Exploring North American Landscapes: Visions and Lessons in Digital Photography [Paperback]
Author: Marc Muench | Language: English | ISBN: 1933952539
| Format: PDF, EPUB
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Over the years, photographers have come to know one thing is certain in the landscape photography world: there are places in America that have become icons of the landscape. This book focuses on a few places that have become such a draw, almost as if the rocks and trees have demanded to be photographed.
As a third generation landscape photographer, Marc Muench has been fortunate to be one photographer that has lived the experience, explored the regions, lugged the large cameras, waited for the light, and, in a few cases, photographed a unique location for the first time. Marc discusses how landscape photography is more than simply an exploration of the landscape, but is also an exploration of your equipment and, ultimately, of yourself.
The question is asked over and over: what is it that makes your heart beat faster and your blood begin to rush, leading you to reach for your camera? Muench believes the answers to this question are buried in the many stories of what landscape photographers have been doing over the past fifty years. He writes about his stories, his father's stories, and his grandfather's stories; and he shares the images that have, in a way, become what people around the world think of when they imagine what the more dramatic America looks like.
An entire section of this book is devoted to the technical aspects of landscape photography, including what equipment to use, techniques for working with environmental conditions, and easy to understand step-by-step lessons on image optimization using Photoshop and other tools.
Muench's stunning images will inspire anyone who picks up this book, and photographers from the amateur to the professional level will learn how they too can find, capture, and process their own amazing landscape images.
Foreword by Katrin Eismann
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- Paperback: 230 pages
- Publisher: Rocky Nook; 1 edition (February 22, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1933952539
- ISBN-13: 978-1933952536
- Product Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
I wonder how the title of "Exploring North American Landscapes" was picked. Even the subtitle scarcely reveals the contents of the volume.
The book is an amalgam of portfolio, memoir and instruction manual by Marc Muench. Besides chapter 6, which is a collection of 32 images (only identified by location without shooting data), the rest of the book is illustrated with the author's photographs, some just in final results and others in the process of development. Some of the landscapes are lovely, although a few are pedestrian. As a portfolio though, Marc Muench must compete with many other great landscape photographers, including his illustrious grandfather Josef and his father David, and he doesn't rise above this crowd.
As a memoir, the book is not particularly interesting, especially since it doesn't reveal very much about his own life or his relationship with his father and grandfather. His own life seems rather normal and not as interesting as the life of a character like, say, Moose Peterson. His biography doesn't do much to explicate his photographs.
As an instructional manual, it is divided into two parts, one of which offers tips about the process of capture and the other of which addresses processing in Photoshop. In capture he waxes about chasing the light, even describing himself as a fan of the weather channel, but mostly he talks in generalities. Amongst other things, I wondered what he looked for in weather forecasts, but this kind of useful information was never revealed.
The Photoshop section revealed a few of the post-processing techniques the author uses, like setting white and black points for maximum range and then adjusting the midrange. Even here, his instruction adds nothing to the standard Photoshop instruction manual.
This book attempts a difficult balance; first, define and characterize landscape photographic composition while you're using that composition to make a personal statement, and second, detail the post processing steps that allow you to add features that were only in your mind's eye when the original photo was taken. The author states that his approach to photography is guided by the statement, "a photographer only records. An artistic photographer reveals!" Of course what is revealed in the final print is a personal statement by the "artist." With the amount of post processing available to any photographer today, final prints based on photos taken from the same point in the same conditions may look very different.
The book is a combination of a short philosophical course on photography, snippets of autobiography and family history, photographic examples of techniques that are discussed and explained in the second half of the book and a series of lessons in the second half that attempt to provide tools and techniques that allow creation of the finished product. The subject matter is mainly photography of the southwestern United States, so perhaps the title suggesting North America Landscapes is hyperbolic.
For those who love western landscapes, the images reproduced here will resonate. The focus is on landscapes that have to be pursued to be appreciated. The author had to travel distance to take these photos, most likely often in difficult terrain with the threat of incoming weather ever present. Many of them are very striking.
The second half contains a series of lessons from the digital dark room. Topics include work flow management, masking, highlighting the subject, and a good description of HDR (high dynamic range) processing.
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