Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques Reviews

March 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Digital Photography Product

Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques

Take your best shots with this invaluable guide to composition for DSLR camerasSometimes you get the best results by breaking the rules, but first you have to know what the rules are! In this indispensable photography guide, renowned photographer Harold Davis first walks you through the recommended guidelines for composing great shots with your DSLR camera-and then shows you how to break free, build your own unique style, and compose beautiful images with confidence.Provides practical compositio

List Price: $ 29.99

Price: $ 29.99


3 Responses to “Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques Reviews”
  1. M. Denis Hill "whidbeypix" says:
    32 of 33 people found the following review helpful:
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Will Improve Your Photography, December 27, 2009
    M. Denis Hill “whidbeypix” (Whidbey Island, Washington USA) –

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

    This is a survey of technical and artistic considerations and techniques that can make novice and intermediate photographers more capable, and more satisfied with their shooting endeavors.
    The promise on the back cover of “Creative Composition, Digital Photography Tips & Techniques” is that it will help you:
    * Unleash the power of your imagination
    * Learn to pre-visualize photos
    * Find what’s important about your subject
    * Frame photos for impact
    * Recognize powerful compositions
    * Find magic in everyday objects
    What it delivers is a broad, though arguably shallow, survey of enough techniques and insights to improve the abilities of many photographers.
    The novice will find technical and artistic guidance that, with attentive application, can elevate his or her photos from snapshots to interesting images. The intermediate shooter will be inspired to explore new creative methods shown in the author’s examples. The advanced photographer will be reminded of techniques s/he may have neglected and will gain fresh insight into principles of composition.
    Speaking of composition, I selected this book based on the title: Creative Composition. It turns out that fully a third of it is a compendium of technical information, included because the author asserts that you need that knowledge to be competent at composition. In other words, he says that you can’t pre-visualize an effective image if you don’t have a grasp of basic photographic technique. I agree, thought might argue that this was an easy way to add bulk to the book.
    Some of the 64 topics covered in the technique section include lenses and focal length, sensor size and focal length, using exposure modes, reading histograms, depth of field, blur and bokeh, extending dynamic range, extending focal range. These are typically discussed in five to 10 paragraphs, so don’t expect thorough explanations. As you would expect, every section relies on the authors images to illustrate the points covered. Each includes focal length, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and whether hand-held or tripod mounted. Although there is discussion of 35mm (full-frame) focal length equivalence, the author only tells you once that he is shooting with cameras with a 1.5 factor.
    The second section is organized around principles such as photography as deception, abstraction, double takes, photography and paradox, patterns, framing, the golden ratio … As in the technical section of the book, the composition section is heavily weighted toward images. A generally brief discussion of a compositional technique is fleshed out with one to eight illustrative images, with a sentence relating each to the technique.
    Before I enumerate my criticisms of the book, let me say that I approach this with 50 years of photographic experience, from childhood snapshooting, to yearbook staff, to professional auto racing, commercial, and fine-art photography. I certainly do recommend Creative Composition to any novice or intermediate-level photographer; there is much to learn in it.
    Where this book falls short of its potential is in areas where the author has provided sketchy information or mere hints of what the reader could wish to learn. He mentions shooting hand-held HDR (high dynamic range) without explaining how. Ditto for “multi-raw” shooting.
    The discussion of depth-of-field (DOF) and bokeh neglects to mention issues of highlights and the shape of the aperture. I didn’t see mention of the impact of trailing-edge focus on making the subject pop against the background. And the discussion of the impact of focal length on DOF is, in absolute terms, incorrect (perpetuating common misunderstanding). Clearly misleading is the statement, “The depth-of-field preview on a DSLR lets you look through the lens fully stopped down …” In fact, the DOF preview lets you look through the lens at the working aperture, which is generally not “fully stopped down” to the smallest aperture.
    This book also perpetuates the myth that lenses with focal lengths longer than “normal” are always telephoto. In fact, the definition of telephoto is that the lens is physically shorter than the focal length. Though the author offers a simpler definition, the focal length is the distance from the secondary nodal point to the rear focal point of a lens. That may be more information than you need, but it is accurate information.
    Just one last gripe: the explanation of histograms. First, the author provides illustrations of “good” and “bad” histograms. But different scenes will produce “good” histograms that do not resemble the examples. Photo examples with their histograms would have been hugely illuminating (pardon the pun). It would have also been beneficial to mention that a) color channel histograms are available on some cameras, and b) histograms are based on the camera’s current JPEG settings, so raw file histograms may differ from what you see during…

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  2. Jeff R. Clow says:
    26 of 27 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Seeing Better – in the lens and in the mind, November 14, 2009
    Jeff R. Clow (Corinth, TX United States) –

    I have read dozens of books that attempt to deal with the very difficult subject of photograph composition. Many of them rely too heavily on the author telling the reader how to “look” at things differently. What this book does throughout is very different – it actually helped me “see” things with a much clearer eye. For example, the chapter on “Seeing the Unexpected” prompted me to go out in search of macro and abstract details after reading the author’s very good advice about asking yourself the simple question: “is there another way to approach this?”

    Harold Davis is an accomplished photographer and his photos in the book are great examples of how creative composition can change a dull scene into an intriguing one. But what really makes this book stand out is that he talks about HOW one goes about making better photos, and his advice on creating a game plan and using pre-visualization is really good. I also found the chapters on how to create photographs that tell stories and how one should go about researching a photo to be particularly helpful and full of good advice.

    An added bonus throughout this book is the details that the authors shares on each of his photos that are utilized to illustrate a chapter – you get an insider’s look at the lens length, the f/stop, the ISO and the exposure that was part of crafting the image. Very helpful and quite interesting – especially on some of the shots where he used longer exposures.

    The reason I read reviews on Amazon is because I like to see what other readers thought about a book before I ordered it, and I assume that you are reading this review for the very same reason. If you are someone who wants to expand your photographic ability and would like to learn how to do so through good fast paced instructions that are easy to follow and implement, then this is a great book for you. It is also one that will stimulate you to go out and try new things, and I believe you’ll be a better shooter after reading this volume.

    Highly recommended.

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  3. R. Weinstock says:
    13 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Thought provoking book of photography tips, December 13, 2009
    R. Weinstock (Falls Church, VA USA) –

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

    “Creative Composition” is not so much a nuts and bolts tutorial as opposed to a book where he aims to get individuals thinking about what and how they shoot their images. The book is divided into 4 parts, “Cameras don’t take pictures, people do; Unleash your imagination; Photography and paradox; and Photography is design. Each part makes heavy use of Davis’ images which are accompanied by technical information including lens used, and exposure data which is linked to the accompanying narrative.

    “Cameras don’t take pictures, people do,” is a concise introduction to different camera formats, exposures, depth of field and other technical aspects of taking pictures. Davis, through his concise narrative and his photos, illustrates these concepts and how they relate to the making of creative exposures. He also discusses and illustrates the use of tools such as a fisheye lens and lensbaby lenses in the context of creative image taking. Davis’ discussion of a few points, such as digital asset management, is a bit too cursory.

    “Unleash your imagination” focuses on having the reader think about more than taking snap shots. He mixes strong images with a discussion of visual ambiguity, and abstraction, the importance of vision as well as photography being magical, poetic and at other times narrative. This is not a subject matter that is easy to discuss or illustrate (as was showing the effects of different shutter speeds or apertures), but by discussing the choices made with respect to specific images, Davis illustrates the possibilities available to the one with the camera.

    Certain aspects of abstraction and unusual ways of looking at the world is also the subject of the next part,”Photography as paradox.” Here, Davis observes how sometimes the recorded image can be deceptive. He displays the usefulness of digital tools to help make such images, particularly through the ability to make composite images from an original file. Davis only discusses using digital tools as opposed to providing step-by-step directions.

    The final part, “Photography is design,” is where he discusses the presence of lines, patterns, rhythm and iteration in photographs as well as the impact of light, the rule of thirds and the golden ratio. His discussion is less providing rules of composition, but rather illustrating some elements that make some images so effective.

    “Creative Composition” does link the technical aspects of photography with some of the more artistic choices one must make. It instructs through illustrations and making the reader aware of the possibilities he or she has in making their own work more distinctive and stronger.

    As an addendum to the review as originally written (and as a response to a comment), I should state my giving 3 stars is probably being conservative with stars. If I could give 3 1/2 stars I probably would and I can easily understand others giving higher ratings.

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