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Book Review: New Image Frontiers: Defining The Future Of Photography by Matthew Bamberg

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Although traditionally photography has been defined as the art of producing images on photosensitive surfaces, new technologies have blurred the lines that have defined photography over the last 150 years. New Image Frontiers: Defining The Future Of Photography takes a look at the past and present with the intent of predicting what future trends have in store for photography.

New Image Frontiers: Defining The Future Of Photography is derived from a number of industry resources and interviews with master photographers to pull together predictions of the direction of photography in the near future. This book is 272 pages and is divided into 27 chapters and six parts.

Part One, “Cameras and Lenses,” are the basis to all photography. To envision the cameras and lenses of the future requires an understanding of latest technology trends. This part begins with a look at the photographic process and how we got here.

It then looks at the future of the three most prominent cameras: cell, point-and-shoot, and DSLRs as well as future developments on all fronts. Next you will look at how the lenses have changed because of the changes in camera sensors. The section finishes up by looking at these technologies and how they will advance in the future.

Part Two, “Photo Management,” has changed dramatically since the evolution of the digital age. With the volumetric rise in the number of images collected, so have the methods to handle and process these images. Everything has changed from how they are handled on computers to massive servers, uploaded, and shared all over the world.

These advances include photo-management software, photo sharing sites, and the ability to capture direct to the computer. You even have the ability to tag exactly where a photograph was taken through the use of GPS readings. The author explores the possibilities that the future will hold for photographic management and ensuring the longevity of your digital images.

Part Three, “Post-Processing Possibilities,” begins with a look at where we came from and much of that in the last 20 years had had to do with Photoshop. Here you will see what kind of impact it has had on the photographic industry.

Next, you will examine other processes that have taken hold such as High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. This is where multiple images are merged together to bring out more in an image. Finally, the future of printing is examined and how it continues to evolve.

Part Four, “Is Film Dead?,” describes the perennial question asked over the last decade. Slowly the question has been answered, but only partially because as film becomes a thing of the past, you find more people who want to embrace it and keep it living.

Here you will look at the Loomographers movement, the reinvention of film for a new generation, the medium format film/digital options, the born-again Polaroid movement, and the ability to make digital images look like traditional film images.

Part Five, “Photography Styles,” takes on the changing styles that photography has had in the past and continues to evolve into the future. A lot of this has evolved based on the technology at hand. Here you start with the rebirth of the Pictorialism movement and how they are being created in a digital world to look like the ones of the 1800’s.

Then you explore other styles such as the Straight Photography movement, Risqué Portraiture, Outlandish Fashion, Photomontage, Conceptual Art, Street Photography, Social Documentation, and Abstract Expressionism.

Part Six, “The Photography World at Work,” takes on different perspectives depending on what kind of photography is done how the photography is promoted. It can be seen by just a small group of people, or by millions and millions. The first area explored is the fact that the studio can be anywhere, inside or out, natural light, artificial, or both.

Next you will look at the future gallery art since they can be in traditional galleries or online ones, the world is constantly changing and embracing new technologies as well as how the word gets out about ones work. As the microstock business has changed over the last ten years, it too will continue to evolve. Finally, the use of Flickr and Facebook has changed the way that photographers have been able to make names for themselves, and this too will continue to direct the photography movement.

New Image Frontiers: Defining The Future Of Photography really takes a well defined look into both the past of photographic trends, but also how they might evolve in the future. It is well written and it is a very easy read. There is not a lot of technical jargon which makes it easy to understand.

New Image Frontiers: Defining The Future Of Photography is very good for those who want to know where we came from, but for those who want a better feel for where we might be in the not so distant future. It will be entertaining for pros and those new to the photography world alike, and for that I can highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

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