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Book Review: Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set | DPanswers

Review of Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set. These books are badly organised, poorly researched, and sometimes confusing.

Source: Book Review: Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set | DPanswers


I own this box set and after hearing Kelby speak at The Photography Show I read this review.  It is perhaps understandable why Gisle Hannemyr in the review is unimpressed.  Kelby uses a particular style, a particular humour and a particular approach that does not always comply with the rules.  I think he sets out to be deliberately provocative by apparently flaunting some of the rules.  His jokey style and flippant approach can be a bit irritating and he warns of this at the beginning of each section.  When I was first starting to take photography seriously I found the bite size morsels found in his books very helpful.

At the Photography Show his speaking style is very similar to his writing style and his apparent disregard of the rules is not actual but is appears more about how they are interpreted.   The comments that accompany this online review suggest that Kelby is like Marmite, you either love him or hate him (his style).  For me it was a little in between and like others I grew very tired of his funny guy style.


Tutor Feedback and Reflection – Assignment 1


Following feedback from my tutor on “The Square Mile”, I have considered the comments made and reflected on my photography.

I have presented my work reasonably well and appear to be developing a personal voice.  The quality of my work was deemed competent with a grasp of how to communicate visual ideas.

I need to work on a number of areas, many of which I am aware of.  I do not take risks, I am not very imaginative in my photography although I have presented this set of images in a way that does not romanticise the seaside but shows the “tattier” edges.

I was aware that I have a habit of putting the subject in the centre of the shot and need to consciously think about the Rule of Thirds when composing my shots.  Some shots appear under exposed.  I do use the histogram when reviewing my shots but when I upload them they appear darker.  I need  to consider this when shooting.  All images for this assignment were taken on auto settings.

Following reading recommendations I have considered the semiotics of Denotation and Connotation in photography and will continue to use this when I am planning the next assignment or project.

In my shots I think there are a number where the denotation and connotation are evident.  For example the seaweed and coal shot suggests an industrial heritage and the girl playing on the beach alone could be emotionally interpreted as her having no friends or family or that she is happy with her own company.

Part of the North East faded industrial heritage
Part of the North East faded industrial heritage
A lone child playing on this glorious bit of golden sand
A lone child playing on this glorious bit of golden sand

Advertising images are a good example of the use of denotation and connotation.   The many images of sensual and attractive  women with the name or image of the product in the shot can lead the viewer to associate the product with improving their own attractiveness.  Tobacco advertisers used to use similar connotation methods buy using colours to denote wealth and richness e.g. purple and gold, or red for adventure.  I will try to think of these associations in future.

I have looked at the work of Tim Walker a photograher for Vogue magazine who stages his shots with creativity, romanticism, imagination and what I consider rather bizarre props.  At this stage it would not be the type of photography that I would consider but it has made me think about what art photography is all about.

I was aware that the creative and imaginative side of my photography was lacking and that is why I enrolled on this particular course.

Research for Part 1 – From that moment onwards……

As part of my research for Part 1 of the course, I considered composition and the use of “The Rule of Thirds”[1], Gestalt principles of dynamic symmetry, and principles of image composition[2].

There were many articles advising on how to compose a photograph and I have only included two references because many of them repeat the same information.

From my research I now understand what draws a viewer into an image and although there are some guiding rules these can be modified and still provide a pleasing image.

The rule of thirds is a very useful tool however, just moving the subject off centre can provide the desired effect as long as the focal point is strong.  Similarly placing a horizontal line in the centre or middle of the shot reduces the strength of the image, as does having a horizon or vertical line that is not straight.

Subjects that are interesting and place in the foreground can add depth and a point of reference.

Simple images are stronger and by composing an image with a strong focal point and less clutter will provide for a stronger shot.

Leading lines and framing shots by moving closer to a subject also play an important role in drawing the viewer’s eye to the focal point.

Most photographs are taken when the photographer is standing and by moving position this can improve the shot.

Detrie, in his discussion of Gestalt principles links our visual perception to patterns found in nature and it’s complexity.  How we perceive this complexity is dependent on the interaction between our experiences, interplay between perception and behaviour and the social and cultural context of our experiences.  Although this article was written for graphic design many of the elements described apply to photography.

Placing my subject in the centre is a common failing of mine and I need to improve on this.  On reviewing this research for my assessment I am aware that I still have many habits to break or improve on.