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Book Review – Photographing The 4th Dimension: TIME

Photographing the 4th Dimension - TiME

Photographing the 4th Dimension - TiME

Photography is a difficult medium to work in. In the real world as we experience it we are immersed in a multidimensional state – 3 dimensions of space, the dimension of time being the 4th, but then add to this the 5th dimension of sound, then the 6th dimension of scents, and the 7th dimension of touch and the 8th dimension of light itself. The difficulty involved is trying to pack the experience of all these dimensions into just two – the width and height of a piece of paper or a computer monitor.

In some instances by using composition and light properly, the photographer can convey a sense of three-dimensionality in a two dimensional photo. When this is accomplished, the photograph is deemed a great success. In fact anytime a photo can represent more than the two dimensions it is displayed on it would be a successful photo.

‘Photographing The 4th Dimension: TIME’ is a new ebook written and published by professional photographer Jim Goldstein that provides the framework and procedural steps needed to produce photographs that extend them into the 4th-dimension of Time.

When I teach classes and workshops I ask my students what they think time is. I get some of the strangest answers and in most cases very perplexed looks. Time is the interval between the start and stop of some action. If an action was very long, then that would indicate much time had passed and if the action was very short, then very little time passed.

Trying to capture the sense of action, of time passing, in a still photograph is a difficult proposition. But Jim Goldstein deftly provides the necessary foundation for doing just that. His ebook begins with the basics needed for any good photography – exposure. From there Jim dives into several topics from capturing motion to star trails to time lapse photography. Each section discusses the techniques and equipment needed as well as giving a set of step by step instructions. The ebook also comes with a foldable field guide that photographers can print out and carry with them in the field.

‘Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time’ is a great introduction into expanding still photography into the realm of and showing the progression of Time.  Jim Goldstein has done a wonderful job of concisely giving instructions and examples that will introduce photographers to this exciting field. If you have been looking for information on how to do time lapse photography or star trails or any of the other topics covered in the book, like I was, then this is the book to get, read, and use.


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Book Review – Intimate Portraits of the Colorado Plateau

Copyright Guy Tal

Reproduced with Permission

Among the Sacred Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad it is reported that he said “that to truly know someone you must have four interactions with said person: travel with that person, share a meal with that person, sleep in the same room with that person and engage in a business transaction with that person.  Then you would know that person on an intimate level”.

I wonder if the same could be said of the Earth or a region of it.  I guess you could travel through a region of the Earth.  I suppose eating a meal from what that region of the Earth provides or even sitting down and eating in a specific place could meet the sharing a meal criteria.  Sleeping out in the wilderness would clearly meet sleeping in the same room, especially if sleeping under the stars tent-less.  And I suppose if we donated some money towards the preservation of a region of the Earth, or even selling something taken from the Earth or even expending of your self in its preservation would suffice in meeting that last criteria.

In any case, for those of us who spend time out in the wild areas, and especially so of photographers, we do develop a certain intimacy with the Earth.  This intimacy does not develop over night, which is indicative of trying to establish all four of the above-mentioned criteria.  It takes time to become intimate with a region of the Earth let alone the Earth herself.  When that intimacy is established, the Earth will then start to show you things from her that most people will never see even if they were standing right in front of it.  Happen to be a photographer in this state, and you are truly blessed, as now the photographs that you make will go way beyond mere documentation.  The photographs will move the heart of the viewer and will establish a longing to not only stand where you as the photographer stood, but yearn to experience exactly what you as the photographer experienced.

Such is the work of Guy Tal in his new eBook “Intimate Portraits of the Colorado Plateau”.  It is evident from the opening page that Guy has a very special relationship with our Mother Earth.  He lives and works in the heart of the Colorado Plateau and clearly captures the very essence of that place.  Looking at his photographs contained in this wonderfully designed book is transformative.  Rarely do I find photographs, or photographers for that matter that make me want to visit a location.  Not so in this case.  The more I read, the more I longed to visit those places.  I hope the Colorado Plateau will be able to handle the influx of visitors once they have read this book!

Guy opens the book with some information about the Colorado Plateau itself and premises the book not on the iconic features found there, but rather on the intimacy of the Plateau, an intimacy that only one who has such an intimacy can provide.

Guy then introduces the reader to the genre of intimate landscape photography pioneered by Elliot Porter and to the importance of that style in establishing a stepping-stone for developing intimacy with the Earth or region of it.  I resonate with what he writes in this short introduction as my work clearly falls into that genre.  And with my appetite sufficiently whetted I eagerly poured into the book.  However to my amazement, I could not power through it.  The photographs presented were nothing like I had seen before that typically come from the Colorado Plateau.  It was like I had stepped into a whole new world.  Each photograph grabbed me and forced me to spend time with it examining its construction, its elements, its colors, its light, and the very essence of not only the land in which it was made but the very moment captured when that shutter was tripped.  What I thought to be a simple afternoon of reading turned into nearly a month long affair.

Copyright Guy Tal

Reproduced with Permission

One of the hallmarks of the Colorado Plateau is how desolate it is and Guy remarks about this in a profound way.  Even though we as humans have impacted all regions of our Earth, the absence of humans on the Plateau, as is probably the case in most desolate places, impacts our souls even more.  All great people who have tread upon this Earth, were at one time in their lives in a state of seclusion for a significant period, where they were afforded the luxury of deep contemplation to discover themselves and to see reality for what it is.  Venturing out into desolation, like that of the Plateau, can only produce similar contemplation and when coupled with the visual power inherent in a camera, the results are quite moving.

The book is broken up into several chapters, with each chapter covering one aspect of the Region.  The Plateau is a diverse area, one that I was not fully aware of.  Although I have visited twice, I was unfortunately sucked into iconoclastic image making by following the typical guidebooks leading me along to the locations that have made the Plateau so famous.  What Guy brings to the table is far and above anything typical, something that only someone truly intimate with the Plateau can bring.  One of the aspects that I love most about the book is that aside from the general chapter descriptions of each region of the Plateau, Guy gives us NO location information whatsoever.  Some might take offence to this and might even contact Guy after reading the book asking for directions to the places where he made the photos if not the exact GPS coordinates.  But by leaving this information out, Guy has managed to bring to the reader the very mystery that is the Plateau and forces those who wish to make similar photos the task of venturing out into the Plateau on there own to discover the magic that can only come in solitude with that place.

Copyright Guy Tal

Reproduced with Permission

In addition, each photograph in the book has a short caption giving the title and a small tidbit of a thought about it.  It gives us a glimpse, but only a glimpse, of what was going on inside of Guy when the photographs were made.  The other very interesting and interest piquing aspect of the book is that the essays, captions, and full color photos are set on a muted and faded color image not shown among the other full color images.  It builds a mystique that the Plateau has much more to offer than just what is presented in full.

Copyright Guy Tal

Reproduced with permission

Guy starts to close the book with a reflection on the people who lived on the Plateau from centuries long passed by presenting images of their dwellings and their art work left behind to tell a story that we will never fully know.  From there Guy leads us on a visual enigma that only nature can conjure up by showing us an abstract realm of beauty.

Guy weaves an amazing visual story that truly moves the soul.  The final image in the book, once you have seen everything in an intimate sense, brings us back to the grandeur that is the Colorado Plateau.  I was awe struck as I looked at that last photo, longing to visit the Plateau again, only next time allowing enough time to really start knowing that part of my Mother in an intimate fashion and without any guide other than my own eyes and heart leading the way.

Copyright Guy Tal

Reproduced with Permission

Do I recommend this book?  Whole heartily!  And, if you have not already purchased your copy I don’t know what you are waiting for.  Visit his eBook store today and get your copy.  You will not be disappointed.

My only wish would be for a similar offering as a real-in-your-hands version, that I could proudly display when visitors or friends come over.   Any publishers out there willing to back this idea?


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Book Review – Creative Processing Techniques

Creative Processing Techniques

About a month ago fellow photographer Guy Tal released his new eBook on digital photo processing titled “Creative Processing Techniques”.  I have been processing my photos in the digital darkroom using various software applications but eventually settling on Adobe Photoshop for almost 11 years.  I started using Photoshop when it was on its 6th release version.  The power and possibilities that Photoshop brings to the photo processing world are truly amazing.

There is one problem with Photoshop, it is a bear of a program to learn.  It has so many “bells and whistles” that it literally can take years to master the full extent of that software.  Photoshop is on its 12th release as Photoshop CS5, and to this day I still have only tapped into a fraction of what it is capable of as a graphics editing software package.  However for photography, the majority of what Photoshop can do is not really needed.  Photography has a pretty well defined workflow and mastering that workflow is tenable.  However understanding all the tools needed from within Photoshop and knowing how to apply them to digital photos is still a daunting task technically let alone creatively.

In addition to all these obstacles, the photographer of today trying to sell his or her fine art photographs faces an ignorant public that looks upon Photoshop and its use as some how adulterous when it comes to photography.   As if using that software somehow automatically makes a photograph “fake” but the software built into the run-of-the-mill digital camera that produces the small jpeg digital photos did not “fake” anything.  It is quite baffling trying to understand that position and because fine art photographers have a hard enough time as it is  selling their art.  They find themselves caught between being honest business men and women and producing moving artistic pieces and coming up with a variety of explanations of how they use Photoshop to produce photos that are “real”.  It’s a tricky game.

This is where Guy Tal’s new eBook comes to the rescue.  Guy makes no excuses about using Photoshop and likens digital photo processing using Photoshop to that of gourmet cooking.  I understand exactly where his analogy comes from and it makes perfect sense.  Ask people if they would rather eat a gourmet meal cooked fresh as it was ordered or a frozen microwaveable dinner and I’ll bet they would choose the gourmet meal, I would.  Guy puts forward the argument that no camera, no matter how sophisticated, can produce a final artistic rendition of the scene before it better than the artistic photographer him or her self.  The camera does not know what is in front of it, it can’t hear the wind in the trees, or smell the aromas floating on the breeze or even truly see the nuances in light that caught the photographers attention in the first place so how could canned algorithms in the camera render anything of what the artistic photographer wishes to convey?

Guy continues on and develops for the reader a framework in which the artistic photographer can asses the image captured in the camera for shortcomings that need to be addressed and a methodology of identifying how to bridge the gap between the shortcoming to what the photographer envisioned through what Guy terms Dynamic Visualization.  Every step of the process keeps the photographer and the workflow oriented and engaged toward the final vision of what the photo is supposed to be, all while allowing for that vision to change according to the photo itself.  As Guy points out, sometimes we start out with one idea in mind only to find that the photo falls short of conveying that vision with the path we initially embarked on but that if we are willing to allow ourselves to experiment we can discover the underlying power the photo had for us when first seen in the field.

Interwoven throughout the book, the creative and the technical go hand in hand.  Guy steps us through the technical tools that Photoshop provides photographers to creatively bring a photo to life.  Each tool and technique, simple or complex, is succinctly and clearly explained in easy to understand language.  With clear examples showing how each tool and technique works, the book takes a sometimes mysterious and confusing software program and makes it easy and understandable.

I have but one caveat.  Even though I have been using Photoshop for the past 11 years and am very comfortable with it and understand the tools and techniques, I did feel quite overwhelmed when I finished reading the book.  Not due to the book itself mind you, it was well done, but because I had read it in such a short time and did not try out each tool and technique directly with my own photos as I went through the book.  My recommendation:  Get the book, read through it, Slowly, and practice with your own images each step of the way.

Photoshop is not a software package that can be learned overnight.   It takes time and practice, and Guy Tal’s eBook, “Creative Processing Techniques” is a wonderful companion text introducing the process of producing photographs that will convey your personal vision.

You can purchase a copy for yourself at Guy’s online bookstore.  Click here to visit Guy Tal Photography and get your copy of this great book.

P.S. If you need a copy of Photoshop or need to upgrade to the latest version you can visit B&H Photo and Click Here for PC version or Click Here for Mac version of Photoshop.

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