The humanity of the moment: Recent Photography books

Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is. — Anonymous

Art has the power to humanise the world, and we think some of the descriptors of this month’s photography books show how photography especially exhibits this power: “quiet but powerful”, “a beautiful and fascinating exploration”, and so many more. This month: read about how a new generation of young women artists are using photography and the internet to explore issues of self-image and female identity and the impact this is having on contemporary art, learn how to produce beautiful astronomical images, see portraits that capture the thoughtful and innocent side of London’s teenagers, and fall in love with 52 wise, healthy, and joyful 100-year-olds.

Syndetics book coverGirl on girl : art and photography in the age of the female gaze / Charlotte Jansen.
“A new generation of female artists is emerging who have grown up in a culture saturated with social media and selfies. This book looks at how young women are using photography and the internet to explore issues of self-image and female identity, and the impact this is having on contemporary art. Forty artists are featured, all of whose principal subject matter is either themselves or other women. Each is accompanied by a short profile based on personal interviews with the author, giving a fascinating insight into this exciting shift in female creativity.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art of astrophotography / Ian Morison, Jodrell Bank, University of Manchester.
“In The Art of Astrophotography, astronomer and Popular Astronomy columnist Ian Morison provides the essential foundations of how to produce beautiful astronomical images. Every type of astroimaging is covered, from images of the Moon and planets, to the constellations, star clusters and nebulae within our Milky Way Galaxy and the faint light of distant galaxies. He achieves this through a series of worked examples and short project walk-throughs, detailing the equipment needed – starting with just a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera and tripod, and increasing in complexity as the book progresses.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover…isms : understanding photography / Emma Lewis.
“Isms: Understanding Photography packs an enormous amount of detail into a handy, attractive guide tracing the evolution of photography through a series of interconnected trends, groups, themes and movements – from the invention of the photographic process to the post-internet age. Organised chronologically, this is a uniquely international, comprehensive guide to photography with concise, readable and jargon-free but scholarly insight into major photographers, movements and themes of the past 170 years.In an age where photography is of more resonance and interest than ever before, Isms: Understanding Photography offers an in-depth and clear exposition of photography for the interested general reader or student.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLondon youth / Julian Mährlein.
“This is a quiet but powerful project capturing the thoughtful and innocent side of London’s teenagers. Too often, inner city kids are portrayed in a negative light or through the lens of fashion photography. Mahrlein’s portraits remind us of the humanity and individuality of a generation that is often overlooked or vilified.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe photo ark : one man’s quest to document the world’s animals / Joel Sartore ; foreword by Harrison Ford ; introduction by Douglas H. Chadwick.
“The lush and unique photography in this book represents National Geographic’s Photo Ark, a major initiative and lifelong project by photographer Joel Sartore to make portraits of the world’s animals–especially those that are endangered. His powerful message, conveyed with humor, compassion, and art: to know these animals is to save them. Sartore is circling the globe, visiting zoos and wildlife rescue centers to create studio portraits of 12,000 species, with an emphasis on those facing extinction. With a goal of photographing every animal in captivizty in the world, he has photographed more than 6,000 already and now, thanks to a multi-year partnership with National Geographic, he may reach his goal.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAging gracefully : portraits of people over 100 / Karsten Thormaehlen.
“Fall in love with 52 wise, healthy, and joyful 100-year-olds in this celebratory and uplifting art book. A beautiful and fascinating exploration of what it is like to be over 100 years old, Aging Gracefully invites readers to look into the face of a century of life experience with portraits of centenarians captured by the compassionate, minimalist lens of photographer Karsten Thormaehlen. The striking photographs are accompanied by short bios of the centenarians, featuring quotes and wisdom on love, food, humor, and living with grace.” (Syndetics summary)

Cuba people two : more street photography from Cuba Street Wellington, Aotearoa-New Zealand / Mary Hutchinson.
Mary Hutchinson is a Wellington based photographer who enjoys photographing urban areas. This is the book accompaniment to her 2017 Cuba People Two exhibition, at Matchbox Studios, Wellington. (Information obtained from artist’s website)

May Photography

In a field still dominated by men, photography of women and by women feature more than usual in this month selection. Serendipitous,  refreshing and inspiring.

Syndetics book coverWomen of vision : National Geographic photographers on assignment / foreword by Ann Curry ; introduction by Chris Johns.
“For 125 years, National Geographic has documented the world and all that is in it with stunning photography that captures the soul of a story beyond the words on a page.
Some of the most powerful narratives of the past decade have been produced by a forward-thinking generation of women photojournalists as different as the places and the subjects they have covered. But they all share the same passion and commitment to storytelling that has come to define National Geographic.
Women of Vision was curated by National Geographic Senior Photo Editor Elizabeth Krist, who had the challenging task of choosing a selection of images to best represent the broad portfolios of the 11 extraordinary photographers.
Women of Vision is a tribute to the spirit and the ambition of these journalists and artists who have created riveting experiences for millions through the insightful, sensitive, and strategic use of a camera. From the last great wildernesses of Africa to the tumult of the Jersey Shore, these stories explore the realities of our world and the depths of what it means to be human in the 21st Century. These women of vision have taken millions with them on assignment through the pages of National Geographic–and in the process have set a new standard for excellence that will continue to inspire for decades to come.” (From book jacket)

Syndetics book coverVisible : 60 women at 60 / photography by Jenny O’Connor.
“Photographer Jenny O’Connor was born in 1952, the year that the highest number of births was recorded in New Zealand. She, and the women who feature in Visible, are part of the ‘baby boom’ generation. In 2011, as Jenny headed toward her 60th birthday in 2012, she began to wonder how other women nearing this same milestone felt about themselves, how society saw them and what their thoughts about their future were. Jenny’s desire to explore these questions was how this book began; by talking to 60 women who were 60 when she took their photograph. The words are theirs, writing whatever each wanted to say about themselves.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe New Yorkers / Robert Herman ; foreword by Sean Corcoran ; essay by Stella Kramer.
“The New Yorkers is a glorious look at a city bursting with color and life. It is a body of work full of frozen moments, serendipity and reflection. Through Robert Herman s work we recognize the New York we knew and the New York we still know today. His street photography freezes people and places in this city at decisive moments, with spontaneity and authenticity. In The New Yorkers the city waves at us, looks us right in the eye and brushes past us, without seeing. It layers images upon images like the best graffiti–always renewing and reforming itself. Stella Kramer, Pulitzer prize-Winning Photo Editor.
The New Yorkers is Robert Herman s astounding collection of photographs of New York City, shot between 1978-2005 on Kodachrome. The book immortalizes the transformation of Soho, Little Italy, Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side. These photos tell an authentic story of New York City: real New Yorkers living and working in their own neighborhoods. In Herman s bold use of light and composition, he effectively transforms everyday subject matter into vibrant, emotion-filled images. But beyond the stunning photography, it also tells another story: that of Herman s battle with bipolar disorder. A physical representation of the empathy Herman had for his subjects while struggling with his own sense of outsiderness is what makes The New Yorkers of interest to all who know and love the city as well as those who want to know it.” (From amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverFrançois Halard / texts by François Halard and Isabelle Dupuy Chavanat ; edited by Beda Achermann and François Halard.
“This extravagant volume is the magnum opus of today’s most celebrated interiors photographer. One of François Halard’s first assignments, to photograph Yves Saint Laurent’s legendary Paris apartment when he was in his early twenties, cemented his reputation as one of the most original eyes of our era. His unique photographic sensibility—old-world elegant and bohemian, accessible and personal—is instantly recognizable. Thirty years later, Halard still captures our imagination with his breathtaking photographs.Included in this highly anticipated volume are Halard’s images of the glorious homes of the most important tastemakers, artists, and designers of the twentieth century: Axel Vervoordt, Roger Vivier, Richard Avedon, the Duchess of Devonshire, Julian Schnabel, Schiaparelli, Carlo Mollino, Balthus, Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, and many more, including Halard’s own homes in New York, Paris, and Arles. Photographed in his inimitable “grand manner,” often for Vogue, this book also shows for the first time the more intimate “house portraits” that Halard would photograph for himself, where his personal vision shines through. François Halard will be a coveted, indispensable resource for all lovers of interior style and a master class in visual education.” (From amazon.com)

5110VVQEl8L__SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Butch / Kanithea Powell ; photography by Beverli Alford.
“From award-winning film-maker Kanithea Powell, Butch is a lavish book that attempts to redefine the concept of “butch” through a series of photographs shot in a sleek fashion studio style, challenging traditional butch identity and shedding some new light on what it means today.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverLegendary : inside the house ballroom scene / photographs by Gerard H. Gaskin ; with an introduction by Deborah Willis, and an essay by Frank Roberts.
“Gerard H. Gaskin’s radiant color and black-and-white photographs take us inside the culture of house balls, underground events where gay and transgender men and women, mostly African American and Latino, come together to see and be seen. At balls, high-spirited late-night pageants, members of particular “houses”—the House of Blahnik, the House of Xtravaganza—”walk,” competing for trophies in categories based on costume, attitude, dance moves, and “realness.” In this exuberant world of artistry and self-fashioning, people often marginalized for being who they are can flaunt and celebrate their most vibrant, spectacular selves.From the quiet backstage, to the shimmering energies of the runway. to the electricity of the crowd, Gaskin’s photographs take us to the ball. Legendary, comprised of photos taken at events in the New York city area, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Washington, D.C., is a collaboration between Gaskin, a camera-laden outsider who has been attending balls for twenty years, and the house members who let him enter the intimate world of ball culture. In addition to an introduction by Deborah Willis, Legendary includes an essay, “The Queer Undercommons,” by Frank Roberts.” (Dust jacket)

Syndetics book coverUnderwater photography : art and techniques / Nick Robertson-Brown.
“Capture an underwater world of glorious colours, extraordinary creatures and mysterious depths.
Underwater photography is a challenging discipline. To capture stunning images you must have confidence in your diving abilities and be very comfortable with your camera. This practical book explains and offers advice to the reader on both the art and the science involved in capturing underwater shots.
Nick-Robertson-Brown is passionate about marine wildlife. Having trained as a diving instructor, he now teaches underwater photography and regularly contributes to the photographic press.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverKen Duncan : life’s a journey : the adventure continues / Ken Duncan.
“This spectacular volume has been more than thirty years in the making. Featuring many never-before-seen photos, plus a host of stories untold until now, Ken Duncan: Life’s a Journey is a magnificent and yet passionate “commentary on life” from one of the world’s great photographers.
Part autobiography, part travelogue and part reflection, this is a book of wonderful variety and range. There’s humour, drama, anecdote and heart-searching. Every spread is illustrated by Ken’s superb images: from the Aussie outback to Africa, from Antarctica to China – and much more.
This book is in many ways a follow-up to Ken’s acclaimed 2008 volume Ken Duncan: Life’s an Adventure. That book surprised and thrilled readers, who read for the first time many of the stories behind Ken’s career. For Ken, the greatest accolade came when he heard of a farmer whose life had (quite literally) been saved by reading the book. Ready to take his own life after two years of destructive floods, the farmer had happened upon Ken’s volume in the farmhouse; he’d been completely turned around by Ken’s personal story of chaos leading to hope.
Ken Duncan: Life’s a Journey continues in this tradition, telling more – much more – of the unique Ken Duncan story. Ken’s passion is to speak honestly to his own generation – in the midst of a world often gripped by fear of financial crisis, terrorism or environmental catastrophe.
As Ken writes: “Daily we have choices to make: Will we live our lives in faith or fear? I choose faith. Who will join me in this peaceful revolution?”” (From dust jacket)

Syndetics book coverTransformational imagemaking : handmade photography since 1960 / Robert Hirsch.
“Transformational Imagemaking: Handmade Photography Since 1960 is a groundbreaking survey of significant work and ideas by imagemakers who have pushed beyond the boundaries of photography as a window on our material world. These artists represent a diverse group of curious experimentalists who have propelled the medium’s evolution by visualizing their subject matter as it originates from their mind’s eye. Many favor the historical techniques commonly known as alternative photographic processes, but all these makers demonstrate that the real alternative is found in their mental approach and not in their use of physical methods. Within this context, photographer and photography historian Robert Hirsch outlines the varied approaches these artists have utilized to question conventional photographic practices, to convey internal realities, and to examine what constitutes photographic reality. Hirsch explores the half-century evolution of these concepts and methodologies and their popularity among contemporary imagemakers who are merging digital and analog processes to express what was thought to be photographically inexpressible.” (Back cover)

Out of space odysseys, the world of make-believe and fairytales

From this month title, one could wonder whether this post is really about photography, or whether I am taking a cynical view of the role of photography. The truth is, photography as this month’s post will demonstrate, allows us to delve in the wonders of the universe around us, thanks to the technological feats of space travel. It also gives the most creative amongst us, the license to create a world of fantasy and extravagance, by arranging, composing, altering, juxtaposing, hiding and revealing, collaging and using any other clever means to create the desired image. The issue of photography and truth has long been debated. Even the “straightest” photograph is in some way a manipulation of reality. So once we are at peace with this fact, we can explore the world of possibilities at our disposal as some of this month’s books illustrate brilliantly.  

Planetfall 
“Thanks to the photographic output of a small squadron of interplanetary spacecraft, we have awakened to the beauty and splendor of the solar system. Since Michael Benson’s masterful book Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes, new, more powerful cameras in probes with greatly improved maneuverability have traversed the wheeling satellites of Jupiter; roamed the boulder-strewn red deserts of Mars; studied Saturn’s immaculate rings; and shown us our own ravishing Earth, a blue-white orb with a disturbingly thin atmosphere, as it plunges deeper into ecological crisis. Benson takes raw data from NASA and European Space Agency archives and processes it, creating large-format landscapes. He edits, composites, then frequently mosaics, and then finally optimizes these images, producing seamless digital C prints of landscapes beyond direct human experience. These new images are the subject of Benson’s Planetfall, a truly revelatory book that uses its large page size to reproduce the greatest achievements in contemporary planetary photography as never before”. (Adapted from publisher)

For a comprehensive review of the book, you may want to read Rebecca J. Rosen’s article in The Atlantic, complete with photographs and a link to Michael Benson’s current exhibition at the Hasted Kraeutler gallery in New York.

And on the subject, if you have missed the beautiful moonrise over Wellington on 29 January, here is an amazing video of the celestial display. 

Faking it – Manipulated Photography before Photoshop
“It is a long-held truism that ‘the camera does not lie’. Yet, as Mia Fineman argues in this illuminating volume, that statement contains its own share of untruth. While modern technological innovations, such as Adobe’s Photoshop software, have accustomed viewers to more obvious levels of image manipulation, the practice of “doctoring” photographs has in fact existed since the medium was invented. In “Faking It”, Fineman demonstrates that today’s digitally manipulated images are part of a continuum that begins with the earliest years of photography, encompassing methods as diverse as overpainting, multiple exposure, negative retouching, combination printing, and photomontage. Among the book’s revelations are previously unknown and never before published images that document the acts of manipulation behind two canonical works of modern photography: one blatantly fantastical (Yves Klein’s “Leap into the Void” of 1960); the other a purportedly unadulterated record of a real place in time (Paul Strand’s “City Hall Park” of 1915). Featuring 160 captivating pictures created between the 1840s and 1990s in the service of art, politics, news, entertainment, and commerce, “Faking It” provides an essential counterhistory of photography as an inspired blend of fabricated truths and artful falsehoods.”–Publisher’s website.

syndetics-lcJonathan Becker – 30 years at Vanity Fair
“Over three decades with Vanity Fair, Jonathan Becker has photographed some of the most fascinating characters from the rarefied worlds of art, literature, politics, pop culture, and society, capturing the personality and individuality of the subjects he celebrates. Assignments for the magazine have dispatched Becker far and wide—from the Amazonian jungle to Buckingham Palace”. (from amazon.com)

For a sneek peek of the photographs collected in this mammoth of a book, visit the Vanity Fair’s slideshow dedicated to this new publication.

syndetics-lcTim Walker, Story Teller
“Famed fashion photographer Walker shares a new collection assembled from the world’s most famous magazines (including Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, the New Yorker, a follow-up to 2008’s Pictures, which you can also find in our collection timed to coincide with a major exhibition at Somerset House in London, that will be held until end of January 2014 (for those who might be heading that way in the coming 12 months). Aided by an introduction by Robin Muir, foreword by Kate Bush, and Walker’s own afterword, these extravagantly choreographed, fantastical images never fail to deliver a jolt. They are usually disconcerting, and often have a downright wonderful sense of humor and play, as in a human windup doll. A holdout for shooting on film, Walker has an uncanny gift for stretching a moment and playing with time. This strength perhaps explains the cheeky dignity he lends his elderly subjects, whose portraits temper Walker’s usual archness with a welcome humanity. His images are stunningly vivid, sometimes over-bright in the manner of Avedon, whom Walker assisted. Many of his models wear facial expressions so flat and affect-free as to appear proxies for mannequins, suspended between worlds and struck hollow in the process. Like Avedon, Walker knows how to strip the human face of warmth to electrifying effect, and that tension between these macabre, morose faces and the comic elements in Walker’s visions gives the work its dynamism. This unresolved tension, always at the heart of Walker’s work, makes it perpetually thrilling. 170 color illus. (Adapted from Publishers weekly).

Syndetics book coverPhotographers / Michael Pritchard and Tony Nourmand.
“Photographers celebrates some of the men and women behind the camera. They range from press photographers and photojournalists from Life and Picture Post magazines to studio and fashion photographers such as Avedon and Bailey. Some of the greatest names from twentieth century photography are shown with their Leica, Nikon, Rolleiflex and Speed Graphic cameras taking pictures of film stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and John Wayne and pop stars such as the Beatles – as well as self-portraits and pictures of their contemporaries”–Cover.(Syndetics summary)

Reflections on Photography in 100 ideas and 100 years

What better time than the new year to reflect back on the journey that photography as a medium has achieved in the last century, from experimental, messy beginnings to the sleek and high tech styles of today’s digital age. A choice of very interesting and gorgeous books will take you on this amazing journey, looking at the early techniques, seminal photographers, myriad genres and styles from black and white documentary to glossy colour fashion photography. We will finish with a couple of titles that will help you improve your own photography from exposure to digital storage. May these inspire, illuminate and guide you at the start of a creative new year.

syndetics-lc100 ideas that changed photography
This compelling book chronicles the most influential ideas that have shaped photography from the invention of the daguerreotype in the early 19th century up to the digital revolution and beyond. Entertaining and intelligent, it provides a fascinating resource to dip into. Arranged in a broadly chronological order to show the development of photography, the ideas that comprise the book include innovative concepts, cultural and social incidents, technologies, and movements. Each idea is presented through lively text and arresting visuals, and explores when the idea first evolved and its subsequent impact on photography.
From amazon.com

syndetics-lcAmerican Photographs
More than any other artist, Walker Evans invented the images of an essential America that we have long accepted as fact. American Photographs, first published by the Museum of Modern Art in 1938, is the purest and most complete expression of his cool, unblinking vision. The eighty-seven photographs reproduced on its pages are as relevant and essential as ever, with Lincoln Kirstein’s essay as their eloquent foil. American Photographs has been a key touchtone for photographers and those who seek to understand the lyric potential of the medium, but it has often been out of print. This 75th anniversary edition, with sumptuous duotone plates complementing the elegant restraint of the original typography and design, makes Evans’s landmark book available again. For the first time, digital technologies aid in emulating the precise cropping and finely tuned balance of the 1938 reproductions, capturing as never before the look and feel of the first edition. (dust  jacket)

syndetics-lcMaster Photographers
An expansive publication for larger than life photographers and their arresting photographs. The images jump at the viewer who cannot stay unmoved, whether by the beauty, horror, significance or sheer scale of the print. This book assembles a wide range of styles, subject matters and photographic periods. A mammoth of a book that is sure to make a similarly grand impression.

syndetics-lcComing into Fashion
A fittingly plush publication looking back a the history of the world famous Condé Nast fashion magazines (Vogue, Vanity Fair), this book offers informative texts and interviews, dotted with 200 images from the publisher’s archives, some never seen before , as well as actual pages from magazines. It features over eighty photographers, revealing their talent and vision, sometimes from a very early point in their career. The big names seem to all appear along the pages, such as Edward Steichen, David Bailey or Paolo Roversi,  up to today’s exciting new comers such as Michael Baumgarten or Sølve Sundsbø. This book was published to coincide with the exhibition ‘Coming into fashion : a century of photography at Condé Nast’ curated by Nathalie Herschdoj and organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography

syndetics-lcThousands of images, now what?
Digital photography has a way to induce “image creation overload”. The average amateur photographer can shoot between 5,000 and 50,000 images per year, a far cry from the days of analog photography when slides, negatives and prints could fit in shoe boxes under the bed. Another characteristic of the digital age is that our images are stored in computers and hard drives. We generally view them on screen, not in print. To add to this slippery situation, original images are often copied multiple times to suit different purposes such as uploading, posting, editing etc. No wonder most photography enthusiasts will find themselves tearing their hair out, trying to find a better way to manage an increasingly unruly and monstruous collection. This book is just what is needed to get on the way to a better, simpler, more efficient system to store, retrieve and use photographs, making sure that managing images doesn’t take over the creative side of photography.

syndetics-lcEnvisioning Family: a photographer’s guide to making meaningful portraits of the modern family
Another book that should be a favourite during this season of reunions with friends and family. Tamara Lackey, a professional lifestyle photographer, featured in numerous publications such as O Magazine, Men’s Journal and Parenting Magazine and showcased on TV shows such as The Martha Stewart Show, CNN’s Anderson and The Today Show shares her knowledge, techniques and wisdom to inspire and guide us in making successful family portraits indoors or outdoors thanks to a host of new ideas, contemporary images and clear texts.  For amateur and professional photographers alike.

syndetics-lcThe Weekend Photographer
Rewarding when done correctly, photography can also be frustrating when you don’t achieve the results you envisioned. Whether it is an issue of lighting, focus, white balance or photographer positioning, most mistakes can be easily identified, with a bit of help. The Weekend Photographer is a comprehensive guidebook to diagnose your problems and improve your overall technique, all within the time constraints of one weekend. Mainly focused on landscapes, whether urban or natural, this book will satisfy those who prefer to venture out by themselves and leave the family portraits to others.

Festive ideas for the accidental photographer

syndetics-lcNew Zealand – Craig Potton

As we enter the festive season, this book might be high on the list of most coveted gifts. A majestic display of what New Zealand’s nature has to offer and what we may want to discover or rediscover during the summer months. A beautiful coffee table contender by one of New Zealand’s most distinguished landscape photographers, famous for his moody, often dramatic images of the wild parts of New Zealand.

syndetics-lcRobert Doisneau – Paris Les Halles Market

Once coined the Belly of Paris by Emile Zola, for its crucial role in the social, economic and gastronomic fabric of the capital, the central market of Les Halles was painfully extracted from its historic central location in the 70’s and transferred to the outskirts of Paris, to become the largest wholesale food market in the world (Rungis). In its place, a large commercial centre was constructed, which became known for its controversial architecture and the doggy characters loitering in the pedestrian area.
In 1932, Robert Doisneau was a budding photographer in love with Paris and its people in their daily activities and Les Halles was a hive and treasure trove for such imagery.
This book is a celebration of the market, depicted with candour and passion over 40  years. Doisneau became a fierce supporter of the market and documented the demolition and subsequent transformation of “le trou des Halles” into its current state. On the eve of a new remodelling of this vibrant part of Paris, “Paris Les Halles Market” is a timely reminder of the history of the place, and a nostalgic window into a bygone world as described by the affectionate words of Doisneau himself. “Saint-Eustache, the “village church”, was itself a mixture of styles and aromas: incense-scented and Gothic on the inside, celery-scented on the outside. And all around, humanity massed in the glow of fairground lights, rich and poor alike, truck drivers and market porters, butchers and Dior customers, grocers and drunkards. Everyone was on familiar terms, and all around there floated a sense of great gaiety and good will, values that electronic computers cannot calculate.” (excerpt from book)

syndetics-lcLooking at Ansel Adams

As expected for such a photography legend, the library holds quite a few titles by and about this seminal artist.
This latest addition is a nice combination of text and photographs in equal parts, making “Looking at Ansel Adams” a very attractive illustrated concise biography. The book is divided into chapters following the chronology of his career and his major photographs such as ” Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941″  or “Trailer-Camp Children, Richmond, California, 1944”.  A succession of personal accounts from Adams himself, together with contributions from his closest artist friends, family letters, postcards and mementos combine into a rich canvas complemented by details of the making of some of the iconic photographs we are so familiar with.  The book starts with a list of the major “characters” at play in the man’s life and concludes with a useful chronology and a glossary of photographic terms.

syndetics-lcMario Testino – Private View

The name is synomym with fame & glamour, fashion and celebrity. For the past 30 years, Mario Testino has been consumed by a passion for the world of fashion photography and has reached the pinnacle of his career, although he would argue that he is only started  “My favourite words are possibilities, opportunities and curiosity. I think if you are curious you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities. People close doors all the time.”
A workaholic, Testino never tires of travelling the world to create ever more challenging, exciting and vibrant tableaux and protraits.
Mario Testino Private Views” was published to celebrate his inaugural exhibition in China. Beautifully and cleverly designed, this book is divided into three separate sections: LARGER THAN LIFE,  which shows portraits and snapshots of celebrities; IN MY OWN FASHION, which features the world of luxury brands and fashion magazines; and finally, PORTRAITS OF THE ROYAL FAMILY, which unveils some surprisingly informal and personal snapshots of the British monarchy.
An excellent introduction by Jennifer Allen gives us added insight into Testino’s world and craft.
Incidentally, the Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is currently hosting two exhibitions of Testino’s work: In your Face is a retrospective of his work and influence in fashion photography whereas British Royal Portraits is exclusively dedicated to the British Royal family.
For further insight on this major photographer, read the accompanying Guardian article , watch the New York Times video of an interview with Testino and borrow the DVD of “The September Issue” from our DVD collection. A fascinating account of the world of fashion.

International Garden Photographer of the Year (Kew Gardens)International Garden Photographer of the Year

There are as many ways of looking at gardens as there are eyes in the world and this book gives us a wonderful collection of ways of seeing all aspects of gardens, from details of plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables and even animals that inhabit those man made spaces, to sweeping landscapes in all seasons and every continent. Here is a lyrical portrait of our relationship with nature and our attempt at shaping and enhancing it.
The International Garden Photographer of the Year competition was established in 2008. This book showcases some of the best images produced in the last 5 years.

syndetics-lcsyndetics-lc20th Century Photography Museum Ludwig Cologne & The George Eastman House Collection – A History of Photography

Here are 2 new companion titles from the prolific and democratic Taschen house. They are both intent on presenting a history of photography based on two specific and important collections: the Museum Ludwig Cologne on one hand which holds 860 works by hundreds of some of the most famous 20th century photographers and the George Eastman House based in Rochester, New York, the first museum dedicated to photography in the United States founded in 1949 by George Eastman of the Eastman Kodak Company. Compact yet full of essential facts and quality reproductions, these will certainly become reliable sources for anyone interested in the history of photography.

syndetics-lcShooting in Sh*tty Light, The top ten worst photography lighting situations and how to conquer them

Summer, family reunions and weddings are looming and cameras in cupboards, on shelves and in custom designed bags all over the country are getting agitated in anticipation. This is the time when many of us will be catching up with friends and relatives, taking those yearly portraits, trying their hands at new equipment, lenses etc.
This book is a mine of information for every challenging situation where the light is too strong, too low or just plain wrong. Divided into 10 chapters covering 10 typical lighting problems, the author goes through the issue in simple terms, explaining and highlighting any useful jargon and illustrating the process, from analysing  the situation, taking an awful initial photo (as it would come out if you let your camera decide for you), to adjusting and finding the best solution possible. Very useful!

syndetics-lcGIMP for Absolute Beginners

GIMP is a powerful open source graphics application with most of the features of its proprietary counterpart, Photoshop. This book provides a general introduction to GIMP for beginners, but it also contains topics that general GIMP users will find beneficial. You’ll learn how to navigate the GIMP‘s modular interface, how to use the layering system and tools, and how to both modify photos and create original web art. You’ll also learn how to extend the GIMP with tools like the GIMP Animation Package. What you’ll learn Learn how to navigate the Gimp Interface Edit photos and retouch images Getting familiar with tool workarounds Customize and configure the GIMP Interface Increase your design prowess Have fun with more complex graphics projects Who this book is for Hobbyists, occasional designers, enthusiastic photographers, graphical design amateurs, and beginning illustrators. (Library catalogue)

War and peace: humanity as a stage

syndetics-lcWorld Press Photo 12
Every year since 1955 an international jury has convened under the auspices of the World Press Photo Foundation to choose the finest press photographs of the year.
Universally recognized as the definitive competition for photographic reporting, it has been described by Michael Rand — for many years Art Director of The Sunday Times Magazine — as ‘the international photographic contest’.

This exceptional book contains the most haunting and inspiring photographs from 2011 — more than 160 pictures submitted by photojournalists, picture agencies, newspapers and magazines throughout the world.
Selected from more than 101,000 images taken by over 5,200 photographers representing 124 countries, these prize-winning photos capture the most powerful, moving and sometimes disturbing events of 2011. (From Publisher)

syndetics-lcThe Sartorialist, Closer
Photography book or fashion book? Great street portraits of people with style.. In the Sartorialist: Closer, Scott Schuman gives us a new instalment on human style as diverse and unique as the cities he visits with his camera, capturing the essence of global styles the world over, from Seoul to London, New York to Tokyo. His blog designed to feature the people he captured on the street just because they looked great,  has become an international phenomenon and his work is now part of collections such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and showcased in many different fashion magazines.

syndetics-lcPhotography, the Whole Story
A new history of photography presented in a compact yet exhaustive volume, this title is divied chronologically into 5 main periods from the experimental years in the early 1820’s to the very latest trends in global photography. Each chapter features a double spread timeline that serves as a visual table of content. Trends, genres and iconic photographers are described, discussed and attractively illustrated, focusing on specific details of featured photographs within their design, historical and cultural context. The Navigator, Focal Points and Photographer Profile make it a lively guided tour of the subject of photography through the ages.

syndetics-lcTheatre of War – Cecil Beaton
“At the beginning of the Second World War the Ministry of Information, through the advice of Kenneth Clark, commissioned Cecil Beaton to photograph the Home Front. Beaton set to work recording the destruction of the Wren churches in the City and the heroism of Londoners under attack. He conducted a survey of Bomber and Fighter Commands for the RAF, which was published with Beaton’s own astute commentary. Beaton was an effective propagandist, but his voice, like his photographs, was touchingly elegant. Whatever his subject, Beaton was always a stylist. Beaton’s wartime work for the Ministry amounted to seven thousand photographs, which are now housed with their negatives at the Imperial War Museums. They form a great document both of the landscape of war and of the passing of the Empire. He travelled through the Western Desert and on to Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan and Syria. In 1943 he left for India where he photographed the final days of the Raj in New Delhi and Calcutta before joining the Burma campaign. He ended the war deep in Chinese territory where he witnessed the Nationalist resistance to the Japanese. Beaton’s inherent sense of theatre extended from palatial drawing rooms to the jungle and the desert. Whatever the circumstances he never departed from his radical aesthetic. Theatre of War is published in conjunction with the Imperial War Museums on the occasion of a major exhibition”–publisher’s website.

syndetics-lcHenri Cartier-Bresson, A Biography
The 20th century was that of the image, and the legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, born in 1908, was the eye of the century. He focused on the fascination of Africa in the 1920s, the tragic fate of the Spanish Republicans, the Liberation of Paris, the weariness of Gandhi a few hours before his assassination, the victory of the Chinese communists, and much more besides. Cartier-Bresson was always on the spot, the great opportunist, seizing life’s historic events as they happened. An intensely private individual, Cartier-Bresson nonetheless took Pierre Assouline into his confidence over a number of years, discussing such subjects as his youthful devotion to surrealism, his lifelong passion for drawing, his experience of war and the prison camps, his friends and the women in his life. He even opened up his invaluable archives. This sensitive biography is the result of the meeting of two minds, revealed in much the same way and with the same truth as one of Cartier-Bresson’s outstanding, inimitable photographs. (from Amazon.co.uk)

syndetics-lcLife – A Journey through time
A remarkable photographic exploration of life on earth. In the year 2000, world-renowned wildlife photographer Frans Lanting set out on a personal journey to photograph the evolution of life on earth. He made pilgrimages to true time capsules like a remote lagoon in Western Australia, spent time in research collections photographing forms of microscopic life, and even found ways to create visual parallels between the growth of organs in the human body and the patterns seen on the surface of the earth. The resulting volume is a glorious picture book of planet Earth depicting the amazing biodiversity that surrounds us all. Lanting’s true gift lies beyond his technical mastery: it is his eye for geometry in the beautiful chaos of nature that allows him to show us the world as it has never been seen before. From crabs to jellyfish, diatoms to vast geological formations, jungles to flowers, monkeys to human embryos, LIFE is a testament to the magical beauty of life in all its forms and is one of Lanting’s most remarkable achievements. (Library catalogue)

syndetics-lcParis, Portrait of a city
The vivid history of the capital of love and photography. A city built on two millennia of history, Paris is entering the third century of its love story with photography. It was on the banks of the Seine that Niépce and Daguerre officially gave birth to this new art that has flourished ever since, developing a distinctive language and becoming a vital tool of knowledge. Paris, Portrait of a City leads us through what Goethe described as a “universal city where every step upon a bridge or a square recalls a great past, where a fragment of history is unrolled at the corner of every street”. The history of Paris is recounted in photographs ranging from Daguerre’s early incunabula to the most recent images – an almost complete record of over a century and a half of transformations and a vast panorama spanning more than 600 pages and 500 photographs. This book brings together the past and the present, the monumental and the everyday, objects and people. Images captured by the most illustrious photographers – Daguerre, Marville, Atget, Lartigue, Brassaï, Kertész, Ronis, Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson and many more – but also by many unknown photographers, attempt to bottle just a little of that “Parisian air”, something of that particular poetry given out by the stones and inhabitants of a constantly changing city that has inspired untold numbers of writers and artists over the ages. (Library catalogue)

New Photography Books: Beauty, Ugliness, Oddness, Disjunction

This month’s selection of new photography books begins with a reflection on how human hands shape our environment through transformation, cross-pollination and reverse cultural and natural colonisation. Our picks also examine the Antipodean landscape and small town and how they’ve been transformed (with varying results) by successive generations – creating a unique, if not quintessential, aesthetic of ‘place’.

Plus, we explore the world of until recently undiscovered genius of colour photography, Saul Leiter; discover a contrasting black and white photography instalment on London; and finish with the latest in practical photography manuals.

syndetics-lcSmalltown
In this rich and austere collaboration, photographer Martin Mischkulnig has joined writer Tim Winton to produce a meditation on the peculiar collision of beauty and ugliness that characterises our far-flung towns.
Without pulling any punches, this is an affectionate, exasperated take on ‘fugliness and the smalltown shambolic’ where both photographer and writer crate a stark beauty, despite the sad conviction that ‘there is nothing so bleak and forbidding in country Australia as the places humans have built there’.
By showing us the bizarre and funny and sometimes stubborn hope of people who live in desolate circumstances, they invite us to wonder about what we build and how it affects our communities.  What does it say about us that we build places ‘just’ to live or work in?  Is beauty a luxury we don’t believe we can afford?  Is hardiness enough to sustain people, or does it finally limit the imagination? (Publisher)

syndetics-lcOld New World
In this series of 62 photographs, Mary Macpherson explores the complex visual fabric of small town New Zealand, reflecting on its characteristics, identity and symbolism in the national psyche. In an interview by Gregory O’Brien that features as an introduction, Macpherson states: “I think that all countries have qualities- whether of their light, colour palette, spatial relationships, structures, etc – that show through in image-making. After seven years of travelling and looking at New Zealand my adjectives for it are “litlle, quick and vivid”.  Whether the viewer shares those adjectives is for each of us to ponder.

syndetics-lcBehind Closed Doors
Commissioned to complement the exhibition “Behind closed doors: New Zealand art from private collections in Wellington”  shown at the Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi of Victoria University in Wellington in 2011, and currently at the {Suite} Gallery (3-27 October 2012), this book is a portrait of Wellington as a city of art collectors and lovers. The representation of art in the context of homes rather than the institutional walls of museums or galleries offers an interesting point of view. Neil Pardington, already a familiar photographer in the world of collections and museums, discretely uncovers the private spaces inhabited by art collected according to personal agenda. His black and white photographs are accompanied by extensive text by Lara Strongman, setting the context of each collection and its owners. One notable collection is that of Milly Paris, the largest private art collection in New Zealand, recently in the news as it went under the hammer. Listen to a National Radio interview with Milly Paris.

syndetics-lcTorbay tī kōuka: a New Zealand tree in the English Riviera
Wayne Barrar is no stranger to the exploration of the intersection between culture and nature, having dedicated most of his photographic career to this complex and sensitive subject.
In this new books, he looks at the strange phenomenon he observed while spending time in England of the reversal of the “normal direction of ecological colonialism” in the case of the pervasive presence of the iconic New Zealand cabbage tree (tī kōuka) that has come to represent the English Riviera to such an extent that it has been renamed the Torbay Palms. Paris-Berlin-Bretagne-Singapore_278Paradoxically, the very characteristics of the cabbage tree as a hardy, exotic looking plant has made it particular popular as an ornemental tree as far as Britain (or France for that matter, as witnessed in the photograph on the right taken on a trip to Britanny where I made the same observation and felt a need to document it) when its status in its native environment is eroding fast.  Two essays accompany the photographs, offering an artistic view on the one hand and a conservation view on the other. Barrar’s restrained, balanced and subtle image-making style respects the subject matter and lets the oddity of the situation speak for itself. This books  is a very interesting  reflection on the significance of a natural and cultural symbol.

syndetics-lcManly affections : the photographs of Robert Gant, 1885-1915
“Robert Gant was an English immigrant, an amateur photographer and a lover of men. Manly Affections takes us into Gant’s lost world of small town New Zealand. What happened when an artistic ‘new chum’ and his camera met the rugby and cricket playing locals? Manly Affections explores men’s intimate lives in 230 images. A visual history of place, gender and sexuality, this book poses new questions about settler masculinity. As sitters for the camera in the small towns of Masterton and Greytown, Gant’s companions crossed the lines between friendship, emotion, pleasure and eroticism”–Publisher statement.

syndetics-lcSaul Leiter – Retrospektive
Produced as the catalog of the exhibition “Saul Leiter–Retrospective” at the Haus der Photographie Deichtorhallen Hamburg earlier this year, this book unveils the work of this until recently little known American photographer and painter. “Saul is the missing link in the history of color photography, a covert operator, an artist painting in secrecy for decades, an artist almost lost to us.” states Margit Erb. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Pittsburg in the 20’s, his penchant for art found little support at home and he soon left for New York to explore painting initially and then photography, which he discovered to be well suited to his personality and artistic pursuits. His photographic style has much to borrow from abstract painting, incorporating multiple layers of complex planes of diffuse, sometimes lyrical, sometimes cubistic juxtapositions. His colour palette is bold, graphic and adventurous, using colour at a time when it was still considered a trivial relation to noble black and white photography.  The result was a long career in Harper’s Bazaar, spanning the 40’s to the 70’s until the magazine folded. For all the years he spent photographing fashion, Leiter admitted to having mixed feelings about a world that he found shallow and empty. His element was the street. Even his fashion shots were mostly created on the streets of New York. His portrayal of New York is unique, colourful, graphical, showing a taste for radical compositions often masking the majority of the frame with an out of focus foreground or one vibrantly coloured element. Thanks to some persistent supporters, he  was finally brought to fame in  the 90’s with a solo exhibition Saul Leiter: In Color which attracted a lot of interest and produced good sales, but more dramatically, by a book published in 2005 after a decade spent hunting for a willing publisher, following an exhibition noticed by Gerard Steidl. Early Color’s publication saw Leiter’s fame shoot to the stars almost overnight where he truly belongs. This current publication incorporates photography and painting, illustrating the dialogue between the two medium in Leiter’s artistic practice.

syndetics-lcAnother London : international photographers capture city life 1930-1980
In the years between 1930 and 1980, some of the best-known photographers from around the world came to London and made its streets, buildings and communities their subject. For some, the British capital was to become home; for others it remained a foreign city, as enigmatic perhaps as any they had visited. Each brought their own distinctive perspective, subverting or perpetuating national stereotypes, seeking out the typical or the exotic, attempting to penetrate the fabled British reserve with their lens. Together their work creates a portrait of a great world city, changing and mutating, a restless and fascinating muse. This book demonstrates the breadth and variety of the responses London provoked from visiting photographers during the period, from portraits to reportage, from social realism to whimsy and humour, the changes in their technique and attitude demonstrating developments in photography itself.

syndetics-lcTeach yourself visually Photoshop Elements 10
“If you want practical coverage of the most important features of Photoshop Elements 10, this book is for you. Packed with step-by-step instructions illustrated with full-color screen shots, this book clearly shows you how to do tasks, rather than using lengthy explanations. Even better, the book includes an associated website with all the images in the book available for download, so you can get hands-on practice as you go. It’s an efficient, easy-to-follow way to get up to speed on the latest and best that Photoshop Elements 10 has to offer.”–Publisher description.

And finally, our first photographic eBook!

Cover image for Digital Photography FAQsDigital photography FAQs an eBook
Straightforward, clear answers to the most commonly asked digital photography questions. What’s the difference between optical zoom and digital zoom? Do more megapixels equate to better photo quality? Why is there a delay after I push the shutter release button before I can take another picture? If you’ve ever asked a question concerning digital photography and wished you had a helpful resource to provide you with clear, reliable answers, then look no further.With nearly four decades of photo experience under his belt, author Jeff Wignall responds to 365 of the most common digital photography questions with informative, practical replies.

The Olympics, London and how “Photography changes everything”

Our experience of the world is for a lot of us, mostly visual. This year, we have discovered sports with new eyes, thanks to the latest digital technology lavished on the 2012 Olympics. We have enjoyed London in summer, its lush parks and treelined avenues, filled for the occasion with a myriad of athletes and their supporters. Some of this month’s books let us revisit and expand on these impressions, reflecting on the power and place of photography in our contemporary world.
We also pay tribute to Magnum photographer Martine Franck, who died a few weeks ago.

syndetics-lcIn the moment, the Sports Photography of Tom Jenkins.
In this period of Sports extravaganza, we have all been fed thousands of images per day, mainly on screens (be it computer, smart phones, television etc) and you may think that this book is just one too many stimulus. On the contrary, I would argue that this book is a reflective pause at a time when we may be better armed to appreciate a powerful image among a sea of mere documents. 
As Jenkins says: “I can sit next to guys with cameras at a cricket match now who’re hosing down every single ball, and they’re still not getting the picture. They are not really looking, not analysing what’s going on. It’s like going fishing and putting so much bait out that you’re bound to catch something. But that’s not how it works.” This could trigger a debate on the value of images created by robot cameras as we have seen for the first time in the coverage of the Olympics in London. One to ponder.
Furthermore, in today’s digital age, sitting quietly with a book on my lap, browsing through the object, feeling the pages turning and discovering what each spread has to offer, going back and forth from cover to cover is a rare moment of intimate enjoyment of an artist’s work. 
In a quote found on the inside jacket of the book, Jonny Wilkinson sums up the amazing power of Tom Jenkins’ photography, perfectly conveyed in this collection spanning the 20 years of this sport photography icon.
The essence of an event, the raw emotions elicited by a memorable moment are for all to admire and share in this collection of  arresting  photographs that go beyond the mere spectacle. Tom Jenkins has definitely mastered all the fascets of the art of seeing, in his chosen field of sport.
After a forthnight of sports image overload, this book offers a suspended moment of reflection. Far from being redundant, it reminds us of the place that books will always have, not the only place anymore, but a cherished, ever more special place, among the plethora of media that I feel complement  and bring the best in each other.

syndetics-lcLondon, Portrait of a City
“Apart from the sports, the 2012 Olympics’ other star has been London. What a timely arrival in our collection! Following on the footsteps of its New York publication, London gets the grand Taschen treatment. A hefty book that will sit proudly on the coffee table, enticing the viewer to stop and contemplate a few pages at a time. London’s remarkable history, architecture, landmarks, streets, style, cool, swagger, and stalwart residents are pictured in hundreds of compelling photographs sourced from a wide array of archives around the world.” – (Adapted from Amazon.com)

syndetics-lcMasterclass Arnold Newman
For more than sixty years Newman was recognized by regular publication in the most influential magazines of the day, major solo exhibitions and appearances in many of the world’s most prestigious photography collections. This landmark publication – the first monograph to be published after Newman’s death in 2006 – is packed with iconic images and includes a preface by Todd Brandow and short biographies of Newman’s sitters by Corinne Currat. More than 200 mainly black-and-white photographs, including dozens never before seen in book form, showcase the photographer’s remarkable talent. Famous sitters range from painters, writers and musicians to businessmen, bankers and leaders of industry, and include Truman Capote, Marc Chagall, 
J. F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky and Andy Warhol. Individual and group portraits are represented in the book, as well as abstracts, landscapes, architectural 
details and cityscapes. Two essays by William A. Ewing shed light on Newman’s growing practice; Arthur Ollman provides an informative and entertaining look back at an old friend; and David Coleman focuses on an important national commission undertaken by the photographer. (Adapted from publisher)

syndetics-lcMartine Franck, a tribute
Only last February were we commemorating the life of Eve Arnold, Magnum’s first woman photographer. Today we look at Martine Frank’s contribution to the prestigious photo agency and to photography more generally. Martine Frank died this August at the age of 74, leaving a very wide body of work where celebrities and ordinary folk featured as prominently. She was recognised for her sensitive and compassionate eye as well as for her aesthetic rigour, cultivated from an early artistic background.  This book by  Louise Baring, unassuming by its size, perfectly suits Franck’s humble yet strickingly insightful images. It offers quality prints representing of a comprenhensive range of her photo essays, a concise yet informative biographical essay and ends with a 2 page chronology of her life. For further information on this important photographer, visit Martine Franck obituary on The Guardian and Magnum’s agency page dedicated to Franck.

Photography Changes EverythingPhotography Changes Everything

Photography Changes Everything—drawn from the online Smithsonian Photography Initiative—offers a provocative rethinking of photography’s impact on our culture and our lives. It is a reader-friendly exploration of the many ways photographs package information and values, demand and hold attention, and shape our knowledge of and experience in the world.
At this transitional moment in visual culture, Photography Changes Everything provides a unique opportunity to better understand the history, practice, and power of photography. The publication harnesses the extraordinary visual assets of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums, science centers, and archives to trigger an unprecedented and interdisciplinary dialogue about how photography does more than record the world—it shapes and changes every aspect of our experience of it.
The book features nearly one hundred engaging short texts commissioned from experts, writers, inventors, public figures, and everyday folk. Each story responds to images selected by project contributors. Together they engage readers in a timely exploration of the extent to which our lives have been transformed through our interactions with photographic imagery. (Adapted from publisher) 

syndetics-lc Light Years – Conceptual Art and the Photograph 1964-1977
This catalog of an exhibition organized by the Art Institute of Chicago explores how a diverse group of international artists, beginning in the 1960s, used photographic images and investigated the medium of photography in the conceptual art movement. Edited by Witkovsky (curator & chair, photography, Art Inst. of Chicago), six essays consider aspects of photography that intrigued the artists (including tourism and travel photography, photography as mass medium, the depiction of the human figure), and readers are invited to consider why these artists pursued the new paths they did. The numerous photographs (both in color and black and white) are a pleasure to view, and the artists’ efforts to gather and put forth their ideas, as well as their diversity of approaches, are fascinating.  (Adapted from Library Journals LLC) 

syndetics-lcMichael Freeman’s Photo School – Digital Editing
A diminutive publication, this book is a perfect , no-nonsense companion to better photography for those who may find other photography manuals overwhelming and may not have time for a 500 page bible.
Part of a series designed as a foundation course on the fundamentals of photography, its aim is to inform and inspire. 
Manageable, bitesize chapters take you straight to the point, starting with a general explanation of the topic (e.g. Sharpening), followed by a “Challenge” where the reader is invited to pratice the theory, concluded by a “Review” where examples of other “students” work are discussed. A natural progression through the book combines concepts previously learnt, leading to more complex exercises as the reader moves on.  

Complete Digital Photography
As the title indicates, this book is closer to the bible type. If you are looking for one title that will cover most of today’s technical aspects of digital photography, this book should definitely be high on the list. In its 7th edition, Ben Long’s now established title brings excellent, up-to-date information on all aspects of digital photography, from camera controls to image transfer, flash lighting, using metadata to improve your photography, image editing and preparing for printing. Supported by online resources, this book will help you experiment with examples discussed in the various chapters.

Photography in May – from conceptual to practical, the many facets of photography today

This month we start by showcasing three books that reflect on the world of contemporary photography, its major players and current themes, and then continue our monthly journey on a more pragmatic note — looking at titles that will help you improve your own photography — before finally taking a leisurely stroll along the cobbled streets of the coveted French capital.

syndetics-lcAltered Landscape: Photographs of a changing environment
“A comprehensive look at the work of 100 contemporary photographers who capture the impact of human activity on natural landscapes. The Altered Landscape is a provocative collection of photographs representing a wide range of artists, techniques, visual styles, subjects, and ideological positions. Organized chronologically, the more than 150 images-by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Chris Jordan, Catherine Opie, and Edward Burtynsky-reveal the ways that individuals and industries have marked, mined, toured, tested, developed, occupied, and exploited landscapes over the last fifty years. From Robert Adams and Lewis Baltz, two of the most influential photographers to document environmental destruction in the American West, to Richard Misrach and Mark Klett, who examine abuse of natural resources, these moving images reveal the diversity of voices within the field of contemporary photography. In Association with the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno.”–Publisher’s website.

syndetics-lcCollect contemporary photography
The best little book in a long time. Regardless of whether you are considering collecting contemporary photography or not, this book is definitely worth a look. Deceptively low key (its small format is at odds with many books on photography, and you will find it in the small books section of the Arts Music and Literature department of the central library), it confirms the place that photography has gained as an entirely legitimate artistic medium. Due to the nature of the medium and its ability to be reproduced, photography is still accessible, which can be quite an incentive to start collecting — rarity and quality of the print commanding the highest prices. Handy, useful, informative, this little book got me hooked. I read it from cover to cover in a couple of days, getting inspired by the well researched and yet succinct biographies of some of the influential names of contemporary photography. It also contains useful descriptions of the main photographic and printing techniques.

syndetics-lcCindy Sherman
You cannot get a more up-to-date publication on this “grande dame” of contemporary photography than this comprehensive retrospective produced as the catalog of an exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art from Feb to June 2012 and further afield from June 2013. The book reviews her most important series chronologically through high quality reproductions. The introductory essays by the exhibition curator, Eva Respini, and art historian Johanna Burton together with an interview between Sherman and John Waters give depth and perspective to the artist’s impressive body of work and the themes that pervade it.

syndetics-lcFor an interesting documentary on Cindy Sherman check out the 5th season of the excellent Art 21 PBS series, from our DVD documentary collection.

syndetics-lcFood photography
This practical guide presents in a clear and simple way the basics on getting the right camera equipment — lights, lenses, reflectors, etc. — and takes you through the key photographic principles of aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. Lighting and composition and food styling are explained and post-production techniques illustrated. Whether you want to improve your food photography to create vibrant blog posts or just want to improve your photography techniques from shooting to post-processing in general, this book is a good tool along the way.

syndetics-lcSketching Light
“Photographer Joe McNally explains how to experiment with light in photographs. Using many colour photos as examples, he details how a flash works, basic lighting techniques, lighting modifiers, one-light solutions, individual images, flash technology, and lighting styles and approaches he has used, along with behind-the-scenes pictures and sketches that show light placement, power settings, f-stops, and shutter speeds, as well as detailing what motivates his choices.” (booknews.com)

And finally, for light visual relief, Paris in Colour

syndetics-lcis a series of colour coded “postcards” of the city of light. A delicious little book, like a soft buttery brioche on a beautiful automn day. For more visual feasts on Paris, check out this blog: Portrait of a place: Paris.

April in Photography : far away adventures and tragic lives

Our picks of the recent photography books this month include two travel books that will transport you through time and space with their collections of historical photographs that document two “polar opposite” (yet both very arid) regions of the world: Antartica (as we follow in Scott’s footsteps via his own, previously uncollected, photos of his fated expedition), and Saudi Arabia (with a collection of photographs taken between 1860 and 1950). We also reflect on the lives of three women whose common thread is their passion for photography: Diane Arbus, Clover Adams and Vivian Maier. And of course, the debate on the fate of analog photography continues…

syndetics-lcFilm is not dead : a digital photographer’s guide to shooting film / by Jonathan Canlas & Kristen Kalp ; photography by Jonathan Canlas.
To pick up on last month’s post, film is indeed NOT dead, as this book is intent on proving:
“With the popularity of digital photography growing by leaps and bounds over the last decade, some say film has been dying a slow death ever since –- or is already dead. The reality is that film has never gone away, and in recent years has experienced a surging, renewed popularity –- sometimes simply for its retro, analog status, but mostly for film’s ability to create a look and feel that many believe digital can still not achieve. If anyone can attest to this, it’s Utah photographer Jonathan Canlas, who exclusively shoots with film, and has both an extremely successful wedding photography business, as well as a series of popular workshops held numerous times per year around the world.” (summary from Amazon.com)

Incidentally, you may want to check out Jose Villa’s book, another wedding photographer who specialises exclusively in film (reviewed back in July 2011).

syndetics-lcSaudi Arabia by the first photographers / William Facey with Gillian Grant.
“The photographs in this book were taken between 1860 and 1950, at a crucial period just before the ancient way of life in the region was swept away. The selection draws on all the known photographic collections, from the earliest travel photographers, through to the 1950s. These remarkable images are accompanied by historian William Facey’s excellent text which places them in their historical context, plus detailed commentary on photographic techniques by photographic archivist Gillian Grant.” (Library Catalogue)

syndetics-lcThe lost photographs of Captain Scott : unseen photographs from the legendary Antarctic Expedition / David M. Wilson.
“The legend of Captain Robert Falcon Scott who perished with his fellow explorers on their return from the South Pole on March 29 1912 (100 years ago this year!), is an enduring one. Until now, the history of the ill-fated Terra-Nova expedition has been pieced together from Scott’s own diaries and those of his companions, the sketches of “Uncle Bill” Wilson, and the celebrated photographs of Herbert Ponting. Yet, for the final, fateful months of their journey, Scott also photographed this extraodinary scientific endeavour himself. Trained by Ponting, and faced with extreme climatic conditions and practical challenges at the dawn of photography, Scott achieved a series of images, remarkable for both their technical mastery and their poignancy. In this landmark book, the photographs are catalogues and published together for the first time, paying tribute to the last great expeditions of the Heroic Age of Artic Exploration.” (adapted from Publisher’s description)

syndetics-lcA good companion to this title would be the recently published An Empire of Ice. Pulitzer winner Edward Larson follows the triumphs and disasters of Robert Scott, Ernest Shackleton, David Livingston, Roald Amundsen, and numerous other intrepid explorers, who risked life and limb to be the first to leave footprints in uncharted territory.

A few fascinating biographies have recently been published on women photographers. Besides world reknown Diane Arbus’ biography and retrospective, Clover Adams and Vivian Maier — two relatively unknown women with a passion for photography — are the subject of, respectively, a compelling biography and a collection of photographs. Three somber lives to ponder.

syndetics-lcClover Adams : a gilded and heartbreaking life / Natalie Dykstra.
“Clover, an inquisitive, loving, fiercely intelligent Boston Brahmin, married at 28 the older and soon-to-be-eminent historian Henry Adams. She thrived in her role as an intimate to political insiders in Gilded Age Washington, where she was valued for her wit and taste by such artistic luminaries as Henry James and H. H. Richardson. Clover so clearly possessed, as one friend wrote, “all she wanted, all this world could give.” And yet there is a mystery: why did Clover, having embarked on an exhilarating self-taught course of photography in the spring of 1883, end her life less than three years later by drinking from a vial of a chemical she used in developing her own photographs? The answer is revealed through Natalie Dykstra’s original discoveries regarding the thirteen-year Adams marriage. Dykstra illuminates Clover’s enduring stature as a woman betrayed as she untangles the complex truth of her shining and impossible marriage.” (taken from Publisher’s description)

syndetics-lcAn emergency in slow motion : the inner life of Diane Arbus / William Todd Schultz.
“Schultz confesses that his subject, revered and controversial photographer Diane Arbus, remains a mystery after nearly seven years of inquiry. His struggle to understand Arbus and her indelible portraits o. freak. makes for a strikingly candid, indefatigably inquisitive, and poignantly unsettling psychobiography, a meticulous yet passionate attempt to decode her inner life. Born in 1923 to wealth and misery in a New York household of silence and secrets, including a sexual relationship between Diane and her brother, the future poet laureate Howard Nemerov, Diane married photographer Allan Arbus very young. The marriage didn’t last, and Schultz offers no insights into what sort of mother Arbus was to their two now accomplished daughters. Instead, he focuses on Arbus’ signature fascination with weirdos and grotesques and reveals her compulsive and risky sexual adventures, and argues that sex was her true artistic obsession, right up to her 1971 suicide. Exceptional prose, illuminating psychological theory, and the visceral memories of those who knew her add up to a haunting portrait of Arbus as a tenacious and quixotic artist whose outre photographs blaze on in all their strange romance, protest, and longing.” (Booklist)

In the light of this psychobiography, it is interesting to revisit some of Arbus’ most iconic photographs in the Aperture’s 25 Anniversary edition published last year:

syndetics-lcDiane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph was originally published in 1972, one year after the artist’s death, in conjunction with a retrospective of her work at the Museum of Modern Art. Edited and designed by Arbus’s daughter, Doon, and her friend and colleague, painter Marvin Israel, the monograph contains eighty of her most masterful photos. The images in this newly published edition, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the collection’s original publication, were printed from new three-hundred-line-screen duotone film, allowing for startlingly clear reproduction. The impact of the collection is heightened by the introduction, which contains excerpts of audio tapes in which Arbus discusses her experiences as a photographer and her feelings about the often bizarre nature of her subjects. Diane Arbus’s work has indelibly impacted modern visual sensibilities, evidenced by the intensely personal moments captured in this powerful group of photographs. (adapted from Library Catalogue)

syndetics-lcVivian Maier : street photographer / edited by John Maloof ; foreword by Geoff Dyer.
Were it not for the accidental find by historian John Maloof of 100,00 photographs hidden in a storage locker, no one would have discovered the amazing work of this nanny during the day, self-taught photographer in her leisure time, who scouted the streets of countless cities in her quest for human urban tableaux. An outsider and observer all her life, she remained invisible until fate decided otherwise. In this book her impressive body of work is presented in print form for the first time. Also highly recommended is the Vivian Maier website , a brilliant showcase of her photography and further facts about this intriguing photographer. And finally, watch out for the documentary film “Finding Vivian Maier” currently in production.

And for titles in the compendium style, we will focuse this month on the new addition to the Prestel 50 Series — 50 Photographers you should know

syndetics-lcThis series is growing at a regular pace and each new title is a welcome addition, guiding the novice and filling up the gaps in the enthusiast/student’s knowledge. This title is a concise and portable (not often the case with art books) collection of chronologically ordered greats of photography, from Nadar to Tillmans. The timeline for each photographere is a very useful element, placing the artist in historical, political and cultural context. A good reference with just enough photographs and facts to wet the appetite for further research.

Further titles we hold in the 50’s series are:

50 contemporary artists you should know

50 architects you should know

50 paintings you should know

50 women artists you should know

50 american artists you should know

50 fashion designers you should know

50 Bauhaus icons you should know

50 modern artists you should know

50 British artists you should know