Creativity Through the Lens

Dec 23, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great ideas

Cons:None

The Bottom Line: Great book for lovers of photography itching to try new techniques.


If you've got a shutterbug in your house, then you should also have a copy of "Camera Creative: Professional Photography Techniques for Innovative Images."

 This collection of 52 ways to help a user become more creative, beyond adding fancy and expensive hardware, is a gem, packed with ideas for virtually every occasion, from photographing scenery to fashion model shots to editing techniques.

Most of the ideas can be accomplished through use of ordinary photo equipment, but a tripod, but flash diffusers, filters and the occasional special lens are helpful for some. The book includes tips for making your own gear to avoid spending a lot of money. People who like photography often get caught up, understandably, in the mechanics of using the right lens, film speed, exposures, etc. What this book does is emphasize the breaking of standard photography rules to bring out the photographer's creativity.

Some of the techniques presented by Chris Gatcum, who is a professional photographer and managing editor of Ilex Press, include:

Bokeh: this is a technique involving the deliberate blurring of part of the shot to emphasize something else in the picture. You've seen this in photos: to sharpen the focus on, say, a child in the forefront, the background hills or buildings or whatever are deliberately blurred, although still viewable in the depth of field.

Water-droplet reflections: this doesn't require special equipment as much as patience, lots of it but with fantastic results.

Holga hacks: this involves using the cheap "toy" Holga camera, or one of its clones, and altering it to extend the focus, change the aperture, prevent light leaks and reduce camera shake. Holga cameras can be used for panoramas, long exposures and, because nothing connects the shutter to the film advance, multiple exposures are easy, deliberately or not.

Star trails: this involves capturing the movement of stars at night through long exposures and requires the use of a tripod and avoiding too much exposure to other lights.

Through the Viewfinder: Combining the use of a twin lens reflex camera with a modern, usually digital, device, to photograph what appears on the first camera with the second. That means picking up all the warts from the first camera's viewfinder.

There is advice on focusing flash, equipment needed for extreme closeups of faces, tilt lenses and working with multiple formats to produce the look you want, creating wall art, digital cyanotypes and inkjet transfers. The book emphasizes the value of a good tripod, since many techniques require lengthy or very careful exposures.

Each idea gets a thorough, step-by-step explanation, a difficulty rating and is accompanied by photos illustrating the completed technique, all presented in a friendly and conversational tone.

But more than anything else, "Camera Creative" will open people's eyes to the possibilities of great photos beyond the standard techniques.

Photographers may not want to use all these techniques but they'll
certainly enjoy seeing what can be accomplished with a little imagination.


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