December 2016

“Poetry of Love: The Engagement Year” by N.N. Light

Poetry of Love: The Engagement Year Book Cover Poetry of Love: The Engagement Year
N. N. Light
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
September 16, 2016

I used to read a lot of poetry in high school and in college, well outside the school requirements. I enjoyed it tremendously. Now, I wanted to go back to it, in new language, new life experiences. I ended up with "Poetry of love". I was tremendously disappointed. The only thing coming to my mind reading the poems was how simple the language is, how straight the stories. I was looking for creative metaphors I can decipher, and everything was just stated straight and direct. It felt like the poems, as full of love and devotion as they are, would be more fitting as texts of pop songs than poetry volume. Plenty of repeating words of "love" and "miss". Felt quite naive. Not my thing, I am afraid.

I have received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review from authors through Goodreads giveaway. The links in this post may contain affiliate codes.


“Capture the moment” by Sarah Wilkerson

“Capture the moment” Book Cover “Capture the moment”
Sarah Wilkerson
Amphoto Books
April 7, 2015

I was browsing mindlessly for another book to read. Nothing was appealing, and nothing was coming up with “photography” as a keyword. Until the cover image caught my eye and I decided to take a closer look at the “Capture the moment”. I read the short description and I was hooked.

I knew I made the right choice when the book arrived at my doorsteps. “Capture the Moment: The Modern Photographer’s Guide to Finding Beauty in Everyday and Family Life” is beautifully published book. Slightly larger than your typical novel, the black and white picture on hardcover adds to fine art feel, heavy and elegant. The good quality paper gives justice to amazing imagery, many double page spreads (see example spreads in the post – click on each to see larger version). This is how I interacted with the book at first, just picking it up here and there and browsing through images, like you would with a coffee table book.

The book, however, was not meant to be a coffee table book, at least not as the only purpose. It is also a basic photography handbook, explaining some basic concepts of photographing the world around you. However, “Capture the moment” is not filled with large blocks of text. Now, the teaching is done by the very short paragraphs, which can be read when you have a minute or two in your busy day. There is an informative phrase, like a bullet point, followed by a few sentences of explanation and an example image. That’s it. Learning photography in small bites. The tips are organized into following chapters: Natural Light, Composition, Storytelling, Fine art, Black and white, Low light. Each chapter ends with a number of creative exercises, to make reader pick up the camera and go out to explore the world, photographically.

This is not the book you want to pick up when you are beginning photographer and what to learn technical side of using your first DSLR. This is just not the focus of “Capture the moment”. This particular book is about creativity and finding subjects to photograph around you, in everyday life. I find it its strength, since there is plenty of technical manuals on the market.

And just to shortly mention – all the amazing imagery in the “Capture the moment”are of female photographers, part of the group “Clickin Moms“. Their vibrant community is worth checking out.

This review is re-posted from my photography blog, where it was first published on May 19, 2015.

I have received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review from Blogging for books. The links in this post may contain affiliate codes.

“Daily painting” by Carol Marine

Daily Painting Book Cover Daily Painting
Carol Marine
November 4, 2014
trade paperback


I am a photographer, not a painter. I grabbed the book as the idea of creating daily art and selling it online appealed to me. I wondered what lessons will be more general that I can use them, too.

"Daily painting" by Carol Marine is a very hard to classify book. It is a very comprehensive guide - technical, business and inspiration. It explains the concept and advantage of daily painting. Then it goes on to basics of painting - sketching, measuring, mixing colors, composition - all those technical details that make a huge difference in the final output. I learned a lot of tricks I wish I was taught in school when I was struggling in art classes! And some compositional tricks photographers do not talk about (and they should!).

Two chapters deserve special attention. In chapters about choosing subject and about artist's block author did not also present her perspective, but included many voices from the industry - other daily painters, with different experiences and subject matters. It adds tremendous value to the book. So do the authors own painting and countless examples of other artists' art, beautifully reproduced, many on the full page spread - on a higher quality, lightly textured paper. Just to browse through the book is a treat.

There are few business related chapters as well- where to sell, how and why to start your own blog, how to take pictures so painting looks at its best, how to edit photographs and many more!

I finished the book inspired to go back to creating photographs, and maybe even start painting.
I have received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review from Blogging for books. The links in this post may contain affiliate codes.

“John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography”

John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography Book Cover John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography
John Shaw
Amphoto Books
March 17, 2015
trade paperback


Few years ago, I read John Shaw "The Nature Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques". Written many years ago, when film photography was at its best, the book still brought a lot of good knowledge to be worth my time. This year, when I picked "John Shaw's Guide to Digital Nature Photography" expected no less.

I was not disappointed. This is a very comprehensive book. You will find here something about composition rules, histogram and the use of flashes. You can hardly find an accessory or a technique not mentioned in the book. The concept are explained very succinctly, to fit within the page limit of the book, but hardly ever you will have to go outside the "Field guide" for more information. The only exceptions are few creative techniques in the field (blurs and multiple exposures) and digital darkroom techniques (black and white, stitching and stacking) - just thrown in passing at the very end of the book. I wish more time and space were spend on those useful topics, with few examples of photographs.

The book, 225 pages long, is somehow arbitrarily divided into chapters on: Gear, Getting started (exposure, histogram and such), Lenses, Composition, Close-ups and The photographer at work. Especially those last two are a bit of odd balls, and the content could have been easily merged into other chapters.

The chapter on Gear was one of positive surprises. The focus was not on particular camera body, but in listing useful features and how to set up the gear you have to get the most out of it. At the same time, the author can be a bit opinionated at the time. With the disclaimer throughout the book: "that is what works for him".

And the biggest plus of the book, at least for me - pages and pages of beautiful photographs! At times you wonder, comparing the size of the font and the size of images on the page, what is the real subject of the book.

This review is re-posted from my photography blog, where it was first published on April 28, 2015.

I have received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review from Blogging for books. The links in this post may contain affiliate codes.

“Natural color” by Sasha Duerr

Natural color Book Cover Natural color
Sasha Duerr
non-fiction, crafts
August 23, 2016


The first impression of this book is how much care was taken in printing it. The hardcover feels solid, and the colored photographs inside are beautifully rendered and are, by itself, of professional quality. The book was printed  on quite thick paper. It makes for a perfect coffee table book, and offers a great conversation starter to house guests.

But let's not just judge the book by the cover. There is so much more to it.

The focus of the book is the use of common plants: fruits and vegetables, flowers, even weeds, to create dyes for assortment of craft projects. Can you guess what part of avocado is used for dyeing? What color can be obtained from redwood cones?

The plants dyes are organized by season. For each one, there is a how-to recipe to prepare the dye,  with measures per weight of the fabric, and detailed instruction for dyeing. For each one, there is also an example project, from dyeing clothing and linens, to straw hats and woolen baskets! My absolute favorite are rose petal curtains.

If you think that following the projects in the book requires any specialized knowledge, this is not the case at all. Everything is included. There are chapters devoted to explaining various types of fibers, how to prepare them for dyeing, what additives are needed (not only will you learn what is mordant, but also how to prepare it from old nails), lists of tools and even some techniques for creating interesting patterns!

The book is a perfect read for those interested in natural, fun crafts projects.

I have received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review from Blogging for books. Links in this post may contain affiliate code.

Click on any example book spread to see larger version!


Personal story:

I was first introduced to fabric dyeing by a friend of mine. We stayed in the same house, and it was passion of hers, so I joined her in dyeing session couple of times this spring. While she did not work with dyes she herself extracted from plant, it was still a fascinating process to observe how she mixed colors and what final result was on the fabric – in some cases not until few days later!

When I saw “Natural color” by Sasha Duerr, I was excited to delve deeper into  the subject with my typical non-discriminating interest. Was I in for a ride!


I have received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review from Blogging for books. Links in this post may contain affiliate code.