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Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams

4.5 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0240812434
ISBN-10: 0240812433
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About the Author

Michael Frye has lived either on or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, and in that time has built up a reputation as one of the most exciting current practioners of fine landscape and nature photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography. His work is also featured in Landscape: The World's Top Photographers. His photographs have been published in over thirty countries around the world; magazine credits include National Wildlife, Outdoor Photographer, American Photo, Sunset, and Texas Highways.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press (January 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240812433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240812434
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Conrad J. Obregon VINE VOICE on January 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Eliot Porter were amongst the greatest landscape photographers of the twentieth century. Unlike many of today's photographers, they used film. The book "In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters: Digital Landscape Photography" tries to translate their techniques into the language of modern digital photography.

The first part of the book, called "Technical Foundations" deals with the basic techniques of digital photography with emphasis on how those techniques might be applied to landscape photography. Experienced users may find little new here, although the explanation of the zone system may introduce people who have mastered the histogram to another method of calculating exposure. At the same time, the explanations of the fundamentals may prove much too pithy for beginners. Perhaps the section will most help those already familiar with the basics to understand how to apply these techniques like the masters.

The second part of the book, entitled "Light, Composition and the Art of Seeing" evokes the masters, mostly by quoting their words. The images presented are primarily those of Frye, but those familiar with the masters will recognize that much of his work is clearly derived from their style, except for being captured digitally and usually in color. Although this aspect of photography is the most amorphous to describe in writing, Frye does a good job, and his lovely pictures, taken mostly in Yosemite and other favorite locations of Adams, are well worth studying.

The final part deals with "The Digital Darkroom: Editing, Processing and Printing" and it is here that Frye shows how I imagine the masters would use modern image processing software and hardware rather than the chemical darkroom.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
From the on line book description, I was expecting something a bit different. Yet I am not at all disappointed. The description states that the book "[c]ontains a number of breathtaking works by Ansel Adams and other landscape masters such as Edward Weston and Elliot Porter." In 160 pages, there are only three images from Adams, and one each from Weston and Porter. With my own personal feelings about Ansel Adams' work, I looked forward to seeing more. But as I went through the book further and further, I realized that the real value of the book was not merely appreciating Adams' finished works, but rather Frye's own work and how he uses it to show HOW Adams did what he did in a systematic manner. Adams' manual filtering, dodging, burning, etc., are all brought forward into the age of digital photography and digital manipulation of those photographs. For anyone at least somewhat familiar with Adams' ability to "see" a photo before he even took it, as well as his darkroom magic to leave details in both deep shadows and bright highlights, Frye's step-by-step instruction actually helped me appreciate Adams' work even more.

Someone just beginning in photography who does not know what Ansel Adams did beyond taking nice looking pictures in black and white, would likely get lost very quickly in this book. Someone who has never gone beyond automatic settings with a camera will have a very difficult time following the book. It simply isn't for beginners. But an amateur photographer with at least reasonable experience using manual settings to get desired effects with either light or depth of field, will be able to appreciate this book and learn from it.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Digital Landscape Photography
Excellent adaptation of light masters to digital media -minimum self advertising.

Truly an enjoyable and useful book that dissects the Ansel Adams et al style and then explains how to achieve a similar vision in today's digital media. I was immediately taken in by a discussion of one of Adam's classics, "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941". Briefly we are exposed to his vision, and learn how to see beyond the obvious. Technique for an enduring masterwork - compose in one's mind then incorporate emotions to be be moved in one's heart. Hard to put into words, but Michael Frye succeeds quite well.

Surprisingly the notion of a pure image is also dispelled. In other words what you may be tempted to do in Photoshop, Ansel did as well in the darkroom. Dodging and burning are translated into manipulating the curves, layers, saturation and other parameters available to us now. So rest assured, and feel free to evolve your image, Ansel would have done the same.

Much of the book is spent on discussion of the Zone System. Briefly, diving the light in the scene in up to 10 zones from the lightest to the darkest. This is equated to evaluating a digital images' histograms. Explanations are given regarding when pictures should be high tone (mostly bright) or low tone (mostly dark) and when its just fine to have a gray image. We are also taught about the multiple exposures and HDR images. Combining over and underexposed images in such a way to enhance the image by showing details that otherwise would be hidden in the shadows of erased in blown out highlights.

There are examples of each of these methods sprinkled liberally throughout the book. This is where my comment about self advertising comes in.
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