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Showing 1-10 of 32 reviews(5 star). See all 44 reviews
on June 28, 2008
This is a cut-paste review taken form my blog at [...]
I have been recommending the book Understanding Exposure via my Amazon affiliated link for a while now. This is far from being an original suggestion since this book must be on every photographer's blog I know. Still, this is a mandatory reading and I one of the best book to read when you are leaving the "green rectangle" mode.

As much as I like that book, I think it is time to share another book that I really like: The photographer's eye. I still have a few more pages to read before reaching the end but it has to be one of my favorite book so far.

It is not a technical book per say. It is never written things like: use spot metering and under-expose by X stop, etc. Yet, it has to be the most technical book I have read about what makes a good picture. There are a lot of explanations about how to approach a scene and how to exploit the color/contrast/lines to your advantage.

The content
One of the many things I like is the way each fact is justified and backed by a scientific concept. Sometimes the explanations might go a bit too philosophical for my taste but most of the time I could relate to them.

Basically, the author identified all elements/concepts that could be used to make a picture and describe their impacts. He starts with the simplest of them all (the dot) then building on top of it to move to more complex design (ex: curved lines). The approach works very well, especially if you take a break every few pages to go out and try this new knowledge. For example, after reading the section on framing, I gave a try to square aspect ratio (which is not that practical when you have a 2x3 viewfinder). It forced me to see my subject in a new way to make better use of the space. Now, when I am shooting a subject that is not suited for a 2x3 ratio, I instinctively check to see how it would look in a square frame.

This is just one of the many ways this book has changed my shooting style. Some of the other interesting topics covered are: framing/cropping, colors and shapes relationships, how to shoot with an intent, etc.

The pictures
This is not an art book, each picture was put there to illustrate a specific concept. The author has taken great care in his selection to pick images from around the world (with a focus on Asia) and often give some background information about them which is a nice touch. I also liked the fact that many versions of an image/scene are often used to illustrate a concept. Because, sometimes, pictures are stronger than words...

I got this book because I wanted to increase the artistic quality of my pictures. What I did not plan for was that my level of self-criticism would increase too. So Now I end up with a better skill set, but I am still aiming higher... I guess that is the only way to improve!
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on September 29, 2008
Ignoring technical details like f/stop, this book concentrates on the final image. What makes an image 'pop', and how to you take more photos that elicit "wows"? Moving past the well-known rule of thirds, Freeman covers concepts such as contrast, gestalt perception, rhythm, graphic elements, chiaroscuro, color relationships, intent, and other 'artistic' concepts.

You will need a fair bit of technical skill to take pictures like these, and the intent of this book isn't teaching you that skill (although Freeman has written his share of how-to books). Instead, this is about analyzing what you see and deciding what you want to make a picture of. I expect I'll be learning from The Photographer's Eye for years.
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on August 5, 2016
A must have for any photographer.
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on October 19, 2008
If, like me, you keep reading photography books and still don't understand composition, this is the book we have been waiting for. Here the ideas of what makes a composition strong and captivating are explained with numerous examples and case studies. This is the only book I've seen to explain composition in detail.
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on April 15, 2009
Of the half dozen photography books I've read this one is the best...a real treasure.

I am strictly and amateur photographer who enjoys taking photographs and admiring the photographs of others. When this book arrived in the mail I flipped through it and then read the other photography book I bought. I even wondered if I had made a mistake buying this book.

I was sceptical that his numerous diagrams of arrows and lines would be meaningful and convincing.

In fact most of his ideas are convincing--usually interesting and often exciting. He persuades by example, by solid argument, and the science of perception. Most of his abstract ideas are given substance by linking them solidly with concrete effects.

In his later book of top tips, which I bought for the technical sections, there is a hint of frustration to the reaction to his ideas on composition and design. I think he feels that he is being misunderstood and accused of having a cookbook approach to photography. But there is nothing rigid in his ideas. He is a great professional photographer who has thought deeply about why some photographs are so much better than others. He uses these ideas in his daily work--and he wants to share those ideas with others.

The book is structured around an analogy with language: setting, grammar, vocabulary and syntax. My inability to relate to this analogy did not detract from my feeling that the book's structure was carefully thought out and effective.

I was intrigued in the first chapter and then really hooked in the next two chapters. After a couple of short chapters with good solid information and good ideas, I found the excitement return in the final chapter. It ties the ideas of the previous chapters together with a few concepts illustrated by case studies. I was amazed by the extent to which his photography is goal-directed. He acknowledges the role of chance as in the example of the "girl with brooms". But without thousands of photographs previously taken with great thought and care, he would probably not have had the instincts to grab the moment.

There is a photo of a boy in a herd of cattle who is framed by a pair of horns . The image was anticipated before it happened. Good photographers have a way of making there own good luck. The cases studies of the kindergarten, Muslim cleric, and Japanese monk are fascinating and enlightening. They illustrate the experimental and goal-directed nature of the process.

The attention to detail in many of the photographs was very interesting. From arranging pearls to positioning a background figure in a display of Thai cooking, he shows how seemly random placement was actually careful thought out.

His ideas have already enhanced by appreciation for the photographs of others and will also help me develop my own skills. Great stuff.
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on October 6, 2008
I purchased "The Photographers Eye" to improve my pictures; the book did that.

"The Photographers Eye" is not a cookbook giving recipes and rules for better pictures. It is a textbook discussing composition and techniques for better photography, filling the readers head with ideas to use when the time is right.

The first half of the book describes photo composition, followed by a section on colour, and ending with two chapters on a photographers though processes. I found the last section fascinating.
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on April 4, 2009
This book is beautifully written - the author's use of the English language is brilliant.. it has a sense of "zen" about it. This isn't a book to rush through.. it should be read slowly and savoured. It's written in a format that invites you to open it at vertually any page ..the verbage is on the left with beautiful example pictures on the right. This is a book you can't help but learn from. Everytime I pick up my camera now my mind automatically starts to focus on what do I want to see in the composition of the frame. It's taught me to slow down and really absorb the scene before even thinking of taking a picture. This book is worth every penny .. at twice the price. I buy a lot of books - some are good..some aren't.. and with all seriousness.. on a scale of one to ten.. this one's a twenty. Don't even think about it.. just buy it.. you won't regret it for a minute.
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on August 13, 2009
I was looking for a book to enhanced my photos, to better understand what differentiate a outstanding picture from a good one. This book was what I was looking for, really clear and informative about all the aspects of a photo. It is filled with great examples and the picture inside the book are really of professional quality. Great book!!
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on July 31, 2009
This is a GREAT book! Most books on photography deal with the basic tech, aperture, focal length, ISO, shutter speed. This is the design side of making a photograph. This book breaks down the elements of composition and order into small, accessible chapters, then demonstrates how they can and do work in great photos the author has taken all over the world. I will refer to this book more than any other, and now look at collected works with a new vision of what works and what doesn't. It can't help but make you a better photographer. Get this and keep it handy!
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on April 28, 2009
Photography is my hobby (amateur). Looking for books to improve my photography skills. I am currently using Canon XTi with 17-85mm and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS.

I find that no matter how expensive your camera equipments are or great photoshop skills you have, getting the 'right' composition is the most important skill to have over the former 2 things i mentioned.

Composition is like the bases of your photo. With an expensive glass, no matter how sharp image quality it can deliver, if your composition is not interest or doesn't attract/capture the viewer's attention, it is all useless. Yes, if you are really good with photoshop, your uninteresting photo can look awesome after ps it. But to begin with the right composition is like having 90% of the work done for you.

This book teaches you many methods/techniques in composing a "good" photo, demonstrated (most of the time) with example photos and a short explanation of the technique used. It teaches the reader the technique and what outcome it would have on the viewer of the photo. So depending on the photographer whether he/she wants such an outcome, he/she can employ such technique. It doesn't give the reader a specific way that he/she must follow in composing a photo (which is a GOOD THING b/c photography is art). It reminds the reader not to follow these conventional techniques depending on the intent of the photo and when to go the unorthodox route can yield interesting compositions.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone learning to compose photographs.
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