Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary


What I’m Reading … Ralph Nelson, Botanica: iPhone Photos

Ralph Nelson BotanicaI’m a sucker for collections of botanical and floral images. Botanica, by Ralph Nelson, caught my eye at the library, and I was completely blown away by it as soon as I picked up the book. These images would be outstanding on any measure, but they’re all the more remarkable by virtue of all having been done with an iPhone!

In Botanica, Nelson does not discuss technique beyond saying all images were shot with iPhones 3GS, 4, and 4S. But Botanica was a (successfully funded) Kickstarter project (Kickstarter page here); on his Kickstarter page, Nelson says that not only were all images shot with iPhones, no cropping was done and no apps were used, with no editing beyond basic traditional photo techniques. That’s unbelievable! These images are awesome. The detail is amazing, the rich textures and colors are vibrant. Without any cropping, I’d say Nelson’s mastery of photographic composition is spectacular.

Here is a selection of more botanical images shot with the iPhone. [Update: Ralph Nelson has asked me to clarify that the images featured here, which are to be found at his website, do not actually appear in the book, having been shot after the book was published. Still, both the images in the book and those shot later and featured at Nelson’s website are all great!]

Ralph Nelson, Botanica

Copyright Ralph Nelson.

It is difficult to do justice to this collection in a few images. At Nelson’s website, you can see galleries of his botanical and other images, and also download and view PDF galleries of selected images.  (Also included among the iPhone work are abstracts, ocean and beach images, and other images.) Nelson is also a prolific photographer, and his site includes a great portfolio of sensitively and perceptively done portraits of celebrities.

Ralph Nelson, Botanica

Copyright Ralph Nelson.

Nelson is now retired from his career in film cinematography, and his work and career has been highly lauded and recognized with many awards. These photographs pay tribute to his talent and experience.

Ralph Nelson, Botanica

Copyright Ralph Nelson.

Botanica: iPhone Photos, by Ralph Nelson. 162 pages, 78 images. Go here to buy Botanica from Amazon. Go here to buy direct from Nelson. Go here to Ralph Nelson’s website.



What I’m Reading … Creative Black & White

Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques, by Harold Davis, another in the “What I’m Reading” series of postsCreative Black & WhiteI’ve enjoyed the work of Harold Davis (See my earlier review of Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds). Since I’ve been doing more and more black-and-white work, I thought I would check out his book on that. I’ve certainly not been disappointed.

Creative Black & White is a great book for all from beginners to experienced enthusiasts, students and semi-pro photographers. The book is divided in three parts. The first part discusses black and white photography and vision in general. Included are such topics as how to look for good black and white images, what makes a subject good for black and white processing, and composition in black and white. It’s in an easy conversational style but packed with information and tips and prolifically illustrated.

Part 2 approaches the techniques of post processing black and white. This is thorough and informative. Although there is substantive material on processing with Lightroom, Nik tools, and ACR (Adobe Camera Raw), the majority of this is best suited to work with Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements). All the techniques are described in an illustrated step-by-step manner. Part 3 is all about approaches and methods to achieve creative effects. The sections on technique are notable: It’s not just technique but also a discussion of when a particular approach is appropriate, and it continually relates back to the first section on vision.

Creative Black and White: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques. Highly recommended. I’m learning a lot from this book.

A prolific author, Harold Davis has published over a dozen books on photography since 2008. I find it very easy to get to like his writing style. Equally adept with both color and black and white, Davis is one of today’s leading photographers. Here is Harold Davis’s website.


What I’m Reading … Heather Angel

Heather Angel is a British photographer and one of the world’s leading wildlife and nature photographers. I’m rereading two long-out-of-print books by Heather Angel that have been in my library: The Book of Close-Up Photography, and The Book of Nature Photography (though the Close-Up Photography book is still available from Amazon). I cannot recommend Heather Angel’s work highly enough. Angel is a great writer and teacher as well as an outstanding nature photographer who has traveled the world.

In recent years Angel has been concentrating on shooting the flora, fauna, and landscapes of China. Angel’s Amazon book listing runs five full pages, but here are two recent recommended books: Her latest, Digital Outdoor Photography: 101 Top Tips; and the most recent work on China, Green China.

What I’m Reading … is an abbreviated review – or just a mention – of  book(s) that I’m reading and feel worthy of a mention and recommendation.


Photodocumentary Book Project… “Creating Women”

As previously announced, I’m seeking participants for my new project, a photo essay and documentary book, “Creating Women,” examining the lives and work of women who remain active in their 60s, 70s, 80’s and beyond, especially artists, performers, writers, and other creative women. I’m looking at the changing roles of women today as we age, and I’m especially interested in how aging affects creativity – and how creativity affects aging. The project – very exciting – is moving forward. I am still seeking more women to participate; anyone interested should contact me through this site.


“What I’m Reading” … Thomas Mangelsen, Images of Nature

Images of Nature: The Photographs of Thomas D. Mangelsen

I’ve had “Images of Nature” by Thomas D. Mangelsen on my bookshelves for quite a while, and recently pulled it out to enjoy once again. I was interested to see the book is still in print for a very reasonable price.

Mangelsen is, simply, one of the greatest photographers of nature and wild animals around. His work is masterful in the extreme. It is biologically accurate in depicting wild animals in their natural habitats, entertaining, and shows a sense of humor along with a deep appreciation for nature. Mangelsen’s photo technique is second to none. The book is a big, thick, compilation of over 200 images with extensive text by Mangelsen. The photographs range from the western mountains to the African plains, from the far north to coastal and inland waterways. The book is organized in terms of habitats and features extensive field notes as well as excellently written captions. A biologist, Mangelsen is the preeminent wildlife photographer of his generation.

Highly recommended: Images of Nature: The Photographs of Thomas D. Mangelsen

[“What I’m Reading” is a post consisting of less than a full review of a book but rather a more concise mention about something I’m currently reading and find interesting enough to write something about.]


New Craft and Vision ebook: Shoot + Share

A new ebook from Craft and Vision – Shoot + Share: Getting Your Photographs Out Into the World, by Stuart Sipahigil.

Craft and Vision: Shoot + Share

Everybody who has a photo blog here – Indeed, everybody who takes pictures – needs this excellent and thoughtful new ebook from David DuChemin’s Craft and Vision. (Click here to visit Craft And Vision.)

At the outset of his book, Stuart Sipahigil offers this statement by Peter Turnley:

Photography at its core is all about sharing, sharing an expression of our feelings, perceptions, and observations about the world around us, for now and for all time.

So very true. But how do we go about sharing our photos? There is a bewildering array of options available to us, and we want to ensure that our images are viewed by the right people in the best possible light. This book is a fantastic resource, full of good ideas and information. Whether you are sharing your pictures with family and friends; have a photo business and are sharing your pictures with clients; or you have a blog or otherwise sharing your pictures on the internet (or want to), this book is for you.  Consider the chapters:

  • Introduction
  • Why Share you Photographs
  • Who Needs to See your Photographs
  • Sharing with Family and Friends
  • Sharing with Other Photographers
  • Sharing with Clients
  • Sharing with the Rest of the World
  • How to Decide Which Photographs to Share
  • How to Get Help with Editing
  • Your Portfolio
  • How and Where to Share your Photographs
  • Social Media
  • Online Photo Sharing Sites
  • Hosted Professional Sites
  • Your Own Website
  • Blogging
  • Prints and More
  • Photo Books
  • Public Display
  • Putting it all Together
  • Beyond Sharing Photographs
  • Photo Walks
  • Classes
  • Conclusion

Shoot + Share.  58 pages. PDF ebook. Highly recommended. Available for Craft and Vision’s iPad app, or in PDF form directly from Craft and Vision, only $5.00US.  Click here to visit Craft And Vision. But for the next 24 hours, until 11:59 PST April 28th, only $4 with the discount code SHARE4. (Or use the discount code SHARE20 and get 20% off any 5 or more PDF ebooks from Craft and Vision.)

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