Author: Chris Gatcom
Publisher: Amphoto Books
Review by Conrad J. Obregon
What serious photographer doesn’t want to improve his creativity? With a title like Camera Creative: Professional Photography Techniques for Innovative Images, this book sounds like an ideal tool to use.
The book is organized into six sections with 52 chapters, each two to four pages long. The first section, called “Creative Shooting”, suggests a number of tips or techniques like soft focus and painting with light. The second section, “Lenses and Accessories” contain chapters like reversing lenses for macro shooting and making a pinhole lens. Next is a section called “Lighting Gear” that tells how to construct equipment like portable diffusers and beauty dishes. The final section deals with processing and printing and covers information like how to use Photoshop to create an image that looks like a manipulated Polaroid shot and how to create panoramas. Each chapter contains a list of materials required and a difficulty rating, as well as step-by-step instructions.
This book does not talk about how to develop your creativity, but rather focuses on some unusual, and sometimes on some rather common, tips and techniques. How useful these tips will be to a particular photographer depends on how much studying the photographer has already done and what the photographer is interested in capturing. For example most portrait photography books will mention how to make soft focus images. Similarly, capturing a splash of water from a pellet dropped into the water may be interesting to look at, but not something a particular photographer may want to do. The various construction projects may seem fine for the do-it-yourself photographer, but others may not be interested in presenting their subjects with a nerdy-looking piece of equipment that doesn’t seem very professional. The processing tips won’t be enough to teach someone about image processing software but are aimed at making digital images look like some other technology. On the other hand, if you want to make your ink-jet print look like a cyanotype, or to modify a cheap Holga camera to take better pictures, or create a stereo image, this book will give you a few hints. Most people may find a tip or two that interests them but it’s also possible that none of the tips will be useful.
I acknowledge that I have a dislike of tip books, believing that teaching fundamentals is more useful than showing how to achieve a particular effect. On the other hand if you are interested in learning how to make a single splashy image (pun intended) it might be worthwhile to browse through this book.