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The Photograph: Composition and Color Design 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1933952260
ISBN-10: 1933952261
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born in Berlin in 1936, Harald Mante studied graphic design and painting at Werkkunstschule Wiesbaden. He taught Photographic Design at Dortmund Polytechnic and at the European Art Academy in Trier, as well as many seminars and workshops. Professor Mante has authored numerous art books and textbooks. His photographic work has been exhibited in museums and private collections world-wide, and his books and calendars have become collector's items.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Rocky Nook; 1 edition (March 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933952261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933952260
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Update for the second edition: 17 November 2012

The main part of the review is of the first edition below. This second edition is the English translation of the German third edition. The content of this edition is identical to that of the second except for some new topics, some reorganization of the sixth section, and the addition of two new sections. I did not do the translation of the new material. "Identical" is not quite correct. From his first German edition to this one, the photos he uses to introduce each section change and are almost reason enough to own each edition. They are excellent and beautiful.

In the sixth section, "Using the Tools," Mante has inserted a chapter on visual aspects of the square format. From this same section, he has broken out the chapters on photographing sequences and series into their own two chapter section. Lastly he has added a new, eighth section on analyzing images to discern their elements, universal contrasts, and color contrasts.

This last section reminds me of the presentation in his Van Nostrand Reinhold books in English from the 1970s and is an important addition to the content of the 2007 edition. This new section should be several times longer, or given more chapters. It shows in schematic manner, using both a color and B&W rendering of each image along with small thumbnails, how a shooter or viewer can start training oneself to see the components of an image's, or potential image's visual structure. The thumbnails identifying the main color contrasts are less useful, as they do not indicate where in the image such contrasts are, but they do encourage the viewer to search for them in the main image. The text for each image is in the manner of "formal criticism.
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Format: Hardcover
Rocky Nook is a relatively new entrant into the field of photography publications. One of the niches that it has taken aim on is the translation of books into English that appear in European languages. One might think that in a global culture, where a digital camera is the same in Germany as in the United States, and Lightroom has the same interface in both countries, there would be little room for variation in theory, but this book seems to prove that thesis incorrect.

While I have not read every book on photographic composition in the English language, the theories of composition presented by Mante differ from most that I've encountered. When discussing composition, most authors speak about the rule of thirds, or where to put the horizon in a picture, or simplification. Mante on the other hand, discusses the importance of the point, or multiple points, or lines or shapes, or ground and field, or contrast. (At least one other author, Richard Zakia, has tried to deal with these same concepts, but his book is too idiosyncratic to recommend.)

The chapters of the book are organized to present a single concept, like a line of points, with text, several illustrative photographs, and diagrams. Frequently one is required to flip back and forth between text, photograph and diagram. The photographs by Mante are quite beautiful, although they bear a close resemblance to the self-referential. By that I mean that the content explicated by the form is the form itself. For example, those familiar with Albers color squares recognize that the content is the perception created by placing certain colors in proximity to each other. Mante's photograph of a purple wall with a green beam in it is not about the wall, but rather about the relation of purple and green.
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Format: Hardcover
This may seem to be a mutual back-scratching club, as I'm following a review by Tom Campbell, who also reviewed my own book, The Photographer's Eye. Nevertheless, I'm compelled to say that this is the welcome return of one of the classics of composition in photography. And excellently updated and revised, too. Mante methodically and sympathetically presents an exhaustive account of the formal elements, from points and lines, through colour, to purely photographic forms such as time sequences. His painter's training allows a refreshing and rare cross-discipline analysis. An essential read for anyone with an interest in design in photography (and any photographer SHOULD have just such an interest).

Michael Freeman (author of The Photographer's Eye, among many others)
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Format: Hardcover
Serious photographers! Immediately purchase and immerse yourselves in this extraordinary volume of instruction and inspiration. Of all the hundreds of photo and image texts we've reviewed at MyMac Magazine, The Photograph - Composition and Color Design is the most important one for helping intermediate to advanced photographers grasp the precision and acuity necessary to achieve the finest images. Those are strong words, matched by author Harald Mante's strong content.

He is an acclaimed German professor of photography who has been teaching and publishing photo textbooks for over 45 years, with numerous exhibits in many countries. Such a resumé is mere fluff if his photos and tutorials aren't impressive, which they certainly are.

Over 600 of Professor Mante's powerful photographs illustrate his lessons, each of which is accompanied by detailed descriptions, plus charts and graphs of his own creation. Photo presentation is world class, as are all production values within The Photograph. My heart was racing as I turned page over page, both from Professor Mante's sensational photos and with enthusiasm for his methods.

You must understand image design (composition) and color design to be a top notch photographer. If you consider yourself already to be at your peak, the mountain will rise by the application of Mante's methods. Beginning with "The Point," and progressing through line, shape, and contrast, concluding with "Using the Tools," this book is its own reward. Your photos improve as you marvel at the author's.

Now stop reading, and order The Photograph - Composition and Color Design. Then send us a thank you note.

MyMac rating: Perfect 5 out of 5!
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