-e-card feature, allowing the user to create an e-postcard with one of Ansel’s images, enter a message, and email to friends directly out of the app
  • Facsimile reproduction of the Ansel Adams Playboy interview, the most substantial print interview he ever gave
  • A chronology of key moments in Adams’ life and career and a complete bibliography
  • Links to websites of interest to Ansel Adams fans

As a resource for Ansel Adams fans this is a useful step in bringing content to iPad users. The images do look stunning on the iPad and do compare favourably with originals I have seen. The audio commentary on the images is limited to just a reading of the accompanying text, and so I did feel that it missed an opportunity to go further. Personally I would have loved these audio commentaries to be provided by a selection of people who would have discussed each work from technical, compositional, historical and artistic perspectives, making it a great educational tool for photographers. The video content is useful, but all too short.

This is a really good app and will serve well. For the price it is an inexpensive and effective coverage. But I was left wanting so much more. This is certainly not the definitive Adams app, but then we are all experimenting with just what to do with the amazing potential of tablets. I do highly recommend this app but it will leave you wanting more, which perhaps is a good thing.

The Ebook Ebook – Book Review

The Ebook Ebook

By Michael Booth

ISBN: 9788461440054

An eBook about eBooks seems an oxymoron, but isn’t, at least in this case. For this is an eBook about the whys and wherefores of producing eBooks, and given the rate at which things are changing in this field an eBook makes more sense as it is much easier to update. In fact eBooks like this should really have a version number, like software.

Anyway, to the eBook. Mike is a great bloke (guy, for those who don’t read Australian) and very knowledgeable, and both come across well in this book. In a field where I though I  knew a fair bit, I learned things from this book.

The Ebook Ebook is a well written, intelligent and deep coverage of what an eBook is, why you might want to publish one and how to go about doing it. I did disagree slightly with the organisation of a few places, but this is caused by Mike’s conversational style causing him to get ahead of himself in a couple of places. Organisation in a book is highly personal and it obviously works for Mike. It does not distract from the book in any way.

Organised in eleven chapters, the book covers:

  • What an ebook is
  • The advantages it offers for writers, publishers and readers
  • Preparation of an ebook
  • Editing
  • History of the ebook
  • Formats and DRM
  • Marketing of ebooks
  • Business
  • E-readers
  • Future

The content is up to date, accurate and intelligently presented. I do disagree with Mike about the suitability of the iPad for book reading. Perhaps because I am not one for sitting in the sun anyway (think pasty, overweight nerd 🙂 I find the iPad perfect for all sorts of reading and now choose to take all my magazines and books for the iPad when available for it. It does help to turn the screen brightness down sometimes for comfort.

I can happily recommend this book as an effective and pretty damn well complete eBook on the production of eBooks. I do hope Mike does a 2.0 version as things continue to change, though his supporting websites do a great job of extending the book. Very highly recommended.

Amazon US The Ebook Ebook

Amazon UK The Ebook Ebook

iPhone Application Development for Dummies Book Review

It you are considering getting into writing apps for the iPhone, this excellent book is the one to get.

iPhone Application Development for Dummies

2nd Edition

By Neal Goldstein

Wiley Publishing, Indianapolis, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-470-56843-9

This well written and planned book takes you through the details of iPhone app development by using easy to understand descriptions and the steady development of a full application that you follow along with on your computer. Along the way he explains the structure of iPhone apps, the way the object oriented coding model is used and the syntax of the language.

Anyone with some programming experience, but especially if you know some object-oriented coding, will be able to work their way through and come out at the end of the book with a solid base to work from. It is not the best place to start for those with no coding experience at all, as it assumes understanding of the basic principles. If you don’t have that, start with a simple coding book first.

While I’d quibble about the sequencing of a few topics, such as leaving provisioning till late in the book while you need it early if you want to actually test on a real iPhone, generally the book is very well planned and does a good job of explaining what can be a complex topic.

Some 400 pages in length, the book is divided into five parts and nineteen chapters. These are:

  • Introduction.
  • Part I: Getting Started.
  • Chapter 1: Creating Killer iPhone Applications.
  • Chapter 2: Looking Behind the Screen.
  • Chapter 3: Enlisting in the Developer Corps.
  • Part II: Using the iPhone Development Tools.
  • Chapter 4: Getting to Know the SDK.
  • Chapter 5: Building the User Interface.
  • Chapter 6: While Your Application Is Running.
  • Part III: From “Gee, That’s a Good Idea,” to the App Store.
  • Chapter 7: Actually Writing Code.
  • Chapter 8: Entering and Managing Data.
  • Chapter 9: Saving Data and Creating a Secret Button.
  • Chapter 10: Using the Debugger.
  • Chapter 11: Buttoning It Down and Calling Home.
  • Chapter 12: Death, Taxes, and the iPhone Provisioning.
  • Part IV: An Industrial-Strength Application.
  • Chapter 13: Designing Your Application.
  • Chapter 14: Setting the Table.
  • Chapter 15: Enhancing the User Experience.
  • Chapter 16: Creating Controllers and Their Models.
  • Chapter 17: Finding Your Way.
  • Part V: The Part of Tens.
  • Chapter 18: Top Ten Apple Sample Applications (with Code!).
  • Chapter 19: Ten Ways to Be a Happy Developer.
  • Index.

A great book, I highly recommend it to anyone considering iPhone application development. There is a related book by the same author and another on iPad development. I’m working through that now and a review will follow.

Starting an iPhone Application Business for Dummies Book Review

Starting an iPhone Application Business for Dummies is part of the brilliant for Dummies series that covers pretty much everything. The book covers what you need to get your head around to setup a proper iPhone business and get it right from the start.

Starting an iPhone Application Business for Dummies
By Aaron Nicholson, Joel Elad and Damien Stolarz
Wiley Publishing, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-470-52452-7

The 390-odd page book is divided into six parts, with each part containing two to four chapters:

  • Surveying the Marketplace
  • Pinpointing the Business Offering
  • Lay the Groundwork
  • Assemble Your iPhone Application
  • Market to the Masses
  • The Part of Tens

Across these major sections and the contained chapters the book covers the process of identifying the business opportunities, planning the business, hiring programmers and other staff, managing the development and marketing process and much more.

For those new to ideas of starting a business on a sound planning basis, management and marketing this book is a God-send. For those with some business experience but not in the software industry it will also be hugely beneficial in spelling out a lot of things you won’t have thought of and helping you to avoid learning the hard way. Even those with software industry experience will gain something from this book.

This is an excellent book for those setting out on iPhone application development with the intention of making a successful business out of it. Whether you are doing the development yourself or using programmers to do the work, you will still benefit.

A great book that should be read by anyone undertaking iPhone (and iPad) software development.