All posts filed under: On the bookshelf

On the bookshelf – Okinawa Karate Timeline & 100 Masters

Hokama-sensei, one of the karate masters I shot a few months ago asked if he could use some of the portraits of him in the latest printing of his book on karate. The book is actually two books combined, the first part is a history of Okinawa karate, the second part is biographies of 100 karate masters. It has been translated into English and is available for 3,000 yen at either the Okinawa Prefecture Karate Museum in Nishihara or at the Dojo Bar in Naha. Unfortunately Hokama sensei wasn’t aware that the karate portraits I’d posted on the web, were not the full resolution images. This means that my photos in the book are a little pixelated and watermarked, but we’ll sort out things for the next print run. Hokama-sensei, however, was delighted with how it came out, and I now have my own signed copy for the bookshelf. Osu.

On the Bookshelf – Portraits

I love shooting portraits. In the studio or on location. Friends or strangers. In exotic lands or in the backyard. I like the fact that  each portrait is unique, and if you can get  eye contact,  you’re staring into a person’s soul, capturing for eternity a brief moment of connection. When it comes to photography books, once again the eyes have it. I thought I’d show some recent additions to my bookshelf that are focused on portraits. It’s probably not a coincidence that the cover of each book has the subject staring directly into the camera. In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits and Portraits are filled with immersive images taken all over the world. The National Geographic book spans more than a century with shots by a wide range of staff photographers. Portraits is solely by Steve McCurry (whose work also features in the Nat Geo book). The blurb about McCurry’s book sums up things nicely: Compelling, unforgettable and moving, McCurry’s images are unique street portraits: unstylized and unposed snapshots of people that reveal the universality of human emotion.  Although …

Birds of Japan – Updated

Here’s a quick update to a previous blog post on field guides to Japanese birds. Along with the two books previously mentioned, is a new volume by Mark Brazil (who turns out to be a friend of a friend). A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Japan and North-East Asia by Tadao Shimba. Colour photography throughout , covers over 600 species with a brief description of each bird including its geographic range. The photographs range in quality but still give you a good idea of what the birds look like. One problem I  noticed is that the book has the English and scientific names of the bird, but not the common Japanese name. If you  buy this book and plan to use it while in Japan (which would be most people I imagine)  having the Japanese name would allow you to ask locals what a bird was or confirm your guess. Until the photographic guide came out the standard book (in English) of Japanese birds was A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan by …

On other people’s bookshelves

A couple of weeks ago I went along to the PhotOkinawa coffee morning. The group is made up of photographers with many levels of experience, but all have a desire to expand their knowledge, and share their passion for photography. At the latest meeting everyone was asked to bring along a book that they thought the other members of the group would enjoy. I brought The Americans by Robert Frank. It’s a classic that will be relevant and thought provoking no matter how much the reader or technology evolves. You can check out my thoughts on The Americans in a previous on the bookshelf post. Here’s a list of the other recommended books. Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook by Kevin Kubota Pro Digital Portrait Lighting by Peter Hince   Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Photography Field Guide by Bryan Peterson Untouched by Johnny Rozsa VisionMongers by David duChemin The Photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman Vietnam Inc. by Philip Jones Griffiths The A-Z of Creative Photography by Lee Frost The Complete Guide to Professional Wedding Photography by Damien Lovegrove The Creative Digital Darkroom by …

On the Bookshelf – Robert Capa

Robert Capa was one of the great war photographers. He was also one of the founders of the Magnum photo agency, along with Henri Cartier-Bresson. Capa covered five major conflicts from the Spanish Civil War in 1936 to the First Indochina War in ’54. His images of the D-day landings are perhaps Capa’s most haunting. The shots taken as he scrambled from the landing craft towards the beach are iconic. It feels almost absurd for me to sit in eerie silence and stare at an image that was taken during the chaos, violence and noise at Omaha Beach. Capa was masterful at photographing people, whether they were his famous friends like Hemmingway and Picasso, or prisoners of war, the poor and the destitute. One of his portraits is of a French woman holding the baby she had fathered with a German soldier. The sequence of images shows her with her head shaved, and then being jeered as she is paraded through the town. The smiles of the crowd would have been pleasant in almost any other situation, but …

On the bookshelf – Seal Team Six

Having recently read With the Old Breed by E. B. Sledge, I didn’t expect the next book on my reading list to be another military autobiography. I blogged about With the Old Breed because it is describes Sledge’s experiences fighting and trying to survive through the battle of Okinawa. I heartily recommend it to anyone who has lived in Okinawa, or has any interest in what happens to young men when they are thrown into what Sledge describes as hell on earth. The book I just finished is SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper. I had followed the progress of this book for a while, because one of its co-authors Stephen Templin is a friend of mine.  In fact, he’s the guy in the aikido shoot I did a couple of months ago. Little did we know, that days later the members of Seal Team Six would kill Osama Bin Laden. Suddenly, just a week before it’s release date,  the book got the kind of publicity that normally is reserved for Harry Potter. …

On the Bookshelf – With the Old Breed by E. B. Sledge

Last year I watched the Hanks / Spielberg mini-series “The Pacific” that was based on the experiences of American Marines in the Pacific Theater. The series focused on three men, one of which was Eugene B. Sledge, a young Marine who witnessed the horrors of Peleliu and Okinawa.  These secret notes Sledge made during combat would later become  the book “With the Old Breed” which was then adapted to become the mini-series “The Pacific.” I just started Sledge’s book. I’m not sure it’s going to be one I enjoy, and I should probably avoid reading it before going to bed. It is however an important account of war, particularly for those who have connections with Okinawa. Glancing through the pages I see maps with names I recognize. The Ishikawa Isthmus is where I live, Sugar Loaf Hill is beside Main Place shopping center and the landing beaches are where I dive. The elderly residents of this island lived through the Battle of Okinawa, for the rest of us its important to be aware of what …

On the bookshelf – Travel Photography by Steve Davey

Travel Photography: Tread Your Own Path by Steve Davey is an excellent book. The photographs are good both by technical standard and subject matter. The book has a logical structure and the writer is able to make complicated subjects understandable and interesting. The start of the book is about choosing gear (camera bodies, lenses, bags) and some general advice on travel.  The “Execution” section covers the basics of how to take photographs (exposure, aperture, shutter speed, filters, flash) then the “Inspiration” section applies these techniques to situations you will find in the field (cities, festivals, markets, deserts). He then follows this with “Correction” a section on image processing, correction and manipulation (published in 2008 – this is still up to date). The final chapter is about working as a professional travel photographer and deals with issues such as copyright and marketing. The amount of information covered by the book is both its greatest asset and its greatest weakness. If you’re already a Photoshop whiz then the correction section will be redundant, while experienced photographers will …

On the bookshelf: Going Pro

There are some interesting photography books available that discuss how to work as a photographer. I thought I’d discuss a few of them in the same post as they are less about the art of photography and more about the realities of surviving as a professional. There are many books out there, these just happen to be four that are on my bookshelf. The first, Photographs That Sell and Sell… by Roger Antrobus is a brief introduction to stock photography. The book was published in 2003, and due to the changes in the stock industry, is now, in some respects, very out of date. The good points are that it explains how, if you can capture great photographs, it is possible to sell them as stock images to newspapers, magazines, and advertising. Antrobus shows examples of his images that made him a lot of money, and explains why he thinks they were successful. What is not discussed is that the price paid for stock images has crashed in recent years, while the number of people taking …

On the Bookshelf: Faces by Jane Bown

Faces: The Creative Process Behind Great Portraits by Jane Bown is back to basics portrait photography. She used black and white film (Kodak Tri X),  a simple manual camera (Olympus OM1), natural light and a whole lot of talent. For 50 years she worked as a photographer for the Observer newspaper. Turning the pages of her book takes you on a journey through modern history. You start with the likes of Margot Fonteyn and Orson Welles, and finish with modern lumineries including the Coen brothers and Spike Lee. The book is well worth checking out. It has left me inspired to put some black and white film in my camera.