Now that’s scary! I’m already calling this “part one.” That indicates more to follow.
Over the past few years I have accumulated quite a sizable library of photography books. Some I read from cover to cover. Others I peruse, primarily looking at the “pictures.” There are books that I visit frequently, seeking answers to questions or fresh inspiration.
I have decided that in 2009 I will begin a new blog feature — “The Library.” I have yet to decide how frequently I will feature “The Library.” At least once a month, but perhaps a tad more frequently.
My goal with this feature will be simply to share photography books I find interesting, perhaps encouraging you to “check them out.”
My first book selection is “Fine Art Photography – Water, Ice and Fog” by Tony Sweet.
Regular blog readers will remember that I am a huge “Tony Sweet fan” and plan to attend a photography workshop with him later this year. It was through his books that I first became acquainted with his work. Only recently have I discovered his web site, blog, and tutorial DVDs.
Anticipating the arrival of winter ice, fog, and snow, I recently pulled Tony’s book off my library shelf to revisit his work for inspiration.
More of the Same (and that’s Good), March 5, 2007
In his three published books, Tony Sweet has hewed a constant course. On the left hand side of the fold is a beautiful picture. On the right hand side is a description of the considerations that ran through Sweet’s mind in making the picture.
The pictures themselves are quite lovely. Sweet specializes in nature scapes of both the close-up and the long variety. But in these pictures the photographer comes close to abstraction in almost every shot. At first glimpse his work looks like the paintings of Arshile Gorky or Helen Frankenthaler with nary a straight or hard edge. Then suddenly it resolves itself and you realize that you are looking into the heart of a flower or a dew drop with almost no depth of field, or at a fog-filled forest, or onto a frozen river.
Although Sweet claims “there is very little in the way of specific instruction in this book”, I thought him mistaken. The descriptions of what he was trying to achieve and the approach he took for each subject seemed to me even more instructive than his first two books. It was not like an explanation of how to pick a proper exposure (although when he tells you to open the aperture wide for a particular effect, that seems pretty specific.) Instead he emphasizes the importance of visualizing what you want to capture and then selecting the tools to achieve that goal. I was particular struck by his regular use of colored filters to achieve a certain tint in his photographs.
After my first reading, I felt that much of the instruction was similar to the material he presented in his other books, with just a slightly different perspective. But half way through my second reading I came across something Sweet suggested that seemed new to me, stopped reading and got my photography equipment, took a picture using a technique I had never tried, and was well pleased with the result.
Because I am such a fan of Sweet, several of these pictures reminded me of pictures in his earlier books and indeed when I looked at the other books I could see great similarities in the treatment of subjects, while also noticing different results. Sweet advocates going back to subjects and places you’ve already photographed and photographing again and demonstrates how effective this can be.
I suspect that readers who have looked at the photographer’s work before and learned nothing about seeing will also be disappointed by this book. Those who learned to see a little better will probably learn to see even more by reading this volume.
So, if you would like inspiration for making wonderful water, ice and fog images — images much like this — I urge you to buy, borrow, or “check out” Tony Sweet’s “Fine Art Photography Water, Ice, and Fog.”