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Light and the Art of Landscape Photography Paperback – 1 Apr 2003
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The photographer is clearly concerned with light in the landscape. Many pictures show the red glow of "magic hours" or reflections of water, or cloudy skies. Cornish's photographs are lovely, but there is nothing outstanding about them. Once upon a time this book might have been at the cutting edge. But we now live in a world where first-class landscapes are offered to us in every automobile advertisement so that to capture our eye, an image must be exceptional.
Nor is there any common theme among the landscapes that might lead you to look at them because you have an interest in the subject matter. I would have felt proud to have taken any of these pictures. However, I wouldn't expect many people to lay out good money for such a book when there are so many other outstanding works by world class photographers, unless they already owned everything by Ansel Adams or Galen Rowell or Art Wolfe.
I must confess that this book was not what I expected. The publisher, Amphoto Books, usually puts out "how-to" books, and I expected something like Galen Rowell's "Mountain Light" that would deal with using light to create better pictures while at the same time presenting a great portfolio. I am certain most serious landscape photographers would be highly interested in a new book on this subject. But the only way you are going to learn anything from this book is by analyzing each picture yourself at great length, and extracting some photographic principle from your analysis. To be fair, technical information is provided on each picture and the accompanying discussions occasionally present a few of the considerations in using light in landscapes, like the effect of long exposures and the special results of early morning and late day light. Unfortunately I don't find this information very educational for either the beginner or the more experienced photographer. For the beginner, I would recommend either John Shaw's "Nature Photography Field Guide" or his "Landscape Photography" (the former was recently printed and reflects the changes in technology of the last few years, but does not have quite as much detail about landscapes). The more experienced photographer will be more interested in "Fine Art Nature Photography: Advanced Techniques and the Creative Process" by Tony Sweet. Sweet's book also uses single pictures on a page with discussion, but the photos are extraordinary and the discussion instructive.
The quality of these prints reproduced from large 4 x 5 inch negatives is unbelievable. It is like the first time you saw HD television after watching regular TV all your life.
Cornish's images are moody, often capturing the warm glow of sunrises and late afternoons. Besides each photo, Cornish explains the thought process and planning that was involved. At the end of the book there is a thumbnail of each photograph along the with the film, camera, lens, filter, shutter speed, and aperature used to shoot the photo.
If you are tired of the same old photography books showing the same places you have seen a hundred times over, then this book will knock your socks off.
This collection of images gives the technical information that many photographers crave about each image. But more than that, it is a lesson in 'seeing'and can inspire you to gain confidence to develop your own way of seeing and to follow your own vision.
This is not a 'how to' book, but one that will inspire you because the way Joe has developed his own way of seeing and expressing that with the camera is so distinctive. I disagree entirely with the earlier review that gives this book only 3 stars. A photograph may be technically correct in its exposure and its time of day. But it is only as good in the eye of the beholder to the degree that it reflects your own taste. If it is not to the taste of the earlier reviewer, that view is to be entirely respected. But don't let that put you off looking at this book and making up your own mind. Joe really is just as artistic and able as William Neill, Jack Dykinga and any other of the top landscape photographers.
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