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New York Through the Lens: A Poetic Photographic Vision of the World's Most Exciting City
New York Through the Lens: A Poetic Photographic Vision of the World's Most Exciting City
by Vivienne Gucwa
Edition: Hardcover
4 used & new from $23.19

3.0 out of 5 stars How to shoot a city, February 7, 2016
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Vivienne Gucwa says in the book's introduction that with no formal training she started photographing the city in 2009. Using an ordinary point-and-shoot camera while wondering the streets (just like Vivian Maier) and she has come with some stunning images.

The four chapters: Street narratives; Skylines; Seasons; History, have a bit of everything. Street narratives has some wonderful snow shots mostly taken at night, some more appear in Seasons with several taken in Central Park during the day and they look equally beautiful. The same chapter has several remarkable rustic shots of the Park with reds, yellows and orange of trees during the Fall.

Skylines delivers the predictable cityscape images with vibrant sunsets and silhouettes of tall buildings, the best images here are those in mono. One taken underneath the Queensboro Bridge (page 129) is magnificent.

It's unfortunate that the book, stuffed with probably over two hundred photos, can't really make up its mind what it's delivering. Ilex, the British publisher of how-to and technical books about photography regards Gucwa's photos as more exercises in shooting a city and presented as rather bland layouts in a square book. I think so many of these images, after some serious editing, are good enough to show them in a large art photo book, one to a page with generous margins and printed on a good matt art paper.

Maybe Ms Gucwa's New York photos will shine in some future title. I'll certainly buy a copy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2016 11:15 AM PST

Christine Osinski: Summer Days Staten Island
Christine Osinski: Summer Days Staten Island
by Paul Moakley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $32.00
10 used & new from $26.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The quiet life, February 6, 2016
In an interview at the back of the book Christine Osinski says she took these photos in the summers of 1983 and 1984 as a way of familiarising herself about Staten Island where she had moved to, from Manhattan, in 1982. Though part of New York she had always regarded SI as a rather isolated where the residents (Italians are the largest group) relaxed in their own utopia (of course, more than thirty years later the landscape has dramatically changed).

The fifty-one photos are a mix of community life, kids playing, street scenes and people, usually looking at her camera. There is not a suggestion that the busy streets of Manhattan are a mere ferry ride away. The photos seemed to project a gentle quietness as I turned the pages.

The landscape format works well with a photo a page and I thought the sequencing was particularly good. Christine Osinski's pictures deliver an interesting slice of suburban life from a few years ago.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2016 8:10 PM PST

Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography
Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography
by John E. Gruber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $41.81
40 used & new from $34.61

5.0 out of 5 stars On the right track, February 1, 2016
Jack Delano took more railroad photos than any other FSA/OWI photographer. The work in this interesting book was from a long assignment in the Chicago area from November 1942 through February 1943. More work followed in April and May when he travelled on the Santa Fe freights from Chicago to San Bernardino (over two hundred from that journey are featured in 'The iron horse at war' by James Vale). Just under half of his rail photos (2,500 mono and 250 color) are from Chicago.

John Gruber, the editor of 'The railroaders', found an ideal way of connecting Delano's photos from over seventy years ago to contemporary times by finding the decendents of the workers in the original pictures and photographing them, intriguingly by Delano's son Pablo. I think this idea has only been done once before with Bill Ganzel's 'Dust Bowl decent' published in 1984. His photo essay book took the original FSA work and he found the same locations and people to photograph in the seventies. This included Florence Thompson the Migrant mother from Dorothea Lange's famous 1936 photo and Darrel Coble the little boy in Arthur Rothstein's Dust storm in Cimarron County.

The strength of Delano's photos in the book are the semi-portraits of railroad folk. Rather than just have shots of freight and military transports out on the main how much better to show the men and women of this industry in their work environment all pulling together in wartime. The photos must have been reproduced extensively across the country in papers and magazines (they were free to print media). Chicago, as the center of railroad activity had it all as the Contents reveal: On the trains; At the station; Around the yards.

Throughout the pages the text provides plenty of detail about how the industry worked in wartime and what the forty-nine featured railroaders jobs involved but there is also extensive coverage of their domestic life. While some of this away from the job copy is interesting so much of it is very typical of the average worker's life whether they were making tanks, planes or ships but each industry has specific work practices and in the case of railroads it's this description I found much more informative than a typical worker's home life.

'Railroaders' is a fascinating look back to a tough time illustrated with powerful images and some of Pablo Delano's photos of the descendants have an extra bit of magic too, because it shows them proudly holding a copy of a photo taken by his father.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 2, 2016 5:16 AM PST

Store Front II - A History Preserved: The Disappearing Face of New York
Store Front II - A History Preserved: The Disappearing Face of New York
by James T. Murray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $43.76
39 used & new from $43.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The local store...almost gone, January 30, 2016
The Murray's return with huge, wonderful second helping of Big Apple store fronts (actually this is the third book, the second was 'New York Nights', featuring the stores after dark) and like the first book so many of these will have stopped trading, usually because of rising yearly rents. The book's format repeats the elegant presentation of the first one: the five boroughs are divided into their districts and each starts with a map and essay about the area; the store front photos are one to a page (sometimes a spread) and a location caption; many have a brief history of the premises and interviews with the owners. I thought it's these comments that make the photos come alive with references to neighborhoods and trading over the decades.

The only way to photo these stores was straight on because they are full of detail and color, mostly because the lettering, window displays and frontage are so amateurish and frequently in need of a make over. What does the shabby front of the many meat markets here say about products they sell inside? Using a creative window display to pull in the customers is mostly absent from the mom and pop store world.

Like the first book this one is well printed on a matt stock using a 175 screen and the back pages Index lists all the stores. There is a little bit of design whimsy where a 0 is used with all the page number: 01 to 0343. As these stores are slowly disappearing you can spend a pleasant hour or so using the caption address to find the buildings (or their replacements) on Street View. I did this and found that there are still plenty of stores for the Murray's to photograph for Store Front III.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2016 1:42 AM PST

Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape
Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape
by Barry Lopez
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $51.09
22 used & new from $45.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Small man, big landscape, January 27, 2016
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Look through the sixty-five, mostly landscape, photos here and you could get the impression that so much of the land hasn't been touched by man, least in the mid-west and west. Sambunaris has managed to show huge, wonderful panoramas of countryside and if you look carefully you'll spot some human activity: highways; trucks; railroads (several) mining; pipelines; crop circles and more but the human side of things in so many of these images seems quite insignificant.

There's a shot of the Bingham Copper Mine, one of the deepest open-pit mines anywhere (three miles across and well over half a mile deep) with the mining equipment hardly visible. Actually if you look at an aerial shot of the mine it looks a lot smaller in area than the nearby Utah Lake. Many of her photos are taken from a vantage point looking down on a rather barren landscape, either with a mountain range in the far distance but maybe basically flatland stretching to the ranges. Mixed in with these extremely long shots are several, almost close-ups, of shipping containers or freight cars. a rather odd mix you might think but that's what makes the book rather fascinating.

The folks at Radius Books like to go the extra mile for their book buyers and this title is a good example of this. The photos are one to a page with generous margins, printed with a 175 screen on a reasonable matt art paper. Inside the back cover is a pocket with three extras: a twelve page essay by Barry Lopez; a five page concertina fold-out with 125 thumbnails of photos Sambunaris took on her travels showing a lot more human activity than the images in the book; a large sixty-six page book, with photos of ephemera she has collected over the years, like rocks, books, journals.

'Taxonomy of a landscape' delivers an impressive photographic package into your hands.

Road Trip: Roadside America, From Custard's Last Stand to the Wigwam Restaurant
Road Trip: Roadside America, From Custard's Last Stand to the Wigwam Restaurant
by Richard Longstreth
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.81
56 used & new from $10.71

3.0 out of 5 stars Commonplace flashback, January 24, 2016
The American highway has provided a treasure trove of images for photographers over the decades, it could be amateurishly made structures promoting a local enterprise or a franchise that has spread across the country. Richard Longstreth focuses on restaurants, gas stations, motels, stores and drive-ins rather than non-commercial vernacular buildings that could be found away from the Interstates. His photos, taken from the late sixties and the seventies, are an interesting record because so many of these places have disappeared, even Art Lacey's bomber gas station in Milwaukee, Oregon is no more (after sixty-seven years, too).

The chapter on stores is unusual for a commonplace photo book, large buildings that don't quite fit in the frame like a gas station, restaurant or motel, the thirty-two here are well worth including, some of which show a certain amount of streamline flair reminiscent of Arraswmith's Greyhound Terminals.

Wonderful though all these photos are the book really doesn't present them in the best light. Probably not the author's fault but Universe (part of art publisher Rizzoli) should have known better because they have made this an upright book when the majority of the photos are landscape. There are fifty-eight pages with a photo in the middle of the page and a slab of light grey above and below, combined these equal the depth of the photo, white page numbers on the light grey don't read too well either. If the book was landscape there would have been no problem. Fortunately there are plenty of pages with two landscape photos, one above the other and they fit perfectly.

In the tradition of travel books Road trip's cover and pages have rounded corners and a silk book mark so that the armchair traveller doesn't loose their place.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2016 11:27 AM PST

Al Parker: Illustrator, Innovator
Al Parker: Illustrator, Innovator
by Manuel Auad
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $44.95
30 used & new from $32.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect Parker, January 13, 2016
Another fine illustrator title from Auad Publishing and like their Albert Dorne book this one shows of Parker's work as it should be displayed. There are probably more than two examples of editorial art, magazine covers and ads. I like the way so much of the work reproduces the end result with the headlines and text in place but there are plenty of examples of paintings as they were delivered to the client and before the Art Directors got involved.

Nicely there are several series here, twenty-four of those wonderful mother and daughter covers for the Ladies Home Journal Parker painted between 1939 and 1952, seven covers for the TV Guide and work for McCall's, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and nine paintings for American Airlines ads. There's also a fascinating twenty-one pages of mono photos (and the finished art) of models taken as reference to get the compositions just right.

Parker like other artists of the forties and fifties defined commercial art of these decades though I think people like Dohanos, Dorne, Briggs, Fawcett, Fuchs or Whitmore were just as good but Parker had a little something extra, he was adept at changing style to suit whatever the client wanted. Cosmopolitan for September 1954 rather uniquely used him to illustrate every story with each one having a different look, there are ten works from that issues over four pages.

A slight disappointment with the book (and the same applied to the Albert Dorne title) is that there are no technical details about how Parker worked, types of paper or canvas, brushes, paints, preliminary roughs and changes. How he created this great art would have made the book complete for me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 13, 2016 9:37 AM PST

The Way To Play (The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of The Games Of The World)
The Way To Play (The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of The Games Of The World)
by Diagram Group
Edition: Hardcover
57 used & new from $0.70

5.0 out of 5 stars The games people play, January 6, 2016
Published in 1975 and so way before computer games, even Pac-Man (1980) but it includes over two thousand games played around the world. Games in the widest context of the word so here are tiddlewinks, tick-tack-toe, baccaret, chess, snooker and table tennis. I bought the book years ago because it was beautifully designed (publication designers do that sort of thing) and as a useful reference book.

The fifteen chapters are divided into obvious sections like: tile; card; dice; table; casino. Each game starts with an illustration and a brief look at its background (and some go back centuries) followed by the rules and objectives. The book's five thousand illustrations back up the words so that each game is clearly explained. Card games like solitaire get a whole chapter because of so many geographic variations.

As far as I'm aware this is a one of a kind book because it's so comprehensive, the amount of work in writing the text and organising the pages means no one has published a better version and nicely it can be picked up quite cheaply, too.

*The Diagram Group who created this book did the same supurb job with 'Rules of the game', an illustrative guide to sports of the world.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2016 10:58 AM PST

The Railroad Photography of Jack Delano (Railroads Past and Present)
The Railroad Photography of Jack Delano (Railroads Past and Present)
by Tony Reevy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $41.81
49 used & new from $32.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tracking down the trains, December 29, 2015
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At last, a fascinating overview of Jack Delano's railroad photography. His work on this subject has certainly been neglected. Some photos were in Don Ball's 'The decade of trains: the 1940s' published in 1977 and the same year saw James Valle's 'The iron horse at war' with 272 wonderful mono photos unfortunately presented in a very bland looking book (incidentally it can still be picked up quite cheaply if you look around the net).

This new title is in four portfolios : FSA photos 1940-1942; OWI Chicago; OWI across the country with Santa Fe; FSA/OWI railroads in color 1940-1943 (this portfolio has thirty-three shot). The nature of Delano's work lifts way above the usual railroad book full of track side shots of heavy freights pulled by multiple diesels, the photos here are in a way the opposite of that because they mostly show workers doing their jobs to keep the (rather rundown) industry going as the country moved into the war years. I thought the photo selection particularly inspiring because mixed in with the medium and long shots of engines being repaired and serviced or out on the track there are close-up portraits of the workers and the color section nicely has five shots of female railroaders

The back pages have an interesting nine pages devoted to Roy Stryker's railroad shooting scripts followed Notes over four pages (well worth reading, too) then a Bibliography and Index. The book is well produced in its landscape format, all the photos are captioned including their Library of Congress number.

Jack Delano's railroad photography really comes alive in these pages.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2015 10:55 AM PST

iRULU 8 Inch 32GB Quad Core Tablet PC, Microsoft Windows 10 Operating System, IPS Screen, 800*1280 HD Resolution, Black
iRULU 8 Inch 32GB Quad Core Tablet PC, Microsoft Windows 10 Operating System, IPS Screen, 800*1280 HD Resolution, Black
Offered by iRULU
Price: $109.99
2 used & new from $79.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Irulu winner, December 21, 2015
Irulu like other pc manufacturers like to cover all the various size options and this is their latest eight inch model. I was surprised it was running Windows10 rather than Android I have on one of their ten inch tablets, the eXpro X1. The appearance and feel of this Walknbook mini is much better than the X1 and overall I'm very pleased with its performance, bearing in mind it's a sort of budget line product. Check out the Technical Details on this page to see what you get.

It takes very little time to boot up with a clear bright screen. Scrolling through a page is smooth, I prefer to use a rubber tipped stylus for this though I use fingers to make anything bigger or smaller. I'm not a big fan of Win10, the tiles seem a step backwards from what I've been used to with Windows XP, Vista and 7, however I've loaded my Faves as tiles on the screen and opening one to the other is wonderfully quick.

I've loaded You Tube, Amazon movies and they play smoothly but I would never expect the sound, like most tablets, laptops and mobiles to be adequate, you'll have to use the Bluetooth option or headset jack to hear much better sound than the little speaker in the case. Streaming music from Spotify, Live365 sounds fine with Bluetooth or playback with an external audio source. Everyone says the camera is poor, perhaps the one area where Irulu products fall down, it seems a compromise with image quality, fine for social messaging and Skype but better quality images would push the price up considerably.

Clicking on the symbol (bottom left on the screen) opens up an A to Z list of all the available programmes and applications, including the ones you've downloaded. Thankfully there was very little bloatware though I did delete (or at least make inactive) stuff I would never use. As you would expect from any Windows OP there are plenty of ways to customise the system to the way you want it and fortunately none of the anti-virus branded software was loaded for a free trial, Microsoft's free Defender is installed and I think that is all you'll need.

I wish Irulu would make more of an effort with their Quick Start Guide, eight pages of English in the multi-language small booklet was not much use, but Microsoft Press does an excellent 'Windows 10 Plain and simple' book, useful if you are new to Win10. Incidentally, the tablet comes with a thin removable film front and back but there is another thicker protective film on the screen which can also be removed if it starts to show scratches.

For the money a lovely tablet, ideal for entry level users and those who want to get to grips with Win10.

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