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Take Your Photography to the Next Level: From the Inspiration to Image: From the Inspiration to Image Paperback – 15 Dec 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Rocky Nook; Illustrated edition (15 Dec. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933952210
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933952215
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 1.8 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 961,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is most certainly not a technical book. It avoids the nitty-bitty techie jargon that so many photography books fall into. Instead it looks at the more difficult subject of *why* certain images work, and how to develop an eye for a better shot. It's an interesting book, full of spectacular images, though some are unusual choices, though he does go on to explain why each was selected. The author talks about how to 'read' images, what makes a good image great, and how the various parts of an image work together to form a more pleasing whole.

He goes on to discuss how to find an image and 'work the scene', getting more out of the location you've chosen. Lots of good advice in here on composition, cropping and using the edges of your frame. There's an interesting discusson on the 'mind games' of photography - how you wish you had better kit, how you get stuck in a rut (and advice on how to get out of it!), what to do when photographs go wrong and so on.

Overall, it's a fascinating read, with some great photos, including a selection which are analysed in more detail.
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Format: Paperback
As a professional photographer, I frequently need to read books and attentively see many photographs from other authors (just as George Barr recommends, from along the lines of this book). I find this a very healthy attitude and absolutely necessary for the photographer that wants to improve his/hers view of his/hers own work and of others. It is not easy to keep a clear view of your own work, all the time. In this book, the author talks about this. This is just an example of his "parallel thinking" shown in the book. And I do think that the author does this with care for the reader, with the aim of sharing - I do think that he knows very well how this book is directed to.
As I do with all the books, I didn't read all of it (I need time for photography and to live on it!) but I particularly liked Chapters on Seeing, Finding Images, Assessing Images, Mind Games and the very last one on "to the Next Level". This is about 80% of it.
He tackles very practical problems that hit the amateur or professional fine-art photographer if he/she wants to convince people of the value of their work, e.g., emotional impact, clichés, seeing fatigue, picking our best work, on negative thinking, how good the equipment, money. Very down-to-earth, practical things.
Though the author naturally mentions his work, with his great photographs and his own views, I read it in the way of openly being at ease in showing how he works and feels. It is not an author's ego-oriented book, way far from that.

Title: it did correspond to my expectations, when buying it. Of course the next level of each person is subjective. But subjective things, just as photography, are part of our world!
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Format: Paperback
This book contains lots of useful advice on how to approach the act of photography, just as the product description reads. What it does not contain, is advice on how to really take better photographs. In this respect, there is an inconsistency between the title and the content.

The author, already at the beginning of the book states that this is a book about "fine-art photography". Therefore, fundamental aspects of image composition are not discussed. But then the author discusses in extensive detail other aspects of the image form, while totally neglecting the essence of fine art photography (as we know it from the great masters), which is the message of the image.

The biggest weakness of the book though, is the selection of images, all taken by the author. Displaying several dozens of colourful rocks, close-ups of streams, and overly photoshoped industrial scenes, and calling this "fine-art photography" appears to be too pretentious. I hardly found any images I wished I had taken in this book. This of course reduced my motivation to read the text. It would have been much more effective if the editor had included some of the photographs of the great masters, instead of using only the author's photographs.

The book was compiled from a series of essays originally published on the web, which leaves some noticeable traces on the writing style, which is far too personal, not a disadvantage when writing a blog, but not an advantage when writing a book.

All in all, this is a book about the author's personal approach to photography, and the author's personal experience. Although any photographer can learn a lot from the experience of others, this is neither a book with advice on how to take good photographs, nor a reference book on photography. In this respect, its target group is significantly narrower than what the title implies.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I give 5 stars for the text alone, which is unique and extremely useful. It goes way beyond the average Photoshop books which tell you "move this slider here, set that value there" without explaining why. It is also different from most books on composition and design. It is more philosophical in nature, discussing where and when to search for interesting images, framing and cropping issues, how to assess your photographic skills, etc.
But at the same time it is very practical. It contains loads of tips, e.g. what photographs well, how to create a portfolio, how to deal with disappointment and how to increase your technical and aesthetic level.
The author has a fluent writing style. Every topic is explained very clearly. No superfluous words, no silly jokes.

In my opinion, the photographs in the book are a mixed bag. Some are wonderful, some are too abstract for my taste. The author insists that you have to "convey a message in your images". I certainly agree on that, but for some of his images (e.g. various rock surfaces, fragments of clothes etc.) the message remains totally unclear to me. Yes, the compositions are strong... but as the author explains himself, that's not enough.

I would judge myself a mediocre photographer. Honestly, I learned a lot from this book - I can already see some improvement in my images. I guess that beginner and advanced (even professional) photographers would equally benefit.

A word of warning. The author is specialized in still (mostly lifeless) objects. No people, no animals (at least in the book). This is reflected in the text. The author describes a process called "working the scene" which consists of carefully examining a scene, walking around it, searching for the optimal background and lighting, etc. I assume when you photograph children, pets, wildlife etc., these tips are of little or no value.

Other than that... a great book and a joy to read.
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