“Conscious Creativity: Look. Connect. Create.” by Philippa Stanton

Conscious Creativity: Look. Connect. Create. Book Cover Conscious Creativity: Look. Connect. Create.
Philippa Stanton
Leaping Hare Press
December 4, 2018

In a very short time, I read ""Conscious Creativity: Look. Connect. Create." by Philippa Stanton and "Awakening Your Creative Soul: A 52-Week Journey to Artistic Discovery" by Sandra Duran Wilson. The two books, while on surface talk about the same thing, could not be any more different.

"Conscious Creativity" is far more general in terms of the target art you want to develop and practice. In fact, it does not talk about the act of artistic creation at all - it is what you do in your "other time". And while many exercises use photography to document (and the book is full of great photography), I would not necessarily limit the book audience just to photographers. The exercises are designed to make you look, see and make sense of the world around. There is no step by step instructions, just ideas, and assignments. There are simple observation tasks, doing, like collage or photography, or even hearing - making it applicable to all arts, is it music or writing or visual arts.

I myself started to incorporate the exercises into my daily life. For example, instead of picking up a phone the moment I have nothing to do, I select the first color I lay my eyes on and then scan my surroundings for other objects of the color. Surprisingly, if I go around a few more times, each time I discover more and more! Clearly, I have a long way to go to get my observation skills up to speed.

"Conscious Creativity" is beautifully illustrated book with color photographs and could serve as a coffee table book (if it was not published as the paperback). And some of the photos were clearly taken with an iPhone, showing you that you do not need any special tools to do the assignments in the book, just set out to follow the instruction.

"Conscious Creativity" is simply a great gift ideas for a creative (or aspiring to be a creative) person in your life.

I have received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review from NetGalley. The links in this post contain affiliate code.

Bob Langrish’s World of Horses by Jane Holderness-Roddam

Bob Langrish’s World of Horses Book Cover Bob Langrish’s World of Horses
Jane Holderness-Roddam & Bob Langrish
Storey Publishing, LLC
02 Oct 2018

Bob Langrish is a well known British equine photographer. His website mentions numerous books, one notable for me was the "Smithsonian Handbook: Horses" by Elwyn Hartley Edwards. So when I reached for "Bob Langrish’s World of Horses" by Jane Holderness-Roddam, I expected a coffee table book, double-page spreads, and variety of shots from tight close ups to sweeping environmental protraits.

The book met only some of those expectations. First, it is for sure not a coffee table book. It is also not purely a photography book. Coming as a result of long, 40 years lasting career as an equine photographer, "Bob Langrish’s World of Horses", the book is full of stories - of horses, travel to take pictures of those beautiful animals or anecdotes behind the photographs themselves. However, the words were not written by a photographer himself, they were relayed by another person. It is fairly unusual nowadays, for modern photographers, and takes away from the book experience for me.

The images are organized, interestingly, around environments in which the photograph was taken (chapters like rivers, forests or savannas). It shows wild and domesticated animals alike. There are also maps on each page showing the locations where the photographs were taken, and while they indeed seem to be encompassing the whole globe, the majority is taken in UK, USA, and France.

While the photographs are amazing, I was extremely disappointed by the size of them. The book is more like a family trip photo book, with many smaller pictures crammed on pages. Another huge disappointment, the pre-print digital version I received had not been color corrected. I am attaching a couple of example pages from the book, with a disclaimer - hope the final version has real colors!

I wish the "Bob Langrish’s World of Horses" was designed to do the justice to the photographs it presents. But perhaps the images are enough for true horse lovers.

I have received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review from NetGalley. The links in this post contain affiliate code.

Click on any example book spread to see a larger version.

“Understanding color in photography” by Bryan Peterson

Understanding color in photography Book Cover Understanding color in photography
Bryan Peterson
August 29, 2017

I grew up, photographically, on Bryan Peterson books. "Understanding exposure" and "Understanding shutter speed" were one of the first photography education books (right after "Lightroom", at that time version 1, by Scott Kelby) that I read after I got my first dSLR. When I saw it for the first time on Amazon, I was really looking forward reading "Understanding color in photography".

Part of my evergreen willingness to read Bryan Peterson's books is his light, conversational style with a large dose of common sense. For example, calling f/11 "I don't care aperture". Or my favorite quote from "Understanding color in photography":

Great chefs can't prepare great meals without cutting, squashing, mixing, steamin, peeling, cutting, simmering, boiling, stirring, and blending the food, and ten arranging it on a plate in a compelling fashion. So, if you want to create truly compelling images, start "cooking"!

In "Understanding color in photography", Bryan Peterson explains how to create compelling images using color. He talks about technique of under (or over-exposing) the image, depending on the main color, to make this particular color pop. He discusses analogues and complementary colors to create strong compositions.

The next, largest section of "Understanding color in photography" comprises of what I would call: color monographies. Each section has a brief discussion of the color at hand, including black and white, followed up by what kind of mood the color creates, and then many examples of photographs where the color discussed is the main element. This really is a treat, part of the book that qualifies it for a coffee table section. The larger format and beautifully rendered color pictures are printed on glossy paper. Really, you can just take pure pleasure from browsing through the pages.

Since post-processing is becoming the important part of the photography process these days, it is not surprising to see it mentioned in "Understanding color in photography". However, Photoshop tricks take only a few pages out of 136 of the book, so it clearly is not the main focus.

One of the most puzzling things about "Understanding color in photography" is co-author Susana Heide Schellenberg. I do not see her contribution to the book coming through, other than occasional image here and there.

I learned few interesting tidbits about of color in photography from "Understanding color in photography", things I never realized before. For example, do you know if dark color should be on top or on the bottom for a natural look? Do you know if a warm color advances or recedes? Read the book to find the answers, but most importantly, using the knowledge and creative exercise, apply those concepts to take your photography to next level.

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.

“Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World” by Art Wolfe

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer's Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World Book Cover Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer's Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World
Art Wolfe
Amphoto Books
September 20, 2016

I have admired Art Wolfe and his photographs for a long time. He is one of the kind - a pre-Internet (before Flickr, 500px and Google Plus) photographer who build very successful, independent career. While his work was published in well known magazines, he never was affiliated with Life or National Geographic or others. On top of that, he has very strong background in visual arts, which helped him create strong compositions with focus on color contrast, pattern and texture. His images are just stunning.

"Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer's Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World” is a summary of almost four decades of Art Wolfe careers. And the book is so much more a coffee-table style collection of beautiful photographs. Each image is accompanied by the story. In fact, there is a photographer story, telling something about unusual location, and other circumstances surrounding the image, sometimes related to photographic process itself. There are also two smaller tidbits, written by co-author and acclaimed photographer himself, Rob Sheppard. One is  “The nature of the photo” providing a bit more cultural or geographical context. The second one, the “Photo tip” - is short lesson in photography, with advice on things like light, filters, use of shutter speed and similar. Sometimes, when you read all the text in sequence, those short tips seem to break the flow of the book, though, I oftentimes found them distracting and overly simple.

One of the very first advice a new photographer gets when he asks how to improve on his photography is to study the photographs of the masters. It seems like "Photographs from the Edge” is the perfect book for the task - and it comes with cheat sheets in forms of stories and insights. I would recommend it for every aspiring nature and travel photographer, for learning and for pleasure.

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.

“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.

“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.