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Book Review: From Dawn to Dusk

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Book Review: From Dawn to Dusk
Ross Hoddinott & Mark Bauer

Mastering landscape lighting in photos


Landscape photography is something you can do whatever the weather and time of day or night.

All too often photographers forget this and tend to stick to their favourite times and conditions.

Keith has been reading an interesting book that looks at photography at different times of the day, but includes a lot of the techniques and planning that can help you achieve the images you were after.

Book details
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ammonite (7 May 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781453063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781453063
  • Dimensions: 21 x 23.5 cm

Expanding your horizons

Although I do take landscape and architectural photos as part of my work here at Northlight, I have to admit that out and out landscape work is still a hobby of mine – something I do on holiday, or when there’s not a paying client and brief driving me.

As such I’m keen to see other people’s approaches, since whether you like them or not, you will learn.

The book is split into section covering different periods of the day and is replete with large example images. The colour reproduction and detail is good, so there’s no wondering if a particular tonality was a deliberate choice.

Book contents

Given the subject, the flow of chapters works well…

  • Preparation – The key elements of using the right equipment and planning shots
  • Chapter 1 – Dawn
  • Chapter 2 – Morning
  • Chapter 3 – Midday
  • Chapter 4 – Afternoon
  • Chapter 5 – Dusk
  • Chapter 6 – Twilight
  • Chapter 7 – Night

RRP in the UK is £16.99

Using the book

A cursory look at the contents of the book might lead you to think that it’s just going to be lots of shots taken at different times of the day – no there’s far more than that.

There are sections and side boxes covering a wide range of technical and creative issues, that if presented together might be just another photography technique book.

This information is tied into examples taken at the specific time of the day, as well as covering more general information specific to that time. An example would be how to use different tools to tell you where the sun is going to be at any particular time/place. It still surprises me how many people couldn’t even give an estimate of where the sun rises. Fortunately there’s an app for that, although I’m pleased to see that learning to understand and read ‘real’ maps is still appreciated as a good thing.

Pitching at the right level

It’s very difficult when writing about photography matters to know what level to pitch material. The authors handle this well with very little I felt moved me to switch into ‘skip this bit’ mode.

The handling of filters is covered from a practical point of view, with this comment (p55) particularly appealing to me:

“…grads only benefit your photography when applied correctly and appropriately.”

Why so? – well I have a strong dislike of any filters where I can see they’ve been used, so I was pleased to see the authors stepping beyond the classic instructions given to many a landscape photographer these days.

That said I was disappointed to see the first example of going ‘hand-held’ as some beach huts at wacky angles (P74) – this is not what leaving the tripod at home is about for me.

There are many interesting notes about aspects of post processing and colour management, although I found the coverage of black and white somewhat brief, and illustrated by two high contrast, and to my own taste, rather over processed examples.

Where technical issues in post processing are covered, there is enough detail to get you started, although as the authors acknowledge early on this is not a practical step by step guide, preferring to concentrate on planning and timing your shots.

I agree with them that this is often largely ignored in many practical landscape books, or it’s assumed that if you know how to take the photos then being in the right place at the right time will ‘just happen’.

A matter of taste

In looking at the book I’m split in two minds – I really like the approach of tying in the technical and compositional aspects with the photos at different times of the day – this really goes along with my feeling that landscape can be interesting in any weather, at any time.

However, I found I simply didn’t warm to many of the photos used as examples – they were technically good but I just didn’t ‘like’ them. I’m not a fan of strong colours, grad filters and especially ND filters to blur movement.

In a way though, that doesn’t matter – I’d still recommend having a look at the book. The important thing is that the many of photos evoked a reaction that made me stop and think. A book that engages you, beats one that doesn’t.

landscape dawn to dusk

Publisher’s author information

Ross Hodinott is one of the UK’s best-known outdoor photographers, specialising in intimate close-ups of nature and evocative portrayals of the coast and countryside. Mark Bauer has won awards in the Landscape Photographer of the Year and International Garden Photographer of the Year competitions, and his photographs are published throughout the world.

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