The Photographer’s Eye
In a recent podcast on High Dynamic Range I mentioned Michael Freeman's book Mastering High Dynamic Range Photography, which is an excellent book on HDR. But I recently got my hands on another Freeman title published by Ilex - ”The Photographer’s Eye” - and I have to say that this is the best how-to book on photography that I have read in a very long time.
The scope of the book is to get the reader to think about the process of creating an image – outer and inner frames, the dynamics, the composition, the exposure, the decisive moment – everything that makes a great picture. Freeman refers to it as designing pictures, and I like that term because it so strongly implies that there is more to it than just pointing the camera and pressing the shutter release.
What I really like about the book it its wealth of clear examples. Freeman is an excellent photographer, and illustrates all his points with great pictures and most of them with several. He breaks down compositions into geometrical elements, and illustrates with simple schematics what makes the design work. As you might know from the slide shows that accompany my podcasts, I try to do the same thing, by overlaying pictures with frames, arrows and lines, but I am totally cornered by Freeman, whose simple illustrations make mine mere doodles on images.
The great thing about this is that it's so right. In a very simple manner, Freeman manages to inject all kinds of good habits and a way of thinking – or maybe not thinking – in the photographer reading the book. Rules of composition, or maybe rather: suggestions for compositions, assessing balance in the frame, creating dynamics, leading the eye, framing the important and many, many other aspects of conscious shooting with the goal of obtaining something specific. We have seen much of this many times before, but Freeman lifts it way beyond vanishing lines and the golden section.
Reading and learning from this book will most likely make the reader one of these photographers, who when shooting with dozens of other photographers, always manages to get the shot, which is just slightly more exiting and simply better than the rest.
As I said: one of the best books on photography I have read in a long time. At less than 12 UKŁ or about 20 US$ it's simply a steal.
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