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)

Current Photographic Exhibition in Wellington

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 and sensibilities. 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.

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.

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.