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Book Review: Low Budget Shooting by Cyril Harnischmacher

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Photographs are intriguing works of art. They capture moments in time and tug memories from the depths of heart and mind. Nearly all of us own a camera, whether it's a disposable Wal-Mart version or our cell phone or something in between. Some photos come out okay, and some are better forgotten. If you want to improve the quality of your pictures, the book Low Budget Shooting, by Cyril Harnischmacher, will be your friend.

I thought the book was crisply and pointedly written. There is no wasted space on the page nor any wasted words in the text. As expected, the photographs are the focal point. Using gorgeous photos and swift words Harnischmacher describes how to create economical and, in many cases, mobile photo gear. This includes an imaging table, seamless backdrops, light tents, light cubes, softboxes, and more.

I passed the book along to a local photographer, Royal Sipe, in order to get his thoughts on photography and the book.

What motivated you to take up photography?

I took up photography because I appreciated the ability of photography to freeze time. Looking back at old photos you can see the people and places. It makes you contemplate what things were like back then. What were those people thinking? What was their life like? Does that place still look the same? What happened to the buildings and people that were captured in that one moment of time? Some pictures just "grab" you and pull you in. I wanted to make those photos.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

One photographer that comes to mind is Ansel Adams. His black and white landscapes have so much detail and character. I often wonder if the subject would have any of the allure if it was shot in color.

What was your impression of the book?

I liked it. If I'd had this book twenty years ago I would have an awesome studio. I thought the writing was informative and instructional without being dry and boring. I liked the material lists for each project. Although not listing the specific store that you can get materials at, there is a guide in the back which tells you what type of stuff to look for at what type of store (hobby, home improvement, office supply, etc.). A serious photographer could benefit from the devices described as well as the ideas that these spawn. I give it thumbs up.

Have you used any of the devices or techniques noted in the book? If so, which device/technique appealed to you the most?

I especially liked the light boxes. They seem very functional yet easily constructed. I have used some of the techniques in the book. They improved the quality of my photographs greatly. Specifically, there is a flash mounted diffuser that I used shooting a wedding. It eliminated the sharp shadows that would have lived behind the subjects without it.

What did you think of the accompanying photographs in the book?

My favorite feature is the comparison pictures showing with and without the device described in that project.

Would you recommend the book to other photographers?

Yes. Most pros have most of this stuff already, but for serious amateurs or those just getting into photography and wanting to improve their quality, this book is spot on.

With ingenuity and craftsmanship, anybody who reads this guide will be able to take some appealing photographs. The book is published by Rocky Nook, Inc and is available now.

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