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Outdoor Photography - 2005 Book of the Month List

Every month, Outdoor Photography Magazine, a British publication, writes reviews of several recently published books and they select a Book of the Month. I started to gather these reviews in September of 2003 and have taken the liberty to publish a list of those books selected as the Book of the Month as recommendations for outstanding photography books.

Book of the Month: 2005
Christmas Origins: African Wisdom for 365 Days by Danielle and Oliver Follmi
With their unique approach to looking at the world, photographers Daneille and Oliver Follmi have captured an array of beautiful images, each one depicting the wonderful variety of the African landscape, its inhabitants and wildlife.
African Wisdom reads like a diary each picture is coupled with a thought-provoking quote for every day of the year. The words, by influential figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela, as well as voices from many tribes including the Masai, Swahili and Bambara, urge the reader to understand the philosophies and ideas that have helped shape the lives of generations of people who live there. African Wisdom is a mesmerising glimpse into modern day African life and wisdom. Get hold of a copy and immerse yourself I'm sure you'll be inspired. Reviewed by Jo Chapman.
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December 350 Miles: An Essex Journey with photographs by Jason Orton and text by Ken Worpole
Earlier this year, photographer Jason Orton and writer Ken Worpole walked, cycled and drove 350 miles of Essex coastline sometimes together, sometimes alone taking in the sea-walls, lighthouses, forts, harbours, tidal defences and piers as part of a commission from the Essex Development and Regeneration Agency. Essex is a county bounded by water on three sides: the Thames, the North Sea, and the Stour each marrying with the landscape to produce different geological effects. 'The shoreline is especially memorable for its obstinate refusal to conform to conventional notions of what is beautiful or picturesque,' explains Worpole in the foreword the first of many personal writings in the book. Orton's photographs echo this understanding they do not romanticise, but instead show an honest beauty rarely seen in 'tourist' promotions. rusting boats, empty fields with plane trails scarring the sky, electric fences and abandoned cars are all included in his compositions, and they are all the more powerful for this refusal to glamourise the landscape. Focusing on the border between land and sea, Worpole and Orton have created a personal, individual, account of a coastline rich in history and 'full of layered meanings and visual pleasures.' And, best of all, the book is absolutely free! Reviewed by Tracy Hallett.
Available from the Essex Development and Regeneration Agency
November Collins Birds: A Complete Guide to all British and European Species by Dominic Couzens
An encyclopedia of birdlife everything, yes everything, you could possibly want to know a luscious, luminous fount of knowledge. And believe me, I've never found myself enthusing about a bird book before mainly because I don't have a particular interest in our feathered friends but this book could seriously whet my appetite. But let's be clear, this isn't a field guide to be taken out birdwatching, it's a reference book to refer to, read, digest and return to. It's rather an enjoyable experience. Clarity of classification and layout make for easy reading while the excellent photography is a pleasure to look at. It's an easy book to find your way around and root out the information you want but, fair warning, it will take you ages because you keep getting sidetracked. The general introduction claims that the aim of the book is to be: "...not only informative, but also (to) capture the wonder of the birds of our continent." It rather succeeds. Reviewed by Elizabeth Roberts.
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October reGeneration edited by Ewing, Blaser, and Herchdorfer
There is something very brave about trying to predict the future, especially where art is concerned. As soon as an artist is hailed as 'the next big thing', the pressure to perform can be the kiss of death for creativity. But there are also those individuals who rise to the occasion, and, by the laws of probablity, there will be one or two of these among the 50 photographers in
reGeneration. Chosen by three curators at the Musee de l'Elysee in Lausanne, this selection of talent covers architecture, portraiture and contemporary themes including isolation, suburban living and self-improvement. While the influence of student favourites including Andreas Gursky and Candida Hoefer is evident here, there is still plenty to refresh tired eyes. Personal favourites include Julie Edel Hardenberg and Josef Schulz. The judges made their selection with one question in mind: is the photographer likely to be known in 20 years time? This is a tricky one to answer, but those on the committee have the benefit of experience, and have obviously used their instinct in the judging process. The result is wonderful selection of some 200 images ranging from the unsettling to the uplifting. 'Photographers need at least 20 years to establish themselves,' explains William A. Ewing. 'If we have overlooked a young Cindy Sherman or an Andreas Gursky, we will humbly accept our failings but not before 2025!' Take your bets. Reviewed by Tracy Hallett.
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September Understanding Us, Volume II, edited by Mencap
Every year, the UK disability charity Mencap organizes a charity competition, SNap! for people with learning disabilities and their families to tell a story about their lives in pictures and words. The second volume of Understanding us features award-winning entries from the 2004 and 2005 competitions which were exhibited at the V&A in London as well as across the country. Presented together in this form, every page reveals a different story in snapshot and first-person narrative that is compelling to read. It would be a soulless individual who could find fault with this collection of images, and I can only echo the words of Mencap Trustee Frances Sorrell who says this book is both 'a celebration and a revelation.' Despite society becoming more aware of the nature of learning disabilities, there are far too few positive images in the mainstream media, with perceptions remaining frightfully stereotyped. Thankfully, Understanding us and the Snap! competition are addressing this in a powerfully effective way. This is one of the best examples of how photography can inform and change lives at a local level and in an uncomplicated way. Roll on Volume III. Reviewed by Keith Wilson.
Understanding us, Volume II is available directly from Mencap.
August RAC Discover Britain: Touring Atlas & Guide
Did you know that President Bush's ancestors came from Essex? Or that the game of darts was invented in Grimsby? No, then how about this Pontius Pilate was Scottish! I didn't expect to find those facts and folklore in a RAC road atlas, but then there is a lot more to this book than meets the eye. As well as being packed with maps to get you from Aberdeen to Bognor, there are regional sections providing an informative gazetteer to the major attractions and landmarks to be enjoyed en route. Colourfully illustrated with a generous use of photographs,
RAC Discover Britain is more than just another street atlas. I found the mix of facts, figures and folklore compulsive reading and it became all too easy to absorb oneself in the snippets of information printed at the bottom of each page. These are the source of the gems above. Here's some more: Sir Laurence Olivier was born in Dorking; Great Wakering is the driest place in Britain; Islay is home to eight whisky distilleries; Britain's first road fatality was in Purley in 1998. Being a road atlas, who'd expect this last fact to be included, but then again there's no harm in being reminded about why you should keep your eyes on the road. Reviewed by Keith Wilson.
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July Scotland's Coast: A Photographer's Journey by Joe Cornish
If you saw the eight-page spread of photographs and interview with Joe Cornish in last month's issue, you will know exactly what to expect from this book. A wonderful, sweeping collation of images of the incredibly varied landscape of Scotland's coastline. Don't expect every stretch of shore or sea-swept island to be featured that would take a lifetime but the 100+ plates depict scenes of staggering beauty and isolation that can only be Scotland's renown. Unsurprisingly, it is the islands and mainland of the West Coast that dominates, although the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland are well covered too. Supported by the National Trust of Scotland, Joe also gives ample coverage to Trust-protected shores such as Torridon, Iona, Mull and the remote islands of St. Kilda. His captions provide a revealing insight into the circumstances behind each composition and the reader is often left marvelling at how he has triumphed in conditions that were far from ideal. But that is the character of Scotland's coast inclement weather and changeable light and any photographer worth his Velvia must rise to this challenge in order to succeed. In Scotland's Coast, Joe Cornish has produced a marvelous collection of images to satisfy all those who love landscape photography, but even more importantly, all of those who love Scotland. Reviewed by Keith Wilson.
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June 100 Ways to Take Better Landscape Photographs by Guy Edwardes
Regular readers of Outdoor Photography will be familiar with Guy Edwardes' work, and 100 Ways to Take Better Landscape Photographs lives up to his consistently high standards. The layout precludes this from being too much of a beginner's guide, so it will be of most use to photographers who are in search of inspiration but are already familiar with the basics of equipment and technique. The design is a little anodyne, which is largely a result of the restrictions placed upon it by the '100 Ways' format, and it is a shame that the visual impact of the photography isn't backed up by the book as a whole. Having said that, it offers something for everyone and is divided into sections covering the whole gamut of landscape photography, from coastal landscapes, to town and country. The images themselves are extremely good, and the text is clear, concise, and offers plenty of though-provoking fare. This book contains plenty to stimulate even the most weary imagination, and a brief flick through it is sure to spark countless ideas of your own, and most importantly get you out and about with your camera. Reviewed by James Beattie.
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May Lee Frost's Panoramic Photography by Lee Frost
Of all the photographic formats, panoramic is probably one of the most difficult to master. The in-built drama of the letterbox-shaped image can sometimes overshadow the actual content of the photograph, resulting in a picture that has impact, but lacks longevity. Like most things, it's a question of striking the right balance, and this is where Lee Frost's Panoramic Photography comes in. A guide to all things 'widescreen', this thorough introduction to the field is illustrated throughout with the kind of spectacular photography we've come to expect from Lee. What comes as a surprise is the revelation in Chapter 1 that more than 20 panoramic cameras are available today. I'd have been hard-pressed to name more than a handful. In this same chapter, Lee goes on to explain the pros and cons of each type of panoramic camera even showing how to build your own before tackling the crucial areas of filters (how to fit an ND grad), metering and exposure (with most panoramics, you'll be needing a handheld meter), and, most importantly, composition (how to go about retaining the viewer's interest across the whole width of the image). Needless to say, Lee reveals all these secrets and more in his usual friendly, accessible style. If you've been toying with the idea of going panoramic, this book will certainly help you make your mind up. Your bank manager might not thank Lee Frost for it, but your photography certainly will. Reviewed by Ailsa McWhinnie.
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April Start Taking Great Landscape Photographs by Chris Weston
The void between viewing a breathtaking landscape, and recording that experience on film is quite is quite a sizeable one; luckily, nature photographer Chris Weston has a few nuggets of wisdom to bridge the gap. Aimed at newcomers to landscape photograph, this backpack-friendly book is full of tips and techniques to aid creativity and teach you how to visualize exactly how a camera 'sees'. Divided into eight jargon-free chapters, the guide introduces simple exercises to help you appraise and improve your work, from identifying what makes a bad landscape photograph to instilling a sense of visual energy in your work. Illustrated with Chris' pictures throughout the book is accessible in both design and content with colourful tip boxes and a friendly tone that encourages the reader to dip in and out as each section becomes relevant. The final chapter looks at the basics of digital image enhancement, from correcting a sloping horizon to cropping and increasing colour saturation. A great book for learning the basics. Reviewed by Tracy Hallett.
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March The Backpacker's Handbook by Chris Townsend
Every photographer who takes the great outdoors seriously knows that the most important part of their kit isn't a camera. Everything from backpacks to boots is covered in Chris Townsend's comprehensive book and the theory of what you should carry is nicely counterbalanced by the author's considerable experience. The Backpacker's Handbook is jam-packed with information and, although the design isn't particularly attractive, the author's undimmed enthusiasm for nature makes it a surprisingly easy read. The mixture of common sense with some less obvious, but just as useful, snippets of information makes this a book suitable for those of all levels of experience. Chris Townsend doesn't just cover the gear you should take and how to use it, but also a helpful range of skills to keep you safe and comfortable on the trail. So whether you're looking for advice on what to buy, or what to take when preparing for everything from a day trip to a serious wilderness hike, you should find the answer in The Backpacker's Handbook. Reviewed by James Beattie.
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February Colorama: The World's Largest Photographers from Kodak and the George Eastman House Collection Edited by Alison Nordstrom and Peggy Roalf
In 1949, the New York Central Railroad offered Kodak the east balcony of Grand Central Station as advertising space. Forty years later, the agreement came to an amicable end. During those four decades, 565 panoramic vistas measuring 18x60 feet had literally beamed the America Dream down to millions of commuters. Perhaps more interestingly, the billboards had also helped to sell the idea of photography as a social activity. Alongside the obvious 'happy family' coloramas, there were shots of young men and women actually using their cameras, supposedly heightening each experience by photographing it. 'These illuminated images reflected and reinforced American values and aspirations while encouraging picture-taking as an essential aspect of leisure, travel and family,' explains Alison Nordstrom in the introduction to the book. Photographers who took up the challenge of producing a colorama include Ansel Adams and Ernst Haas a challenging task when you consider that each image needed an instant 'wow' factor. As Nordstrom explains: 'The roots of the colorama lay in its spectacle.' While the photographers must have had a hard time shooting appropriate materials, spare a thought for the technical team behind each billboard. Not only were the faced with the pressure of producing a new colorama every three weeks, they were also dealing with technology in its infancy no one before had produced woks of this size, for this particular purpose. When the first billboard was unveiled, there were grand speeches to mark the occasion; the final colorama even features a special 'thank you' to Grande Central. The book celebrates this perfect partnership, while offering a glimpse into America ideals. Reviewed by Tracy Hallett.
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January Landscape Within: Insights and Inspiration for Photographers by David Ward
Don't think of this as a book you'll pop into your camera pack and, once you've trudged off and found a spot with a bit of photographic potential, open at a page entitled, 'How to take better landscapes.' If there is a mention of the rule of thirds in this book, I certainly didn't find it. What it does provide, however, is a challenge to think more concertedly about what it is you are photographing, why you are choosing to photograph it in a particular way, and how others might perceive the resulting image. Because this is, as David Ward says in his introduction, a 'why' book, not a 'how to' book. Regular readers will be familiar with David's style, and in this book he explores in depth some of the notions he touches on in his On Location features [in
Outdoor Photography Magazine.] He puts into words many of the instinctive decisions that a photographer makes every time he/she looks through the viewfinder. David re-examines our approach to the landscape, encouraging us to see it as anything but 'just a pretty picture.' Illustrated with his glorious images, this is a book for those who've learned everything they can from the manuals and are ready to think more about their hobby or profession. Reviewed by Ailsa McWhinnie.
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For other book lists on photography, check out these pages on our website:

Outdoor Photography Magazine (UK) Outdoor Photographer Magazine (US) Other Book Guides
- 2006 Books of the Month
- 2005 Books of the Month
- 2004 Books of the Month
- 2003 Books of the Month

- B&W Magazine 2006 Books of the Month
- B&W Magazine 2005 Books of the Month

- 2005 Holiday Book Guide
- 2004 Holiday Book Guide

- 2003 Holiday Book Guide
- 2001 Holiday Book Guide
- 2000 Holiday Book Guide
- Shutterbug 2005 Holiday Guide
- Shutterbug 2004 Holiday Guide

- Our book recommendations

- Our magazine recommendations
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