Monday, June 26, 2017
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BOOK: Digital Landscape Photography

If you’re interested in landscape photography, here is an interesting book from Michael Frye.

Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Masters

Ansel Adams (1902-1984) was a pioneer of landscape photography, whose imagery-especially his iconic views of the American National Parks–is widely published and instantly recognizable. While he is undoubtedly one of the best-loved and best-known visionaries of American art, photographers also recognize him as a pioneer of technique, a theoretician, and as one of the great teachers of the craft of photography.

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His zone system has been widely adapted, but Adams unique imagery also relied on his determination and application at every stage of the photographic process; he spent years in his darkroom, as well as out in the open air. For decades, this kind of attention to detail required the kind of equipment, time, and facilities that were out of the reach of most photographers–but now, in the digital age, technology has finally made his techniques accessible.

This book will show you what can be learned from Adams working process, and how these lessons can be applied today. The craft of Adams photography is discussed, and the ZONE SYSTEM is related to the digital age. Sections on light, composition, mood, and the darkroom all show what can be achieved today using and understanding his thinking. Michael Frye’s own photography provides many stunning examples of the results that can be achieved and, as one of Adams’ natural successors in the field, he is well placed to analyze the inspirational shots which open each chapter.

* Demystifies the art behind the iconic shots
* Contains a number of breathtaking works by Ansel Adams and other landscape masters such as Edward Weston and Elliot Porter
* Written by one of the most reputable fine landscape photographers, who (like Ansel Adams) uses Yosemite National Park most frequently as his subject
* Breaks the zone systems (famous to Adams) down in a way that digital photographers can use

Truly an enjoyable and useful book that dissects the Ansel Adams et al style and then explains how to achieve a similar vision in today’s digital media. I was immediately taken in by a discussion of one of Adam’s classics, “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941”. Briefly we are exposed to his vision, and learn how to see beyond the obvious. Technique for an enduring masterwork – compose in one’s mind then incorporate emotions to be be moved in one’s heart. Hard to put into words, but Michael Frye succeeds quite well.

Surprisingly the notion of a pure image is also dispelled. In other words what you may be tempted to do in Photoshop, Ansel did as well in the darkroom. Dodging and burning are translated into manipulating the curves, layers, saturation and other parameters available to us now. So rest assured, and feel free to evolve your image, Ansel would have done the same.

Much of the book is spent on discussion of the Zone System. Briefly, diving the light in the scene in up to 10 zones from the lightest to the darkest. This is equated to evaluating a digital images’ histograms. Explanations are given regarding when pictures should be high tone (mostly bright) or low tone (mostly dark) and when its just fine to have a gray image. We are also taught about the multiple exposures and HDR images. Combining over and underexposed images in such a way to enhance the image by showing details that otherwise would be hidden in the shadows of erased in blown out highlights.

There are examples of each of these methods sprinkled liberally throughout the book. This is where my comment about self advertising comes in. Many photo self help books are actually a gallery of the authors best works, we are not involved in the process all that much and are simply told to admire.

This is not the case in this book. It succeeds very well in exploring the inner artist in those of us who may not be handy with a paintbrush, but are capable with a camera. The explanation of the thought process behind some of the excellent masters works here (ie Clearing Winter Storm by Adams) combined with the hardware and software techniques makes this an excellent reference source material.

For the beginner it illustrates some of the possibilities, for the advanced amateur it offers the glimpse of becoming a master.

Finally the quality of the images would make this book feel quite at home on a coffee table for the quests to browse through as well.