Summer reading

I finished reading Vision and Voice by David duChemin today. The bottom line? Recommended.

He starts off defining the difference between how you saw/felt the image you took and what it says to the viewer when it's done for display. He does that well. 

Once he gets that message across, he proceeds to show you what he means, and that's where the book really shines.

Using tools like focus, light, shadow, color and sharpness, he shows you how he crafts an image in Lightroom that leads the viewer to see what he saw and feel what he felt when he took the image. In the process, he describes, in a non-technical way, what all the sliders and buttons in the Lightroom develop module do. He focuses on the why, rather than the how, and I liked that for a change. There are lots of technical books that describe the how. They're useful; this is just a refreshing difference.

His examples are clear and to the point. He's not dogmatic about how to do it, he's just showing how he did it and why. Nice. He also has copies of the images he uses that you can download and follow along to see what's going on.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book. I was reading in Kindle on the couch with my iPad, but I frequently had to get up and run to Lightroom on my desktop computer to test the various ideas he was describing. I learned lots, and spent a couple of hours later in the afternoon, trying some ideas on my own images.

I've read duChemin's other books, VisionMongers and Within the Frame, and most of the ebooks he has available through his latest endeavour with Craft and Vision. I've not been disappointed, period.

My recommendation? Go get 'em.

Bodies and books

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve explored a couple of events in our town. It started with Body Worlds 3 at Science World-Telus sphere. I got there around 3 pm, so the entrance fee was $25.00. Apparently it’s cheaper later in the evening, because admission doesn’t include all of Science World at that time of day.

It was quite the graphic science/art show. Anatomist, Dr. Gunther von Hagens has plasticized donated bodies so that every bit is preserved. He’s placed several bodies in sporting positions and opened up areas of each so that  key muscles and organs are visible. Some parts are identified with accompanying labels to help you navigate. That’s good, but I wish there were a few more labels. Usually it was just the muscles on the posed bodies being named.

Other displays contain separate dissected systems, like the male and female reproductive systems, the digestive system, and the nervous system. It reminded me of biology 101, but much better than pictures in a book. Hard to believe it’s all crammed in the little sack we call a body.

Even as a biologist, I found the show somewhere between grotesque and grand. It was weird thinking of all the time and energy put into the plastination process. Find a few donors and go from there, I guess. At the same time, it opened up my eyes again to the wonders of the human body. Not for everyone, but good stuff overall.

Word on the Street happened on Sunday Sept 24. I travelled down with a neighbour via Skytrain and arrived about noon. Surprisingly, the book bags were all sold out by the time we got there. I usually enjoy purchasing one and collecting all of the swag that comes with it. Just as well they were all gone this year, I guess. There is still a bunch of stuff sitting around my apartment from last year.

We went to a couple of lectures in the Word Under the Street section. That was the last I saw of her. She stuck around for one more early lecture than I did, and we never did connect again. Probably followed one another clockwise around the library (heh). I stuck around for one final talk on storytelling at 5 pm and got home around seven.

What I like about WOTS is the free-for-all atmosphere of the event. There are talks, displays, and performances going on everywhere. As you stroll around, you can stop for a minute or thirty to enjoy on-going sessions of poetry, book readings, comedy, music, and serious discussion about books and magazines. Most of the book and magazine publishers of BC are there, so there is ample opportunity to sample products you might not normally see.

Time permitting, the next events are the SOHO conference to celebrate Small Business Week, and the Surrey International Writers Conference. They’re both in October, so there is still time to get some work done before that.

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Tails within the tail

Just reading The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. It’s easy to read, and there is lots of excellent, detailed content – the sign of a good writer/editor. Even though I’m not quite finished it yet, I highly recommend reading it.

I’ve followed some of the book content and the discussion about it through his Long Tail blog, but today I was really struck by his description of the microstructure of the tail – actually a series of tails within the tail. For me, it added some clarity to the definition of niche, and I hadn’t seen that discussed before, or at least I wasn’t receptive to it when I did.

Good stuff. I have a feeling that this is one book I’ll have to read a couple of times to absorb all the ideas and what they mean to me.

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