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on 3 November 2007
I'm not usually a fan of books by Michael Freeman but when I received this book, I was pleasantly surprised. It covers the basics concepts of composition in-depth with more clarity than his previous books.
The book covers areas such as; graphic photographic elements (horizontal lines, vertical lines, curves, motion etc) composing with light and colour (colour in composition, colour relationships, muted colour, black and white) intent (reactive or planned, simple or complex, clear or ambiguos)
The book has a great and careful selection of photos to support the text and clearly illustrate the concepts covered.
Don't let his previous books stop you from buying this one.
Enjoy!!
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on 15 June 2007
This is the best single volume on visual design and composition in years. Painters need a book this good. Freeman's earlier book from the 1980s, "Image," had long held the status, IMHO, of being the best single volume. His new book surpasses the older one by a significant margin.

Freeman is one of very few photographers, or artists of any ilk, who can articulate their art-related thoughts in concrete, accurate, analytical ways, and not in the jargon of so much of what is written about art that lacks any actual content. Not only is he an outstandingly gifted photographer, with dozens of books to his credit, but one who has mastered the grammar of images and is one of the few who can describe how and why visual phenomena work.

This is the most complete volume on this subject out there in terms of numbers of topics introduced and discussed at a reasonable length. It is also the most effective melding of the insights of current Gestalt perception theory with traditional design elements/principles in print. The first 60% of the book deals with the more concrete aspects of designing an image.

The last two chapters marry the other part of composing that is harder to articulate well: the message in a image, or the photographer's intent. Only in this book has an author attempted to define major categories of intent in making an image. And then categorizes the physical and mental aspects of how a photographer goes after, constructs, or recognizes an image - the process.

Throughout the discussions he introduces those aspects of digital imaging that a photographer can use to influence a picture's design. Perhaps the most powerful development is that digital in-camera and post processing technologies allow the photographer to apply to color images all those image control aspects formerly available only in the wet chemistry darkroom to monochrome images, as well as many more.

Make no mistake.... This is a book for readers. One cannot get all of this book's benefit from the illustrations alone, in the manner of so many "how-to" art and photography books these days that have pictures, but little text. But this is the book to which thoughtful photographers will return over and over for many years.

The only way it can be significantly better would be to have twice as many pages. It would make a wonderful textbook for any studio art, photography, art history, or art appreciation course in high school or college/university.
44 comments253 of 261 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 June 2007
This is the best single volume on visual design and composition in years. Painters need a book this good. Freeman's earlier book from the 1980s, "Image," had long held the status, IMHO, of being the best single volume. His new book surpasses the older one by a significant margin.

Freeman is one of very few photographers, or artists of any ilk, who can articulate their art-related thoughts in concrete, accurate, analytical ways, and not in the jargon of so much of what is written about art that lacks any actual content. Not only is he an outstandingly gifted photographer, with dozens of books to his credit, but one who has mastered the grammar of images and is one of the few who can describe how and why visual phenomena work.

This is the most complete volume on this subject out there in terms of numbers of topics introduced and discussed at a reasonable length. It is also the most effective melding of the insights of current Gestalt perception theory with traditional design elements/principles in print. The first 60% of the book deals with the more concrete aspects of designing an image.

The last two chapters marry the other part of composing that is harder to articulate well: the message in a image, or the photographer's intent. Only in this book has an author attempted to define major categories of intent in making an image. And then categorizes the physical and mental aspects of how a photographer goes after, constructs, or recognizes an image - the process.

Throughout the discussions he introduces those aspects of digital imaging that a photographer can use to influence a picture's design. Perhaps the most powerful development is that digital in-camera and post processing technologies allow the photographer to apply to color images all those image control aspects formerly available only in the wet chemistry darkroom to monochrome images, as well as many more.

Make no mistake.... This is a book for readers. One cannot get all of this book's benefit from the illustrations alone, in the manner of so many "how-to" art and photography books these days that have pictures, but little text. But this is the book to which thoughtful photographers will return over and over for many years.

The only way it can be significantly better would be to have twice as many pages. It would make a wonderful textbook for any studio art, photography, art history, or art appreciation course in high school or college/university.
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on 31 October 2007
This book is really hitting the mark. if you are serious about your photography and want to improve then this is a must purchase. The subject matter, the explanations and the photography are all excellent. I fail to see how anyone could not gain benefit from this book. And you will always want to take a look when you are about to photograph a new subject.
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on 7 July 2008
I have always been skeptical about buying books that deal with photography either because there exist too many online tutorials which cover many aspects in detail or simply because the techniques each book covers are more or less the same rewritten in a different format.

This book by Michael Freeman though is trully a gem and a "must-have" in the library of every photographer.
It covers most photographic composition aspects in a great detail with perhaps images of excellence regarding composition, including schematic figures outlining and justifying the choice of the composition which exactly hit the point the writer is trying to make. It is printed in premium, relatively thick, paper with high quality images.

- The book is well structured in 6 main chapters beginning with the usage of the image frame, the positioning within the viewfinder of the camera and generally the placement of a scenery and objects within the frame
- Chapter 2 explains the objective principles of design and why certain photographs pop up from the lot if thinking is allocated to aspects such as Gestalt theory, Dynamic tension, patterns, visual weight etc.
- Chapter 3 walks us through the elements that compose photographs such as lines, shapes, focus, motion exposure and others.
- Chapter 4 highlights the importance of light needed in composition and its association with color.
- Chapter 5 analyzes the intent in composition, that is the purpose the photograph was taken in order to please aesthetically by teaching and explaining among others, planning, ahead thinking and reactiveness, simplicity and complexity in photographs, ambiguity etc.
- The book finishes with chapter 6 which in detail explains why process is so necessary prior to composing and shooting a photograph.

This draft description only outlines a few of the topics covered and by no means it can show the true depth of the book.
A small word of advice though. This book is not purely intended to teach basic rules of photography (although the writer explains topics such as the rule of thirds and HDR) but it rather builds and expands on some existing knowledge and fine granulates the art of photography through composition and design with the utmost intent to help the user develop the skills to shoot great images.
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on 8 September 2010
Having decided to get serious about photography about a year ago, I have found this book to be a true eye opener. Michael's clear pragmatic text with lots of pictures illustrating the concepts, really helped me understand how to take better pictures. What's more it showed me how to really appreciate photography and see why a great photo is great. Once you have got to grips with the functions of your camera, this book will really kick your hobby to a new level. It's very well structured with modules building on one another in a clear and logical way. At the same time it encourages creativity and exploration of ideas. I have read many photography books over the last few months and this is by far the best, both technically and in the humble style of the author who is not at all overbearing nor ego centric (as some authors are in this field, you know who you are)... As I read this book, I became increasingly excited at the insight and understanding it gave me of the art of photography. In fact writing this review has got me fired up to go and take some better photo's right now!
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on 22 October 2008
This is brilliant book on design and composition taking the reader on a tour through graphic elements, colour, contrasts etc.

A lot of photography, but independent of technology: It's not the camera that takes the photo, it's the photographer. And this book introduces the reader to all the decisions a photographer makes, whether concious or not, when taking the photo.

The word "digital" should be dropped from the title, only four pages discuss techniques particular to digital photography, and then not.

This makes the book perfect for any one with a desire to improve their photographic skills - or eyes.
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on 13 May 2014
As an enthusiastic amateur photographer I was keen to progress and bought this as I thought it might help one aspect of my photos. I thought I probably knew the so-called rules of composition but was willing to see if I was missing anything..................well I was. Lots!
The book looks logically at all aspects of a picture, from its external shape to what we put inside it, where we put it, and why we do so for the effect we want to create. It doesn't force you into following stereotypes of design & structure but offers ways of creatively developing your ability to go "off piste" according to the impact you want to produce.
His writing style is dry & scholarly but don't miss a word of what he has to say... it's all good.
Some reviewers have commented on his frequent habit of referrring the reader to other pictures on other pages to illustrate the point he's making. A bit annoying but you can live with that, I'm sure.
Other reviewers have commented on the quality of his photographs and lack of exif data. Well as far as I'm concerned you don't need exif data, you need a picture to illustrate his point- say a rice worker in a field, and where he is placed in the frame for a different effect.
If you want a joke per page, read chatty Scott Kelby. If you want exif and a resumé of how many dollars it's earned him, go read Brian Peterson. Both have helped my photography technigue.
But this book has made me think with my mind's eye.
Highly recommended.
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on 15 July 2011
Many books about photography following a kit driven format where the writer introduces the reader to the vast wealth of kit available for compact and SLR photographic systems, then moving onto exposure control.

This book dispenses with that knowledge, since it is aimed at photographers who can work their cameras.

Instead this book introduces and leads the photographer into the subject of real photography, teaching technique and new ways to visualise and see images in a new more proficient way.

I would recommend this book as a must have learning tool that should be on all photographers essential reading list that will be on use over and over again.

A great book and a very valuable reference.
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on 6 February 2011
Given this is a photographic book I was disappointed that the pictures in the kindle edition are such low resolution. They look horrible. I'm using kindle for PC so I would expect to see something similar to web page quality pictures. Given Kindle editions are very much in the same price category as the hard copy why should we have to accept a vastly inferior presentation?
22 comments12 of 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse