Our book reviews from Vignette Issue 5 were handpicked and written by Dan Lewis at Waterstones.
Taschen’s The Polariod Book has been out for awhile but we highly recommend it, collating Polaroids from the true masters of photography – nowhere else can you see the mediums unexpected versatility.
The best camera is one that’s always with you, and today you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t carry a mobile phone. Apple’s iPhone is not only one of the most popular phones in the world, but the most popular camera on photo-sharing website Flickr. The hardware of the camera itself has been through a number of revisions over the years that have seen its output go from grainy to gorgeous as a result. The Art of iPhoneography looks at the phenomenon of iPhone photography and offers tips, tricks and challenges to help you improve your photos, whatever your skill level. Starting out, you’ll find a list of paid and free apps which offer not just the ability to upload and share images but to manipulate them with filters, or emulate antique cameras and classic film stock with subtle effects. No, it’s not the real thing – but it’s a great digital nod to the analogue ancestry. There’s the opportunity to push yourself with special missions, training exercises which ask you to try something new with your photography, and also masterclasses with iPhone community photographers, sharing the techniques they used to produce particular images showcased alongside. If you’ve got an iPhone and have ever wanted to get more from its camera, look no further.Stephanie C. Roberts ILEX 9781907579172 RRP £9.99
We’re living in a digital age. Working with film is more expensive than it’s ever been and with one of the last stalwarts, Kodak, filing for bankruptcy protection after failing to make the leap to digital effectively, it seems the photography of the past may struggle to survive. However, as shown by the popularity of iPhone camera apps such as Hipstamatic, there’s a renaissance in appeal for the humble Polaroid. The company may no longer produce the film needed for these classic cameras (you’ll have to hunt around or look to The Impossible Project for that these days) but there’s a great deal to admire about the way they changed the world and, long before digital cameras, made “instant” an art-form. This new book from Taschen showcases hundreds of images from The Polaroid Corporation’s private collection in a celebration of the possibilities their cameras inspired in photographers the world over. After a fascinating history of the company, you’ll find photos from artists such as David Hockney and Robert Rauschenberg alongside snaps by fashion photographers like Helmut Newton and Jeanloup Sieff. A great book to escape into, that is so packed with a sense of discovery and inspiration it will have you rushing out in search of moments to capture, with whatever camera is filling your Polaroid-void.Barbara Hitchcock, Steve Crist Taschen 9783836501897 RRP £8.99
High Dynamic Range or HDR photography appears to be very much en vogue currently. What started out as a way of getting around the limitations of digital camera sensors has now been adopted as a way to create vivid and distinct images. David Nightingale’s book, now in a new edition, includes much for the intermediate digital photographer looking to discover HDR. There’s some enlightening, and very much welcome, explanation of the technique itself, relating to both the taking of HDR images in the first place as well as digital darkroom techniques for getting the very best from your photographs. The beauty of HDR is often the shocking colour and crispness it can provide, and there’s plenty of example photos that display how it can be used to truly stunning effect. These range from intricately detailed images which show HDR’s capability to enhance textures and contrast, through to almost hyper-real images packed with a depth of colour that’s at times hard to comprehend. A great beginners guide to the process of the moment.David Nightingale Thames & Hudson 9781907579783 RRP £14.99
Robert Hirsch’s work is diverse but always intricately researched, deeply informed, highly authoritative and crucially immensely readable. From Seizing the Light: A Social History of Photography right through to his more practical, theory based books such as Photographic Possibilities (both also published by Focal Press and in their second and third editions respectively), he consistently produces writing that is at the forefront of any about the medium. And he’s also a pretty good photographer himself! Light and Lens, now in its second edition, approaches digital photography with a traditional film photographer’s eye. Basics such as composition are dealt with from first principles, but never in such a way that feels patronising to those in the know. In fact, Hirsch manages to get under the skin of what a photograph really is through a series of exercises which encourage the reader to think deeply about all aspects of the process. There’s much to learn here for all but the most advanced digital photographers, but what you’ll really come away with is as sense of passion and possibility for the things that digital processes can allow you to achieve when you just think a little more about how to use them.Robert Hirsch Focal Press 9780240818276 RRP £32.99