Book Review: Everything about taking Photographs
Everything you always wanted to know about taking better photographs
50 images and 50 explanations
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Using 50 example photographs Antony Zacharias looks at all the fundamentals of taking photos, from composition to exposure. Keith Cooper has been looking at this short guide to taking better photos…
- Author: Antony Zacharias
- Hardcover 128 pages
- Publisher: Ammonite Press
- ISBN-10: 1781453772
- ISBN-13: 978-1781453773
- Dimensions: 19.7 x 1.5 x 15.2 cm
- RRP £12.99 | $17.95
50 images and 50 explanations – does it work?
OK, bold move I thought, starting off with the rule of thirds and leading line on the first page about composition.
Why bold? …well there is nothing more guaranteed to wind up pretentious photographers than suggestions that their ‘art’ can be reduced to anything as cliched as the rule of thirds. I’ll mention in passing that it’s one of my key ‘tips’ in my ‘elevator pitch’ about quick ways to improve your phone photography when asked at business networking events and the like.
In fact, the mention of the rule of thirds is just a small part of the very first section of the book reminding us that photography is about light, and that as photographers, understanding our three ways of controlling it when taking photos (shutter/aperture/ISO) are really the key to better photos.
However, the first major section of the book ‘Composition’ really does launch straight into a classic use of thirds. The chosen photo simply works, and as is mentioned, the so called ‘rule’ is just there as a guide for you to use/adapt/ignore as you feel fit. Personally I’ve never had a problem with using it as a means of getting photographers to think a bit more about what they are putting into their frame – others do seem rather bothered by it ;-)
Leading lines and foreground interest quickly follow, along with all the others I’d include in a talk about composition. There is no saying that you ‘should’ do things any particular way, just good solid examples of where an idea works.
Exposure, light, lenses
Once you’ve decided what to point your camera at, it’s time to get light into the camera. Whilst I may be happy using my camera’s metering as no more than a guide, the book goes through all the benefits and pitfalls of different ways of adjusting things – yes, there is the need to overexpose snowscapes with auto metering modes, and issues of dynamic range too.
The qualities of different light sources are nicely illustrated in example photos which are mostly very evenly processed. By evenly, I mean there are not photos where my first thought goes to how/why they were processed. I’m pleased to see that my own bete noire (HDR) gets but one mention (p62) and then only as a tool to capture scenes with wide ranges of lighting, and not as a ‘look’ to apply to photos.
The last section was always going to be the most difficult to cover in the example/explanation style of the book, in that it’s the most personal, and the bit most photographers have difficulty with. This is the section where as a photographer you have to ask yourself why you are taking a shot, not just the mechanics of capturing it. This is the section that is hardest for those who equate getting a better camera with better photos…
The photos used in examples are good, and varied enough that they should appeal to a broad range of readers. Definitely a good buy for the photographer you know, who’s looking for inspiration and knows that a good grounding in the basics will never be a waste of effort.
Many examples are what I include in my photography training, but even so I still found it interesting to look through and think about aspects of photography I’d perhaps not experimented with for a while. One I’d happily suggest to people fed up with phones and looking to get more into ‘real’ photography.
The 50 images and 50 explanations approach may jar with some people, but they were probably never going to consider a book called ‘Everything you always wanted to know about taking better photographs’ were they?
Publisher’s author information
Antony Zacharias is a former solicitor from London and a full time self taught commercial photographer specialising in travel, landscape, architectural, commercial and long-exposure photography. He teaches photography through his blog https://antonyz.com and private tuition.
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