It had been a long time between blog articles when I started writing this. So perhaps it was ironic that the main reason for beginning this entry were the words of another photographer. Over the second half of 2013, life got in the way of my desire to put down words. Although lacking in substantial articles, updates, announcements and new photographs were posted with regularity through my social networking portals.
Before delving into these eBooks by Alister Benn, which I have taken some time to absorb over a good number of months, allow me a minute of self-indulgence to discuss my personal development as a photographer and teacher. I started to produce images which still remain in my top tier portfolio from my second year onwards. I was completely self-taught during this period. By the end of my second year, I had already taken the most important steps in my development as a photographer, at least in the area of landscapes. Within a short period of time, I was enjoying positive critical feedback from other photographers who had inspired me and success in virtually every competition I entered. The problem with all this rapid and often instinctual development was that it outpaced my understanding of how it all had been achieved.
It was only years later, when I started teaching and blogging that it become important to gain an understanding of my image creation process. Consequently I had to work backwards. I became absorbed in analysing my own photos, trying to determine why for example I would follow the compositional rules in one image and then break them in another. With time, I became far more self aware about every aspect of my photography.
“Great images are the product of great compositions.” Alister Benn
After several years in photography I came to the same fundamental realisation. To merely capture great light results in a photograph which contains great light. The best images combine flawless composition with light that complements the photographer’s vision. There’s a nebulous zone that occurs before the shutter button is pressed. And this is what the first two books in Alister Benn’s seascape series deal with. While much the subject matter is equally applicable to the broader topic of landscape photography in general, all the images used in the series are coastal.
I read the eBooks on my iPad Air which has the high resolution retina display; the text and excellent photographs looked superb. I won’t dwell too much on the first book, titled simply “Introduction” as it is available as a free download. It provides a broad framework on which each of the subsequent books build on.
The subject of the second book, “Vision and Composition” is self-explanatory but the material covered is comprehensive and quite complex. I suspect some of the material will be beyond the grasp of the photographer close to the start of his or her journey. However this is a book that will be beneficial to revisit at different stages of one’s development hence highly recommendable to both beginner and seasoned photographer alike. I found myself nodding at many of the ideas and concepts expressed by Alister. The line drawings, sometimes overlaid on actual photographs were particularly useful in demonstrating how compositions are constructed. Much of the mystery that was occurring before pressing the shutter in my formative years was being presented in an organised fashion within these pages. I would have loved to start my journey into landscapes with the sort of clarity gleaned from this book but alas seven years ago there was nothing quite like this on the market.