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Underwater Dogs Hardcover – Illustrated, October 23, 2012
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Seth Casteel's photographs are "a global phenomenon." -- Wired―-
"Surprising and funny." -- New York Times―-
"A great coffee table book." -- The Huffington Post―-
"These pictures are amazing and sometimes terrifying." -- The New York Times Book Review's "Inside the List"―-
"The arresting portraits in Seth Casteel's Underwater Dogs reveal what's happening below the surface. Teeth gnashing, paws paddling, primal and hilarious, these canines bubble with irresistible energy." -- O, The Oprah Magazine―-
"Seth Casteel's photos of dogs diving into swimming pools in hot pursuit of neon tennis balls have been a sensation." -- Washington Post―-
"Wide-eyed, wet-haired dog portraiture." -- Los Angeles Times―-
"The gorgeous, energetic snapshots are special in that they capture our pets in a primal state we rarely get to see." -- Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life―-
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One issue I had with this book was the layout. Some photos are centered, which means that due to the binding the photos are essentially disfigured by the layout. You can't see the whole expression of the dog, despite the fact it was enlarged around two pages for the purpose of highlighting that photo. Other photos were off-center, or covered one page, which made it much more fitting for the format.
If they would change the centering so that photos were not cut off by the binding, or bind it differently, that would improve the quality of the printing and make all the photographs equally visible.
He understands dogs and their wildly expressive enthusiasm for chasing balls and fearless water play. This is physical humor with a heart. You get to see it all so clearly because he also demonstrates the skills and knowledge to light his moving subjects under water and what a particular lens' focal length matched with the right point of view can capture what matters the most in a fraction of a second. He distills that one moment out of the many in each dive. He has convinced both natural breeds and unusual breeds to "go for it". Fun meets trust. Thankfully, he also is skilled in how to control tone, color, contrast and depth of field masterfully to complement the composition and intentional distortion of the subject. He solves complicated problems and has a good eye.
However, in general, this is not an entirely new creative genre. The more established William Wegman is the undisputed pioneer and creative master of humor, gesture and novelty photography using dogs. Consequently, there is already an existing market for anything adorable and humorous with dogs that steps beyond dogs posed for simple calendar shots. Casteel's version has a Wegman in space effect. The pool provides a way for the dogs to defy gravity while still allowing natural distortions created by water resistance from the force of the dive. The result pulls and parts various flaps and folds of the dogs' faces. This allows for the unexpected and highly expressive to surprise us and to distinguish each dive from the others. Casteel, like Wegman, understands the crux is the power of gesture, and that the unexpected or unusual sells. I think Casteel has far better craft than Wegman, although Wegman does not rely upon matters of craft. But Casteel is absolutely dependent upon it and thankfully for us, has complete control over everything except the magic born in the singular moment itself. Casteel is not trying to be Wegman, does make elaborate set-ups, props or wardrobe, and instead has carved out his own "underwater dog guy" identity quite well. Both photographers succeed wonderfully for their own reasons.
Since Casteel is also partly based in Chicago I am hoping for my own reasons he might figure out a way to do a book that relates to our city. Maybe shots of dogs diving through ice fishing holes on Lake Michigan can contrast with southern Californian pools. They might chase loaded Bowser Dogs instead of balls.
I have given this book as a gift to several friends with happy results. It also happens to be well printed for a very modest price. I think it is a steal.
Seth Casteel has put together a fascinating and revealing portfolio of photographs of dogs at play ... underwater. The head-on/in-your-face pictures are quite amazing and they certainly elicit a wide range of reactions. Casteel offers a different perspective of how seriously and aggressively dogs approach the simple task of playing fetch. Wide-eyed, wide-mouthed and baring some wicked teeth, many of the dogs come across as furry sharks, sea-monsters or even aliens when shown underwater ... much different than the happy little fuzz ball flopped-out on your floor. The book certainly delivers on the author's desire to reveal the wolf-roots of the domesticated dog. Adding to the book's appeal, Casteel doesn't settle on presenting readers a predictable portfolio of "water-dogs" (Retrievers)... Bulldogs, Dachshunds and even a Chihuahua are among those breeds represented. The best part of UNDERWATER DOGS, however, is the final chapter that has out-of-the-water "mug-shots" of all the dogs photographed throughout the book ... talk about Jekyll and Hyde.
UNDERWATER DOGS is a great book that will surely generate smiles, chuckles and quite a few "OMGs!"; A must-have for dog lovers.
A word about the layout of the book: of the 90 pictures, only 10 have the binding crease touching a dog's face. I didn't feel this was bothersome.
I wondered what the dogs looked like when they were not under water. At the back are small b&w headshots taken when the dogs were sitting pretty for the camera on dry land.
I don't know whether I will look through this book over & over again. But my life is richer now that I have seen these photos.
Top international reviews
We have a dog of our own who loves water and my Dad is keen on photography so it was perfect. The photography in the book is great, they are quirky and offer a view of dogs you wouldn't normally see. The photos themselves are large and highly detailed in a nicely sized photobook.
The book is a great light hearted collection of photos which provides laughs to anyone flicking through. A nice touch featured at the back of the book is thumbnail portraits of all the photographed dogs sitting normally you can compare to how they look underwater (which always raises a surprised 'really? No way!').
I also felt that the photos became repetitious after a while - throwing a ball in the water and capturing the dog as it dives in to catch it was a great idea, but I'd would've liked to have seen a little more variety.
It was good to see the small photos at the end of the of the book showing the same dogs as they look normally, but this would have had more impact if these were on the same page as the underwater photos, so you could directly compare them.
So in conclusion - good photos, not much variety, poorly executed book, not device friendly.
Just thinking about all the little cutie dogs within makes me smile. In fact I'm sat here like an idiot grinning at my monitor. There's a good variety of dogs, poses and angles.
There's also some which really high-light the teeth of the dogs, and it makes you realise just how wild they can be.
All in all, it's a really good book, worth the buy if you're a dog person like me!
I own lots of books about dogs, and this has become another treasured addition. I decided to go for the print option over the kindle version because I believe the content of the book is better enjoyed by turning over actual pages and revealing the next furry frolicker on large, shiny sheets. Plus, others can see the book by the TV and take a moment to enjoy it also. Like a previous reviewer, I too like the fact that there is a potrait picture of the dogs in their more everyday poses and you can see the character both in and out of water.
The pictures vary between dramatic wide open, tooth baring wonders to calm & graceful moments. My favourite is still the front cover but, i am biased being a Lab owner :)
If you have a dog loving relative, get them a copy for a prezzie. Recommended
An absolute must for any dog lover or for anyone looking for something a bit quirky
I bought this as a stocking filler for my husband who loved it.
Great shots and worth the money.
I first saw it in Waterstones for £14.99 and nearly bought it then as I was so taken with it.
Luckily I waited until I got home - looked it up on Amazon and got it for less than half price!
Thank you Amazon
Photos technically brilliant and artistically exciting.
My problem viewing on kindle app for iPad is that several photos do not appear fully on one screen with parts cut off and split, which spoils effect / enjoyment.
So sure hard copy a 5 star kindle 3 star even with the issues glad I have and have viewed.
The imaginative pictures really bring out bubbling laughter.
Great quality images, and lots of them!
I bought this originally to my sister for Christmas, but after flicking through it before wrapping I have now bought this again to another friend.