| When deciding whether a book would translate into a great iPad app, the question is where to begin. Should the book already be a best seller or should the topic of the book be the main criteria? Focal Press chose the perfect book for one of their first ventures into the iPad app market.|
Published in over 16 languages and with 300,000 sales world-wide, The Photographer's Eye, Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman has been a best seller in print for several years. But it's the book's subject that makes it a no-brainer for an iPad app. Regardless of the art medium, composition and design are difficult concepts to understand and visual aids can help reinforce the concepts being discussed in the book. The interactive features and the author's audio discussions available only on the iPad app are perfect visual aids for this book. The book covers both the traditional and digital aspects of photographic design and composition.
The book begins with a video introduction by Michael Freeman. I did expect it to be a bit longer, perhaps summarizing what topics will be covered in the book and what to expect from the app.
The Image Frame created by the viewfinder is your first tool which can be used as is, cropped or extended. In this first chapter, the author discuses the many decisions one makes and how these decisions result in different photographic results. A great interactive example in this chapter was the Scottish Landscape. The author discusses four options when framing this photograph. As you tap on each option the center photo changes to show the result of that decision. Of course, this could also be done in print by displaying the four separate photographs side-by-side. However, seeing the change occur to the one sample image is much more effective.
In the second chapter, Design Basics, the author discusses the basic elements of design such as balance, contrast, rhythm and perception. When discussing perspective and depth, the author uses an iPad animation to help explain the use of a tilt lens. The combination of the animation and the audio discussion of the reasoning behind the decisions made for that photograph was much like an in-class laboratory setting.
The next chapter discusses Graphic and Photographic Elements including lines, curves, motion and focus. The author demonstrates how these elements give a sense of order to a photograph and uses several interactive animations that fade the sample photographs while displaying the structural outlines created by the elements in the photographs.
Composition with Light and Colors was my favorite chapter. The author discusses the many options the photographer has when working in color or black and white photography. The animation that changes the sample photos down to grayscale helps the reader evaluate a photograph at its basic level.
The purpose, message and intent of the photograph is covered in the fifth chapter. There are several aspects that contribute to the overall intent of a photograph. For example, a photograph of the same subject would be taken differently depending on the desired message. The author uses audio commentary to discuss many of the examples in this chapter. Process is the final chapter, which includes a case study. It was a good discussion tying together the overall process as well as digital post production decisions.
The resolution on the iPad displays the author's beautiful photography at its best. The book has both a horizontal and vertical path making it sometimes difficult to know exactly where you are or how to return to a previous section. However, there is a thumbnail index of the pages that can help with this problem.
Michael Freeman is an international photographer for the Smithsonian, Time-Life Books and Reader's Digest. Among his many accomplishments, he has authored over 40 photographic books.
*Focal Press provided a not-for-resale promo code to permit product evaluation and review.
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