NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, April 2012
Review: Digital Photography Composition for Dummies
By Donna Kamper,
Member, Tucson Computer Society, AZ September 2011 issue,
TCS eJournal
donna (at) kamper.com (click to email author)

What’s the difference between an amateurish snapshot and a gallery-quality photograph? There are lots of variables, but the right “composition” makes the viewer’s eye snap to the essential element that tells the story.

If there were only one way to tell a story photographically, it’d be easy. It used to be. Plop the subject in the middle and click. But does that really “tell the story?”

This book, by a professional photographer, breaks down and explains the subject of composition element by element. Contrast, distance and patterns as well as lines, shapes and forms are introduced and their relevance to your photography is pointed out

A minimal amount of space is spent on the equipment (camera, lenses, tripod, etc .) and the basics (aperture, focal point, ISO, etc .). I felt it was enough space/time for the subject, and the author states it’s expected that the reader has a basic understanding of their equipment.

The subject of composition itself is then addressed, which covers how to use points of interest, framing and even color as an essential element.

The concept of “leading the eye” or “drawing the eye” is referenced frequently. Multiple techniques are demonstrated and illustrated.

This became particularly helpful when the subject was lighting.

The names and descriptions of lighting methods (Paramount, Rembrandt, Broad lighting) are all very well, but actually showing how the light falls on a subject allows the novice (reader) to actually understand (and remember) its effect.

This is a copiously illustrated book, as one about photography should be. The best part is not simply that there are a lot of photos, mostly in color, but that they’re relevant and helped me to understand certain points.

A broad range of subject matter is covered, which I also found particularly helpful. There are a lot of large, intimidating (expensive) books out there focused solely on “landscape” or “portrait” or “still life” photography. This small and inexpensive volume covers all those subjects and more quite nicely. Each subject does differ, and there are concise descriptions not only of those differences but the methods for adapting to them.

Because Dummies books are written by different authors, I feel like it’s a bit of a gamble delving into one. This one is a big winner. It’s obvious the author knows his subject in a way only someone doing the work does, but he’s also one of the avis rara who can also explain it well.

About: Digital Photography Composition for Dummies Author: Tom Clark
Publisher: For Dummies / http://www.dummies.com
ISBN-10: 0470647612
ISBN-13: 978-0470647615
Price: $29.99, $21.89 @ Amazon

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