Interesting learning stuff

Every photographer is on a journey with no end. This is a given that we are constantly learning and improving. To that end I’m going to share two resources that I’ve recently become familiar with, that really hit a chord with me.

The first is an e-book on composition. I’ve read lots of books on composition, one of the staples being Grill and Scanlon as an example. A lot of the books hit the same notes, rule of thirds etc., but nothing has ever really resonated with me. I get the rules, I’ve applied the rules, but always felt something was missing. I still felt that getting a shot that really works was hit and miss, really struggling to find satisfaction with some images. I know they don’t work, but couldn’t put my finger on why.

I’m a big fan of Trey Ratcliff’s work over at Stuck in Customs. I like the HDR stuff, but he’s a talented travel photographer and has taken probably the best picture of the Eiffel Tower I’ve seen in recent years. I love this picture because it’s unique and unusual and original. The composition works on many levels and it just strikes home with me.

While browsing Trey’s site I came across his ebook – Composing the Photo. Seeing as I like his work, I thought I’d grab the ebook and see if it was anything more than a standard boring re-run of composition rules……

Downloaded to the Ipad and loaded into iBooks, open it up and….hummm…actually interesting!

Trey trashes the rules of thirds…and supplants it with his own. He talks about composing in 3D for a 2 D medium, in camera and post capture cropping, contextual composition and a whole bunch of stuff that I’d never considered! It’s also liberally sprinkled with examples and analyses of his own photos. This is actually really good stuff!

After reading it. Then re-reading it (something I never do). Then reading bits if it again….this works out to be one of the best texts on composition I’ve every read. It’s well written, eminently readable, full of excellent examples and tips and really does go way beyond the standard texts. If you are looking for inspiration, ideas to improve your work, something to drive your work in a different direction, then I really recommend this work. Trey has managed to do something no other book on composition has done, given me ideas for new images and got me revisiting older images that didn’t work for a re-edit. Not bad for $8.97.

The second thing I’ve found that has the potential to improve my work is a new ipad only magazine from Scott Kelby’s stable. He’s the guy behind Kelby training, a photoshop magazine, many books and one of my favourite video podcasts, D-Town. The magazine, called Lightit,  has it’s premier edition out for free, and is exclusive to the ipad. It has links to steaming media interviews with Joe McNally and a bunch of interesting content aimed squarely at lighting and strobist type stuff.

The content ranges from beginner tips to advanced articles, like use tilt-shift lenses to control depth of field on location in bright sunshine – which is definitely a very advanced solution.

This magazine may not have the impact on my work that Trey’s book has, but it’s shaping up to be a great resource for ideas for solving lighting problems and improving the results from off camera flash.

The magazine is slick, with excellent, relevant content. The price of subsequent issues is $2.99 and if it keeps up the quality it will be a sure success.

More to come……..



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