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Book Review – Mastering Landscape Photography – The Luminous-Landscape Essays by Alain Briot

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How does one learn to master landscape photography? And, more importantly, how does one become a master landscape photographer? These are the questions that master landscape photographer Alain Briot asks in his soon to be a classic, Mastering Landscape Photography – The Luminous-Landscape Essays. The obvious answer is to spend a lot of time working at the art. This takes time and a lot of hard work. For Alain Briot, it took over 25 years.

When Alain Briot started, it was 1980. The internet was still over 10 years in the future and the technology of digital photography was at least as far away. How he got there and what he learned is the subject of Mastering Landscape Photography.

It focuses on three main topics: artistic skills, technical knowledge and business sense. According to the author, to master landscape photography you must match your artistic abilities with your technical knowledge. To earn a living doing this, you must acquire business acumen.

Briot’s goal is to shorten the stretch it takes for a photographer to go from a beginner or a novice to a seasoned professional. It still will take time and practice, but according to the author, when he was learning, many in the field kept their techniques to themselves and thus he had to learn the hard way. His goal is to share his knowledge and reduce your learning curve.

Mastering Landscape Photography does exactly what Briot intends it to do. Not only is it well written, but it is functionally usable – not in a step-by-step format, rather in an artistic philosophic manner. There are suggestions on how one might approach the shot. The author gives things to look for and options to take.

For example, in chapter four – “How to find the best light for a specific photograph,” Briot describes “Drawing with Light” and the three rules of light; the quality of light, reflected light and intensity of light. He describes how to find the best light and the various uses for each. He then uses several of his wonderful photographs showing real world examples of his technique.

This is where most authors would end the chapter; not Briot. He concludes with four photographic skills enhancement exercises. He challenges you to do some hands-on techniques that he explained in the chapter. He asks you to also construct a nigrometer; a tool that allows you to see the actual color of objects in front of us.

This is the same format for each of the 13 essays. There are detailed explanations of each topic, and then real-world exercises of the techniques.

The essays include: “How to see photographically”, “How to compose a photograph”, “How to determine the best exposure for a specific scene” and “How to decide which photographs are keepers and which are not”.  From the business side, he has “How to be an artist”, “How to be an artist in business” parts one and two and “How you can do it too”

This is not a book on how to use your camera, Photoshop, or even a step-by-step guide. This is a book that will help you learn to see the image that you want to create, the image that you want to design. You will learn what you need to take that next step to becoming a master landscape photographer

Also, if you have never been to "The Luminous Landscape" then you should treat your self to a visit.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.