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Friday, 09 December 2016


Geoff, where you write about the typography in The Documentary Impulse I am guessing that you probably mean 'non-lining' (old style) numerals, not 'lining'. Using the right numerals, along with the ligatures and the selection of the typeface, makes the reading more rewarding. (For me anyway; but I'm the kind of nutter who likes Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style for bedtime reading).

Thank you for including Dr. Wittig's book reviews in TOP from time to time. Just ordered the Michael Kenna book. As Wittig says "Not for everyone", but for me, coming from a place of former industries now vacant plots of land, this photography is so evocative of what used to be. And so powerful.

You're quite correct about the numerals. Old-style is probably the best term. It's always disappointing to see extended text set in a handsome serif typeface defaced by the inappropriate use of crude lining numerals meant only for titles. I have an entire section of my library devoted to typography, and I'd be embarrassed to admit how many copies of Bringhurst's book I currently own. (The latest edition carries the witty title 'v. 4.2'). It's compulsory for anyone interested in typography, as it places typography and type design solidly within the context of the wider world of art, from music to painting to literature.

I've been considering buying The Documentary Impulse for a while. The above revue has convinced me to purchase it (via your Amazon UK link). Thanks.

Pro photographer Ming Thein lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His aerial shots are from Australia, Hong Kong and Scotland https://blog.mingthein.com/?s=aerial+photography A lot like Andrew Moore's work, but from a different part of the world. Both photographers do outstanding work.

I like the different prospective you get from higher than normal camera placement. In the past, I've done it with small video cameras. Now I think it is time to build/buy a tall tripod like the one shown at about 4:40 in the above video. Putting a DSLR/motion-gimbal, atop a Matthews Mombo Combo - "Daddy Long Legs" stand http://products.msegrip.com/collections/overhead-stands/products/mombo-combo-daddy-long-legs would be easy and inexpensive. If you live in a city that does a lot of motion work, you should be able to rent a gimbal and a 15-24 foot overhead stand, to do a test.

A nice selection, well-presented. But: can I make an appeal against the use of the term "coffee-table book" in conjunction with large, serious photo-books? I realise the term has lost some of its derogatory charge in recent years, but I think it should be reserved for the bibliographic equivalent of a vapid, glossy magazine bought by the fashion-conscious, and meant to be left ostentatiously on display on, um, a coffee-table.

Not a single one of Burtynsky's books is, in this reading, a "coffee-table book"! Unless, I suppose, one meant "a book that, if four legs were attached to it, might serve as a coffee-table"...


I was going to make the same comment as Peter – I suspect you might have meant non-lining numerals. :-)

Nice to be informed about some books I was unaware of. Also cool is the use of such high tech photography at times; less cool are the book prices!

Thanks for the book suggestions; since reading them I've put in a Christmas hint for "The Documentary Impulse." I like the design as much as I expect to like the content.

Let me also recommend one of the best (and one of the most influential) photo books of the 20th century: Walker Evans' "American Photographs." It's still available in the beautifully printed, almost-facsimile 75th anniversary edition for only $40 in hardcover. (By the way, going by past history I don't expect it to stay in print for too much longer.)

Thank you for the reviews. Just spent a few dollars. :)

Cheers Geoff/Mike. Just ordered Edward Burtynsky & Stuart Franklin books via your Amazon UK link. I'll take them with me to Northumberland for Christmas!

Excellent information. It is a motion work.

Was this a tie-in to Rogue 1? 8^)

Thanks very much for the excellent book notes, Geoff. I own the Burtynsky book and agree that it's an excellent survey of his various bodies of work. I am also eager to see Michael Kenna's "Rouge". It seems like a subject made for him. I am also eager to see Andrew Moore's "Dirt Meridian". It reminds me of so much work done by my friend Terry Evans who spent years hanging out of small planes and helicopters with a Hasselblad. I love that type of work. (And thank you for the video link, Joseph!)

For the record, while the repro quality of "Essential Elements" is as good as Geoff notes, I highly urge readers to make an effort to see Burtynsky's prints whenever possible. Unlike so many art photographers who make exhibition prints gratuitously large, most of Burtynsky's images really require scale to make the complete message. Having seen many in both public and private collections all I can say is it's worth the effort.

I like KT's second point: go see Burtynsky's work. Years ago I saw OIL. Image size, focal length, camera position and print viewing distance - well. When B and the curator got them all right they really got them right. The last piece was a view of an oil tanker salvage yard, which was a tidal flat populated by the enormous bulks of ships in various stages of disassembly. You didn't stand in front of that print. You stood in it. The work was a complete success for me. It created a whole, convincing world that for a time I lived in.

I've got a big fondness for books with good repros. And they all make me want to see the works themselves.

I have become very wary of buying books sight unseen.

I have a massive Annie Leibovitz one called (in Spanish) Life of a Photographer 1990-2005, which I order on faith, having watched her sister's video called Life Through a Lens, or something very similar to that, where some of the editing for the book was also being filmed. Rather than what I'd hoped I was buying, I ended up owning an expensive tome heavily loaded towards A.L.'s family and love-life, which interests me not in the least; her images were the lure, not she herself. I have another couple of expensive books bought under the same conditions of faith; I now have almost no faith in such buying techniques!


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